Saturday, August 27, 2011

High Rise - High Rise II : Album Review

Since the 1970s, Japan has had a large underground Heavy Psych and Noise Rock scene, and since I am, as usual, unfamiliar with it, I cannot enlighten anyone on who the pioneers were, or who started it. That said, High Rise are among the large number of impressive Japanese rockers following a largely noise-based Heavy Psych sound. High Rise II is the band's second studio album.

The music the band plays is a rather noise-laden, distorted variation of Deep Purple's music. But this is no clone band, as they have their own unique ideas. High Rise II is an album full of typical 70s-sounding riffs, yet quite powerful and noticeable drum lines, and a lot of noise and distortion, sometimes similar to a 90s Norwegian Black Metal band. That makes this album a lot less listenable to a classic rock fan who swears by clean production, as it has more noise than a badly produced NWOBHM tape, which explains why the whole scene never got enough exposure.

The album is very enjoyable for the fact that these guys churn out straight-up Hard Rock songs, never once to slow down and sing a cheesy ballad. The riffs are quite chord-based and simple, but memorable enough that you'd remember the song next time you play it. Especially the main riffs in Pop Sicle and Monster a Go Go. The whole album is filled with Acid Rock-esque guitar solos. In fact, it is filled to the brim with it, and in later parts of the album, the vocal and rhythm sections are overshadowed by the solos. The 13-minute song Pop Sicle is a long solo-fest, but never induces a single yawn. The bass guitar is buried by the rhythm sections most of the time, but you can hear it rumbling when the lead guitar plays, and is apparently not a big part of the music here. The drum lines, as previously mentioned are dynamic and energetic, and play a major part in the music. The vocals are mildly sung out, probably in Japanese, probably in English, but since I never bothered to check the lyrics sheet anywhere online, I don't know. That is because the vocals are there just for the sake of it. The whole album would have sounded as good if it was solely an instrumental album.

Overall, a good album for Noise Rock fans or even Psychedelic or Hard Rock fans, provided they can handle the noise in this record. For others, there are certainly better alternatives.


Buy: High Rise II

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Nachos - Worthless : Album Review

After being disappointed with the highly acclaimed Powerviolence band, Capitalist Casualties, I had no plans on checking Weekend Nachos (due to the Powerviolence tag) till my fellow reviewer convinced me to, and I believe that was a pretty good decision. Formed in 2004, the band has come up with 3 full-length albums and few EPs and a split album. Being still unfamiliar with the underground Hardcore Punk / Powerviolence movement today, I can comment no further on the band's background, except that the band still appears to play in small venues, yet has a good following.

Weekend Nachos play a very heavy version of Powerviolence. Like every powerviolence band, their playing speed usually borders on grindcore. I would usually disregard a band that plays fast but nothing particularly memorable or even good, but Weekend Nachos aren't your regular grind-away-till-the-album-finishes band. When not raining your face with chaingun riffs,  the band brings in the tank - slow, heavy, sludge riffing similar to Noothgrush and Grief. Even if not reaching the heights of the mentioned bands in terms of creativity, the sludge sections are what make this album a treat to listen to. Coupled with the heaviness and power of the heavily feedback-laden guitar sound, those portions crush the brains out of the listener's skull. Vocals are nothing new. The vocalist screams in a hardcore fashion - at the top of his lungs with utmost rage and disgust. The drums too are quite typical hardcore/grindcore (in the respective sections of a song). Bass guitar is audible but plays exactly the same as the guitars. Never once during its course does the album lose intensity or ideas. Riffs are aplenty and their transition into sludge doesn't sound out-of-place or broken. The only place where they sound unoriginal is the middle portion of the song "Worthless" (the main riff is clearly lifted off Noothgrush's Hatred For The Species). Nevertheless, the album is thoroughly enjoyable for at least a few continuous listens. The song lengths are appropriate, most of them clocking at 1 minute (plus or minus 30 seconds), except 3 songs, which are above 3 minutes long and the longest being 7 minutes 21 seconds long, which is a completely Sludge song and makes for a good closing track.

This album is appropriate for fans of Grindcore, Powerviolence and even Sludge. It's not top-notch when in comes any of them, but is enjoyable due to the sheer power it packs, and the adrenalin rush it induces because of that.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goreaphobia - Apocalyptic Necromancy : Album Review

Goreaphobia was formed in 1988 in Philadelphia, making them among the earliest Death Metal bands from Pennsylvania along with Incantation, but unlike them, Goreaphobia managed to get a cult status only through years of Demos as they never released a single Full-length till 2009.

The album cover slays just as much as the album itself.

With Apocalyptic Necromancy, Goreaphobia proved that they are among the most consistent bands when it comes to making dark Death Metal with good songwriting. The album has a modern-styled production, but they still maintain an organic and fairly old school sound, which is a good thing. The album's material isn't as powerful as the new songs heard on Vile Beast of Abomination compilation, but more powerful than that heard on Mortal Repulsion. Apocalyptic Necromancy sounds an extension to Mortal Repulsion, so can get boring at times, but as each song brings forth a new and engaging riff, it manages to draw back the attention of the listener. Chris Gamble does a good job on vocals as always. His growls are decipherable, and have a good range, but lack heaviness, but that can be excused because they sound evil enough to go with the sound of the rest of the instruments. Don't expect bowel-churing Chris Reifert screams, but Gamble's vocals are unique in their own way. Alex Bouks does a good job with the riffs. Each one of them written and played well. The band, like always manages to come up with interesting mid-paced riffing in each song with occasional, catchy palm-muted riffs. The bass is crystal clear and audible everywhere, but follows a simple pattern. Even though all it does is add to the heaviness of the already heavy record, it does its job well. The drumming is well done, precise and follows a Thrash Metal pattern than the usual blast-till-no-tomorrow. The snare sound can get a little annoying, though.

Like earlier mentioned, Goreaphobia are masters of the art of creating absolutely sickening and sinister Death Metal in a way that the modern production couldn't take any of its essence away. Chris Gamble's horrifying vocals reciting tales of horror and sickness, combined with Alex Bouks' and VJS's guitar riffs spewing evil through sound waves, and Jim Roe's ritualistic drum pounding definitely make Apocalyptic Necromancy among the better releases of 2011 so far.

2011 has certainly been a great year for Death Metal. Who knows what the coming moths have for us. Till then, enjoy this corpse-infested crypt of an album.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Azarath - Blasphemer's Maledictions

Poland is known among metal fans as the home to some of the most intense bands. Azarath ranks among the highest in that matter, as almost all of their releases - barring their weak 2009 album, titled Praise The Beast - were very intense and powerful.

Despite the fall in intensity and memorable songwriting, Azarath return to their form with Blasphemer's Malediction, with a slight change in lineup, i.e. a new vocalist, who adds a different flavour to their music, but lacks the commanding power of their ex-vocalist, Bruno. In spite of this, the music presented by the band in this album is top-notch with only little flaws and drawbacks. Each song is filled with catchy riffing, brutal drumming and fairly audible bass, which is only partially drowned by the guitars like in earlier albums. The album, judging by the cover has a Sumerian theme and a slight mid-eastern tinge in the music, yet is far from being gimmicky. The production job is well done and suitable for Death Metal, even thought it is slightly modern (somewhat like early 2000s). Bart Szudek does a good job on the guitars with chaingun riffing, which manages to be catchy as well as evil, and blazing, yet melodic solos, reminding the listener of Diabolic Impious Evil. Inferno executes drums with perfection - no sloppiness, no errors - with aggressive blasting, blazing double bass and tasteful drum rolls and fills. He is, as always, the highlight of the album. The vocalist has a rather Blackened Death Metal style, that works well for Azarath, despite being different from Bruno's possessed, low-pitched growling, which perfectly suited their sound. Still, Necrosodom unleashes his vocal chords with full fury, in resonance with the band's aggressive and brutal sound.

Blasphemer's Malediction does not surpass their Magnum Opus, but comes close enough to it and is equally enjoyable. Recommended for Death Metal fans who can survive a continuous onslaught on their eardrums.