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Old 05-23-2012, 09:07 PM
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Bringer of Darkness
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: New Mexico
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Ok to make it this easier I will be posting the reviews from Allmusic when possible to make it easier on me. If they don't have one on a specific release. I will say and then write my own thing.


40. Trouble - Manic Frustration (1991)
(Def Jam)
After ten years of hard work in the face of adversity, doom metal kings Trouble had seen it all, and after making an incredible comeback with their self-titled fourth album in 1990, the band once again teamed up with producer (and label boss) Rick Rubin for 1992's appropriately titled Manic Frustration. On this occasion, the Chicago-based quintet finally decided to take a chance on expanding its puritanical doom outlook, and infused the album with additional retro-rock inspirations such as acid rock, psychedelia, and Beatlesque variety, resulting in the band's most unique and user-friendly work. From the very get-go, the Hendrix-ian "Come Touch the Sky" literally burst off into the lysergic stratosphere and the mock apology of "'Scuse Me" vented years and years of living-out-of-time frustration in under three minutes, while the hallucinogenic likes of "Rain" and "Mr. White" seemed to represent the polar emotional opposites of the hippie generation's naďve idealism (the first was Woodstock, the second Altamont). Less adventurous, riff-based creations like "The Sleeper," "Tragedy Man," and the title track afforded old-time fans a few opportunities to reconnect with Trouble's Sabbath-derived origins, but Manic Frustration's defining triumphs were undoubtedly those that dared mesh together all elements of Trouble's expanded musical kaleidoscope. And so, one is inevitably drawn to the sheer guitar-shredding fantasy and frenzy of "Hello Strawberry Skies," the unsettling comedown and blissful return provided by the gentle "Breathe...," and the staggering majesty of "Memory's Garden" (all highlights of Trouble's career), where singer Eric Wagner's mournful bray spins a tale of loss, faith, and hope of simply chilling proportions. Sadly, none of these were capable of stopping Manic Frustration's title from ringing horribly prophetic after its release, when Trouble once again faced the mixed blessings of widespread critical acclaim but no significant album sales beyond the underground heavy metal faithful.

The Sleeper


39. Krux - Krux (2002)
(Mascot Records)
Just why bassist Leif Edling felt the need to form yet another doom metal band besides his main concern, legendary doomsters Candlemass, is anyone's guess. But classic doom is what Sweden's Krux are all about, and except for the different personnel involved, their eponymous debut could almost pose as a Candlemass record, if truth be told. Dominated as it is by the same manner of oversized riffs, detuned guitars, and unhurried rhythms, beautifully melancholic songs like "Krux" and "Omfalos" owe much of their distinctive tones to the commanding voice of one-time Yngwie Malmsteen band singer Mats Levén. Outstanding opener "Black Room," for example, might have struck too close to home in that regard, only thanks to Levén's contribution, it sounds less like Candlemass than the apex of Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath. Prime instigator and songwriter Edling is in fine form as always, coming forward to sing on the sparse interlude "Sibiria" before unleashing waves of distorted bass effects on the spacy "Evel Rifaz." Freed from his bass-playing gig with Entombed, Jörgen Sandström takes full advantage of his opportunity to peel off one bludgeoning power chord after another; and guest soloists Nicko Elgstrand (Terra Firma) and Fredrik Akesson (Talisman) also take turns playing guitar hero, proffering stinging leads to such head-banging anthems as "Nimis" and "Enigma EZB," respectively. Meanwhile, Carl Westholm also pitches in with judicious doses of synthesizers, occasionally brought to the fore, but mostly used for accenting purposes. Krux finally veer slightly from their trad-doom formula on the multipart, 12-minute "Lunochod" -- whereupon trippy bleeps and squawks see them embarking on sonic traipses through the cosmos. This slight departure notwithstanding, Krux is a doom metal record through and through, and especially ideal for Candlemass fans.

Omfalos (Live)


38. Place of Skulls - With Vision (2003)
(Southern Lord Records)
For a band that reached its creative peak in the early '70s, Black Sabbath has certainly had a long-lasting impact on heavy metal. Their riffs have influenced just about every stoner rock combo of the '90s and 2000s, and Sabbath is the band of choice for people in the doom metal field. Although Place of Skulls was formed in 2000, their approach owes a considerable debt to Sabbath's trailblazing work with Ozzy Osbourne -- there isn't a riff on With Vision, Skulls' second album, that isn't Sabbath-minded. Of course, the Sabbath influence that permeates this 2003 release isn't surprising when one considers what bands Skulls' members once belonged to. Guitarist/singer Victor Griffin (Skulls' founder) is an ex-member of Pentagram and Deathrow, while guitarist/singer Scott "Wino" Wienrich's credits include Spirit Caravan, the Obsessed, and Saint Vitus, in other words, Griffin and Wienrich both have a long history of belonging to Sabbath-influenced bands. And because Place of Skulls are as Sabbath-minded as they are, this CD will be classified as doom metal or stoner rock; however, it's important to note that Skulls isn't nearly as extreme as some of the bands that are considered doom metal. Compared to the noisy, brutally dissonant Grief (a great underground doom band that enjoyed a small cult following), With Vision is quite musical and melodic. This CD is heavy, but not in a ferocious, bruising, sledgehammer-to-the-cranium way; Place of Skulls caters to those who like their metal with a lot of melody. While With Vision is hardly the most original or groundbreaking metal disc of 2003, the material is generally well written and well executed; Place of Skulls definitely deserves some credit for craftsmanship. All things considered, With Vision is a decent and respectable, if derivative, outing for Griffin and his headbanging colleagues.

Long Lost Grave


37. Acid King - Bosse Woods (1999)
(Man's Ruin Records)
Black Sabbath was a major influence on a lot of the bands who recorded for Man's Ruin in the late '90s, and Acid King certainly doesn't escape the influence of early Sabbath on Busse Woods. This isn't to say that Acid King is a Sabbath clone -- far from it. True, Lori S.' singing owes a debt to Ozzy Osbourne, and her slow, forceful, brutal guitar riffs recall Tony Iommi's contributions to Sabbath. But the Bay Area band's heavy metal/stoner rock tends to communicate a looser, more jam-minded outlook than the music of Sabbath, and there are other direct or indirect influences one could cite as well, such as Robin Trower, Jimi Hendrix, and Hawkwind. Sabbath tends to get right to the point, whereas Lori S. enjoys stretching out when it's appropriate. Even though Acid King's brand of metal has often been described as stoner rock, one needn't be a stoner or use drugs to appreciate such metallic grooves as "39 Lashes," "Drive Fast, Take Chances," and "Electric Machine." Even if you consider yourself a teetotaler, Busse Woods is an exhilarating dose of metal.

Silent Circle


36. Evoken - Embrace The Emptiness (1998)
(Elegy Records)
New Jersey's homegrown funeral doom institution, Evoken, refused to play it safe with their 1998 debut full-length, Embrace the Emptiness, which took long strides (with looooong songs, of course) beyond their nascent genre's barely established fundamentals, and successfully eclipsed the comparative immaturity displayed by 1996's Shades of Night Descending EP. So, in addition to slumbering tempos underpinned by reverberating drums, evanescent synth orchestrations haunting thundering guitars, and booming growls hurled straight from the deepest, foulest crypt, album standouts like "Tragedy Eternal," "Chime the Centuries End," and "Ascend into the Maelstrom" also boasted a few rather "energetic" passages and tormented clean baritones mixed in by frontman John Paradiso. Another absolute colossus, the self-explanatory "Lost Kingdom of Darkness," even made room for some tinkling piano in its successful bid to depict endless caverns snuffed by impenetrable, everlasting darkness -- a fitting summation, come to think of it, for Evoken's entire aesthetic vision, of which Embrace the Emptiness arguably represented the first fully fleshed chapter.

Lost Kingdom of Darkness


35. Middian - Age Eternal (2007)
(Metal Blade Records)
It was a sad day for doom metal when YOB broke up in 2005. But thankfully, that was the not the end of YOB leader Mike Scheidt's involvement with doom metal. The guitarist/singer wasted no time assembling a new band: Middian, whose debut album, Age Eternal, isn't a big departure from YOB's work. Like YOB, this trio (which also includes bassist/singer Will Lindsay and drummer Scott Headrick) operates on the sludgy, Black Sabbath-influenced side of metal (as opposed to the more gothic side of doom epitomized by Paradise Lost and Anathema), and Middian is also a band that loves to stretch out. Age Eternal only has five tracks, which may lead some to assume that it is an EP. But this 57-minute CD is no EP; some of those five tracks last 11, 14 or 15 minutes -- and that penchant for extended numbers is certainly very YOB-ish. Despite being similar to YOB, Middian is not a carbon copy of Scheidt's former band; Middian offer more fast tempos, and their performances are somewhat heavier and have more of a psychedelic edge. Nonetheless, Age Eternal will not come as a major shock to those who are familiar with Scheidt's YOB days. Like YOB's albums, this 2006 recording is not for those with short attention spans; this is complex doom that has a lot of interesting twists and turns and never adheres to a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. But those who were YOB admirers will be happy to know that Scheidt is still providing quality doom metal.

Dreamless Eye


34. Goatsnake - Flower of Disease (2000)
(Southern Lord Records)
With Flowers of Disease, Goatsnake delivers its trademark slick, thick, and smooth guitar tones ŕ la Kyuss meets Black Sabbath, way-low dropped tunings, heavy drumming, solid production values, and some pretty weird instrument appearances. These guys have been around the proverbial doom metal block, and it shows. Pete Stahl gives a vocal performance that is unique, melodic and dynamic in range, lending a classic doom sound that's an increasingly untypical and refreshing vocal approach in today's black-, death-, and grindcore-influenced doom metal scene. The slow- to mid-paced grooves are all the Sabbath-inspired heaviness you could hope for, but much of the album comes off like a wasted summer evening from your best memories. "Easy Greasy" has Stahl singing "Fellout and tore up/With my friends and their freaks/We laugh and lie so high it's sweet." Not only that, but the mouth harp thing, along with the slow, heavy groove, gives off this "down by the river, takin' it easy" feeling. This is a doom record though, and aside from the fact that there's plenty of mellow "let it go" attitude here, the title track is the most morose. "Flower of Disease" conjures suicidal thoughts with the lyrics "I touch these walls of this place I know/Death is standing right outside the door/I smile inside to hide the cries/The pain just loves to multiply." An enjoyable listen, this album is a perfect marriage of modern production techniques, excellent riffing, melodic classic doom, and grooving ambience.

The Dealer


33. My Dying Bride - The Angel and The Dark River (1995)
(Peaceville Records)
Rarely does one individual sound so perfectly exemplify the mood of a record like the groaning, distant foghorn on My Dying Bride's third full-length, Angel and the Dark River. This English five-piece pens such bleak, soul-crushing tunes that its use of a lone foghorn to conclude agonizing opening cut "The Cry of Mankind" is strikingly appropriate (and most likely self-indulgent in the hands of a less convincing outfit). At no other time in its long and creatively prosperous career has My Dying Bride been so suicidally self-absorbed, evident by vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe's use of a clean, despairing, and melodic moan throughout, having ditched the death growl of earlier releases; in fact, the rest of the band followed suit, setting aside any death metal influences, carefully using violins and keyboards to enhance the group's brooding excursions, and managing to not sound gimmicky in the process. Generally, the arrangements stretch out over long, progressive, and swampy plains of powerfully droning, yet still memorable, guitar riffs, patiently rumbling drums, and Stainthorpe's vague and ghastly lyrical drippings, presumably painfully squeezed out of his own slit wrists. Not unexpectedly, songs take their sweet time getting their point across, clocking in between seven and 12 minutes, standouts being "From Darkest Skies," "Black Voyage," and "Your Shameful Heaven," the latter of which actually picks up the tempo beyond a snail's slime-trail-oozing pace, but with the same destination in mind: Pure, utter, unrelenting depression. Most likely, few will appreciate the tortured, pitch-black majesty of My Dying Bride, the band being the withered and shriveled trail's-end of fauna-wilting gothic doom metal, but MDB devotees should agree that Angel and the Dark River is its most effectively poisonous slab of internalized, navel-gazing horror. Other albums in the MDB catalog are more concise (Like Gods of the Sun), experimental (34.788%...Complete), and brutal (Turn Loose the Swans), but Angel and the Dark River stands alone in the center of a misty sea of tears, dolefully bleating its foghorn into the unforgiving wind.

A Sea To Suffer In


32. Warhorse - As Heavens Turn To Ash (2001)
(Southern Lord Records)
With this crushing full-length debut, Warhorse stake a well-deserved claim to a piece of the sprawling Black Sabbath-inspired doom metal underground. Reminiscent at times of contemporaries Goatsnake and Electric Wizard, As Heaven Turns to Ash is well-crafted start to finish, the production allowing the material to really shine. The second track, "Doom's Bride," originally recorded on a cassette deck in the band's practice space and titled "Death's Bride" on Warhorse's 1998 demo, comes off with so much power that it sounds like almost like an entirely different band. The same is true with the version of "Lysergic Communion," this album's fifth track. The astounding low end and brutal guitar tones seem to have saturated the analog tape during recording beyond levels previously thought possible, while the songs' solid structures make it an effort to keep yourself from either banging your head or killing your neighbors. The overwhelming heaviness is accentuated by fantastic and tastefully executed song dynamics, shifts in mood, volume, and tone that draw you into the recording and its tortured landscapes. Warhorse supported the release of this album by touring with doom legends Electric Wizard. This is an excellent debut.

Lysergic Communion


31. Grand Magus - Monument (2003)
(Rise Above Records)
Well, this is more like it! Swedish stoner rock trio Grand Magus did themselves few favors with their solid but unspectacular 2002 debut, which quietly sank into the general morass afflicting the doom/stoner movement at the time. And when guitarist and singer JB subsequently hooked up with Michael Amott's high-flying Spiritual Beggars, it looked as if Grand Magus were doomed (no pun intended) to vanish altogether, leaving only that one middling release to their name. However, thanks to the incredibly gregarious and liberal nature of the Swedish music scene, here they are -- unexpectedly back with a 2003 follow-up that is quite deserving of its imposing title: Monument. Howling winds and mournful guitar lines introduce album opener "Ulvaskall (Vargr)," which promptly lurches into gear on an Iommi-approved, bent-note riff and fittingly bleak words intoning "I'm damned and I'm cursed forever/Destined to walk this land," over and over again. Ensuing single (yeah right -- a "single," ha!) "Summer Solstice" steps it up a notch to take listeners chugging down the highway, and by the time Grand Magus slow it down again for the lysergic roll of "Brotherhood of Sleep" and the gargantuan doom creep of "Baptised in Fire" [sic], retro-metal fans will likely be foaming at the mouth over what they're hearing. Simply put, energetic doom doesn't get much better than this, or, for that matter, the album's frightfully heavy next offering, "Chooser of the Slain (Valfader)," which combines chiming bells, concussive power chords, and lyrics of Viking lore to thrilling and terrifying effect. And to wrap things up on a high note, the likeminded "Food of the Gods" offers a final, concise battering before the colossal denouement of ten-minute epic "Ye Who Seeks...Shall Find." Powerful, steady, unrelenting, and always f*ckin' heavy, Monument helped put the bite back into what was then a distressingly flagging strain of heavy metal.

Baptised In Fire

Last edited by hb420; 05-23-2012 at 11:44 PM.
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