Cavalera Conspiracy-Psychosis

Judas. Vermin. Pariah. Scum.  If that’s not a mantra for 2017, I’m not really sure what is.

Max and Igor have blasted back to their Sepultura roots (Yeah, that’s right.  What?) in a very bold manner.  Max’s post-Sepultura career had been full more misses than hits.  Ever since Roots and his Soulfly discography, he’s always had a weird soft spot for some nu-metal leanings.  That’s not to say there haven’t been some good moments, but he’s never really approached the monumental pinnacles of the early Sepultura albums.

Well, that just changed with Psychosis.  This is album number four for the reunion of brothers Max and Igor and it looks like they finally decided to give all of us fanboys of Sepultura what we have all been clamoring for.  This is as close to a proper Sepultura album the world has seen since Roots was released in the mid-1990s.  From the first track out, you can tell that something is different.  These are the Brazilian thrash metal riffs that you’ve been looking for.  Now, Max does dip his toes into some nu-metal stylings here and there toward the tail end of the album, but overall, these did nothing to wipe the smile off of my face during the first listen.  It just feels good to have Max fully embrace his legacy and just surrender to it.  This is a great album to wind up the total shitstorm that has been 2017.

4 flip flops out of 5

Quicksand-Interiors

Here you’ve got another of these bands that seemed to be going good.  They were putting out albums that were well received and then…poof.  Nothing.  For whatever reason, they just ceased to be.

Flash forward 20+ years and the dudes have gotten back together to release a proper new album of tunes.  I can’t say I was a fan the first time through for these guys, but damn, this thing is really outstanding.  I know the band members went on to different projects and such during the 20 year hiatus, but I just have to wonder what exactly goes on regarding the Quicksand entity during that time.  Are the members writing things with Quicksand in mind and squirreling them away just in case the band is ever resurrected?  Or is the band just an afterthought and these new songs have just coalesced at the point the band members come together and decide to record something new?  These are the things that intrigue me.  This album is just so well put together from track one until the final note that it just seems like it is something that has been in the works for some time.  I may be wrong, but I think that some of these songs have been marinating in the creative juices for a really long time and that’s why this platter is so sumptuous.  It kind of makes me wish more bands would take a little more time and care in crafting their albums.

Of course, I could be dead wrong on the process.  They may have cobbled this thing together over the course of a weekend binge.  Which would also be very impressive in light of the quality.

At any rate, if post-punk rockers with a dash of pop sensibility are your thing, give this thing a listen.  I was really surprised by how much I really enjoyed this thing because it is definitely not really in the metal world.  It’s catchy and it just rocks.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

Entheos-Dark Future

Well, this is just a shame.  You’ve got a group of folks who are obviously very talented and have spent a lot of time learning their craft and they have pooled their creative forces to create an original piece of art.  And it just fizzles.

I hate writing this review.  I know a lot of work and effort went into to creating this album.  However, it just doesn’t work.  This is a band whose members have some pretty strong resumes with other bands (Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit).  Their sound is pretty well in the Animals as Leaders and Periphery vein of bands.  It’s sort of very technical progressive djent with an overlay of death metal vocals.  It’s not a bad base.  However, they have added some really weird technological elements to the sound that just don’t work in any manner.  One element is the use of an effect on the vocals from time to time that makes the vocalist sound very robotic.  The other is the use of electronics/keyboards that tend to veer into something that sounds like it belongs on a Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack.  I get what they are striving for with these two choices in that they provide a sense of technology overwhelming our world.  But in practice, these sound effects just jar the songs out of themselves.  They really make the album hard to listen to.

I had really expected to like this album.  I’m really sad to say that it just didn’t make a positive impression on me at all.

1.5 flip flops out of 5

Cloak-To Venomous Depths

The Georgia metal scene has really blossomed into something special over the past decade or so.  Add to that vibrant scene a wonderfully crusty death and roll band called Cloak.  Their music seems like it should be coming out of a frozen fjord in Sweden instead of the Southeastern United States, but it is what it be.

Honestly, these guys remind me a helluva lot of fellow throwback rock n roll influenced death metallers Tribulation and Witchery (both appropriately from Sweden).  Instead of the pummeling Cannibal Corpse-style death metal, these guys bring a bit of groove and swagger to their odes to the darkness.  It’s not exactly classic rock boogie, but you get the sense that these guys have rocked out to Bad Company and Foghat before and it has sort of bled into the inspiration for these songs.

This is a really solid debut album and it’s a nice dose of diversity to Georgian metal.

4 flip flops out of 5

Code Orange-Forever

Here’s an album that came out earlier this year and just slipped past me.  I’m going back now to revisit it since it has been garnering some serious acclaim and press of late, including a Grammy nomination.  I felt it’s an album that needed a proper listen.

This is a hardcore group that is attempting to pull the genre into the modern era.  You’ve got the basic building blocks of all hardcore music (pounding rhythms, screaming vocals full of rage and hatred) with the added flourishes of industrial noise, some pop sensibilities and some seriously off-kilter stop-and-start time changes.  Put NIN, Prong, Refused and Converge all in a blender and you can kind of get a feel for the sound on this album.  There are some cool ideas floating around on here and I really enjoy the anger of the overall feel.  I think the only thing really holding me back in endorsing it higher is that hardcore isn’t my natural resting place.  If you are an angry late teen or early 20-something, this is going to hit your sweet spot and will probably be one of those really important albums of your formative years.  Seeing these guys on a double bill with Power Trip would probably be a fairly decent affair.

3.5 flip flops out of 5

Moonspell-1755

Moonspell is another of these bands which has been around for a really long time, but for some reason has just never managed to make much of an impact on me.  Most of their career has been spent in the gothic metal vein and their past catalog never really captured my attention.

This year they put together a massively epic album centered around an earthquake that hit their home country of Portugal in 1755.  This is also the first album they have recorded that is sung entirely in their native tongue of Portuguese.  Maybe it is the subject matter of the album that helps propel this release into one of my favorite Moonspell moments.  The music is death metal, but it is death metal with the bombast and the drama kicked up a notch.  You’ve got symphonic elements and lots of choir-backed choruses that help crank up the intensity of the production.  This is one of those albums that will be very cool to see in a live setting.

I’m going to have to go back a revisit some older Moonspell albums now.  I feel I may have overlooked a pretty cool band.

4 flip flops out of 5

Mayhem, Immolation and Black Anvil at Mohawk, Austin, TX, 11/21/2017

Couple of days before Thanksgiving.  The weather is starting to get a little bit chilly and the daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter.  This is the perfect time for a trifecta of grim black metal to descend upon our fair city.

Mayhem is one of those bands who reminds me of the boogeyman of your childhood.  They were the first and most notorious of the 90s era Norwegian black metal bands.  You’ve had suicide, murder and church burnings associated with these guys all before they released their first proper album.  I’ve never been a huge fan because these guys have always seemed more important for the influence they spread to other bands rather than for the actual quality of their output.  However, on this latest tour, they have been playing their classic first album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety.  Granted legendary frontman Dead and guitarist Euronymous are no longer with us (due to suicide and murder, respectively), you’ve still got the original rhythm section of Necrobutcher and Hellhammer and the vocal stylings of Attila, who replaced Dead during the recording of the first album.  Honestly, I expected a little more of an over-the-top kind of show.  In the past, their stage show has included actual pigs’ heads on spikes.  The current show had the spooky lighting, corpse paint and ominous costumes you would expect out of a black metal show, but at no point was I in fear of a portal opening up to one of the lower circles of the pit of hell.  Out of respect for the band who issued a pre-recording request at the start of the show that everyone refrain from taking out their phones, I didn’t film any of their performance.  If you’d like to get a taste of them in action, you’ll just have to buy a ticket next time they come through your town.

Now, I was actually more excited this evening by openers, Immolation.  Immolation is a super technical death metal band from New York who has been pushing their chosen sub-genre forward for many years now.  This was my first chance to see these guys ply their wares in a live setting and they did not disappoint.  Seeing guitarist Robert Vigna play live was truly a revelation.  The dude is just on a different plane in regard to a lot of death metal guitarists.  I would put his lead work up against anyone in the metal community today.

Also on the bill were long time New York death/black metal band Black Anvil.  They put on a short, gritty and earthy set.  These guys have more of a rock n roll sort of angle on the black metal theme.  You could see these guys growing up as fans of Motorhead and putting those kinds of riffs to the black metal aesthetic.

Immolation-The Distorting Light

Immolation-Above All