Friday, December 18, 2015

PC Metal

Vastum was recently in the news after an interview with the bands vocalist did the rounds. This American death metal band got off to a promising start with their Carnal Law debut a few years ago but since then it’s been a case of diminishing returns with the follow up failing to impress and this new album, “Hole Below” sounding like a sampling of all the lowest common denominators of the current death metal scene. There are some trying to sound like Incantation riffs and “atmospherics”, groovy Bolt Thrower lite riffs hiding behind a whole lot of distortion and reverb heavy vocals. At times it reminds me of a catchier, friendlier version of that last Grave Miasma album but ultimately just as boring.

Feels more and more like if a band can say all the right things to the press then they get a free pass as far as the music is concerned. This year's best of lists have started to come out and it seems to be following this same pattern. If, however they say the wrong things or just were on the opposite side of the political spectrum then they could get blacklisted, banned, shamed on social media and dropped from festivals. Which seems like a weird place for metal to be in. Today, if a young/ new metal band showed off their Nazi war memorabilia collection would they be branded Nazis or would they just be a little eccentric and just “metal”? I think I know the answer to that. I’m just rambling now but yeah, creating a safe space in metal so everyone can feel welcome should mean that it's a safe space for everyone including racists, misogynists, homophobes and every one else people don't like. The state of metal today is just worrying and makes me sad. Anyway Dear Diary...

Another Sunday already. Moving to an early morning shift this week and not looking forward to it one bit.

The new seasons of Arrow and The Flash are killing it and Supergirl is pretty damn good too. DC is having a pretty great run on TV with all 3 shows hitting the right comic book notes. A 3 way cross over event is probably just wishful thinking but if it does happen, it could be very good. J’onn J’onzz’s debut last week was a very cool twist on Supergirl while The Flash/ Arrow crossover this year was just relentless fun. It was also cool to see John Constantine pay a visit to Star city and he fit into the universe very smoothly.  It would have been great if Amell and Gustin could have simply crossed over onto the big screen for the eventual Justice League movie. Anyway, at the moment DC TV is just good fun.

Spain’s Orthodox returned just as I was moaning yet again about 2015 being a disappointing year for heavy music. The band is down to just a 2 piece now but is still just as weird and wonderful as ever. Heavy doom metal but with enough tricks up its sleeve to always be interesting and this is an album I can really sink my teeth into. This is going to be on my playlist for a long while. Snail has a new album out too. This is some more shimmering, psychedelic stoner rock with a heavy bottom end and odd melodies. It’s been growing on me with every listen.  80s thrashers Viking made a low key but triumphant return this year with “No Child Left Behind”. What really works for this album is the band has stuck to a very 80s production and sound and while there isn’t anything innovative or path breaking about this release, it’s a solid thrash metal album and something I’ve played a lot over the last few months.

In other news, India heads off to Australia next month. After the 3-0 win at home against South Africa the team should be high on confidence. Australia will win comfortably though and it’ll be the usual mixture of fun and frustration to see another Indian failure abroad. Australia’s going to destroy our batsmen although our faster bowlers might just do well this time. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma bowled surprisingly well in the few opportunities they got against South Africa. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Oh Bangalore

Oh Bangalore. No electricity. Raining. Very fucking heavily. Sitting in Cuppa with half the lights turned off. The UPS is on the brink and this dump looks like it’s supposed to. A budget drinking place except that you can only get coffee with your kababs. 

Lucifer is the 2nd attempt from Rise Above to make German vocalist Johanna Sadonis a star in the occult rock/ metal spectrum. The first was The Oath which was some watered down hard rock that fell between Danzig and Sisters of Mercy and this year saw the release of the debut album by Lucifer. Fronted by Sadonis with Gaz Jennings on guitar. While Lucifer is more rock than goth it’s still a watered down bunch of songs. As for the vocals, she’s not very good. The slightly “heavier” songs have her voice drowned in reverb and the more rock songs leave her weak melodies exposed. Overall, this is some pretty ordinary stuff. I'm especially puzzled because Rise Above already has Gaz Jennings' other band Death Penalty who released a kickass heavy metal album last year and has a female singer as well but is probably a bit too metal to appeal to the occult rock crowd whoever they are. 

Listening to Wiseblood after years. Redemption City. You can see what Metallica were trying to do on Load and Re-load. Didn’t come close to this fucking monster of a rock album though.

Happy Deepawali to one and all. Hope you had a good time with the crackers and sweets and booze and whatever else this festival is about.

There’s a new Ride for Revenge album. More primitive death metal from Finland. Fuck yes. It isn’t as abstract an album as Enter the Gauntlet was and there is actual songwriting coming through with some cool progressions. There’s something about it that reminds me of Dying Embrace circa Serenades of Depravity without the weird electronic beats and the sudden detours into noise. It’s a really good death metal album and probably as accessible as this trio has ever been. This one along with the Desecresy have brightened up the year considerably. And and and there's a new Abysmal Grief on the way. 

The hookahs are lit and the sickly sweet smelling smoke mingles with the stench of burning crackers. Luckily this new Ride for Revenge is a very effective counter measure. Don’t ask me how music helps with combating this stink but it does.

I got told I was mean today. I guess I am. Every day.

That time of the year again
12 hour nights and buried secrets
A world of hurt with a pack of cigarettes

Tau Cross’s self titled debut is my most played album this year and easily my favourite so far. It reminds me more of Killing Joke than either Voiod or Amebix and it’s full of memorable songs.

Ares Kingdom's The Unburiable Dead was a much anticipated release this year and it doesn't disappoint. In simple terms. it's not quite as good as Return to Dust but a bit better than Incendiary. Heavy metal that's sort of death metal that occupies the same outlier space as Arghoslent or Deceased. Another very good album for Chuck Keller. 

Goatsnake’s Black Age Blues is a heavy blues rock album with swagger and swings like a motherfucker. The use of the gospel choir on parts of the album is inspired and the songs are memorable. A very welcome return. 

I've written about the new Ride for Revenge album elsewhere. Ageless Powers Arise is some really good shit. 

The one big surprise for me this year is Megiddo’s The Holocaust Messiah. Simple, straight forward Bathory influenced black metal that’s just a bit more evolved from the first 2 albums and it has remarkable repeat value. In terms of sheer plays, this one should be in the top 5. 

Desecresy's Stoic Death is a powerful work of death metal and has been getting a lot of plays. It gets a lot of stuff right in the Bolt Thrower worship field. Derivative but also ebough original chops to stand out.   

Ironsword's None but the Brave is 2015's answer to Triumph and Power. Heavy fucking Metal. Straight forward, memorable and catchy and has the kind of fuck you attitude that just can't be faked. 

Archgoat’s The Apocalyptic Triumphator is probably the most rock they’ve been so far and it’s a solid album. This is a band I love for no rational reason and played this a whole lot when it came out. It's got legs surprisingly. 

Perpetual Descending into Nothingness is the 3rd album by Obscure Infinity and I had no clue. Good songwriting, good musicianship and a keen sense of melody helped make this album stand out amidst all the evil/dark/atmospheric death metal bands.   

The new Wooden Stake was a revelation. While the bands debut album had it's moments, there was something missing and now on A Feast of Virgin Souls, the duo sound assured in their approach and use doom, speed and nwobhm to craft a very entertaining heavy metal album. In a fair world, this would destroy the likes of Lucifer. 

So that’s my top 10 so far. A few more releases to look forward to but overall a dull year. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This kitty's got claws

It's been 5 months now since the crash. I'm finally on my way to walking without support and should be good in another 10 days or so. It's been a long, slow and mostly painful recovery. In other news, there's a new entrant to the household. She's loud, full of energy and already an entitled little brat. 

So then, 5 months later, this blogging thing seems most irregular. I'm not even half as interested in blogging as I used to be. it's raining outside and I'm waiting for the momo man to deliver even as the mushroom soup simmers in it's cream and garlic base. Melancholic Sunday aside, today's been about Sam Gopal, OM, Solstafir and The Doors. 

Crossed the halfway mark for the year and it's been a pretty disappointing year for music. Are there 10 albums I'd buy without hesitation this year? Not off the top of my head. 

Hannibal came to a close this year with what was a strange and slightly polarizing 3rd season. The first half leading to the capture of Dr. Lecter was truly stunning television and elevated the show to being one of the my all time favourites. the second half with the Red Dragon story line was a bit by the numbers but still managed to close out the series in a very solid manner thanks to the dude who played Dollarhyde and the spectacular imagining of the mind palace. Overall, this is up there with my all time favourite TV show




Monday, April 20, 2015

the night

I fucking hate hospitals. The smell. The uniforms they make you wear. The nurses barging in just as I fall asleep. Although if memory serves, the nurses have gotten cuter. And tinier.

I crashed my motorbike. Or to be more accurate, my motorbike crashed me. Turns out the rear break got stuck on the rear tire, refused to let go till the relationship went sideways and I took a tumble that ended with my knee hitting the road at what was probably not ideal speed for falling down. Look how cool I am. More metal in my body and more lame jokes.

So here I am at 12.20 in the am, being righteous and refusing the sweet dreams injection. Wide awake and sweating for a cigarette after 4 days of not caring. My eyes are burning a little and I can't sleep.

I can't get the sound of the crack out of my head. The pain was crazy. I thought the last time was a breeze cause I couldn't feel a thing as all my nerve endings had been cut. This is Satan laughing and spreading his wings.

I need a shave. Very badly. The cast is a whole new experience too. Oh man, different levels of pain today. Cenobitian. Haha.

I can't put my parents through any more of this crap. They're too old for this, I'm too old for this and its time to ditch this good ship lifestyle.

I was supposed to go on a camping trip this weekend. Imagine if my tire and brake had decided to have their tiff while off roading. Who am I kidding. I would have bailed on the camping trip and sat at home and binge watched daredevil. Motherfucker! I missed Daredevil. Fuck! Anyway, no fb, no internet and no spoilers so far which is good.

Got discharged after 5 days in the hospital. The shit I took after coming back home was truly epic. A week's worth of crap stored away by a body that released everything as soon as I was back in my room and my own loo. My pot looks like a throne. Specially elevated. Being back home is pretty great though. My own bed, easy access to everything and the fucking internet. Finished Daredevil which should be another post but probably won't be. Been listening to music and watching random shit along with the IPL.

Back in the hospital today to get the stitches removed and looks like its going to be a long wait. "The wound is healing but its still pink. We'll remove the staples on Thursday." 
"But Doctor, pink is just the way my skin is."
"Thursday... okay."

Shots from day 3, 4, 6 and 10. This is going to take a long while.  

random shit i geeked out to....

Sunday, February 08, 2015

handle with care or i'll break your head

So then. A long post I had ready is consigned to electronic flame. My phone died.

Another quiet Sunday evening. After the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, this feels pretty perfect.

The earphones I bought
are annoyingly short.

The world cup starts in a few days. India's going to be humiliated. The batsmen are tired, the bowlers are clueless and the captain's got other things on his mind. Losing the opening game to Pakistan will pretty much seal our fate. Still, a small part of me indulges in wishful thinking. India will win the cup again and Dhoni will retire in a blaze of glory. Yes. That's what will happen.

I saw this film called Baby recently. Akshay Kumar is part of a black ops unit headed by Danny Denzogpa. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Silly fun with some nice set pieces. Could have done with a better name but it's easily Kumar's most entertaining film since Special 26.

In other news, Arrow and The Flash continue to have strong seasons. Brandon Routh's The Atom spinoff looks more and more likely to happen and there's a Daredevil mini series coming that I'm quite excited about. The only disappointment is Agent Carter. It lacks soul.

Season 4 of Episodes is turning out pretty great in spite of the premise. It also feels like they may be getting the hang of Hollywood finally. Justified's final season is promising with the 2 episodes I saw and has some more weird and colourful villains and some more of that dialogue. I'd like a point break style ending. Raylan reluctantly let's Ava and Boyd ride off into happiness. I know that'll probably not happen but what the hell, I'd like a happy ending.

I finally got some old storage space. A closet made me happy.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014 - Top 40

2014 has been a pretty decent year all things considered. Work still to be done but I feel like I can actually do it now. This post though is about the heavy music from 2014 and here's my annual top 40 rundown of the best of the year.

40. Dread Sovereign - All Hell's Martyrs

Epic doom metal. Held together by a passionate vocal performance from Alan Averill. The songs are all a bit too long and not always interesting but Averill delivers one of the stand out vocal performances of the year and helps in making this album more than just another novelty doom project.

We Wield The Spear Of Longinus

39. Mustasch - Thank You For The Demon

Easily their best release since The Latest Version Of The Truth from 2007. This is some catchy, modern hard rock. Nothing more.

Thank Your For The Demon

38. Question - Doomed Passages

New old school death metal band from Mexico that manages to stay away from the million Incantaclones. These guys don't do anything new but their songwriting displays a maturity that is surprising and most welcome. I'm really looking forward to see how this band develops its sound. One of the better debuts of the year.

Universal Path Of Disgrace

37. Usurpress - Ordained

Layered and at times, intricate songwriting and Usurpress are heading in a slightly new direction. It's not an immediate, overpowering beast like Trenches of the Netherworld but it is a grower.

Fan The Flames Of Madness

36. Necrophagia - White Worm Cathedral

The return of Mirai to Necrophagia has changed things around again for the better. This sounds like the logical successor to Harvest Ritual and it's a fun set of songs.

Angel Blake

35. Salem's Pot - ...Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien

Heavy, psychedelic doom metal. 3 long jams and a little over 30 minutes of music. Impressive little debut.

Nothing Hill

34. Koulemanlaakso - Tulijoutsen

This is some massive sounding Finnish death doom that isn’t afraid to take a few chances. These Finns have class.

Tuonen Tähtivyö

33. Fistula - Vermin Prolificus

Fistula manage to sound heavier and nastier. This is one sick sounding sludge album and that's not a bad thing at all.

Harmful Situation

32. Desecresy - Chasmic Transendence

Slugathor by another name, pretty much. Huge riffs, vocals submerged in muck and some great Finnish death metal.

Cyclonic Mass Consumption

31. Fukpig - This World Is Weakening

Essentially a re-recording of the previous album "3" with some new band members are 2 new songs. Fukpig play a blackened, noisy grindcore that isn't usually my kind of thing but there's something about this band that I absolutely love. This World Is Weakening is an angry, heavy album that just got a lot of plays.

This World Is Weakening

30. Serpentine Path - Emanations

The band has just moved slightly away from their sludge roots and shades of mid-period Obituary creep in to the sound on Emanations. A bit more death metal than their debut and some really good songs here.

Disfigured Colossus

29. Fungoid Stream - Prehuman Shapes

Lovecraftian Funeral Doom. There's nothing out there that sounds like Fungoid Stream. The use of keyboards and the guitar as a textural element makes for an unsettling atmosphere and the leaden pace only heightens it.

All In One and One In All

28. Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet

Occult black metal from Greece. This is the band's second album but first I heard from them. It reminds me of early Root at times particularly with some of the riffs and the vocals. It's one of the few black metal albums that I listened to a lot of this year and has great replay value with the complex songs revealing new details on each play. 

Revival Through Arcane Skins

27. Take Over And Destroy - Vacant Face

This band had a very good album last year with Endless Night but this year, the band has seriously upped their game. Vacant Face is the kind of schizophrenic, difficult to pin down album that would normally annoy the crap out of me but the band makes all of their disparate influences work. The songwriting has progressed to a point where all of their influences have merged and the band has it's own unique sound. Sort of like a hardcore/ sludge band that loves Tiamat's Wildhoney, Emperor's Anthems and some good old classic rock. 

Terminal Burrowing

26. Monster Magnet - Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Lost Patrol

They took the ho-hum songs from Last Patrol, added, subtracted and messed with them and the result is an album that's actually better than Last Patrol.

The Duke

25. Dephosphorus - Ravenous Solemnity

I haven't seen a lot written about this album. The follow up to the critically lauded debut "Night Sky Transform has more depth. These songs have a muscular swagger to them and some of these riffs are pretty fucking fantastic. They've progressed a fait bit from their cosmic grind sound and this album is all the better for it.

Ravenous Solemnity

24. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Yet another very good Primordial album. Not much else to be said about this one. Would have placed a lot higher in another year.

Where Greater Men Have Fallen

23. Apostle of Solitude - Of Woe And Wounds

This Chicago doom band had a very promising demo and then a couple of albums that were a bit inconsistent. Of Woe And Wounds is a great leap forward for the band. Apostle of Solitude is rocking out with classic heavy metal tropes added into some pretty massive doom metal. Very good stuff.

This Mania

22. Ride For Revenge - Enter The Gauntlet

This is either some really serious shit or a twisted parody. Ride for revenge don't do half measures. The band pay attention to song writing for the first time and the result is an album that is powerful and hypnotic. 

Dead Insane

21. Voices - London

high brow concept album from Akercoke almuni. It's got a strange and captivating mood and the band are unafraid to experiment and move from black and death metal to Antimatter like acoustic songs and spooky spoken word bits. It caught me quite off guard and it's become a favourite. 

The F**k Trance

20. Death Penalty - Death Penalty

Gaz Jennings from Cathedral with a couple of people from Serpent Cult doing a Maiden meets Witchfinder General kind of thing. It's retro but very enjoyably so and the production gives these songs some real bite. 

Immortal By Your Hand

19. Taurus - No/ Thing

I never really cared for Dark Castle much but this is some very good experimental sludge/ drone/ doom with electronic elements and a vaguely eastern tinge to the heavy heavy riffs

18. The Flight of Sleipnir - V 

3 albums in 3 years and TFoS have managed to achieve an amazing level of consistency. The production has been consistently weak and the songwriting has been consistently strong. V might be their strongest outing yet which makes the production even more frustrating. Still it's the songs that count and V has plenty of good ones. 

17. Capilla Ardiente - Bravery, Truth and the Endless Darkness

Another band I thought was done but returned with a memorable slab of classic doom metal. Capilla Ardiente has expanded into a proper band and these songs build on the sound created in Solve Et Coagula but this is a huge progression. The roughness has been smoothed over, the songs go through different moods and there's some really fine musicianship happening. This is great, epic doom metal. 

16. Greenleaf - Trails and Passes

Some more line up changes and the sound changed a bit too. 70s rock meets 90s alt rock with catchy tunes and pleasant vocals. It's a lot more stripped down compared to Nest of Vipers and I loved it. Swedish stoner rock. 

15. Blood Farmers - Headless Eyes

New Blood Farmers album after almost 20 years. The Sabbath is strong in them and this album hits all the right spots. Beautifully crafted, heavy, melodic and atmospheric, Blood Farmers have created something really special with Headless Eyes.  

14. Herder - Gods
There's melodies galore here. And riffs. Wrapped up in an aggressive sludge cocktail that is great great fun. Herder came out of nowhere and delivered one hell of an album.  

13. The Wounded Kings - Consolamentum

The last couple of albums were pretty inconsistent but Consolamentum has grown on me with every listen. Great doom metal and a memorable vocal performance.

12. Grand Madus - Triumph And Power

Catchy heavy metal. Another great set of riffs and a superb vocal performance. Grand Magus has released some very good albums in the past but they've never sounded this fun.

11. Morbus Chron - Sven

The more I listened to this, the more I started to like it. The vocals are still problematic but there's very little of it. Album 3 will be interesting

10. Riot - Unleash The Fire

Damn this is awesome. The band plays with passion and there's an emotional heft to this album that is backed up by killer songs. 

9. Howls Of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye

Cosmic horror death metal. This was the most exciting death metal album I'd heard in a long, long time. Like Voivod and Demilich had a baby.  

8. Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

This one caught me completely by surprise. It's the tightest set of songs Ralf Hubert's done in a long while. The vocals are strong and the music is just solid right through. Heavy metal that's technical without being overbearing. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any links online apart from a full album rip. It's only 40 minutes long. 

7. Giant Squid - Minoans

This band has come a long way since Icthyologist. The songwriting is way tighter and the experimentation is nicely integrated. Wow.

6. Godhunter - City of Dust

The melodies on this album. It's strange and catchy and original. Great songs, great use of samples and far superior to just about every high profile sludge release this year

5. The Skull - For Those Which Are Asleep

Eric Wagner's back. He sounds great. As do Jeff Olson and Ron Holzer. With a little help from a couple of veteren guitarists of doom, The Skull has crafted a memorable set of bluesy doom metal songs that stay in my head long after the album's done. 

4. Ogre - The Last Neanderthal

I thought this band was done and then one day the promo for this album landed in my inbox. Happy daze. The year's best stoner rock album. 

3. Solstafir - Otta

I don't really know what to call this band anymore. It's magnificent music. The songs are epic, melodic and at times just really catchy. It's like Solstafir still has the coldness of their black metal roots but they've somehow made it seem welcoming. Otta is a cold embrace that is tough to resist. 

2. Lord Mantis - Death Mask

The addition of that dude from Abigail Williams had me quite sceptical to begin with but holy shit. Slightly blackened, slightly industrial, noisey sludge. Haha. It's the year's angriest record and easily stomps all over 2012's Pervertor. Lord Mantis has delivered an angry, ugly and heavy as fuck album that is not for the faint of heart. 

1. Thou - Heathen

Louisiana doom of the thickest, filthiest kind but still holds a sense of beauty. Thou managed to top Summit. They had a pretty awesome year with the collaboration with The Body and the Algiers compilation but with Heathen, the band has really moved to another level. They've let in a tiny bit of light into the darkness this time around and the songs are all the better for it. This is the band's best full length yet and that is really saying something. 

2014. Not a bad year.