Sunday, October 19, 2008

HATESPHERE - Ballet Of The Brute

Ballet Of The Brute
Century Media

Jacob Bredahl sounds like he really wants to kick someone's ass! His vocals are snarling, scaberous and downright angry.

Hatesphere plays a style of roughhouse metalcore that jars your spine with pummeling blows. Ander Gyldenohr smashes the skins admirably, creating pit inducing beats that are locked into the groove and forceful.

"Warhead" is a pulverizing exercise in raw power, getting started with on old school Flotsam and Jetsam style riff. Hatesphere lean more to the thrash side of the metalcore dialectic, "Deathtrip" is another "banger where the guitars mirror early Kreator and Bredahl really lets his vocals loose. This track clocks in at only 1:54 and and is the kind of over before you know it and you don't know what hit
you affairs that leaves you wanting to hear more.

"Vermin" is positively frantic during the verses whit again, some really cool vocals on the hook, where Jacob switches up his vocals a bit and shows that he is a master of several different styles of vox.

Thrash stalwarts Demolition Hammer come to mind on "Downward to Nothing", while "500 Dead People" brings to mind the crunching detuned attack of Scott Ian, Before marching into a metalcore assault complete with gunshots and stomping double bass thumps.

Speaking of Anthrax, you'll find a really cool cover of one of that band's greatest songs, "Caught In A Mosh". The band really does the track justice, while adding a bit of grit to the performance.

But wait, headbangers, there's more! You'll also hear another well done cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark At The Moon" which is done in a style that is so ripping that you would think that it was old Slayer at first. Jacob certainly does not try to imitate the Prince of Darkness in any way, instead opting to incorporate his own toughened core vocals over lightning quick six string diversions.

Both of these covers are fashioned in Hatesphere's own design and may well expose a new generation to the fine works of these classic performers. Hatesphere is a group that'll be successful with its music if the band hits the road and stays there for a while, Ballet of the Brute is A plus concert material.

Hatesphere is hitting its stride and I'm certain we can expect even greater things to come from these thrashing, young, very un-gentle men.

Written By: Bangs Gorely

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SCARY KIDS SCARING KIDS - The City Sleeps In Flames

The City Sleeps In Flames
Immortal Records

Bestowed with a moniker that makes this band sound more threatening than they actually are, listeners will find on this album the epitome of the type of “follow the leader”, trend-loving screamo tripe that is currently being rammed down music buyers throats with a magnitude that records executives could have never imagined back in the days of the Seattle scene. Not to say that these guys are all that bad, either as musicians or performers, but if you’re looking for originality you had better keep searching, because there is zip to be found here.

Imparting a approach of utilizing the “coming of age” sort of themes that are so prevalent in this scene, we find Scary Kids making music for a cross-section of American youth that are searching for an identity, a place to belong and a voice that can show them that their emotions are just as important as they yearn for them to be. Yes, there are certain compelling moments on the record, but the fact that this sort of thing is so over done renders those moments impotent.

Ultimately, the absolute scariest thing about “The City Sleeps In Flames” is it’s tepid willingness to follow the herd, leaving this group as yet another in a long, long line of commercialized pretenders to the throne.


CHIODOS - All’s Well That Ends Well

All’s Well That Ends Well
Equal Vision Records - 2005

Flint, Michigan’s Chiodos have put together an impressive collection of sounds in “All’s Well That Ends Well”, as the group strive to give the listener something different than what you might expect from a band that is often holding an At The Gates riff behind their back.

Certain individuals that are into extreme music may tend to pick this one up in the record, browse the titles of the songs and continue looking. For the most part, these songs just don’t read like they are all that extreme.

This is a part of the grace that the band exhibits in their creativity and it is a trait that is just this side of genius, as Chiodos gives you a touch of what you might expect from a band with the aforementioned steely riffs, but this group is so much more diverse than many other bands. You can chalk up much of the group’s inter-song dynamic quality to an excellent engineering job by Marc Hudson of Audiolux Studios.

Craig Owens has the ability to emulate just about any vocal style going, and he interchanges these distinctly differing vocal sounds, often with each change between song parts. Musically, the album runs through varied tempos, stylization and emotion. Following a somber prelude an piano, Chiodos kick into “All Nereids Beware.”

The listener will notice from this introduction to the group’s schizophrenic arrangements that Chiodos not only produces listenable extreme music with great degrees of variation, but they do so with an excellent performance.

Other pieces you’ll definitely want to check out for yourself include the sprawling post-hardcore fusion masterpiece.” One Day All Women Will Become Monsters” and the abstract, ringing “There’s No Penguins In Alaska.”

If you’re scared of emo, growling death vocals and screams of ringing pianos, you may want to steer clear, but it’s likely that Chiodos has enough appeal to reach a wide cross section of listeners.


HAND TO HAND - A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye

A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye
Lifeforce Records

Frenzied, provoking screams of anguish. Invincible, articulate harmonies. Febrile, massive guitar assaults. Each of the phrases is descriptive of the captivating din that seethes from the music contained on the brilliant new effort by Hand To Hand, ‘A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye’.

When singer Robert Kellom unloads with his assuredly savage vocal belting, you have one of two choices. Run for cover, or get on board for one Hell of a wild ride. If you are any kind of fan of high intensity metalcore, the choice is obvious. But, when Kellom lets go with a tuneful melody, his presence is equally intense. Kellom possesses a voice that is among the best in the genre and is backed by an ensemble that strikes hard and fast with a devastating impact. ‘Preamble’ gets things going with a fury, a track that begins like a deep thrust, evolving into one of the most memorable choruses in recent recollection. The strumming, unmuted guitar chords let loose by Joel Vilardi and Brock Berryhill are expansive, imparting a wide open emotional sensation.

On ‘Allude’ we find the band exerting tight gallops while on ‘Insult To Injuries’, Kellom is strictly rabid in his verse delivery. ‘A Silver Medal’ kicks in with a super heavy riff. Melodic vocals are the dominant theme here, although there are some occasional screams that give the song more power. The bridge of this tune is thick and rumbling before it turns around and rejoins the verse. This is one of the most accessible songs overall on the album and ought to see a bit of attention on radio specialty shows.

You’ll love the sliding, distorted riffing on ‘Bravo’ as well as Kellom’s soaring vocals. Bassist Steve Martin locks into a tight groove here with the kick drum of drummer Zach Swain, making for a slamming groove that is sure to get a circle pit going during the group’s upcoming European tour. At the end of this track the group softens up a bit, letting the listener down easy before turning to the vibrant strains of ‘In A Name’, which is as close to as this band gets to a ballad. For the first two minutes of the song, things stay restrained until Kellom tears into a further scathing vocal indictment that builds tension and adds further dynamic to the track.

The record closes with the acoustic ‘Confiding In A Whisper’, an extremely mellow tune rich with harmonics that fades into electrical white noise. Buried near the end of this track is a very strange and funny song that you will just have to hear for yourself. Hand To Hand have a crushing album on their hands with ‘A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye’.

Matchless in melody and featuring some of the most original sounding aggressive song parts going, this is a release that is without a doubt, not to be missed!


Friday, October 10, 2008

THE AUTUMN OFFERING - Revelations Of The Unsung

Revelations Of The Unsung
Victory Records

Victory made a wise decision in reissuing this 2004 Stillborn debut from Florida’s The Autumn Offering, a richly textured, incendiary effort that rivals the excellence of metal’s best. Literally attacking the senses with abrupt shifts in time signatures, highly diverse guitar work and distinctly refreshing emotional variations, The Autumn Offering score big with hard-hitting visions of sonic dynamite such as the balls-out opening cut “The Great Escape” and the majestic yet unruly rager “Revelation.”

Vocalist Dennis Miller snarls his way through the disjointed headbanger “Calm After The Storm” as if he is due for a rabies shot, but the singer also interjects several different types of voices that break things up in a very non-patterned manner. Check out this song for a ripping lead, suggesting The Autumn Offering not only have the powerful sound, but also the chops to fully back it up.

All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte pops in for a highly tuneful guest appearance on the stellar track “Homecoming” and it is here that the group’s ability to fully rock out becomes crystal clear. An engaging, bone-crushing riff powers the cut, while Miller delivers a brusque, ominous presence. An enormous hardcore breakdown here says metalcore all the way, but the band abruptly switch gears into a dream-state melody that takes the track to an exceedingly brilliant coda.

The Autumn Offering avoid cliché verse-chorus-verse arrangements, instead opting to construct their music for maximum impact, with a plethora of variances between the musical interludes. Not only does this band grab your attention, they keep it for the life of the record, a quality that is difficult to come by.

This re-release stands as more than something to build attention for the group’s new album (which hits the shelves in May). Any album that is so intricate, articulately entertaining and most importantly, gigantically heavy is one that does not merely deserve of the fans’ attention. It demands it.


THE AUTUMN OFFERING - Embrace The Gutter

Embrace The Gutter
Victory Records

Exceeding all expectations, The Autumn Offering bursts forth with “Embrace The Gutter,” a monumental record packed with more head-smashing tonnage than one could have ever anticipated after hearing their Stillborn debut, “Revelations Of The Unsung.” When the band launches into the blissfully mighty “Decay,” their status as heir apparent to the metal throne becomes painfully obvious. A raging mass of uncontrollable ferocity, the track thrives on emboldening, Slayer-strength riffage and the forceful growls of frontman Dennis Miller, who is instantly emerging as one of the finest screamers in metal. Mosh-worthy, razor-edged riffs give way to blustery blasts before the band breaks things down in stop-start fashion with a substantial fury being emitted by drummer Nick Gelyon. This youngster has such wickedly fast feet; you’ll be half-dead dizzy from hearing his complex double-kick barrages. The guitar team of Tommy Church and Matt Johnson tear away at their fretboards like true metal madmen on the beefy, forceful “The Yearning” as Miller spits pure vocal venom.

From Summon’s “As The Blood Runs Black” to Trivium’s mind-blowing “Ascendancy,” we’ve heard Jason Suecof progress greatly as a producer and in 2006, Suecof is undoubtedly the hottest, most sought-after knob-twister in all of heavy metal. Chalk up another production masterpiece for the esteemed studio wizard, with the vicious guitar tones, well-rounded mix and absolutely stellar drum tones herein topping even “Ascendancy” in their ability to relay the perfect balance of pure, unadulterated metal that The Autumn Offering so effortlessly serves in generous portions.

Church and Johnson shred with such confidence of the album’s title track, that it’s downright jaw-dropping, while as Miller unfurls a testosterone-filled bellow during the track’s insidiously ear-catching chorus, there can be no denying that Victory Records has generated a de facto coup de tat in snatching up this blazing hot young metal act. The Autumn Offering has built upon the type of unabashed aggressiveness espoused by bands like label mates Darkest Hour and completely ran away with it. The final result is a sound that’s heavy and melodic, yet never anything except purely intense. Suecof himself chimes in with a fretboard shredding solo here that further adds to the intensity of the cut. Bassist Sean Robbins will floor you with his crushing performance here

The killing spree continues on the energy-filled crushing number “Ghost” where Johnson and Church team up for the greatest tandem melodic solo this side of Murray and Smith, and the massively detuned, chugging outro that follows is anything but stereotypical. What it is though, is goddamn heavy metal designed to bust your eardrums on impact. As the band rips through the roaring thunder of “Misery” and the technical brilliance of “This Future Disease,” Miller’s adrenaline-filled, bassy belching grows even angrier and on the later, the vocalist opts to keep things hard and heavy as opposed to resorting to emo-tinged melodic singing. This fact alone gives The Autumn Offering more credibility than ninety percent of the new metal groups out there. An excellent lead kicks off “One Last Thrill,” which has one of the most ear-striking choruses on the entire record. If metalheads are not incited to mosh when hearing this track in concert, they should be ousted from the venue. Music this heavy commands you to mosh; you simply have no other choice.

“No End In Sight” shows masterful songwriting skills and is packed with face-ripping leads to boot. Miller’s gruff attack is relentless, and the mighty rhythms never let up. As The Autumn Offering launch into “Walk The Line” a variety of old school thrash influences come to mind, yet are eradicated by the group’s monstrous aural presence. The band’s music literally leaps from the speakers and grips you by the throat here, whilst the album’s closer, “The Final Cut,” gracefully slashes it from ear to ear with a doom-laden, highly befitting metal epitaph. Hell, yeah.

Make no mistake, “Embrace The Gutter” is one of the shining achievements of heavy metal in 2006, as yet unrivaled in terms sheer, unrestrained fortitude. It’s a bit early to make the call on the greatest effort of the year, as there’s plenty more metal to be released in the second half of ’06, but this album is a Top 10 choice all the way. These young killers are most damn sure out for blood with this beast of a metal record, so heed the call and embrace the fucking gutter.


AT ALL COST - It’s Time To Decide

It’s Time To Decide
Combat Records – 2005

You have to lend At All Cost a fair bit of credit for their determinedness to bring a bit of originality into their sound. There’s a lot of different things going on in this ensemble’s songwriting, from scathing core assaults to futuristic, technological overtones and even a bit of groove to make your booty move, think Cynic in a car crash with As I Lay Dying and you’re pretty much in the ballpark. But to be frank, this adventurous Texas group is so much more than that.

Plenty of tempo shifts keep this record attention-grabbing, with well-plotted arrangements emphasizing drama and musical creativity. Although there may be a few too many hardcore influences here for some metal peeps, At All Cost make it happen in a way that sounds vastly unlike any of their peers.

A prime example lies in the stark freshness of the techno-core leadoff track “Death To Distraction”, while it’s follow-up, “The Formula” embraces abrasiveness and trippy quirkiness in tandem. When you hear the abstract, synthesized, in-the-midst-of-torture wailing of frontman Andrew Collins on the punked-up anthem “Right Now”, you can’t walk away without feeling as if you’ve had one hell of a lashing.

A degree of accessibility seeps into the digits of “Fabricated” and this artistic diversity resonates as highly welcome. Mind you, this track is as close to as a ballad as you’re going to get from this group, it’s polished, mid-tempo aura beckoning the listener’s memory with a singular, cyber-presence. Yea, At All Cost can cover a lot of ground. And they do it in a markedly creative manner which reveals the outfit as being a candle and not a mirror.