Monday, September 5, 2011

Revenge of the Quick Ripple Bursts- the Metal Edition - Featuring Forest of the Soul, Death Strike, Titans Eve, ,Hellmouth, and Bloodbound

Forest of the Soul - Restless in Flight

Truly an amazingly cool record from the fertile mind of Aaron Carey (of Harvist, Nechochewn, and Angelrust) and his collaborator Andrew D'Cagna.  What we got here is a neo-folk, quasi-classical exploration of metal themes all carried out on acoustic guitar and full rhythm section, with the occasional electric solo bleeding through.  Songs vary between vocals and instrumentals with never a let down.  The vocal tracks employ harmony vocals and melodies that simply cry of  the grunge days of Alice in Chains or Days of the New, while the guitar playing is never less than stunning.  On songs like "Auburn Hill" the technique and style reminds of the best work of the late Michael Hedges.  Don't think Iommi classical passages, but rather fully realized complex yet nearly new age guitar.  Both styles (vocal and instrumental) really hit the mark making this one of the more beautiful, yet still darkly heavy releases I've heard in a while.  I've always been a sucker for acoustic rocking metal like the Alice in Chains Unplugged album, so this one was right up my alley.  The Irish toned "Green Heroes" misses the mark for me, but other tracks like the vocal "Restless in Flight," "Alone Desert Rose," and "Without You," are just about three of my favorite songs of the year.

Death Strike - Fuckin' Death

Nascent, primitive, even megalithic-era Death Metal from one of the unsung pioneers of the field.  Fuckin' Death is a long awaited reissue of the long-out-of print primal death classic.  Fuckin' Death is one of death metal's earliest recordings. "Over a quarter of a century after its initial recording, Fuckin' Death is not only one of the most brutal audio tortures of the mid '80s but one of the key ingredients in the early devilish recipe that gave us death fuckin' metal." Death Strike disbanded after 1985's Fuckin' Death demo and Paul Speckmann went on to front the legendary Master. Fuckin' Death was eventually re-released in 1991 on CD and vinyl, with additional tracks penned by Speckmann on the Nuclear Blast label.  Now we get the album reissued on CD and soon to be released limited-edition vinyl, and it's absolutely sick!  Raw and barely contained, each track here is a primeval assault of thrash tendencies, some dying strains of NWOBHM and decrepit lyrics.  "The Truth," literally assaults leaving me feeling filthy in it's wake.  "Pervert" reeks of Motorhead speed and nastiness.  "Pay to Die" nearly knocked me into unconsciousness.  Bonus tracks include rare demo versions.  If you're a death metal fan, don't even think about it, just buy this.  You owe it to yourself and those you love.

Titan's Eve - The Divine Equal

I can't believe this has been sitting on my computer for so long without getting reviewed.  Actually, I can.  On the surface, it's got everything I tend to avoid in metal; deathy and too fast for the mind to follow.  But that's only the surface.  The Divine Equal just happens to be one of my favorite metal releases of the years.  Furious bursts of old school Bay Area Thrash welded to the modern ferocity of European thrash and we got ourselves a winner.  Melody is never lost, nor the chance to change things up, drop out the blast beats (like they do on "Judgement") bringing in a little gentle guitar before nuking my brain with a speed freak of a guitar solo, sliding into some NWOBHM-styled riffing, some neo-prog guitar flourishes, a singable chorus with guttural but clean vocals, then right back to the blast beats.  And that's just one song!  This shit is heavy, pulsatingly fast, and full of riffs and changes.  Killer stuff.  From Vancouver, these thrashers step way above the also rans of the metal field and do it with flair, panache, and style.  And a loaded shotgun to the head.

Hellmouth - Gravestone Skylines

Hellmouth are ugly.  Filthy, disgusting, putrid purveyors of grotesque trash and bilious dismemberment in a punk/metal hybrid spew.  God bless em!  On this, their latest release, these gruesome-and-roll punks leave no doors left bolted in place as they raid through your town spewing their saliva-stained eulogies of disgust and anger.  "Funeral Drenched" is a furious metal-hardcore-horror film splatter fest of discordant guitars and homicidal drums.  And it's perfect.  "Desperate & Violent," is 1:28 vomit of hatred with fantastic riffing mixed in with the bile and even time for a freakish time change.  "Resist Control" is a call for world-wide resistance in true hardcore fashion, but the real lynchpins here are the central tracks "Spitting Blood & Teeth," "Conceived of Shit,"  with focused moments of violence and "Tragedy of a City," with it's dynamic shifts.  And that's what makes Hellmouth stand out.  These cats aren't frauds.  Not only do they preach putrid violence, it's clear they live it, and best of all, they really know how to play their instruments.  Man, there's more killer riffs in that one song "Tragedy of a City" than in the entire Nickleback catalog.  "If this ain't hell, I can't tell," the band screams in gangland chorus, but to my ears it's a little slice of satanic heaven.

Bloodbound - Unholy Cross

Blistering power metal in the great tradition of true power.  Symphonic, quasi-gothic touches drape over the proceedings in the form of Gregorian chant vocals, and cathedral-styled arrangements.  Moments of Iron Maiden grandiosity meld with Judas Priest power and Stratovarius skill and technique.  The danger in power metal is the tendency for bands to overly-grandiose themselves, inadvertently making their music a mockery.  Not here.  The riffs are tight.  The solos, while furious and technically mind-blowing, don't shoot themselves right up their own ass.  The vocals are rough enough to add texture and not ear-piercing or too attempted operatic.  Everything is solid and just where it's supposed to be.  "Moria," is a rousing opener in the epic vein, while "Drop the Bomb," loses no time mining right into a fiery, headbangin' riff in the best Priest fashion.  "Reflections of Evil," amps up the adrenaline, tearing through it's riff-fest.  Bloodbound prove that power metal doesn't have to be a cartoon-version of its once proud self.  Nothing to break the bank here, but if you long for steaming power metal, this is just about the best example I've heard all year. 


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