Monday, January 30, 2012

Taking Down the Bullshit

Figured I'd address this issue since it's so topical and relevant.

With so many blogs and links being taken down these days, it's tough to keep providing you guys with awesome links. I don't personally upload anything as you can tell by the fact I link to random downloads that I find via search engines or other blogs (like the killer Equivoke and a longtime favorite of mine The Living Doorway). Sadly this results in me not being able to find links to certain releases, so I apologize in advance for both the lack of available material and the pseudo-political rant which is going to follow this paragraph.

SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/etc. They're all bullshit. Everyone knows this by now thanks to that video with the old guy that went viral on Youtube. There's plenty of bills (a joke, but there really are more than just the ones you hear about) currently on the table that tell the United States' constitution to go fuck itself with misguided attempts at "stopping piracy." What people don't understand is the other implications of those bills, which allow corporations and other legal entities to censor whatever the hell they wish. It infringes on civil and digital liberties that we've all enjoyed for quite awhile. I don't want this to turn into a stupid anarcho-punk anti-capitalism rant, and I'm not saying pirating is a good thing either. However most of the time, at least when it comes to music, you're better off supporting your artist of choice through the purchasing of merch or show tickets. Labels need support too though. If they're a good label then they understand the intellectual process behind creating music, avoid messing with the artists' creative visions, and support the artist in getting those visions out there. These labels are worth supporting.

Remember kids: Oligarchies are bad!
ACTA is currently on the table and the United States signed it awhile ago. Perhaps the most frightening of all the prospects contained within the bill is that random searches could be conducted on unsuspecting citizens' electronic devices, such as laptops, iPods, phones, etc. It's pretty backwards and feasts off of the fear-mongering mentality which has pervaded our culture since the inception of unconstitutional organizations like the TSA. ACTA also infringes on communication privacy and its lack of transparency makes the bill difficult to stop from a public perspective. In fact  there is little to no public input on this garbage. It's all being monitored and pushed for by big media corporations who think that they'll make their money back through copyright infringement laws. The reality is the exact opposite.

Another issue is the very claims to copyright that they supposedly hold. Take for example the fact Universal's claim to copyright outweighed the artists' on Youtube, despite the artist owning the rights to the music (I know some of you guys will hate this, but sometimes I watch this NPR hipster dude talk about music, even if I don't agree with him most of the time). It raises a lot of issues about your freedoms and mine, as well as those of the artists' themselves.

Just replace riot police with corporate buffoons and corrupt politicians.

Okay. I'll stop ranting, but I won't stop posting. I'll try to find links when I can, and I'll keep the reviews flowing. I have a massive back catalog to work with considering I just started this blog last year (and I recently ordered a few more albums which should arrive at my door soon). So to you other bloggers out there - keep fighting the good fight and fuck the swines atop the corporate ladder and the corrupt politicians who take their bribes.

Dark Castle - Surrender To All Life Beyond Form

Dark Castle is (was?) a cool sludge and post-metal duo. Their debut Spirited Migration featured straightforward, fuzzed out riffing and the psychedelic stylings of genre titans Ufomammut. Sadly Dark Castle took the elements that made their debut decent and tossed them out the window in favor of a more "freeform" approach to songwriting that neither flows well nor succeeds in creating a compelling psychedelic atmosphere.

Surrender To All Life Beyond Form is a bit heavier than its predecessor and a bit more fuzzed out or noisy. That's not a bad thing at all and if I spun it the other way I'm sure I'd convince you that this album kicks ass. Don't get your hopes up. It doesn't. The doom riffing on "Seeing Through Time" is pretty cool and chick vocalist Stevie Floyd does a decent job on there with both spoken word cleans and her scratchy, high-pitched rasp. However for the most part her vocals are weak. There was a stylistic change here from Spirited Migration, where she implemented more guttural vocals that were surprisingly impressive. Instead her screeching gets a bit grating and often sounds forced and unnatural, especially on "Stare Into Absence" and the intro to "I Hear Wind." "Spirit Ritual" is a dull ambient-fest that could put even the most coked up dudebro or acid-eyed stoner to sleep. "To Hide Is To Die" isn't much better either. This spoken word track fails to capture any emotion at all and serves as filler on a filler-filled album.

To be honest it's painful to listen to Surrender To All Life Beyond Form. The album is awash in the aforementioned droning 'psychedelic' noise, and more often than not it detracts from the atmosphere. I've listened to pure noise albums more exciting than this and with significantly more artistic elements that don't feel forced. I read a review that commented on how pretentious the song titles are and I can agree wholeheartedly since the album doesn't do a good job of holding up to its own arrogance. Some songs aren't THAT bad though. "I Hear Wind" does feature some interesting atonal riffing ala the infamous French black metal scene and "Heavy Eyes" isn't half bad either. However songs like the stupidly-titled closer "Learning To Unlearn" are pure shit and serve no other purpose than to annoy the listener.

I wouldn't doubt if this album was written solely to fulfill a contract deal since it's so devoid of quality elements. The lack of structuring (Get it? These songs are "Beyond Form" hurr), weak vocals, and nonexistent riffs really make this one of the bigger letdowns of 2011.

3.0 out of 10


1. Surrender to All Life Beyond Form
2. Stare into Absence
3. Create an Impulse
4. Seeing Through Time
5. Heavy Eyes
6. Spirit Ritual
7. To Hide Is to Die
8. I Hear Wind
9. Learning to Unlearn

Don't even bother. Not that I could find a link anyway.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Super Happy Story Time Land - Super Happy Story Time Land

Super Happy Story Time Land. The name says it all.

Honestly I was expecting something akin to the technical-for-the-sake-of-it shitstorm that is Iwrestledabearonce. There's even a reference to them in the track "Bearstronauts II." God I hate those guys (and chick). Luckily this isn't the case here, and Super Happy Story Time Land know how to write some killer deathcore and death metal riffs. In fact I don't know if I'd consider these guys deathcore at all, but I can see it in their styling and on a few certain tracks. They certainly don't follow the typical build-breakdown-build-breakdown formula that most deathcore bands adhere to and aren't afraid to experiment with jazz-influenced riffing and melodic soloing. It's a win-win situation for fans of metal and for fans of original music.

Variety is a spice that Super Happy Story Time Land isn't afraid to apply liberally to every song on this album. From the odd synth break in "Victoria (The Lady Dragon)" to the intensely jazzy-turns-neoclassical "Wolfsburg Edition," to the more deathcore-sounding breakdowns on "Fishing With Dad" and "I Wanna be a Dinosaur," there's quite a few passages on here that will jump you like voracious velociraptor out of nowhere. It makes the album an addicting listen as well, and I often find myself relistening to it as of late. The band also makes their own...erm...samples, and places them sporadically throughout various tracks. "Wolfsburg Edition" ends with a long conversation about the Free Willy movie series and condoms for fucks sake. It's hilarious and a bit retarded, but altogether awesome.

The production is why I love this album. The guitars have a thick, dense tone that doesn't sound superficial as is typical for deathcore bands. The bass drums don't sound fake either which is always a plus. Instrumentally speaking these guys know their stuff as comes with all the experimentation. Funk and progressive basslines, multiple vocal ranges, intense guitarwork and soloing, it's all accounted for. My only problem with a few of the tracks is that they come across as riff salad. "Groovicorn" is the primary example here and probably the only track I don't really enjoy. The samples also get a bit less humorous after multiple listens, but otherwise the album is musically sound and worthy of listening to for any fan of deathcore or pseudo-technical death metal.

8.5 out of 10


1. Jingle
2. Homefield Advantage
3. I wanna be a Dinosaur
4. Victoria (The Lady Dragon)
5. Please & Thank you
6. 88.8 MPH
7. Organ Donor
8. Fishing with Dad
9. Groovicorn
10. Bearstronauts II
11. Wolfsburg Edition

Bandcamp ($2! Definitely worth it guys).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pulled Apart By Horses - Tough Love

Pulled Apart By Horses' self-titled debut was awesome. It might have been a bit too hip for hardcore fans and a bit too heavy for indie kids, but that resulted in them finding a niche that few other bands occupy. The debut seamlessly combined fun, silly lyrics with hardcore, grunge, and metal influenced riffing. Tough Love is a continuation of their self-titled in this regard. It features similarities in structuring, riffing, and lyrical content.

As they said in an interview, Pulled Apart By Horses has definitely stepped up their game instrumentally. The riffs are more fluid and precise, and thus sound a bit more 'professional.' That's a hit or miss prospect really, considering a lot of the appeal on the self-titled was the fun, amateurish instrumentation. Tracks like "V.E.N.O.M.," "Everything Dipped In Gold," and "Night Of The Living (I'm Scared Of People)" show off their new talents pretty well. Others like "Some Mothers," "Bromance Ain't Dead," and "Wildfire, Smoke & Doom" have the DIY post-hardcore sound of the debut. For the most part they combine elements of the latter successfully with their new techniques.

To be completely honest I find it hard to really express myself about this album. The production is fine and pretty comparable to the debut, the songs are catchy, and it has a pretty similar atmosphere as well. "Night Of The Living (I'm Scared Of People)" might be my favorite track on Tough Love with its atmosphere and odd riffing. "Epic Myth" has a relatively grunge-sounding part which annoys me and the chorus is vibrato driven. "Wolf Hand" opens with a really cool riff but the hook is weak which is disappointing. Other than that the majority of the tracks are typical Pulled Apart By Horses tomfoolery, and thus awesome. It's a bit more detached than it's predecessor though as I mentioned earlier, and honestly that takes away a bit of the appeal.

7.5 out of 10


1. V.E.N.O.M
2. Wolf Hand
3. Shake Off The Curse
4. Epic Myth
5. Some Mothers
6. Night Of The Living (I'm Scared Of People)
7. Wildfire, Smoke & Doom
8. Bromance Ain't Dead
9. Give Me A Reason
10. Degeneration Game
11. Everything Dipped In Gold

Tough luck finding a link for this...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Entrapment - Crawling Morbidity

Entrapment's Crawling Morbidity is merely a demo. A demo that's weird as fuck because after listening to it I have no clue where these guys are going: either down the traditional death/thrash revival route, or the less traveled, more experimental version of the same path. There are definitely a few cool song ideas (other than the obvious "play d-beat death metal") and riffs on here, mostly on the track "Mass Obliteration." It's a pick-slide filled track with a few atypical death metal riffs thrown in close to the beginning. The opening riff honestly reminds me of something almost akin to Demilich. However it's just a fleeting passage as the demo picks up speed and predictability.

The latter two tracks "Carnal Fear" and "Crawling Morbidity" are a bit more traditional death/thrash metal with a Scandinavian, primarily Nihilist-influenced sound especially on the former (with those ghoulish laughs and all). There's quite a few d-beat passages with downtuned crossover riffing too. I usually like this stuff, but I've heard it so many times before and it's not really impressing me this time around. It can be fun in the right context especially with the raw, lo-fi production though. There's really nothing else to write about as the demo is short and doesn't leave much to the imagination. I wouldn't mind hearing a full-length from these guys though since they clearly have talent. I just wish they'd use that talent on writing some more original songs.

6.25 out of 10


1. Crawling Morbidity
2. Carnal Fears
3. Mass Obliteration

It's a trap!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Elder - Dead Roots Stirring

Settled back into school. Took a few days off from doing anything to accomplish that goal, except I devoured a few newer releases: Elder's Dead Roots Stirring being one of the better ones.

This album is everything the newest Yob wishes it could be. Freeflowing, expansive, and somewhat impulsive, this album takes the stoner/doom mold and combines it with '70s jammy goodness. In fact it basically sounds like a very highly organized and cohesive jam session. Now you might be like "that's what music is you idiot" but Dead Roots Stirring features the "jam" sound in how it's organized and put together rather than as a byproduct of it. Here there's plenty of freeform tracks chock full of catchy riffs that all work together to create a sonic stream that ebbs and flows with no real end in sight. Sounds vague I know, but it'll make sense to you after you listen to the album. Even moreso if you take some hallucinogens prior to doing so.

The riffs are mostly blues-based with Elder's Sabbathian influences. The songs sometimes enter more acoustic and almost folksy passages like that on "III," however "Gemini" and the title track are both killer riff-o-rama. The latter half of the former is like a constant lead while the latter is a bit heavier and significantly more bluesy. The song length is upwards of ten minutes for each track and not a single second is wasted on pretentious silence or self-indulgent "ambience." Well maybe "III" as a transition track is a bit dull, but "The End" is a fun, bass-filled track. "Knot" is a bit of a standout because it's by far the fastest song on the album and it does a great job concluding it as well.

Dead Roots Stirring also has an absolutely swampy production. I mean that as a compliment. The guitars are heavy, the bass is adequate, and the drums don't sound fake. Despite being a doom release the higher register notes are the primary focus throughout the album, and it works well with the production. There's a lot of variety in the riffs and with all those wild, acid-infused songstructures and this one's a huge go for me.

8.75 out of 10


1. Gemini
2. Dead Roots Stirring
3. III
4. The End
5. Knot

Files are going to be tough to find. Most places are shutting down accounts and deleting content left and right to cover their asses after the US government decided to go ahead and force some sites to close or make appeals. It's a ridiculous situation if you ask me and despite the whole SOPA/PIPA thing falling flat on its face, there's quite a few other bills that threaten the internet (which is how a lot of great bands are found, heard about, and marketed -- through downloading both legal and "illegal") currently on the table as well. ACTA being the primary one people are dealing with at the moment...

So yeah no downloads for now because they're all down.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Occult 45 - Grind Funk Railroad

It's been a hectic week with me trying to run around and visit as many friends as I can before I head back off to school. Now that the week is coming to a close and I've made my rounds, I actually decided to check my email and I noticed a message about this free grind demo, Grind Funk Railroad, from Philadelphia-based Occult 45.

Free grind? Color me interested. This is some cool shit. Fuzzy and with a lot of d-beat influence, there are some relatively unique passages on this demo. The opener "Intro/The Farmers Daughter" is a brooding, groove-laden monster of a track. The intro passage is slow, almost doom influenced, and guitarist Dean Sykes' use of bends works really well with the fuzzed out, feedback filled production. What I assume to be "The Farmers Daughter" begins after a True Romance sample, and leads straight into "Body Melt," which is easily the most grindcore track on the demo. Drummer Jason Dost plays some absolutely frenetic blastbeats while vocalist John Hauser ferociously belts out the title of the track.

One thing I noticed with "Body Melt" and even the extremely short "Passion for Ignorance" is that these guys know how to break it down. I tend to enjoy it when even the most abrasive grind tracks devolve into a groovy, slam-pit rut. The final track on the relatively short (even for grind) demo "Tehran Desert Vampire" is a bit crustier which is a welcome change of pace coming from the previous two tracks.

Overall while Occult 45's sound on Grind Funk Railroad isn't the most original, they make up for what they lack in originality with the execution of that sound. There isn't a bass on Grind Funk Railroad, and that's what made me think of Magrudergrind the first time I listened through the demo. That's not to say there isn't any bass frequencies though, as the guitar is tuned low and has a very fuzzy, organic tone. They've also got all the ferocity of Magrudergrind to boot. Definitely worth checking these guys out as they release more material.

7.5 out of 10


Intro/The Farmers Daughter 

Body Melt

Passion for Ignorance

Tehran Desert Vampire

Choo Choo! (Bandcamp)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Decrepit - Creation Of Sin

Ohio's Decrepit are a relatively unknown band. I hadn't even heard of these guys until rather recently, so in good ol' fashion I decided to procure myself some of their material. I figured I'd start with the Creation Of Sin compilation, which combines The Wake 7" and the Hymns Of Grief And Pain demo. This makes "Pathogenisis" the only real new track in the compilation.

Honestly "To Rise Again" and "The Wake" are very standard mid-paced death metal. The production and mixing are standard, the riffs are more or less forgettable, and the rhythm section is just on par for early death metal. "Pathogenisis" serves as a transition to the more esoteric and interesting Hymns Of Grief And Pain portion of the compilation. The first two tracks of this portion are really doom influenced. Both have slow breaks and a fuzzy distortion. "Withered" however is absolutely brilliant. It reminds me of Dawn Of Possession-era Immolation and early Incantation with a bit of black metal thrown in for good measure. It's an atmospheric and dark track, which seems to be a recurring theme on the latter half of the compilation. "Mausoleum" shares a similar atmosphere with more doom influence, and the title track is bouncy and littered with harmonics.

Overall the compilation is pretty strong. The weakest tracks are surprisingly those written later in Decrepit's career. The Wake single was actually released a year after the Hymns Of Grief And Pain demo. Apparently these guys are still active as well and released a split with Nunslaughter and two other bands in 2007, and they recently re-released this compilation with the addition of the tracks from their Acrimonium full-length. I'll have to check out that release sometime since this is pretty solid stuff (other than those first two tracks).

7.0 out of 10


1. To Rise Again

2. The Wake

3. Pathogenisis

4. The Gate to Misery

5. Spirits of Infirmity

6. Withered

7. Mausoleum

8. The Creation of Sin

9. Rotted Congregation

Eructation - Demo 1992

Eructation is not a well known metal band. This Swedish band formed in 1988 and had only one release in their short running. That one release is this 1992 demo, and it's pretty sweet for the whole twelve and a half minutes it lasts. It's also unique in that it doesn't fit into any of the Swedish molds, foregoing the melodic sounds of their Gothenburg brethren and the more intense, hardcore-influenced brutality of their Stockholm cousins.

In fact the sound on this album is more fluid and bassy than anything. Tobias Karlsson's basslines are excellent and almost progressive, giving the album a very rich and deep sound that the production compliments perfectly. "Day of Confusion" is a mid-paced riff-fest with a really cool, almost dissonant sound to the riffing. I wish they explored this sound more on the demo because although the idea is present on that track, it isn't developed extensively. The track does have a nice, catchy build up though regardless. "Foul Feast" is a bit more in line with straightforward, typical bassy death metal. There's not really much else I can say about it. "Consider to Die" is a thrashy monster of a track with some really cool double bass breaks and riffing. The melodic pseudo-solo close to the end of the song is pretty reminiscent of other Swedish classics, but obviously this demo predates most of them and the song still kicks ass.

In a scene where everyone was hopping on the bandwagon these guys stood out. Sadly they couldn't stick around to develop their sound more.

8.5 out of 10


1. Day of Confusion

2. Foul Feast

3. Consider to Die

bass death madness

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nocturnus - The Key

I'm going to do a week's worth of late '80s and '90s death metal reviews just because I feel like it. I'm going to start with an old favorite of mine: Nocturnus' The Key.

Science fiction themes fit death metal so well. Nothing is more foreboding than change and progress. No environment is as dangerous as space. Nothing is as unknown or bizarre, either. Florida's Nocturnus incorporate elements of sci-fi into their original and proto-technical death metal style. Their debut full-length The Key features a sci-fi concept about a robot going back in time to kill Jesus. What is more badass than that? Nothing. They were also one of the first death metal bands to successfully incorporate keyboards into their sound without completely ruining the 'metal' part of the music.

The Key is a bit thrash-heavy at times, but so were most early death metal albums especially those produced in Florida. The vocals are the primary culprit here but when Mike Browning is doing those and playing drums at the same time, who can complain? Apparently he left Morbid Angel because Trey Azagthoth had an affair with his girlfriend, and that really sucks for Morbid Angel because his drumming performance on here is fan-fucking-tastic. Cymbal embellishments, syncopation, varied time signature changes, d-beats, blastbeats, etc. are all part of his repertoire and he exercises all of them on The Key. "Standing In Blood" is a great showcase of his intensely technical style while the entirety of the album serves as a showcase of his speed.

Guitarist Mike Davis is no slouch as well. His chops are speedy and refined. There are so many solos on The Key it's tough to count, and most of the tracks have two or three. There are a few kickass headbanging riffs as well, such as the intro to "Visions from Beyond the Grave." The latter half of the tracks tend to be a bit more keyboard-laden which is fine and fits the whole concept. By the end of "Empire of the Sands" the keyboard elements are at their strongest and most ominous. The production and mixing is one of the better jobs done in the early Florida death metal scene as well, and the guitar has a really unique tone to it. Sadly the bass isn't as audible but is still certainly present. Other than that this is a classic album that should be missed by no one.

9.0 out of 10


1. Lake of Fire

2. Standing in Blood

3. Visions from Beyond the Grave

4. Neolithic

5. Undead Journey (CD Bonus Track)

6. Before Christ / After Death

7. Andromeda Strain

8. Droid Sector

9. Destroying the Manger

10.   Empire of the Sands 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beyond Creation - The Aura

Technical death metal: a polarizing genre that will often devolve into a jazz vs. classical debate, or people bitching about how lame the production is. I might be part of the latter most of the time, but Beyond Creation's debut The Aura is (was) certain to spark debates over the former. Essentially being a technical death metal showcase, it features elements of both neoclassical and jazz music, seamlessly combining the two to create a very rewarding listening experience.

There has to be something in Canada's water supply that causes children to grow up as musical virtuosos. Quebec is known for housing technical titans Gorguts as well as other big names like Quo Vadis, Augury, and now Beyond Creation. The Aura features a ton of melodious, apreggio-based riffing and progressive basslines thanks to Dominic Lapointe's use of a fretless. There are a few times where the riffs on The Aura sound a bit too much like something out of Muhammed Suiçmez' playbook, but for the most part that's the appeal. Virtuosic and semi-indulgent, it's tough to say no to these hooks.

That's not to say there isn't any real heaviness on here either, although a light bass tone and neoclassical riffing might dissuade certain listeners. Tracks like "No Request for the Corrupted" feature chugging low passages, and the superlative "Omnipresent Perception" features a brutal death metal influenced breakdown. Most of the tracks on here are also filled to the brim with hooks and catchy fills that had me coming back for more. "Social Disability" features some great and fluid time signature changes and  "Coexistence" sports what could be classified as one of the more simpler hooks on the album, being primarily melodic death metal influenced. That's not to say it's bad or dumbed down either, as the song for the most part holds up well save for the needless breakdown. The title track is solid as well with it's great basslines. In fact I'd have to say the bass is by and far the highlight instrument if there was one on this very composed album. The bass solo on the aforementioned "Omnipresent Perception" is fantastic, and it comes as no surprise that Lapointe is one of the best bassists to come out of the Quebec technical death scene.

And now to the part you saw coming: the production. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It fits the album well and allows the listener to audibly discern every instrument at pretty much every part, but I'm not too keen on the lack of bass again. The high tone of the fretless removes the need for it, but I can only imagine how much more awesome this album would be with some thick, gain-ridden sound to it. It's a minor complaint compared to the obvious sound similarities to German bands Necrophagist and Obscura, but otherwise The Aura is an absolutely stunning debut.

8.25 out of 10


1. No Request for the Corrupted

2. Coexistence

3. Chromatic Horizon

4. Omnipresent Perception

5. Injustice Revealed

6. Le Détenteur

7. The Aura

8. Social Disability

9. Elevation Path

10. The Deported

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tombstalker - Tombstalker

Quickies. Solely because my music listening habits in the past week have been pretty erratic and I don't feel like reviewing albums we've all heard time and again, at least not right now.

Prior to releasing any full-lengths, some bands play it reluctantly. Kentucky's Tombstalker is one of those bands. They've released nothing but demos and performed on a few splits with various black metal bands. Last year they released their self-titled EP which is full of black/death thrashing fun. A track by track review is in order as the EP consists of a mere four songs.

"Lecherous Aeon" opens with a tremolo theme, and if the guitar tone wasn't so fuzzy and distorted I would probably mistake it for something out of Skeletonwitch's early discography. It's got all their melodic tendencies but a decent production to back it up. The tremolo theme makes a recurring appearance and overall the song is really well-written. "Ocularis Terribus" is a more death metal influenced romp. It even has a few pinch harmonics which with the production give some of the riffs an interesting sound. "Supreme Veneration of Death" like the previous two tracks is littered with d-beat goodness and the closer "Bastard Warriors" is, if described in one word, blastacular. In several words it's a bit more dull than the previous tracks but it could've been worse.

The mixing is pretty sound on here, with the riffs being prominent and powerful but also distorted to proper levels. The vocals are primarily black metal influenced, with high growls and thrash grunting being frontman Anton Escobar's primary form of communication. I think the best part of Tombstalker's self-titled is that it gives us something to look forward to. These guys clearly know how to write catchy songs with integrity, and I'm really hoping they keep that sound when they release a full-length.

7.5 out of 10


1. Lecherous Aeon
2. Ocularis Terribus
3. Supreme Veneration Of Death
4. Bastard Warriors

The Dø - A Mouthful

Getting my vidya game on, I've recently been playing Saints Row: The Third. Decided to check out some of the bands on the in game radio, and since I'm now on a self-proclaimed quest to find female vocalists who aren't annoying like the banshees in your favorite symphonic metal bands, I decided to check out The Dø, a French-Finnish indie/folk pop hybrid. Their debut A Mouthful is pretty interesting if solely for the fact it's so eclectic.

You can hear it all on A Mouthful. Jazz, indie rock, hip hop, folk, pop, whatever. It's all on here with Olivia Merilahti's odd but sweet sounding voice. I read some quotes from reviews and critics compared her voice to Bjork's and Eminem's. How the fuck does that make any sense? Well you have tracks like "Searching Gold" and perhaps "On My Shoulders" which I could see having the Bjork aesthetic, but the latter reference is much less audible except on "Queen Dot Kong," the track that made me go out and get this album. Here Merilahti essentially raps while accompanied by brass. It's refreshing, different, and interesting to hear. Something you can't say for most pop music these days.

The more standard tracks like reggae-influenced "At Last," "On My Shoulders," and the bouncy "Tammie" are all great as well. The folk break "Unisassi Laulelet" is decent if just for the break it provides in the middle of A Mouthful. There are some more predictable tracks like the girl-rock "Stay (Just a Little Bit More)" and the melancholic "Song For Lovers" which are a bit of a letdown, but overall the album is pretty enjoyable. Both Merilahti and Dan Levy utilize a plethora of instruments and the production accentuates each very well. Although it's not the most deep listen in the world, A Mouthful is definitely worth a try. There's bound to be something that you can enjoy on an album as eclectic as this.

7.75 out of 10


1. Playground Hustle
2. At Last
3. On My Shoulders
4. Song For Lovers
5. The Bridge Is Broken
6. Stay (Just a Little Bit More)
7. Unisassi Laulelet
8. Tammie
9. Queen Dot Kong
10. Coda
11. Searching Gold
12. When was I Last Home
13. Travel Light
14. Aha
15. In My Box

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Heresiarch - Hammer Of Intransigence

'Bestial' black metal is one of the more prolific subgenres these days. New bands seem to pop up on a weekly basis to display their affinity for Sarcofago, Blasphemy, Von, Profanatica, etc. New Zealand is notorious for part of this resurgence, with bands like Diocletian and Witchrist. Heresiarch which contains members of Diocletian debuted with their EP Hammer Of Intransigence after releasing a demo in early 2011. Heresiarch's brand of bestial black metal is similar to all the aforementioned bands with an added dose of that "war metal" feel that the genre is known for.

Air raid sirens blaring, "Carnivore" starts the war march and it doesn't end until "Intransigent" is finished. Militant, snare-dominated blasting really pervades Hammer Of Intransigence through and through. There are a few slower breaks like in the latter half of "Carnivore," and of course there's the intro track "Abomination" which is, like 99% of ambient intro tracks, worthless. The rest of the album sticks to the familiar: blastbeats, 'bestial' chords, and a primitive tone. They work the familiar pretty competently as well. The production is also pretty fitting if nothing special.

Honestly the artwork is probably the best part of this album. It's colorful with the symbol of chaos brazened above a pile of skulls. Very metal, very well done, and the color scheme is perfect. Sadly the rest of the album isn't as great. Just more cannon-fodder for the bestial war march.

6.0 out of 10


1. Abomination
2. Carnivore
3. Iconoclasm
4. Thunorrad
5. Conflagration
6. Intransigent

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sorrow - Under The Yew Possessed

I've been in the mood for non-metal lately. After listening to Soreption last week, the awful melodic death/thrash metal band The Sorrow started playing. I got a song of their's from one of those samplers that come with magazines and certain labels send you when you order their stuff. I had open and I was thinking to myself "who the fuck actually listens to this?" When I clicked the artist name to see all the listeners and comments it gave me a list of all the bands with the name Sorrow, and I came across this little folk rock/pop gem.

Sorrow is technically a duet composed of Rose McDowall, a Scottish pop singer, and some guy named Robert Lee. Apparently McDowall always had some minor obsession with gothic fantasy as it shows clearly in her photos and especially in Sorrow's music. Under The Yew Possessed features folksy guitars, melancholic lyrics, and a psychedelic-gothic vibe. Opener "Die" paints a pretty good picture of what the album is about. You can hear the melancholy in the music, but it still has some of Rose McDowall's previous bubblegum pop sound to it. The contrast is great, especially as her ethereal voice hits another octave on the last repeat of "die," making what should be an uplifting pop tune seem rather negative at heart.

Naturally the music is centered around McDowall's vocal delivery. Under The Yew Possessed is swooning bleakness but it's delivered in an almost whimsical, dreamlike state. It really makes you feel like you're in some overly dramatic nineteenth century horror/romance novel set in the forests of eastern Europe. As lame as it sounds at least it has atmosphere going for it, and it's a pretty strong atmosphere to boot. Songs like "Songbird" and the very gothic "Darkness" are absolutely enchanting, with stunning vocal melodies and that aforementioned contrasting sound between the melancholic lyrics and uplifting instrumentation. Interlude "Dew Of The Sea" and "Emptyness" both feature spoken word vocals, which actually work in the context of the album.

The neo-folk sound on Under The Yew Possessed is pretty apparent too with all the strumming, light acoustic guitar. The drumming is minimalistic and the bass often compliments or harmonizes with the vocal melodies, which is exactly what is supposed to happen in good pop music. My only real complaint is that the album ends on a downer, with "Loki and Evil," followed by three tracks of silence and an untitled ambient outro, but it still fits the atmosphere of the album. "Forgive Me" is also a bit less lyrically inspired, but I guess the album is still pop and it needs some sort of blatancy.

8.5 out of 10


1. Die
2. Forgive Me
3. Songbird
4. Dew of the Sea
5. Emptyness
6. Ice and I
7. Ruby Tears
8. Darkness
9. Loki and Evil
10. Silence
11. Silence
12. Silence
13. Untitled

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Act Of God - Kaosism

Act Of God are a Russian blackened death metal band attempting to sound aggressive like genre titans Behemoth and brooding like NYDM legends Immolation. Instead they sound more awkward than anything on Kaosism, but that's not to say it's a poor album. Just a poorly executed one. Also the album cover first caught my eye because it looked like Dawn Of Possession's, but on closer inspection it's a bit different.

Binary intro aside, "Rain on the Earth" is a solid opener. It's got that intentionally janky Immolation riffing and ends on a mid-range solo. The next few tracks are a bit less impressive, with "Great Arise" being a reject from Behemoth's already weak discography. For some reason there's an uninspired industrial electro beat on the filler track "Gladius Diaboli," which leads into the fucking boring "Day Of Revenge." In fact if I had to describe the first half of Kaosism in one word, it'd be that: boring.

The latter half of the album is where Act Of God's Immolation influences shine a bit more. "Daath" is an otherwise predictable track until the solo, and "Vortex Of Devastation" uses some interesting rests and time signatures. These later tracks are also a bit more mid-paced, but that makes them feel less generic. In fact the closing track (not counting the outro "Ordo Nihil") "Exodus to Nothing" capitalizes on some pretty sweet, slower riffing.

Sadly while there are some interesting riffs and rhythms on the latter half of Kaosism, the album as a whole has some really weak mixing. There's almost no bass to speak of, and although each musician's performance is moderately technical, the production really kills it. It's quite tough to get into a metal album that's lacking heaviness or atmosphere, and this album is lacking both in quantities that make it painful.

5.0 out of 10


1. 10100011010
2. Rain on the Earth
3. We Are Omen of Coming Reign
4. Great Arise
5. Gladius Diaboli
6. Day of Revenge
7. Daath
8. Vortex of Devastation
9. Bleeding Creature
10.   Life Denied
11.   Exodus to Nothing
12.   Ordo Nihil

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sonne Adam - Transformation

OSDM is now officially a fad with major labels like Century Media signing bands of the style and promoting their music. So how does a commercial label handle such music? Surprisingly well if Israel's Sonne Adam are anything to go by.

Sonne Adam's debut Transformation released in April 2011 and I honestly hadn't heard much about it. I heard some skepticism from others when they learned who was producing the non-LP versions of the album, but not much other than that. Upon my first listen I noticed a few things. One that these guys have a unique sound, and two that the former means I can't rant about how they sound like Incantation in this review.

Despite being an old school death metal band first and foremost, there's a lot of doom in Sonne Adam's sound. The oddly dry, crunchy guitar tone combined with slow-paced doom structuring leads to some tracks that take a bit long to wind up. I'd argue that the guitar tone is almost sludgy but that might be taking it a bit far, and honestly I'm not a fan. The tone leaves a bit too much space making Transformation significantly less abrasive than its OSDM counterparts. It also doesn't leave much room for imagination, and Transformation is significantly less 'visual' than its peers like Disma if that makes any sense.There are a few effects on here which serve as an attempt at creating atmosphere to substitute for the lack of harshness, a light echo on the vocalist's delivery being the most noticeable. His delivery is otherwise relatively clean and it's surprisingly easy to make out the lyrics, especially on the more spacious tracks like "We Who Worship the Black."

The atmosphere on Transformation is much stronger than the questionable production. Sonne Adam's songwriting lends itself to interesting, swirling riffs which often devolve into the more cavernous doom sections. "Take Me Back to Where I Belong" is probably the most obvious example of this. Some of the more layered sections are my favorite and they seem to crop up more on the latter half of the album. "Shine" features some interesting tremolo subtleties while the title track's solo is best described as eerie, and the closer "Apocalypse" is almost Mithras-esque in the same regard. There's also a ritualistic sound present, but while other bands capitalize on it Sonne Adam seems to utilize it as more of a fleeting presence.

Something about Transformation just irks me though. Parts of it stick, and it isn't unmemorable, but I don't find it very satisfying. As a cohesive release Transformation is fine but individually a lot of tracks are lacking or littered with filler riffs, their fillerness exacerbated by the production. "Sonne Adam" is pretty boring until the latter half of the song, and "I Sing His Words" plods along with a degree of predictability. The most dull track on Transformation has to be "I Claim My Birth In Blood" though. Lame vocal whisper effects and snooze riffing make it easily the least interesting track. The album as a whole is enjoyable if hit or miss and definitely worth a listen though.

7.5 out of 10


1. We Who Worship the Black

2. I Sing His Words

3. Sonne Adam

4. Solitude in Death

5. Take Me Back to Where I Belong

6. Shine

7. I Claim My Birth in Blood

8. Transformation

9. Apocalypse

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

I don't know what possesses some bands to sign contracts with the big name label-brutes. I guess it's the promise of "fame," fans, or money. I mean obviously any band would want to get their music out to as many people as possible with all the benefits of scheduling big shows and getting professionally done merch, perhaps making some cash in the process. However what I don't get is when the label asks them to change literally everything about their sound or image just to appeal to more people. It makes sense for the label which operates as a money-hungry corporation, but for the band to see this and still sign the contract? There's got to be some pretty deceptive people in the upper echelons of these big labels to make a band willfully sign away their integrity like that.

Fleshgod Apocalypse did it, whether it was of their own volition I have no idea. It's irrelevant. Their hit debut Oracles released with people raving over how well it combined brutality and technicality while having its own neoclassical flare. I liked it enough that it inspired me to see them live where I picked up physical copies of both Oracles and the decent Mafia EP as well as some merch. If the mediocre track "Thru Our Scars" was anything to go by, I should've expected the worst. Come 2011 Fleshgod Apocalypse have signed on with major metal label Nuclear Blast, much to the dismay of everyone who gave a shit. Then they revealed the artwork for Agony along with a preview of "The Violation."

My eyes turned red and steam started fuming from my ears and nostrils.

I refused to even listen to this piece of shit until long after release because it angered me just to look at the cover. Their logo cheapened to a "classy" font, after listening to it I feel like the dull gray artwork fits this album perfectly. I applauded Oracles for being one of the few neoclassical technical death metal albums that remained brutal despite having an extremely dry production. On here there is none of that brutality with fluid guitar melodies replaced with sterile, annoying high-register symphonics. I don't even know what they were thinking with some of these tracks. "The Forsaking" is absolute garbage. It sounds like Nightwish attempting death metal, and these guys don't even have the benefit of a full orchestra to back them up. Then you have all the sporadic clean choruses (or crescendos I should say) on tracks like "The Deceit" and "The Oppression." They aren't evocative. They're flat-out irritating. At least the latter of those two has a riff close to the end. Isn't it sad when the only compliment I can give a death metal song is "it has a riff?" I guess this is hardly even death metal anymore but you get my point.

The production on Agony isn't good either. It's extremely clean to the point of sterility. The guitars are a humming harmonic buzz in the background except for during the completely inane soloing, while electric symphonics dominate the mix overpowering both the nonstop blastbeats and operatic vocals. The album ends with a piano outro just like Oracles and Mafia did, and that's probably the best part about it. "The Egoism" and "The Betrayal" aren't too unbearable either. Maybe because the symphonies are properly harmonized with the guitars on those tracks. Who knows.

2.5 out of 10


1. Temptation

2. The Hypocrisy

3. The Imposition

4. The Deceit

5. The Violation

6. The Egoism

7. The Betrayal

8. The Forsaking

9. The Oppression

10.  Agony

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Black Tusk - Set The Dial

Black Tusk Day - Part Deux!

2011's Set The Dial popped up barely a year after Taste The Sin. That always worries me. When a band releases albums frequently, there's a high probability that they're either Azgorh of Drowning The Light or awful. Fans of Black Tusk should hope that the one-year album cycle doesn't become the norm for these Georgian "swamp metallers."

Set The Dial is clearly hurt by this. It doesn't have the mixing goodness of it's predecessor either. I feel like Black Tusk must've been rushed in the studio or something because although most these songs are pretty typical, some feel as though they're rudimentary recordings. Opener "Bring Me Darkness" is a substandard track that I often forget is even on the album. I usually just start it at "Ender of All" because I can actually get into the infectious stoner grooves on that track. "Carved in Stone" is another fun track with some interesting drumming that collapses into a doom-filled wasteland just in time for the title track, "Set the Dial to Your Doom." Sadly the title track is pretty forgettable, as are both of the instrumentals "Brewing The Storm" (the intro) and "Resistor."

The last three tracks on the album are a bit more entertaining. "This Time Is Divine" has some cool harmonics and "Crossroads and Thunder" is catchy hardcore sludge to the bone. Shame the rest of the album wasn't nearly as good as the last few tracks. I feel like had Black Tusk been given (or decided on) more time to develop Set The Dial, it would've turned out easily as well as its predecessor. Maybe it was because they had a three album record deal with Relapse and wanted to get the fuck out. Who knows.

5.75 out of 10


1. Brewing the Storm

2. Bring me Darkness

3. Ender of All

4. Mass Devotion

5. Carved in Stone

6. Set the Dial to Your Doom

7. Resistor

8. This Time is Divine

9. Growing Horns

10.  Crossroads and Thunder

Black Tusk - Taste The Sin

Black Tusk Day only comes once a year. On this day the amount of sludge you listen to is a prediction of how long winter (or summer if you're in the southern hemisphere) will last, where the more sludge you listen to indicates a shorter season. I played Taste The Sin and Set The Dial a few times each last night so I figure they're both due for some review. Since winter here feels like it hasn't even started yet I guess my sludge levels must be through the roof.

Taste The Sin didn't agree with me when I first bought it back in October 2010. The lite-fuzz guitar tone and hardcore beats reminiscent of Kylesa aren't exactly on the top of my favorite sounds list. As I listened to the album it grew on me. There's a lot of fun in the oversimplified riffing, audible mixing, and stoner-themed lyrical content.

Black Tusk describes themselves as "swamp metal." Like other tags such as "pagan metal" and "epic metal" this is retarded and tells me nothing about their music, or does it? The album does have that really musky, almost hazy atmosphere to it, but I really hate when bands try to vaguely describe their own music with words like that. It's usually a marketing ploy or a way to get signed. Anyway my hypocritical bitching aside, there are some really sweet tracks on here. "Red Eyes, Black Skies" and the hardcore-influenced "Way Of The Horse And Bow" are fun tracks, while some of the later tracks are geared more towards stoner metal. The trio of tracks "The Take Off," "The Ride," and "The Crash" are all very hardcore-influenced sludge with some doom-esque breaks. Nothing on Taste The Sin feels heavy enough to be classified as doom metal outright though.

Some of the mid-album tracks do drag a bit just because they don't do enough to distinguish themselves. "Twist The Knife" is pretty forgettable, and personally I don't give a shit about the intro either. However the mixing is what makes Taste the Sin such an engaging listen. The drums, bass, guitar, and multiple vocal pitches are all perfectly audible. As I mentioned there's also a lot of hardcore-influence on here that ranges from simple four-chord punk riffing to d-beats. That might be a turnoff for some people and it certainly was for me, but I gave it enough time to grow and now I'm liking it.

7.5 out of 10


1. Embrace the Madness
2. Snake Charmer
3. Red Eyes, Black Skies
4. Way of Horse and Bow
5. Unleash the Wrath
6. Twist the Knife
7. Redline
8. The Take Off
9. The Ride
10. The Crash

Monday, January 2, 2012

Abacinate - Genesis

I don't like 95% of the East Coast Hardcore movement. NYHC is really irritating in itself with all the macho, tribal tattoo-armed dudebros flailing their arms and doing ninja kicks to shitty songs complaining about the government not giving out enough foodstamps. Abacinate takes this movement and applies it to metal, and the results are absolutely hilarious.

Genesis is a special album, I'll give it that. Abacinate takes elements of deathcore and death metal, combines them, and then proceeds to dumb them down to knuckle-dragging beefhead levels. Chug anthems like "An American Obsession" and "Purveyors Of Scum" are filled to the brim with tuffguy lyrics and some of the funniest breakdowns ever, backed by scene erm...legends like Marc Jamieson. The part he contributes is literally something about meeting him down at the pub and "I'm trying to get fucked up, Abacinate motherfucking 2010 bitch!" If that isn't awesome (and retarded) I don't know what is.

Honestly Genesis is a pretty fun and catchy album. The riffs aren't nearly as idiotic as the lyrics and some of them are actually pretty technical, utilizing the predictable pinch-harmonics and some odd time signatures (see: "Night Of The Desirable Objects"). Some tracks are more grind-influenced, like "The Natural Disasters." The production is also pretty solid all around. Every instrument is audible and at an appropriate level in the mix. In fact Genesis reminds me of other "dumb" metal bands like Mortician and Jungle Rot with an added degree of technicality. The former is shitty and the latter's newest sucked so you could always substitute this in to get your fill of retard-strong stupidity. We all need it at some point.

7.25 out of 10


1. Night of the Desirable Objects
2. Disturbing Remedies for a Desperate Disease
3. Purveyors of Scum
4. Necroplunger
5. The Natural Disasters
6. A Harmless Walk
7. An American Obsession
8. Laughing in the Dark Pt. I
9. Laughing in the Dark Pt. II
10. The Bundy Curse

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 25 Albums of 2011

Yeah, yeah. I know I missed my goal of twenty or more posts for December. I plan on posting on a semi-daily basis for 2012. Think of it as my New Year's Resolution. Normally I'd say fuck resolutions but I really enjoy blogging and writing reviews.  I also know I don't have a lot of followers. To those of you actually reading, thanks for making this worthwhile. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am. Once I get enough reviews under my belt I'll start trying to really get the site out there. Eventually I'll have reviews actually covering the majority of this list...eventually...

So without further adieu, my top picks for 2011:

25. Revocation - Chaos Of Forms (technical death/thrash metal)

Everytime I see this cover I think of how much time the artist spent making the logo look like shitty Microsoft WordArt. Three seconds? Ten seconds? The world may never know. Good thing the album doesn't sound as awful as the logo looks.

24. Wormrot - Dirge (grindcore)

Meteor to the face. I think that sums this one up nicely.

23. Nightbringer - Hierophany Of The Open Grave (black metal)

I've always found Nightbringer hit or miss, and I definitely enjoy me some orthodox black metal. Hierophany Of The Open Grave is an album full of left-turns and off melodies. The harmonies are great, but what the fuck man why is it so dissonant? I'm writing this list backwards from #1 to #25 so now I'm running out of things to say. Damnit. That should inspire you to read on because it can't get any worse than this!

22. Noisear - Subvert The Dominant Paradigm (grindcore)

This is some of the most unique grindcore I've ever heard. I just started listening to Subvert The Dominant Paradigm a few days ago and it already has some growing potential going for it. Like Discordance Axis' The Inalienable Dreamless, here grindcore is pushed to its musical limits and regurgitated anew.

21. The Flight Of Sleipnir - Essence Of Nine (stoner/doom/folk metal)

Essence Of Nine caught me completely by surprise. On here The Flight Of Sleipnir combines infectious stoner grooves with a bit of that '70s progressive sound, all within the realm of their folk aesthetic. 2010's Lore was pretty sweet as well but this album surpasses it in every way.
20. Victims - A Dissident (crust punk)

Swedish crust punkers Victims are filled with energy on A Dissident. Hooks and sweaty vested teenagers abound, this album rocks pretty hard. Definitely one of my favorites to cruise around to. It's crust punk so you should know what to expect from this one.

19. Putridity - Degenerating Anthropophagical Euphoria (brutal death metal)

Dear god what the fuck did I just listen to? Are my ears still on my head? No? Damnit. In one of the most intense albums since Defeated Sanity's Psalms Of The Moribund Putridity have single-handedly managed to dismember my concept of brutality and piece it back together piece by bloody piece. A melodic desert, Degenerating Anthropophagical Euphoria shows no remorse to anyone not trained in the art of brutality.

18. Maruta - Forward Into Regression (grindcore)

Ah I will miss thee. Much to my dismay Maruta broke up a few months back. Forward Into Regression was their last album, and it had a more developed sound than it's predecessor. Here there's actually some pretty intense melodies to go along with the general schlock of grind.

17. Cormorant - Dwellings (progressive black/folk metal)

Melodious but not annoying, Cormorant's Dwellings is how all progressive black metal should be handled. I'm sick of bands noodling away Dream Theater-style, forgetting that there's even a song to go along with the scale they're abusing the fuck out of. Cormorant avoids this by remaining fluid and dynamic (and by not having obnoxious vocals).

16. Altar Of Plagues - Mammal ("Cascadian" black metal)

I'm not big on the whole "cascadian" black metal thing. Post-rock and black metal don't really mix too well despite what the morons at Pitchfork might tell you. However if there's one album where it's done correctly, it's Mammal. Here the dark atmosphere of black metal isn't lost to some bearded tree-hugger wailing about how he wants to bone wolves. Instead the atmosphere here is deep and for lack of a better word "oceanic." Very immersive.

15. Benighted - Asylum Cave (deathgrind)

Benighted's "more grind, less core" mentality on Asylum Cave paid off when I thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of this album back in early February. Perhaps a minor improvement over 2008's famously bass-heavy Icon, the riffs here have a bit more brutality to them. A fun listen if not the most original one either way.

14. Blaspherian - Infernal Warriors Of Death (death metal)

OSDM of the angel-killing variety. Heavy and on the less fuzzy side of Incantation. That's a good thing. Otherwise they'd end up sounding like Encoffination. Some absolutely blasphemous riffs on here.

13. Gigan - Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes (technical death metal / "grindcore")

Effects-driven psychogrinders Gigan were much better on The Order Of The False Eye, one of my favorite albums ever. In fact I actually found this album disappointing on release for that reason. It still manages to amp up the trippy effects with a more alien atmosphere, but at the cost of the more bizarre and memorable riffing. After listening to it for half a year, I've come to the conclusion that it's still a solid if disappointing release by a very unique band. That alone makes it worth looking into.

12. Archspire - All Shall Align (technical death metal)

Because I can always deal with more technical death metal. Here tech-wank tryhards Archspire debut kicking major ass and actually keep their brutality in the process. It is just an EP, but it sure railed the fuck out of Origin's latest if that's any consolation.

11. Azarath - Blasphemers' Malediction (blackened death metal)

Holy hell. Blasphemers' Malediction is pure, unbridled Angelcorpsian fury from start to finish. After listening to this album I feel like Azarath is actually going somewhere. Inferno should just quit Behemoth and stick with this awesome group instead.

10. Vektor - Outer Isolation (technical thrash metal)

This is my thrash metal album of the year. If I really gave a shit about thrash metal this one would have more competition. Sadly I don't, and Outer Isolation is really damn good.

9.  Baring Teeth - Atrophy (technical death metal)

Yet another technical death metal album, this one tougher to describe and not as easy to digest either. Atrophy is a mindfuck of face-melting riffery from start to finish, and although the production isn't the strongest thing about it, some of the ideas on here are goddamn awesome. Just take "Distilled In Fire" or "The Dead Hand" for example. Oh how I love that intro riff...

8. Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations (black metal)

I almost forgot about this one when I was making the list since it came out back in January, but it's definitely one of the best black metal releases in a year that sucked for anything that wasn't death metal or grindcore. Stained Glass Revelations is unique in that it combines elements of orthodox black metal with the catchy, memorable hooks of late '80s heavy metal.

7. Vengeful - Vengeful (death metal)

I'm hesitant to include Vengeful's self-titled since it basically came out less than a month ago. I love The Omnipresent Curse, and here Vengeful explores similar-sounding technical goodness. The less abrasive production might be a big turnoff for some people but it grew on me after a few listens. The second disc (titled "Leaping Through The Void") has a more unique sound and longer songs. Definitely one of the more interesting releases in 2011.

6. Disma - Towards The Megalith (death metal)

Okay this one's overrated. Everyone touts this as the latest and greatest thing to emerge in the death metal scene, and with members from Incantation and Funebrarum it'd better be fucking awesome. It pretty much is, but not as good as your forum-posting, wannabe "kvlt" ass says it is. Towards The Megalith is an extremely entertaining old school death metal romp, but not something you couldn't have expected or seen coming from the gods in Incantation and Funebrarum.

5. Antediluvian - Through The Cervix Of Hawaah (black/death metal)

Oddly the title track is spelled differently than the album title. At least according to my sources. Maybe I should get new sources. Whatever. Antediluvian really impressed with Through The Cervix Of Hawaah especially after releasing a bunch of shitty-mediocre albums in the past two years. This is another Canadian black/death monstrosity with a density that even light couldn't escape from. Absolute, crushing brilliance.

4. Light Bearer - Lapsus (post-hardcore, post-rock, sludge)

Very emotive stuff here. I listen to this album on a regular basis and it has yet to really wear on me.  The interesting concept behind Lapsus is penned by neocrust/post-hardcore frontman Alex CF and it has what I'd describe as sort of a Paradise Lost meets metaphysics vibe. It gives the whole Light Bearer project another layer of depth and makes Lapsus that much cooler. I can't wait to see where else they take this literary-musical combination. Definitely the second best debut of 2011.

3. Mitochondrion - Parasignosis (black/death metal)

Everytime I listen to this album I feel like I'm a warlock, dancing and inscribing runes in goat's blood or something. Shit's crazy, dark, empowering, and surprisingly rather optimistic if you read the cult-themed lyrics.

2.  Ulcerate - The Destroyers Of All (technical death metal)

As fucking lame as it sounds, Ulcerate will always have a place in my heart thanks to Everything Is Fire. It is the album for me, like Obscura was for many others. Colossal and with the same end-of-all atmosphere that its predecessor had, Ulcerate's newest is still pretty killer. I'll have that apex on the title track stuck in my head forever. Also "Hollow Idols" is awesome. Haters gonna hate.

1. Flourishing - The Sum Of All Fossils (technical death metal)

This album absolutely floored me with it's ingenuity. Crunchy and organic, earthy and deep, the tones explored on this album are absolutely phenomenal. Like a bastard child of Gorguts and New York City's burgeoning hardcore scene, this album ends up sounding more like Anata's glorious and highly emotive brand of technical death metal than anything. This crossbred, almost positive sound makes The Sum Of All Fossils by far the most unique, and easily best, metal album and debut of 2011.

Stuff that didn't make the cut or I need to listen to more:
Death Grips - Exmilitary (hip hop)
Njiqahdda - The Path Of Liberation From Birth And Death (black metal)
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (folk rock)
Beyond Creation - The Aura (technical/progressive death metal)

Stuff that blew ass:

Decapitated - Gold Cobra (nu metal)
Morbid Angel - Illud whatever (industrial rock)
Septic Flesh - The Great Mass (fruity symphonies)
Monumental Torment - Element of Chaos (is this music?)
Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony (fruity symphonies)
Unexpect - Fables Of The Sleepless Empire (fruity symphonies)