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The Empty Hearts -- Cranston, RI -- October 19th, 2014
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  #101  
Old 03-02-2010, 01:48 PM
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Natrlhi Natrlhi is offline
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Update coming later tonight - 100% guaranteed.

Plus, the list is done and the mini-reviews are written, so I could post the entire Top 30 right now if I wanted (but I won't).

Top 30 time! I'm really excited about these next couple of posts!
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  #102  
Old 03-02-2010, 05:00 PM
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29. Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono is a post-metal band from Japan. Mono moves at a deliberate pace, and builds momentum very slowly. Mono starts off quietly, but can become very loud. You will not see it coming, but it will happen – and you will be swept away. In short, Mono requires patience. You must check your brain at the door, and let the music take you away. You probably should not listen to Mono while driving or operating heavy machinery, but you should definitely listen if you have about an hour to lay on your couch or bed and soar amongst the eagles. Mono slowly builds layer upon layer of muted drums and singing guitars – and finally come the crashing cymbals – to form an unstoppable wall of sound that will knock your socks off. Mono are very good at what they do. This is one of their best albums. If the above description sounds interesting, you should buy this album. If you like what you hear, you should go see them live (best results are with eyes closed).



28. Vader – Necropolis
I had been aware of this Polish death metal outfit for quite a while, but what little of their music I had heard had seemed like a somewhat unremarkable version of Morbid Angel, and so I wasn’t all that enthralled by this band. Then, I started hearing a lot of good buzz about them, including a tour for this album, so I went to see their set at Peabody’s last November. Wow. These guys have really evolved. They are now more like Behemoth in terms of sound than Morbid Angel, and not to compare those two bands to each other (which is a little like apples vs. oranges), but the point is that Vader is now faster, louder and much more confident in their own skins than before. They obviously know that they are officially death metal veterans – old, salty war dogs that have been there and destroyed that – and it shows on stage. It’s apparent on this album, too. Not only are their songs heavy and direct, but they even have some fun with it from time to time, including cover versions of two completely classic songs – Venom’s “Black Metal” and Metallica’s “Fight Fire with Fire”. Vader is not new to cover songs, but when they do it – unlike other bands – their versions sound almost as good as the original versions. This is an indicator to me that this band is a confident group of solid musicians who are happy to be doing what they do, enjoying the opportunity to pay respects to their influences and at the same time writing and performing some pretty damned impressive material of their own. This is a very solid album.



27. Minsk – With Echoes in the Movement of Stone
This doomy post-metal outfit from Peoria, Illinois continues the tradition of releasing progressively better material with this, their third full-length release. This album sees some experimentation and growth taking place (more on that in a moment), but also sees the band wisely retaining a firm hold on the moody atmospherics that have become part of their signature sound. As far as experimentation goes, this album is not groundbreaking. Instead, slight changes have been made which I feel are a definite plus. For example, the pace of the songs has picked up a bit, at least on the average. Songs do not take quite as long as in the past to reach a pretty decent level of intensity, and they tend to stay there longer. Another example is the drums. The same tribal rhythms which propelled the previous two albums do so here as well, but perhaps more steadily and more often. The same excellent vocals and Neurosis-like atmosphere pervade the proceedings on this album, as in the past. Overall, this is a very solid collection of work by an impressive band which seems to keep improving with every new release.



26. ChthoniC – Mirror of Retribution
With the release of their previous album (2005’s “Seediq Bale”), many things began to happen in the world of this Taiwanese black / melodeath outfit. First, they’d sharply increased the level of their music from mildly interesting but somewhat same-sounding to truly unique and compelling, and second (and as a result of the previous), they were invited to play Ozzfest, and as such, their visibility and popularity increased dramatically. As a result, ChthoniC had set the bar fairly high for themselves for this album, almost to the point that the expectations would be unachievable. Then, an interesting thing happened – they blew the expectations out of the water with an album that was orders of magnitude better than the one that had put them on the map in the first place. This album is outstanding on so many levels, it’s difficult to know where to begin. The pace is fast and steady, and the songs absolutely shred. The riffs are interesting, compelling and memorable – and most importantly – highly entertaining, and there are excellent guitar solos all over the place. In addition, the keyboards and other additional instrumentation just fit so well and are used to such incredible and appropriate effect, that it’s just stunning how seamless the overall compositions sound. The keyboards and erhu are not afterthoughts – they are integral parts of the music, and they fit extremely well. Speaking of the erhu – a two-stringed Asian fiddle played with a bow – this instrument creates such a unique sound in the context of a metal composition that it’s difficult to see how it could fit into this type of music. ChthoniC not only make this unique instrument sound passable, but they use it to make the music sound better. If you’ve ever wondered what some excellent black / melodeath would sound like with a uniquely Asian flair to it, then look no further. ChthoniC’s new album will knock your socks off.



25. Behemoth – Evangelion
I know of at least one person whose opinion on all things metal I respect very much, who has stated to me that he felt that this album was a disappointment. The first couple of times I listened to it, I felt the same way. However, as I am writing this review, I have no idea what I was thinking at the time. In fact, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it, and the more I am convinced that this may be Behemoth’s best album besides the masterpiece which is “Demigod”. Every song on this album is fast and brutal. The production is crisp and clean, and very good. Excellent use of samples and alternate instrumentation (keyboards, strings, what have you) is peppered throughout, and this really enhances the overall atmosphere of the album. The musicianship is of course exceptional, as always. Most importantly, the songs are well-written, interesting and memorable. There are a great many riffs which catch the listener’s ear and burrow deep within the brain. Everything that should be right about this album is, and all of the classic pitfalls are nicely avoided – so as I said, I’m not sure where my original opinion of this album as “weak” was coming from – this is a very solid and highly enjoyable album. (Edit: One of the best songs on the album – the incredibly heavy and sinister “Ov Fire and the Void” – has one of the best metal videos of 2009…I highly suggest checking out the uncut version online!)



24. Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive
John Baizley of Baroness recommended this album to me (sorry, couldn’t resist the urge to name-drop there a little bit!) – but seriously, aside from name-dropping, there is another reason I mention this. Obviously, Baizley knows good music (or at least music that this reviewer likes), and I have to say that he was right on the money with this one. This is the second album from this Boston band, which features workhorse vocalist / guitarist Nate Newton of Converge. Now, for those of you who may not like Converge (let’s admit it, they’re not for everyone), fear not. This ain’t Converge. Doomriders is punky, but not extreme like Converge is. Instead, there is a definite flavor of sludge present here, along with some more conventional metal elements. These guys sound somewhat like Greg Lahm’s new band Struck by Lightning, but maybe a little more straightforward in terms of song structure. This is just plain old balls-out punk / sludge metal with shouted vocals and a hell of a lot of energy behind it (what else would Nate Newton do?). The album climbed rapidly (and continues to do so) ever since it entered my listening queue in December 2009, and as a result, I am now officially addicted to Doomriders! Awesome album.



23. A Storm of Light – Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Last year marked the debut of this post-metal project helmed by Josh Graham (visual collaborator of Neurosis / guitarist for Red Sparowes). In a nutshell, my description of last year’s album was that it sounded a lot like Neurosis – especially in terms of vocals – but that the pace was often slow and plodding, so that it reminded me primarily of the more drone-y parts of that band’s music. This year’s sophomore release is a whole other story. This album has balls – and it moves. It’s loud and heavy, atmospheric at times and relentlessly pounding at other times. The vocals still sound a lot like Scott Kelly of Neurosis, but essentially that is – and always was – a good thing. There is bona fide singing going on here, as with Neurosis, but it is also shouting at the same time – or at least it has the same emotional insistence as shouting does. In addition to increased pace and tempo, other fine improvements have been made, such as the very creative and extremely effective use of distorted vocal samples at the beginning and end of the album, as well as between several tracks. The samples are creepy both in their sonic nature as well as their lyrical content, and they really add to the dark, foreboding atmosphere of the album. Another obvious improvement is that the percussion work here is heavier, is featured more prominently, and figures more substantially in most of the compositions (in fact, there are times when the drums absolutely drive the music by themselves). Overall, this is a really outstanding album by an up-and-coming outfit in the somewhat crowded post-metal genre, and the approach this band is taking feels somewhat familiar, yet somewhat fresh and unique. This album spent quite a bit of time in my listening queue in 2009, and is therefore very highly recommended.



22. Isis – Live V: Oceanic Live at ATP 7.23.06
Imagine if you will, a fictional answering machine message in your mind that goes something like this: “Hello, Aaron Turner of the legendary post-metal outfit Isis? My name is Joe Schmoe with All Tomorrows Parties, and we’d like you and your band to show up at Koko’s in London and play your seminal ‘Oceanic’ album in its entirety, with your buddy Justin K. Broadrick on mixing and mastering duties, so we can record it and release it for our ‘Don’t Look Back’ series. No pressure. Hope you’ll do it.” From what I gather, Isis wasn’t thrilled at the idea, but they graciously accepted the offer nonetheless. The result is this album. As the sparse liner notes portend, some of the tracks on this recording were quite old and rusty at the time, and Isis simply did their best with those – but others were either fresh in their mind due to recent touring, or the few rehearsals they got to do before the performance brought back old memories or something, but in quite a few cases, they absolutely slayed. There are definitely more home runs than foul balls here, and overall, Isis definitely knocked this baby out of the park. This is an excellent item for fans of the band, and to be honest, I would recommend it to a post-metal newcomer as well. The CD – which includes hand-made packaging – was limited to 1,000 copies, and I found out about the release too late to order one for the initial price of $10.00 – so I paid significantly more than that on eBay – but it’s one of the most cherished albums in my collection.



21. Red Fang – Red Fang
Last year, a little album by the name of “Meanderthal” by an emerging sludge band called Torche took the metal world – and particularly this reviewer – by storm by being the undisputed “most fun metal album of the year” (or at least that’s how I saw things). This year, that title absolutely goes to this album – hands down, no questions asked. This album is nothing short of a phenomenal blast of fun, delivered with all the subtlety of a combat boot to the groin. The vocals are somewhat sung / mostly shouted, and sound somewhat like Dexter Holland of Offspring or Jared Warren of Big Business. The tone of the music is sludgy with a thick, crunchy bottom end, but is incredibly upbeat at the same time. The tempo of the music is definitely fast and furious, and it really doesn’t let up for the entire thirty-six minutes of the album’s length (which is entirely too short for an album that’s this good). At times, the band seems to channel the stoner-y goodness of a band such as Wolfmother, and at other times one can definitely detect the punk influence and work ethic of a band like Dillinger Four. Yet other times, one can feel the deep groove of a hard-rocking jam band such as Clutch. This Portland, Oregon quartet has recently signed to Sargent House, so here’s looking forward to some tour dates this side of the Mississippi, and many more albums to come. “Red Fang” is simply the best debut album of 2009, and without a doubt, it is one you should not miss.
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  #103  
Old 03-02-2010, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Natrlhi View Post
21. Red Fang – Red Fang

At times, the band seems to channel the stoner-y goodness of a band such as Wolfmother


Good to see them get love though, thought the songs were good, you've seen the Prehistoric Dog vid right?
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  #104  
Old 03-02-2010, 07:46 PM
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Natrlhi Natrlhi is offline
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Good to see them get love though, thought the songs were good, you've seen the Prehistoric Dog vid right?
Yeah, excellent video. The goofball violence at the end always reminds me of the "War Metal Battle Master" video from Lair of the Minotaur a few years back (except minus the blood-soaked boobies).

What's wrong with the Wolfmother reference, BTW? Too mainstream / trendy / hipster-y of a band? Should I have compared them to Weedeater? I was looking for someone who is stoner-y and very groovy at the same time...would you have preferred a reference to The Sword, perhaps?


EDIT: Anyway, I fucking love me some Red Fang.
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Last edited by Natrlhi; 03-02-2010 at 07:49 PM.
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  #105  
Old 03-02-2010, 07:59 PM
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What's wrong with the Wolfmother reference, BTW? Too mainstream / trendy / hipster-y of a band? Should I have compared them to Weedeater? I was looking for someone who is stoner-y and very groovy at the same time...would you have preferred a reference to The Sword, perhaps?
They don't sound like Weedeater though, but that is closer to the mark than Wolfmother. Some contemporaries that are probably more apt to compare them to would be like Valkyrie, Early Man, Saviours, bands that are sincere, just victims of being born too late so as to have to share their time with shit like Wolfmother, The Sword, Priestess, etc.
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  #106  
Old 03-02-2010, 08:04 PM
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Natrlhi Natrlhi is offline
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Originally Posted by ADD View Post
shit like Wolfmother, The Sword, Priestess, etc.
Ooooh, party foul. I like Wolfmother, The Sword and Priestess. I hope that doesn't hurt my metal cred around here too much. Of course, if it does, c'est la vie. I like what I like. (For the record, I don't LOVE any of those three, but I find them enjoyable from time to time. IMO, The Sword > Wolfmother > Priestess, but Red Fang >>>>> all )
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  #107  
Old 03-02-2010, 08:05 PM
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DethMaiden DethMaiden is offline
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Originally Posted by Natrlhi View Post
Ooooh, party foul. I like Wolfmother, The Sword and Priestess. I hope that doesn't hurt my metal cred around here too much. Of course, if it does, c'est la vie. I like what I like. (For the record, I don't LOVE any of those three, but I find them enjoyable from time to time. IMO, The Sword > Wolfmother > Priestess, but Red Fang >>>>> all )
Backwards.
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  #108  
Old 03-02-2010, 08:06 PM
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Ooooh, party foul. I like Wolfmother, The Sword and Priestess. I hope that doesn't hurt my metal cred around here too much. Of course, if it does, c'est la vie. I like what I like. (For the record, I don't LOVE any of those three, but I find them enjoyable from time to time. IMO, The Sword > Wolfmother > Priestess, but Red Fang >>>>> all )
Word, I like some songs from those bands too, but we can hopefully agree that they are all a tier below the other hesher bands mentioned here.
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  #109  
Old 03-02-2010, 08:15 PM
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Natrlhi Natrlhi is offline
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Word, I like some songs from those bands too, but we can hopefully agree that they are all a tier below the other hesher bands mentioned here.
Agreed. Wolfmother comes nowhere near my top 30.


The Sword was #25 on my list last year, though.
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  #110  
Old 03-02-2010, 08:37 PM
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Backwards.
+1
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