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By a Thread "The Last of the Daydreams" CD

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008 @ 6:48am » permalink

By a Thread - The Last of the DaydreamsBy far one of the most painfully underrated albums ever released by Revelation Records was "The Last of the Daydreams", the 1999 debut full-length from Vancouver, Canada's By a Thread. The band was formed in 1996 by ex-members of metallic hardcore outfit Strain (who I was never a big fan of, truth be told), and later went on to release split CD's with Waterdown in 2002 (I've actually never heard this one – anyone got it?) and Still Life Projector in 2004. But this album in particular is an absolute fucking masterpiece of heavy, hard-hitting emo/indie rock, and still deserves more attention to this day.

It wasn't until about four years ago that this record really clicked with me, but when it did I was completely hooked, and listened to this disc in my old CD player/alarm clock damn near every night as I was falling asleep for like six months straight, maybe more. No joke. For one thing, the recording has that density to it that I really love when it comes to the more melodic, emo-ish side of things, as it accentuates the chunkiness of some of the riffs and really beefs up the overall delivery of the material with some added heaviness. But make no mistake, the bulk of the tracks are fairly midpaced and blatantly melodic, with emphatic singing and just the right amount of vocal harmonies making for a strong balance of feeling and catchiness. It's weird, because in a lot of ways it's textbook late-90's emo/indie sounding stuff, but at the same time I feel like By a Thread had something of a unique sound, and I wouldn't exactly compare them to any other bands off the top of my head or anything. At the end of the day, though, it's all about killer songs, plain and simple. See for yourselves:

By a Thread "Surface"
By a Thread "Walkway"

And here's a "bonus" track from the "Revelation 100: A 15 Year Retrospective of Rare Recordings" compilation that came out back in 2002, as this is without question one of the band's finest songs (it's my personal favorite, in fact):

By a Thread "Tainted"

And what kills my life is that apparently these dudes have had a new fuckin' full-length done and mastered for, like, a god damn year now! I thought Revelation was supposed to release it, but apparently the band is in "contractual talks" and attempting to "sort out things" – granted said statements come from a MySpace blog post dated last summer! They've since uploaded a few tracks from said currently unreleased album, and all the shit's great, so… I don't know what the god damn deal is, but someone needs to release that record pronto. There's just no excuse. Great music can't just rot away on a fucking shelf somewhere!

In the meantime, you can pick up "The Last of the Daydreams" new or used in various formats (it's around a buck used on Amazon.com right now), so… get to it if you like what you hear. It's a damn shame this band wasn't hailed more significantly nearly 10 years ago when this jam originally dropped. Maybe they'll get a fairer shot if that new material ever sees the light. Let's hope so…

Purchase:

@ Revelation Records
@ Very Distribution
@ Amazon.com
@ Amazon.com (mp3)

Ills "Demo 2008"

Posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2008 @ 6:46am » permalink

Ills - Demo 2008Ills is a brand spanking new band from Finland (Formed just two months ago!), and they've already recorded an extremely solid demo that plows through three tracks of straightforward, crunchy metallic hardcore with absolutely no frills whatsoever in just six minutes. Apparently some (Or all?) of the members are/have been active in other Finnish hardcore bands, but they seem to be keeping their identities under wraps for the time being. No matter, as it's a well-documented fact that I'm a huge fan of metallic hardcore from Finland, and these three tracks achieve a great balance of moderate speeds, tactful breakdowns, and a little bit of Clevo – which is never a bad thing! The metal influences never go too far, and the vocals have more of a bitter, sneering edge than one would expect, which is a great match for the subtly dirty grit of the guitar tone. I don't know what else to say, really. It's a short fucking demo and I've got no complaints. I'm already looking forward to hearing more, and apparently these cats work fast, so hopefully the wait won't be long…

Ills "Revisioning"

If you dig the track above, you can download the entire demo (for free) as high-quality mp3's from the band's website. The lyrics are there, too.

[DOWNLOAD] Ills "Demo 2008"

Blacklisted "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God" CD

Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 @ 6:45am » permalink

Blacklisted - Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God"Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God" is the latest "full-length" (I suppose? 11 tracks in just under 20 minutes?) from Philadelphia's continually improving Blacklisted (again on Deathwish Inc.), whose newest material always seems to be their best, which is somewhat of a rare feat. But this is without question their strongest sounding release to date, which certainly plays a role. The mix is incredibly well balanced, the guitars are thick and warm with an unexpectedly fiery grit hovering at the outskirts (which works great against the raging vocals, which actually have a hint of "melody" to 'em from time to time), and the rhythm section holds down the fort with a nice and natural drum sound and absolutely punishing basslines filling the gaps. And the songwriting and performances are also gold in that they're still managing to diversify from the metallic hardcore base of their sound while still honing the explosive edge of their earlier work through loads of tracks that blast right past in less than two minutes apiece. You'll still find plenty of those chunky midpaced breaks and straightforward hardcore chord progressions, but there are also a few borderline sludgy riffs and subtle little discordant/melodic twists and turns in the slightly longer tracks – namely the excellent closer, "Wish". And what about those quick shots of acoustic guitar in "Touch Test"!? Never saw that comin'! What can I say? I often forget how good this band can be, but this record generally just tears through and has a great flow and energy to it that really caught me by surprise straight from the first listen. Nicely done.

Blacklisted "Touch Test"

This one's not officially out until April 1st, but you can pre-order it from the label for just $8 (or $10 on LP), and I'm guessing the pre-orders are gonna start shipping any day now, if they're not already.

Purchase:

@ Deathwish Inc. (CD)
@ Deathwish Inc. (LP)

Kill "Inverted Funeral" CD

Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 @ 7:03am » permalink

Kill - Inverted Funeral"Inverted Funeral" is the sophomore full-length from Sweden's almost too perfectly named Kill, and was released almost a year ago by the almighty Total Holocaust Records, but I've been a little behind, what can I say? Despite having been active for over a decade now, I had never heard Kill before, but this album tears through eight tracks of totally raw, furious black metal in about 43 minutes – complete with an efficiently thin, dry recording that bears a shitload of fiery, overdriven bite to the guitar tone; while subtly plunky basslines help to fill in the gaps at the core of the mix. The vocals are slightly up front, while the drums tend to fall to the distance, but overall I actually like the aesthetic of the recording, and find it to be relatively balanced out when all is said and done. They're clearly shooting for a grating, over the top sound, and they certainly achieve it, but they do so without going too far, you know? It fits, considering the band's equally raw riffing style, which builds around straightforward blasts and tremolo picking, solid midpaced runs, and the occasional presence of some crude old school "heavy metal" riffs and power chord breakdowns. For the most part they forgo the colder, more dissonant style and aim for a bashing, churning, go-for-the-throat attack – which does retain some air of dissonance, but mainly due to the raggedness of the guitar tone during some of the faster and more chaotic note-based tremolo picking (though certain tracks, like "Below", do bust out some killer little arpeggiated riffs and shit like that as well). Is it creative? Is it diverse? Well, not really… but who gives a fuck!? Sometimes simple and to-the-point is all you need, and this album does a great job of that as far as I'm concerned. Good stuff.

Kill "Deathmessiah"

Purchase:

@ Total Holocaust Records
@ Hells Headbangers
@ Regimental Records

Celestine "At the Borders of Arcadia" CD

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008 @ 5:11am » permalink

Celestine - At the Borders of ArcadiaI have another kind reader to thank for graciously sending me an email suggesting I check out Reykjaví­k, Iceland's Celestine, whose debut EP, "At the Borders of Arcadia", cranks out six tracks of absolutely incredible material in a little under a half-hour. Expect loads of nastily churning detuned power chords, chugging rhythms, and low-end throbs accented by tactfully executed caustic/chaotic guitar textures and completely ripping vocals that tear forth with some genuinely pained 'n' strained grit. There's a hint of discordant melody tucked amidst the dense force of their attack, but they're not afraid to venture out into some straight up clean/acoustic atmospheres either – at times utilizing smatterings of loose ambient effects and such to round out the mix and create a more enveloping sound. All of the song titles unite to form the phrase, "Despair and witness the ruin of god and me.", which appears across the back cover of the disc, and the lyrics are basically presented as a continuous narrative on the first page of the CD booklet, so there's obviously a little something more going on behind the scenes here as well, which works far better than average with the overall tone of the music, artwork, etc. I don't know, as usual there's so much more that I should probably say here, but I'm just going to let the music speak for itself in the end. From the moment I first heard this band I was impressed and intrigued, and that's always a very promising sign…

Celestine "Witness (the)"

He was restless, tired. "Please let me sleep," he said. "Just let me sleep." And in this exact moment, he had begun his journey, with only the end in mind…

I believe the CD was self-released by the band, but it's going to be re-released here in the US by Milkweed Records as a limited edition run in a couple of months. So be sure to get in touch with the label at that MySpace link, or contact the band using the same means to see what you can do about getting your hands on this gem. I seriously can't wait to hear some new shit from these guys, and certainly hope they start getting some of the attention they deserve throughout the duration of 2008 and beyond. Great stuff…

Egypt "s/t" LP

Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 @ 4:08am » permalink

Egypt - s/tFrom the continually obscure Lyderhorn Records, this self-titled LP collects the sole 32 minutes (give or take) of material recorded by Fargo, ND's now defunct Egypt: A "doom", or "stoner", or whatever the fuck you'd care to call it outfit that, despite having a sound reminiscent of at least three decades ago, recorded four tracks in the fall/winter of 2004 and called it quits sometime afterwards. I think the material may have appeared on a demo or something, but the songs were never "properly" released until now. According to the label, "Egypt is inspired by and will appeal to fans of Sleep, Sir Lord Baltimore, Deep Purple, etc." Now, those are three bands that I've never been a particularly huge fan of (I don't even think I've ever actually heard Sir Lord Baltimore, I've only seen the name a hundred times – so go ahead, call me a "poser"), and this style isn't really my thing to be totally honest with you, but for what it is, there's definitely a certain air of quality here. The group was a trio, and appropriately they sounded as such – there's a lot of fuzzed out bass in the mix, and when the leads kick in, there are no rhythm guitars – and a lot of the material has that "old school" sort of doom sound in terms of being fairly stripped down, wavering between a straight up rocked out vibe (check out the majority of "Dirty Witch") and darker, more sinister atmospheres that lean towards the heavier side of things – but generally without getting, well… too heavy or anything like that. And again, I'm no damn expert on this niche of the metal realm, so don't get your panties in a bunch if you're obsessed (no pun intended) with this stuff and disagree with me. Admittedly the recording, while also fairly "raw" in its simplicity, does have a little more of a contemporary cleanliness to its warmth and clarity that prevents it from sounding like an absolutely authentic throwback – but I don't mean that to sound derogatory, it fucking sounds great in my book, totally natural and well-balanced. Like I said, I'm only a marginal fan of this kind of stuff, but these are strong songs (amped up by a pretty damn killer vocal performance) that have a really genuine kind of feel happening, and I can certainly appreciate that. If you're into that 70's-influenced kind of angle when it comes to the whole "doom" thing, I can't imagine you not being way down with this LP.

Egypt "Touch Ground" (excerpt)

It's a little on the pricey side at $16 plus shipping, but I think that's because the LP (which is limited to 500 copies, by the way) is housed in a matte gatefold sleeve with some pretty badass full color artwork across the center spread – complete with plenty of spot gloss all over the place to give the graphics a subtle little kick. It's probably a labor of love coming from one diehard to another (and another… and 497 others), and you've gotta respect that.

Purchase:

@ Lyderhorn Records

J. Bannon "The Blood of Thine Enemies" one-sided etched 7"

Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008 @ 10:04pm » permalink

J. Bannon - The Blood of Thine EnemiesI tend not to speak very "eloquently" about music, even when the situation damn near demands it, as I've always been more of a "from the gut" kind of guy, so… all I can really open up with here is that this track is fucking incredible, and in my opinion shits all over everything Converge has done in the last seven years or so (and no offense intended there, as I'm a fan). Maybe it's partly due to the mood/mental state I've been in as of late, but I'm seriously blown away by how impressive this is. I didn't really know what to expect, but this is way different – just dark, bleak, depressing… somehow fucking morose and utterly evil at the same time. The delivery is relatively consistent and stripped down with some throbbing bass and low-end hums, piano, and layered vocals for sort of an experimental/dark ambient kind of vibe, but obviously with a much more structured and musical backbone, which is awesome. The whole thing sort of builds up very subtly and the six-minute running time passes in the blink of an eye. I generally don't give a shit about "music videos", but there's a very cinematic quality to this piece that could make for some crazy (as in jaw-to-the-floor or gun to your head, or maybe even potentially tearing up – no joke) visual accompaniment given the tone of the whole thing. I absolutely cannot fucking wait for the "Wear Your Wounds" full-length now, because if it's even half as powerful as this 7", it'll be among the best of the year. No doubt. I'm floored here. Here's an extremely brief snippet (go buy this shit):

J. Bannon "The Blood of Thine Enemies" (excerpt)

Forgive this blood on my hands. I reap what I have sown, and who I am. Damned. So damned.

The record is limited to 2,000 copies (available on black, bone, metallic gold, or metallic silver) in one of those nice chipboard envelope sleeves with a matte finish, and each purchase comes with a voucher to download an mp3 of the track (huge selling point, as far as I'm concerned). It looks great, it sounds even better. Get your hands on it now while you still can, 'cause apparently this song's never gonna appear on another release, and I bet they'll sell out pretty damn soon.

Purchase:

@ Deathwish Inc.

Hate Eternal "Fury & Flames" CD

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 @ 8:04am » permalink

Hate Eternal - Fury & Flames"Fury & Flames" is Hate Eternal's fourth full-length and Metal Blade Records debut, and to be totally honest with you I really haven't paid much attention to this band since their first album, "Conquering the Throne", hit the streets around eight years ago. I didn't really care for "King of All Kings" when it came out, and so I actually never even heard one note from "I, Monarch". In fact, I was "cleaning house" a few years ago and almost sold "Conquering the Throne", but I listened to it one last time and reminded myself that, yeah, it was definitely a keeper. So, I've had a strange relationship with Hate Eternal over the years, and wasn't sure what to make of this album when it showed up in the ol' mailbox. That was when I noticed that Hate Eternal mastermind Erik Rutan had beefed up the lineup this time around, with former Ripping Corpse bandmate Shaune Kelley joining in on rhythm/lead guitars, and the almighty Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse handling the bass duties (and it turns out that new drummer Jade Simonetto may look like a youngster, but that dude can fuckin' play, so no worries there), so… that got me curious.

"Fury & Flames" was inspired by and is dedicated to former Hate Eternal bassist Jared Anderson, who sadly passed away in late-2006, and the emotions and everything associated with that type of experience certainly come across in the tense ferocity of the musicianship, as well as a good dose of the lyrical content. My particular listening tastes would've fared better with a hint more breathing room (read: tempo changes), but when said breathing room does rear its head (check out the midpaced riffing and amazing leads that close out "Tombeau…") things really snap powerfully into place. And though I find some of the relentlessly hammering speeds a little tiresome on some level, they do generally serve their purpose, and I can appreciate the discordant nuances of the way the guitar parts are piecing together with the surrounding elements to create this kind of whirlwind effect around the listener or something. There's just a level of experience and expertise present at the core that helps the material to rise above what would easily create pitfalls for lesser musicians, because most of the tracks are around three to four minutes apiece, and just when it starts feeling like overkill, a brief respite will present itself in the form of an unexpected burst of solos, or a pounding bassline fighting into the foreground, or even a few slower, less explosive runs – all of which almost seem strategically placed to maximize the extremity of the listening experience without losing focus.

And I do dig the recording, too. It took just a little bit of getting used to, perhaps because of the frenzied nature of the riffing and the complexities of the layering that's swirling around at relatively high speeds throughout the compositions, but this is one of the best sounding albums I've ever heard from Rutan, and that gets me amped, because I can remember a few times over the years being super impressed by his riffs and writing but just not being able to hang with the sound quality. And that's not the case here, because there's a good sense of clarity to the guitar tone, even with that churning dissonance; you can generally pick out the pummeling basslines amidst the chaos without them being blatantly prominent; and neither the drums nor the vocals ever come across as overpowering, which seems a rare occurrence these days when it comes to death metal that's heavy on the intense, blasting speeds and "controlled chaos" kind of angle, so… overall, a job well done. It couldn't have been easy, but the end result really pulls things together pretty damn well. Good stuff.

Hate Eternal "Bringer of Storms"

In remembrance. Grievous in this state. So solemn in this mourning. In your passing may you find eternal peace. In memoriam. Your presence echoes forever. May your memory never fade. In your passing may you seek eternal rest. May you travel well my friend, through the dismal light. Have no fear of the darkness, seek out what lies before you. By the grace of power you shall rise above us all. Your legacy now speaks volumes, surpasses the realm of mortality, as you are now upon us all. Grant him mercy amongst the graves of all the lands. Grant him everlasting solace. You have now passed on from this world so unjust, so cruel and uncaring. You shall never be forgotten, you shall always be remembered. Blessed be my brother, blessed be my friend. Blessed be my brother, blessed be my friend.

Purchase:

@ Metal Blade Records
@ The End Records
@ Relapse Records
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Time to Burn "Is.Land" CD

Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2008 @ 6:36am » permalink

Time to Burn - Is.LandThough it's my first exposure to the band's work, "Is.Land" is the third release from French outfit Time to Burn, released by one of France's coolest record labels, Basement Apes Industries (and the LP version is actually being co-released by one of France's other finest labels, the mighty Radar Swarm). I have to thank a kind reader for sending me an email to recommend this album to me, because it's been awhile since I've heard anything from the French scene, and this record is an absolute monster that represents everything that always impressed me so much about so many of the bands from France that these labels tend to deal with: The punishing heaviness counterbalanced with subtly melodic and atmospheric textures, surging low-end throbs and dense rhythms alongside more grating and borderline chaotic textures (but never without a clear sense of control, which makes a huge difference) – and the tempo changes that go along with them, absolutely caustic screams with a few spurts of spoken/sung vocals, totally intense drumming… it's just a great, great piece of work.

The band lists their primary influences as (and draws many comparisons to) the likes of Botch, Shora, Shovel, Cult of Luna, Neurosis, and Breach, but to be honest with you I would absolutely not compare them to any of those bands. There are certainly elements of their sound that are "familiar" to varying degrees, and you can draw parallels to the way certain riffs or structures may have built out from listening to Botch or Shora or Neurosis or what have you, but the overall aesthetic of their sound doesn't really remind me of any of those bands at all, and a lot of the reviews that I've stumbled upon for this album almost cheapen its artistry by focusing so much attention on those influences. I'm certainly no expert on the scene in France by any means, but from what I've observed over the years there just seems to be this awesome circle of top-notch bands and labels over there (which often spreads to their neighbors in Switzerland, it seems) that's all kind of swirling around within this general mishmash of caustic sounds, and that's precisely where Time to Burn falls for me. If they weren't from that area, they'd have reminded me of that particular "circle", so it's all the more fitting that they are in fact from Paris, France, and that this incredible album has already found a home on two of the strongest labels that immediately come to mind when I think of that whole scene as it is! What can I say? I certainly recommend this one, and encourage you to check out these labels' other releases if you haven't already. I've got some catching up to do myself in that department…

Time to Burn "Nayeli"
Time to Burn "Isle of Men"

I don't think the LP's out just yet, but it should be very soon, so… keep an eye out for that if you're a vinyl junkie.

Purchase:

@ Basement Apes Industries
@ Interpunk

Integrity "Systems Overload" CD

Posted on Friday, March 7th, 2008 @ 7:54am » permalink

Integrity - Systems OverloadIt almost feels like a waste of time to post about this album, because everyone already knows that I absolutely worship everything the legendary Integrity recorded up through 1998, and it's highly unlikely that I'm going to be "introducing" anyone to this material, but… this is another one that's in my all-time top three. This is also one of the only albums in my entire life that I've ever owned on all three formats – CD, LP, and even fucking cassette (damn right). I've listened to this thing hundreds upon hundreds of times over the years, and now that it's on my iPod every fucking song on the core album's a four- or five-star track (excluding the noise piece, "Unveiled Tomorrows", which I don't really count), which is damn near unheard of these days. It's perfect from start to finish. It really is.

Many would fervently argue that the band's debut album, "Those Who Fear Tomorrow", was always their strongest, but as classic and amazing as it may be, I have to disagree without question. "Systems Overload" is the clearly superior effort to me, and I think it always has been. There's just something about it… I mean, for one thing, the recording is just totally insane and incredible in the most fucked up way possible. The drums sound kinda dry but also big and ballsy, the vocals are totally blown out and over the top (and you're god damn right I mean that in a good way), and the fucking guitars, man! The first time I ever listened to this album I was taken aback, 'cause I'd never heard guitar tones like this before. I mean, the fucking leads sound like they're running a distortion pedal through another distortion pedal or something!? And the rhythms? I don't even know how to describe the tone! Over the top, I guess… like everything else about this record. There's just this fucking fire to the entire album – the sound, the compositions, the lyrics – that totally makes for one of the most intense and fucking murderous sets of songs ever recorded. Ever.

And I suppose I'll leave it at that.

Integrity "Incarnate 365"
Integrity "The Screams"

Severed forever, I'm never getting up again. I've breathed in life – don't want this to ever end. Stolen glance and I can't to save the end of me. Temptation fills the house – sin of iniquities. Cast shadows walk into my light. All my soul consumed by pride. I've feared the heavens for far too long. Await this moment with open arms. Denied ascent, forbidden salvation. This blind contempt can't go unanswered. On my knees, I can't breathe in this infernal damnation. Seasons in the size of days I wait, confined by salvation's malevolence to decide my fate. All alone, I call you near. You've shown compassion… and how sincere. Look at this place that I'm in, blanketed by your prejudice, your fears, your ignorance. Still, in the corner I see them stalking me. They taste the cowardice in the air. Enhancing their hunger, they move in closer. Terror blinds, salvation's gratitude confines. I can almost feel the demon. Ingested soul. I've sworn eternal vengeance to the deceit that let me fucking go. Revere the hatred in his eyes, before my time never arrives. Avenge my soul, unjustly sized. I've looked and I've tried, can't see the reason between the lies. Baptism's curse involves entirely. Casting upon an immense decision. Savior's scorn, crown of thorns. Salvation.

If for some utterly insane reason you don't already own (and worship at the altar of) this album, you can of course still grab it rather easily. And if you're down with buying mp3's, the entire album, bonus tracks and all (22 songs total), is only $7 from Amazon.com, which is a pretty fuckin' sweet deal. But ask yourself… why did you wait 13 years!?

Purchase:

@ Very Distribution
@ Amazon.com (mp3)

Agalloch "The White" CD

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008 @ 7:28am » permalink

Agalloch - The White"The White" is Agalloch's long-awaited follow-up/companion to 2004's "The Grey" (also released by Vendlus Records), and all of the material was written and recorded between 2004 – 2007. Initially I reacted very positively to "The Grey", but in retrospect I have to admit that some of that may simply have been because I'm an absolutely huge, adoring fan of this band, because that particular EP hasn't really stood the test of time as strongly for me with repeated listens. That being said, "The White" should fare much better, as it's a longer, more involved, more substantial release that – while billed as "a collection of dark folk and ambient work" – feels much more robust and complete to me. The bulk of the material is instrumental, and in addition to the usual suspects of acoustic/electric guitars and bass you'll find baritone guitar, ebow, percussion (not typical drums), accordion, synths, piano, Jew's harp, Peruvian ceremonial horn, goat horn, and samples/field recordings scattered throughout the compositions – so we're not talking about your typical instrumental tracks here. Though, at the same time, the experimentation is tactfully handled, so despite some peculiar instrumentation, there's also no need to worry about anything going off the deep end. There's really only one full-on "ambient" track ("Hollow Stone"), and it's quite nice; while the masterful "Birch White", especially, should appeal to fans of the "apocalyptic folk" of groups like Death in June or the like, though honestly the quality of the vocals and musicianship is so far beyond the vast majority of those types of acts that the track rises to a whole new league, as far as I'm concerned. But then again, it seems that most everything Agalloch does falls into that category to some degree, as this is yet another exceptional release amongst their already impressive discography. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised, if not blown away, by the quality and emotion of the EP as a whole. Well done, and highly recommended, as always…

Agalloch "Sowilo Rune"

The release is (Was?) limited to only 2,000 copies (double the pressing of "The Grey"), and from what I understand it sold out from the label during the pre-order stage!? So… apparently this one might be tricky to get your hands on, as it was only officially released last week, and doesn't seem to have filtered out to any distributors yet. So… sadly, I can't supply any purchasing information. I imagine if you check The End Records or Vendlus regularly (in case the latter stumbles upon any leftovers), you might be able to get your hands on one of the final copies.

Kingdom of Sorrow "s/t" CD

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 @ 7:56am » permalink

Kingdom of Sorrow - s/tI've already read many mixed accounts regarding the long-awaited debut full-length from Kingdom of Sorrow (released by Relapse Records), the side project spearheaded by Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and Crowbar's Kirk Windstein, and oddly enough one of the chief complaints seems to often be, "Well, it just sort of sounds like a cross between Hatebreed and Crowbar." Now, call me crazy, but what exactly is the problem with that equation!? Seriously, I bought this album as mp3's off of Amazon.com so I don't have the booklet, so I'm not sure how the writing credits are broken down or anything, but I mean, at the end of the day both of these guys have easily identifiable vocal styles, and Kirk's riffs are definitely uniquely identifiable as well, so… I mean, I guess what I'm getting at is… how could you not expect this to sound like a cross between Hatebreed and Crowbar!? I don't know, I'm not really into "Free the Fallen" for some reason, but the rest of the disc is totally fuckin' solid, and there are a few absolutely awesome tracks here. And it's not a one-sided record, either. The chugging, stripped down elements of the Hatebreed sound are generally kept to a minimum, and when employed are often glossed over with at least a hint of that sludgy Crowbar vibe, but the bulk of the material tends to be efficiently diversified in terms of tempo changes and stylistic variety. There are some darker clean passages and singing vocals, plenty of those totally epic, "Planets Collide"-esque melodic riffs (I can't get enough of that shit, to be honest with you), a few quick lead runs… I don't know, I mean, to me, if you're a fan of both Hatebreed and Crowbar, I just don't see what the hell there is to complain about, you know? I guess maybe the fact that the album was completed so long before it was released might have hurt them in long run with certain listeners, because it gave them too much time to continually build their hopes up or something, but… fuck it. I like it. I'm satisfied.

Kingdom of Sorrow "Hear This Prayer for Her"

Purchase:

@ Relapse Records (CD)
@ Relapse Records (LP)
@ The End Records
@ Amazon.com (mp3)

Gehenna "The War of the Sons of Light and the Suns of Darkness" LP

Posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 @ 5:39am » permalink

Gehenna - The War of the Sons of Light and the Suns of DarknessI originally posted about this release in late-2006, but I'm resurrecting and refining the post, because for those unaware, A389 Recordings has actually re-released this material on vinyl for the first time ever. "The War of the Sons of Light and the Suns of Darkness" was Gehenna's first full-length release, and compiles the band's early discography in chronological order, all recorded from 1994 – 1996: A three-song cassette, "The Pain of Life" split 7" with Apartment 213, and "The Birth of Vengeance" 7". And that raw sounding live track hidden before the first song on the CD pressing, which was allegedly recorded in a cemetery on Halloween night of 1995 and released as a one-sided 7" ("Unholy") limited to less than 100 copies? Apparently that was "Testimony/The Divine Rewards", as it's included here along with a previously unreleased version of "The Birth of Vengeance" recorded that same night (both are tacked onto the end of the tracklist as a bonus).

Besides being one of the most infamously insane and violent live acts in their day, Gehenna's musical/lyrical delivery was quite fitting of the "holy terror" banner that they were bestowed with on numerous occasions by their original label (for this release, anyway) CrimethInc. and the Inside Front crowd, among others. While tangible elements of raw, fast hardcore/punk were definitely evident in their material, the compositions were distinctly more over the top and aggressive than much of said genre, and the scathing intensity of the vocals combined with the occasionally chaotic textures of the playing and rugged sound quality were certainly more metal than not. It was a unique combination of influences, and one that was especially volatile in the mid-90's when there was more of a discernible division between hardcore and metal than there is today. Gehenna was always a one-of-a-kind outfit, self-imposed mystique and all, and even I often forget how great some of this shit really was…

Hell is now excruciation is this this very second in time the present tense spawned from this wretched dwelling bred from infectious filth until the final descent we all know so well when we're finally at peace and the cold earth surrounds no more of these useless limbs leave this worthless body behind leave this dead shell behind the pain of life is great and some will find it sweet to rot beneath the earth while we rot and live and breathe in this sick fucking world never did I forget existence is fucking pain and there is beauty in death.

Gehenna "83%"
Gehenna "Thirty Silver Pieces"

The LP comes on transparent green vinyl in a slick gatefold sleeve that maintains a good portion of the artwork from the original release, plus all of the lyrics and a new poster insert of the "Seven Crowns" artwork (which is also available as a t-shirt). Gehenna always seemed to appeal to vinyl junkies back in the day, in which case this release should have plenty of 'em salivating quite a bit, so… get to it.

Purchase:

@ A389 Recordings

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