Sometimes albums just don’t speak to me, and the Wizards of Kaos s/t debut (from former sHeavy guitarist Dan Moore) was one of those. This is my lowest-rated of my first four pieces for MetalReview—see just how low I went!
Skewered – Skewered
Label: Inherited Suffering Records/Anopsys Records
Death loomed as I reviewed the new Woods of Ypres album. A deep, esoteric, existential kind of death, but death nonetheless. I think this is why it was necessary (or at least naturally reflexive) to embrace a different type of death—brutal, gory, merciless, Irish.
Reckoner – Reckoner
On a recent trip out to the rainy west coast city of Vancouver, my friend Dave Carr bequeathed me an album that had been growing in the ether since we first met. Guitarist for a progressive metal/hardcore outfit now known as Reckoner, Dave has been working hard in Vancity for many years. Vocalists and instrumentalists have come and gone, craigslist ads were responded to, posters were stapled around the city, and so on.
Finally, with a vocalist and a satisfactory volume of material in place, Reckoner made it’s way into Vancouver’s Armoury Studios to record their first full length. Producer Shaun Thingvold, whose previous projects have paired him with heavyweight metal forces like Devin Townsend/SYL, Lamb of God, and Fear Factory, took the reins and helped Reckoner self-release a mostly vicious first album.
Reckoner thrashes, it froths, and it gallivants across your speakers with purpose. Perhaps a bit prog metal standard at times, but for a first album it sets a strong precedent. In this respect, their choice of producer or vice versa makes a lot of sense. Like LoG and SYL, this album is packed with breakdowns, time changes, clean riffing, and a love for triumphantly galloping drums. The album is coherent without being too sterile, while the mix focuses the listener pointedly within Thingvold’s production design.
At first read, you get the sense that, lyrically, this album is comprised of unrelated vignettes without much common thread aside from the vocal style. Its track list reads like a flier for a comic-gore short film fest: “A Simple Bear Attack,” “Pirates,” “Prombies,” “Fake Moustache,” and “Tremors,” take the lead as the most comic-bookish of the bunch.
According to Carr, writing duties were a pseudo-group effort. Nick England (guitar) penned the majority of the lyrics, though Carr and drummer Syd Beagle have a writing credit on a few tracks each. As a latecomer, vocalist Ben Schabner plugged his style into the established layouts with impressive results, but did not contribute lyrically.
In its subject matter the album is realistically conscientious, but does not let the message trip up the album’s ability to be digested on an aesthetically objective level. The overall gist reads something like this: “Humans are Assholes. Nature will Win. Cut it out.” The cautionary lyrics show dismay for the state of the modern world and the way we treat ourselves and our planet. Fantasy metal, it is not. Not an Orc or dragon to be found; bears, pirates, and adolescent zombies sure, but no dragons. Schabner’s vocal performance is consistent and powerful enough to match the energy of the instrumentation as the album crashes around like a pissed off, testosterone saturated tomcat.
Reckoner is a solid first effort for the band, and despite its sometimes-familiar feel, was certainly forged in the traditions of the Heavy and the Metal. It makes you want to drive fast, hit stuff, and growl at the world. It may not be the deepest listening exercise in the Metalverse, but it is a good start and a welcome addition to Canadian metal. On the East coast it can be mail ordered here, or you can download from iTunes.
Give 1, 2, 4, 7, and 10 a go.
01. A Simple Bear Attack
03. Trash Compactor
05 . Waves
06. Grey Spot
07. Rattle Snake
08. Fake Moustache
10. Ash Blacks Out the Sun
Full Blown Chaos - Full Blown Chaos
Release: 2011Feb01 (US)
Label: Ironclad Recordings
Before I dive into this album, I’d like to do a public service announcement regarding metalcore: First of all, if you attend a Full Blown Chaos show and a band member tells you to punch the person next to you, do not, I repeat, do not go through with this. Second of all, if you hear references to 2012 (“Doomageddon”, “The Walking Dead”) or macho posturing (“Gutter Mouth”), take off your headphones. If neither the former nor the latter are enough to faze you, check out this these words from vocalist Ray Mazzola in the press release: You need to be in everyone’s face and make them remember you whether they like it or not. Remember, metalheads don’t let fellow metalheads listen to Full Blown Chaos.
Subject matter aside, the music goes something like this: breakdown, (loud screaming), breakdown, (bones snapping), breakdown (bomb falling) and breakdown. I hate to be so blunt but there are bands that have done this much better, such as Hatebreed and Throwdown. If you think that I’m not being specific enough, then imagine FBC as a jacked-up version of Madball. To FBC‘s credit, the tracks are consistent with thundering drums (courtesy of Jeff Facci) mixed in with breakdown-heavy guitars and bass (Mike Facci, Mark Gumbrecht and Dustin Jennings).
Full Blown Chaos sticks to what they know with this release. Unfortunately, they’re 10 years too late. Clean up the sound, vocals, and please—for the love of Alex Jones—write about something relevant for a change.
FCC: 3, 8, ?
Try: 1, 6, 9
03. Rise & Conquer
04. The Walking Dead
05. Silence Is Golden
06. Die Like You Live
08. Gutter Mouth
09. War Machine
10. Battle Hymns and Broken Bones
12. Cain Marko
13. The Path I Walk
Royal Thunder – Royal Thunder
Release: 2010Dec12 (US)
This young Atlanta, Georgia trio actually released this self-titled EP back in 2009, however the most grindful Relapse Records saw fit to reissue it in late 2010. They seem to be shifting into slightly mellower territory these days, as these six sludgy songs coat the senses with not dissonant, but delicious harmonies.
It’s seven if you count the intro, and you may want to, since it sets up “Sleeping Witch” for a fuller attack on an anthropomorphized vice. They generate similar atmosphere on closer “Deacon”, the longest track here, shifting with graceful and deliberate movements. Hypnotic though Josh Weaver’s riffing may be, the magic seems to come from bassist/vocalist Mlny Parsonz, who also composes the lyrics. Something in her voice harks back to Courtney Love, but I imagine this girl with whiskey in her hand rather than a needle in her arm.
I was further entranced by “Low”— ostensibly a semi-autobiographical tale of lesbian love, subtly driven by Jesse Stuber’s drums. I’m interested to see who sings backup live, because I believe Parsonz is double-tracked. But one reason I really love debut EPs like these are the welcome repeat listens. I more strongly heard Weaver unleash a sly sliding guitar on “Grave Dance” and felt the brooding torment behind “Hotel Bend”—two songs that washed over me on early spins.
Royal Thunder is tough yet tender, like a good jerky, and every bit as savory (perhaps venison, judging by the antlers on the cover). The Peach State again proves a solid source for 21st-century heaviness. This should keep your tongues wagging until their LP drops later in 2011.
Try 2, 3, 4, 7
02. Sleeping Witch
03. Mouth of Fire
05. Grave Dance
06. Hotel Bend