Archive for September, 2012

September 30, 2012

Album 0131: Less Than Jake – Greased

Release Date: 1996
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Summer Nights (01:54)
2. You’re The One I Want (02:11)
3. Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee (01:02)
4. Greased Lightnin’ (02:28)
5. Hopelessly Devoted To You (02:13)
6. Blue Moon (01:38)
7. Beauty School Dropout (02:17)
8. We Go Together (01:46)

Total Length: 15:29

Summer Nights is a ton of fun, and really this whole EP is. It’s such an odd idea, performing the songs from this musical in a ska/punk fashion. You’re The One I Want works extremely well, especially since (as evident by the cover) the band really plays up having both Chris and Roger singing all over the place. Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee is short and at least is over with quickly.

Greased Lightnin’ is very cool. Hopelessly Devoted To You doesn’t quite work as well as some of the other tracks. Blue Moon is neat though. Beauty School Dropout is pretty good in the second half with the slower part. We Go Together is great, I love hearing them do the little vocal phrases. This short collection isn’t something I’ll listen to often, it’s more of a novelty, but there are a couple strong tracks.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

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September 29, 2012

Album 0130: In Flames – Whoracle

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Jotun (03:54)
2. Food For The Gods (04:21)
3. Gyroscope (03:26)
4. Dialogue With The Stars (03:01)
5. The Hive (04:04)
6. Jester Script Transfigured (05:47)
7. Morphing Into Primal (03:05)
8. Worlds Within The Margin (05:06)
9. Episode 666 (03:46)
10. Everything Counts (03:18)
11. Whoracle (02:44)
12. Clad In Shadows ’99 (02:21)
13. Goliaths Disarm Their Davids (04:58)
14. Re-Cycles (02:36)
15. Behind Space (live) (03:37)

Total Length: 56:04

Jotun is a fairly good track with some memorable bits, but seems to go on a bit long and the vocals are pretty quiet, especially the spoken parts. Food For The Gods has some of the same issues, and the entire production feels muddled and I don’t know what to focus on. Gyroscope is somewhat good, still doesn’t grip me though. Dialogue With The Stars is a pretty neat instrumental track.

The Hive is fun, especially the guitar solo. Jester Script Transfigured doesn’t really justify its length but it’s a good song and the little bits of experimentation were neat. Morphing Into Primal is pretty good but I think my issues may just lie in this band’s style. The lyrics don’t appeal to me, nothing about the compositions keep me engrossed, it just feels so average. I only really want to like this simply because the album has a pretty good reputation.

Worlds Within The Margin sort of falls under the same umbrella as everything else so far. By the end I don’t even recall listening to it. Episode 666 at least has a memorable but cheesy chorus. I have to name Everything Counts as the best song on the album based on the strength of the chorus alone, and it’s a Depeche Mode cover of course. Whoracle is a nice ending song, but a closing instrumental track for a concept album isn’t exactly the… right action I would think to take.

That is the end of the main album proper, the rest are bonus tracks. Clad In Shadows ’99 is a re-recording of an early track of theirs and it actually has a lot more energy than most of the tracks on the rest of the album. Goliaths Disarm Their Davids (and the next two tracks) were featured on an EP that was put out before this album to generate interest. Again, this song is more interesting than the main album if a bit long.

Re-Cycles is a short acoustic medley of three of the band’s songs. This all sounds pretty good, now if only some of those melodies could come through instead of being held back by the production. Behind Space is a live track and I’m not sure what it makes it special enough to warrant being on here, but it’s not bad quality or a bad performance and that’s about all I can say. This album overall is just mediocre and I want to like it but just can’t.

Final Rating: 6/10

September 28, 2012

Album 0129: Mastodon – Crack The Skye

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Progressive Sludge Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Oblivion (05:47)
2. Divinations (03:39)
3. Quintessence (05:27)
4. The Czar

    I. Usurper
    II. Escape
    III. Martyr
    IV. Spiral (10:54)

5. Ghost Of Karelia (05:25)
6. Crack The Skye (05:54)
7. The Last Baron (13:01)

Total Length: 50:06

Note: There is a second disc (The Score) that is an instrumental version of the entire album. Track times are mostly the same, and I will be talking about those at the end like last time. Total length for both discs is 01:40:55.

Oblivion is fantastic, I love the different vocals used throughout the song, and the chorus is haunting. There are really neat little bit of percussion buried in there as well. Divinations is great as well, with the same style of vocals and an awesome surf guitar solo that completely changes the mood of the song. Quintessence is fairly good, but by this point in the album I’m getting a bit tired of this style, which is realized in the next track.

The Czar has a slower intro, building up more and more before going into awesome. Very good song. Ghost Of Karelia shows off how cool the production and layering on this album is. It honestly wouldn’t be the same if it was just drums, bass, and guitars. Crack The Skye has some pretty neat moments. The little section with the robotic vocals feels very Cynic.

The Last Baron is a huge song with lots of great parts. The last few minutes aren’t entirely necessary, but it’s no big deal. Pretty fantastic effort from the band, I really do like how they have evolved and kept changing over the years. They are kind of the metal equivalent to Rx Bandits in that regard. I realize other bands change styles constantly as well, but I feel that there is a parallel in the starting points and directions both of these bands took.

The instrumental version work very well. I do miss the vocals at some points, most notably during the choruses but it’s cool how well the songs stand up without them. I wonder what their writing process was. Dream Theater songs work so well as instrumentals because they intentionally write the songs without ever thinking of vocals, so maybe this is a similar deal. This album does keep growing on me, despite my very initial aversions to Mastodon years ago.

Final Rating: 9/10

September 27, 2012

Album 0128: Adagio – Underworld

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Power/Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Next Profundis (07:39)
2. Introïtus/Solvet Saectum In Favilla (08:15)
3. Chosen (07:52)
4. From My Sleep To Someone Else (06:38)
5. Underworld (13:25)
6. Promises (05:04)
7. The Mirror Stage (06:32)
8. Niflheim (08:10)
9. Missa Aeterna (06:38)

Total Length: 01:10:11

Next Profundis has a cool chorus and piano usage but personally I think it goes on a bit too long, most of the vocals are uninteresting, and the ending is flat. Intro├»tus/Solvet Saectum In Favilla has a cool intro, and the rest of the song is fairly decent. It does tend to feel like they put every single idea in here, but not in an avant-garde way, more of a “we have no idea which bits to cut” way and it feels like too much.

Chosen is a bit more straight forward comparatively, and works very well. From My Sleep To Someone Else is pretty good, but not exactly memorable to me. Underworld is a much bigger track, laying down its groundwork for a longer period of time and has a ton of cool moments in it. That’s pretty much the par for the entire album honestly. It’s cool to listen to, and the neo-classical elements are neat but I never find myself really wanting to listen to this.

Promises is fairly nice and just plain softer than the other tracks. It works okay but doesn’t really need to be 5 minutes I think. The Mirror Stage is very good and more what the first couple tracks should have been like, that is to say more concise and a couple minutes shorter. Niflheim is entirely an instrumental and suffers from the same problems as the other tracks. Fun to listen to, but doesn’t urge me to listen again, and the fadeout is kind of cheap.

Missa Aeterna is fairly good, but I can see why it’s a bonus track. It doesn’t do anything really different from the other songs. I really want to love this album as I love symphonic influences and artists/bands that have the gall to do longer tracks, but I just don’t feel like there’s anything spectacular here.

Final Rating: 7/10

September 26, 2012

Album 0127: Motoi Sakuraba – Dark Souls Original Soundtrack

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Soundtrack/Symphonic

Tracklisting:

1. Prologue (03:44)
2. Firelink Shrine (02:57)
3. Taurus Demon (02:40)
4. Bell Gargoyle (03:26)
5. Pinwheel (02:17)
6. Gaping Dragon (02:59)
7. Chaos Witch Quelaag (02:39)
8. Daughters Of Chaos (02:56)
9. Iron Golem (02:51)
10. Ornstein & Smough (02:50)
11. Gwynevere, Princess Of Sunlight (02:47)
12. Great Grey Wolf Sif (03:22)
13. Ceaseless Discharge (03:04)
14. Centipede Demon (03:01)
15. Four Kings (02:44)
16. Seath The Scaleless (02:59)
17. Gravelord Nito (03:09)
18. Bed Of Chaos (03:39)
19. The Ancient Dragon (03:18)
20. Crossbreed Priscilla (03:04)
21. Dark Sun Gwyndolin (02:55)
22. Gwyn, Lord Of Cinder (03:38)
23. Nameless Song (06:38)

Total Length: 01:13:35

The Prologue honestly has the most in common with the game’s predecessor, Demon’s Souls, utilizing really creepy vocal chants and string sounds. Great track on its own and as backing music for the amazing opening cutscene. Firelink Shrine is some of the most downtrodden music ever, while still remaining a tiny bit hopeful and does its job tremendously well. Taurus Demon has a ton of neat elements in it that you never notice during the heat of battle but are great to hear here, like the keyed instruments.

Bell Gargoyle has some of the same elements and manages to be creepy as well which is kind of odd since the actual boss fight is one of the most lighted in the game, so you would think that atmosphere wouldn’t appear. Pinwheel has some disturbing whispering going on but otherwise isn’t that interesting. Gaping Dragon is meant to be epic in an overblown way. This seems like a huge fight but it’s really not important in the long run, same goes for the music.

Chaos Witch Quelaag isn’t terribly interesting. Its counterpart that you find afterward, Daughters Of Chaos, is way more haunting and atmospheric. Iron Golem is kind of heavy and just serves its purpose. Ornstein & Smough is good and big and epic for a great boss fight. Gwynevere, Princess Of Sunlight is fairly good but not very memorable. Great Grey Wolf Sif is fantastic, a track that makes you feel bad for the enemy you’re fighting and I love everything about it.

Ceaseless Discharge isn’t very interesting honestly. I don’t like the horns. Centipede Demon is much the same. Four Kings is pretty good and I especially the little bits thrown in in the background. Seath The Scaleless is great because of all the neat percussion. Gravelord Nito sounds like a horror film soundtrack and works well. Bed Of Chaos is kind of annoying simply because I hate the fight and there’s not much interesting in this track.

The Ancient Dragon works well in the game but is boring to listen to otherwise. Crossbreed Priscilla is an odd piece because it’s more like atmospheric, background music rather than boss fight music like it can be. Dark Sun Gwyndolin works the same way, but is better in my opinion. Just haunting. Gwyn, Lord Of Cinder continues the trend by being a very somber piano piece. Probably the best track on the album for this reason along.

Nameless Song is actually what plays during the end credits of the game, and it is pretty fantastic. It goes on for a bit too long in order to match the length of the credits, but it’s still gorgeous. A good chunk of these work much better in the game, but it is cool hearing how much work is put into these when most of the time you will have adrenaline pumping during the fight and won’t even notice the music.

Final Rating: 7/10

September 25, 2012

Album 0126: The Johnstones – Can’t Be Trusted

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Intro (00:14)
2. What’s Your Story (03:10)
3. Down On Me (02:19)
4. What Are You Drinking? (00:39)
5. Take Me To The Party (02:27)
6. Right To Say (03:13)
7. Bank Song (02:56)
8. Brittany K (00:15)
9. Can’t Be Trusted (02:31)
10. Gimme Your Love (Or Gimme Some Money) (02:58)
11. GGGetcha (03:05)
12. More Time There (00:28)
13. These Sort Of Things (02:56)
14. Wanna Know (03:05)
15. My Name Is Jerry (00:08)
16. Life In The Flow (02:50)
17. Gimme Your Love Cont’d (00:49)
18. P.U.B. (02:54)

Total Length: 36:58

The Intro isn’t really worth talking about, it’s just a joke that’s over with quickly. What’s Your Story is a pretty cool song, helped by the unique vocals and mix of styles on the track. Down On Me‘s chorus may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but there is something about it in particular (though the rest of the song is guilty as well) where it just sounds completely generic, like I’ve heard it tons of times before. That and they sound like cheerleaders.

What Are You Drinking? is a dumb interlude track, again not very funny. Take Me To The Party has an absolutely enormous Big D influence that is prevalent. On the one hand, it means this song is good, while on the other it means that they aren’t really doing their own thing and I’d rather listen to Big D. Right To Say is a decent song. Bank Song fares the same. Brittany K is an unnecessary little sample.

Can’t Be Trusted kind of sounds like them trying to be Zebrahead which leads to the same issue as earlier. Gimme Your Love (Or Gimme Some Money) has a fantastic chorus and I really enjoy the vocals trading off but that acoustic guitar is so overdone and cheesy. GGGetcha is pretty cool and seems to have a bunch of neat ideas. More Time There is once again not needed at all. These Sort Of Things isn’t too good, as soon as it’s over it’s out of my mind.

Wanna Know has some good moments. My Name Is Jerry is useless. Life In The Flow has a great chorus but the rest doesn’t live up. Gimme Some Money Cont’d is irrelevant. P.U.B. is pretty much a hip hop track and has no reason to be on this album or even exist. If they had not put on the sub-minute long tracks and left off the last two tracks, this would be a fairly good album. As it is now it’s a few good songs and a lot of me wondering what the hell they were thinking.

Final Rating: 5/10

September 24, 2012

Album 0125: Kreator – Violent Revolution

Release Date: 2001
Genre: Thrash Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Reconquering The Throne (04:13)
2. The Patriarch (00:52)
3. Violent Revolution (04:55)
4. All Of The Same Blood (06:12)
5. Servant In Heaven – King In Hell (05:09)
6. Second Awakening (04:48)
7. Ghetto War (05:05)
8. Replicas Of Life (07:34)
9. Slave Machinery (03:58)
10. Bitter Sweet Revenge (05:25)
11. Mind On Fire (03:57)
12. System Decay (04:34)
13. Violent Revolution (demo) (05:56)

Total Length: 01:02:38

Starting with a great riff and a nearly folk-influenced chorus, Reconquering The Throne kicks the album off with a hell of a bang. Great track. The Patriarch is just the intro to Violent Revolution, and it’s hard to separate them out in my mind as they are joined in the demo version. Either way, the main song works pretty well and has a memorable chorus. All Of The Same Blood is mostly decent, it has a good chorus and some neat guitar moments.

Servant In Heaven – King In Hell is a fairly cool song. I enjoy it and can’t really say much bad about it. Second Awakening is decent, once it’s over it feels like I forget everything about it. The song transitions right into Ghetto War which pretty much invokes the same reactions in me. I just really don’t care for it. Replicas Of Life is a pretty cool song though with some interesting riffs.

Slave Machinery isn’t very good and really could have been kept off the album. Bitter Sweet Revenge is much the same as some of the other tracks, except a bit more boring and just as forgettable. Mind On Fire is alright, the chorus is kind of average. System Decay is a pretty cool end to the album, a nice redeemer with cool vocals, riffs, and drumming. The demo for Violent Revolution as I said contains the intro, and they definitely improved on it in the album so it’s really just here as a novelty. This album starts fairly strong but tapers off quickly with only a couple good songs after that point.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

September 23, 2012

Album 0124: Insomnium – Across The Dark

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Equivalence (03:18)
2. Down With The Sun (04:24)
3. Where The Last Wave Broke (05:03)
4. The Harrowing Years (06:40)
5. Against The Stream (06:11)
6. Lay Of The Autumn (09:08)
7. Into The Woods (05:09)
8. Weighed Down With Sorrow (05:52)
9. The New Beginning (07:15)
10. Into The Evernight (05:29)

Total Length: 58:29

Equivalence is a fantastic intro track. Totally sets the mood of the album and style of the band, the whispers are creepy and atmopsheric, and everything gels well. It transitions right into Down With The Sun is pretty cool thanks to having a great main riff and carrying on the same style from the intro track. Where The Last Wave Broke however is more of the same but this time just doesn’t work as well.

The Harrowing Years has a nice chorus but otherwise goes on too long and is otherwise uninteresting. Against The Stream has some neat moments but doesn’t really do much for me overall. It’s like I listen to the song and when it’s over I can’t remember anything about it. Lay Of The Autumn is a bigger song that works fairly well, though it could be trimmed a bit. Into The Woods is like most of the other tracks, pleasant but unmemorable.

Weighed Down With Sorrow is a little bit better as it has some slower, more acoustic parts. The New Beginning is okay but once again far too long. Into The Evernight is more of the same. I really can’t explain how bland this album feels by the end. The start is very good, but the songs never go anywhere after that. I don’t know what to blame more, the songwriting or the production. I’m sure a song here or there is fine, but this album is right in the middle between bad and decent.

Final Rating: 6/10

September 22, 2012

Album 0123: Andromeda – II=I

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Encyclopedia (07:35)
2. Mirages (05:42)
3. Reaching Deep Within (04:50)
4. Two Is One (10:09)
5. Morphing Into Nothing (07:35)
6. Castaway (06:17)
7. Parasite (06:54)
8. One In My Head (08:03)
9. This Fragile Surface (08:05)

Total Length: 01:05:10

Encyclopedia is a brilliant opening track. The intro to it is short enough to not get annoying on multiple listens, and cool enough to really hype up what comes after. The keyboards all throughout this song are fantastic, as well as the vocals. Pretty much everyone on here plays brilliantly, and the song is well written to boot. Mirages isn’t quite as good, but the chorus is still very cool. Good thing it’s the second shortest song on here.

Reaching Deep Within is a fairly good little track, also glad that this is the shortest track. Two Is One (the way to actually say II=I) starts off a bit softer but of course builds into the heavier stuff. The outro is a bit long, but the main bulk of the song is extremely good. Morphing Into Nothing is wholly an instrumental, filled with neat moments but not entirely a memorable song.

Castaway is a very nice ballad, again I have to point out that the keyboards, sparse as they are, and the vocals pretty much make the song. Parasite has some really neat heavy moments that make the song stand out. One In My Head has a lot of cool stuff going on, even some funky bits. Very good track. This Fragile Surface is a very solid song to cap off the album. This album seems a bit unfocused but has plenty of great ideas strewn about and is well worth listening to.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

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September 21, 2012

Album 0122: Freak Kitchen – Freak Kitchen

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock

Tracklisting:

1. We’ve Heard It All Before (03:56)
2. Vaseline Bizniz (04:36)
3. Michael & The Syndrome (03:56)
4. Entertain Me (03:54)
5. My New Haircut (03:25)
6. Broken Food (04:22)
7. Bull (05:06)
8. Mr. Kaschei & The 13 Prostitutes (07:14)
9. Scattered (04:39)
10. Six Dildo Bob & The Bluegrass Samba From Hell (02:19)
11. Tiny Little Second (03:23)
12. Pathetic Aesthetic (04:39)
13. A Regular Guy (04:05)

Total Length: 55:33

We’ve Heard It All Before starts off the album very well. The way Freak Kitchen blends their usual style with an insane, almost Kevin Gilbert-like production and instrumentation is something to marvel at. The lyrics here are biting and the song has its hard and soft moments. Vaseline Bizniz is even meaner and more rocking and I love every moment of it. I adore the instrumentation, especially the bass throughout the song and the banjo in the background of the chorus. Not enough words can be said about this song.

Michael & The Syndrome is interesting at the very least because it’s the only song I know concerning Tourette’s. It’s still a pretty catchy pop song, and the guitar solo is amazing and worth listening to the whole song for. Entertain Me is a bit more laid back but still has some neat social commentary regarding, well, entertainment. Fun song. My New Haircut unabashedly takes another shot at pop songs, by having the most mundane, silly, basic lyrics but I still really like it.

Broken Food is more of a ballad, and it’s very pretty and melancholic. Everything just works well here. Bull makes things heavy again, and while it’s not as notable as some of the previous it still has its moments, like the Caribbean-themed instrumental section and the intro. Mr. Kaschei & The 13 Prostitutes is certainly unique. Lots of cool percussion, a spoken-word story halfway through, devil references, and incredibly cool vocal moments. The story section gets a bit annoying after you’ve heard it a few times, but the rest of song is just so unbelievably good.

Scattered is probably the song on here that just doesn’t really appeal to me. I never think about it or want to listen to it, and the Kenny G-type solo bit is annoying rather than funny or clever. It’s not a terrible song, just of a lesser quality. Six Dildo Bob & The Bluegrass Samba From Hell is just a very fun little track meant to show off all the instruments they used throughout this album. Tiny Little Second is a bit more jazzy and has some neat lyrics and a great piano solo.

Pathetic Aesthetic again reminds me of Kevin Gilbert, and is just a pretty solid song. It doesn’t hit huge high moments but is just good throughout. A Regular Guy has lyrics that get extremely close to being pretentious, but I can respect the idea being presented, as I sympathize a bit. I also love all the little production touches, such as in the percussion flourishes. This album is incredibly strong if maybe a bit front-heavy. I’m actually really disappointed that this is the only album these guys ever tried out these ideas on, as an album of Kascheis would be one of the best things ever written.

Final Rating: 9/10