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Audio autopsy

Audio Autopsy - March 2010

01/03/10  ||  Global Domination

Ihsahn: After Ihsahn: After

7.4/10

Lord K: I was never a huge fan of Emperor though I know musical talent when I see/hear it. Ihsahn’s definitely a talented guy, he’s just not creating music that speaks to me on the levels I wish it would. Still, a solid release that is competent in each and every area. 6

Kampfar: Ihsahn might never top what he did in Emperor but, and I never thought I’d say this, his avant-garde take on metal is finally starting to make proper sense. Not everyone will agree to that, obviously, but all of you should nonetheless check out the song named “A grave inversed”. It’s fucking fantastic. 8

Trauma: I love(d) Emperor, and I definitely like Ihsahn’s solo work. “angL” grew on me pretty quickly, and to say I looked forward to hearing this was a bit of an understatement. It’s not quite as good as I was hoping it’d be, but still, lots of good stuff to be found. Also, he found a new toy to play with: Saxophone. All he needs is a xylophone and triangle and he’ll have some of the most eclectic/awesome music ever. 7

CadenZ: Introvert? Absolutely not, definitely a lot less than on the previous two albums. “After” is some absolutely marvelous progressive metal, in all the good aspects of the word. I’ve had my doubts on Ihsahn’s continued prowess as a song-writer ever since the last Emperor album was released, but this is a great reminder of his excellence. A feisty saxophone solo on top of a down-tuned and harsh death metal riff with double kicks – how awesome isn’t that? 9

Earthmonger (guest): I didn’t go into it expecting to like it. Ihsahn’s first release (“The Adversary”) was decent, while his second (“angL”) was only passable and not all that memorable. And more often than not, when a band goes heavily into prog territory, they become complete and utter shit (Hello Opeth, Enslaved). I wasn’t expecting too much from the third and last in Ihsahn’s planned trilogy, “After”. I was wrong, this is a pretty strong album. And saxophone? Well, it works here. There is however zero justification for the “extreme” labeling here: this is some tame shit, but tame shit I ended up enjoying. Eat me. I bought it. Deluxe Ed, even. One point taken away for limp bass representation. 7

Urgehal: Ikonoklast Urgehal: Ikonoklast

6.4/10

Lord K: I shouldn’t like this, but to some extent I do. Black metal with a suitable production and the occasional catchy riff. They are no Watain, but Urgehal is probably better than any given black metal band outside of Scandinavia. 5

Kampfar: When it comes to über satanic black metal, Urgehal is still at the top of the crop, but if you want to hear them at their best I recommend thee “Goatcraft torment”. 7

Trauma: They look and sound grim and necro. If I’m in the right mood, this is pretty enjoyable as far as black metal goes. My lack of being trve makes it real hard to say more on the band, but let my score speak for me: 7

CadenZ: Trve kvlt nekro BM with thrash influences. Actually quite good. I wonder why I haven’t listened more to Urgehal… must be the shitty band name. Now, I often bitch about guitar solos, partly because I’m a guitarist myself, but more importantly because solos are supposed to improve and intensify the songs’ output, profile and atmosphere – here they drag ‘em down instead. And that doesn’t mean they suck completely, or that they suck at all – they’re just not good enough to serve their purpose. Don’t record stuff you can’t do well, know your limitations. 7

Earthmonger (guest): Urgehal play (surprisingly upbeat) classic black metal. Occasionally the guitar work dips outside the genre a bit, as does the refreshingly clean production. And half the vocals are discernible; always a nice feature. Whether or not you’ll enjoy it depends solely on how strictly you adhere to farcical black metal “code”. Myself, I don’t have any borders to respect. Good metal is good metal, and I can bang to this shit. Some of these tracks feature nice atmosphere too. 6

Heathen: The evolution of chaos Heathen: The evolution of chaos

6/10

Lord K: How I loved Heathen back in the day… Nice to see them back and they are actually making a good return too. Heathen sounds quite fucken vital and they have some excellent guitarwork included on this one. Also – yep, it definitely sounds like Exodus at times. That is a compliment. 7

Kampfar: Once upon a time I thought highly of everything thrash, then I got acquainted with death and pretty much forgot all about it. What I’m trying to say is this: if you are in love with first mentioned genre, this here veteran act from the US could very well end up moistening your cunt. I guess. 4

Trauma: No idea who these guys are, but I found myself liking this a good bit. 8

CadenZ: Another resurrected 80’s band, Heathen play thrash metal with German sing-along choruses and up-tempos, lots of early Metallica vibes (especially the melodic parts) and some Megadeth-y solos. So nothing new here, but “The Evolution of Chaos” sounds quite fresh despite that, probably because it’s their first release since 1991. 6

Earthmonger (guest): Thrash? I don’t hear it. Sounds more like Speed and Power Metal had a brat and called it Heathen. I can even imagine them shredding about Ares and orgies. The first accurately thrashy track, “No Stone Unturned”, seems like it’s directly plagiarizing shit from Metallica. Maybe not, though “NSU” is definitely like one long filthy spray of Metalli-gasm nostalgia. The album is passable. 5

Arsis: Starve for the devil Arsis: Starve for the devil

5.4/10

Lord K: Naming your band after a collection of assholes is a fantastic move. I don’t know about the music though. Competent like Nina Hartley’s vagina back in its prime, but ultimately the novelty wears off. Flashy playing and great musicianship, sure, but somewhere in the middle of all this there’s lacking groove and interesting tunes. Happy, technical metal. I ass for more. 6

Kampfar: I love arses, female ones of the right kind of course, but Arsis not at all evoke such emotions in me. I don’t know what to name the music made by these idiots located in the US somewhere, but, and for sure, I do know I don’t give a fuck. 3

Trauma: I know staffer Inquisitor Tomas Torquemada really loves these guys. I probably would if I was a Virginia native, but I’m a Appalachian Pennsylvania native and therefore don’t have any close feelings towards said group. They can definitely write some catchy shit. I guess being clean and sober has its advantages, no? Yes, that means that this music sounds happy. 7

CadenZ: My InfluenceSensors™ detect lots… too many lots… An intriguing mish-mash of everything and his Mom. Most of the stuff is nice (the power metal galore parts can go fuck themselves, though) but it’s hard to discern the main theme here; and even when found it’s tied itself in so many knots that nothing of pristine value can possibly come forth. 5

Earthmonger (guest): If Dimmu Borgir had an even swishier US cousin, that would be Arsis. Poppy US Death with decent guitar work, though Malone is still too mechanical and cheery for my tastes. Decent drumming and almost audible bass are pluses. Album opener “Forced To Rock” is pretty atrocious MTV fodder, however, the rest of the tracklisting is passable if you’re after background noise that doesn’t outright offend the ear. It’s not the sort of sound I can welcome with open arms without devolving into my long-dead In Flames worshiping years, but it isn’t exactly bad. James Malone is going to look like the doppelganger of Alice Cooper in 20 years. Poor guy. 6

In Mourning: Monolith In Mourning: Monolith

5.2/10

Lord K: I don’t think I ever heard these idiots before, but they are obviously Swedes, huh? I expected some goth-laden crap thanx to their moniker but luckily we are spared of that. In Mourning play some death metalish, half-melodic, twin guitars hysteria bullshit that actually is real, real fine. I will definitely keep this album coz I have a feeling there’s more to discover here. Easily the winners of this edition. 8

Kampfar: In Mourning isn’t for me, but I certainly don’t feel like suiciding when spending time with them here Swedes supposedly doing progressive death. Believe it or not, progressive doesn’t translate to pretentious when speaking this band. At least not all the time. 5

Trauma: Some part of this music I really get into. The first track, for instance, has a pretty good chorus. I’m just not completely sold on their music yet. A bit harder to get into than normal for me. Hopefully with time they’ll sound even better. 6

CadenZ: A poor man’s Opeth. But since Opeth are worth their weight in gold and more… Finnish “depressive metal” influences (Swallow the Sun/Rapture) can be spotted as well. 6

Earthmonger (guest): The vocals are actual recordings of a pitchfork-wielding Irish farmer stomping on the lungs of a dead sheep. The lyrics are stolen from the emo kid on YouBoob. The music has occasional good moments but it’s not enough to save the other 45 minutes of boring composition. I really wanted to turn this crap off. I mourn that poor sheep. 1

Mnemic: Sons of the system Mnemic: Sons of the system

5/10

Lord K: This future metal crap is irritating. Mnemic sounds like Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Leif Edling on acid and a hospital all mixed into one. The very clinical and cold sound together with Pro-Tools Extravaganza makes for a listening session you all know. It lacks soul and it lacks heart, but it reeks of utter professionalism. 6

Kampfar: Future fusion metal is what Mnemic do according to themselves and that alone makes me wanna hate them with a passion. I’m sorry to report that I’m unable to muster such emotions this time around, I’m obviously turning soft, but even though Mnemic possess obvious qualities I find it easy to blatantly ignore and forget all about them. 5

Trauma: Yeah it’s all done great. Did I remember this all that much after listening to it? Nothing has really stuck with me, but it’s not bad. 6

CadenZ: Pretty good Devin Townsend clone, I’ve definitely heard worse. Some Gojira and Meshuggah vibes can also be detected. Not at all as bad as I thought this would be. 6

Earthmonger (guest): Good momentum, which is probably due to every track sounding just like the last. 2

Sigh: Scenes from hell Sigh: Scenes from hell

4.8/10

Lord K: Sigh… right. This was too easy. 3

Kampfar: By the sound of it, “Scenes from hell” was conceived in a circus and not down where the devil resides. Unique doesn’t equal good. 5

Trauma: More like Yawn. 3

CadenZ: Sigh plays the traditional variety of symphonic circus blackthrash. Crazy as fuck, that is. You just gotta love these guys/gal, the mix is so retardedly grandiose, bombastic and crude but still works like a fucken charm. This kind of stuff has to be done full-on with 100% conviction or it fails miserably. Sigh does not. Hats off. 8

Earthmonger (guest): Circus Metal. My opinion of this album vastly improved when I chose to wear a cardboard box over my head. I wholeheartedly recommend this technique when dealing with Sigh. Try it. 5

Solstice: To dust Solstice: To dust

4.8/10

Lord K: I expected this to be shit, simply becoz I know absolutely nothing about Solstice. And if I know nada about a band they are usually a stinker. That’s how it goes. “To dust” is full of death/thrash, unfortunately the second rate one. Nothing too impressive here but still nothing bad. It’s just sounding. 4

Kampfar: Solstice has been around since 1990 and according to the Internet they have a habit of disbanding after every record they do. I hope they don’t do so this time around, not that they are fantastic, but with a better sound their mix of death and thrash could very well end up handing me a proper erection of the mental kind next time around. 7

Trauma: This suffers from a severe case of backgroundmusicitis. You know, background music at one of those commonplace metal parties. 6

CadenZ: For some reason Solstice’s thrashy and somewhat technical death metal doesn’t convince me. “To Dust” sounds fabricated, and somehow soulless. I like the vocalist, but other than that this doesn’t grate my ballsack the way I like, that is to the bone®. 5

Earthmonger (guest): What can I say, I just don’t care about it. I can’t find anything specifically positive or negative; it just bores the hell out of me. I spun it again to see if I missed anything. Fell asleep. 2

Suicidal Angels: Sanctify the darkness Suicidal Angels: Sanctify the darkness

4.8/10

Lord K: With one of this edition’s shittiest monikers, Suicidal Anuses deliver some polished and weak death/thrash you shouldn’t give a fuck about. Happy riffs do not belong in metal. Ever. 4

Kampfar: As so often before when it comes to me versus thrash, I lose all interest when the vocalist opens his yapper. 4

Trauma: I am not impressed. 5

CadenZ: Frantic evilized thrash. Absolutely nothing new under the sun, but good entertainment for the time being. 6

Earthmonger (guest): Vocals are very 90’s. While not terribly engaging, the songs do groove. 5

Fatalist: The depths of inhumanity Fatalist: The depths of inhumanity

4.6/10

Lord K: These fucko’s obviously hold the old, classic Swedish death metal scene as their guidance in life. The stolen Nihilist logo, the guitar sound, etc… They are not able to create as great fucken music though, but it’s a nice try. Leave this to us Swedes, we invented it and we do it better for a reason, you know. 5

Kampfar: I once fisted a fatalist, no I didn’t, but fuck me in the ass with an Oldsmobile if this old-school borefest doing death is worth spending any time on at all. Do their heroes instead. 3

Trauma: If I had never heard “Those Bands”, I’d probably really dig this shit like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, I do know them, and am not so pleased with this group. Make an original logo, damnit! 5

CadenZ: Death metal of the old school kind, early 90’s Obituary, Dismember and Entombed. Not as good as the classics and the vocalist has a pretty weak voice, but this shit is still very enjoyable. The amazing golden oldies rip-off quality of most riffs drops the verdict with a point, though. 7

Earthmonger (guest): Nothing redeemable. There isn’t anything here that you haven’t heard done better by a hundred other average death metal bands. The smoky beast on the cover reminds me of that constipated turtle from “The Never-Ending Story”. Not metal enough. Maybe Spanish polka. 3

Sybreed: The pulse of awakening Sybreed: The pulse of awakening

4.4/10

Lord K: I have no idea why, but for some reason I had high hopes for this album. Keyboards, clean vocals, screams, the works. You know what I am aiming at. Sybreed’s not bad, they just sound like the 400 million other bands we have to listen to in this style, which ultimately makes them end up without an own identity. Still decent/good music. 7

Kampfar: I wish I never laid ears on “The pulse of awakening” but I have to admit that they got themselves a nice production. Only recommended if you think of Eurovision as the ultimate display of music. 3

Trauma: I was surprised. This is actually not bad. Too bad the guitars sound like every other metal band out there. But outside of that, the riffs themselves are good. This is some listenable keyboard-laden metal with clean and shouted vocals. Some of the cleans fail. 7

CadenZ: Hmm, I’m a little torn here – the clean vocals are as annoying as a Jehovah’s witness at your door 7am, but other than that this hybrid of progressive and deathish groove metal, techno and samplings seems quite OK. Oh no, now they went total pop gaycore apeshit on my ass… fuck you. I repeat – fuck you. With a dull and rusty scythe. In the ass. 2

Earthmonger (guest): As their label unenthusiastically proclaims, this album is “Listenable”… once. I’ve always been a fan of Industrial-Electro crossing over into metal, but for fuck’s sake, is it necessary to make the switch every thirty seconds in each tune? The lack of sufficiently blending transitions makes me queasy. The industrial bits could groove, in an industrial environment, but the metal doesn’t have its own two legs to stand on, and what little there is, is a bit too nu for my ears. 3

Through The Eyes Of The Dead: Skepsis Through The Eyes Of The Dead: Skepsis

4.2/10

Lord K: There’s only so much you can say about a generic death metal band. So lemme say that this is a generic death metal band. With some qualities. 6

Kampfar: Through The Eyes Of The Dead is yet another talented band going nowhere I care for. 5

Trauma: Hey, I’ve heard this before! In fact, it’s being played by shitloads of other bands as we speak. The important question is, do they do it better than everyone else? No. 5

CadenZ: Guys, if skepsis is what you see even when looking through the eyes of the dead, maybe you should’ve thought twice before recording this album. 3

Earthmonger (guest): “The Manifest” is the only stand-out track for me. The rest are just below-average, uninteresting US Death tracks. The alternating vocals get old pretty quickly: from death growl to weak black metal scream, every other line. 2

Rob Zombie: Hellbilly deluxe 2 Rob Zombie: Hellbilly deluxe 2

3.8/10

Lord K: There was a time when good ol’ Rob not only looked alot like me (or the other way around), he also created some fantastically fine music. Seems like his heart is in movie-making nowadays though, and I don’t mind since his best work is obviously behind him. No one can say “yeah” as cool as Rob, though. 4

Kampfar: Mr. Zombie looks as if he’s been living underground for a couple of years by now, his apperance certainly more scaring than the music released under his name ever was. Looks aside, this shit is actually quite good. 7

Trauma: Rob Zombie did some really cool stuff in White Zombie, even some of his earlier solo stuff was, as well. This, however, is not there. 3

CadenZ: I think we should introduce a new event for the Winter Olympics: Robsleigh. We hunt the poor untalented fucker down, torture him to an agonizing death by peeling off his skin and flesh, carve out his Zombie innards and ta-dah! We’ve got a skeleton sleigh. One size fits all – down the slopes we go! Rattle-rattle-rattle-rattle… 2

Earthmonger (guest): “Hellbilly Deluxe Vol 2” starts out with a good “La Sexorcisto” vibe. I thought, “Hell yeah, back to the groove of WHITE Zombie”. Then it took an abrupt nosedive into the high school classroom mucus trough of the aptly titled “Educated Horses”. Midway through sees it wander back into the realm of ‘listenable’, but as “Dream Factory” plays, the groove immediately surrenders the battle like a phlegm-speckled long-haired old janitor, his yellowing hanky waving in the air as he shouts across an infinite expanse at an imaginary undead army, “Why the fuck did I even record this? Who am I? Someone kill me”. The album has fleeting traces of groove after that, but as a whole, this is another effort I’m going to have to beat to death with a plunger and flush away. So this is Rob’s “Last CD Ever”, eh? I think I’d have focused on the songs instead of hiring four album art artists. What are we gonna remember here? “Hellbilly Deluxe Vol 2” was a masterpiece, old chap. Just a pity it was blighted by music”. 3

The Sickening: Death, devastation, decay The Sickening: Death, devastation, decay

3.6/10

Lord K: Norwegian death metal with a suspicious production… Add to that some pig-vocals, a shit snare sound, blastbeats, non-existing songwriting skills and you have The Sickening. Brutal? Yes. Fast? Sure. Irritating? Most definitely. 3

Kampfar: Norwegians doing death aren’t the most common thing in the world, and judging by “Death devastation decay” we should all be grateful for that. If you need a fix of br00tal death, do Infected Disarray, Prostitute Disfigurement, or Amputated instead. Incredibly fucking bad this one. 2

Trauma: I hate this shit. A lot. Be as fast as you want, just learn how to write good music. 2

CadenZ: Yeah. Oh yeah. Blast my brains out, you bitches. But stop the fucken pig squealing, you just end up sounding like a… pig. Other than that this is sweet and brutal shit. 7

Earthmonger (guest): Hate the drum sound; it’s like he’s playing on plastic buckets. Vocals are incoherent as furstytyinghek. The guitars are like first-grade math. Despite all that, I don’t dislike this album. But I don’t like it enough to buy it, either. They get a 4

Sworn Amongst: Severance Sworn Amongst: Severance

3/10

Lord K: Holy shit. Is this deathcore? Whatever it is I hope it lies down and dies on me now. 2

Kampfar: If you are going to buy just one thrash album this year, make sure it isn’t “Severance”. Apart from a couple of OK riffs, this namely sounds exactly like bland nothingness to my ears. If you utterly dig the genre you might end up thinking otherwise of course. 3

Trauma: Sworn amongst what? A giganctic pile of feces? A jumbo-sized bucket of Kentucky fried semen? A cruise ship full of heterosexuals? Fuck that. 3

CadenZ: I swear, my ears get bored to fucken tears being amongst your tracks. Thrash metal with growl vox and some shouted gang choirs. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m outta here. 4

Earthmonger (guest): Generic thrash and overall a boring sea of sameness. 3