Bloodbath-The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn

I really find it kind of strange that Bloodbath is still a viable entity.  When this project first started, it really felt like a simple outlet for death metal dudes whose main gigs had started to pull away from their original gritty death metal roots into more respectable and proggier death metal bands.  For those not familiar with Bloodbath, this started as a side gig of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, Katatonia’s Jonas Renske and Anders Nystrom and all around death metal guru/producer/drummer/guitarist Dan Swano.  Swano and Akerfeldt dropped out a few albums past and has been replaced by Opeth drummer Martin Axenrot and Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes.

I like the fact that the guys in the band are really embracing their dark roots on this one.  Renske and Nystrom have reverted by to their early Katatonia nom-de-guerre of Lord Seth and Blakkheim, respectively.  Axenrot is simply Axe and Holmes is going by Old Nick.  They are also living true to their name by basically bathing in (fake?) blood for every appearance/photo shoot they do.  It’s really become quite the spectacle of a band.

Musically, this new one is exactly what you have come to expect from Bloodbath.  Any niceties have been stripped away from this one.  It’s death and gore and apocalypse and a little more death for good measure.  The guitar tones have this odd gritty sound to them.  They are definitely playing to the early 90s sound of the early wave of Scandinavian death metal bands.  This music isn’t for the prog nerd who have latched onto Katatonia and Opeth’s current output.  This is music for the gutters and the morgues.

Also, that album cover is just perfect.  So very Rosemary’s Baby of them.  I love it!

Another tidbit is that they were able to get Jeff Walker of Carcass, Karl Willetts of Bolt Thrower and John Walker of Cancer to provide guest vocals on one track.

3.5 flip flops out of 5

Chthonic-Battlefields of Asura

I’ve got to believe that there are other metal bands from Taiwan, but the only one of which I am aware is Chthonic.  Chthonic is a breed of band that proves that metal is one of those art forms that truly transcends national borders and that each new region that metal touches brings their own distinctive style to the proceedings.  Chthonic can primarily be seen as a death metal band with theatrics and symphonic elements combined with the use of traditional Taiwanese instruments and lyrics drawing upon the folklore of Taiwan and their struggle for independence from China.  Chthonic is also one of those bands whose interests in promoting human rights issues is as paramount as the craft of their music.  This is evidenced by lead singer Freddy Lim’s recent election to Taiwan’s legislative body in 2016.  Think of that.  This would be like James Hetfield being elected to the House of Representatives.  Bizarre and cool.

I’m honestly kind of surprised to see Chthonic releasing an album in light of Freddy’s political duties.  Freddy is still screaming in full bloody death metal style and the band is still providing the same theatrical style of death metal they are known for.  I’m not sure that this latest album is breaking any new ground for the band, but it’s a solid effort and fans of the band should be pleased with the result.

3 flip flops out of 5

King Buffalo-Longing To Be the Mountain

Ted Nugent is a dick.  ‘Tis true, ’tis true.  Even you gun freaks know he’s an asshole.  But I’m going to the Nuge well of witticisms to start this review because I think it sums up this album perfectly.  Nugent sucks as a human being, but dammit, I have to admit he did come up with some pretty riffs in the 70s and I’m a pretty damn big fan of Double Live Gonzo.  When you’re putting out decent music, it is a lot easier to look past an artist’s failings as a human being.  It becomes hard to do so when you are Numero Uno NRA apologist and Trump butt-licker and you haven’t had anything relevant to add to the musical world since said 1970s era.  At any rate, I digress.  Let me get back to the whole reason of bringing up the Nuge.  On the aforementioned Double Live Gonzo, he has a lengthy intro to the song Hibernation (righteous classic rock jam) which he ends with, “If you bear with me, I’m going to see if I can let this one melt into your mouth.”  Honestly, now that I type it, it sounds gross.  Especially coming from Nugent.  But, still, this is the phrase that popped into my head when I first heard King Buffalo’s new album, Longing To Be the Mountain.  It’s so cool and so chill and so stonery that it absolutely melts into your mouth and makes everything…..mellow.

King Buffalo, for the uninitiated, is a three-piece outfit from upstate New York.  I’d call them a power trio, but they just never really get all that powerful.  That’s not a knock.  Their music is definitely in the stoner jam band space.  Their songs sort of meander here and there and they usually build into something approaching rocking status.  But, overall, it’s chill music.  And it is really, really good.  Longing To Be the Mountain builds upon the sound that was established in their previous release, Orion.

I’d be remiss not to issue a PSA that these dudes will be playing in Austin at Hotel Vegas this Friday evening.  It’s going to be cold as shit, but come out and check them out.  I don’t want to hear any excuses.  I already know that you don’t have any plans.  We can huddle together and let this one melt into our mouths.

4 flip flops out of 5

 

All Them Witches at Antone’s, Austin, TX 11/3/2018

It’s election day here in the States.  Hooray.  I have zero faith in my fellow Americans to do anything right.  Let’s just burn this fucker down and start again, shall we?

Anyway, I went to a rock show on Friday because nothing else in the world matters.  It was rocking.  It was grooving.  It was good.  All Them Witches hit the legendary Austin blues club Antone’s.  This was cool for a couple of reason.  First, I’m new to the All Them Witches bandwagon.  I just stumbled across them a couple of weeks ago when their new album, the unfortunately named ATW, came out.  I dug it quite a bit (there’s a review in the archives somewhere if you are so inclined) and I gathered up a group of friends to see them perform their songs live.  Second cool thing was seeing a show at Antone’s.  I’ve lived a good majority of my life in this town and you would have thought that I would have seen a show at a famous club like Antone’s before.  Well, if you did think that, you would have been wrong.  Now, it’s not like this was the original home of Antone’s.  This place has moved multiple times all over town.  Stevie Ray Vaughan never played at this location.  So, it’s not like this location has a great deal of history in it.  It is ultimately just another club in downtown Austin that caters to live music and just happens to have a famous name in the history of the Austin music scene attached to it.  I guess what I’m saying is “meh” on my overall impression of the club.  It’s a decent venue, but it just doesn’t really have anything special attached to it.  But, at any rate, I finally saw a show at a club with “Antone’s” on the marquee.  Yippee.

Anyway, enough rambling.  This show was great.  All Them Witches ditched their keyboard player somewhere between the recording of the new album and this current tour.  So, you’ve got a tight little power trio going.  I was really impressed with the guitar playing of Ben McLeod and the low-key sardonic vocals and in-between song banter of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Park, Jr.  Not to overlook the great foundation laid down by drummer Robby Staebler.  These guys are a power live.  Go check them out if they roll through your town.

Diamond

Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath at The Mohawk, Austin, TX, 11/1/2018

This was a cool way to spend an evening.  Brownout is a local Latin-inspired funk and jazz band.  They are composed of a pretty good chunk of Grupo Fantasma and they have a penchant for creating Latin-flavored covers of other bands.  Their most current album is Fear of a Brown Planet which re-imagines songs from Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet.  Last night’s show featured Brownout’s legendary renditions of some of Black Sabbath’s songs.

I had heard a lot of raving reviews about these shows and I was not disappointed in the slightest.  You’ve got an 8-man band (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, percussionist, trumpet, trombone and saxophone) crammed onto a tiny stage and they just killed it.  It was amazing to me how seamless the addition of a horn section and Latin percussion to Black Sabbath anthems was.  The horns just added punch and some cool flavorings to what are simply classic metal songs.  And the costume changes.  Lead singer Alex Marrero came out in his Halloween’s finest sporting a blood spattered apron, rubber gloves, goggles and an axe.  He managed to change into a matador’s outfit, a poncho and cat mask combo and finally, a pig’s head and suit for War Pigs (obviously).  This was a lot of fun.  Definitely go check these guys out if they play in your neck of the woods.

N.I.B.

Into the Void

War Pigs

Beyond Creation-Algorhythm

I honestly came close to purposely not purchasing this album simply because of the title.  Algorhythm.  See, it’s clever.  Algorhythm.  It sounds like algorithm, but they spelled the “rithm” portion of the word as “rhythm”.  Because music has rhythm.  And, see, Beyond Creation is a technical death metal band.  So, they do a lot of weird time changes and shit that involves fractions and other math type shit.  Just like algorithms involve math type shit.  See, it all coalesces perfectly.  Algorhythm.  Music and math and shit and Beyond Creation.  It all comes together in the Rick Grimes’ dad joke of album titles.  Algorhythm, Coral!!

So, let this be another piece of evidence for not judging an album by its cover or album title.  Because in spite of the not so great title, this thing rips.  I’ve seen Beyond Creation open up a couple of times and they have always impressed with their technical skill.  However, I’ve never completely embraced them because their past material seemed to focus more on the technical proficiency of their performances rather than crafting some really memorable songs.  It seems that with Algorhythm that the band has finally found that balance between the two.  The album has all the flash and brilliance in the performances, but the flash never feels overindulgent and doesn’t overshadow what are some very strong songwriting.  This feels like an exciting album and one that the band can hopefully capitalize on.  Let’s just hope the album title doesn’t end up being a hindrance.

4 flip flops out of 5