Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Metal Report

It’s Monday morning, friends! And if you’re like most of the folks in the U.S., you celebrated Father’s Day yesterday, cooked some meat product on an open fire, consumed a beer or six, and stay up way past your bed time. That alarm clock is an ugly and vile creation and should be shot! But have no fear for the Monday Morning Metal Report is here to inject some life into that withered body you call home. Grab a cup of coffee, slap the following discs in your player, and get out there! Life waits for no man and this healthy dose of belligerent metal will undoubtedly be the kick in the ass you need on this, or any, Monday morning.

Grief of War – Worship

Coming to us all the way for the tiny island nation of Japan is Grief of War and these guys borrow heavily from the past heroes of thrash metal, yet inject the sound with enough modern nuances to make the music sound much more in the now. Worship is brimming with some exciting metal moments complete with the thrash prerequisite speedy passages that stop on a dime and fall into electric mid tempo grooves that are certain to work out the abs. The vocals remind me of Bay Area thrashers Vio-Lence as they cut through the mid range distorted guitars and double bass drum thunder, while the rest of the band resembles early era Exodus or Testament. Slip into your skin tight black denim jeans, cut off the sleeves to any one of your black t-shirts with some demonic looking logo on it, strap on your white high top sneakers, and prepare to mosh yourself into oblivion!

“Crack of Doom” opens Worship with a razor sharp guitar riff played a million times light speed. Perfectly distorted, those guitars plow through the senses like a runaway train down the side of a mountain. And then, before you know it, the classic mosh part kicks in. Just after the band joins into a gang chant of the songs title they shift the tempo to something with a bit more room to breathe, a little more space for the guitar solos to flex their muscle and show a thing or two before getting buried by the weight of the speed riffagery. And speaking of guitar solos, man . . . these guys have some serious chops! Note the technical shift from the solo over the mid tempo break to the solo over the speedy passages, and then as the two guitars return together and harmonize with one another . . . well, it’s just fucking special!

“New Kind of Wicked” features some more stellar guitar work as these guys flutter their technical proficiency over a great mid tempo riff. Excellent break at the midpoint of the song! Nice effect of dropping the band from the groove, allowing the guitar in the left speaker to power out its carnage, and then the timing of the re-entrance of the band into the groove is as powerful as it gets. “Lost” has a distinctive Metallica vibe going on . . . think “Blackened” and prepare to thrash your way through the day. Full throttle speed metal with little flourishes of guitar virtuosity make this tune a stand out, pushing the band to their limits, yet keeping the whole thing together and bringing the tune home with a touch of class. I’m not sure how the guys at Prosthetic Records keep finding these gems, but we’ll let them continue doing what they’re doing coz’ they do better than most!

Hebron – Resurrection

Coming out of Wisconsin, Hebron have deposited one hell of a brutal slab on the unsuspecting. Resurrection is gritty fair that stands an arm’s length away from current American metal masters, Lamb of God. Detuned and explosive, Resurrection is the sound of big and burly dudes beating up wimps with other wimps as weapons. There’s a savagery to this album that doesn’t sound planned or refined, it’s all very natural and violent sounding, and that’s a good thing. Like ravenous beasts running wild in nature, hunting down their next kill, devouring the young and the weak . . . Hebron’s approach feels more like a lifestyle or a matter of survival than a hobby. It’s called integrity; folks . . . more bands need to subscribe to it.

“Reformed” opens the album with a blistering onslaught of double bass drums, guitars distorted to the point near muddiness, and vocals so raw that one can almost envision chucks of flesh from this guys throat being propelled through the air with every bellow uttered. But, while all of this brutality is being unleashed, there are moments of technical proficiency shining on. Subtle little things like one of the guitars adding flurries of notes to counter the straight ahead pummeling of the second guitar. And then, of course, there’s the midpoint break or mosh part that drops in and hammers away at the senses. This tune is well executed in that it provides the metal abrasiveness that we’ve all come to know and expect from the genre and melds with subtle dynamics that keeps this form of music interesting.

In fact, Hebron does a good job of mixing in the virtuosic moments throughout the course of the album. “Ignorance,” for instance, features that wall of dissonant aggression but the band mixes in just enough melodic guitar work to show that they have their chops in place. The slowed down portion at the end of the tune gives us a glimpse of the layers of talent that these guys possess. And then, as “Ignorance” drifts away, the intro to “Projection of Death” eases us into a place of complacency, which lasts all of a couple of seconds before the walls of sound assail our senses again. And then, there’s “Devil Cleaning” and the nifty guitar flourishes that are dropped on us before the heavily distorted guitars chug along, shifting from one speaker to the next, and then burst into an overwhelming flurry of angst. It’s an amazingly heavy tune that demands your attention. You’ve been warned! - Pope JTE

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