Archive for November, 2012

November 30, 2012

Album 0178: Pain Of Salvation – One Hour By The Concrete Lake

POS-One+Hour+By+The+Concrete+Lake

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Spirit Of The Land (00:43)
2. Part Of The Machine: I. Inside (06:12)
3. Part Of The Machine: II. The Big Machine (04:21)
4. Part Of The Machine: III. New Year’s Eve (05:43)
5. Spirit Of Man: I. Handful Of Nothing (05:40)
6. Spirit Of Man: II. Water (05:06)
7. Spirit Of Man: III. Home (05:49)
8. Karachay: I. Black Hills (06:33)
9. Karachay: II. Pilgrim (03:18)
10. Karachay: III. Shore Serenity (03:14)
11. Karachay: IV. Inside Out (12:18)
12. Beyond The Mirror (08:29)
13. Timeweaver’s Tale (06:22)

Total Length: 01:13:48

Spirit Of The Land is a nice intro, but I’m not entirely sure why it had to be its own track, as it fades right into Inside. Inside is pretty fantastic, the band’s use of synths is really cool, and I just love their sense of rhythm. The spoken word section kind of kills the pace of the song, but I understand that it is necessary for the story they are trying to tell. The Big Machine isn’t quite as impressive, but still a very solid song with some very neat vocals during the chorus. Wish they would do something like it more often.

New Year’s Eve has some cool things going on, but at the same time it doesn’t entirely stick with me. I don’t think of random melodies from this track in my head. Handful Of Nothing is very cool, a bit more ‘prog metal’ than other stuff they have done, but the band still inserts their own style into it. Water is incredibly cool. It features some great synth moments and a recurring theme in the album, just good stuff all around. Home is also good, but by this point in the album I have to feel that the songs start to blend together a bit.

Black Hills starts off pretty decently, but has an awesome instrumental section from about halfway on that is a highlight of the album for me. Pilgrim is softer and I really love it, it’s cheesy in all the right ways. Shore Serenity is kind of basic until the ending which features some really cool synth stuff. Inside Out is great for the first half of the track’s length, just really great metal. The second half was kind of used as padding in the non-bonus track version of the album so that it could be exactly 60 minutes, and it gets kind of boring.

Beyond The Mirror is pretty fantastic, I love the main riff. Very solid song. Timeweaver’s Tale is similarly great. I just adore the harpsichord sound throughout the song. I really do enjoy this album, despite a misgiving here or there. I have no idea how it’s Daniel Gildenlöw’s least favorite PoS album, it’s incredibly consistent and there isn’t a single ‘bad’ song on here.

Final Rating: 9/10

November 29, 2012

Album 0177: Månegarm – Nordstjärnans Tildsålder

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Folk Metal

Tracklisting:

1. I Nordstjärnans Sken (01:43)
2. Fädernas Kall (Under Höjda Nordbaner) (04:09)
3. Drakeld (03:23)
4. Den Dödes Drömmar (04:00)
5. Nordanblod (02:45)
6. En Fallen Härskare (03:58)
7. Ymer (02:04)
8. Vindar Från Glömda Tider (04:52)
9. Blod, Jord Och Stjärneglans (03:52)
10. Det Sargade Landet (05:07)
11. Tiden Som Komma Skall (04:44)

Total Length: 40:37

The album’s title translates to “The Age Of The Northstar”. I Nordstjärnans Sken is a piano-based intro to the album. It sets the mood of the album well, but it also follows a common complaint I have with intros like these, when their style or instrumentation doesn’t show up anywhere else in the album. Fädernas Kall (Under Höjda Nordbaner) is pretty good folk-tinged black metal, with some neat turns, especially near the end. Drakeld really doesn’t set itself apart for me too much, I’ve heard stuff like it from plenty of other bands.

Den Dödes Drömmar has a cool acoustic section, but the song doesn’t do much for me otherwise. Nordanblod is a good, shorter song because it’s memorable and doesn’t drag itself out. En Fallen Härskare has some neat moments but after it’s over I really can’t differentiate in my mind from many of the other songs on here. Ymer is a great change of pace, lots of acoustic stuff and some female vocals. I kind of wish they incorporated this more, but oh well.

Vindar Från Glömda Tider is kind of long and has the same issues of sounding the same as other songs on here. Blod, Jord Och Stjärneglans has a nice intro but most of that promise falls by the wayside quickly. Det Sargade Landet is actually kind of a good song. There is some neat production with the backing vocals, and the slower section is fairly strong. Still just not that interesting to me to the point that I would really choose to listen to this when going through my music.

Tiden Som Komma Skall is again more of the same, but with the added of bonus of an admittedly good violin solo. One good point of the album is that at very least, there are moments of audible bass, not entirely in common in this genre at this time period. That said, this is still a fairly generic album as far as I can tell and I get very bored quickly with this album. I can only hope that this is a rough start for the band and they up their songwriting skills in the future.

Final Rating: 6/10

November 28, 2012

Album 0176: Mad Caddies – Rock The Plank

Release Date: 2001
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Shaving Your Life (02:06)
2. Mary Melody (03:09)
3. B-Side (02:58)
4. Days Away (03:44)
5. Bridges (02:41)
6. We’ll Start To Worry When The Cynics Start Believing (03:18)
7. Weird Beard (02:44)
8. Easy Cheese (02:13)
9. Hound Bound (03:38)
10. Depleted Salvo (02:59)
11. Chevy Novacaine (02:39)
12. Booze Cruise (02:25)
13. All American Badass (02:41)

Total Length: 37:16

This album is the odd man out in the Caddies catalogue. Plenty of people worried from this album that the band was dropping their ska stuff in favor of only a punk sound, like plenty of the late 90s ska bands were doing around this time. They still play it on here, but it takes up a smaller percentage than their previous stuff. However, they actually do stuff other than those two, and it’s this experimentation that sets the band apart from here on and really gives them their own flair. Shaving Your Life is a straight punk song and harder than anything they had done up to this point, but not really a fair start to the album as far as what to expect. I still enjoy the song though.

Mary Melody is a brilliant song though, combining punk and a bit of throwback style with the guitar and muted horns into a really neat blend. The chorus is incredibly catchy, and the end of the song is pretty fantastic as well. B-Side is back to pretty much only punk. I really like the chorus, it’s the only thing that stands out to me. Days Away is mostly reggae with some punk near the end, it’s definitely a pretty cool song but they’ve done others like it that I enjoy more.

Bridges is a pretty angry song and probably the best punk-only song so far. It’s short, the vocals stick with you and make you want to sing along, and the production compliments these aspects well. We’ll Start To Worry When The Cynics Start Believing is fun, even if I didn’t like it the first few times I heard it. It’s an odd piece, not really experimental but there is still nothing else like it on the album. Speaking of experimental, Weird Beard is here to fill that niche entirely. A pirate-themed song (accordion and all) it’s an incredibly fun song and it’s no surprise that it has been pretty much a live staple of the band since it was introduced. It’s insanely cool and I have no idea how you wouldn’t want to sing along to it.

Easy Cheese is just a plain, fun pop-punk song. It’s not entirely imaginative, any other band of the time could have had these lyrics so the song is just a really good guilty pleasure. Hound Bound has very cool guitars in the intro, the chorus is catchy, and I like that they are incorporating the horns into a punkier song, but it does go on just a tad too long. Depleted Salvo has some cool vocal lines, but this overall really isn’t the Caddies’ style and I get tired of the track after a minute or so.

Chevy Novacaine is kind of the same deal, but it feels shorter and the chorus is better than the last track. Booze Cruise is much like the last two tracks as well, about on par with the previous one. All American Badass turns the album on its head by being a polka song. The band still gets punk in the chorus, but the infusion of polka is incredibly refreshing, and again this is another song that has become a live staple. It’s just too much fun. The great songs on this album are some of the best the band has done, but they are marred by the average songs. If the band had combined these great songs with their previous EP, it probably would have been my favorite album of theirs, but as it stands it’s very middle-of-the-road.

Final Rating: 8/10

November 27, 2012

Album 0175: Dismember – The God That Never Was

Release Date: 2006
Genre: Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. The God That Never Was (02:09)
2. Shadows Of The Mutilated (03:25)
3. Time Heals Nothing (03:39)
4. Autopsy (03:41)
5. Never Forget, Never Forgive (01:44)
6. Trail Of The Dead (03:12)
7. Phantoms (Of The Oath) (03:56)
8. Into The Temple Of Humiliation (04:08)
9. Blood For Paradise (02:19)
10. Feel The Darkness (03:39)
11. Where No Ghost Is Holy (03:42)

Total Length: 35:33

Dismember has a fairly unique style for death metal in their riffs, and that is a constant sound. These aren’t start-stop or necessarily melodic riffs, it sounds more like getting a constant electrical shock in the form of a riff. It never ends and just keeps going, which is cool for a song or two but may not necessarily play out for a whole album. The God That Never Was shows this off particularly, with some fairly good vocals to boot. Shadows Of The Mutilated shows off the problem exactly though, with most of the song being virtually indistinguishable (in my ears) to the previous track, until the instrumental section starts where we get some actual good riffs and a fairly neat solo section.

Time Heals Nothing has some really neat guitars in the background that come in for the chorus and help end the song, and those are about the only notable parts of the track. Autopsy is the first track to slow things down a bit. Still not an amazing track, but I give it points for trying. Never Forget, Never Forgive was the only song on here I was kind of familiar with before sitting down and listening to the whole album, but now I realize it’s not really anything special.

Trail Of The Dead is better though, with some good riffs and a good song structure. Phantoms (Of The Oath) is an instrumental track which means they get to go nuts with riffs and solos like the end of the second track and it’s pretty awesome. Into The Temple Of Humiliation is fairly neat as well, so surprisingly we have a string of good songs going. Blood For Paradise is mostly decent, I kind of dig the main riff though.

Feel The Darkness has some interesting quiet moments, and just tries things a bit more differently than most of the other songs. Where No Ghost Is Holy isn’t a great end to the album, but at least it has a guitar solo that is nice to listen to. Even after all this time, I really don’t get the production or guitar tone on this album. I feel like if this had been more polished I could have loved this, but as it is it’s an album made on 2005/2006 that is trying to be a throwback to early 90s death metal in tone, and there’s no point because early 90s death metal already exists.

Final Rating: 7/10

November 26, 2012

Album 0174: Moonsorrow – Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Tähdetön (Starless) (12:44)
2. Hävitetty (Ravaged) (01:34)
3. Muinaiset (The Ancient Ones) (11:44)
4. Nälkä, Väsymys Ja Epätoivo (Hunger, Weariness And Despair) (01:12)
5. Huuto (The Scream) (15:58)
6. Kuolleille (To The Dead) (01:35)
7. Kuolleiden Maa (The Land Of The Dead) (16:23)

Total Length: 01:01:11

The album’s title translates to As Shadows We Walk In The Land Of Dead which appropriately kind of gives you the idea of the tone of the album. The album’s structure is also pretty simple, four large songs with three interludes between. Tähdetön starts this beast off with its first half being a bit slower, kind of dreary. I consider it a kind of extended intro for the whole album. After that point the rest of the song gets back to the style I really love from these guys, catchy riffs and melodies and a huge amount of different instruments and layering to pay attention to. You could always try listening for something new and it would work. The riff and melody at 8 minutes is pretty much perfect.

Hävitetty is, as I said, purely an interlude. It’s just the sounds of some dudes walking. Muinaiset is the next bigger track, and it continues the trend of being awesome. There are great moments in this one as well, I just love kinda spacing out to this band. Also I should note that I really like the band’s vocals in all forms, even one or two varieties that I would hate in other forms or instances. Nälkä, Väsymys Ja Epätoivo is the sound of more walking.

Huuto has some very, very cool keyboard stuff going right from the start. This song is just the tiniest bit more of what I love from the band than the other tracks so far, just brilliant over all and a very quick 16 minutes for me. Kuolleille ends the walking and a dude screams his lungs out. Kuolleiden Maa ends the album with yet another great track. The end is great, just the same riff slowed down over and over, kind of like the band is foraying into doom metal. Despite what I just said, it’s hard to specify good moments or any specific points in these songs, as Moonsorrow’s tracks are big, evolving beasts and they are much better to be kind of just experienced. I love it every time though, and this album was tough to get into at first, and their others have been as well. Once you get to the point I’m at though, the album is just this lovely thing you put on for an hour.

Final Rating: 9/10

November 25, 2012

Album 0173: Westbound Train – Come And Get It

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Ska/Reggae

Tracklisting:

1. I Don’t Belong Here (03:04)
2. Ain’t Gonna Be Easy (03:02)
3. Check Your Time (03:41)
4. Why You Cry (02:29)
5. Come And Get It (02:54)
6. Some Things Are Meant To Be Remembered (03:41)
7. Salvation (04:18)
8. If Only (02:54)
9. What You Need (03:21)
10. The Passage (05:05)
11. Lift My Voice Up Loud (04:53)
12. For The Record (04:39)
13. So Many Things A Man Can Say (04:01)
14. Critical Ska (03:37)
15. Cheers! The World Is Almost Over (03:05)

Total Length: 54:43

I Don’t Belong Here is a fairly good opening track. The chorus is cheesy but catchy and the instrumental section is well done. Ain’t Gonna Be Easy adds some strings to everything and it really helps make this song shine. The verse is great, and the mix of instruments saves the chorus. Check Your Time has a fantastic chorus. Why You Cry isn’t at all interesting to me and is the type of song that put me off this album the first time I heard it. It’s really generic and has nothing interesting going on.

Come And Get It is fairly decent, but has a similar issue as the previous song. Some Things Are Meant To Be Remembered is fairly neat, I enjoy the vocal lines in particular. Salvation is pretty good but gets repetitive and goes on for longer than it needs to. If Only is nice to listen to but what is odd about this song (really this whole album though) is that after the song is over, I forget entirely what it sounded like. I know I kind of enjoyed it, but can’t actually hum or sing anything from it.

What You Need of course has the same issue whilst having stupid lyrics, so I remember that part at least. The Passage is instrumental if you don’t count its intro, but it again has the same issue and is way too long. Lift My Voice Up Loud is cheesy and preachy and I really don’t like it and it’s the second longest track on the album to boot. For The Record is pretty basic, not too much I can say about it. So Many Things A Man Can Say does kind of a blues/gospel thing and it does not please me at all.

Critical Ska is too little too late, it could have been good if it wasn’t here on this album after the last few songs. Cheers! The World Is Almost Over is totally boring and I’m finally done with this album. I really wanted to like this band and this album, and the first few tracks seemed promising but I get so bored and consistently start to fall asleep listening to this. It’s just bland and has nothing that makes me want to love it.

Final Rating: 4/10

November 24, 2012

Album 0172: Akercocke – Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone

Release Date: 2005
Genre: Progressive Black/Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Verdelet (04:46)
2. Seduced (04:40)
3. Shelter From The Sand (10:40)
4. Eyes Of The Dawn (04:41)
5. Abbadonna, Dying In The Sun (01:21)
6. Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone (05:13)
7. Intractable (03:57)
8. Seraphs And Silence (04:44)
9. The Penance (04:32)
10. Lex Talionis (03:30)

Total Length: 48:03

Verdelet didn’t start off well the first time I listened to it, because the first appearance of vocals are in the guttural death style. That is quickly remedied though as the band employs a whole host of vocal styles, and clean vocals actually kind of dominate this track, which is very fast paced and in the end is a great opener for the album. Seduced has some really cool riffs but none of the vocals in this track appeals to me at all, which isn’t quite the huge issue it can be in this instance.

Shelter From The Sand is a larger song in scope and length. The first few minutes go like the other tracks, but when the song slows down and focuses on the piano, it sounds like a different band entirely and is the reason I can listen to this album plenty of times and keep finding something new and cool. The end is great too. Eyes Of The Dawn has some pretty great bits, I like how their lyrics (when I can understand them) get a bit mythological. At least here they do. Some of the vocals also remind me a bit of Vintersorg.

Abbadonna, Dying In The Sun is pretty much an interlude/intro for the next track. Nothing of import really happens. Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone doesn’t really stand out to me too much but it is a fine song. Intractable has some neat, slightly softer moments and cool riffs. Seraphs And Silence is definitely awesome though, I kind of love it. There are even some parts that make me kind of giggle (in a good way) near the end.

The Penance also has some amazing riffs and moments. This band’s stuff is so good that I don’t even mind the really deep, unintelligible vocals at the beginning of the song. Lex Talionis is a more laid back track to end the album. It’s really soothing (except for the sudden end) and leads you back down to normal after this beast of an album. The first few moments of this album put me off for a long time, but once I gave it a chance I learned to love this album, and it gets better with each listen.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

November 23, 2012

Album 0171: Yes – Relayer

Release Date: 1974
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. The Gates Of Delirium

    I. Prelude
    II. Battle
    III. Soon (21:54)

2. Sound Chaser (09:31)
3. To Be Over (09:04)
4. Soon (04:18)
5. Sound Chaser (single edit) (03:14)
6. The Gates Of Delirium (studio run-through) (21:17)

Total Length: 01:09:17

The Gates Of Delirium starts with the Prelude, full of weird keyboard effects and while it kind of sounds good everything is a bit muddled. When the vocals come in things are good though, I just always enjoy this band’s vocal melodies and what they can do with things like that. Once the Battle begins it is just a constant barrage of cool instrumental parts, and while it’s not as memorable as some other Yes tracks things are still good here. Soon closes out the track and is a fairly nice ballad. I really like the keyboard work, and the vocals again take the cake.

Sound Chaser has another odd intro, but once you can get into the groove of the song it’s highly enjoyable. It’s mostly instrumental and is pretty much the band going nuts minus one slow section in the middle. I really like the yelled vocals that happen at two points. To Be Over is kind of harder to figure out and get used to than the 22 minute song, but it’s full of great things. Probably the most outright ‘proggy’ track on the album and the band just continues to impress me.

Soon is just the last section of the big song clipped, it was released as a single this way. While it works fine simply because it’s well written and such, there is not near as much emotional impact without the huge buildup that the whole track gives. Sound Chaser‘s single edit actually kind of works but is completely unnecessary because this isn’t the type of song to typically get popular, and so there’s no reason to listen to it when the full song exists.

The last track is a ‘live’ studio run-through of the whole band playing The Gates Of Delirium. The song is much the same, and the band plays it excellently but considering what this track is, it really relegates itself to bonus track for me. It was more like a recording of the song for themselves to reference more than anything, so there are some imperfections throughout, and I don’t really ever need to listen to it. Of all the Yes albums I’ve heard, this is probably my current least favorite but that still isn’t saying a whole lot because the music on here is pretty top notch.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

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November 22, 2012

Album 0170: The Contortionist – Exoplanet

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Deathcore/Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Primal Directive (04:02)
2. Flourish (06:22)
3. Expire (03:45)
4. Contact (05:00)
5. Advent (03:17)
6. Vessel (04:57)
7. Oscillator (05:00)
8. Axiom (02:25)
9. Exoplanet I: Egress (04:12)
10. Exoplanet II: Void (03:33)
11. Exoplanet III: Light (05:46)

Total Length: 48:19

Primal Directive gets started right in the deathcore stuff, and the vocals are going to be a constant complaint for me with this album. If they aren’t clean vocals, they are probably terrible ‘-core’ vocals that aren’t melodic and just remind of other terrible bands. That said, the clean vocals are alright, and the music is pretty good in the second half of the song when the progressive influences start to show through. Flourish has pretty much the same trend. If it’s deathcore, I’m not entirely interested, but the sections that are not in that style are almost fantastic and I want these guys to do a whole album like it.

Expire is entirely in that style I dislike so I can’t rate it highly at all. Contact has a fantastic intro but then kind of falls off from there, overall only being a decent song. Advent has a couple neat moments as well, but doesn’t really do anything with them. Vessel is much the same, and the weird robotic vocals don’t help their case at all. Oscillator doesn’t start off well, but the majority of the song is an atmospheric section that builds up to a point and is worth it.

Axiom is a short instrumental and mostly acoustic. A great change of pace and again I wish these guys would just drop the crappy deathcore. Exoplanet is a suite of songs, starting with Egress which is honestly pretty good and I cannot stress how good these guys would be if they dropped the core. Void is decent, it’s all heavy and just not that interesting because you can’t do a ton with the riffs in that style. Light has a good intro and end, don’t particularly care for the middle. I don’t hate this as much as I did the first time I heard it. I don’t think I’m really getting acclimated to the style, just less inclined to get upset about it and focusing on the parts that I do actually like. But in the end, I consider this album kind of a missed opportunity.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

November 21, 2012

Album 0169: Cormorant – Dwellings

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. The First Man (05:58)
2. Funambulist (10:30)
3. Confusion Of Tongues (04:25)
4. Junta (09:28)
5. The Purest Land (04:37)
6. A Howling Dust (08:52)
7. Unearthly Dreamings (11:56)

Total Length: 55:47

The First Man is a very cool opening track, highlighting both what I like and don’t like about this band. The atmosphere and riffs are great, but I’m not entirely fond of some of the vocals and production. The former is just average and the latter feels closed in, like a stuffy closet. There is also a section halfway through the track of what sounds like a person speaking on TV, and I can’t help but think of a certain Flaming Tsunamis song during the section, killing the entire serious mood it’s trying to portray. Still, the guitar is a highlight on the track.

Funambulist is a bigger song and plays with its structures more. Again, the guitars and riffs are very good, and this track has the first use of clean vocals. They are a bit quiet but sound pretty good. Confusion Of Tongues is entirely instrumental and has a lot of cool stuff going on, but I don’t really see the point sometimes in separating out an entire track like this when you have 12-minute songs. I’m sure they could find a full song to put these riffs in instead of creating their own track.

Junta brings back the the band’s black metal roots a bit, and again the atmosphere really helps the whole song. For me it’s a weird combination of downtrodden and uplifting, it perfectly fits me at the moment. The Purest Land is a bit shorter and kind of a brutal song in a couple sense. It’s fairly good, but as usual with bands like this I like when they have a bit more time to try things out. A Howling Dust is pretty good as well, don’t really have anything particular to say about it.

Unearthly Dreamings is a large track and those take a while to wrap my head around. What I can really say about it is that I enjoy it and this album a good amount, but the production really does throw me off. If just a couple things were different, I would love the hell out of this record. As it stands right now, I am pleased by it for the most part but there are some distractions that I just can’t ignore. The musical style is cool, and the vocals work the majority of the time but the rest just throws me off.

Final Rating: 8/10