Sunday, December 23, 2012

Album Review: Jason James & Rodney Hazard - "Pyramids in Stereo"

It's been a while since I last posted 'cause I'm on winter break, so my schedule has slowed down to petty much just sleeping, eating, listening to music, and watching Burn Notice. It's been pretty sweet. I'm here to make my last post of 2012, but once 2013 swings around, I'll be sure to update all y'all with what's coming up. Cool? Cool.

Without further ado, today we dive into the latest release from Jason James & Rodney Hazard: Pyramids in Stereo.


Jason James is a Vancouver-based rapper who's been working with New York producer Rodney Hazard for a while. In 2010, they released Marvelous World of Color and now they're back with Pyramids in Stereo. I've got to be frank here. Pyramids is a fantastic album. It's the album I said should be on my Top 10 of 2012 list, but didn't end up there because I published the list before listening to this album. I honestly feel bad for not including it on the list now, but the list is already out there. Shitty on my part.

So, Pyramids is a sample heavy, production light album with the focus on James' lyrics. The beats and tracks are generally pretty quiet in comparison to the rhymesayer's voice, but that's not to say they're poor quality tracks at all. The production is carefully layered with tons of reverb laden synth and keys, minimalist drums and tons of samples. The samples are perfectly chosen for each track, with clips taken from TV's The Price is Right, various news casts and news interviews from the scene of a shooting tragedy, and Kubrick's masterpiece Full Metal Jacket among many others. Along with the samples, Hazard's studio wizardry helps give the backing tracks even more depth. A favorite of mine has got to be the song "This is my Rifle", where the echoing and reverberating synth conjures up thoughts of a lone bullet flying through the air. Hazard definitely makes some of most well produced tracks I've heard in a while.

Jason James handles his role as MC as well as Hazard handles production duties, too. James' has unbelievable flow. Like, it's ridiculous how fluid his rhymes come out of your speakers. That being said, no matter how fast he spits out lines, he's always articulate and intelligible. You can always make out every word James says on Pyramids. His lyrics are powerful and moving, mostly covering political and social issues with his words. Personal favorites of mine are the two first tracks, "Return to the Marvelous World" and "Life as we Know it", where the latter's chorus is a plea for honesty, good will and righteousness among people everywhere. Solid.

Pyramids has a few other artists featuring on it who bring some cool dynamics to the album. Most notable has to be Mark McGrath and Adam Nigro on the closing track "Bang Bang Boogie Men". The instrumentation is a blues-rock guitar riff that is just hammered into your head over and over again. It's something reminiscent of The White Stripes, The Black Keys or Clutch, and when the outro solo hits, it just straight up rocks. It's something unconventional to hear in rap or hip-hop music, and it really makes for a powerful closer to the album.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Life as we Know it, This is my Rifle, Bang Bang Boogie Men

On a Playlist With: Childish Gambino, MF Doom, Madvillain

Overall Score

4.5

Pyramids in Stereo is razor sharp and dead honest in it's execution. Through Rodney Hazard's beautiful production and awe inspiring lyrics and vocal work courtesy of Jason James, it stands as one of the best rap/ hip-hop albums of 2012, bar none. It's a damn shame my Top 10 list was already published, or Pyramids in Stereo would without a doubt be ranking high up there.

You can listen to and download Pyramids in Stereo from DJBooth, AudioMack, Bandcamp, or Soundcloud. You can check out Jason James on Facebook here, too.

That's all for now, folks! Merry almost Christmas, happy post-Hanukkah, jolly every other holiday/ whatever the hell you celebrate! See you in the new year!

-DG

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Album Review: Zephyr Nova - "Shatterscapes"

Some of you may remember my not-so-raving review of Cthulhu Detonator's latest album, Infernal Machines. Turns out, the man behind Cthulhu Detonator, Eric Hogg runs a couple other projects as well. He dishes out some experimental electronic music under the name Zephyr Nova, and some acoustic folk rock under the moniker of Solipsis. Today we'll take a look at the former's latest album, Shatterscapes.


I realize that saying Zephyr Nova plays "experimental electronic" music is probably the least descriptive label, but Shatterscapes is a tough album to label, genre wise. The experimental bit comes in probably with the liberal use of glitch-beats and odd instruments/ sounds, but none of the experimental flare gets in the way of the actual music being presented. Zephyr Nova's experimentation gives the music a quirky personality. It isn't noise for the sake of noise. Songs vary in intensity both throughout their own running time and through the album as a whole. From the heavier opening track, "Searching for Signals" to the hazy, almost sleep inducing duo of "Sandman Prelude" and "The City Sleeps".

I personally enjoy the mellower tracks on this album, because I feel like they create a more enveloping atmosphere. Taking "The City Sleeps" for example, the song has what sounds like a car's windshield wipers going off. This mixed with the song's lead keyboards and laid back bass (as well as the rest of the rhythm and backing) paint the picture of a lone person, you, driving their car through some city streets which are chalked full of skyscrapers. It's raining kind of heavily and the streets are empty. The only light comes from the street lamps, your headlights, and the odd building lobby.  It's just you, your car and the city. You`re left to your own thoughts and you can just hang out in your own head for a couple minutes. Definitely the most beautiful song on the album, bar none.

Shatterscapes is one of those albums where, no matter how intense a song may get, they still seem to float around you like a thick fog. Things get really trippy when you start noticing things that sound like guns cocking, doors creaking, or thunder going off in the distance throughout the songs. Mix these unconventional sounds with some low, eerie bass like in the song "Cocoon", and you've got yourself a song with one hell of an immersive atmosphere. Coming back to the "thick fog" analogy from before, most of the songs are presented with a fragile, but haunting melody which dances over top of the rest of the music.

There's not much I can discredit Shatterscapes with. Production is handled beautifully, the album doesn't run on for too long, and none of the songs sound stagnant or boring. As I said earlier, the experimentation is handled with taste and tact, and doesn't come across as pretentious or in your face.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: June Bug, The City Sleeps, Why Let Go

On a Playlist With: Ratatat, Sigur Ros, (later) Earth

Overall Score

3.0

Zephyr Nova has put together a great album to toss on with a good pair of headphones and lose yourself to. Since I'm not the most well versed in electronic music (especially experimental electronic), I seem to attribute Shatterscapes heavily with the more ambient and less intense post rock. This album definitely has tons of replayability, because every time you toss it on, you notice something new. I'm excited to see what Zephyr Nova will put out next, and where he'll go from here.

Shatterscapes is out on eViVE Records and can be previewed and purchased here.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gupta's Top 10 Albums of 2012

Well, here we are. The end of 2012. I think I've listened to more music this year than I ever have in the rest of my life. I've expanded my tastes a lot, tried tons of new and different styles and genres, and I like to think that all of this has made me a better person today than I was on January 1st, 2012. I'll save all the sappy stuff for later, so without further ado, here are my top 10 albums of 2012. For once, this list is actually in ascending order of favorites.

#10: Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll

What can I say? Foxy Shazam hit hard this year with great rock anthems that sound equally at home in a sold out arena as well as in a sold out small, dingy, intimate venue. Definitely a throwback to bands like Queen, Foxy Shazam definitely crank out one of the most fun and addictive albums this year.

Listen:  I Like It






#9: Death Grips - The Money Store

This album. This. Album. Despite only having access to it for less than a year, now it's definitely become one of my favorite rap albums, ever. It's challenging, progressive, and noisy, but despite all of the experimental sounds and beats, songs can't help but to get stuck in your head. Hip-hop, trip-hop, experimental avant-garde progressive post-rap: call it what you will, Death Grips delivers a sonic experience quite unlike anything else.

Listen: The Fever (Aye Aye)




#8: Rush - Clockwork Angels

Rush dropped their 20th album this year, and by god, isn't it just something. Sounding somewhat like a return to form to their hard-hitting prog rock from their pre-synth rock days, Clockwork Angels tells a magnificent and world-spanning story, and the music definitely fits the bombastic and grandiose setting. This is definitely my favorite Rush album since 1981's Moving Pictures. Review here.

Listen: Headlong Flight




#7: Napalm Death - Utilitarian

Considering 2012 was the year I was introduced, learned to tolerate, and then learned to love grindcore with all of my blackened, icy heart, it only makes sense that grind godfathers and  extreme music heavyweights Napalm Death make this list. Politically charged and ready to maul your face off, Utilitarian is a tidal wave of distorted guitars, blaring drums and barked vocals. Not for the faint of heart. Review here.

Listen: Errors in the Signals





#6: BadBadNotGood - BBNG2

A genre like jazzy instrumental hip-hop sounds like a weird idea at first glance, but trust me, it works. Canadians (woo!) BadBadNotGood dish out a ton of different sounds, tones, and feelings on BBNG2, all of which are loved by this guy right here.

Listen: UWM (Feat. Leland Whitty)







#5: Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata

Blends of jazz and metal have been around since about 1993, when Cynic released their amazing debut Focus, but since then, metal has really only taken cues from the technical and avant-garde side of the genre. DSO swings over to the other end of the spectrum and plays, well... swing jazz. Perfectly moshable as it is danceable, Pandora's Piñata is easily one of the most refreshing releases this year. Review here.

Listen: Voodoo Mon Amour




#4: Twelve Foot Ninja - Silent Machine

Speaking of refreshing releases, Silent Machine is not only refreshing, but innovative as well. Mixing nu-metal, djent, funk, latin fusion and reggae? That kind of stunt was unheard of before this. Maybe a comedy musician like Weird Al would've attempted it, but I assure you, Twelve Foot Ninja not only attempts it, but shows you it can be done well. I still have no idea how I found out about this band, but all I know is that I'm glad I did. Review here.

Listen: Coming for You



#3: Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun God

Old school heavy metal (a la Iron Maiden) meets modern day vest metal (a la Valient Thorr) in sound with a scope the size of a 70s prog rock epic (a la 2112-era Rush). No uber-technical playing, no blistering speed and aggression, just nine perfectly executed tracks. Sun God is something you can just toss on to headbang and air guitar to, but the fist-pumping metal is simply a medium for an incredibly intricate story to be told. Review here.

Listen: I



#2: Pig Destroyer - Book Burner

"This then, this is libel, slander, deformation of character. This is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of art. A kick in the pants to God, man, destiny, time, love, beauty, what you will. I'm going to sing for you. A little off key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak. I will dance on your dirty corpse."

Review here.

Listen: Burning Palm




#1: Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind


Atop the pedestal titled "Best Album of 2012" stands Converge. All We Love We Leave Behind just hit all the right spots for me. It was chaotic, challenging, extreme, emotional, melodic and everything else in between. Listening to this album is like feeling every emotion ever, at the same time. It's a giant whirlwind of love, hate, despair, and empowerment. It's a complete sensory overload; a feast for those who love to feel. My raving review can be found here.

So that's it. My top 10 favorite albums from 2012. I guarantee that now that this list has been published, I guarantee I'll find like, a shit ton of albums that I think are way better than every single album on this list. Whatever. That's the way the music reviewing world works. What were your favorite albums of 2012? Let me know down in the comments section or on Facebook. I'm really interested to see what everyone else has been listening to this year!

That's all for now, folks! Happy politically correct non-denominational December holidays!

-DG

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Album Review: The Electric Grandmother - "Love in an Escalator"

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love silly, immature, and quirky things. Things like Adventure Time. Things like Evil Dead 2. Things like ordering a chili cheese burrito inside of a chili cheese burrito at Taco Bell because I can. I have an affinity for things that don't take themselves too seriously, music not withstanding. I mean, just look at the rad bros in Twelve Foot Ninja. If there was any other band that followed my chili cheese burrito inside of a chili cheese burrito because you can philosophy, it'd be The Electric Grandmother.


The Electric Grandmother (EG) is something else. Pete Faust and Mary Alice Hamnett, husband and wife have made this sitcom-core band together and have somewhat exploded onto the electro-indie-pop scene. "Wait, wait, wait. What the flying fuck is sitcom-core?" I hear you screech, hunched over your laptop, leathery wings flapping furiously in the air. (You are now a pterodactyl.) Well, my Cretaceous avian friend, I'm not going to tell you what it means. That just ruins it.

EG have pieced together their 7th release, Love in an Escalator, which comes off as neat and tidy electro-pop hooks tied in with lovable indie rock DIY attitude. There are samples galore on Escalator, with the only one I recognize being Bill Cosby's voice on the track "Mr. Clyde", but I have to say that I think on the song "Sitcom-Core" I hear flibbity flop bloobity bippity gumbo chops.

Things follow simple formula here: short, sweet songs that put a smile on your face whether you like it or not. Seriously, songs like "Mac Tonight" and "Baby Geniuses" just get stuck in your head, and with their goofy lyrics and beat, it's tough not to bop along happily. That's not to say Escalator is devoid of any emotional content, as the title track covers themes such as drastic change, in one's life and how to weather it and press forwards. Faust handles most of the vocals on the album, with Hamnett coming in as backup and for a couple vocal trade-offs. While I wouldn't say they have the greatest voices in the world, there's just something genuine, warm, and inviting about their voices that I can't quite put my finger on, whether they're singing about McDonalds or love.

Something I really like about EG is their fearlessness with letting you know what their influences are. "Reagan's Got the Bomb" definitely shows a love for noise rock and old school hardcore punk. In fact, it's somewhat reminiscent of a band I reviewed a while back, SexGender. Songs like "Mom, what are Girl's like?" and "Virtual Reality Helmet" show a bit of love for old school hip-hop. All of these influences crop up during the album, but never do they feel out of place from the rest of the album.

If there's anything I'd have to criticize Escalator with, it would be to increase the intensity some more. By adding dynamics, I think Escalator would have been much more enjoyable. Other than "Reagan's got the Bomb", things stay at a mostly mid-paced, mid-volume level and start to get stale by the end of the album's half hour running time. I'm dissapointed an album to run so short began to bore me by the end.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Love in an Escalator, The Internet, Mr. Clyde, The Tired Robots Ride the Escalator

On a Playlist With: I can't really find anything that sounds quite like The Electric Grandmother. I'm told that fans of Ween, The Residents, and Dead Milkmen will find something to enjoy from this release.

Overall Score

3.0

The Electric Grandmother have crafted their own electro-pop identity that no other band or artists I've heard can really emulate. It's goofy, it's fun, and it's maturely immature. Choice songs from Love in an Escalator will definitely be played and replayed whenever I need to put a smile on my face. I only wish there was a bit more variety on the release.

You can check out The Electric Grandmother's bandcamp page here, and you can pick up Love in an Escalator from Infinite Number of Sounds Recording Company.

That's all for now, folks! Don't take yourself too seriously.

-DG

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Update: Exams!

Well, my last day of class for my first semester of third year mechanical engineering is over. Exam season has officially started. As a result, Needs More Noise Gate won't really be operational for the next couple weeks (unless I really don't want to study). If you're one of the three people who actually keeps up to date with reading this blog, stay at your computer and constantly keep refreshing this page. Don't go outside. I went outside once. There were people there. It was awful. Trust me.

Hanging with Dr. Ryan "Clementine" Clemmer, my material science professor. I guarantee that after his final, one of us won't be smiling anymore.

I'll make an update once I've finished all my exams, then we'll come back for second semester in full swing. Until then, good luck, good hunting, and (hopefully) happy exams!

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Monday, November 26, 2012

Album Review: Shadows in the Crypt - "Cryptic Communication"

First snowfall in Guelph happened just a couple days ago, so I think it's appropriate for another black metal review, no? There's no other genre more appropriate for the cold, blustery winter season, so let's embrace the frost and dive into Cryptic Communication, Shadows in the Crypt's newest full length!


Shadows in the Crypt is another American black metal band who have nailed that dark Scandinavian sound with modern production, much like their labelmates Fiends at Feast. Cryptic Communication is ripe full of brutality, pure evil and hate, and musical technicality to boot.

While I would say Shadows in the Crypt have a much more traditional black metal sound than Fiends at Feast, there's still no shortage of catchy riffs and face melting solos here. I have to applaud guitarist Lawrence Wallace for his mastery of the instrument, because while many of the riffs are tremolo picked, classic to the black metal style, they're also very hook laden, sometimes with melodies very unorthodox to black metal. The final track, "Disgracing the Pulpit" has probably my favorite riffs on the album. I can't really choose any individual riff off the song to praise the most because they all flow so perfectly together. The solos are wild and ripping, which I think is great considering black metal's lack of solos, let alone ones that shred.

Unfortunately, Wallace is the only shredder on Cryptic Communication. The drums are wickedly fast and perfectly on time, not a common combination when it comes to black metal. As the old saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and since the drums sound absolutely flawless, it doesn't come as a shock that they're programmed. That being said, they aren't too over the top and crazy (a la Agoraphobic Nosebleed's grind classic, Altered States of America), but if you listen carefully, you can tell they're just a little too inhuman. It's nothing too distracting from the music, and for the most part, the ridiculously fast playing is kept pretty tasteful. [EDIT: I've just been informed that the drumming is not programmed, but is handled by Jesse Beahler. This proves that Mr. Beahler is a fucking beast on drums. I'm sorry for the mix up, everyone.]

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Baphomental Affliction, As Shadows Cover, Disgracing the Pulpit

On a Playlist With: Fiends at Feast, Emperor, Taake

Overall Score

3.0

Shadows in the Crypt do a pretty good job of making a modern black metal album with Cryptic Communication. Any fan of black metal will definitely enjoy it, and even if you aren't a big fan of the genre, the phenomenal guitarwork should be enough to reel you in.

You can find Shadows in the Crypt on Facebook here and you can pick up Cryptic Communication from Horror Pain Gore Death here.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vinyl Update: Hivesmasher!

<Motherfucking_Grind>

Dat cell phone camera quality.
</Motherfucking_Grind>

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Album Review: The Wides - "The Wides"

Looks like I've got another Halifax based band for you guys! Unlike Barlow, who are also Halifax residents, punk quintet The Wides play on the post punk side of things rather than the hardcore side. They've been rocking around the scene for quite a few years now, playing with the likes of Jon Epworth and at festivals such as Halifax Pop Explosion. They've released material in the past, but they've finally dropped their self-titled debut full length.


Like I said, The Wides fall into more of a post punk sound than anything else, and if I were to describe them, it'd be like a much, much, much, lighter Neurosis. There are many definite differences between Neurosis and  The Wides, but I can't listen to the tracks like "Drugs & Religion" without immediately bringing back memories of Given to the Rising. The Wides also incorporate some of alternative rock and a little bit of progressive rock in this release with many hook laden vocals and chordal riffing as well as some noodling around in a couple odd time signatures here and there. Regardless of what labels you'd like to use, The Wides showcase some great songwriting abilities with songs that ebb and flow, rise and fall, and most importantly sound like they have a purpose.

I have to say that between the instrumentation and the vocals on this release, I much prefer the instrumentation. That's not to say I think the vocals are bad in any sense, I just think that the arrangements for all the songs are all beautifully executed. Like I said before, a majority of the riffs sound very chordal, but I found that while one guitarist is wailing on some chords, occasionally the other brings in some faint leads that shimmer on top of the rest of the music. Something refreshing to hear is the guitar tone used here. Unlike almost everything else I listen to, the guitars on The Wides are only slightly overdriven, enough to give a satisfying crunch, but not so much that the clarity of the notes isn't there as well.

I enjoy the vocals quite a bit as well as the instrumentation. Everything sounds really natural and organic, which is even more impressive considering all the different tones that the vocalist is capable of and goes through on this album. The singing goes between ethereal and haunting, like in the ending "Voir Dire" to powerful and punchy in the minute-fifteen-second long straight punk banger "Big Stinky". I've noticed that sometimes the singing sounds a little off key, which to be fair comes along with the genre at hand (reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel vocals), but whether or not this technique is intentional or not, I'm not too much of a fan of it. Other than that, the vocals get nothing but praise from me.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Fuller Terrace, Big Stinky, Drugs & Religion, Voir Dire

On a Playlist With: Arctic Monkeys, The Misfits, Neurosis

Overall Score

3.5

The Wides' self-titled full length debut is a really solid punk release. While it doesn't blow my mind, it does the job of delivering high energy and fun tracks to jump around and mosh to, with just enough dynamic variation to keep things interesting. I'll be keeping my eye on The Wides in the future.

You can check out The Wides' Bandcamp page with their full album here. If anyone can track them down on Facebook, please let me know and then I'll link you guys to their fan page [EDIT: Courtesy of an Anonymous reader, their Facebook page can be found here.].

That's all for now, folks! Canada still rules.

-DG

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Double EP Review: Barlow - "Vol. 1" & "Vol. 2"

Despite living in and loving my home country of Canada, I know surprisingly little about it. Before today I didn't really know anything about the Maritimes, other than whatever the P.E.I. Encyclopedia taught me. Today, I learned that there's a hardcore band based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia called Barlow. Well, it's official. 100% of the Nova Scotia hardcore bands I know rule.

Vol. 1


Vol. 1 is a release that's rooted heavily in old school punk and Converge-style hardcore above all else. Out of all the bands that seem to draw Converge as a big influence, Barlow are one of the few that both do this frantic style of hardcore justice, and make it their own to boot. These dudes aren't just another rip off band trying to cash in on Converge's winning formula.

Songs chug along with pounding primal aggression, with each member of the band decimating your ears every step of the way. Guitarist Aaron Burke slams out a tidal wave of punishing riffs, ebbing and flowing between hook laden licks like the main riff to "Purging Purity" and real fret-burners like the ones in the opening track "Empty Justice". Vocalist Dexter Outhit is a beast behind the mic, bellowing out absolutely soul crushing growls across the entire EP. Outhit's vocals have so much fucking energy on tape that it boggles my mind just thinking how powerful they'd be in a live setting. In fact, the entire band is able to translate their raw energy perfectly on Vol. 1, and I honestly feel like these guys would put on one hell of a show.

Bomb-Ass Track: Empty Justice

Overall Score

3.5

Vol. 1 is a beast of a release made for any fans of hardcore or punk. Things get Convergey, which is always a good thing in my books, but Barlow really pull through with their own brand of high energy, feel bad hardcore that most other bands wish they'd be able to do.

Vol. 2


Alright! Time for Vol. 2! If there's anything right off the bat that I can say, is that it's much heavier than Vol. 1. The songs on Vol. 2 are much faster and way more pissed off. Things still seem to have a big Converge influence, with a lot of the songs reminding me of the heaviest songs off of All We Love We Leave Behind.

The guitar bits here are more straightforward, but Burke still has some mind bending riffage to offer us. I have to give lots of credit to bassist Tri Le, who has nailed in the nastiest and most nauseating bass tone I've heard in a long time. Le's bass thumps and booms, dominating the low end of this aural assault and is partly the reason as to why Vol. 2 is so god damn heavy. Drummer James Deyoung beats the living shit out of his kit, pushing everything forward at that so-frantic-it's-just-about-to-fall-apart pace. If Barlow had a hateometer (patent pending), it'd be in the red, all the way through Vol. 2. Outhit's vocals are as filthy and bloodcurdling as ever, and when everything comes together, it's just fucking awesome.

If there's anything I have to complain about, it's the length of Vol.2. It's 5 tracks (including an intro) over 9 minutes. I honestly can't complain, because Barlow seems to stick to the age old saying of "it's about quality, not quantity", and by god, is this some quality shit.

Bomb-Ass Track:  Severed Ties

Overall Score

4.5

I feel like a junkie, holding on to Vol. 2 with dear life, just squirming around and waiting to get my next fix of Barlow. Vol. 2 is the soundtrack to you dragon-kicking a baby into a pit of fire.

You can check out Barlow on Facebook here, and download both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 from their bandcamp page here. If you live anywhere near the Halifax area, check these dudes out, pronto! I can only hope they come touring around Guelph sometime in the future.

That's all for now, folks! Canada rules.

-DG

Monday, November 19, 2012

Album Review: Twelve Foot Ninja - "Silent Machine"

When you read the word nu-metal, what do you think? A bunch of sweaty thirty-somethings in masks playing angsty music for angsty teenagers at Scenefest? Maybe a rad bro with a snapback and throwback jersey rapping over caveman guitar riffs and drumming? If you couldn't tell, I'm not a fan of much nu-metal, and unfortunately, more often than not, that above description is true for most of the genre's artists. With a bunch of super srs dudes being all dark and edgy playing super srs, dark and edgy songs, there needs to be someone to come out of he super srsness, darkness, and edginess to bring some fun into the scene. Out from the srs, dark, and edgy fog steps none other than Twelve Foot Ninja with their debut, Silent Machine!


Twelve Foot Ninja are an Melbourne-based band that can only be described as "a clusterfuck of genres mashed together into the the musical equivalent of blunt force trauma". Rooted in a blend of classic nu-metal and djent/ modern progressive metal, TFN boggle the mind by reaching out to genres like funk, latin fusion, reggae, and electronic over the span of Silent Machine's 45 minute running time. Just the opening track, "Coming for You" has everything you need, from slammin' Periphery-esque, keyboard laden choruses to salsa dance inducing Abraxas-era Santana fusion and pure 70's  funk verses. What's that? You think that's impossible, and if it was it'd sound like shit? That's cute.

If you watch this and think "DIS SUX! METUL IS SRS BSNS GUISE!", please leave 
this page and never come back. You won't be missed.

So, point proven: TFN are genre-bending masters. Unlike most metal bands that like to shove in a little bit of cross-genre fun, TFN is actually able to pull it off flawless consistency. Using "Coming for You" as an example again, if I heard the fusion section without hearing the rest, I would have thought they were actually a latin fusion band. Same goes with the funk. They're all proficient enough musicians to be able to play all these different styles, all while keeping it all coherent. I know some people think the genre changing is a little gimmicky, but I don't think so. While at first you find it funny that they jump around so quickly, you soon realize holy shit, this isn't just a bunch of random ideas stitched together. These are actual songs. This album is more than just a cheap, quick laugh, there's substance here that you have to keep digging into. That's one of the reasons why I think Twelve Foot Ninja are going to have the staying power that a lot of other bands wish they had.

If there's one thing I have to pick to love more than anything else on this album (and that's hard, trust me), it would be the vocals. While lead vocalist Kin is a monster, capable of bellowing out some aggressive nu-metalish vocals and dropping suddenly to soft soaring vocals, the rest of the band members provide incredible backup vocals and harmonies throughout the whole album. At first, sometimes you barely even notice them, but the more you listen, the more they seem crop up and the more you can't stop grinning because it's always done so well.

Production is handled very well, as is expected from a release this ambitious. Any band that jumps around with styles as much as TFN do wouldn't want to mix and master everything with a heavy as balls sound and keep that production style for the funk sections. Silent Machine sparkles and dazzles when it needs to shine and bears it's black toothed grin when it it wants to get down and dirty. Even still with this varied production, everything sounds coherent. Whoever produced this album is a studio wizard.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Coming for You, Mother Sky, Shuriken, Silent Machine

Overall Score

4.5

Twelve Foot Ninja. Silent Machine. SHIT IS SO PRINGLES.

That's all for now, folks! Slam that siqqness.

-DG

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Album Review: Fiends at Feast - "Towards the Baphomet's Throne"

I hope everyone is feeling as grim and dark as the frostbitten North because today I'm going to take a look at some brand spankin' new black metal! We've got Towards the Baphomet's Throne, the debut full length from California based black metallers Fiends at Feast. Now I know you think that sunny California and bleak black metal don't seem to mix, but if I didn't know  beforehand, I would have thought that Fiends at Feast hailed from the snowy mountain peaks of Norway.


Fiends at Feast hit the spot when it comes to black metal for me. I'm a big fan of the cold and grim atmosphere that a lot of old school black metal has, but I can't stand their DIY style of production. FaF have a sweet mixture of dark, evil, and menacing atmosphere and solid thick production.

The guitars follow a solid blend of tremolo picked madness and full on riffage. It's pretty standard stuff for modern black metal, and a lot of the riffs are pretty catchy to boot. There are some pretty wicked solos and leads on Baphomet's Throne, something a lot of black metal doesn't have enough of. A testament to guitarists Sammer and David's shredtastic skills are the solos and leads in the midsection of "With Blood and Vomit". They're brutally facemelting, and uncompromisingly sinister. Another feat of guitar wizardry is the acoustic instrumental track "A Despondent Theme to Thy Own Demise". It's less impressive in it's technical execution and more about its atmosphere and coherence with the rest of the album. Black metal rarely has any acoustic music in it, so to hear an acoustic piece that captures the bleak and dark atmosphere of the rest of the album is really cool. Kudos to Sammer and David for that one.

Honestly, there's not too much to say about the rest of the album. Towards the Baphomet's Throne is a pretty meat and potatoes modern black metal album. Nothing ambient or orchestral, just unrelenting death and doom. The drums are wickedly fast, blasting away and double-kicking into the blackness of the night, while the vocalist keeps to mid to low range growls, screaming out like a demon from the depths of the abyss.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: With Blood and Vomit, A Despondent Theme to Thy Own Demise, Hedonistic Heresy

On a Playlist With: Taake, Goatwhore, Dissection

Overall Score

3.0

Fiends at Feast have made a pretty textbook example of modern, no-shits-given black metal. Towards the Baphomet's Throne has got its shining moments here and there that set it apart from the rest of the genre, but it's nothing too, too special. I am excited to see what Fiends at Feast put out next. Hopefully next time they step a little out of their comfort zone and make a more ambitious release.

You can find Fiends at Feast's music at their Bandcamp page, on Facebook, and you can pick up Towards the Baphomet's Throne through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

That's all for now, folks! Stay kvlt.

-DG

Thursday, November 15, 2012

EP Review: Big Chocolate - "Hilion"

I recently rediscovered my love for Disfiguring the Goddess' slam masterpiece Sleeper (review up sometime soonish... maybe.), and I decided to delve into Big Chocolate's electronic music to see how it compares. For those of you who have a life, Big Chocolate (real name Cameron Argon) is an electronic music producer/ modern death metal cult legend who has been on the music scene for a few years, but has only started to gain recognition and attention recently. Hilion came out in 2011, and was his last EP before his full length Red Headed Locc in 2012.


Big Chocolate deals mostly in dance music, whether in the form of electro, drum 'n' bass, or dubstep. Honestly, I don't know all the fine differences between all  the different electronic music genres, so I'm just going to call them all "electronic". Cool? Cool. Cool cool cool.

I gotta say, I enjoy this EP for the most part. It's danceable, its got slammin' bass drops, and Grieves raps on a song. What's not to like about that? Small progressions and melodies get planted in your head after you finish listening to it, and whenever they pop up, you feel like spontaneously breaking into dance. It's pretty sweet. The biggest contributor to random-dance-syndrome has to be "Eye This Way" (mostly the electro version), but the club banger "I Don't Know You" is another one that makes you throwdown on the dancefloor.

Something I find interesting is since I know Big C as a death metal figure first, I can hear how some of his breakdowns and drum patterns borrow from metal elements. There are a couple spots on Hilion that have some wicked double kicks thrown in, and some of the slower heavy parts could easily be translated to an 8 string guitar, or something. Just check out the remix he did of his previously released song "Praise" and tell me that's not something that could show up on a Pathology record or something.


Bomb-Ass Tracks: Hilion, Eye This Way (Electro), Praise 2011

On a Playlist With: I dunno, that's the DJ's job.

Overall Score

3.0

Big Chocolate proves that he can slam in not only one, but two genres. Crank the bass and blast Hilion if you're looking for a sweet collection of dance songs that can potentially inspire a mosh pit. It's nothing too, too special, but it gets the job done.

That's all for now, folks! Stay super kawaii ~ !

-DG

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rad Alert: The Square Table

Rad Alert is where I share something that I think is pretty rad with all y'all. For those who remember my That's Pretty Rad, Bro column that never got past its first couple posts, it's pretty much the same thing with a shorter title. Yay!

Today's Rad Alert goes out to my #BASED bros King and Fyfelife from the YouTube channel The Square Table. TST is a channel where King and Fyfelife do Let's Plays, game reviews and other gaming related videos for your viewing pleasure. They've got multiple video series ongoing right now including series on Minecraft, Dishonored, Anna and Greenlight is GO!, a series on independent games released through Steam. Their videos are pretty sweet and provide some good laughs, especially when you see Fyfelife scream like a small child.


So, yeah! Check out the Square Table! It'll be worth your while. Their YouTube channel is here, and you can stalk them on the Facetubes here. I know this post is pretty much one giant plug/ shout out for them, but y'know what?


That's all for now, folks! Stay posi. You have the ability.

-DG

Monday, November 12, 2012

Album Review: Hivesmasher - "Gutter Choir"

Hivesmasher are a band I heard about through MetalSucks, where they linked a stream of their song "En Route to Meat Land" off of their newest album Gutter Choir. I listened to that song and the only song available on their bandcamp, "Used Food", and I was hooked. I immediately pre-ordered Gutter Choir, and I've been waiting attentively at my mailbox ever since.


Hivesmasher are a Massachusetts based grindcore/ death metal band that play in a style comparable to Pig Destroyer. Where Pig Destroyer can lock into insta-mosh grooves that make bodies fling across rooms, Hivesmasher deal out a fucking hurricane of shrapnel that makes you run for your fucking life. Gutter Choir has to be one of the most pissed off, primal, and depraved albums I've heard in a while. It's the motherfucking Sharknado of music. Gutter Choir has a range of songs, from 30 second grindfests to 5 minute death metal tunes and even a 37 minute final track that flies between grindcore, death metal, bluegrass, ambient, and shoegaze. Yeah. Fuuuuuuck.

The album seems to feed off of a seemingly endless pool of riffs that never fail to decimate your ears. From low chugs and gallops to upper-register riffs that sound like power drills boring their way into your skull, guitarists Tyler and Julius are masters of controlled chaos. I'm not sure which one of them handle lead playing  on the album, but the solos in "And They Thought We'd Forget" and "Vulture Assassin" are absolutely wicked. Beautifully crafted to fall right between tasteful shredding and mindbending guitar madness, the solos on Gutter Choir are incredibly refreshing to hear on an album in a genre known for almost excluding lead work from their music.

The drumming on the album is something worthy of praise as well. Drummer Tim Brault is a freaking machine, cranking out every type of blast, mosh beat, and thrash rhythm known to man. The drums sound really organic despite the inhuman speed that they're played at, and when they lock in with the guitars like in the gallop/ mosh section of "Damaged (P)Inc.", the mixture of the different tones makes an absolutely nauseating groove. When Aaron Heinold's guttural and blood curdling screams start soaring over top, Hivesmasher really sound like the kind of guys your mother warns you about.

Lastly, unlike Pig Destroyer's Blake Harrison, Hivesmasher's Dan Bolton is actually audible on the keyboards. Between the beautiful ending of "Damaged (P)Inc." and the layers and layers of synth on the 37 minute epic "Send Me to Satan", Bolton's keyboard playing really adds another layer of depth to the music and provides nice little breaks from all of the relentless aural beatings. I'm not going to describe "Send Me to Satan", because holy fuck. It's just an experience in itself.

I have to say the only thing that stops this from being a perfect album for me is the length. It's just too long. Over an hour for a grind record is just brutal. I think Hivesmasher should have released the first 16 songs as Gutter Choir and then "Send Me to Satan" as a bonus EP or something. Some sort of way to separate up all the material would have made both potential releases much easier to listen to.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Vomitouch, The Shit Waltz, And They Thought We'd Forget, Send Me to Satan

On a Playlist With: Pig Destroyer, Wormrot, Agoraphobic Nosebleed (Agorapocalypse)

Overall Score

4.5

Hivesmasher have written one of the best grind albums of the year. Yeah, I know there are a lot of them this year, but I'd put Gutter Choir up there with Pig Destroyer's Book Burner (review here). If you're a fan of any sort of extreme music, or just want a soundtrack to wreak havoc to, Gutter Choir should be your first choice.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Album Review: Cthulhu Detonator - "Infernal Machines"

This is going to be a quick review. Like, really quick. Quicker than my Six Feet Under review earlier this year. Today I look at Infernal Machines by independent noise artist, Cthulhu Detonator (aka Eric Hogg).


Right off the bat: I didn't like it. Yes, I listened through all of it, multiple times even. Pure noise music just isn't for me. I know I gave SexGender's Transgenital a good review, but I heard SexGender as a punk band first, and a noise band second. Cthulhu Detonator on the other hand is 100% noise based.

That being said, I'm not going to just bash this album. If there's something I can credit Mr. Hogg with, it's his ability to create atmosphere. My guess is that the desired atmosphere is supposed to be a bleak, dark, depraved future where massive industrialized cities cover the globe and machines have taken over, hell-bent on efficiency and general life-extermination. Pretty much the soundtrack to a grimdark setting. That, Cthulhu Detonator does well. That's about all I enjoyed from Infernal Machines, the only other bit being the more melodic and ambient songs like "Womb" and "Blinding White Light". I find the sheer harshness of the rest of the album gives songs like those a greater impact, giving you some time to calm yourself and breathe.

Overall Score

1.5

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Noise music just isn't for me. If you're into noise or dark ambient, I'm sure you'll enjoy Cthulhu Detonator's Infernal Machines. You can check out Eric Hogg's music at his bandcamp page.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vinyl Update: Pig Destroyer!

It's finally here! I pre-ordered this shit as soon as I was able to, and finally, almost 3 weeks after it was commercially released, I finally got my hands on Book Burner!


It's on a beautiful white vinyl, and it came with a wicked shirt too.

Ready to grind! I also just noticed my Rush poster isn't level.
Fuck yeah Pig Destroyer.

That's all for now, folks! Have a great weekend and happy grinding!

-DG

Album Review: Gaza - "No Absolutes in Human Suffering"

It's been a while since I last posted anything, so I feel it's time for another review! Yay reviews! Today I'll be looking at Gaza, a band I've always heard about, but never got around to checking out until now. These fine bros dropped their latest album No Absolutes in Human Suffering in August, and slap my ass and call me Julie if it isn't one of, if not the heaviest fucking records this year.

"Wait a second, David!" I hear you screech. "Disfiguring the Goddess, Pig Destroyer, and Dying Fetus have all dropped albums so heavy they make Axl Rose look like Christian Bale from the Machinist!" Well, reader who probably has no idea who half those bands I just listed off are, Gaza have something that all the other heavy weights don't. Chaos. When it comes to something heavy as fuck nowadays, it almost always  needs to be the lowest, most down-tuned, fastest, most precisely executed playing possible. Not in Gaza's case. It's not like their songs don't have structures, rhythms and grooves, but Gaza aren't about the flash. There're no blistering guitar solos, no 300bpm blast beats, no cookie monster gutturals. Gaza just pump our songs that explode with energy and cause nothing but violent slamming, moshing, and powerstancing with your hands in the air.

No Absolutes is tough one to label. It's a mixture of hardcore, doom metal, progressive metal, and grindcore all pureed into one uniform blend. Vocals are 100% rooted in hardcore, with throat shredding yells being the main form of attack. The vocals are actually pretty intelligible sometimes, which comes as a nice surprise for this kind of music.

The instrumentation is where Gaza step above and beyond most other modern metal acts. The riffs on this album are brutal clusterfucks of guitar playing, but before you know it, they've smoothed out to slow, thick, lumbering doomy passages and have exploded back into utter chaos. Some riffs in particular seem to convey that "no matter how heavy it gets, it's still sounds airy and ambient" sound, and sometimes things back down completely from the heaviness. The last few minutes of the album come across as some of the most beautiful music you've ever heard after the last 40 pulverizing minutes. The outro of the monstrous track "When they Beg" reminds me of Cynic circa 1993 with its proggy and almost jazzy style. Some of the riffing and rhythms in that song also bring up memories of Pig Destroyer-esque or Wormrot-ish grind. The drums keep up with all the guitar wizardry on No Absolutes, and keep everything rushing forwards or crawling off. I'm almost certain sometimes there is even some polyrhythmic playing, which is always cool in my books.

The production on No Absolutes is what really adds to the ridiculous heaviness of the album. Production is some of the thickest I've heard, without entering entombedcore territory, which in this case is a good thing. The production on guitars isn't as muddy and sludgy as the Sunlight Studios wound, but sure as hell is as fat, warm and round. In the end, there's really nothing I can bash this album on. It's pretty fucking rad.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Not with all the Hope in the World, The Vipers, When they Beg

On a Playlist With: Converge, Ulcerate

Overall Score

4.0

Gaza have made a fantastically engaging album that absolutely decimates you from start to finish. It's tough to make albums that are memorable in genres like hardcore and grindcore anymore, but a nice little injection of doom, death, and wallowing despair gives Gaza the kick they need to stand out. A must-listen for anyone who loves to hate.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Album Review: Termination Force - "Grind Thrashing Death"

Every once in a while, an album comes around that embodies a genre so perfectly that you can't help but grin from ear to ear every time you listen to it. Termination Force's Grind Thrashing Death is that album. I mean, just read that last sentence. The band is called Termination Force, and the album is called Grind Thrashing Death. Grind Thrashing Death, goddamnit. It's official: the dudes in Termination Force are more metal than you'll ever be.

A zombie band playing in front of a zombie mosh pit. I have a raging thrash metal boner right now.
Termination Force are a four piece thrash/ death band from Houston, Texas. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and apparently, the metal is too. Termination Force are primarily a thrash band and border on old school American death metal. It's like Possessed meets Pleasure to Kill era Kreator here. Sometimes, a little grindcore circa 1988 gets tossed in for good measure, just because Termination Force won't rest until your ears are bleeding from all the metal.

The band is fast, furious, and Tokyo drifting, with the guitarists punching in old school death metal riffs that would make the late, great Chuck Schuldiner proud. Hell, even the lead tone of the guitar and the soloing style seems reminiscent of Chuck's old guitarwork on Leprosy and Spiritual Healing. Not only are the riffs brutal as fuck, but they're catchy, too. Songs rarely hit near 4 minutes long over the 9 tracks and average out at around two and a half minutes, but that doesn't mean that there's a shortage of awesome riffs anywhere on Grind Thrashing Death.

The vocals are handled beautifully, with depraved, raspy growls being the main type of style used. Occasionally they plummet down to guttural, demonic levels, but for the most part, they stay at a pretty mid-high pitch, similar to Mille Petrozza's (of Kreator fame) vocals. Unfortunately I don't have access to any lyrics, so I can't comment on how well they're written, but with song titles like "Kills per Minute", "Human Intestinal Stew" and "Smashed and Thrashed into Submission", I can tell you for sure that they're totally appropriate to quote when you and your family are having dinner.

The last two things I want to touch on quickly are the drumming and the production. The drumming is phenomenal. Like, holy fuck. This dude can shred on drums. I can't even really describe it. Every beat fits every song perfectly every time. I feel like this man's kit needs to be made of cast steel or something so he doesn't break his kit every song.

I'm not sure if I told you or not, but I like his drumming.

Finally, the production is perfect for this type of music. It's raunchy and nauseatingly dirty, but clear enough that all the instruments shine through. It has the warmth and thickness of an old 1991 death metal release, but the clarity of the 2012 release that it is. Beautiful. The only gripe I have with this album is the length. It clocks in at just over 25 minutes, which just isn't quite enough for me. Death metal blue balls. Sadface.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Repulsive Impulsive, Kills per Minute, Obligate to Obliterate

On a Playlist With: Kreator, Possessed, (early) Death

Overall Score

4.5

Like I said, Termination Force are more metal than you. Grind Thrashing Death is a fucking beast of a death/ thrash release. If only it were a bit longer, it would be perfect. You can (and should) pick it up through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Thursday, November 1, 2012

EP Review: The Fevered - "Blackout"

Alright folks, I got another entombedcore band comin' your way. The Fevered from Brisbane, Australia have just dropped an EP, Blackout about a week ago. If you have no idea what entombedcore is,  check out my super brief explanation on my review of the last Nails album. Got it? Good. Great.

Let's-a go!


As mentioned,The Fevered are from Australia, automatically making them the coolest band I've reviewed so far. They play a different style of entombedcore which makes me sigh in relief, because I find all the bands in this genre are starting to sound stagnant and boring. Not The Fevered though, who blend in the obvious sounds of Entombed, and classic hardcore punk, but spice things up with a little non-traditional hardcore in the vein of Converge, and a dash of At the Gates style melodic death metal.

Needless to say, the guitarists have nailed in a solid Sunlight Studios buzzsaw guitar tone. The riffs roll in hard and heavy, dancing between slow, crushing chords that would make the boys in Dismember proud and moshworthy passages that are both melodic and heavy as fuck. One thing I find great about the riffs are that they're original sounding, which always gets me 'cause I'm a sucker for good, original riffs. I find this EP much more entertaining than simply listening to Left Hand Path 2.

Something that adds to the music so much is the drumming on Blackout. The drums sway between classic death metal rhythm and old school punk beats. Both styles are sometimes used simultaneously, like on the track "Mediate", where there are blast beats, d-beats, and fills that would fit right into a NYC hardcore punk  song as mushed together. The drumming all across the album is perfect for getting your heart pumping and your head banging.

Things get extra interesting on the tracks "When it Comes" and "Sleep, Warm as Day". "When it Comes" is where the band definitely wears it's At the Gates influences on it's sleeve. The riffs scream Gothenburg style melodic death metal, with harmonizing guitar melodies and leads all over the place. Honestly, this song is pretty much a tribute to the entirety of At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul, and I like it. "Sleep, Warm as Day" is the most different song on the EP, with only slightly overdriven guitars playing dark and looming passages underneath the vocalist's despaired screams. Images of a man trapped and lost in a deserted wasteland come to mind as the drums begin to boom and boom. Things turn darker and uglier as the familiar distorted guitars come crashing in for the ending of the song. A fantastic way to end the EP.

Production on Blackout is pretty standard for entombedcore. The one thing I would like to point out is the very natural and old school sound that everything has. Even though this genre is based out of two older genres, some entombedcore artists clean up their production a bit too much, and the music doesn't seem to have the same effect as these fine dudes'. The Fevered's music crushes your skull and caves in your chest with ease, just the way it should.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Five Points District, When it Comes, Sleep, Warm as Day

On a Playlist With: Entombed, Nails, Black Breath

Overall Score

4.0

The Fevered have managed to stand out amongst a slew of generic bands with Blackout. Things get deathy, punky, and doomy on here, and The Fevered pull it all off with flying colours. This EP is for any fans of old school death metal, melodic death metal and hardcore.

You can check out The Fevered on Facebook and on their own personal website. You can listen to and purchace Blackout on the band's Bandcamp page.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Album Review: FluiD - "Envisioning Abstraction: The Duality of FluiD"

A while back I was contacted by a European record label by the name of Alrealon Musique, a label which prides itself by independently putting out experimental music. It was through them that I was able to review John 3:16's fantastic new album, and a few days ago in the mail, I received a package with John 3:16's album and Envisioning Abstraction: The Duality of FluiD by musician/ producer The Fluid.


Duality is one of those albums which mish-mash a bunch of genres together. Thick, distorted bass guitar straight out of modern hip-hop, electronic samples, and loud screeching, not unlike what you'd find in noise music are in ample supply on this album. The drums groove nicely throughout the album, and when everything comes together, the songs sort of seem to work as instrumental hip-hop tracks. None of it would fit in a T-Pain or Ludacris track, but these tunes seem to be more akin to the frantic backings of many Death Grips songs. One song in particular, "Iron Communique" features experimental hip-hopper Black Saturn on the mic, and it really becomes a full track once the vocals drop.

For the most part, FluiD keeps a pretty tense atmosphere throughout the album. With all the noise in the background of the tracks, things always stay uneasy, especially when the other instruments start to pick up. Luckily, things do ease up, like with the tracks "Dread Futures" and "Parallel States", but between these two (the fourth and tenth songs receptively), the intensity picks up again.

To be completely honest though, Duality isn't a mind blower of an album. In fact, I think it's pretty forgettable. Other than a couple basslines or chord progressions, none of the album sticks with me when I stop listening to it. The second problem I have with this album is the noise. Unlike noise punkers Sexgender, whose songs seem to flow without structure and have a very chaotic feel to them, FluiD's songs seem pretty focused and precise. The noise and droning that gets laid over top of the beats, basslines, and progressions just distract and annoy me from the quality music underneath.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Iron Communique, Dread Futures

On a Playlist With: Death Grips, any experimental instrumental hip-hop

Overall Score

2.5

FluiD makes some pretty impressive instrumental hip-hop tracks with an experimental flair, but his delving into noise and drone music turned out for the worse. In the end although I didn't dislike it, Duality was a pretty forgettable album.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NMNG Essential Listening I

Here we are, kicking off the Essential Listening list! Each post will consist of an image with a 3x3 grid of album covers and their titles. Then, underneath I'll get to explaining why I think they're such important albums. At the end of each post I'll link back to all of the older posts. If any readers would like to contribute to the list, please let me know via the comments below, Facebook or e-mail. Please at least list off the albums and artists as well a small blurb on each one (you'll see how it's all laid out below). If you can't think of 9 at a time, don't fret, just let us know which ones you want to be on the list, and once we've got 9 albums, we'll stitch 'em all together and post it!

Without further ado:


The White Stripes - Elephant
This is the first album I ever bought with my own money. At this time in my life I was listening to a lot of Metallica and Megadeth, and ol' Jack and Meg proved to me that sometimes simpler is better. Elephant still stands as one of my all time favorite albums, ever.

Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Another one of my all time favorites, Crack the Skye is the first whole album that mentally and emotionally moved me. I guess it just entered my life at the right place and time. A progressive metal album with no equal, and the inspiration behind planning my first tattoo.

Pig Destroyer - Prowler in the Yard
This is beautiful. This is art.

Meshuggah - Nothing
Ain't nobody groove like Meshuggah grooves. Pre-Nothing I barely paid any attention to the rhythm and flow of songs. Meshuggah changed that. This is one of the heaviest recordings I've ever heard.

Childish Gambino - Camp
This is the album that sparked my interest in hip-hop and rap. Considering that before this I was almost exclusively anti-rap, this is a big deal.

Andrew W.K. - I Get Wet
Believe it or not, this album functioned the same way as Camp, but for pop music. I guess I needed the cheery and catchy melodies mixed in with heavy music before I was able to handle them in lighter genres.

Tool - 10,000 Days
Another album that can send me floating off in space. Tool were the first band that showed me that just because something is morbid, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful. If I hadn't been exposed to Tool, I doubt I'd listen to half of the extreme stuff I do now.

Sleep - Dopesmoker
On par with Electric Wizard's legendary Dopethrone as the heaviest piece of music ever, Dopesmoker is a single, unbroken track that lasts for over an hour. This shit is so thick and heavy that I think my hearing is forever skewed to think everything else just isn't heavy enough.

Daft Punk - Alive 2007
As Camp and I Get Wet, but for dance and electronic music. If anybody is looking for something to boogie down to, this should undeniably be your first choice.


So there we have it, our first 9 albums on the NMNG Essential Listening List! Let me know what you guys think, and remember that you can contact us if you want to recommend some albums for the list!

That's all for now, folks! Happy Halloween! I'm going to go get drunk and play D&D with my housemates now.

-DG

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Idea: NMNG Essential Listening List

I've been surfing through /mu/ a lot recently, and there are tons of "Essential Listening" lists floating around so I figured, hey, why don't we make one here?

Well, I'm going to start it. I hope that if anyone reading has any albums to recommend that they do so. The whole point of this blog for me is to introduce people to new music, and I think this is a great way to go about making a large list of must-listen albums for everyone. From old swing jazz records to modern day drum 'n' bass albums, I want this to be a big clusterfuck of everyone's favorite music.

So, whatdaya say? It'll take for-fucking-ever, and it'll most likely separated across many, many posts (or placed on a different page on this blog) but if we believe in the heart of the cards, anything can come true! Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments below, on Facebook, or shoot me an e-mail.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG

Saturday, October 27, 2012

EP Review: Hoodie Allen - "All American"

I'm not sure what the weather is like where ever you are, but here in Guelph it's been bleak, cold, windy and rainy for the past week or so. Considering it's also midterm season, I've been stuck living in the UoGuelph engineering building with all the other engineering students. As a result, I've been looking for some music to pick me up after a long day of not understanding my electrical devices class. Queue my friend Luke who posted a Hoodie Allen song on Facebook a week ago or so.  I had never heard of Hoodie Allen before and for some reason I was expecting Hoodie Allen to be either fucking brutal deathcore (a la Acacia Strain) or really abrasive electronic music (like Stephen Walking). Then, I click on the link and listen to this:



Feel good jams ensue.


Hoodie Allen (Steven Markowitz) is an American (I totally couldn't tell by the album cover!) hip-hop/ pop artist who only recently came onto the music scene. He self-released his debut Bagels and Beats in 2009, and just dropped All American, an EP this spring. Hoodie seems to be apart of the new "nerdy white people trying to rap" trend (Kreayshawn, MC Frontalot, etc.), but luckily for him, he actually pulls it off.

All American is a great blend of hip-hop and pop music. Hoodie's songs feel like happy, upbeat rap songs during their verses, but turn into big, over-the-top pop tunes with lots of catchy hooks and simple lyrics that get stuck in your head for the choruses. A couple songs deviate towards other genres, with the song "Small Town" hitting disco/ dance club levels of fun, and "No Interruption" sounding like a modern R&B tune. Whichever way Hoodie presents his music, I guarantee it'll always get you dancing.

The instrumentation on All American is simple, but effective. Synth, keyboards, pianos, funky guitars and bass and drums are pretty much all that are used here and it's really for the best. Most of the songs have a really simple, catchy backing track, and as the song moves onward, new lines and melodies crop up from the other instruments. Production is nice and shiny, with everything sounding spit-shined and sparkly. Normally I'm a fan of warmer production sounds and tones, but for music this upbeat the vibrant production really drives home the feel-good sound.

The only things that disappoint me on All American are the last two songs. Hoodie changes gears instantly from "lets go adventure and have a summer road trip!" down to "let's just sit around and get really high". The music is still good, it just doesn't fit with the rest of the EP at all, in my opinion. It's not a big gripe, but I find myself just playing the first 6 songs over and over, constantly ignoring the last two. At least the songs I don't like are both at the end of the album so it's not like they break up the stretch of songs I do like.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: No Interruption, Eighteen Cool, Small Town

On a Playlist With: Whatever's on your summertime playlist.

Overall Score

3.5

Hoodie Allen brings some tasty feel-good jams with All American. Other than the last couple songs on the EP, you can tell me it'll be soundtrack for the next American Pie movie and I'd totally believe you. If you're feeling down, just give Hoodie a chance, and I'm certain it'll turn your frown upside down.

That's all for now, folks!

-DG