Second Grave release Antithesis, prepare to destroy Cambridge on Saturday then the World!

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It’s not often that heavy metal has the perfect combination of ear-crunching music and pristine vocals. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Second Grave play to a sparse crowd at Ralph’s earlier in the year when they managed to hit that mark. Their new EP Antithesis promises not to disappoint.

Krista Van Guilder has a croon that calls to mind the timbre of some of metal’s greatest vocalists in a way that’s distinctly feminine and entirely satisfying, while her deep-throated scream is no joke. Her guitar combined with Chris Drzal’s, counterpointed by Dave Gein on bass and Chuck Ferreira on drums results in delightful headbang anthems. Breakdowns are executed expertly and perfectly timed for horn-raising catcalls from live audiences.

Do yourself a favor and add them to your library; there’s no way you’ll be disappointed. If you’re local to the Boston area, get your ass to the Middle East November 30th to see them with Summoner, Rozamov, and Jack Burton Vs David Lo Pan. I’ll be the one up front screaming my face off with glee — bring me a gin ‘n’ tonic and we’ll be pals for life.

 

 

(the) Melvins are back in 2013 (again) with Tres Cabrones

I’m not sure if there was ever such a thing as a “classic” line up of (the) Melvins because, quite frankly, each and every line up they pop up with is pretty fricking unique and classic in its own right. Nevertheless we now have Tres Cabrones featuring the return of original drummer Mike Dillard thus relegating Dale Crover to bass duties obviously.

Fans of Houdini and Stoner Witch particularly should take note because Tres… is definitely a throwback in some respects especially when the former album is concerned. If Houdini was recorded in 2013 instead of 1993 (Geez, has it really been that long?) it would’ve sounded like this. One listen to the massive “City Dump” will transport you back to the nonsensical thrash sludge of “Honey Bucket” and while we’re on the topic of “nonsensical”, let’s not overlook the “covers” on this beast. Namely “99 Bottles”, “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”, and “In The Army Now” which are a far cry from this year’s Everybody Loves Sausages covers album but fit into Tres Cabrones nicely.

For a 19th studio album, Tres… still sounds just as fresh as (the) Melvins earlier monstrosities and features some of their most accessible stuff to date like “Dogs And Cattle Prods” except for the almost nine minute length. Okay, “accessible” for (the) Melvins then. On the other hand, for every “traditional” song you get like “Doctor Mule” or the punk rock by way of The Ramones “Walter’s Lips” (A Lewd cover, actually, followed by the equally intense cover of “Stick ’em Up Bitch” by King B and Pop o Pies) there’s an “I Told You I was Crazy” waiting around the corner to bring you back down to (the) Melvins version of reality.

Tres Cabrones, a veritable smorgasbord of (the) Melvins-style goodness,  is out now through Ipecac Recordings

Grade: A

Summoner unleash Atlantian. Prepare yourself!

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Getting out of the desert and into the swamp, Summoner’s latest album Atlantian probably has more in common with Black Sabbath or Deliverance-era Corrosion Of Conformity than Kyuss. The opening wall of riffs on “The Gatekeeper” is a good indicator of what the rest of this eight track masterpiece holds as it builds and builds upon a slow monolithic groove. It’s almost as if Summoner took “Dead Moon” from Phoenix as a template for Atlantian and went nuts.

Atlantian is a different beast altogether though. The closest this one comes to the raw fury that Phoenix brought is the spiritual cousin to “Winged Hessians”, “Horns Of War”. That’s not to say that Atlantian is a slouch by any means. Far from it! While  Phoenix’s spacier moments went into the ether, the grooves here go straight for the jugular by incorporating some extra crunchy riffage throughout.

The main thing that Atlantian proves is that Summoner is constantly expanding their sound. Whether it’s the Geezer Butler-like bass line that opens “The Prophecy” or the sonic maelstrom which sounds an awful lot like some old school Metallica riffing that’s a precursor to the title track’s eventual slow burn, Atlantian continually astounds, surprises, and adds to Summoner’s musical repertoire.

Atlantian is available on November 19th through Magnetic Eye Records. Pre-order yours here. If you’re in the Boston/Cambridge area, be sure to check out the record release at the Middle East upstairs featuring some other local favorites like Jack Burton Vs. David Lo Pan, Second Grave, and Rozamov on November 30th. Event and ticket info can be found here.

Grade: A

 

Mutoid Man’s Helium Head is the Verge-In album the world needs AND deserves!

Verge-In is here! Sort of! It’s Helium Head, the debut EP from Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller (Or Cave In’s Ben Koller depending on what year it is) new group Mutoid Man! Exclamation! (Hey, you take a listen to this EP on repeat and tell me you’re not bouncing off the walls!)

It’s a two pronged sonic onslaught of delightful frenetic frenzy packed neatly into a seven track EP. If you’re a fan of either of the members’ respective “day jobs” then Helium Head has something for you. It’s also an album where if you blink, you might miss all the fun. Yeah, it’s that fast.

Koller, as always, is on fire here but it’s Brodsky who really shines in the end. Fans who thought he’s gone soft with age and let Caleb Scofield take on all the aggressive parts in Cave In need only listen to opener “Gnarcissist” or follow up “Scavengers” to know that not only is Brodsky still capable of bringing the heavy but he’s also still capable of bringing some noise not heard since the Until Your Heart Stops days. Just listen to “Friday the 13/8” or “Lost In The Hive” as Brodsky gets his rage on completely for more proof.

All around, Helium Head is a solid debut of unexpected chaos from two of Massachusetts finest and hopefully a great indicator of what’s to come.

Helium Head is out digitally on November 22nd and physically on November 26th. Check out the pre-order options over on Shirts & Destroy now.

 

Lady Gaga is the shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of ARTPOP

I like Lady Gaga. I do. I was a fan when she first popped up on the scene during NKOTB’s comeback The Block  way, way back in 2008 and loved her debut and was even more taken back by the follow-up EP/mini-album The Fame Monster. Am I a fan of the theatrics, the fanfare, the persona? Nope. I grew up in a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot era of shock rock/metal so maybe I’m just desensitized to it all but the extra flair does nothing for me. However, it’s incredible that just listening to a Gaga track instantly evokes images of what the dance routine will be like on stage.

That said, I do believe that Stefani is a phenomenal performer. She captures that perfect mix of Britney and Christina but just does it better and on ARTPOP she immediately brings to mind a musical icon when she at times channels Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Born This Way was not the album that needed to follow the breakout success of “Bad Romance”. For all you monsters out there that felt slighted by her second studio album (I don’t consider myself a “monster” by the way), her third full-length will instantly quell your fears.

“Aura” is this gorgeous opener that draws listeners in with a subtle flamenco line and Gaga’s effects-laden vocals before giving way to a larger than life dance pop party as the pop star belts out  “Aura-a-a-ah!” circling back to the “Ra ra…” chorus of “Bad Romance”.

From there on out, ARTPOP gets bigger and bolder. “Venus” is a raucous space jam, “G.U.Y.” is a divine electro romp, and “Sexxx Dreams” is a funky yet filthy little ditty about, um, you can use your imagination. It also features a nifty little bass line that one could picture John Taylor popping up for (Speaking of, why has there been no Simon LeBon/Lady Gaga duet yet?).

T.I. turns up along with Too Short and Twista for “Jewels n’ Drugs” which could be compared to Miley Cyrus’ recent foray into hip hop but unlike Hannah Montana, Gaga just executes everything better.

Midway through is when ARTPOP gets really interesting as the album traverses the stratosphere on the atmospheric “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly and the title track which takes listeners to a whole different realm of awesome.

The lack of ballads is a plus in my book as well and luckily (For me, at least) when they do pop up they’re back to back and towards the end and followed by the massive “Applause” to close out a triumphant third album.

ARTPOP is out on November 11th. Order it here and here.
Grade: A

Eminem is shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of The Marshall Mathers LP 2

While checking out the latest from Eminem I realized that I am a subscriber to your token “white backwards hat wearing frat guy dude” in terms of my hip hop likes. Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Childish Gambino and yes, Eminem are all staples in my collection (Although I will say I really only listen to the former three on a regular basis. Sorry Slim!)

In terms of hip hop, I’m not an expert. I just know what I like. Black Sheep’s A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing is probably one of my all time favorites but then I go straight to Ice Cube’s Raw Footage or the CB4 soundtrack. In conclusion, I’m all over the place. But enough about me, we’re here for Marshall!

In short, the Rick Rubin/Dr. Dre-produced  album sounds forced and contrived. Remember when Korn reunited with Ross Robinson and released III: Remember Who You Are? Of course you don’t because it was awful. Same thing here. You can never go home again and as an artist, why would you want to?

“Bad Guy” starts off The Marshall Mathers LP 2 promising enough and brings to mind the dense opening track from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy but like most of the bloated tracks you’ll come to experience here it soon devolves into a juvenile rant that would’ve been fine on Eminem’s debut but here in 2013 it just sounds silly (Ooooh! Stan’s younger brother has come back to seek revenge!).

There’s moments of course like on “Rhyme Or Reason” featuring a familiar sample of The Zombies’ “Time Of The Season” or, actually no, those “moments” are few and far between. It’s a lyric here or a beat there but mostly TMMLP2 is a been there, done that record of forgettable nonsense that doesn’t hold a candle to Em’s peers. I won’t even begin on the the laughable and already panned “Bezerk”! I mean, c’mon, your first single is getting sold to a video game off the bat?!?! Or “So Much Better” because we needed another song about how awful your life life is and how another blonde betrayed you. You’re 41 for chissakes! Get over it or at least start making better choices.

I had this epiphany about halfway through the album which was maybe I’m just getting too old to appreciate a new record from Eminem but at the end of the day it’s like I said: I know what I like and I know I don’t like this!

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is out now for those that are interested.
Grade: F