About Me

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I'm Chris. I'm 22 years old and I'm into a large variety of music, from Metal in its many forms (mostly the extreme ones) to Goth and Postpunk, Reggae, Jazz, Prog, Techno, Ambient and Film Scores. This is where I rave about albums I really like, and other stuff.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Steve Roach - A Deeper Silence

Steve Roach - A Deeper Silence 
2008 Timeroom Editions
Dark Ambient, soundscapes

A Deeper Silence is an album I often find words to be unnecessary, or even useless, to describe. It consists of a single 75 minute piece of music that can best be described as truly ambient, in that it offers itself as a fully immersive sound world to exist in just as much as a piece of music to be listened to and appreciated. In my opinion it is one of the greatest achievements in this genre, no suprise given that Roach is regarded as a pioneer in the field thanks to classic works such as the Quiet Music series and the brilliant Structures From Silence, of which this feels like a companion piece in a way.

Emerging slowly from the speakers like a cosmic sigh, over the course of it's long running time A Deeper Silence permeates the environment and consumes it in a tranquil, yet subtly ominous and intense atmosphere that transports the listener to the inner corridors of their mind, where deep introspection and reflection are to be found should they be sought. The sound is vast and timeless, as if it has always been echoing in a distant corner of the universe ready to be channeled into a listening experience. However, again I can't help but feel that no amount of words, elaborate or otherwise, can fully do justice to the effect of this otherworldly sound. It is something to be experienced at a level beyond the limits of conventional communication. It is something to drown your mind in. A piece like few others.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Peter Gabriel - Encore Series 2007 (23.06.07 London, UK)

Peter Gabriel - Encore Series 2007 (23.06.07 London, UK)
"Official Bootleg", themusic.com

The Encore Series. As an idea, this is just great. A soundboard recording of all the individual shows from the tour released as a double CD that you can buy. Really, this is the ultimate concert souvenir. Peter Gabriel first released Encore Series albums for his Growing Up and Still Growing Up tours in 2003/4, and then for 2007's Warm Up tour (and then again for his 2009 shows). Presented in a double digipak sleeve with artwork it does have a very "official" feel to it. The show in question here is the one I attended, at the festival Hyde Park Calling in June 2007. It was one of the greatest, if not *the* greatest concerts I've ever seen and being a big PG nut it was just brilliant to be able to see him live after waiting something like 13 years for the chance.

The "Warm Up" tour was a bit of a special one. Prior to the tour, PG posted a big list of songs on his website that hadn't been played in a few years (some not played since the early 90s, some going back even to the early 80s) and allowed the fans to vote for the ones they wanted to hear the most. The resulting set lists were then built around the results of the voting. Take a look at the tracklist and you see oldskool titles like "On The Air", "Intruder" and "I Don't Remember", all of which feature on the 1983 "Plays Live" album and have most likely not been played since then at all. "No Self Control" is performed as per the original version, not the jazzed up version from the "So" tour and onwards. "Lay Your Hands on Me" is a real nice suprise as is the more obscure "Lovetown". Of course a selection of the usual hits are offered: "Solsbury Hill", "Sledgehammer" and "In Your Eyes" as well as "Steam". Along with "Blood of Eden" this is all that was heard from my favourite "Us", as this was a festival show it was sadly trimmed down a little: other concerts were lucky enough to get the amazing "Secret World" and "Digging in the Dirt", but I can't complain really as I chose to go to this and it wasn't the only UK date.

Now to the sound. It's a soundboard recording offering a good balance between band and crowd. Professionally mixed, of course, so no worries there. The main point of the Encore Series is its "warts and all" approach: this is not a polished, edited "live" album: this is a LIVE album. All the mistakes are included, and there are a few: PG occasionally messing up a line or two, the noticeable off key intro to "Rhythm of the Heat"...but this is forgivable in light of the really strong performances by the whole band and my own personal bias, I should think. Its great to be able to actually listen to this show and have a relic of it, given it was now 5 odd years ago I couldn't remember the details as much as I would have liked and I was also suprised I could still even get the CD. A great thing to get if you were at one of the shows.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pestilence - Spheres

Album review: Pestilence - Spheres (Roadrunner, 1993)
Prog/ Metal

Out of all this long lasting Dutch metal band's albums, this one is probably the most neglected. Listening to it I can understand why, despite the fact I find it underrated myself. This is supposed to be Pestilence's "jazz" album, while I don't think that is necessarily true its certainly their most wierd and experimental one. At the time of its release mainman Patrik Mameli had supposedly grown tired of the metal scene and its admittedly largely fickle audience, and become obsessed with Jazz virtuosos like Alan Holdsworth. Apparently, after he was first exposed to Holdsworth, Mameli stopped listening to all other music in an attempt to block out all outside influences. Contemporary reaction to "Spheres" was largely quite negative and Mameli later went as far to basically disown the album. Coming from the same year as a whole bunch of seminal albums in the same field ("The Erosion of Sanity", "Focus", "Elements" and "Individual Thought Patterns" being the most obvious choices) it isn't hard to understand how "Spheres" tends to get forgotten about.

This is a shame, because "Spheres" is a really enjoyable album. I think calling it "jazz" though is a bit of a stretch. There's not really anything wierd going on with the rhythms and many of the riffs are quite straightforward, just put together really well. There are however a lot of unusual (for death metal) chords on display, and the spaced out soloing certainly adds to the overall vibe. Not to mention the fretless bass playing (courtesy of one Jeroen Paul Thesseling). The album also has a very odd production which, while appropriate for the music it does lack the impact and heaviness expected even from the most leftfield death metal. You'll notice this as soon as the album starts, its mostly the guitar tone which is very odd indeed...but not unfitting in the context of this album. There's also generous use of synths - no keyboards! the booklet hastens to add, instead all the sounds come from guitar synths the same way Cynic did on their debut.

Similar to the previous album, "Spheres" is made up of tracks seperated by interludes, just not between every track like before...these include definite highlights of the album in Patrick Uterwijk's spacey "Voices From Within", Mameli's bizarre violin instrumental "Aurian Eyes", and Thesseling's moody bass solo "Phileas". Out of the main body of tracks I find "Multiple Beings" and the title track to be my favourites, and whichever one it is that reminds me of Sun Ra having a go at metal. As I've said this album is quite underrated, unfortunately due to the mostly negative reaction to this Pestilence split up afterwards for several years before deciding to reform and be more predictable and obedient on their less interesting comeback albums.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Sisters of Mercy - Floodland

Album review: The Sisters of Mercy - Floodland (WEA, 1987)

Described by many as perhaps the quintessential 80s goth album, the second outing by The Sisters of Mercy offers a striking difference to their previous works. By this point the band of previous years had essentially been reduced to Andrew Eldritch and the drum machine known as "Dr. Avalanche". Accompanying him was the controversial Patricia Morrison, former Gun Club bassist (who supposedly played no actual bass on the album), the New York Choral Society, and a small selection of other guest session musicians. It comes as no suprise then, that Floodland is entirely a studio creation and no live dates were performed to support it (After their 1985 "farewell" show at The Royal Albert Hall, The Sisters didn't return to the stage at all until 1990) .

This album is all about one thing: BIG and BOMBASTIC songs with production values to match. Eldritch teams up with Meatloaf producer Jim Steinman on the singles "Dominion/ Mother Russia" and "This Corrosion". The first opens the album and will tell you everything you need to know about it: it is at once silly and glorious. Gloriously silly. BIG 80s sounding drums and reverbs abound as well as saxophones and brilliantly pompous vocals and synths. "This Corrosion" on the other hand, would be great if it didn't take around 11 minutes to make its point. I like long songs, but there's only so much of this one I can personally take now. The other "hit" track from this album is of course "Lucretia", driven by a propulsive (and programmed) bassline and yet more big choruses. Now that those tracks have been dealt with, we can turn our attention  to the real strengths of this album, the non hit single tracks. These include the duo of the sinister "Flood I" and its absolutely MASSIVE sounding partner "Flood II", and "Driven Like the Snow" which after all the times I've heard it never fails to hit me where it hurts the most. The piano/vocal ballad "1959" I can take or leave depending on my mood, while "Never Land" finishes the album on a magnificently creepy and ambiguous note.

Andrew Eldritch has always been a fine songwriter and on parts of this album he really proves his worth, perhaps more than ever. Especially in the lyrical department, but the hooks and arrangements are no less epic and powerful. With all the overblown attitude surrounding this album I admit I sometimes forget just how great it really is. One of my favourite albums ever, in fact. The reissue of it is well worth picking up, as along with the obligatory B-sides ("Torch" and "Colours") you get the "full" (and apparently fake) 10 minute version of "Never Land" and perhaps the finest possible example of The Sisters doing a cover that completely destroys the original in every way as they always do so well: an amazing version of Hot Chocolate's "Emma", recorded before the original lineup split. Despite their current state of near non existence (regular touring yet no new releases since 1993), The Sisters of Mercy were at the top of their game in the mid-late 80s and there's no better testimony to that than "Floodland".

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ulver - Vargnatt

Album review: Ulver - Vargnatt (demo, 1993)
Folk/ Black Metal

Norway's Ulver is a chameleon. A band that certainly never made the same album twice and has taken in all manner of sounds in their long career, from their early raw folk/ black metal to glitch, ambient and trip hop until their most recent album this year consisting of covers of 60s psychedelic rock like The Byrds and The Electric Prunes. Obviously there are the purist fans who prefer the early Black Metal days, specifically the reknowned "Nattens Madrigal" album (the supposed "rawest album ever", thought really not at all, and its rawness is very contrived and artificial despite how great an album it is)  and dismiss the later material for simply not being old Ulver. I admit I too prefer the early albums though I enjoy a selection of their later works ("Silencing the Singing" comes to mind). This review takes a look at their earliest recording, the "Vargnatt" demo.

This is a wierd piece of music. It doesn't really resemble the debut album "Bergtatt" despite preceding it directly, although you can see how they would go on to create that album after listening to this. There is more of a crusty feel to some of this that reminds me of early Darkthrone ("A Blaze...") along with some very unusual and avant-garde aspects. The riffing is just plain wierd, dreamy and wonderful. There are folky acoustic passages, and VERY goth sounding clean electric guitars accompanying the fuzzy black metal parts. The bass is pronounced and never dull. Drums are handled by none other than Carl Michael Elde of Ved Buens Ende, which perhaps explains this album sounding more than a little like VBE in places, he performs some very interesting beats on this recording. Garm's vocals here are very strange, a raspy shout paired up with falsetto singing that sounds suspiciously like Morrissey in places. These vocals may be the thing that make or break this demo for you, I happen to quite like them.

Also, being that this is a demo the production quality may turn you off a lot too. I don't have a problem with it myself, the guitars are a little bit "fizzy" on the distorted parts but aside from that the clean guitars sound lush and the rest of the instruments are well balanced. I think this is very well recorded for a demo from this period, a recent reissue by the killer Greek label Kyrck Productions (who have also reissued the other essential wierd Norwegian BM demos by Ved Buens Ende and In The Woods...) has cleaned it up more removed the heavy tape noise which can also turn many potential listeners away. This is a wierd, wonderful and unique recording.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mortiis - Keiser av en Dimension Ukjent

Album review: Mortiis - Keiser av en Dimension Ukjent (Cold Meat Industry, 1995)
Darkwave/ ambient

Any listener of Black Metal will surely be aware of our friend Mortiis and his prosthetic troll nose. he played bass on early Emperor recordings before starting his own solo project about as far away from BM as you can get in terms of sound, but in terms of atmosphere it isn't as detatched as you might think. This is my favourite Mortiis album and I think the last of what is known as "Era 1" - the "dungeon synth" style he created (along with acts like Wongraven from Satyricon's frontman Satyr), before Mortiis albums became more streamlined and based on individual songs ("The Stargate" and so on) and before he tragically slipped and fell into Marilyn Manson's ass. Or something.

Early Mortiis is all about loooong compositions devoted to transporting your mind away from this world and into his. There are two songs on this album and they're both over 20 minutes in length. They consist of passages of sorrowful and triumphant melodies, classically inspired perhaps. There is also spoken word and some chanting from the troll himself. The sound of the album is heavily MIDI based, think slightly cheesy mid 90s sampling keyboard patches and you're pretty much on the mark. Yes the album does have that very "dated" sound and there may be one or two rather cheesy sounds in there, does this damage it? I think not, if anything it further enhances the atmosphere of which there is plenty (this is no "Daudi Baldrs" believe me, and even then I can find some saving graces in that mostly hated album). The construction and ambience of the pieces is just brilliant.

Right from the beginning this music will conjure up images of desolate landscapes, ruins and forgotten memories.  Or something along those lines. As it is basically ambient music I imagine it makes good background sound for reading, I personally like to just stick it on and lose my head in it. This guy clearly had a vision at this time and on an album like this, its a great thing to behold.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Death - Individual Thought Patterns

Album review: Death - Individual Thought Patterns (Roadrunner, 1993)
Tech death/ speed metal

"Behind the eyes, is a place nobody will be able to touch
Containing thoughts, that cannot be taken away or replaced"

Time to discuss my other favourite Death album, the one constantly fighting "Human" for the top spot in my head. They're both completely different but to my mind represent the very best of Death's discography. Instead of further developing the sound of "Human", Chuck goes off on a new tangent while retaining some similar features. Yet another lineup change is the most obvious one: the Cynic guys are gone, but bass mastermind Steve DiGiorgio is still here (and you can hear him! Thank fuck!) along with Dark Angel drumming maniac Gene Hoglan and guitarist Andy Laroque of King Diamond. The whole vibe of the album is noticeably different: the production is noticeably thinner all around than "Human". That album's extensive passages of bass heavy mechanical grinding are replaced with much more thrashy and melodic playing (starting to become almost not death metal at this point). The songs themselves utilize a bit less repetition and their lengths are also somewhat trimmed down to reflect this. The tracks flow together in a very organic way and they are all highly memorable.

Chucks lyric's are as sharp and on point as ever, this album is full of some of the best ones he wrote IMO. The riffing is still pretty techy, but more speedy and melodic. Laroque's more flamboyant and blatantly melodic lead playing provides a great contrast to Schuldiner's classic Death style solos. Gene Hoglan is at once all over the place and tight as hell, really a worthy successor to Sean Reinert. Steve Digiorgio, after being criminally buried on the original version of "Human", is here given a huge deal more volume and you can hear his bass lines prancing alongside the guitars providing audacious counterpoint at many moments (the breakdown in the title track is a good example, it almost cracks me up from how wacky it is). His tone and playing should be the envy of every aspiring metal bassist, the guy is and always has been perhaps the greatest bass player in metal and a big inspiration in a genre where the instrument is often a bit neglected.

Overall while it shows Chuck's songwriting and music beginning to move away more obviously from the death metal of the previous albums, "Thought Patterns" shows even more progression from a band that never made the same album twice, even in the early days. And of course, this is the album that featured "The Philosopher", a favourite of all Death fans. Essential!

(A note on the recent remix/remaster by Relapse: Don't bother. They did an admirable job remixing "Human" but they completely screwed this one up and ruined the sound of the album completely. The mix sounds too mushy and all the reverb on the vocals and leads has been rather stupidly taken off. The only benefit is a full live show from 1993 on the 2nd disc, which is well worth checking out. On Spotify. For free.)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Katatonia - Night Is The New Day

Album review: Katatonia - Night Is The New Day (Peaceville, 2009)
Dark Rock/ Metal

Something new now, as I review an album I don't actually think is that great, Katatonia's most recent studio effort "Night is the New Day".

Given that their new album is now right around the corner (after the obligatory 3 year wait), I figured I may as well offer my thoughts on this one from one of my very favourite bands which I just haven't been sure about since I went out to buy it the week it was released (the last time I actually did that, too). It was just a shame that the first new album by them since I got into them managed to pretty much disappoint me, especially given the hype that surrounded it...you know, all the predictable "its their best yet!!!" press spiel. Mikael Akerfeldt's quote on the sticker attached to the CD case is especially hilarious in retrospect. The promise was all there: an expansion of the previous record while at the same time adding diversity to the sound...but as usual the sales pitch doesn't quite match the product, at least in my view.

First, what I do think is good: the production is very smooth, definitely their cleanest yet, but its full of texture and very atmospheric. They've also upped the synths on this, very noticeable in "The Longest Year" with the pulsing arpeggios which are nice. My main issue with NITND is this: it's too anemic. It just lacks energy. I know thats fairly accurate of feeling depressed, but something about the more energetic songs on The Great Cold Distance, Viva Emptiness and earlier just gives them so much more appeal. They're dynamic and multifaceted. NITND however, seems content to drift through its duration. They already perfected the sleep-like and simultaneously apathetic/ intense emotional qualities of depression on the amazing "Discouraged Ones" album about 10 years earlier.

When the album was announced, I had hoped for a continuation of the sound hinted at on "Unfurl". I thought it would have been interesting if they made an entirely down tempo electronica album, as that song was just so stupidly good and the whole thing worked really well. In a way that's what they did, but most of it doesn't measure up to that. Sure, the album is loaded with synths and programmed beats, but I can't help but feel that it falls flat.  It just didn't impress me that much, and it still doesn't. They've still got the downtuned chugging thing going on, but a lot of the riffs just aren't that good... they're just there, plodding away for the sake of it at the same pretty low tempo (compared to the frantic opening to "Increase", for example).  Another problem: "Idle Blood"....no. You are not Opeth. This is not what I want to hear. A very tedious song I'm afraid. The first single "Day and then the Shade" is also memorable for the AWFUL music video that accompanied it. Enough said about that one.

There's also a distinct lack of Anders' leads on this album, they had announced they were suffering from some "writer's block" a while before this album came out which I think is probably the real explanation as to why NITND seems to want to accomplish so much, but in reality falls somewhat flat. A handful of the tracks are pretty good ("Forsaker", "The Longest Year", "Liberation" and "The Promise of Deceit" would be my picks), but on the whole I can't bring myself to rate this as high as I do a lot of their others from the debut up to TGCD. Its grown on me a little over time but even now I'm still not sure. Thankfully, the recent preview of 2012's "Dead End Kings" (out August 27th) sounds as though it will improve on this quite a lot.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Krieg - Destruction Ritual

Album review: Krieg - Destruction Ritual (Redstream, 2001)
Black Metal

"...Stop killing the dead. They're mine. If you don't want the dead coming back to life, why don't you just kill the living...shoot them in the head...are you listening to me?"

One of an extremely small number of good things to come out of New Jersey, Krieg (alongside other pioneers Judas Iscariot, I Shalt Become and others) is one of America's premier Black Metal assaults. Lord Imperial showed great growth and development as a songwriter and musician across 5 or 6 main releases, but the primary focus of the earlier Krieg albums is an unrelenting sonic attack: pure hatred in musical form. "Destruction Ritual" is, I feel, the best example of this. It comes across mostly as a maelstrom of (strangely well produced) noise, bass non existent and guitars largely inaudible underneath the hurricane of blastbeats and manic screaming vocals. You're not meant to think of it as a group of seperate songs with features of their own as such (although there is plenty to distinguish the individual tracks even to the untrained ear), more like a singular mood soundtrack to being incredibly pissed off. That's my view, anyway.

Speaking of the music, the playing is tight as hell, actually. The drumming is very focused and pummeling, not sloppy as is normally associated with more raw BM outfits. The vocals are some of my absolute favourite ever in this genre, Imperial is just insane and passionate behind the mic on this one without sounding too silly like some more extreme vocalists sometimes do. The guitars buzz away frantically beneath, some riffs are occasionally detectable if you pay close attention, and there are clean parts that stand out fine, obviously. You may want to listen to this on a decent soundsystem to be able to pick out much detail. There aren't any lyrics to be read in the booklet, occasionally you can pick out some lines that sound great to me ("When I stop to cut myself, I crumble into dust..."). Samples of spoken word are used effectively, to open the album (the quote above) and at other times during some of the interludes across the disc (e.g the brilliant monologue from the end of "American Psycho" in "Suicide Amidst Katharsis").

This is an album that can only really be fully appreciated when the listener is in the right mood, as is the case with a fair bit of black metal. When you are, I find it to be one of the most effective forms of aural stress relief there is. Being from NJ, it doesn't suprise me how pissed off Imperial sounds on this album. I wonder what he thinks of this twat?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

King Crimson - Discipline

Album review: King Crimson - Discipline (E'G, 1981)
Prog/ Art Rock

"Discipline is never and end in itself, only a means to an end."

 Although it'd be far too easy, and not at all representative, I could easily sum up this album with just one sentence: "Tony Levin on bass". That alone should have you sold already, never mind the rest...and who are they? Robert Fripp on guitar? Adrian Belew on guitar/vocals? Bill Bruford on drums? That's quite a line up, definitely one for the musicians out there, and believe me these guys certainly do NOT mess around. "Discipline" is the first album of a radically re-invented King Crimson for the 1980s, shedding their 70s Prog trappings for a more concise, yet no less technically stunning approach. Indeed this is one of the few 80s Prog albums that doesn't succumb to the hit and miss "Prog Lite" style that bands like Genesis and Yes began purveying around the same time to mixed, sometimes thoroughly depressing results. There is a strong influence from the likes of Peter Gabriel and most notably, Talking Heads (singer Adrian Belew sounds comparable to David Byrne). A smart blend of Postpunk and Art Rock, cerebral yet catchy and with almost pop sensibilities? Sign me up.

Right from the opening of the first song, you should have an idea of what you're letting yourself in for, insanely dextrous and propulsive Stick playing from T. Levin and Bruford's equally impressive drumming, provide the groundwork for Belew's bizarre wailing guitar noises and jangly chords (JC120 + Polychorus = TONE!) and Fripp's otherworldly "Frippertronics" style of playing and standard (for him) fretboard arobatics, the two guitarists providing more than enough moments of frantic, interlocking madness across the album's seven tracks. The opening of "Frame By Frame" is perhaps the best example of this, listen and be duly stunned...and there really is some great songwriting going on here, to back up the obvious skill of the musicians. They slow things down a bit on the more ballad-like "Matte Kudasai" and the meandering psychedelia of "The Sheltering Sky". "Indiscipline" is a fractured stab of tension and paranoia, its title track counterpart being more bouncy and relaxed. The bizarre monologue going on during "Thela Hun Ginjeet"  ("What dangerous place? What gun? You're a policeman!"), apparently Adrian Belew's recounting of being mugged by Rastas on a field recording trip to Brixton, adds some humour to the brew of musical fireworks. Really, if this isn't one of THE ultimate albums of the early 1980s then I don't know what is. Remember, it *is* Prog so it is very technical and there is a lot going on, so "attentive listening" might be required to catch all the details and make sense of it all (it may also just need to grow on you over time). Otherwise it might come across as "too wierd", but what are you doing listening to KC, or music at all, if that's your attitude?

I own the 30th Anniversary Edition of this album from 2004, a 24 bit remaster done by Robert Fripp which sounds great, clear and not overly loud or compressed in the slightest. There's also a bonus track (an alternate version of "Matte Kudasai"). There is a more recent 2 disc edition (from the "40th Anniversary Series") which features more bonus tracks, different mixes and surround sound DVD audio. The original record already had killer production, so you can't go far wrong whichever one you pick.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless

Album review: Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless (Venice in Peril/EMI, 1982)
New Wave/ Synth pop

This is, simply put, the best damn synth pop album ever. Yeah, seriously. Thomas Dolby has always been an underrated talent, besides that one overplayed song about SCIENCE! that everyone and their unborn child has heard 500 times already....its a good song, but his real skill as a songwriter and sound designer has always been sadly neglected IMO, and his influence is further reaching than many people realise. He has become something of a figurehead in technology also, giving regular talks at the TED conferences and designing the synth engine behind every mobile phone ringtone ever. He released a few albums and worked as a producer up until the early 90s before dropping out of the music business for a while, before resurfacing in the last few years with a live album ("The Sole Inhabitant", 2006) that most certainly proves he still has it, and a brand new studio album in 2011.

During the early 80s he released this, the first album of his signature moody and cinematic music, characteristics not normally found in a lot of synth pop of the time which was largely one dimensional and overly saccharine. Along with other crucial artists of the time such as Peter Gabriel, John Foxx and others, Dolby showed just what could really be done with synthesizers in a more pop setting, creating many brilliant sounds and textures as a backdrop for his emotive singing. There are also plenty of live guitars, bass and piano to reassure any rockist fools who run for the hills at the first sign of a synth and miss out on a whole other spectrum of sounds. There is such a variety of sounds and moods on display on this album, from the soaring opener "Flying North" through to a fun attempt at synth ska on "The Wreck of the Fairchild", more of a bouncy pop feel on "Radio Silence" and "Europa", the enormous sounding "Windpower" and the simply gorgeous "Airwaves". "She Blinded Me With Science" is included on some later editions, thankfully the latest and very well done remaster restores the original, "proper" tracklist without that song as part of the main album, instead moving it to a bonus track where it works better. Like I said, its good, but detracts too much from the other tracks on the album, any of which could destroy "Science" with their hands tied.

Very few other albums I've heard, especially in this field, are as consistently excellent as this. The only thing missing is the full length, 7 minute extended version of "One of Our Submarines", which is a strong contender for the single greatest synth track ever made, but it works just as well as its own separate thing. The aforementioned 2009 re-issue also includes the fantastic "Live Wireless" concert film from 1983, something I had never seen before. It features most of this album's tracks and a whole bunch of others performed brilliantly by TD and his backing band alongside some quirky visuals and props and makes this version of the album absolutely worthwhile. Essential for any fan of powerful, inventive synth music.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Thergothon - Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth

Album review: Thergothon - Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth (demo, 1991)
Funeral Doom

Its a strangely appropriate thing that this Finnish band, who effectively invented the sound now known as "Funeral Doom" (alongside a small handful of other bands from the same country, namely Unholy and Skepticism), which has sadly become somewhat watered down and predictable over the years as great ideas often do, managed to give birth to and violently abort their own creation at the same time with this almost unbelievable piece of pure aural blackness. With their demo, Thergothon created what I think is the greatest funeral doom recording ever made, and although there are plenty of other worthwhile recordings out there (their own debut album for instance) I still think that this demo is essentially the single most effective one.

Taking the already somewhat established idea of death metal riffs slowed down to a crawl and injected with sorrow filled melodies, this demo adds a huge cavernous ambience and heavy flanging effects on most of the sounds for a truly creepy, otherwordly feel. The final ingredient is one of the most bizarre, inhuman vocal sounds I've ever heard. Other bands pioneered this sound around the same time with their own unique approaches (Skepticism's church organ fueled funeral procession, Unholy's deranged psychedelia etc) but nothing else I've heard really compares to this. Although only four tracks long, all but the last are over six minutes so it doesn't feel too short despite being just a demo. The production is just great, the drums sound as if they are being played in a huge cavern underneath some terrible Lovecraftian ocean and the guitar sound is just sinister as hell. The added effect of heavy tape saturation on some available versions (mostly downloadable) does add to the atmosphere, later re-issues cleaned it up slightly but it still has the demo quality "tape" sound that gives it character and actually sounds quite good for a demo.

Every band out there calling itself "Funeral Doom" of the last 20-odd years owes its sound to "Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth", and there's a solid bet that almost none of them are anywhere near as good as this.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

"Big" Steeve Hurdle 1971-2012

Former Gorguts, Negativa and Purulence guitarist Steeve Hurdle has apparently died aged 41 following "post surgical complications". The former Purulence guitarist joined Gorguts in 1993 and contributed to the infamous "Obscura" album in 1998. Following this he formed the band Negativa with Gorguts mainman Luc Lemay and released just one EP before Lemay began focusing on the Gorguts reunion. His style of guitar playing was unique and inventive, total schizo riffing making significant use of atonal sounds and bending of pinch harmonics. "Obscura" took the principle of death metal, and turned it on its head before shoving it through a blender. The musical equivalent of a free jazz band throwing their instruments down a flight of stairs, or the death metal version of Captain Beefheart. All of these are apt descriptions for this intense, beautifully repulsive cacophany too often dismissed as "noise" by a lot of death metal fans for not being just another recycling of the same old boring power chords and degenerate lyrical concepts. Funny when you consider that the whole point of death metal and extreme metal in general is its limitless potential and the ability to push boundaries. Still, fuck em, "Obscura" OWNS and this is a serious loss of a great musician. RIP.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Death - Human

Album review: Death - Human (Roadrunner Records, 1991)
Tech/prog death metal

Ask any metalhead what their favourite DEATH album is and the answer will always vary. This legendary band who, along with the likes of Possessed and early Sepultura, were responsible for the birth of extreme metal during the 1980s.  Over a career that lasted nearly 20 years (from the formation of Mantas in 1983), Death was a band that progressed musically with every album, refusing to rest on their laurels and produce the same record twice, thanks in part to frontman Chuck Schuldiner's constant revolving door of lineups that took in some stellar musicians over its existence.  Through the primitive and thrashy "Scream Bloody Gore" to something approaching a more technical take on classic Heavy Metal on their final album before Schuldiner's untimely death in 2001 of brain stem cancer, the discography of Death is an enduring statement to evolution and the dismantling of boundaries within extreme music.

"Human" is the band's finest achievement in my opinion, a crushing slab of cerebral death metal boasting astonishing instrumental and songwriting prowess, and thought provoking, introspective lyrics. "Individual Thought Patterns" is constantly vying with this one for the top spot in my mind, though this is the one I have chosen to write this review on. This is the first album, I feel, where Chuck had surrounded himself with musicians capable of matching him and making his vision possible. I won't give in to the Dimebag-esque fellating he (like all deceased "metal legends") has been subject to since his unfortunate death, but the guy was a genius and that much is certain. By this time, Death had already made significant advancements with the transitional album "Spiritual Healing" of the previous year, the zombie holocaust lyrics of the first two records replaced with a more thoughtful social and religious commentary, and a marked advancement in composition and structure (which was of course largely rejected at first, by the backwards purists of the day). Floridian metal legend James Murphy joined Schuldiner on lead guitar for that album, the first time he would work with someone who's skill was a good match for his own. On "Human", the lineup is completely changed again with the welcome addition of half of the band Cynic (who at the time were still unsigned and yet to release their first album), namely guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert, and bass virtuoso Steve DiGiorgio borrowed from Sadus and who had also done session work with Autopsy.

This lineup wastes no time in going straight for the neck with some absolutely massive riffs and drumming. Reinert's propulsive double bass pedaling and inventive fills provide the groundwork for Schuldiner and Masvidal's excellent riffing and soloing, Masvidal's flowing, jazz inspired leads providing a great contrast to Schuldiner's own playing. Bassist DiGiorgio has been the cause of a little controversy on this album, being criminally mixed out and rendered mostly inaudible, although there are some parts when he can be heard if you pay attention (more on this later). Scott Burns gives another one of his signature production jobs, perhaps a little boxy sounding on the original release but with atmosphere of its own and fitting to the music. The lyrics (along with "Thought Patterns") are some of the greatest I've ever read on a death metal album, offering introspection at a time where a lot of bands were still clinging to outdated B-movie cliches (as fun as those can be, admittedly). To finish, I can only say that this album is a must for any metal fan or any music fan in general, to be honest. Get it and hear for yourself.

A note on the 2011 remix/remaster: For the 20th anniversary of "Human" Relapse Records released a remixed, and remastered edition available as a two or three disc edition with loads of bonus material including demo and live tracks, and (on the three disc edition) a veritable goldmine for fans in the form of scratch tracks with just drums and bass. The album itself was remixed and remastered and in a totally unprecedented move, not completely ruined by over-compression and loudness like pretty much every new release or remaster of recent years. What is equally impressive is that the bass tracks were raised to a more acceptable volume, still not as audible as some would like (as in "Individual Thought Patterns" audible) but on the whole DiGiorgio's playing is clearer and the scratch tracks of course allow all the details to be heard. The rest of the album, particularly the drums, has a noticeably wider stereo image and less muddy sound than the original release, the vocals are also clearer and the reverb on the solos is more noticeable. I think this newer edition is absolutely worth  purchasing and I was genuinely impressed at how much effort seemed to have gone into it compared to so many other similar things these days. It ensures that this influential and groundbreaking record will live on.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Sisters of Mercy - Some Girls...

Album review: The Sisters of Mercy - Some Girls Wander By Mistake (1992, Merciful Release)
Goth/ post-punk

Surely this has to be an essential score for anybody with an interest in this style of music, perhaps yes, however given how different it is to the likes of "First and Last and Always" or "Floodland" I would be tempted to label it "for hardcore fans only" despite the fact this was the first album of theirs I actually bought and listened to. This is for those of us who like our Sisters with a bit of old skool grit on the side, very punky material and not exactly "Goth" as you may know it from the overblown pomposity of "Floodland".

"Some Girls..." presents a history of TSOM in their formative, indie label years between 1980 and 1983. The very first single is included, alongside the very second and arguably first "proper" single. The original 12" version of "Temple of Love", the first thing that got them any real attention, is present alongside the entirety of "The Reptile House EP" (a defining statement of the original goth rock movement). "Alice", another well known (and hideously overplayed by now) early track is present with its four B-sides including a riotous cover of "1969" by The Stooges. Also featured is a brilliant cover of The Stones' "Gimme Shelter", not the only time this band would knock out a cover that well and truly demolishes the original, in this writer's opinion (one word: "Emma"). However the defining feature of this album is the inclusion of "The Reptile House", an EP which contrasts starkly with a lot of the other amphetamine fueled songs on the disc, offering six doomy atmospheric tracks which make it unique among this era of the band.

As a compilation this works excellently, despite not being chronological. The tinny production and equally tinny drum machine beats give the songs an added edge which the more polished production of the later albums is missing. I have some of the original 12" vinyl of these tracks, and you could argue that is the better format to have them in, but to have them all on one disc (alongside Eldritch's endlessly readable sleeve notes) makes it essential not to mention the absurd prices original copies of "Body Electric" and "The Damage Done" are going for currently.

Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients

Album review: Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients (Roadrunner Records, 1991)
Progressive/ technical death metal

One of the debates most commonly brought up when discussing death metal relates to that of Holland's PESTILENCE. Which is better, "Consuming Impulse" and the debut or the albums after (this and "Spheres")? Who is the better vocalist, Van Drunen or Mameli? Opinions seem pretty divided on the matter, with rarely any opting for the middle ground of "I like both". I think "Consuming Impulse" is a great slice of old school death metal and a classic everyone should hear, but I also think with "Testimony..." this band really showed what they were capable of, with more experimental song structures and a slight injection of Jazz Fusion influence as was happening with a lot of this music at the turn of the 90s...mostly thanks to Death and their groundbreaking album "Human", this and other albums that began pushing the envelope at the time.

The most significant difference here is that vocalist and bassist (who never actually played any bass lines on "Consuming"...) Martin Van Drunen is departed, replaced on vocals by lead guitarist Patrick Mameli and the legendary Tony Choy on bass (borrowed from Cynic and who would later play in Atheist). When I first heard this album at a younger and more intolerant age, I hated it mainly because the vocals were "weaker". Let's face it, Van Drunen's vocals on "Consuming..." is one of the nastiest, most caustic performances captured on a death metal album and would be hard to follow up for anybody, yet upon reflection Mameli provides a perfectly good substitute, less extreme but more suiting to the music here...which is also slightly less extreme, but more dynamic and introspective as opposed to the sheer blunt force trauma of a track like "Out of the Body" from "Consuming...". The production quality is smoother and substantially cleaner on this album, which gives it more room to breathe and explore atmospheres. The bass is nice and audible and provides occasional counterpoint to the guitars although the main feature is Choy's undeniable skill at the instrument, effortlessly matching the technical and thrashy riffs.

The structure of the record itself is also different, with 16 tracks of which half are interludes of various kinds used to break up the main songs, such as the weird heartbeat/insect noise of "Blood" and the Choy bass solo in "Soulless". The main highlight of this album for me has to be "Land of Tears", where a fast technical riff gives way to a breakdown using chords that seem uncommon for death metal, leading into a brilliant solo almost reminiscent of Iron Maiden before falling back into the thrashy main riff again. In fact a lot of this album comes across as almost like technical thrash (akin to early Cynic) as opposed to death metal, the guitars aren't down-tuned like on the previous album and they are a lot more melodic. Any flak aimed at the band over this or "Spheres" is completely unjust in my opinion, this is a prime example of great musicians experimenting with a formula that was already beginning to run a little bit dry, and is one of the great progressive metal albums of its time.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live

Album review: Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live (Real World, 1994)
Pop/rock, World

A good live album should always make you wish you'd been there to see the concert. Secret World Live is one of those for me, a vast 2 disc recording capturing PG and co. live in Italy in late 1993 during the Secret World tour to promote "Us", his most recent studio album at the time. Gabriel has always known how to put on an elaborate and atmospheric show, with this being perhaps his most adventurous stage set ever, which can be properly appreciated by seeing the accompanying (and brilliantly shot) concert film. Although the CD version may not offer the complete experience, it does differ from the video slightly in track listing ("Red Rain" on the CD and "San Jacinto" on the video, though apparently the upcoming remastered DVD/Bluray release will change this) and I think the sound is different in some parts (mix/editing). The track list itself takes liberally from "So" and "Us", and all the hits from those two albums are present including a massive 11 minute version of "In Your Eyes" closing the album. Indeed the set list does play out like something of a greatest hits, with only "Solsbury Hill" representing the earliest stage of his career (on the CD), and even that is basically a hit single. A surprise inclusion however is "Across the River", originally a more obscure B-side to a 1982 single, perhaps the most intense of the album's early tracks and featuring some amazing vocal improvisation from Gabriel and Shankar's violin playing. Other inclusions such as "Slow Marimbas" or "Shaking the Tree" (which admittedly does drag somewhat in the middle, audience interaction is a bit less interesting when you can only hear it) may not have been as obvious, but welcome nonetheless. Most of the songs from "Us" are performed, and seeing as how "Us" is perhaps my favourite album of all time it isn't a surprise this is my favourite of his live albums/videos (if only "Plays Live" had been filmed...). I do wonder why the songs "Love to Be Loved" and "Only Us", aren't included, or "Lovetown" but from what I know those songs were rarely ever played anyway which is a bit of a shame, I think.

The lineup for this show features perhaps the best band he ever worked with. Guitarist David Rhodes and bass master Tony Levin are present as always, alongside stellar percussionist Manu Katché (his drumming on this album must be heard to be believed), Jean-Claude Naimro on keyboards, Shankar on (double necked, electric) violin, vocalist Paula Cole (who's strident and powerful voice enhances many of the tracks, most notably "Don't Give Up") and the man himself performing keyboards and harmonica (on one track) in addition to lead vocals. The sound of the album itself is fantastic, definitely very polished and "arena rock" sounding although the textures and atmosphere, along with the brilliant performances more than compensate for this in my opinion. Gabriel is a notorious perfectionist so there is no doubt that some extensive post-production must have been done. Does that really make SWL a truly "live" album? I don't know but that is fairly standard practice for live albums, and the end result doesn't bother me at all seeing as how I wasn't there to see what was overdubbed or edited.

Though it might make more sense on film, the album of "Secret World" is an essential for any Gabriel fan and anyone who just wants to hear an energetic and powerful performance.

Deicide - S/T

Album review: Deicide - Deicide (Roadrunner Records, 1990)
Death Metal

Whether or not you agree with my statement that this now laughably predictable US death metal act should have hung up their guitars at least 15 years ago, if not earlier, the fact remains that their first two albums are absolute classics that anyone who claims to be into death metal is arguably not into death metal if they don't own copies. I personally prefer "Legion" but this album is such a cornerstone of the early 90s death metal movement that it can't be ignored.There is a raw, savage energy that emanates from this recording which is irresistible and taken in context can be considered somewhat groundbreaking for its time despite the fact it sounds a bit dated nowadays, but then again who even cares, old school DM albums always have way better production than most of the sterile nonsense that comes out now. Compared to a lot of other metal albums released in 1990 this is surely one of the most brutal.

You know what I think? Glen Benton is an underrated comedy genius. That is, assuming the idea to use pitch and harmonizing effects on his vocals creating the death metal equivalent of watching Evil Dead 2, was his. They are arguably quite tacky but, just like that film, humorous and add a nice silly horror film feel to the music whenever used, which you might hate or like me find it adds to the whole thing. His unprocessed vocals are a venomous bark and scream quite different from the monotonous drawl of later Deicide albums, and of course the infamous double tracked growl/scream is present. Bass? Practically non existent, no matter because Eric and Brian Hoffman have GOT. RIFFS. Lots of very good riffs. Thrashy in the old skool death metal style, and sinister. Steve Asheim is one of the genres most renowned drummers giving a driving and punishing performance which lends a great deal to the album's energy. Glen Benton's lyrics run the usual gamut of SATAN ad nauseum, highlighted with a little Manson and Jim Jones for good measure. When the music is as good as this, the nonsense satanic lyrics matter little and in fact I find some of them pretty well written (the Manson song is, anyway). It is amusing to think that in its day music like this was taken as a genuine threat to society by idiots and evangelicals everywhere, and given a lot of hype and attention by the media.

The production is quite heavy, although somewhat "inferior" sounding to the previous "Sacrificial" demo which featured most of this album's tracks recorded a little more clearly and without the vocal effects, however the added rawness helps I think and the guitar tone is just great. The overall effect is clearly meant to be that of a sledghehammer to the face and it succeeds at that.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse

Album review: Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse (Candlelight, 1998)
Prog/ metal


This is probably my personal favourite Opeth album, so reviewing it seems appropriate. From the cover art to the sound itself, MA, YH is positively swamped in thick, murky atmosphere. It also marks a significant change for the band, abandoning the vast compositions, almost black metal tonalities and dual lead melodies of "Orchid" and "Morningrise" for shorter, more focused songs with an emphasis on RIFFS and lots of them. It is a transitional album between that older style and the one which would become fully fledged on the following "Still Life", a sound which would carry them for their next several albums. Because of this MA, YH is somewhat unique among the Opeth discography. It is also (like "Still Life") a concept album, featuring something I've never seen done elsewhere where the last word of the current song is the title of the next, making following the lyrics like reading the concept as a story which is a nice touch. I forget exactly what the concept is at the moment, no matter. 

Aside from the overall sound being noticeably different, Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals have changed drastically since the last album, becoming much deeper and less raspy which I think suits this album better. His clean singing on this album is also perhaps my favourite performance of his, with a chanting multi-tracked style not repeated on any other Opeth album. The fact that he supposedly had a cold during the recording doesn't seem to make a difference as his performance is just brilliant especially during the all-clean "Credence". The trademark Opeth acoustics are present, along with some great clean electrics (see the cascade of phase shifted guitars that opens "When") and some really memorable riffs. Martin Lopez makes his first appearance on drums which contributes massively to the different feel present here with a much more metal feel to the drumming instead of Anders Nordin's more Mediterranean inspired beats. I feel like Opeth hasn't made an album this good since this one, although I do really enjoy parts of Still Life and Damnation/ Deliverance I think everything comes together on this one in a way they would not repeat.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Peter Gabriel - Birdy

Album review: Peter Gabriel - Music from the film "Birdy" (Virgin/ Charisma, 1985)
Ambient/ film score

Film scores can be a tricky thing to discuss, especially if the film in question (Alan Parker's "Birdy", starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine) is one you haven't actually seen yet. Enter Peter Gabriel, who crafts such an incredibly visual soundtrack that actually watching the movie isn't as important, as he creates scores that function as proper albums in their own right. This was his first, and predecessor to the acclaimed "Passion" soundtrack for Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ", which I'm sure I'll be going on about at length some time in the future. However, just because the "Birdy" album is less renowned means nothing, this album functions on the same high level of AMAZING as its successor, presenting a moody and subtle soundscape that is perfect for drowning one's head in true ambient fashion. This was also the first time Gabriel worked with producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Eno and others), who brought his own ideas to the table regarding texture and ambience, and who would later go on to produce Gabriel's breakthrough "So" album the following year.

The unique feature of this album is that about half of it consists of "recycled material" as displayed on the cover. The material in question is taken from Gabriel's previous two self titled albums (better known as "Melt" and "Security"), including such tracks as "Not One of Us", "San Jacinto" and "The Rhythm of the Heat". Don't let this discourage you however as this is no cut and paste job, the chosen songs deconstructed and reworked to astonishing effect as instrumentals, blending in perfectly with the new pieces. Speaking of those, they are well worth hearing too. "Floating Dogs" is one of my own favourite Gabriel compositions and "Sketch Pad with Trumpet and Voice" is VERY "Passion"-esque featuring his wordless vocal incantations and the muted trumpet playing of Jon Hassel. I don't like to go on and on about individual tracks so much when discussing records so the rest is down to the listener to discover. Whether you've seen the film or not this is an essential album for those interested in (mostly) dark and (always) moody soundscapes.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cynic - Focus

Album review: Cynic - Focus (Roadrunner Records, 1993)
Progressive tech-metal

Let's be honest. This is NOT death metal. If you listen to this album and expect to hear death metal, you will be disappointed. The technicality associated with death metal (particularly early 90s "progressive" death) is there, as are certain elements also associated with death metal such as the distorted guitars and the fact that half the vocals are harsh...but it is not death metal (although to be fair "Uroboric Forms" does come pretty close in parts). Now that is out of the way, Focus can be discussed and taken for what it is - a powerful, impressive blend of progressive, metal, psychedelia and jazz fusion influences. Stylistically you could accuse it of being a bit of a mess - you might not be far off but I think the daring nature of Focus is what makes it work the most.

The musicianship is absolutely top notch. Paul Masvidal (known to many as the other guitarist on Death's seminal "Human") and Jason Gobel's guitar playing is flawless, both rhythm and solos (they are also using guitar synths here), with an abundance of heavy melodic riffs and brilliant clean parts all performed with absolute precision, the start of the song "Textures" in particular reminds me a lot of "Discipline" era King Crimson - too cool. Sean Malone performs fretless bass and Chapman Stick (on a fucking metal album!!! perhaps the first to do this) - contributing some real adventurous and interesting bass lines, with a great tone that is nice and audible in the mix just as it should be...he has to be one of the greatest bass players I've heard. Sean Reinert (who also played on "Human") is simply an awesome drummer - he does use plenty of double kick when the intensity needs to be turned up but on the whole his performance is quite subtle and fascinating with occasional use of synth drums. Paul Masvidal performs the unusual vocoder singing and Tony Teegarden provides the harsh growls with a Schuldiner-esque touch not too uncommon for the time, and there are some female vocals scattered across the album. Scott Burn's production is certainly of its time but everything is there and it isn't too muddy. I can't fault it really.

This album is a real grower, but it doesn't surprise me a lot of typical death metal listeners don't get it. Because it isn't really death metal, rather a landmark achievement in modern progressive music and IMO with "Traced In Air" even they didn't really top this.

Gorguts - From Wisdom to Hate

Album review: Gorguts - From Wisdom to Hate (Olympic Recordings, 2001)
Technical/ experimental Death Metal

Gorgut’s fourth and (until their recent reunion) final album, 2001’s “From Wisdom to Hate”, is one that I have long meant to acquire and hear in full for some time now, only managing this very recently. The album seems to be the black sheep of the Gorguts discography, being quite unfairly underrated by some in my view. Boasting some crushing production values, and with songwriting resembling something like a compromise between the overt headfuck of 98’s “Obscura” and their classic first pair of albums, FWTH is not a piece that should be ignored by any Gorguts fiend. It is of course not hard to compare this to “Obscura” (one of the most polarizing releases in all of Death Metal) and perhaps find it lacklustre by comparison. Whereas its predecessor presented an all out demented assault on the senses, the sonic barrage of From Wisdom... is arguably more refined and focused here to its own advantage, the album is a lot more “accessible” (an entirely relative term here, of course) in comparison but there are no shortage of wierd and interesting riffs to satisfy the “Obscura” freaks. Indeed, the opening riff of first track “Inverted” has to be one of the most bizarre riffs I’ve ever heard, utilizing the “pick scrape” technique to jarring effect alongside a pounding blastbeat (that snare sound...!!!). There are also a lot more mid paced grooves and very doom-like passages, notably in the title track and “The Quest for Equilibrium”.

Musicianship wise, Luc Lemay is as brilliant as ever, this time supported by Daniel Mongrain of fellow Canadian tech-metallers Martyr. Although he is no Steeve Hurdle he is a more than adequate replacement although I’m not always sure which one of them is playing which riff or lead so it is a little hard to tell. Steve Cloutier’s bass is mixed somewhat low compared to the previous album, a sinister rumbling underneath the guitars occasionally punctuated by more audible passages and chords. Steve McDonald provides an impressive and varied drum performance, were it not for his unfortunate suicide sometime after the release of the album (the cause of the first breakup of the band) I wonder how many other albums Gorguts might have created in the 10+ years between this and their long awaited follow up, coming “sometime this year”. This album was recently reissued on CD in 2010 and vinyl in 2011 by killer Canadian label War On Music (who have also re-released “Obscura” and the first two essential Cryptopsy albums and demo on vinyl), thankfully as it had become a little hard to get hold of (a CD reissue of the even harder to find “Obscura” is yet to see the light, but is coming apparently) so now there is little excuse not to own this prime slice of inventive Death Metal from the masters. I am eagerly awaiting the follow up (featuring an all new lineup) and hopefully it will be the devastating masterpiece that it promises to be.