Music Review :: Amitié / Karloff

As I mentioned recently, I have been asked by .no funeral records. to look at a few of their releases. To start the collection of notes, I have chosen to focus on a split by Amitié and Karloff.

Full discretion: I am friends with two members of Karloff. I feel like pointing that out is important, though I promise you that it has not tainted my opinions at all.

Music is music. To say “you love it or you don’t” feels antiquated. I rather go with the idea of someone either understands and relates to what you are trying to say, or they don’t. In the case of these two bands (they each do a song on this EP), they define that idea. This sound is incredibly off-putting if you are not quite sure where to place your attention.

I know, I fucking know, that grindcore (and all its many facets) are not everyones bag. When it comes to the -core’s, even I become quite discerning. I tend to lean heavier on the mathcore side of things, because I’m an arrogant fuck. This does NOT mean that I cannot appreciate incredible skills when I hear them.

Amitié starts off the two track journey with a slow, low toned dream scape. That dreamscape, however, turns into a nightmare quickly. The track is only 1:18 long, and transforms into a high-end massacre of all that you expect. The drums use a much higher ratio of cymbal/snare, where as the intro was almost exclusively toms.

Karloff opens their track with a simple hold of anticipation before the hammer falls. They take a more jazz chord structure, and delve further into a feeling of anguish before just leaving the song where it began. At 1:03, this song packs in everything you could want from metal track minus the annoying 80’s guitar solo.

I would say Karloff reminds me mildly of Buried Inside (in regards to crushing oppressive tones mixed with blistering fast metre), where as Amité elicits feelings closer to Fuck the Facts. Amité has a more polished sound, but the Karloff doesn’t sound out of place: just the mids seem a bit wonky.

Overall, if you like heavy music, I very much recommend this split. It is everything one needs in less than 4 minutes.

Arbeitary number rank: 30912385 out of a possible 2.865

Bandcamp || Cassette

Classic Album Review :: Nothingface — Skeletons

I posed a question to my Facebook asking whether I should do a comparison between this and Mudvayne’s End of All Things to Come. The response was just to do the review of LD50 that I did the other day, but there were a few people that said I should just focus on this album.

This album sits in a strange place in regards to all the other metal from the early 2000’s. It starts with a pretty series of chords then quickly devolves into chaos. Ironically, in a bubble, the first song is probably the weakest on the album. That really is saying something when it slaps so fucking hard.

The best part of this album, in my opinion, is how it feels like a pop’d up David Botrel production. For those who don’t know, David Botrel is famous for the work he did with Tool as well as various other emotionally heavy albums.

What I find interesting, also strange for an album that I hold in high regards, is how the vocals are the centre of the mix. It is actually mixed like a pop album that way: where the instrumentation takes an almost backseat to the vocals. Most metal I listen to is very much the opposite, and this makes the lyrical dynamics much more important.

This is a double-edge sword, however. Some of the lyrics are (for lack of a better term) stupid. On that note, I do get the over arching message this band is trying to portray. They tend to lean in heavy on the idea that society is messed up. Unfortunately, the phrases they choose to highlight sometimes fall flat (see the repetition of “Kill That Motherfucker It’s All That I Think About”). It tends to quash any respect this band might have garnished from the general public.

On that note, some songs are amazing lyrically. Ether stands out as one of those, where the content is talking about the systematic disillusionment of the masses starting at a young age. Songs like this save the album from coming off like it is written by a 15-year-old who can’t get a girlfriend.

I cannot talk about this album without bringing up the drums. On first listen, they are not impressive. All the songs (minus the occasional hit) are in simple meter, so one can be forgiven for thinking that the accompanying rhythm would be simple, as well. Once you sit down and try to figure things out, it is quickly apparent that this drummer is a beast.

I say simple, but the song “I Wish I Was A Community” opens with oppressive crushing hits that do not, in any way, sound simple. Actually, before writing this retrospective, I had forgotten about this song completely. Not my favourite on the album, but damned close.

I comfortably put this album in my top list of all time, though I never bring it up as an example for my taste. Not because I’m embarrassed to admit it, but simply because it is a outlier. Very few things (that I have come across) have this sound. You can find things that have elements, but nothing that has the complete package.

Talking to a couple of friends, they pointed out that Violence is the better album, and I fully admit that I don’t know that album. I have probably missed something amazing, and if this album is any indication, I should probably go back and check that out. IN THE MEAN TIME, enjoy.

Classic Album Review :: Mudvayne — L.D. 50

This was not my choice, but a choice made on my personal FaceBook page. I wanted to do either Skeletons by Nothingface of The End of All Things To Come by Mudvayne, because I felt that these two made similarities that go unmentioned. Then, people pointed out how amazing LD50 is, and now I am going to go down that rabbit hole because I have been screamed at to.

Oh, and I really want to.

L.D. 50 has possibly my favourite bass in all of Nu-Metal that’s not Primus. I feel like that is an important point to state. Not many bands can be mentioned in the same breath as Primus, so that’s a thing.

ANYWAY

L.D. 50 is one of those albums that influenced much of what I listened to for 20 years. Also, that album is 20 years old this year and that is all kinds of weird to think of. I saw the music video for Dig forever ago and was floored by anything so heavy. Keep in mind, I wasn’t 12 yet. I was stupid.

It doesn’t change the fact that Dig was interesting because it could be in the same vein as Korn and as Cannibal Corpse. It’s heavy, the lyrics are important, and it is strangely catchy. Assisted by the make-up worn by the band in the video, I remember every single hit from this song. I made it my mission when I was 14 to learn every part of this song on drums, and it took me another few years to get it to a point where I was happy with my abilities.

I purchased the album after Death Blooms became a single. The song revolutionized what I thought of metal lyrics because of it’s poetic prose and almost elegant handling of the english language. Yes, they deal a lot with violence and gore. They also explore mental illness (Internal Primates Forever) and grief (Death Blooms) in an almost elegance that most bands do not pull off with such finesse. The music embodies the overall message they try to convey. To this date, I cannot figure out what came first between lyrics and music. I want to say music, but there is just such as elegance that is portrayed.

My personal favourite songs from the album are not singles. It’s actually interesting to divide the album between singles and non-singles. If you had never heard of this band before, you could still figure out which songs were used to sell. Yet, the singles do not feel cheap. They feel like they belong, and were used as almost a pallet cleanser.

In writing this retrospective, I found out that there is a music video for Nothing to Gein. This is my second favourite song on this album next to Prod. Enjoy.

Classic Album Review :: Alexisonfire — Self Title

I just noticed that this album was almost 20 years old. I was in grade nine when then came out, I was just discovering scremo/emo, ska, and skate punk, I was very embroiled in the metal scene. Then, when watching some music video program way too late at night, I saw the debut for Pulmonary Archery. I did not get it, but Holy Fuck I loved it.

What’s absolutely brilliant about this album is how simple everything is if you remove the guitars. Yes, the guitar lines are incredibly ornate and demonstrate what can be done in punk music, but everything else is simple and fantastic! The bass drives the songs and keeps the structures attainable, the drums do little more than drive the beat, and the singing is just simple enough to get melodies trapped in your head forever. Even the screams are perfectly placed to ensure that you notice them.

Now, let’s get back to those guitars.

My prime example of how incredible the guitars are is the song Counterparts and Number Them. The parts individuly, though weird, are not difficult. The impressive part is in knowing they were ever not entwined. They bounce between being lead and rhythm every bar, and they never leave the listener bored. The best part about the guitar is that nothing, not even the drums, cast the dullest shadow.

There is something magical about how simple the drums are. They just compliment the music and never become overbearing. I think every not-real drummer in my high school could play Pulmonary Archery. Not as a slight! It just leant itself to being replicated.

Now I sound like an arrogant asshole so MOVING ON.

I started to write this, decided against it, and then discovered that they were inspired by Quicksand. I love that band to no end, but never hear anyone talk about them. I was forced into writing this because of that fact alone.

Seeing as there has been nothing this hard hitting in the punk-scene since Refused, and this is a fantastic tribute. I recognize that there have been other near-hits in regards to this sound, but nothing is near as iconic.

Classic Album Review :: Kittie — Oracle

I don’t know why I got this album in my head. I was wheeling through my kitchen humming the chorus for What I Always Wanted when my wife, being rather concerned, asked what was wrong with me. The awkward thing is that song is not the only one on the album with singing, but has the least interesting pattern to get stuck in your head.

For being from London, Ontario, this album still scratches an itch that only a few bands can. I hesitate to call it Nu Metal, but it did come out around right around Untouchables by Korn (predating it by a year). Really, a better comparison is The End of All Things to Come by Mudvayne with less “David Bottrill” in the whole sound area.

Very simple guitar and bass. Almost too much (in a good way) drums. Vocals that pierce every inch of your soul. Beautiful singing. To be honest, that is why I have gone this long with never bringing this band up before. I love them, the first 3 albums anyway, but that is literally all I have to say about them.

If you just want something heavy, yet beautiful (in a broken way), you can do MUCH worse. They do the early ’90s sound yet still remain relevant. I mean, Mudvayne and Korn are my only (halfway) decent comparisons, and they really don’t describe this band at all.

Oracle is amazing. Spit and Until the End are good, but a bit more particular. They have one more album, but I hated it.

Personal note: don’t y’all enjoy how I am like “BYE SEE YOU NEXT YEAR” and then publish a review in the same week? I am going to not be doing blog stuff, and I am only going to be writing about music you should check out. I say that not expecting anything fascinating to happen in any other regards this year. I might be wrong.

Found Footage

Filmed by
Allastair Keddy

The bass player in this footage came over today. I have seen him once since I got out of hospital, and that was two years ago. It was nice to see him. He filled me in that this exists. Minus the sound quality, it is actually decent footage of this show.

The premiss was that we had to cover a band that influence us. I was never a huge Underoath fan, especially no the album these songs are from, but I was concede the fact that they were a huge musical influence on what we did.

The last song was original.

I hope you enjoy!

Halloween: why it matters

I’m going to start this article by saying that “A Nightmare Before Christmas” is overrated. I think the movie itself is perfectly fine, but I can barely calculate how many of my peers seem to think that it is the perfect example of a Halloween movie. IT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE.

Anyway.

I am not vocal enough about holidays. I worked retail for far too long and now I hate most, if not all, important days of the year. I do have a soft-spot for Halloween, however. Even if, by definition, it is not a holiday.

I consider it a far better marker for the season. To me, a perfect fall day is met with pumpkins and candle light. To slot those into one day seems petty, but I fully understand why it happens.

To have pumpkin shit available all year would cheapen the experience. The charm of late-October being inundated by Jack-O-Lanterns is quite novel. As far as the rest of the “Spooky” stuff, I never understood why it was given its own day. Skeletons and spiders and demons are a daily occurrence in the metal/punk scene, and to designate a day where it becomes “mainstream” seems counter-counterculture.

With the prior rant out of the way, I want to state that I have nothing against Halloween. I think that it’s perfectly fine and, fine. I don’t understand the fan-fare, but whatever.

Why Metal?

I was faced by that question lately. I was initially threatened by the concept from a standpoint of being afraid of being limited, but I found the opposite to be true the further I thought about it.

To be completely honest, it’s the genre you can do literally anything with and get away with it. Compare “Blood Brothers” to “Invent, Animate” and you clearly see what I mean. The former is chaotic, hyper, and almost desperate. The latter is methodical, depressed, and revels in being beautiful. I am NOT saying that “Blood Brothers” is not beautiful, but I (being a huge fan) acknowledge that calling them beautiful as a descriptor is a bit misleading.

When I was younger, I was initially upset by the local music hole dropping the metal section and just putting Tool in the same section as Iron & Wine. Now that I have listened to more and developed my pallet a bit farther, I realize the monumental task of having to justify I Wrestled a Bear Once being in the same specific category as In Flames.

Sure, we still have Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, and Killswitch Engage. If every band performed music like that, it would be silly easy to label things as ‘Metal’ and call it a day. Now, however, we have bands pushing genre’s and sounds. Dillinger Escape Plan and Cephalic Carnage exist in a world along side Periphery, and other than time changes and a way of doing some vocals there is little to compare them.

When someone speaks of classic metal, I have an issue relating them in my mind. I love Black Sabbath, but to categorize them in the same way as Kittie seems like a misstep. What compounds the confusion are bands like Refused and Alexisonfire. It used to be metal made after the nineties had screaming. Full stop. Then those two bands emerged* and everything changed: now punk and basically anything with thrashing could have screaming.

*Yes, Refused are from the ’90s. There was other punk with screaming before Refused, but that is a decent benchmark.

Even electronica and pop started to take parts from metal. With Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy came the whole industrial movement, where bands would use fake drums and keyboards to create sounds only previously found in horror movies. On the pop side, Sleigh Bells were started by a member of a metal band. He adapted many metal tropes into the music that was written.

I need to stop, but I was thinking about this today. If you want me to deconstruct any other musical genres or whatever, leave me a comment somewhere and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, I feel like I need to add that this is far from definitive, complete, or probably right. There has been many attempts to categorize and catalogue the metal scene, and I feel like they ignore entire parts of metal, much as I have. There are even a couple of points I made that I don’t fully agree with, but would have to type pages to make one point. Metal is a vast term, and it has many different forms. I didn’t even touch on most of the -cores, post-‘s, or any specific genres like death, black, and chamber metal. If there is a call to arms, I will put a better list. Even if I spend days on doing so, I won’t agree with some of my classifications, and I will miss so many labels.

…and people wonder why I listen to metal…

Classic Album Review :: The End — Within Dividia

Well, I am highlighting a metal album! This should have no bearing on metrics, at all!

(He says, facetious.)

In all seriousness, this album is very much not fair. Unlike their cohorts in The Dillinger Escape Plan, this album contains no punk influence. That limits the scope of possible fans, but makes it a better listen when you just need to express unbridaled anger.

I do mean anger. Often, metal and depression go more hand-in-hand in my mind, but this album is just intense all the way through. It is a constant barage of hits and accents punctuated by moments of constant auditory oppression. Now, couple that with instrumentation that is entirley not fair and vocals that could have been written by a very talented pissed off cat, and you get one of the most intense albums you will ever come across.

The transition this band took on the next album caused whiplash. They went from a Dillinger-Calculating Infinity-esqe slaughter to more of a Tool mixed with Dillinger sound. The vocalist got “prettier” and they focused more on waves of rhythm, as opposed to shots of chaos. The next album was a fantastic addition to their repitior, but Within Dividia is still where my heart lies. I honestly feel that this album will stand alone for all time as one of the greatest albums in it’s genre to come out of Canada.

Very much for fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Buried Inside.