Games Meet Metal: 5 Quick Hit Reviews From Riff!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

5 Quick Hit Reviews From Riff!

Because having a life is for wussies!

Seriously, this up and down weather in Michigan is playing hell with my sinuses, the parts shop out in California is taking forever to send my engine cradle (upshot is that they forgot to charge me shipping! $150 for free!), and I'm pulling mega brain farts due to time loss, thanks to the wonderful public transportation system of metro Detroit. And insomnia. Note to self: time to lower the caffeine intake, buddy.

Long story short, I meant to send out review stuff to people, but I forgot. Fear not, for I'm biting the bullet and doing five reviews right now! Hooray for advanced carpal tunnel!

I'm a big proponent for sludgy, hazy stoner metal. Odd, since I don't partake in the sticky icky myself. Yet, tons of the stuff sounds so good to my ear. Down, High On Fire, Sleep, The Melvins, and plenty of others. Maybe it's my mind telling me to not listen to blast beats every two minutes. So now and then, I brush my way past the green haze of bong smoke, step over an aging hippie or two, and look for some gold in them thar hemp-stained cd cases. And wouldn't you know it? I came out with a winner!

Lair of the Minotaur takes the Nile approach to lyric writing, but replaces the Egyptian son God Ra with Zeus and all that is ancient Greek mythology. Then they mix it with that stoner metal stuff, and they come up aces! You're not gonna find a whole lot of guitar solos, or experimental drum tricks on Evil Power, no sir. This stuff is as sludgy as the best out of New Orleans, but by way of Chicago. Chicago, of course, was the ancient Greek god for mobsters and 1920's era speak-easys. Oh, and bootlegged liquor.

Quickie verdict: If you want a bit more simplified version of High on Fire with lyrics about bringing down Olympus, then go for it. Rating: Slaytanic!

Unless they're real crappy black metal, I'm generally drawn to bands that have names describing the Lord's death. I'm not an evil guy, I just like the balls of anyone who even wants too imply God's death. Shows they got balls ya know? Deicide comes to mind immediately, though I was never a fan of their music much. But that is a great enough name that I used it to name many a video game character.

Fallen Martyr may be implying they're talking about you-know-who, but that name brought me to the table, and I'm glad it did. No bullshit, this is one of my favorite discs of the year so far. FM's first EP, The Six Roots of True Will, is a thrashy, progressive, beautiful journey from start to finish. Guitarists Gabriel Luis and Michael Gerlach are my new favorite "twin shred attackers" and lead singer Ryan Rawlings can belt out the growls and melodies better than some of his peers.

Quickie verdict Wow, that sounded like a belated wedding proposal than a review. Aw fuck, I don't care. Fallen Martyr's a great band right out of the gate and I can't wait to hear a full length album from them. Rating: Slaytanic!

If you look at a lot of modern metal, you'd be hard pressed to find anything not influenced by the melodic Swedish style. It's like everyone just started copying and pasting At The Gates/In Flames guitar licks until they had a four-minute song. Truth Corroded say "well, fuck that", and bring the metal licks back to a time when Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse were the only type of "death" Americans knew.

Hailing from Aussie-land, Truth Corroded pull a no-frills style of metal, not unlike the current re-thrash movement: reflecting upon the old days, but still sounds modern enough to be relevant. TC's Upon The Warlord's Crawl had a little help in the mixing department thanks to Scar Symmetry's Jonas Kjellegren to get that modern sound. Old school sound wise you get your Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse in excess, but I also detect a hint of Pantera groove in there. About the only real complaint I have is that TC's old school sound is that it doesn't push the boundaries of metal that much. However, what they do they do it REAL good, so maybe no pushing is necessary.

Quickie verdict: If we can have "re-thrash", I say we can also have "re-death." Fare for everyone, says I! Rating: Rippin! Also, American tour plz k thx.

French metal. The term was just so foreign to me a few months back. I know it's been around for awhile. Anthrax's "Antisocial" was a cover from French band Trust, but beyond that it was all croissants and stinky cheese to me. The Gojira released The Way of All Flesh and it kicked me in my fat baguette-eating ass. Now the floodgates have opened, and a mess of progressive-thinking French metallers are taking the stage.

Hypno5e's "Des Deux L'un-oh hell, just look at the picture" is the poster child of progressive metal, in my opinion. These guys are pushing their music in every conceivable direction. One second you're getting thumping death metal beats (thanks to my new fave drummer Thibault Lamy), to straight up mellow guitars and soft vocals. In a way, Hypno5e sound a lot like Opeth in that regard: a mix of different styles in a single song that all seems to work to the end.

Quickie verdict: Yes, yes, and more yes! I love my prog metal, and Hypno5e fits the bill. And why the hell didn't I catch these guys when they came through?!?! Oh yeah, no car. Rating: Slaytanic!

My Own Private Alaska. The name alone probably tricks your brain into thinking about a bunch of Sarah Palin jokes. For me, it made me think of that one porn star who looks just like her. In fact, it's another bunch of prog metallers from France who stretch the limits of their music. One little hiccup though: they forgot their guitars.

MOPA's Amen is all drums, vocals, and  piano, and that's not a joke. In a sense, it makes the album sound like a collection of experimental ballads. I hate to pull another Opeth comparison, but it's true here, but just for a single album: Opeth's Damnation. Both albums were departures for metal releases, relying on acoustic and soft vocals completely. However, Opeth kept the guitars in place. MOPA are definitely going for the more emotional sound, thus the heavy use of pianos. But I'm a guitar guy. I don't care if it's acoustic or electric, a six-string can elicit a ton of emotion and even provide a solo or two.

Quickie verdict: I can see what MOPA is going for, but it just hasn't fully hit me yet. It took me awhile to get used to, and even like Damnation, so maybe the same is true of Amen. It will have to be something we'll see in time. Rating: Meh-core

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