Crime Records

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Album review : Turisas2013 by Turisas

Finnish metallers Turisas released their 4th album and I’m having a bad time reviewing it.
My first thoughts of it (I mean after listening to it, not these after having seen the cover that made me thinking it was a FIFA game) were that someone plays a mediocre power metal with symphonic elements and a singer singing in a way so comprehensive that I could actually understand him very well (even when doing harsh vocals) - which is not always a positive thing since either I don’t get the lyrics right or they represent simple ideas described by way too much words in my taste. Honestly, I didn’t really like the idea of listening to it again for the review purposes, but I gave it a few more listens and things started to kind of settle down for me.
Everything depends of how seriously are you going to take it - if you expect this to take you to an intellectual heaven, you will be disappointed. However if you don’t, chances are that it will grow on you (though not much), because you’ll actually find some nice stuff.
Lyric-wise, the songs could be divided into 3 categories:
1) Songs that say something - probably “Piece by Piece” and maybe “For Your Own Good”
2) The turn-off-your-brain-and-have-fun category - “Run Bhang-Eater, Run!” and “No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea” (stands out for being a pure alcohol song)
3) Songs that say nothing - the rest
Concerning music, the songs are probably made to be played live, I can imagine that the concerts can be a great fun and for sure there is a lot of occasions for interaction with the audience, eg repeating the chorus ("Into the Free") etc. In fact, it's not that bad, there is certainly some catchy and melodic stuff (some dared to stuck in my head despite my protesting mental voice, like the motive from "The Days Passed", or "Piece by Piece", which is not a bad song) and the songs have kind of special atmosphere, but I don't find that it gave me too much.

To conclude, it sounds like a Disneyland in a metal disguise and I can’t give it more than 6 out of 10.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Album Review: Self Titled - Conducting From The Grave

I have to thank Mikey Powell first off for being cool enough to let me have access to a private stream of the new release before it drops. That being said let me tell you this motherfucker is a barn burner. Not that there was anything wrong with 2010's Revenants, but this is a huge leap forward to me.
    It sets somewhere in a strange space between what I liked about early Lamb of God, some well executed metalcore fare with a good dose of tech death. When you listen to this there will be no doubt in anyones ability to play their instruments. I do think its gonna take a few listens to fully grow on me though. It's very abrasive and there is a lot of shit going on in each song that takes a lot to soak in similar to this years Arsis or the last Hour of Penance.
      The solos and drums are a million miles an hour. There is pop sensibility in this in that I do remember the songs after I hear them which is a rarity in this genre or mash of genres thereof. P.S. mikey can sing. In the song Signs there is a nice dose of cleans that dont detract and actually enhance the song because he has proper tone and breathing. Into The Rabbit Hole brings this in as well with a nice change of pace in singing over piano which launches back into brutality without flinching.
  Overall this album has a nice pace and I really see them getting a lot of deserved attention. I'll have this on repeat whenever i get my hands on a legit copy so for now my thoughts are....
   Rating: a very solid 8.5/10

Monday, September 9, 2013

Album review: Satyricon - Satyricon

For sure there is no need to introduce the one and only, legendary Satyricon, a black metal union of vocalist/writer Satyr and drummer Frost who has greatly influenced the whole black metal scene, notably with their old stuff from the 90s. Also, most of you, who have been following the band at least a bit are aware that they somehow became a subject of controversy because of the direction their newer albums go - much to the dismay of those who wait for another Nemesis Divina. The band’s music since 2002’s Volcano has a great rock feel, quite different from the old stuff and it’s 8th, self titled studio album is another step in that way.

So how’s the album? Very good. Why? Well, Satyr somewhere stated that it is gonna be full of surprises and I’d say that it’s not far from truth - Satyricon did a great job varying the album.
It offers a bit of everything, from black mayhems, passing by melodic stuff, to almost purely rock songs and oscillating from brutal anger to melancholic sadness. It remains Satyricon, but sounds somehow more thought-out.
The first 4 tracks sound somehow nocturnal - they are quite atmospheric and give mixed impressions of melancholy and even fatality (plus the norwegian in “Tro og Kraft” sounds beautiful), which is largely given by their melodiousness, but they are rather furious at the same time. Then comes something that was a big surprise for me *SPOILER WARNING*
which is Satyr’s clean singing. Yes. In a pure rock ballad. “Phoenix”. Catchy though. And he has a very appropriate voice for this. I’m not goning to say more, see (hear) for yourself *END OF SPOILER* In fact, the whole middle section of the album is an alteration of the above mentioned mayhems and rock stuff. “Walker Upon the Wind” and “Ageless Northern Spirit” are quite moshing, angry blast beat driven songs, that are divided by an incredibly (at least in my case) catchy “Nekrohaven”, which made me listen to it twice every time I listened through the album - but not because it is better than the other songs. It's just strong in it's simplicity. The end of the album (read last 2 songs) is another page of the book. The songs (“The Infinity Of Time And Space” and the instrumental outro “Natt”) are on the more melodic side again and have a feel similar to these at the beginning.

The sound is quite similar to that of the other newer albums - dry, clean, heavy but at the same time, kind of minimalistic, like if it was a perfectly sealed puzzle. It leaves place for occasional subtle symphonic elements - we can hear some brass instruments here and there as well as some additional voices etc; but it never sounds like symphonic metal. The music values guitar riffs and - not sure if it isn’t a bit because of Frost’s aura of an epic drummer but - the drum work is pretty satisfying.
Talking about puzzle, the same applies to the composition of the songs - everything feels that it is in it’s place. Generally, an album’s diversity, in some cases, can lead to inconsistency, but this is not the case. More attentive listeners can notice occasionally similar motives and chord progressions emerging across the album. The diversity is furthermore enhanced by frequent dynamic and tempo contrasts.

Conclusion: you may have noticed that I pretty much like the new Satyricon. If you don’t, avoid this one. However, if you do (or are untouched by the whole thing), then give it a go and chances are that it will grow on you after few listens.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Album review : Wild Card - ReVamp

Wild Card is a 2nd studio album by ReVamp, a symphonic metal band from Netherlands formed by the lead singer Floor Jansen, after the split up of her former band After Forever,
and it is rather strong album.

The band’s style can be described as female fronted melodic metal with symphonic elements.
The sound is constituted mainly by the contrast between heavy low-tuned guitars (the tuning works well to support the music instead of just muffling the sound) and the lead singer, who floats above the guitar floor and is in the center of the focus; this is encapsulated by the keyboard work that adds a lot of “melodicness” to the music by dynamically getting smaller and bigger without drawing too much attention and also occasionally supports the feeling of rhythm by synthetic sounds.
The whole machine is powered by a uncompromising drum work that sometimes can be reminding of power metal bands.
(Last minute edit: I almost forgot to mention the bass work, which in itself can give an idea - it's a classical nowhere-to-be-heard-unless-missing bass that delivers a standart performace, nothing less, nothing more)

The songwriting represents a balance between simple melodic mayhem and prog complexness, which does not mean that this is some kind of math metal - it is pretty straightforward metal, but rarely remains the same for too long, it changes often enough to keep you interested what is lurking behind another corner - you’ll find that every corner is a step up on a stairway of gradation that is often released straight in your face.

As you may have guessed from the statements above, the album is very energic, which is clear right from the beginning with the opener “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown (TAOANB from now on)- On The Sideline”, that serves you a refrain catchy enough to prevent you from switching to something else. The djentish riffing of the following track “TAOANB - Limbic System” introduces somehow darker feeling of melancholy that becomes more apparent as the album progresses to the 2nd half, until then you will hear the title track “Wild Card” that carries somehow comforting feeling, but also one thing that is not positive on the album - sometimes it feels a bit homogenous, if you don’t concentrate on certain tracks, it becomes quite all the same - just a heavy locomotive transporting a singing woman and some guys playing metal. It is partly the case of the title track, that doesn’t really become that interesting until about the middle, the highlighted piano during the chorus doesn’t save it. Luckily enough, just the following track “Precibus” is one of my personal faves and combines calmer, even romantic passages where Jansen shows that opera singing is not a problem for her (along with harsh vocals after the 2nd half), with a very catchy chorus. “Nothing” works on a similar base and then comes the last “TAOANB” track, named “Neurasthenia” and where is introduced Devin Townsend, who sings in the role of a darker half of the self. Another personal fave, this one really kicks __s, it is like an invitation to headbanging that accumulates tension in calm moments and releases it into an epic chorus; both singers go nuts and show a bit broader emotional spectrum than on the rest of the album (no, not biaised at all, haha). Following “Distorted Lullabies” catches by calmer verses that lead into a relatively satisfying chorus and orchestral bridge to a nice guitar solo. “Amendatory” is one of the rare songs of the album where the guitar riff is kind of constituting part of the song for a while, instead of making just a distorted floor as usually; the 2nd half of the song makes you aware of the dark feeling that is hidden behind a good part of the songs and gets more noticeable since the duet with Devin Townsend.
“Can I Become” is a decent one with a catchy chorus and an awesome solo part.
Then comes “Misery’s no crime”, which stands about on the same level as the duet. It’s not just because of the grunted verses by Mark Jansen, it’s very dark and monumental especially during the chorus and it works well with the contrast of Mark’s grunt and Floor’s clean singing. Following track “Wolf and dog” again stands out because of a noticeable djenty riffing, grading ambient passages and nice proggy part after the 2nd half. The bonus track “Sins” doesn’t really stand out but is pretty decent, though would not be a better finisher than “Wolf and dog”.

To sum it up, this is pretty strong album and if you like female fronted metal, you will probably not regret getting it. It is pop enough to attract and metal enough to maintain. The downside could be occasional homogeneity of the songs, but this is balanced by the kickass songs found across the album.

RATING: 7,75 out of 10

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview: The Arcane Order

To say I'm a fan of this band would be an understatement. I found these guys a while back and it only took me one listen to hear there was something special here.The Arcane Order features current and ex-members of Raunchy but this is a whole other animal.
   What you find is a band that really knows how to lay down a dense groove in a way I have only heard Strapping Young Lad do. The wall of sound is overwhelming in a way that lots of bands try but few succeed. It's one thing to play fast and mean. It's another thing to know how to properly layer your instruments and not drown out anyone. Hearing is believing so check out my links below. In the meantime this is my interview with lead guitarist Flemming C. Lund:

1) You guys have a very distinct sound. Your influences seem pretty clear but you are clearly in a style in a class all its own. What got you all to land on the style of metal you play today?

I guess it comes down to 2 things: Things that have influenced is during our early years of listening to metal and then playing a style that seems natural to us and feels nice to play. 
    There is nothing more worse than playing some music that somehow feels unnatural to you ­ it will never sound good in the end. I write all the music and grew up listening to a lot of Thrash Metal but also old school Death Metal, so that will always be in my veins. This has been been mixed with newer stuff that I have liked and been inspired by.

2) How is the music scene in Denmark? Do you guys get the best crowd response in a hometown show or is there a particular place that had a great crowd that took you by surprise?

Oh, the scene has been great here for many years.  Some of the greats through out the years are King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Artillery, Invocator, Pretty Maids, Illdisposed and Konkhra and some of the most known bands now a days are Raunchy, Mercenary, Hatesphere, Essence and Mnemic.

   When we have played, the response has been great no matter where, so can’t really there is any place better than other, other than home town shows always rule of course.

3) What bands are any of you listening to right now that may be an underground band you feel deserves praise or a shout­out?

I listen to so much metal all the time, and I listen to many different styles of music within metal, though mainly Death Metal.

   I think the bands I have enjoyed most this year has been Extol, Bone Sickness, Omnium Gatherum, Mercenary, Darkane, FKÜ, Revocation, Aosoth, Disma, Xerath, 7 Horns 7 Eyes,Katechon, Leprous, Tormented, Nekromantheon and others.
    So as you can see there are some pretty obscure metal bands there as well as some more well known. But I really like to find bands that are really underground and not many people know of. I am really not much into the newer american over produced metalcore /deathcore kinda sound.

4) What are your day jobs? Do you have any distinct hobbies outside of metal? (I hear the singer of Amon Amarth drives a bread truck. All I can see mentally is him windmilling his hair driving the truck.)

Kasper K is working as a bartender, Boris is studying, Kasper T is a teacher at a business school, Morten lives of making music and touring with his Swedish band Amaranthe and session work and I work as an e­commerce consultant.
   For me personally I love my job, so being able to combine music and work is just awesome. For me my job is kinda my hobby too, but besides that music really takes a lot of my time. I am a session guitarist with Raunchy and will go on tour with them again in a few weeks, and then I love soccer and watch a shitload of games on TV all the time!

5) Is there a distinct story behind your name?

Well, we needed a new name. We started out as Scavenger but Metal Blade wanted us to chance that name, because there were some other bands back then called Scavenger. So to avoid confusion we agreed.
 So we wanted a unique name, that had a metal­ kind of feel. We were just jamming with a lot of different words and eventually came up with the band name, which we all immediately loved.

6) What is the craziest shit you have ever seen on the road? Any bizarre truck stop or gas station stories?

Well, the fact is, we have only played around 10 shows with the band through out the bands history, so no,there are no bizarre stories to share.

7) What are your plans for the next year? New album? New tour?

Well our last record “In the Wake of Collisions” was released back in 2008, so we REALLY want to get some stuff out! We will record a couple of promo songs since our record deal with Metal Blade has ended. 

   So depending on when we find a new label home, we hope to be able to release a new album late next year, but that is still very uncertain. But count on this: We are not gone and we will return with a new killer album!

Thank you guys so much for your time
and I wish you the best of luck and anticipate whatever you guys do next! ­Loganopolis