Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In Vain-Aenigma review

Metal has a strange trend going on right now in regards to album titles.  It has become baffling normal for a metal, especially one from overseas to use this Latin-themed character as the first letter of an album title: Æ.

I'm not sure why this is.  Maybe it makes the album title seem more metal.  I find it weird and difficult to type in using a normal keyboard without finding the character online, copying, and pasting.

In Vain is a lesser known metal band from Norway, whose music is really well-constructed.  In terms of metallic style, one could realistically categorize In Vain's music as progressive metal, black metal, or even melodeath.  I would call it a creative amalgam of all three styles.  This album contains sections of full-on thrashing shred, progressive guitar leads, and blackened viciousness.

Make no mistake that this album is extreme metal.  "Ænigma" shows the band taking their sound to a whole new level and improving on both technicality and production.  This is a heavy disc, but it still sounds very progressive.  Production values are very crisp, which allows the guitar leads and acoustic sections to shine. 

Vocals are even more chaotic than they were on the band's previous album, "Mantra."  However, there is a fair amount of clean singing on this album, which I find to be welcome.  In Vain used this vocal style on "Mantra," but more sparingly.  "Mantra" was a masterful record and incredibly well-written.  By contrast, "Ænigma" sounds more mature and more polished.  While few of the songs are instantly memorable, the album as a whole carries and unmistakable vibe.  After a couple of listens, I can attest that this album is every bit as good as "Mantra" was. 

If you have not heard any of this band's previous work, you definitely should check it out.  I have attached the whole album stream via YouTube below for your listening pleasure.  As always, thanks for listening and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sigur Ros-Kveikur review

I didn't really take Sigur Ros seriously until sometime in 2012 after their previous album "Valtari" was released.  I'm not really sure why.  Perhaps the band's name didn't resonate with me.  But after I really took some time to listen to that record, I came to like the band's sound a lot more. 

Since "Valtari," Sigur Ros has been hard at work, quickly releasing another album.  This one didn't really have time to make it to the highly anticipated category because it was announced and released in a very short time span. 

If you have browsed a record store lately, you might have seen the new album, "Kveikur" gracing shelves.  The cover art is simple, yet attention grabbing. 

With this new album, Sigur Ros have adapted and enhanced their experimental approach to accessible post rock.  "Kveikur" sees the band incorporating more ominous textures, and darker, deeper sounds.  With enough distortion to keep true to the post-rock values the band is known for, accessible pop sensibilities and broken bits of alternative styled sounds peek through the haze of atmospheric grandeur.  This results in a sweeping, majestic sound that is quite impressive, even for seasoned fans of this Icelandic post-rock group.

There is plenty to enjoy on this disc.  The opener, Brenninstein immediately leaves its mark and sets a tone for the remainder of the release.  Most of the tracks continue with similar workmanship.  This album has enough distortion to keep hard core post-rock fans interested, yet enough pop styling to attract new listeners.  As good as "Valtari" proved to be, "Kveikur" is even better.  This is a fantastic release that should earn its way into the libraries of many listeners. 

Sigur Ros is known as a standard of post-rock and is referenced alongside many mentions of post-rock.  This is notable, because the collection of well-known post-rock bands is sparse.  Instead of simply adhering to post-rock standards, however, this band experiments and truly pushes the boundary limitations of the genre.  Listen to Brenninstein below.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Monolith Deathcult-Tetragrammaton review

If you are a regular reader here, you know that we cover extreme music sometimes.  Although I generally not a fan of music this extreme, it goes without saying that I am a big fan of The Monolith Deathcult (TMDC).

This Dutch extreme Avant-Garde metal band is exciting to listen to.  Each album they have released has been markedly better than the last.  That TMDC takes up to five years to conceive, write, and record their music should tell you something about the quality of the recordings.  This is a band that is as much educational as it is entertaining.  They don't just reference historical events and cultures in their music; such themes embody and even dominate the music.

At times oddly cheesy, the band is nothing if not creative.  "Tetragrammaton" takes the creativity and unusual song structures and multiplies them by introducing symphonic and industrial elements to provide atmosphere.  TMDC has also shown that they don't shy away from including samples from various sources of media.  For instance, the first track, God Among Insects, opens with Bill Pullman asking "Can there be a peace between us?"  The alien then answers ,"No peace."  Independence Day seems to be the basis of the song.  As it closes, we hear Pullman asking the alien what it is they want us to do.  And the alien answers. 

This opening track also features TMDC's lead singer narrating a quote from the 1979 movie Caligula.  The following track includes a repeated sample from Rules of Engagement.  Yet another track references Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech.

Now that we have some references and background out of the way, let me talk about the music, which is why you are reading in the first place.  "Tetragrammaton" is an intense record.  In addition to the aforementioned elements, the band incorporates razor-sharp riffing, a furnace of blast beats, infectious melodies, and blistering guitar solos.  The vocals are at times hair-raising, ranging from crisp howls to sickeningly guttural growls. 

This music is not metal for the faint of heart, but it is very good.  As anticipated as this album was, I find it difficult to keep off the 'top metal of 2013' list.  Check out God Among Insects below.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!