Thursday, January 16, 2014

Best of 2013

Top 5:

Cathedral - The Last Spire: Majestic final opus by British doom legends. Check out my review here.

Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here: Killer follow up to one of the greatest comeback albums in rock/metal history. Albeit a bit mellower than its predecessor there are enough heavy moments present to please every loyal AiC fan. Such as the sludgy opener "Hollow", Sabbathian groove of "Stone" and the colossal doom riffage of "Phantom Limb". And there are trademark beautifully layered soul drenching ballads like "Voices" and "Choke".

The Ruins of Beverast - Blood Vaults (The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer): Alexander von Meilenwald's supreme streak continues as he yet again effortlessly channels black metal and funeral doom through his trademark sinister and foreboding atmospherics.

Voivod - Target Earth: The weirdo Canadians are back with their avant-garde thrash assault and it's as good as ever.

Kongh - Sole Creation: The third offering from the Swedish sludge/doom trio (now performing as a duo since the bassist left) is undoubtedly their most mature. Dynamic and eccentric psychedelic textures and above all frontman David Johansson's versatile vocals (most prominent on the closing track "Skymning") give the album a really unique flair.

Other favourites:

Mourning Beloveth - Formless
The Flight of Sleipnir - Saga
The Fall of Every Season - Amends
Batillus - Concrete Sustain
Trouble - The Distortion Field
Kylesa - Ultraviolet
Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Tribulation - The Formulas of Death
Spiritual Beggars - Earth Blues
Witherscape - The Inheritance
Beastmilk - Climax
Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Dream Death - Somnium Excessum
Deep Purple - Now What?!
Abysmal Grief - Feretri
Vastum - Patricidal Lust
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
Ice Dragon - Born a Heavy Morning
Obelyskkh - Hymn to Pan
Sahg - Delusions of Grandeur
Gallow God - The Veneration of Serpents
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum
Melvins - Tres Cabrones
A Pale Horse Named Death - Lay My Soul to Waste 
Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance
Red Fang - Whales and Leeches
Primitive Man - Scorn
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Mind Control
Motörhead - Aftershock
Hail of Bullets - III: The Rommel Chronicles
Atlantean Kodex - The White Goddess
Meat Puppets - Rat Farm
Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times
Clutch - Earth Rocker
Ghost - Infestissumam
Beelzefuzz - Beelzefuzz
New Keepers of the Water Towers - Cosmic Child
Warbringer - IV: Empires Collapse

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cathedral - The Last Spire (2013)

"The Circle of Time Has Stopped":

Cathedral have always set themselves apart from their Black Sabbath worshipping peers. From the proto-funeral doom dirge of Forest of Equilibrium to groovy hard rocking bluesy metal oriented mid career to 70's progressive rock
influenced stoner/doom of The Guessing Game, they have incessantly re-invented themselves over the period of their legendary 25 year career which has been concluded with The Last Spire.

In Lee Dorrain's words "The Last Spire should have been our second album". Absolutely, spot on. The Last Spire ventures back to the dirgy gloom of their debut with a slight tint of progressive tendency. The guitar tone of Gaz Jennings on this record is heavy enough to crush the entire universe. The album begins with the eerie "Entrance to Hell" which is full of feedback and gonging bells with Lee Dorrian chanting "Bring out your dead" repeatedly in the background. It gradually delves into the longest track on the record "Pallbearer". "Infestation of Grey Death" starts with crushing riffs but has a somewhat upbeat mid section, clean acoustic passages during the chorus and a surprisingly soothing lead guitar melody after the second chorus. It's kind of a reminiscent of one of the band's classic tunes "Cosmic Funeral" and probably my most favourite song on the record followed by "Tower of Silence" which features an excellent palm-muted sludgy main riff accompanied by muddy basslines of Scott Carlson and mammoth stomp drumming of Brian Dixon. 

The album features guest vocals from Rosalie Cunningham (Purson) who is also featured on the video of "Tower of Silence" and Chris Reifert (Autopsy) has also lend his howls on "Cathedral of the Damned". Both of them have done commendable job in their respective departments.

Altogether, The Last Spire is hell of a worthy swansong for Cathedral. Not many bands can craft such a powerful and effective final opus which would solidify their legacy further and further. Now that the circle of time has stopped once and for all, we're doomed for eternity. R.I.P.

★★★★★ (96% on Metal-Archives)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue (2009)

Downright Brooding:

Alice in Chains had hardly anything to do with grunge, the catchphrase for each and every early 90's hard rock band that came out of Seattle. They sounded nothing alike their 'grunge' contemporaries, song structures usually consisted of eerie atmosphere, Black Sabbath like proto-doom metal riffs, wah-driven subtly textured solos and dark, gloomy lyrics. Anyway, 'grunge' is long gone but Jerry Cantrell had other plans. He opted to resurrect AiC from ashes. It becomes nearly impossible for most of the bands to continue after a tragic demise of the frontman and prolonged inactivity. And talking about frontman, dealing with the loss of such an iconic frontman like Layne Staley, who made AiC special with his astounding vocal abilities and harmonizations with Cantrell, it's hard to believe that AiC could return with a different vocalist and deliver something as good as their previous materials like 'Dirt' or 'Facelift'. But AC/DC has done it, why can't AiC? Yes, AiC can and they did. 

Beside Layne Staley's dark, gritty voice and songwriting, Jerry Cantrell has always been the driving force behind the band. His harmonizations with Layne produced the trademark sound as I mentioned above, he has written almost 70% of the lyrics and he has written some mind boggling riffs. With Black Gives Way to Blue he has done the same as well as re-inventing himself in certain ways. At first, I wasn't too sure about William DuVall but he sure has got a cool and diverse voice which reminded me of something in between Chris Cornell and Ronnie James Dio. 

"All Secrets Known" announces the rebirth of a tragedy-ridden legendary band when Cantrell sings ''Hope, a new beginning.....Calm, all wounds are healing''. A cracking opener with gloomy and pulsating main riff driving heaviness all the way through. The single "Check My Brain" is a sludgy delight with sort of a stoner rock thing going on. There are enough mellow contents present to complement the overall heavy context of the record. Such as the single "Your Decision" which is a reminiscent of 'Jar of Flies' era, the psychedelic "When the Sun Rose Again" or the title track "Black Gives Way to Blue" featuring legendary pianist Elton John which is a tribute to Layne.

The freaking creepy "Acid Bubble" is my personal favourite. It's an out and out doom metal composition with 7 minutes of gruesome heaviness. William DuVall sounds really good when he harmonizes with Cantrell in traditional AiC manner and successfully displays some sparks of his own on "Last of My Kind" and "A Looking in
View". I've heard some complaints about the production of the album but I haven't noticed any such issues maybe because I've always preferred this kind of murky production on heavy metal albums which brings the heaviness out.

Altogether, 'Black Gives Way to Blue' is an impeccable album and nothing short of a comeback masterpiece. Each and every song is rock solid, well written and contains vintage AiC feeling alongwith some fresh new hints on the band's direction. I'm extremely excited for the follow up to this majestic comeback.

Personal Favourites:

"All Secrets Known", "Last of My Kind", "Your Decision", "Acid Bubble" and "Private Hell"

Highly recommended!

Rating - ★★★★★ (98% on Metal-Archives)

This review is also available on Metal Archives under my pseudonym doomster999

'Sup Niggas!

As of now a few things I'm going to do are share some of my most prized records of all time, review new and old stuff (flicks, albums) and most importantly goofing around.