The Thanksgiving holidays are upon us and all the mirth has put us a week behind on our review of our reviews. The Last Two Weeks in Reviews after the jump.
Eden Kupermintz kicks us off with his 4/5 look at Usnea‘s entry into what Eden calls The Doom Revival.™
“Releases from giants such as Yob or Thou, coupled with younger additions from bands like Pallbearer, hint at the productivity that is churning beneath the surface of this sub-genre. However, one last piece of the puzzle was missing and that is the appearance of a whole new band unto the scene. And here, right at the nick of time, we have Usnea. Sporting clever design and a contract with none other than Relapse Records, these newcomers have set the bar high for their first label release. That bar is quickly smashed to pieces by the insanely massive album that is Random Cosmic Violence.”
Thirty years after the start of the Bay Area Thrash Revolution, Exodus is still fighting the good fight and still capable of earning a 4/5 review from Aaron Lambert.
In addition Aaron notes this band’s role in the re-launch of the “re-thrash” movement. So he wonders, is this release worthy of the standards Exodus has set for itself.
“Blood In, Blood Out is an absolute ripper of an album, filled to the brim with that signature Zetro shriek, razor-sharp Gary Holt riffs, wailing guitar solos and a positively punk attitude. What’s more is that this album evokes the spirit of some of Exodus’ classic albums, such as Bonded By Blood and Impact is Imminent. On Blood In, Blood Out, they’ve stricken a great balance between the short-and-sweet bruisers of old and the longer, more contemplative songs displayed on The Atrocity Exhibition albums.”
If you love classic thrash, that’s what you get here. No more and certainly no less.
“Blood In, Blood Out is a faster, more punk-rock infused record than its predecessors, and between the always-fantastic riffage from Gary Holt and the catchy-as-hell gang vocals that appear throughout, this album plays like a classic thrash record through and through, and a good one at that.”
Eden is back with another 4/5 review this time of game-themed music from Descendants of Erdrick
“Nostalgia is a fickle mistress. Swathing us in the warm clothes of yesterdays, it can be a comforting sensation of our past achievements. However, got to comfortable within its embrace and it becomes a cloying shackle, holding you back from breaking your mold and rising past who you were. In making game-themed music, bands walk the fine line between these two options; nostalgia for the games of our childhood is the basic supposition on which their music rests. Few bands walk that line better than Descendants of Erdrick, balancing the original material with great songwriting and groove on their newest release, Advent.
Eden notes the inherent flaw in the genre, that these songs are at root covers of other people’s music.
“However, if you are going to brave that inherent flaw in the genre, look no further than Advent. The fact that this band knows their way around composition, song structure and variance is made very clear with this album. These tools, the musician’s tools, are brought to bear on the original melodies to transform them into something more, something catchy and simple at the same time. ”
John Skibeat’s 4.5/5 review of the highly-anticipated new record from Skyharbor is one of the most popular pages on the blog this month.
“For their first full studio release, Skyharbor‘s two-disc Blinding White Noise created a sonic shockwave that reverberated around the world receiving plaudits at every turn. They made enough of an impact to have their second funded by their fans so they really must have felt the pressure when constructing it. We are therefore delighted to report that this Indian-British combo have knocked it out of the park.”
John says this is music capable of surprise and delight.
“Though there is a beautiful flow to the music and an aching search to make colourful connections to what might be termed the modern pop song, they do still indulge themselves in dragging the music away from the standard, more recognisable structures, often dissecting tracks into two or three-part movements. Exploration and dissolute patterning still play an important role in discovering the true heart of each piece.”
Eden can find scant flaw in Terrapin from Outrun the Sunlight..
“What we have before us is what happens when an artist falls deeply in love with his own creation. Not to be mistaken with falling in lust, whereupon music quickly degrades into mindless masturbation, this unique state comes from having poured hours and hours into not only each track but also each note, turn and phrase. The result is a cohesive whole that flows from part to part in an organic fashion, exploring diverse themes while maintaining a distinct sense of self.”
Eden has always set high standards for instrumental music and finds them fulfilled here.
“Perfectly produced instrumentals fuse jazz, post rock, metalcore and djent into one extremely cohesive unit, fully assuring you that indeed, this is Outrun the Sunlight. Contained within its twists and turns, album and track alike, is one undeniable fact: this is the best instrumental album of the year.”
Kyle Gaddo gives 4/5 to another instrumental album, Muse from Plano, Texas natives Polyphia.
“Although Polyphia are just releasing their first album, this fine group of young men have already shown the world that they are more than capable musicians, writing thoughtful, head-bobbingly good tunes that would give even the most proliferated talents cause for concern. With their debut album, Muse, the boys in Polyphia showcase their strengths to great effect; eleven tracks replete with leads, grooves, and oodly-noodly enjoyment.”
Kyle finds Muse a welcme relief from those instrumental bands that take themselves too seriously.
“Polyphia have written a love letter, punctuating each and every would-be-word with “fun.” There are no “dull” moments here, as each song carries a whimsical hook to keep you coming back time and time again.”
Eden wraps up the fortnight with our first whiff of 5/5 perfection with Contrast by Clément Belio.
“What is Contrast by Clément Belio? It is a practice in imitation as inspiration. It is the essence of eclecticism. It is bewildering, delighting, decentralized and insane. By the composer’s own words, it is a patchwork of everything he loves in music, thrown into the melting pot of his brain.”
Eden says Contrast is based on the principle of quoting other musicians, folks like Devin Townsend, TesseracT and Animals as Leaders but the result is so much more than that.
“Yes, the quotes are done in an amazing fashion and they make the album a joy to listen to for any fan of progressive metal. But this album also has a ton of originality on it which lives in the spaces between the obvious tributes. ‘Swell & Waves’ or ‘DROP THE feather…’ are some of the best jazz/rock tracks I’ve heard in a long time. The haunting spaces of ‘Au passage de Cygne’ or ‘Kali’ are expertly produced and performed. This would be a very easy fact to forget if you focus just on the quotations: Clément Belio is extremely talented. At everything.”
Enjoy your turkey and we will be back with more reviews and our “Best of Lists” in the weeks ahead.