Nine Inch Nails-Add Violence

Add Violence [Explicit]

Man, I really hate EPs.  They just aren’t as satisfying as a full album.  Every once in a while a cool one will come down the pike (see Mastodon’s Cold Dark Place), but by and large, they are either a tease that leaves you wanting more or they are just cobbled together throwaway tracks from the recording sessions of a real LP.  Either way, it just leaves me wanting more in terms of quality and quantity.  I fear the day that bands start moving away from the full album form to focus more on singles and EPs.  Luckily, I think most metal bands are pretty committed to the LP form.

Which brings us to Mr. Reznor and this latest EP he and his collaborator, Mr. Ross have dropped upon us.  I hate to do this because Reznor is an innovator and was one of the pioneers of the industrial movement, but it really needs to be said: This is kind of a mailed in performance.  You’ve got five tracks total and only the opener, Less Than, a cool and infectious dance oriented piece and album closer, The Background World, a haunting piece that ultimately fades out into a series of static white noise, leave any sort of lasting impression.  Sadly, this thing kind of feels like filler.

Go back in the studio, boys, and don’t come back out until you have a proper album to release.

2.5 flip flops out of 5

The Black Dahlia Murder-Nightbringers

Take a couple of deep breaths.  Hold it.  Aaaaaaaaannnnnddd…..hit play NOW!

You’re gonna need to hold on to your butt as soon as this one kicks in and I think you’ll be happy that this is a pretty short album.  It is pure chaos from the word “go” and it doesn’t really stop until the closing note hits.

The Black Dahlia Murder is one of those bands that I really want to like.  They are critical darlings.  They’re very popular amongst the death metal scene.  They all seem like really normal guys…dudes that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with.  Their singer is kind of carrying a little extra weight and wears glasses….which I can relate to.  Sadly, though, I just haven’t been able to embrace their sound wholeheartedly.

The current album reminds me a lot of the rest of their earlier catalog.  It’s technically proficient.  It’s very angry.  It’s aggressive as it can possibly get.  The guitar solos are very creative.  They are just a professional machine of a metal group.  But, there is just something missing.  I can’t even really put a finger on it what it is that is holding me back with these guys.  Maybe if they pulled back on the reigns a bit? Put a little more groove in the proceedings?  I don’t know.  But, after listening to this one a couple of times through, I can’t say that any of the tracks really stand out or have wormed their way into my brain in any memorable manner.

Maybe it’s just me.  I mean, yeah.  It’s probably me.

3 flip flops out of 5

 

Primus-The Desaturating Seven

It looks like Les and the gang decided to double down on the children’s stories.  After giving the music from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack the Primus treatment back in 2014, Primus has provided a musical journey based on the children’s book The Rainbow Goblins by Ul de Rico for their current release.  Since Primus has always been the Tim Burton of the alternative metal world, their exploration of these slightly warped children’s tales really comes as no surprise.

The current album doesn’t stray very far from what one would expect from a latter-era Primus release.  You’ve got your crazy meandering bass lines from Les.  You’ve got your random sprinkling of erratic guitar riffs from Mr. LaLonde.  You’ve got your downright mastery of Tim Alexander laying down the foundation for the whole enterprise on the drums.  You’ve got Les’ vocals sounding more and more Vaudevillian over the years.  The songs don’t provide any infectious classics like Tommy the Cat or Jerry Was a Racecar Driver, but there is plenty of innovative playing to keep things interesting throughout.  This one is less bombastic than earlier Primus albums which speaks to the age/maturity of the parties involved.  This feels more like an introspective Primus than past efforts.  Solid, if not always inspired, effort that feels very brief in its 35 minute running time.

3.5 flip flops out of 5

Monolord-Rust

Three fuzzy dudes from Sweden playing a fuzzy guitar, fuzzy bass and pounding drums.  This isn’t a sound that one normally associates with metal coming out of Sweden.  I would have pegged these guys as coming out of the southeastern U.S. or maybe out of the desert rock scene that spawned Kyuss.  Regardless of origin, this is a fantastic release.

This is one of those albums that on the first pass didn’t register much.  Typical doom record with an extra dash of distortion was my first impression.  However, on the second pass, there seemed to be a little more depth and nuance going on.  This is really a subtle album and one you should not dismiss on first glance.  It certain respects this kind of reminds me of a doom version of Caress of Steel by Rush.  You’ve got four shorter (relatively) songs on the front end of the album with two monumental epic closers to round things out.

Monolord is another of these bands that are just starting out.  I really like my first taste of their sound.  This is definitely a band to keep an eye on going forward.

4 flip flops out of 5

Khemmis and Oceans of Slumber at The Brash Brewery 2nd Anniversary Party, Houston, TX-10/7/2017

Metalhead breweries are a thing.  There’s something about the craft brewing culture that just lines up nicely with metal culture.  Meld the two together at an event and a good time is sure to follow.  I hadn’t even heard of Brash Brewing until this event posted online, but I knew they had to be good people if they were connected enough to the underground metal scene to invite Colorado doom band Khemmis to headline their second anniversary shindig.

I had to get up early for this road trip to Houston due to a 1pm show time for opening act Oceans of Slumber.  I kind of figured that since we had reached October that it would be a pleasant day outside.  Silly me!  I forget how oppressive the humidity in Houston can be.  I already had sweat dripping down my butt crack standing in line to get into the brewery.  On the good side, the stage set up was inside the brewery so we weren’t in the sun all afternoon.  On the bad side, this was a metal warehouse with no air conditioning and little airflow.

Oceans of Slumber started promptly at 1pm and powered through a nice set that showcased one new song and a nice Candlemass cover as the finale.  These guys are a Houston doom metal band that you should definitely check out.  Their female singer brings a really strong and sultry voice to some crushing doom riffs.

Headliner Khemmis did not disappoint at all.  These guys are newcomers to the doom scene and are still touring on their second album overall.  I stumbled upon them last year with the release of Hunted, which I had in the top five albums from last year.  The only reason I drove to Houston was to see them do their thing live.  They definitely have the live chops to go along with their studio work.  Crushing riffs and nice twin leads combined with the dueling clean and death vocals provided for a nice soundtrack to this celebration of quality beer.

Oh, and the beer was pretty good as well.  Metal themed beers were the order of the day (Hammer Smashed Face and Vulgar Display of Power were two examples).  Brash Brewing seems like a cool place to hang in you live in the Houston area.  Lots of vintage video games, all kinds of heavy metal artwork and metal tunes galore.

Khemmis- Above the Water

Khemmis-Three Gates (featuring the dorkiest attempt at a circle pit in the history of metal)

Khemmis-Candlelight

Oceans of Slumber