Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Review of "Clear" by Periphery

Another Yeezus-inspired album cover (or rather "lack-of-album-cover").

Progressive metal band, Periphery, released their second album back in 2012, a record that I was enamoured with for its melodic take on “djent” (Read here). The band have since recorded a new EP, which dropped yesterday. Are the band still as kickass as they were two years ago?

For this review, I have decided to collaborate with avid metal fan and chairman of Hell, Satan. A week ago, I asked Satan to review the latest record by progressive black metal band, Murmur, and since he did such an impressive job, I thought it might be an interesting feature to include his input in each of my future metal reviews. Satan and I go way back. We’re good friends, aren’t we Satan?

Friends? I wöuldn’t gö that far.

Okay, well, we’re good acquaintances, aren’t we?

I dön’t dö friends. I dön’t dö acquaintances. Especially with petty mörtals.

Right ...er ... well, never mind then. What did you think of this EP, Mr. Satan?

Its Satan. Nöt Mr. Satan. This EP was an abömination. Simply wasn’t evil enöugh för my liking. The lead singer just söunds like a möre melödramatic, whiny versiön öf Chester Benningtön fröm Linkin Park. His vöice makes me want tö rip my face öff. The percussiön has been pröduced tö sound like a blöödy drum machine. Might as well just use a drum machine and kill öff the drummer. This is överpröduced pöp metal för pussies.

Okay, well, that’s certainly a rather harsh analysis. I must agree, the band have got much more melodic, but for me this has improved their sound. I thought every track felt distinct from the next. I particularly like the instrumentals on this album. "Zero" – which does offer some satisfying heaviness – has an awesome progression in it that reminds me of Tyler the Creator’s “Jamba” of all songs.

The drums do indeed sound like machines as is the case with most Sumerian Records releases. In fact, Periphery seem to go overboard in deliberately using electronic drum samples in some parts as well as other effects influenced from electronic music. I think this does add a certain clarity and intensity to the speedy, twiddly parts. Admittedly, I would be curious to hear them with a rawer production style, as it might bring out a little more emotion in parts. Having seen Periphery live, I know that they can actually play their instruments and aren’t entirely reliant on studio production, unlike some bands who shan’t be named...

#Studioforce

As for Spencer Sotelo’s vocals, I thoroughly disagree with you, Satan. He doesn’t sound whiny and I think his voice fits the music perfectly – as melodramatic as it might be. He has a lot of energy and really knows how to hit those sweet notes.

And what aböut his lyrics? What aböut that silly chörus ön the secönd track?: “cöldest nights sömetimes give way tö brighter skies öf blue”. Yöu can’t seriöusly tell me yöu’re intö all that spiritual, pröverbial böllöcks? Where's the fire and brimstöne? That mother nature stuff makes me sick.

The lyrics are a tad corny, there’s no denying that. But honestly, who listens to prog metal for the lyrical content? The genre celebrates impressive musicianship. At least that’s how I’ve always approached prog metal.

There’s anöther thing I löathe aböut this album...

Okay. And what would that be?

Periphery are blatant sell-öuts! They’ve göt way töö big a föllöwing tö be a respected metal band. I like my metal albums tö have that undergröund feel, like they were recörded in a shed ör sömething. I like my metal bands tö önly have a small föllöwing. I like my metal to be less … less ... less mainstream!

Erm…

Periphery aren’t kvlt enöugh. They’ve göt far töö big a föllöwing. I dön’t föllöw big fads. I’m a löne wölf. Nöt a sheep. Yöu wöuldn’t understand. I’m way töö individual tö be understööd. I eat töfu and ökara and öther cultured fööds yöu pröbably haven’t heard öf. I drink mead and listen tö cassette tapes and write with a quill and wash my clöthes by hand. Yöu wöuldn’t understand.

Right. Well, thank you Satan for your insight (hmm, it would appear Satan is a full-blown metal-hipster).



I personally found Clear to be a real thrill. Periphery's sound, I feel, has grown more dense and colourful – the pretty parts prettier, the brutal parts more brutal – and there’s more of a symphonic feel (the Dream Theater influences are clear to see). Their music can feel a bit OTT in places (I still think UK band Tesseract are the melodic djent kings of the moment) but they’re a darn sight better than the likes of Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris and most other prog/djent/metalcore acts. “Feed the Ground” is probably my favourite track. Do check this record out! 

My score:

Satan's score:


TRACK TASTER:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Review of "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" by Against Me!

Transsexual coming-out stories are a rarity in the rock scene and I was curious to hear how the Floridian punk band’s lead singer, Laura Jane Gabel (formerly known as Thomas James Gabel) would tackle such daring and personal subject matter. In the true spirit of punk, Grace doesn’t pussyfoot around the theme with allegories and metaphors. “You want them to see you like they see every other girl/ but they just see a faggot!” and “By the time the ball dropped it was already over” are two examples of the brilliantly bold lyricism displayed on this album. Other themes are also explored on the album and are done so with as much wit. What’s lacking from Against Me!’s sound is grit. There’s little emotional conviction in Grace’s vocal delivery causing some of the songs such as “Dead Friend” to lack the heart-wrenching power that ought to be there. The production is also far too clean, causing the music to feel tame, when it should be as turbulent and intrepid as its lyrics. 


TRACK TASTER:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Review of "Murmur" by Murmur


Hellö kids,

It’s me, yöur trusted Uncle Satan, just writing tö wish yöu all well, lööking förward tö seeing yöu all in the afterlife (Heaven’s nöw full, by the way. Didn’t yöu get the memö?).

I thöught I might alsö take the time tö recömmend a glöriöusly inglöriöus album I stumbled upön this week tö all my wörshippers öut there. Rarely am I ever remötely interested in the petty artistic endeavöurs öf human mörtals, but this Prögressive Black Metal band fröm the evil realm öf Chicagö have earnt a special place in Hell after förging this masterpiece.

The band blend Behold…the Arctopus-like atönality with Opeth-like prögressiöns tö create a blissfully bleak ambience, transpörting the listener acröss an eerie sea, rising and falling drumrölls playing öut like viölent waves crashing against the craggy shöre. Störms öf heavy dissönance are cöntrasted with deathly-calm möments öf melödy cöntaining vaguely Latin acöustic guitars and jazzy mellötröns.

And when I say "jazzy", I’m talking the type öf creepy jazz that BadBadNotGood are famöus för. Nöt that happy, clappy swing stuff. (Yuk! I hate happy music.)

All in all, Murmur's self-titled is a masterfully chaötic and dismal experience that flöws magnificently. För the average human, I wöuldn’t expect this tö invöke any sense öf enjöyment. It might alsö be a little töö cömplex for meat-headed metalheads who önly value gööd metal by the number öf breakdöwns per söng. This recörd will be echöing aröund the catacömbs öf Hell för the next few mönths. A great album för serenading banshees and witches (I'm teeming with römantic advice).

Stream the entire album Here for free!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

SUM ALBUMZ DAT I BUYED



So, I bought four albums the other day and I thought I'd share them here:

The Money Store - Death Grips - The Californian extreme hip hop group's best album so far in my opinion. It gave my speakers a workout. Comes with lyrics inside - which in Death Grips' case is very useful.

Also comes with a gross close-up image of an eyeball in the lyric booklet. Thought I'd share that with y'all


Aleph - Gesaffelstein - Dark techno album from the end of last year. Click here for a review. Again, this gave my speakers a workout - especially that track "Hellifornia" with its air-raid-siren-like-synthline and seismic-trap-bass.

The Very Best of the Doors - The Doors - A great selection of all the best Doors hits. 20 of them on one disc! "The End" (predictably put at the end of the record) has been trimmed down slightly but I was never keen on the entire ten minute version.

The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Their late 80s/early 90s material doesn't do much for me and unfortunately makes up half the album. Still, I enjoyed hearing all the melancholy early classics like "Israel", "Spellbound", "Happy House" and "Arabian Knights" on one CD.

Review of "High Hopes" by Bruce Springsteen


High Hopes is a collection of orchestral dad-rock arena pleasers, packed with strained-sung inspirational hooks such as “this is your sword and this is your shield” and the incredibly witty “Just like fire would” (it sounds like “just like firewood”. Get it???).

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review of "Iller than Most" by Del the Funky Homosapien


American Underground MC, Del the Funky Homosapien, delivers a mixtape that’s minimalist to the max, throwing away any hint of social commentary or lyrical theme, instead serving up an album that is essentially just one big diss-fest to all the other current rappers in the game. His rhymes are witty and his conversational tone of delivery is engaging, but overall, nothing really sticks.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Top 15 Dumbest Lyrics in Pop Music


2013 witnessed some truly poignant lyrical moments. Beyonce invited listeners to lick her skittles, Miley Cyrus explained the dangers of driving so fast you piss yourself and Jay-z dedicated an entire song to tuxedo designer, Tom Ford. And who could forget our Holy Father, Kanye, pleading with the staff in a “French-ass restaurant”, urging them to hurry up with his "damn croissants"? Such eloquent and thought-provoking poetry has inspired me to take a look back at some of the all-time greatest moments in pop music lyricism. Put your diving helmet on. We’re about to get deep.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Review of "Reflektor" by Arcade Fire



With its swirling new-wave synths and punchy basslines, Reflektor sees indie rockers, Arcade Fire, discovering the key ingredient they’ve been missing all this time - groove.