Good day all,
It has been a while! I have missed all of my Little Pretties and I am glad to have at least a little time to fill you full of my insight and intellect (read: ridiculousness and irrelevance) and share today’s Friday Four Pack with you. A couple of things before we get into the Four Pack though, first, Saturday will be the one year anniversary of this blog and I am amazed by the fact that I have been able to keep it going for that long! I would have liked to have had 365 posts at this point but as we all know life and work sometimes get in the middle of the fun and things cannot always work out like we want, but either way I want to say thank you to all of you who actually take the time to read my stuff and especially to Ken at METAL BUZZ for spreading my voice to a much bigger audience than my little blog is capable of. I have a busy beginning of the year but hopefully will be able to get into full blog mode by spring time. In the mean time I will try to post as many of these super posts as I can muster. But once again a very big thanks to all of you who read my blog, follow me on twitter and hang out and talk metal.
OK, so here is the second thing…Whoever came up with the genre/sub-group of stoner metal? It seems like such an oxymoron to me to consider anything done in metal would translate into a stoned state of mind. Who gets high and turns on heavy metal? Last time I checked (and of course I don’t know from personal experience…wink wink) but the sole purpose of getting high is to become mellow and metal should not EVER be mellow. So where does this stoner vibe fit? Maybe some of the more occult-ish bands like Christian Mistress or Venomous Maximus? I could see how their more subdued sound could be a soundtrack to mellow but really? Am I getting this all wrong? Should I be seeing something I don’t? Or am I so far out of this type of behavior that I will never understand anyway? All of that is possible, let me know what you think, who are the stoner metal bands and how do they enhance the high? I am just curious because I really don’t understand…Now on to the Four Pack…
Holy Grail: Ride the Void
Holy Grail’s sophomore effort was released this week and I will tell you that it is a release that I was looking forward to as I found there freshman effort Crisis in Utopia to be a fantastic double guitar attack traditional heavy metal /thrash effort. As I have said before if you can last on constant rotation on my MP3 player then as far as I am concerned you are doing something right. Why is that a big deal? Because I listen to so much new music everyday that albums fight for a space on my MP3 player and there are 32 Megs of space to work with. Holy Grail has fit in well with the heavy metal that I love, give me strong hooks, excellent solos, a bit of galloping double bass drum and I am happy. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that yes, I am that simple and the little things make me happy. Holy Grail has achieved that on Riding the Void they have created an album with all of the elements I mentioned above and it is a solid effort but there is something about it that bothers me…
I think my only issue with this album is that there is nothing different that makes it stand out from their previous album. As a matter of fact I think that it almost sounds like they wrote these songs at the same time they wrote the songs for Crisis in Utopia and these new songs are the leftovers. I do like this album and there is nothing wrong with what Holy Grail have done here songs like “Dark Passenger” and “Crosswinds” are particular stand outs but there just seems to be something missing that didn’t translate over from the last album. Here is when I knew I had a small issue with this album: I have listened to it several times since I received it on Tuesday and when I finish listening to it I keep singing songs from Crisis of Utopia instead of Ride the Void. Sure, I know the first album better at this point but I think it is because there is really nothing new here. I am still looking very forward to seeing them live at the Metal Alliance Tour in April because I still think these kids are extremely talented and I want to see in person the talent of these two guitar players switching leads.
Voivod: Target Earth
Before I go into this review I have to make a confession’ I have never been the biggest Voivod fan but I have enjoyed their music on the periphery. What I mean is as a youth I purchased their debut CD and probably a follow up but I never really got into their music as a whole. It could have been I was not as into their more progressive side because my musical tastes were a bit more immature than they are now and what Voivod was doing was a bit more than my little metal headed brain could comprehend. I mean for goodness sake I thought Carnivore was a great band and wrote impressive lyrics, like I said, a bit immature. Now however my tastes in music have matured and I am a bit more cynical when it comes to my musical tastes. Why? Because in today’s technological age I believe there is a way for even the most un-talented bands to make themselves sound better on an album than they should and because of that I want to be able to take my time and really dig into the sound of a particular band. What does any of this have to do with Voivod? Well, I now understand why this band has been such an underground cult favorite for all of this time and the pure genius of what they put on record.
Target Earth is a fantastic concept album that combines everything good that Voivod has done in the past and, as far as I am concerned, added a little more of a thrashy and possibly hardcore feel to what they have done. This album starts off strong with “Target Earth” and they allow for Snake and Chewy to really enhance their individual performances while Away (underrated drummer!) and Blacky bring an almost jazzy rhythm to the songs as they move through each song in their prog manner. What has always interested me in the genre game is how a band like Voivod falls into the “extreme” side of heavy metal. If Target Earth shows us nothing else it shows that these guys deserve to have their name associated with any of the bands playing true heavy metal today. A really great album that you should look into as soon as you can, I promise you won’t be sorry.
Deceptor: Chains of Delusion
Deceptor’s new EP is a must have for anyone into the great speed metal of yesteryear. This band has done a Yeoman’s job of finding and taking everything that was great with mid to late 80’s speed metal and wrapped it up on this excellent EP. The production is even a bit old-school which is not surprising as it comes out of Shadow Kingdom’s label and of the very few new releases they put out they all have an old-school vibe to them (see my review of Corsair). Anyway, listening to this EP will transport you back to the days of hanging out in your garage or basement with a friend and trading tapes of bootlegged shows or homemade metal mixed tapes. This one should not be missed if for nothing else the Rob Halford-esq scream in “To Know Infinity” in addition to the King Diamond-esq scream of “Heatseeker”. This is old-school speed metal as the current best!
Bad Religion: True North
I know that Bad Religion is not a metal band but their new album has come out and I would be remiss as a Bad Religion fan not to give them their due here in this forum. I was discussing this album with a friend on Tuesday and he asked for my opinion of the album as he is also a big fan and this is exactly what I told him: “The new Bad Religion album is one of the most adventurous and cutting edge albums that I have ever heard…just kidding it’s a Bad Religion album”. Sure I was messing around but here is the thing, if you are a Bad Religion fan like me you know what to expect album to album. The band’s sound hasn’t changed from the beginning up to today and True North’s release. The anti-establishment, anti-conforming message is as strong as ever and the open your mind to something different vibe is still present, but that is OK because what Bad Religion does is always great even if expected. One thing that you can say about this band is that they do not stray from what we as fan want to hear from them. It is the complete contrast of what I wrote about Holy Grail earlier but Bad Religion does the “same” better than anyone else. I will say this about some of the songs on this album; they definitely have a bit of a Social Distortion feel to them which is an interesting choice. But overall if you are going to buy this album expect to listen to a great Bad Religion album just as before.
So that’s it, I hope you enjoy this week’s reviews, go out buy some support the cause and keep metal (punk) alive! Hopefully I will be able to spew some more gospel over the next couple of weeks but if not I will be posting these Friday Four Packs. Once again thanks for reading me for the last year and HORNS HIGH \m/ !
Until Later, Peace!