Archive for January, 2014

January 28, 2014

Album 0423: Equilibrium – Turis Fratyr

Equilibrium-TurisFratyr

Release Date: 2005
Genre: Folk/Black Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Turis Fratyr (00:35)
2. Wingthors Hammer (Wingthor’s Hammer) (06:41)
3. Under Der Eiche (Under The Oak) (04:51)
4. Der Sturm (The Storm) (03:45)
5. Widars Hallen (Widar’s Hall) (08:17)
6. Met (Mead) (02:24)
7. Heimdalls Rud (Heimdall’s Call) (01:51)
8. Die Prophezeiung (The Prophecy) (05:19)
9. Nordheim (North Home) (05:12)
10. Im Fackelshein (In The Torchlight) (01:59)
11. Tote Heldensagen (Dead Hero Legends) (09:11)
12. Wald Der Freiheit (Woods Of Freedom) (03:01)
13. Shingo Murata/Kedakaki Vaikingu Tamashii (気高きヴァイキング魂/Noble Viking Spirit) (05:29)

Total Length: 58:33

Turis Fratyr is an intro title track, there’s really not much to it. Frankly it’s short enough that it could have just been folded into Wingthors Hammer, which is an awesome, fast song. I love the folk elements and the mixture of harsh vocals, there’s a couple different styles to them. It just simply feels fun. The arrangement is great, one moment your attention is drawn to the guitars, the next it’s the bass with the synth sounds.

Unter Der Eiche is a pretty solid song as well, but falls kind of short with the songs surrounding it. I really love the little bit right before the end though. Der Sturm feels a bit more generic at times, but is great as well. It just kind of hits you and doesn’t let up at nearly any point before the slightly-too-lengthy ending. Widars Hallen kind of expands on all the ideas brought forth so far, being more of a larger track. It’s kind of fantastic, and the last minute brings a new thing in the form of some clean female vocals, they’re a nice calm breather.

That breather is especially needed since Met is probably the heaviest (and weirdest) track on here. It’s probably supposed to be their form of a drinking song, but the surprising bit is how deep the vocals are on the chorus. It feels like a heavier Korpiklaani, and I like it. Heimdalls Ruf is a calm instrumental, kind of like a rally or a march, a prelude to war. Die Prophezeiung has a fantastic intro, and the rest of the song holds up pretty well too.

Nordheim is solid as well, if a bit superfluous. Im Fackelshein is kind of creepy, and reminds me of some Dark Souls stuff. I really enjoy it, especially as an intro to the next song. Tote Heldensagen is a big song and really great, it’s the song that got me into this band. Wald Der Freiheit ends the normal album with a very Devin Townsend Feathers vibe, I like it. Shingo Murata/Kedakaki Vaikingu Tamashii is the bonus track, with some kind of ties to a Japanese audience. It’s kind of out there and really fun, it’s almost like they stuck a DragonForce song in here, but better than that band still. I really enjoy this album, but it does get a bit of samey. They have really neat ideas, and I’d love for them to just fine tune it some more.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

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January 26, 2014

Album 0422: Mad Caddies – Just One More

MadCaddies-JustOneMore

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Drinking For 11 (03:56)
2. Contraband (01:19)
3. Villains (02:15)
4. Silence (02:49)
5. Just One More (03:26)
6. Day By Day (02:47)
7. Leavin’ (03:00)
8. Rockupation (03:04)
9. Last Breath (03:22)
10. Spare Change? (03:10)
11. Riot (02:29)
12. 10 West (03:06)
13. Good Intentions (03:04)
14. Wet Dog (03:09)
15. Game Show (03:20)

Total Length: 44:15

Drinking For 11 starts off this, the Caddies’ most diverse album, in a nice, calm way. I can’t say this is how I would have ordered the tracks, but this is still a strong track. It’s laid back, but with a somber atmosphere. Contraband is the absolute opposite, it’s fast and angry and just kind of blows by. It kind of doesn’t feel genuine from the band, but I like it. Villains is a mixture of a punk song with some rockabilly. I always love when the band breaks out the banjo, it just leads to good things.

Silence is yet another heavy song, which is kind of my issue. They load up the front end with some absolutely antagonistic (to each other) songs. I still kind of like this song, but it has issues. Just One More is really odd being the title track, I can only imagine they liked the title more than what the song represented. It’s kind of Spanish-influenced and tries to portray that atmosphere, and they almost pull it off. Just kind of clunky.

Day By Day is a decent song, it feels kind of run-in-the-mill, like a couple songs that they did better on their previous album. Leavin’ is a step up from the two previous songs though, with a legitimately fun atmosphere and rhythm. I can not help but sing along, and the lyrics are fairly relatable. Rockupation, if you can’t tell from the title, is more like a general rock song. In that sense, it’s boring and features almost nothing from the band that made me love them in the first place.

Last Breath at least has that near-swing type feel, and even if the lyrics aren’t for me, I still like the whole of the song. Spare Change? brings back more of the reggae feel, and that’s why this is one of the best songs on the album. Riot does that about face on the tone again, being the second heaviest song on here, following the second softest. It’s a really weird thing to do, but I mostly like the song. It takes on some ‘arena rock’ qualities that I despise though.

10 West feels exactly like track six, and there’s not much difference between them. They’re both at the same level of ‘okay.’ Good Intentions is pretty boring in all honesty. It’s just generic sludge that wasn’t even single bait. Wet Dog is moody and just feels kind of gross. The whole album kind of loses traction here in these last few songs, like they suddenly tacked on the songs that weren’t going to be on the album. Game Show has a neat metaphor, and that’s the only really good thing I can say about it. There was a point where I had a much higher opinion of this album, and it gets harder and harder to realize why that was.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

January 24, 2014

Album 0421: Epica – The Divine Conspiracy

Epica-TheDivineConspiracy

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Symphonic/Gothic Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Indigo (Prologue) (02:05)
2. The Obsessive Devotion (07:13)
3. Menace Of Vanity (04:13)
4. Chasing The Dragon (07:40)
5. Never Enough (04:47)
6. La’petach Chatat Rovetz (The Final Embrace) (01:46)
7. Death Of A Dream (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VII) (06:04)
8. Living A Lie (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VIII) (04:57)
9. Fools Of Damnation (The Embrace That Smothers, Part IX) (08:42)
10. Beyond Belief (05:25)
11. Safeguard To Paradise (05:25)
12. Sancta Terra (04:58)
13. The Divine Conspiracy (13:57)
14. Higher High (05:27)
15. Replica (04:10)

Total Length: 01:25:11

For an intro track, Indigo (Prologue) has some really nice melodies weaved through it that get referenced again later and it holds its own. I never feel like skipping it, which is definitely a credit. The Obsessive Devotion is a bigger song, and a very strong one at that. The vocals all work wonders, and I love the mix of operatic female vocals with growled male vocals, it’s a neat dissonance but they still blend well. Just an overall great song, and I don’t notice the length.

Menace Of Vanity just works well, the riffs are great and I love everything going on with it. I like that this is a band that doesn’t forget to be metal, instead of just performing heavy pop songs, like some others in the same genre. Chasing The Dragon is a great, larger song. The first major chunk of it is kind of slow, but I absolutely love the vocal lines. Then the song just takes off at light speed for a few minutes before coming back down to earth.

Never Enough has kind of generic guitars, but I do really enjoy the chorus. La’petach Chatat Rovetz (The Final Embrace) is an okay intro to the next batch of songs, it’s not really noticeable. Death Of A Dream (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VII) is a monster of a song. It’s kind of furious and relentless and just wholly enjoyable. Living A Lie (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VIII) is fairly good, but kind of surrounded by better songs. The funny part of it is the sample at the end, a chanting sample I’ve heard on at least two other occasions, and it takes me right out of the flow of the album.

Fools Of Damnation (The Embrace That Smothers, Part IX) is just fantastic, it’s pretty hard to hate this song in any way. Beyond Belief is pretty solid as well, I don’t get bored during it and as usual the vocal lines are great. Safeguard To Paradise kind of sounds like a song from a musical, but it’s really nice. Sancta Terra has a lot of good moments, I love the arrangement and all the little fun bits that play throughout.

The Divine Conspiracy is a massive song, and still the band’s longest single song. The first chunk is kind of standard fare, before most of the band takes a break and we a solo symphonic section. Once the band comes back in, it leads into my favorite section of the song, capping the normal album off wonderfully. Higher High is a bonus track, and again the vocals just completely sell it for me. Replica is a cover of a Fear Factory song, and while I don’t know the original, they do a great job here. I think I can assume that they did change it to fit their style, and that’s quite nice. This whole album took a while to click, but now I just really enjoy it. Even being fairly lengthy, this never feels like a waste. There’s only maybe one song that I feel doesn’t deserve to be here.

Final Rating: 8/10

January 17, 2014

Album 0420: Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

franz_ferdinand_-_2009_tonight_franz_ferdinand

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Indie Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Ulysses (03:11)
2. Turn It On (02:21)
3. No You Girls (03:42)
4. Send Him Away (02:59)
5. Twilight Omens (02:30)
6. Bite Hard (03:26)
7. What She Came For (03:34)
8. Live Alone (03:29)
9. Can’t Stop Feeling (03:03)
10. Lucid Dreams (07:56)
11. Dream Again (03:18)
12. Katherine Kiss Me (02:56)
13. Lucid Dreams (original version) (03:43)
14. Ulysses (Disco Bloodbath Effect) (08:05)

Total Length: 54:12

Ulysses starts off awkwardly, but once the rest of the band tags in they achieve their unique atmosphere that I’ve loved since their first album, and the catchiness takes over to become a solid song. The ending is kind of odd since they use a sample I’ve heard before, and it takes you out of it a bit. Turn It On is kind of simplistic but enjoyable. No You Girls has a lackluster verse, but the chorus more than makes up for it. The chorus is pretty much an anthem.

Send Him Away takes on a classic feeling, it’s neat to hear them do that so well. The tone just plain works here. Of course, then Twilight Omens comes along and blows it out of the water. It smacks you in the face with its opening and keeps up the pace, this is probably the best song on the album. Bite Hard starts off pretending to be a softer song, but then busts out to be a pretty fun track with some good synth sounds in it.

What She Came For is pretty funky and has a bunch of cool moments in it. I think the vocals are kind of odd at times, and is a similar issue that I neglected to mention in the first track. Live Alone has a good atmosphere to, and I like that there are a bunch of different parts you can focus on through the song. Can’t Stop Feeling almost annoys me, it feels like one of those dirt-simple dance songs with its intro, but I still enjoy it.

Lucid Dreams has an awkward intro, but after that first dozen seconds or so, the song finds its footing and becomes probably the band’s most experimental. It kind of flows between its sections in a freeform style, giving no crap about what exactly the last was doing, because now it’s something different. It caps it all off with its last three minutes being an electronic jam of sorts, just kind of meandering around. I’m fairly okay with it, but it doesn’t end well.

Dream Again is more subdued, but seems thematically tied to the previous track. I enjoy the atmosphere on it, it’s pretty great. Katherine Kiss Me is an acoustic track, and the band doesn’t do these often but usually excels at them, and they do in this case. The original version of Lucid Dreams without all the extra bits has a way better start, and is just overall more compact. It’s probably better than the final version, but it’s nice to have both around. Ulysses (Disco Bloodbath Effect) is a long remix of the opening track, and the issue for me is that it focuses on the wrong parts of the song to expand on. I enjoy this album, but probably not for the reasons they were hoping. Whenever they get close to that magical sound of their first album is when it’s the best.

Final Rating: 8/10

January 15, 2014

Album 0419: Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention – We’re Only In It For The Money

FrankZappa-We'reOnlyInItForTheMoney

Release Date: 1968
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Are You Hung Up? (01:25)
2. Who Needs The Peace Corps? (02:34)
3. Concentration Moon (02:22)
4. Mom & Dad (02:16)
5. Telephone Conversation (00:49)
6. Bow Tie Daddy (00:33)
7. Harry, You’re A Beast (01:21)
8. What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (01:03)
9. Absolutely Free (03:24)
10. Flower Punk (03:04)
11. Hot Poop (00:27)
12. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music (02:03)
13. Let’s Make The Water Turn Black (02:01)
14. The Idiot Bastard Son (03:19)
15. Lonely Little Girl (01:10)
16. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (01:33)
17. What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (Reprise) (01:02)
18. Mother People (02:26)
19. The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny (06:27)

Total Length: 39:19

Are You Hung Up? is useless to me, it’s significantly unimportant in all that it tries to do for this album. I can almost appreciate the concept of this album, but tracks like these harm it more than help. If the album had gone straight into Who Needs The Peace Corps? from the get go, that alone would have strengthened it. It’s got fun lyrics, and a good melody to go behind it. Concentration Moon has a lot of fun bits to it, it changes it up a lot throughout it’s short length. It even repeats a sample from the first track, really putting in place how useless that track is.

Mom & Dad has this nostalgic feel to it that is the real heart of this album. You could see this on a standard album from the time, but instead it’s on this ‘funny’ album. I just enjoy it for the most part. Telephone Conversation breaks this trend with a stupid bit of nothing. Bow Tie Daddy is fun, and would work better following the last song (not track) without a break, the contrast would push the point forward.

Harry, You’re A Beast is almost good, but ends before it gets anywhere. What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? is a fun doo-wop bit, and one of the treasures on here for me. Absolutely Free has a couple okay moments, but it goes on too long and gets boring. The next track is even worse, Flower Punk is a failed concept from the get-go and yet they seriously try and run with it. Hot Poop is an apt title.

Nasal Retentive Calliope Music is basically musique concrete, and just like everything else in that genre it’s beyond my ability to understand it. Let’s Make The Water Turn Black is decent, and is at least an actual song. The Idiot Bastard Son is much the same, I can’t remember anything about the song after it’s over. Lonely Little Girl is a neat idea that isn’t used too well. It could have been expanded instead of some of the other tracks.

Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance is fantastic, and a great change of pace at this point in the album. What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (Reprise) is good, but almost exactly the same as what we’ve already heard. Mother People is kind of the standout here, for the entire album. It simply works well and gets stuck in my head, and is kind of the template of what Zappa would go on to do. The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny is more musique concrete and I’d have rather had a shorter album. Really this whole album is just disappointing, and mostly cherry pick if I want to listen to it.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

January 9, 2014

Album 0418: Kalmah – Swamplord

Kalmah-Swamplord

Release Date: 2000
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Evil In You (05:08)
2. Withering Away (03:34)
3. Heritance Of Berija (04:30)
4. Black Roija (04:15)
5. Dance Of The Water (04:32)
6. Hades (04:25)
7. Alteration (04:41)
8. Using The Word (05:07)
9. The Blind Leader (03:13)
10. Vezi Doroga (03:52)

Total Length: 43:16

Evil In You is a masterful song with nearly a weak opening. The drums sound awkward by themselves, but soon the band starts piling it on. Bass, guitar, riffs, melodies, it keeps adding on until the vocals come in and then there are plenty of parts you could pay attention to. It’s ridiculous how well crafted it is. The ending is good as well. Withering Away gets the energy flowing right away again, though it’s not of the same quality as the opener.

Heritance Of Berija thankfully doesn’t have that same issue, with a wonderful opening that keeps expanding and opening up. It’s kind of joyful to listen to, in an odd sense. Black Roija has a ton of great moments. I really enjoy the vocals on here, they are melodic and blend well with the music. Dance Of The Water is a decent song, the only part that really sticks with me is some of the guitar licks, which admittedly kind of saves the song.

Hades is kind of a beast of a song with a ton of neat things going on, it’s hard to dislike it. Alteration is pretty solid as well, even after hearing this album for a while I’m still genuinely impressed. These aren’t exactly the level of quality of songs that has me singing them to myself, but they do have some indistinguishable quality to them. Using The Word isn’t quite as memorable, but still a fine enough track.

The Blind Leader and the next track are bonus songs from their demo, and they are of a noticeably lesser quality. They still sound fine, and compare with some early death metal production qualities. This song is all around decent, not up to the level as the main album. They do re-do this song on their second album, it’s more polished there. Vezi Doroga is the only track from that demo to not have been remade which is a shame, as it’s better than the previous song. It does feel like it had some influence on other songs though. This album definitely surprised me the first time I heard it, I had thought this band would be nothing special, but I was proven wrong.

Final Rating: 8/10

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January 8, 2014

Album 0417: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F#A#∞

godspeed-you-black-emperor-f-sharp-a-sharp-infinity-1997

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Post Rock

Tracklisting:

1. The Dead Flag Blues

    I. The Dead Flag Blues (Intro)
    II. Slow Moving Trains
    III. The Cowboy…
    IV. The Dead Flag Blues (Outro) (16:28)

2. East Hastings
    I. …Nothing’s Alrite In Our Life…/The Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)
    II. The Sad Mafioso…
    III. Drugs In Tokyo
    IV. Black Helicopter (17:58)

3. Providence
    I. Divorce & Fever…
    II. Dead Metheny…
    III. Kicking Horse On Brokenhill
    IV. String Loop Manufactured During Downpour…
    V. Untitled
    VI. J.L.H. Outro (29:02)

Total Length: 01:03:28

The Dead Flag Blues is one of three large pieces that comprise the album. The Intro portion itself takes up the first third of this monstrous track, with a voice describing a somewhat apocalyptic scenario, and depressive music builds up. The atmosphere that forms here is quite good. Slow Moving Trains begins, appropriately, with sounds of a train. It’s kind of useless to me though. It could have been chopped into a fraction of what it is, or altogether and it wouldn’t have lessened the impact of the whole. The Cowboy… sounds more like a soundtrack to a cowboy film, or something similar. It’s kind of uplifting. The Outro is beautiful though, it’s probably the most upbeat piece of music on this whole album, I just really enjoy the feeling it gives me, it strikes a certain kind of nostalgia.

East Hastings isn’t much longer overall, but even more dense than the first track. …Nothing’s Alrite In Our Life…/The Dead Flag Blues (Reprise) is a pretty short opener despite the length of its title, and it’s pretty creepy with the bagpipes surmising the reprise part, while the creepy sample takes up the other. The Sad Mafioso… is the single longest section on the album, and I very much enjoy it. It is basically what I love about the band, the odd choices and the emotional buildups to amazing climaxes. It’s great. Drugs In Tokyo was originally in the previous song on the vinyl version, which is kind of a neat tidbit. The section is pretty nice, and feels bleak. There are strange noises swirling around and it just adds more strangeness to the whole deal. Black Helicopter is kind of an annoyance though, with sounds of bugs buzzing that don’t sound very pleasant.

Providence is the monster on here though, being nearly twice the length of either of the previous tracks, sort of. Divorce & Fever… is a decent enough beginning, with a sample that’s not their best pick and some okay backing music. Dead Metheny… is pretty cool, being of the same quality of the large section pointed out in the previous track. Kicking Horse On Brokenhill transitions fine, I really like the creepy phasing and delay on what seems to be a recording of possibly Amazing Grace? Then there’s a march like section that builds and is cool. String Loop Manufactured During Downpour… begins (I believe) with a sample from a musical repeated in that same manner as the other, and it’s still just as cool and creepy. The rest is kind of a big long loop, which actually did loop on the vinyl. Here is just kind of ends. Untitled is just that for a reason, it’s many minutes of silence. The music doesn’t start up again until nearly the 25 minute mark, signaling the J.L.H. Outro section. This closes the album in more of a rock way than anything else on here. It’s fairly nice, but not really fulfilling after sitting through a bunch of silence. I really enjoy some bits of this album, but they hadn’t really nailed their style yet for me. It could have been cut down some and I’d be fine with it, so maybe I should check out the vinyl version.

Final Rating: 7.5/10