June 21, 2019

Reading Wheel of Time: Part 1 of ???

I have missed being on this blog. I haven’t had time in quite a while to sit down and type anything, obviously. I do want to get back into it but time and other activities are taking priority are the factors here. What I do manage to do most days is read. While I’m on lunch at work I spend most of it reading.

My fantasy history is fairly limited. Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were read after the movies started coming out, I read all of the currently released A Song of Ice and Fire after the first season got such praise, and then I tackled (and still am) the Malazan Book of the Fallen and all surrounding works. That last one was incredibly daunting and has taken me just over two years to complete. Frankly, it took a little longer since reading the first book in the series took me three tries.

Even with 20+ books from the Malazan oeuvre under my belt, starting The Wheel of Time seemed daunting. Here I was going to step into another world, with new names, terms, places, peoples, time frames, histories, and so on. I did quickly realize that there was a glossary in the back, which has been helpful. I appreciate it in the same way that Erikson wasn’t afraid to throw you into the world because it creates less of a feeling of hand-holding. There have only been a few instances in what I’ve read so far in which a word or name is said and everything stops to explain it to the reader. A single person can have separate names and people will use them, but Jordan leaves it up to you to either connect those dots or do the research in the back.

To connect everything above, my goal here is to document as I read through the series. I estimate it’ll take about a year. I didn’t get to do this for Malazan which I sort of regret, but I do hope to make this blog a catch-all for some of these activities. Today I’ll be discussing the prologue and chapters 1-5 of The Eye of the World, the first book in the series.

The prologue, Dragonmount, was very enticing. The immediate surroundings of death kind of gave me an odd sense of hope. That may sound weird but after how real and brutal the Malazan series could be, one of my worries of coming to a new fantasy series was to find the standard high fantasy fluff that had never totally interested me. In that, I mean that I was afraid that the series wouldn’t have dealt with death and blood and fighting in any kind of realistic way, but right from the get-go there is death and it’s horrifying. The language used is beautiful to me and is a great counter-act on the horrifying surroundings. The conversation between Lews Therin and Elan Morin does sound at points like it could be the backing dialog to a Rhapsody song, but the weight of the words and their hidden meanings still had me interested. The ending of the prologue with a giant volcano appearing from nowhere is definitely fascinating to imagine and sets a good tone for what one can expect.

I purposefully tried not to do too much research on the series before starting, so I don’t know totally what to expect except that the scope must be huge with a series of this length. Even then, I am still unsure how Jordan is going to handle the different characters. My biggest comparisons are Martin and Erikson, who gave a different POV every chapter in the former’s case, and multiple POVs in a single chapter in the latter. Jordan so far in the first five chapters has only dealt with Rand al’Thor and I do wonder if this will change. It’s kind of fun to not know though. Maybe each whole book is a different POV?

The first five chapters flow into each other easily enough, so while each one’s title points to a specific set of events, they also by another author could have been just called two or three chapters. Erikson especially will have half as many chapter breaks as this book in a book that is 50% longer. An Empty Road builds some immediate tension with the black rider, and I did appreciate setting up the village and its history. It’s quaint in a good way. It’s a bit tough learning all new names in a naming system that is unfamiliar to me, but also exciting. One of the only things I did know going into this series is that Perrin is supposed to be very lucky so I did take note when Rand names his closest friends.

Strangers is mostly an introduction to more members of the cast, and it’s fun guessing who’s going to be important and who isn’t. I enjoy Jordan’s description of clothing and people, it’s very evocative. All of these chapters I’ve read take place on the same day, and The Peddler seems to mainly be to set up what will probably be the overarching plot for at least the first few books, with a false Dragon and wars going on in foreign places. The Gleeman reminds me why these fantasy series can definitely seem dorky because the gleeman himself is performing actions that seem quite unrealistic and just throws out names of tales that have a structure to them that would never fly here in our world. It’s still nice to set up all our characters and have them start interacting.

Winternight is where the action truly starts. Trollocs burst through the door and immediately the tone of the whole book so far changes. I feel like other authors or publishers would have tried to condense the first four chapters into a single chapter no longer than 20 or so pages, but I appreciate it as both a fan of a lengthier approach and because the tone was set up so well that the sudden change has more of an effect. It has me excited to read further and to keep posting here.

I’ll try to go more in-depth on later posts, I will try to post more with fewer chapters to focus on.

February 18, 2018

Album 0469: Soilwork – Sworn To A Great Divide


Release Date: 2007
Genre: Melodic Death Metal


1. Sworn To A Great Divide (03:33)
2. Exile (03:50)
3. Breeding Thorns (03:56)
4. Your Beloved Scapegoat (03:58)
5. The Pittsburgh Syndrome (02:46)
6. I, Vermin (03:39)
7. Light Discovering Darkness (03:51)
8. As The Sleeper Awakes (04:18)
9. Silent Bullet (03:27)
10. Sick Heart River (04:13)
11. 20 More Miles (04:39)
12. Martyr (04:17)
13. Sovereign (04:25)
14. Overclocked (03:42)

Total Length: 54:33

Funny that I managed to skip over two whole years of doing this. Tough album to come back to as well. These guys tend to put out stuff that is just kind of like water, maybe a bit muddy though. It goes in one ear and out the other and takes multiple listens to even tell the tracks apart, let alone try and write about them. The title track, Sworn To A Great Divide, is one of the best tracks on the album. It’s just fun to listen to and sing along to.

Exile is disappointment in song form. The first part of the verses are extremely cool and then it devolves into every other band’s sound. The chorus is almost fun but in the end, I’m not a fan. Breeding Thorns starts/continues the trend of choruses being the best parts of songs. I really dislike the hook of Your Beloved Scapegoat, and it honestly seems like one of their weaker aspects, songwriting-wise. This song just doesn’t deliver for some reason. The Pittsburgh Syndrome is one of the faster songs on here but it honestly just bores me. For some reason, the singer randomly growls the name of the song in the middle of a break.

I, Vermin is generally where this album really starts to lose me. It’s a song where once I’m done listening to it, I can’t remember a thing about it. At least even the previous track I can remember the random nature of the growled title. Light Discovering Darkness is their attempt to be a little different but honestly, it just comes off as their weird attempt to mix grunge into their sound. I’m really not fond of it. As The Sleeper Awakes continues the trends set before. Bad, basic hook and randomly growling the title of the song. I feel like this could belong to any other band in the genre. Silent Bullet offers nothing new, I really don’t have much to say here.

Sick Heart River is when we finally bring us back to a good song with a different twist to it. The hook still isn’t great but at least there is some emotion to be shown here. I do enjoy this track, especially the verse feeling specifically like there’s a fight or struggle going on. 20 More Miles is the standard closer to the album, the next three being bonus tracks from various releases. It deserves its spot because it is far and away the best song on the album. The chorus will for sure get stuck in my head some days, and there is a more pronounced use of keyboards than is noticeable in other tracks. These last two tracks may be less melo-death, but at least they work as pop songs.

The bonus tracks are generally more of the same quality as the album proper. Martyr has some neat calmer moments with the guitars, but in the end it’s still the same style that just drains you listening to it, just a wall of noise. I do like some of the guitar solo too. Sovereign has the best chorus of these three,  but it still doesn’t save it. Overclocked is the worst of these three though. It shares track 6’s quality of being entirely forgettable.

In the end, this album offers me one or two tracks to throw onto my phone, but as an album it really suffers and is hard to listen through the whole way. From what I understand this is kind of a midpoint for the band though, so I’m interested to see if they had degraded here or if they improve. Here’s to getting back on track with releases here, though weekly will surely be the  goal from here. Can’t do this daily anymore, not a young man with no attachments now.

Final Rating: 4/10

(By the way with all this time between and putting more time into each I will probably be harsher on scores than I used to be. Also thinking about going through what I’ve done in the past and throwing each album on once and seeing if my scores stay the same, I’m sure some will come down (looking at you, Suburbs…))

November 4, 2015

Album 0468: Helloween – 7 Sinners

Helloween 7 Sinners Cover

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Power Metal


1. Where The Sinners Go (03:36)
2. Are You Metal? (03:35)
3. Who Is Mr. Madman? (05:43)
4. Raise The Noise (05:07)
5. World Of Fantasy (05:15)
6. Long Live The King (04:13)
7. The Smile Of The Sun (04:37)
8. You Stupid Mankind (04:04)
9. If A Mountain Could Talk (06:44)
10. The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner (04:00)
11. My Sacrifice (04:59)
12. Not Yet Today (01:12)
13. Far In The Future (07:43)
14. I’m Free (04:11)
15. Faster We Fall (04:48)
16. Aiming High (04:33)

Total Length: 01:14:18

Sometimes there’s such a huge break for me in doing this because I’m just so busy and this isn’t my priority. Sometimes the quality of an album makes it hard to want to listen and write about it. This at least has served true plenty of times. Both are true in this case. Where The Sinners Go has a fairly neat opening, the drums sound great and the tone works well. The chorus is catchy, which is Helloween’s strong suit. It’s just not that great, somehow. Are You Metal? has a stupidly-cheesy synth (which is a good thing) but the rest of the song falls flat for me.

Who Is Mr. Madman? plays way more to the band’s strengths. It’s catchy, kind of dark in a fun-house way, and just sticks with you. It’s a bit too long to be honest, but a bright spot on the album. Raise The Noise is entirely boring until the woodwind solo partway through. If they had done more things like this on here I would like this album a hell of a lot more. World Of Fantasy is just an average song from the band. Decent enough chorus. Long Live The King is not really good in any way I can truthfully say. Maybe the main riff is alright? Eh.

The Smile Of The Sun is an attempt at a softer, more ballad type song. It really doesn’t work at all. Neither does You Stupid Mankind which has some odd grammar and tries to be harsh and mean but it doesn’t come off well at all. If A Mountain Could Talk is way too long and frankly just boring. The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner has a great chorus that sticks in your head, and that’s all. My Sacrifice has one of the best riffs on the album. Not Yet Today is a decent intro to the next track. It tries to be haunting, like the song that Pippin sings in Return of the King, but it doesn’t really make it there.

Far In The Future is a fairly solid song, but even though the band has done longer tracks in good form before, this one loses steam pretty quickly. I’m Free has a cool chorus to it. Faster We Fall is decent, but really not worth mentioning. Aiming High is the previous track but even moreso. It’s no wonder that these two got cut and put on the bonus track train. The album itself just feels lifeless for the most part, like the guys are just going through the motions. I really don’t care to listen to it ever again.

Final Rating: 3/10

October 12, 2015

Album 0467: Avantasia – Angel Of Babylon


Release Date: 2010
Genre: Power Metal


1. Stargazers (09:32)
2. Angel Of Babylon (05:29)
3. Your Love Is Evil (03:55)
4. Death Is Just A Feeling (05:24)
5. Rat Race (04:08)
6. Down In The Dark (04:26)
7. Blowing Out The Flame (04:51)
8. Symphony Of Life (04:32)
9. Alone I Remember (04:47)
10. Promised Land (04:51)
11. Journey To Arcadia (07:13)

Total Length: 59:06

Stargazers is a big track to open the album, featuring a huge amount of vocalists, all of them famous in the genre. It’s a great showcase, and it honestly kind of gets me pumped. The actual songwriting for the track could have been a touch better, but it’s okay. This album is the last in a trilogy and a concept album, but I honestly have no clue what the story is supposed to be so it’s not something I’m really paying attention to.

Angel Of Babylon is a standard power metal track. It is uplifting and fun, and I never hate listening to it, but once it’s over it’s just completely out of mind. I can’t say anything terrible about it though. Your Love Is Evil has a great chorus though. It’s a weird personal song on this fantasy album, but it works. Death Is Just A Feeling features the classic Jon Oliva in a very circus-y track, which I mean in a good way. The buildup to the chorus is fantastic and makes for a cool song, even if it loses steam most of the way through.

Rat Race is a very generic track. It could go on any band’s album, and has nothing stellar in it at all. Down In The Dark has a good chorus, but again just kind of fluff and nothing that hooks me. Blowing Out The Flame is a not-so-great softer track. It really is very boring and I’m glad only once it’s over. Symphony Of Life breathes some fresh air only from having the only female vocals on here, and a catchy chorus to boot.

Alone I Remember has a fantastic 80s-type chorus, but I don’t like the main riff or the opening of the song. Promised Land has the same generic issues as the other tracks. There’s just nothing special about it. Journey To Arcadia is a slightly more ambitious song. It all sounds nice, but again none of it sticks with me. That’s kind of the crux of these last two albums on here. I enjoy listening to them, I never really get to the point in either album where I want to shut it off, but there’s also no way I’m listing them as favorites or seeking them out to listen to.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

October 8, 2015

Album 0466: Sirenia – The 13th Floor


Release Date: 2009
Genre: Gothic Metal


1. The Path To Decay (04:18)
2. Lost In Life (03:12)
3. The Mind Maelstrom (04:48)
4. The Seventh Summer (05:22)
5. Beyond Life’s Scenery (04:33)
6. The Lucid Door (04:49)
7. Led Astray (04:35)
8. Winterborn 77 (05:33)
9. Sirens Of The Seven Seas (05:14)
10. The Path To Decay (radio mix) (03:35)
11. The Mind Maelstrom (instrumental) (04:50)
12. Winterborn 77 (instrumental) (05:34)

Total Length: 56:21

The Path To Decay is a very solid opening track. The chorus can get stuck in your head for days, the solo is restrained but great, and the mixture of vocal types keeps each moment fresh. Lost In Life is kind of great too. Again I love the chorus, and the sound of each instrument is just so well made. The Mind Maelstrom kind of has one great idea and repeats it a lot. It’s certainly well done, but not up to the standards of the first two tracks.

The Seventh Summer is a little better, but the song goes on a bit too long honestly. I really enjoy the chorus though. Beyond Life’s Scenery is a bit boring, but as always the vocals are the shining, saving grace. The guitar riff is really simple and not that interesting, but the rest helps make up for it. The Lucid Door has some great moments as well, but to be honest the album starts to lose me a bit here. I still enjoy it, but for whatever reason I just can’t connect to it.

Led Astray has some beautiful moments to it even though I’m still having a similar issue to the previous song. Winterborn 77 has some great arrangements, all the instruments have their own little bits that all work really well. Not my favorite track, but good. Sirens Of The Seven Seas feels like a song from a different band, and it gives just enough of a change at the end of the album to feel fresh. A good note to end on.

The bonus tracks start with the radio mix/edit of The Path To Decay. It’s a good 45 seconds shorter, and it still works fine. The instrumental versions of The Mind Maelstrom and Winterborn 77 both do that thing that always annoys me. They only removed the lead vocals, so all the choir vocals are still there. I suppose then these tracks would work for karaoke, but it just feels disingenuous to me to label it as an instrumental when it’s kind of not. The tracks are both fine in this manner though. The whole album has a lot of great moments, but it really doesn’t quite come together for me. It has grown on me though, and I enjoy it more than I did the first go-around.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

September 17, 2015

Album 0465: Absu – Tara


Release Date: 2001
Genre: Black Metal


1. Tara (01:57)
2. Pillars Of Mercy (04:22)
3. A Shield With An Iron Face (03:22)
4. Manannán (06:39)
5. The Cognate House Of Courtly Witches Lies West Of County Meath (04:19)
6. She Cries The Quiet Lake (04:11)
7. Yrp Lluyddawe (01:52)
8. From Ancient Times (Starless Skies Burn To Ash) (03:54)
9. Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181) (04:47)
10. Vorago (Spell 182) (05:46)
11. Bron (Of The Waves) (01:32)
12. Stone Of Destiny (…For Magh Slecht And Ard Righ) (07:47)
13. Tara (Recapitulation) (01:46)

Total Length: 52:13

Tara is a basic intro track focused on bagpipes. It’s based on melodies we’ve all heard before, so nothing really new to be found. It also kind of doesn’t really set the scene, because the bulk of the album itself doesn’t try to replicate this atmosphere. Pillars Of Mercy though has a cool little opening to it that sticks with you, and the riffs are crazy and fast. I don’t want to just assert that these guys are unique, but even though I’d been a fan of this style of music for a while, it still took plenty of time to get into the way this band does things. The way it all blends together is something I hadn’t heard before, and once it clicked it was great.

A Shield With An Iron Face is clearly one of the tracks with the guest King Diamond vocals, at least in the intro, and the vocals overall are one of the highlights of this track. The stereo field is used to great effects for the rhythm of the vocals, and there is a good use of synths to add a little more to the whole thing. Manannán has an unnecessarily long intro, but the bulk of the song has some great riffs and more cool vocal stuff going on. The Cognate House Of Courtly Witches Lies West Of County Meath isn’t as great as the previous tracks, but still very solid.

She Cries The Quiet Lake has some killer riffs but the style of the music starts to wear a bit by now. Yrp Lluyddawe is an ambient track to divide the two halves of the album. Nothing special. From Ancient Times (Starless Skies Burn To Ash) is kind of rejuvenated and has a bit more energy than the few previous tracks. Great start to the second half. Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181) has fantastic riffs to it too. When it finishes it rolls right into Vorago (Spell 182) which has a few odd points to it. It is one of the better tracks on the album.

Bron (Of The Waves) is a pretty little acoustic track, short and sweet. Stone Of Destiny (…For Magh Slecht And Ard Righ) features the great guest vocals, as well as some of the best riffs on the album. They saved the best for last, and just in time because I get tired of the album around this point. Tara (Recapitulation) is just another bagpipe track, not much to say. The album itself took me quite a few listens to get into. I don’t really ever ‘want’ to listen to it though. It’s not an album that I’d crave to hear, which is kind of damning in its own way I suppose. It does have some value, and did grow on me, but this one at least is not entirely for me.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

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February 15, 2015

Album 0464: Serj Tankian – Elect The Dead


Release Date: 2007
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Empty Walls (03:49)
2. The Unthinking Majority (03:47)
3. Money (03:54)
4. Feed Us (04:31)
5. Saving Us (04:41)
6. Sky Is Over (02:57)
7. Baby (03:31)
8. Honking Antelope (03:51)
9. Lie Lie Lie (03:33)
10. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition (04:23)
11. Beethoven’s Cunt (03:13)
12. Elect The Dead (02:55)
13. The Reverend King (02:50)
14. Blue (02:45)
15. Empty Walls (acoustic) (03:47)
16. Feed Us (acoustic) (04:21)
17. Falling Stars (03:05)

Total Length: 01:01:53

Empty Walls has a decent intro and some ironic lyrics, but is overall a well-done song and the chorus makes the intro riff sound more fun. The Unthinking Majority is was more interesting, with a constantly changing pace and feel, and it’s got this avant-garde feel that is just fun to sing along to. Some of it almost sounds overdone, but it works. Money has the same crazy feeling, going nuts at times and calm at others. It’s disorienting the first time, but after that I loved the song every time.

Feed Us is more of a standard track, offering nothing really new to my ears but simply doing what it does well. Not my favorite here, but nice to hear. Saving Us has this really dream-like quality to it at the beginning, and this song is where I think Serj Tankian’s voice works the best. It feels very heartfelt and once the heaviness kicks in it all just clicks together. Sky Is Over goes for the more bombastic side, especially for the entire second half which is just silly in a good way.

Baby has a great chorus but the rest of the song around it isn’t as good as a couple songs before it. Honking Antelope gives me this off-key, creepy feeling which is both good and bad. It works sometimes, but other times feels like that grunge sound I hate. I love the vocals for the chorus in Lie Lie Lie but the rest of the song doesn’t quite live up to it. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition is the craziest song on here. While I’d consider it a good song, it treads the line before going too far very carefully. In the end it stays on the better side.

Beethoven’s Cunt has some nonsensical lyrics and from what I’ve tried to interpret the song title doesn’t even have anything to do with them. Still a fairly fun song, but why? Elect The Dead is a sad little track. Not sad because it’s bad, but because it has this somber atmosphere that closes out the standard album very well. The Reverend King seems to be going for this semi-musical type idea, but I don’t really like the end result.

Blue is an acoustic bonus track, and it’s a decent little piece. It really doesn’t stand out in any way. The acoustic version of Empty Walls has some of the same power in the chorus, but it’s not all there. Idealistically, songs should work with minimal instrumentation and crazy amounts of it too, but it doesn’t here. Feed Us in acoustic fashion has the same issue. It’s just lacking. Falling Stars closes this whole thing off in a very ‘hmph’ way. It just leaves no impression. The main album itself though is solid pretty much the whole way through. Some dips in it, and I don’t think the album is worth clamoring over, but it’s a good effort.

Final Rating: 7/10

February 9, 2015

Album 0463: Sepultura – Arise

Sepultura - Arise

Release Date: 1991
Genre: Thrash Metal


1. Arise (03:20)
2. Dead Embryonic Cells (04:54)
3. Desperate Cry (06:41)
4. Murder (03:29)
5. Subtraction (04:48)
6. Altered State (06:35)
7. Under Siege (04:54)
8. Meaningless Movements (04:42)
9. Infected Voice (03:20)
10. Orgasmatron (04:14)
11. Intro (01:33)
12. C.I.U. (Criminals In Uniform) (04:17)
13. Desperate Cry (06:43) (Scott Burns mix)

Total Length: 59:30

After a short intro to pacify us, Arise comes screaming through with some really good riffs and an overall charged feeling. The only thing I mind is that these types of squealy guitar solos don’t really appeal to me. Dead Embryonic Cells has a slower intro and remains solid, but doesn’t leave near as much of an impression as the first track does. Desperate Cry has the same issue. I’m just not that into it. Everything sounds like it has some heart put into it, but not enough. There’s no emotion here that I can connect to.

Murder is a bit better in that regard, but still I find myself just not digging what these guys are doing. Subtraction has some fine riffs to it at least. Altered State changes things up with an almost tribal-like intro, followed by some of the best riffs so far. The song goes on a bit too long for my taste though. Under Siege changes the pace back and forth and works pretty well with that set up. Solid track.

Meaningless Movements actually has a pretty good guitar solo and is about the only thing that sticks out. Infected Voice is standard fare. Good riffs, but nothing behind that. Orgasmatron is a Motörhead cover and while I enjoy it, I can admit that it is one-note. Intro was a track not originally on the release, and they seem to have taken and expanded it into a previous track, which is why they cut it out I guess.

C.I.U. (Criminals In Uniform) is also a newer track and it really does nothing for me. I say that with even more gumption than the other times I said it. Desperate Cry is an alternate mix, and while it’s noticeably different, I can’t say for sure that it’s better. The song itself is no different and that’s what stands out here, a different sound doesn’t change or fix that. The whole album feels fun at random moments, but I always get bored at some point and I can never remember any of this afterwards, even after listening to it multiple times.

Final Rating: 6/10

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August 15, 2014

Album 0462: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs


Release Date: 2010
Genre: Indie Rock


1. The Suburbs (05:15)
2. Ready To Start (04:16)
3. Modern Man (04:40)
4. Rococo (03:57)
5. Empty Room (02:52)
6. City With No Children (03:12)
7. Half Light I (04:14)
8. Half Light II (No Celebration) (04:27)
9. Suburban War (04:45)
10. Month Of May (03:51)
11. Wasted Hours (03:21)
12. Deep Blue (04:28)
13. We Used To Wait (05:01)
14. Sprawl I (Flatland) (02:54)
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) (05:26)
16. The Suburbs (Continued) (01:28)
17. Culture War (05:24)
18. Speaking In Tongues (03:52)
19. Wasted Hours (A Life That We Can Live) (04:26)

Total Length: 01:17:47

The Suburbs starts with a sound that has become all too familiar. A positive-feeling beat, some piano, and acoustic guitar behind it all. It’s kind of standard now, even if it does sound somewhat nice. The vocals are pretty boring though, like there’s no energy. The song just kind of plods on until it ends, being pleasant but unrewarding. Ready To Start is a much better track, like the album itself wasn’t ready to start until this track (I bet plenty other people have said this line). The vocals are more energetic as well, and there is an atmosphere akin to The Protomen that is nice to hear.

Modern Man is pretty good as well, and continues on the lyrical theme that is all-present on this album, about modern conveniences and the way things used to be, but also set in the future. I’m not big on lyrics in general, but these work pretty well. Rococo is pretty fantastic simply for the little Zappa-esque melody in the chorus. It’s so catchy and incredible to hear that it saves the song from being boring single-handedly. The instrumentation is pretty cool as well.

Empty Room has a few faults in it, but not enough that I can overlook what is there. It brings in a much needed variation to the vocals and gives the song a bunch of life from it. City With No Children however goes the opposite direction. The music is boring, and the vocals go back to being lifeless. Half Light I is basically a big long intro for the next track, but it’s not bad. I like the guitar and the slight climb the song has. Half Light II (No Celebration) is nice but it feels like more of a collection than a song. As in, it doesn’t feel as if there’s a point once it’s over.

Suburban War is kind of boring until the last minute or so, that bit I do enjoy. Month Of May is absolute trash. I can’t stand it. Some of the same complaints as before, but now with a loud, generic guitar riff over the whole thing repeatedly. Wasted Hours is nice and has this ‘homey’ feel, like being somewhere you haven’t been in years. Deep Blue has some neat bits to it, but it takes a while to get there. I wish it were better. We Used To Wait is fairly good, and again the song gets best right at the end. It’s not like I don’t want them to have climaxes, but to introduce the most interesting elements at the end makes me hate listening to the first 3/4 of the song.

Sprawl I (Flatland) is decent but kind of boring. It’s kind of shocking then, that Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) is far and away the best track on the album. It’s catchy, upbeat, with somewhat ambiguous lyrics. It’s mood screams like it’s out of the 80s, but it could have only been done in modern times. It’s still got the band’s style, and is not just a pop song. It’s beautiful and it surprises me every time I hear it with the rest of the album preceeding it. The Suburbs (Continued) however is one of the worst tracks on here. Sure, it’s short but I’m bored ten seconds in.

Culture War falls into the same trap as before. The first few minutes are boring, and they do themselves a disservice in my opinion for not letting the song feel fuller. Speaking In Tongues is a bonus track, and to me it is quite boring. To associate this song with Talking Heads in anyway is a crime, even though there are other parts of this album where I wouldn’t have minded that connection. Wasted Hours (A Life That We Can Live) is an extended version of the track from before. The new ending is cool, but nothing I miss and regret them taking out from the standard product.

Final Rating: 7/10

August 7, 2014

Album 0461: Helheim – Kaoskult

Helheim - Kaoskult

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Black/Folk Metal


1. Det Norrøne Alter (05:19)
2. Northern Forces (04:17)
3. Om Smerte Og Liv (07:32)
4. Om Tilblivelsen Fra Gapende Tomhet (03:31)
5. Helheim 6 (02:50)
6. Åndevind (06:07)
7. Symboler Bakover Og Fremover (03:07)
8. Altered Through Ages, Constant In Time (03:25)
9. Svart Seid (04:45)

Total Length: 40:51

Det Norrøne Alter has a fantastic opening that wastes no time. The dark atmosphere is presented immediately and the slow moving pace is perfect. Things pick about a third of the way through and there are great varied vocals and some good riffs. The bit at the end with the organ is fantastic. Northern Forces features a very cool riff to start things off and is just a solid song overall. Om Smerte Og Live is good as well, though it doesn’t justify its length too well. It kind of kills the pace of the album for me a little bit.

Om Tilblivelsen Fra Gapende Tomhet is a fast song with some nice points to it. I can’t say I love it, but I enjoy it. Helheim 6 is kind of an ongoing series on their albums, dark instrumental pieces. It’s a nice break at least. Åndevind has some fine moments to it but I find myself getting bored by this point in the album. It just doesn’t engage me. Symboler Bakover Og Fremover does a little bit better job on that front, I do really like the chorus.

Altered Through Ages, Constant In Time is pretty solid throughout. Again at this point though, just kinda waiting for the album to end. Svart Seid just doesn’t offer anything new to the table. I enjoy listening to this album, but after the first two songs it really loses me and I just can’t focus on it.

Final Rating: 6/10

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