Archive for July, 2013

July 31, 2013

Album 0311: Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse

Opeth-MyArmsYourHearse

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Prologue (00:59)
2. April Ethereal (08:42)
3. When (09:14)
4. Madrigal (01:26)
5. The Amen Corner (08:44)
6. Demon Of The Fall (06:13)
7. Credence (05:26)
8. Karma (07:50)
9. Epilogue (04:03)
10. Circle Of The Tyrants (05:12)
11. Remember Tomorrow (05:00)

Total Length: 01:02:48

Prologue is a nice, calm intro. There are sounds of the rainfall and some lightly-treading piano to bring us into the fold of the album. April Ethereal starts off with some very brief ethereal vocals before the heaviness kicks in. The song is pretty awesome overall. When is a larger song as well, but takes a bit more time before it gets rolling. The heavy part still kicks in out of nowhere, but at least we got some calmness before that. This song is even better than the previous one, it just does everything better.

Madrigal is an interlude that serves as a brief respite as well. I like it well enough. The Amen Corner has some amazingly powerful riffs, and is simply fantastic in all respects. Demon Of The Fall keeps up the streak of great songs, being catchy and awesome as hell. Credence is the ‘soft’ track on here. It wouldn’t be classified as metal and doesn’t have any harsh vocals. My favorite part is probably the guitars in it, especially near the beginning and end.

Karma is the last big song to really finish off the album. Much like the rest of the tracks, it’s pretty amazing. I just love how everything sounds and it gets better each time I hear it. Epilogue is an instrumental to really cap off everything before the bonus tracks. It’s got a bit of a southern church vibe going on with the organ and guitar solos. Sounds kind of nice at least.

Circle Of The Tyrants is a Celtic Frost cover. The riffs are cool and all but it’s kind of jarring simply because it doesn’t fit. On its own it’s fine which is why I need to think of and realize that it is wholly separate. Remember Tomorrow is an Iron Maiden cover, and it’s a bit more in line with Opeth’s normal style. I also kind of prefer to the previous track but it’s not really a competition I suppose. This whole album as I said gets better with each listen and is simply very solid.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

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July 30, 2013

Album 0310: Rx Bandits – Halfway Between Here And There

RxBandits-HBHAT

Release Date: 1999
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. What If (02:38)
2. Ten Seconds Never Seemed So Long (02:43)
3. Gun In Your Hand (03:53)
4. Wrong With Me (02:17)
5. Cornered (03:28)
6. Now Or Never (02:12)
7. This Time (02:08)
8. Lost (04:14)
9. Andrea (03:08)
10. Walk Away (02:50)
11. Metal Man/Two Winters Ago (15:12)

Total Length: 44:43

What If is a fantastic opening track. It’s really interesting seeing the progression of this band through their albums. This is their second, and their first was just a very simple ska album. With this track they have noticeably matured in songwriting on all accounts. The lyrics are more meaningful and the music is more thoughtful. Ten Seconds Never Seemed So Long is a bit more simplistic but I like the playfulness in the music.

Gun In Your Hand is akin to their more political-oriented tracks on later albums. It’s pretty evocative, and a very nice song in total. Wrong With Me is simple ska-punk but by god if I don’t love it. It’s even got the RBF thing going on where the music is upbeat but the lyrics are kind of depressing. Maybe I connect with them a bit and that’s why I love it. Cornered is a song that never really caught me, but the chorus is really nice and strong.

Now Or Never is another simpler track, this one doesn’t catch my ear quite as well. It’s just kind of fun and then it’s gone. This Time is much stronger, the main riff is way better and catchier. I don’t know who this second singer is though, he doesn’t appear on later releases to my knowledge, so that’s kind of off putting, but this song is still great. Lost is a pretty strong song but once again I have to say it never really spoke to me. I’ll enjoy it while it’s playing but once it’s over that’s it.

Andrea is kind of a weird track. The main riff is okay, and the lyrics are odd. Decent song though. Walk Away is fairly good, though I have to say again that the song doesn’t stick with me. Metal Man has a fun intro and the rest of the song is just average. It also only last about three and a half minutes, and then we get nearly ten minutes of silence before the hidden track begins. Two Winters Ago is a fairly nice acoustic track. The vocals do get stuck in my head at least. This is before the band really and truly found their footing in my opinion, but it’s still a solid album.

Final Rating: 7/10

July 29, 2013

Album 0309: Cormorant – Metazoa

Cormorant-Metazoa

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Scavenger’s Feast (06:50)
2. Uneasy Lies The Head (07:21)
3. Salt Of The Earth (07:30)
4. Blood On The Cornfields (06:38)
5. Hanging Gardens (11:16)
6. The Crossing (03:38)
7. Hole In The Sea (06:40)
8. The Emigrant’s Wake (09:58)
9. Sky Burial (06:15)
10. Voices Of The Mountain (03:10)

Total Length: 01:09:15

Scavenger’s Feast starts off really well, and the first thing I should point out is the production. I am not entirely fond of it. The whole album is dark, kind of focused on the low end but then that low end still isn’t very clear. It’s kind of what I would expect from like a death/doom album, but not this. Looking past that, this song has a lot of cool moments, even if those moments would work better with different production. I like the guitar work most of all on this song.

Uneasy Lies The Head is really cool as well, I especially love the last couple minutes when the gang vocals come in. Again it’s kind of uplifting but the overall timbre of the album betrays that. Salt Of The Earth is a very cool song that takes lots of turns. I like it quite a bit. Blood On The Cornfields has some cool stuff as well, but the song doesn’t entirely make sense to me. More of a jumble of cool ideas.

Hanging Gardens is a bigger song that gets some symphonic elements thrown into the pot as well. The song goes all over the place but does it fairly well, and it feels natural as it builds to a climax. The Crossing has some really cool riffs and then ends, being shorter than most of the tracks on here. Hole In The Sea starts off with some really awkward vocals. Sorry, harsh vocals like this just don’t work played almost entirely by itself. Once the rest of the song gets going though it is pretty cool and the song has a fantastic ending.

The Emigrant’s Wake features some really cool things. The first few minutes are a neat use of ambiance and progressive to lull you into the atmosphere. The song also has a rare use of clean vocals and the ending is simply amazing. Sky Burial is pretty strong as well. There is a spoken word section in it as well that doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it’s not bad. Voices Of The Mountain is a fantastic ending after the bombast of the rest of the album. It’s a calm, acoustic-based piece that soothes you on your way out of the album. Despite some misgivings, the album is quite solid and there’s so much to like about it.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

July 28, 2013

Album 0308: Pensées Nocturnes – Vacuum

Pensées Nocturnes - Vacuum

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Neo-classical Black Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Lune Malade (11:20)
2. Flore (09:06)
3. Dés-espoir (10:39)
4. Coups De Bleus (10:43)
5. Epitaphe (09:49)
6. Repas De Corbeaux (08:25)

Total Length: 01:00:01

Lune Malade begins as if you’ve put the album on a record player, and then we get a very nice intro of classical elements as the modern instruments are introduced behind it. Pretty cool song to start the album off with. Flore is pretty great as well, but I like the second half of a bit better than the first half. I just kind of prefer their take on classical stuff to straight up heaviness sometimes.

Dés-espoir though starts off heavy and sounds pretty wonderful. The whole track is great. Coups De Bleus starts off in the rain, playing up the sounds of a blues track. That gives way to more standard heavy and classical stuff, great track. Epitaphe is very cool as well. There is basically not a single bad song on here. Repas De Corbeaux is great too, and the last few minutes provide a nice, calm ending. Pretty great album that I haven’t paid enough attention to, to be honest.

Final Rating: 9/10

July 27, 2013

Album 0307: Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising

AmonAmarth-SurturRising

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. War Of The Gods (04:33)
2. Töck’s Taunt: Loke’s Treachery Part II (05:59)
3. Destroyer Of The Universe (03:41)
4. Slaves Of Fear (04:25)
5. Live Without Regrets (05:03)
6. The Last Stand Of Frej (05:38)
7. For Victory Or Death (04:30)
8. Wrath Of The Norsemen (03:44)
9. A Beast Am I (05:14)
10. Doom Over Dead Man (05:56)
11. Balls To The Wall (05:22)
12. War Machine (03:35)

Total Length: 57:40

War Of The Gods is an amazing opening track. The riffs are great, the verse is insanely cool, and the chorus is catchy as hell. I love when they sing about stuff like this. Töck’s Taunt: Loke’s Treachery Part II also has a really cool verse. I love the rhythm on it. The chorus is kind of neat as well for the guitars and drums. Very cool track. Destroyer Of The Universe has a great intro and is just a strong song overall.

Slaves Of Fear has fake, annoying static at the front but once the song gets going everything is fine. The static comes back at the end too, and other than that it’s a good song. Live Without Regrets is a solid track as well, can’t say anything bad about it. The Last Stand Of Frej is kind of a slower song and keeps that pace most of the time. It drags it down a bit but the song has enough good things going on elsewhere to make up for it.

For Victory Or Death is pretty fantastic. Just kind of upbeat (surprisingly?) and I love the lead guitars on it. Just really freakin’ cool. Wrath Of The Norsemen was also the title of the band’s DVD set, and the song itself is just decent. Nothing really special unfortunately. A Beast Am I is kind of neat but not as interesting as some of the other. It also feels like it goes on a bit long.

Doom Over Dead Man has a cool intro, and is a fairly good song. Not as good of an ending track as the one on their album before this though. Balls To The Wall is an Accept cover, and I kind of like the mixture of vocals but that’s about it. Really boring song otherwise, it’s why I don’t really like ‘hard rock’. War Machine is a Kiss cover, it’s a little better but still bores me. I don’t want to let my opinions on these bonus tracks sour how I feel about the main album, which is that it is pretty cool and very strong.

Final Rating: 8/10

July 26, 2013

Album 0306: Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies

Flogging_Molly-Drunken_Lullabies-Frontal

Release Date: 2002
Genre: Celtic Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Drunken Lullabies (03:51)
2. What’s Left Of The Flag (03:39)
3. May The Living Be Dead (In Our Wake) (03:50)
4. If I Ever Leave This World Alive (03:22)
5. The Kilburn High Road (03:43)
6. Rebels Of The Sacred Heart (05:12)
7. Swagger (02:05)
8. Cruel Mistress (02:58)
9. Death Valley Queen (04:18)
10. Another Bag Of Bricks (03:45)
11. The Rare Ould Times (04:06)
12. The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors) (04:25)

Total Length: 45:13

Drunken Lullabies is a really classic song for me. It was one of the first songs I learned all the lyrics to and I loved it since the first time I heard it. One of the songs that set me on this whole path, honestly. What’s Left Of The Flag has a great intro before the rest of the song kicks in, it’s really great. Very strong song. May The Living Be Dead (In Our Wake) is simply great as well. A pretty fantastic trio of tracks to start the album.

If I Ever Leave This World Alive isn’t quite up to the same standard. It’s not a bad song by any means but it’s just not too interesting. The Kilburn High Road is kind of the same. For whatever reason, the song just doesn’t appeal to me, I wish I could articulate why. The ending few beats are neat though. Rebels Of The Sacred Heart kind of uses a similar intro as the second track, but I won’t really complain because it works so well. This song lives up to those first few.

Swagger has always been a strange song for me. It’s like it was left off the band’s previous album that had the same name, and it’s a mostly instrumental, shorter piece. It works well enough but I guess I don’t get it. Cruel Mistress has a pirate/sea theme, but that is kind of ruined in my opinion because there is a different singer on here, and he is frankly not as good. If he sang on more tracks or was the only singer I could get past it a bit more, but it’s annoying to have one track be lesser because of it.

Death Valley Queen has always seemed kind of slow to me and just kind of boring. Another Bag Of Bricks has a cool rhythm to it. I don’t love it but it gets points for that rhythm alone. The Rare Ould Times has a very nice intro, and when the speed picks up it is really good still. Great track. The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors) is a slower track to end things. I’m not too fond of it but it’s not bad it. Really this album is strongest at the front, but there’s not much outright bad on here. I just feel like a couple songs simply don’t work for me.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

July 25, 2013

Album 0305: Manticora – The Black Circus Part 2 – Disclosure

Manticora-BlackCircusPart2

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Entrance (00:35)
2. Beauty Will Fade (07:31)
3. Gypsies’ Dance Part 2 (08:29)
4. Intuneric V (00:35)
5. Haita Di Lupi (02:30)
6. When The Soulreapers Cry (06:40)
7. Intuneric VI (01:16)
8. All That Remain (05:44)
9. Intuneric VII (02:32)
10. Of Madness In Its Purity (06:22)

Total Length: 42:13

Entrance begins us exactly where the last album left off, a perfect continuation. Beauty Will Fade has some gorgeous opening riffs, and everything just sounds great. Fantastic opening song. Gypsies’ Dance Part 2 isn’t quite as good as part 1 in my opinion, but there is some great stuff in the middle of it. It’s the beginning and end that drag it down a bit for me, it’s a bit slower and not quite as good as it could be.

Intuneric V is a nice little piece, and serves as an intro to Haita Di Lupi, a really cool instrumental featuring some acoustic guitar. Great combination of tracks. When The Soulreapers Cry has a cool intro, and the rest of the song is pretty good as well. Intuneric VI is kind of creepy and serves its purpose. All That Remain is a pretty solid track as well, nothing bad to say about it.

Intuneric VII is the first of these that is more of a full-fledged song, it features a second singer that isn’t too great but the use of some harsh vocals is kind of nice. Pretty neat overall. Of Madness In Its Purity is a pretty strong track as well. This album though is just not quite as catchy as the previous one. Still very good but simply not as memorable.

Final Rating: 8/10

July 24, 2013

Album 0304: Manticora – The Black Circus Part 1 – Letters

Manticora-BlackCircusPart1

Release Date: 2006
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Enter The Carnival (02:07)
2. The Black Circus (05:27)
3. Intuneric I (00:32)
4. Enchanted Mind (05:30)
5. Intuneric II (01:02)
6. Forever Carousel (05:55)
7. Freakshow (04:54)
8. Gypsies’ Dance Part 1 (06:35)
9. Intuneric III (00:37)
10. Wisdom (07:01)
11. Intuneric IV (02:01)
12. Disciples Of The Entities (05:49)

Total Length: 47:28

Enter The Carnival is a really nice intro to the story this album (and the next) tells. The symphonic/synth stuff doesn’t sound amazing but it works well and I really like some parts of it. The Black Circus is when the band’s regular style starts and it is pretty good. The riffs are neat, the vocals are great, and the overall sense of dread this album wants to present is still there. Intuneric I serves as a nice little interlude/intro between songs.

Enchanted Mind has a shaky intro, but the rest of the song is really cool. The vocal lines are always what stick with me. Intuneric II features story on top of the music, presenting the first bit of Lovecraftian horror. Forever Carousel is really good, I especially love the strange part in the middle with a child’s voice for a second. Freakshow is calmer, relishing in the creepy atmosphere. It also echoes the theme from the first track which is really cool.

Gypsies’ Dance Part 1 is the opposite of the previous track, in that it’s fast and nuts. It does whatever it wants to and with no shame. The song is full of great riffs and the cymbal work at one point in the middle is really neat. Intuneric III is a nice little piece. Wisdom has an amazing intro, and is overall a fantastic song. Intuneric IV features more story, and the music is nice and creepy. Disciples Of The Entities is very cool as well, and I love the ending. This album is strong and took me a while to get into. I guess I had been wanting more standard Manticora and they changed things up a little here.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

July 23, 2013

Album 0303: Stephen Lynch – 3 Balloons

StephenLynch-3Balloons

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Comedy

Tracklisting:

1. Waiting (03:58)
2. Fishin’ Hole (03:55)
3. Dear Diary 1 (00:47)
4. Crazy Peanuts (03:09)
5. 3 Balloons (04:04)
6. Dear Diary 2 (00:48)
7. Medieval Bush (02:39)
8. A History Lesson (02:33)
9. Dear Diary 3 (00:48)
10. You (Prettier Than) (02:56)
11. The Ballad Of Scarface (04:48)
12. America (03:24)
13. Dear Diary 4 (00:49)
14. Hallelujah (04:44)

Total Length: 39:22

Waiting is about a dude waiting for the results of his AIDS test. The funniest part is the ending, and the rest of the song is simply okay and goes on a bit long. Fishin’ Hole doesn’t get funny for me until halfway through, but I appreciate the nice whistles. The strange thing about the track is that it’s just Stephen and his guitar, when he said he wanted to do this studio album so he could add more instruments on the songs. He did on the first song but not here.

Dear Diary 1 is set-up and punchline. Only thing is that this one isn’t very good. Crazy Peanuts basically describes the Peanuts characters. It’s almost funny, but it doesn’t really seem like Stephen’s thing to me, honestly. I like some of the added instruments, except for the gang vocals. The worst thing is that the song is just kind of boring. 3 Balloons is a funny idea but I don’t really like the execution.

Dear Diary 2 is a better diary song, the punchline works a lot better. Medieval Bush is worth it for the dumb accents and the ending. A History Lesson is one of the best tracks on here because it resembles one of his live tracks, where he sings to people and you get to hear the reaction and counter-reaction. The actual jokes aren’t so great but that’s the magic of audience reactions.

Dear Diary 3 had a joke I ended up having to look up. Not as funny as 2 though. You (Prettier Than) is drawn out as hell and not very funny. The Ballad Of Scarface has the same issue as Peanuts. It doesn’t really do anything interesting with the concept and goes on too long. America feels like something I’ve heard so many times before, it’s just not pleasing to me. Like, I get it and I’m not offended, it’s just bland and boring.

Dear Diary 4 is the same as 3, just kind of sad and not funny. Hallelujah is a longer track about boobs. That’s the crux of the joke. It just seems really lazy to me. That kind of sadly sums up the album for me. I don’t think Lynch was necessarily being lazy, just that there’s less effort on the funny and more of the songs. That’s fine if that’s what he wants to do but it’s not why I listen to him really, it’s when he has a better blend of the two that magic happens.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

July 22, 2013

Album 0302: Brian Tyler – Bubba Ho-Tep Original Soundtrack

bubbahotepsoundtrack

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Soundtrack

Tracklisting:

1. Prologue (00:55)
2. Bubba (00:51)
3. The King (02:10)
4. Let’s Go, Man (01:50)
5. The King’s Highway (02:10)
6. A-C-T-I-O-N (02:30)
7. Bubba’s Lament (01:43)
8. The Ancient Curse (01:46)
9. Ghost Of The Scarab (01:02)
10. Trailer Park (02:02)
11. One Bad Ho-Tep (01:30)
12. The Mask Of Kemosabe (02:06)
13. The Shady Rest (00:53)
14. PBBS (02:02)
15. Baby (00:45)
16. The Hero’s Hallway (01:36)
17. Elder Hole (02:07)
18. Flashback Baby (01:38)
19. Body Bag Of Fun (01:18)
20. Regret (00:53)
21. The Mummy’s Eye (01:58)
22. Smokin’ Nurse (01:49)
23. The Decision (00:58)
24. Death Of A President (01:04)
25. The Sebastian Haff Show (01:11)
26. Haff Rising (01:13)
27. Investigation (01:24)
28. Thank You Very Much (00:42)
29. All Is Well (02:15)
30. Bubba Ho-Tep End Title Themes (05:40)

Total Length: 50:00

Prologue is a nice intro, creepy and serves its purpose well. Bubba is the first time we hear pretty much my favorite theme in this whole soundtrack. This also feels like the Last of Us soundtrack at this point and that brings forth many emotions. The King is transitioned into well, and builds on that same theme wonderfully. Let’s Go, Man is pretty heavy and a lot of fun. Basically not what you usually get with a film soundtrack.

The King’s Highway is similarly kind of nice as its own song. A-C-T-I-O-N covers a fair bit of ground but isn’t too interesting on its own. Bubba’s Lament brings back that theme I love. The Ancient Curse is a nice atmospheric thing, not much to really say about it. Ghost Of The Scarab is the same. Trailer Park kind of embodies trailer parks particularly well, in a nasty, grungy way. One Bad Ho-Tep starts off neat but doesn’t really go there.

The Mask Of Kemosabe is another iteration of that great theme, just plain nice. The Shady Rest is pretty cool, kind of a lounge vibe. PBBS is sort of a rockabilly song, it’s got that fast guitar solo in it and everything. Cool on its own even. Baby is a nice little piece, and leads directly into The Hero’s Hallway which is great. Elder Hole is a decent little track. Flashback Baby is about the same, it just doesn’t work here.

Body Bag Of Fun is really cheesy, like daytime TV cheesy, but it’s not terrible. Regret is a nice little piece. The Mummy’s Eye has some cool bits in it that are kind of creepy. Smokin’ Nurse is okay, I like some of the background stuff I guess. The Decision is fairly nice while Death Of A President is great. The Sebastian Haff Show picks up the pace, in a great way. Haff Rising is a strange little piece, not bad though.

Investigation has some of that nice creepiness. Thank You Very Much is a cool track, kind of bringing things together. All Is Well does the same for some of the other themes to cap off the film/soundtrack. Bubba Ho-Tep End Title Themes combines most of the good stuff into a single track. This soundtrack has my usual issues with soundtracks. I’m fine with including stuff that’s meant for the film, but sometimes it just doesn’t work on its own. Also the repetition of themes is more noticeable here of course, which blends everything together and makes you get tired of it quicker.

Final Rating: 5.5/10