When it’s cold…and when it’s dark…the Shorts of Crom will obsess you!
Order – Lex Amentiae
Album, 2017, Listenable Records
Big names in the line-up, but the press reactions have been lukewarm. Don’t understand why, as this is clearly better than most extreme metal albums that are released today. Whereas many others try to be as mysterious as possible with their image, identities, lyrics and music, Order just riff. And do it fucking well. Something I lament in many of today’s black metal bands’ output is the lack of riffs. It’s just an accompaniment to some screaming about what incense fits best into their chaosophic multiverse. Fuck you. Sometimes Order plod a bit too much and get stuck in mid-tempo monotony, but all in all this is a quality effort of straight-forward and simple black metal that reeks of the 80’s.
Ram – Rod
Album, 2017, Metal Blade Records
I’ve really tried to get into this band for years and years, but there’s just something that’s missing. I stuck “Rod” up my ass to find out what was missing, but all I got was a rash. The riffing is pretty groovy, there’s ample variation between the songs, the singer sounds all right, there’s clearly passion at work here, the evil heavy metal genre is spot on for me…I think it’s just a matter of the riffs and melodies not being as catchy and punchy as I would hope. Shame, shame, shame.
Bozzio Levin Stevens – Black Light Syndrome
Album, 1997, Magna Carta Records
A good example of great musicians not knowing how to write songs. An horridly boring snoozefest. Listen to Zappa (Bozzio), Liquid Tension Experiment (Levin) or Vince Neil’s “Exposed” (Stevens) instead. That way you’ll at least hear songs, not just random noodling.
Gregg Allman – Southern Blood
Album, 2017, Rounder Records
A posthumous final album by one of the classic greats. The musicianship is staggering, everyone knows exactly where to play and how much, what to accentuate and when to take a step back. And that groove… Switching between countryish southern rock, blues and some poppy soul moments, the songwriting stretches from OK to good but the execution really elevates everything to very good status. A worthy closing chapter. RIP.
Arkee – Time Will Tell
Mini-album, 2016, Arkee
I feel sorry for this guy. He probably thinks he’s the shit, when he’s just shit. Formulaic songs that go nowhere, no catchy hooks, and the melodies and riffs are F-class rehashes of the most over-played hard rock clichés. The mixing job is terrible, sounds like a self-produced demo. Sorry man, this sucks.
Mother of Millions – Sigma
Album, 2017, ViciSolum Productions
How to create the most boring record ever: 1. Compress the shit out of your sound. 2. Write vapid songs that utilize the same chords and melodies over and over. 3. Do all this with a “progressive” and pretentious metalcore sound that not even the largest and most generic of emo cheast tattoos can salvage. 4. Bye bye.
Battle Dagorath – I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos
Album, 2016, Avantgarde Music
Saluting cosmos with atmospheric black metal has become a boom in the scene the last decade or so, what with your Darkspaces etc. Battle Dagorath employ this style effectively, reaching emotional peaks by means of hypnotic repetitiveness and variation at key places in songs. A quality effort, and I’m definitely checking out the rest of their discography.
Khazaddum – Plagues upon Arda
Album, 2017, Independent
Much brutaller and much death metaller than I would’ve guessed from a bunch of dwarves from the mines of Moria. The drummer doesn’t pull any punches, and some of the riffs are groovetastic. The growling sounds like his repeating the same incomprehensible word over and over, so some variation in that department would be welcome. If you love Tolkien, as everyone should, give these Khazâd a chance.
Strokkur – Vantablack
Album, 2017, Heptagon Records
Anders Johansson is one of my favourite drummers, and one of the most loveable characters in all of metal. His autobiography from 2016 is filled with awesome humour and snappy anecdotes, all highlighting his unique ideas and thoughts. This band, though…ouch. I can relate with wanting to start a band with your sons, but taking Swedish folk songs that everyone has heard a million times and copy-pasting some Rammstein riffing underneath? Just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean that someone should do it. Much like excessive vibrato or Witnessing Jehovah. The vocalist could also try to convey some kind of feeling instead of belting with a flat, clean and plastic-sounding (!) timbre. I think I’m having a stroke…urgh.
Wayward Sons – Ghosts of Yet to Come
Album, 2017, Frontiers Records
Somewhere in between Mustasch and Aerosmith we find Wayward Sons, churning away with some riffy hard rock and a quality vocalist. “Give It Away” is a good song, but after a while the songs start to merge into one amorphous whole that doesn’t really get my boner going. More spins could possibly rectify this problem, but not sure if I’m enticed enough to come back to this.
BadBadNotGood – III & IV
Album, 2014 & 2016, Innovative Leisure
What is trip? What is hop? Is this jazz? Hip hop? Trip hop? Instrumental? Vocals? YES. It is. And it’s fucking good good, not bad bad. When you’re feeling like taking it easy for a second or an hour, put on these albums and just chill. If you decide to activate your brain, there are some seriously cool rhythms and shit happening as well, so this works on multiple levels. Smooth stuff.
Into the night I go (I goooo) and yoouuuu caaaaaan’t follow meeee.