• Review - Lost in the Sound of Separation

    7 feb 2009, 16:56

    Underoath has gone through an impressive amount of change over the years, transitioning from deathcore into post-hardcore, losing Dallas and gaining Spencer, ultimately resulting in a variety of sounds. Lost in the Sound of Sepearation offers a considerable amount of change over Define the Great Line. Not only is there the customary difference in production, Spencer has completely altered the way he screams. His screams have become deeper, and more gutteral, resulting in a fresh sound the likes of which I haven't encountered before.

    Track four, "Desolate Earth :: The End is Near", really puts Spencer's new style of screaming on display. While his new style of screaming can be refreshing, more often than not paired with Aaron Gilespie's clean vocals, there are instances where it can get to be a bit much, teetering on the threshold of bearability. "Desolate Earth" is one such instance. Spencer's held out, grinding screams really start to get under the skin not even halfway into the song. This is the one true problem that I have with the album.

    While Lost in the Sound of Separation has its low points, as covered above, it has many high points as well. Songs such as "Breathing in a New Mentality", "A Fault Line, A Fault of Mine", "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed", and "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures" really integrate Spencer's new style well. And as with your typical post-hardcore album, the heavy and the melodic are clearly represented. "Breathing in a New Mentality" represents the heavier side of the album, going full out and in your face, while "Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear" represents the polar opposite, consisting of nothing but melody and emotion. Underoath manages to flawlessly combine the heavy and punishing with the beautiful and melodic.

    Lost in the Sound of Separation was handled by the same producers responsible for for Define the Great Line. The deliver impresive work the second time around, but when compared to Define the Great Line, something sounds a little off. Its difficult to describe, but Define seems richer and warmer to me, sounding overall a little more polished. Though worthy of note, that is by far not much of a problem.
  • Review - Dreamer

    23 jan 2009, 22:10

    With last years release, Pressure The Hinges, Haste the Day made a massive transition. They made a noticeable changed in style, thanks largely in part to their new vocalist, Stephen Keech. Dreamer takes these changes even further with an incredible amount of refinement over Pressure The Hinges. Dreamer outshines every single other release this year and, if not for Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone, would rank number one. I seriously doubt one could find a finer example of metalcore.

    Dreamer is considerably heavier than Pressure The Hinges, and all of Haste the Day's other releases for that fact. The band stated that Dreamer would be their most brutal album yet, and that statement certainly held true. Not only are the instrumentals heavier, Stephen shows major improvement with his screaming. Evidence of this can found found throughout the entire album, but most noticeably "Sons Of The Fallen Nation" and "Porcelain". "Sons Of The Fallen Nation", one of the albums heaviest tracks and many highlights, effortlessly blends powerful emotion, with blistering aggression and intensity. Stephen's vocal maturity is evident from the first few second, but come the breakdown, where he aggressively spits "Sever the head of the snake!", its in your face. "Porcelain" takes it a step further, where Stephen brings things to a boil with his incredibly abrasive and aggressive growling throughout the entire track.

    The entire album is simply amazing, but it does have its share of stand-outs, among which are the previously mentioned "Sons Of The Fallen Nation" and "Porcelain". Others include track four, "Resolve", who's intro, among the best on the album, is simply breathtaking, and "Haunting", who's vocal work and technical guitar work will leave you wanting more. Also worthy of mention is album closer "Autumn". Originally found on Haste the Day's first release, That They May Know You, "Autumn" is an excellent acoustic track that drips with emotion and what can be perceived as sadness. While excellent, "Autumn" makes for an awkward way to end the album, snuffing the albums momentum that would have been perfectly brought to a close with "Porcelain". Aside from that one slight error, the album is flawless.

    I have read many complaints online of the production of the album, mainly claims of "It doesn't sound as heavy as Pressure The Hinges". I lack an understanding of how one can possibly think that. PTH's production is certainly impressive, but Dreamer's is not worse, if the same caliper. The technical guitar-work sounds nice and crisp, as "Resolve" and "Mad Man" prove, without surrendering any of the heaviness and overall impressiveness that PTH's production offers.

    Top Picks: Haunting - Resolve - An Adult Tree - Sons of the Fallen Nation - Porcelain

    1. 68 - 10/10
    2. Mad Man - 10/10
    3. Haunting - 10/10
    4. Resolve - 10/10
    5. An Adult Tree - 10/10
    6. Babylon - 10/10
    7. Invoke Reform - 10/10
    8. Sons of the Fallen Nation - 10/10
    9. Labyrinth - 9/10
    10. Porcelain - 10/10
    11. Autumn - 7/10
  • Review - All Hope Is Gone

    30 okt 2008, 23:31

    Its been four years since the release of Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, and All Hope Is Gone was definitely worth the wait. The band expressed interest in making this their heaviest and most experimental album to date. That certainly brought high expectations, mostly of another Iowa and occasionally of another self-titled. As Corey stated of the meaning behind the album's title, that "All hope is gone of figuring the band out", everyone's expectations were either partially met or simply shattered. As a result, the album has gained its fair share of haters, but that is the consequence when you get your hops too high for something and get something else entirely. That is a good enough reason to have little or no expectations (Especially in light of Corey's statement), as I, or any true true would. With that established, the album just blew me away. I got what I had hoped for and it even goes beyond that.

    In an interview, Joey stated that the album was going to be, and I quote. "heavy as fuck", and you need to look no further than opener ".execute./Gematria (The Killing Name)" to find truth in that statement. The track, with its dense guitar-work, amazing breakdowns, and killer bass-pedaling is pure aggression. This aggression, while at its most striking and intense within "Gematria", is withheld throughout the entire album. Notable songs include "Butcher's Hook", with its amazing ending and chorus; "Psychosocial", with its opening scream, intriguing breakdowns and gang vocals/screams; and "This Cold Black", the only other song on the album that even comes close to "Gematria" in terms of overall intensity and aggression.

    On the front of experimentation, All Hope Is Gone carries over many things from Vol.3 The Subliminal Verses. The album really builds and expands upon the melody introduced in Vol.3, finding a majority of songs on the album featuring clean vocals. They carry the melody even further in the album's next single, "Dead Memories". The entire song is sung, something you wouldn't expect from Slipknot. Many fans find dislike in the song, but pairing clean vocals with considerably heavy instrumentals, they pull it off. In terms of acoustics, is track eleven, "Snuff". The song has been compared to "Circle" and even stated as the album's version of "Circle", but in terms of lyrical content and raw emotion, its far more in tune with "Vermilion, Pt.2". The similarities end there. "Snuff" follows a far different formulaic approach than "Circle" and "Vermilion, Pt.2". With the inclusion of custom percussion and electric guitars, it is far more dynamic than its predecessors. When it comes to being downright strange and experimental, we have "Gehenna", the album's equivalent of "Vermilion". The song carries a similar slow, creepy feel about it. While this will no doubt be target to criticism, its a formula that works, and works well.

    Producer Dave Fortman, of Mudvayne and Evanescence fame, works wonders, All Hope Is Gone being Slipknot's best sounding album. The production is certainly of a fairly higher quality than their previous works, lacking that raw edge, instead substituting a little more polish. Due in part to the production, this is Slipknot's best album instrumental-wise as well. In terms of guitar-work, All Hope Is Gone really builds upon Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses, expanding upon the thrash metal riffing and really stepping up on the solos. Shawn and Chris appear to play a much larger role, with custom percussion in nearly, if not every track, along with the addition of hi-hats and cymbals to their sets. To some, the custom percussion may seem a little superfluous, but it really adds to the music, and helps identify Slipknot and give them that unique edge that sets them apart from every other band out there, and All Hope Is Gone really helps to prove that.

    Top Picks: Gematria (The Killing Name) - Sulfur - Psychosocial - Butchers Hook - This Cold Black - All Hope Is Gone

    1. .execute. - 10/10
    2. Gematria (The Killing Name) - 10/10
    3. Sulfur - 10/10
    4. Psychosocial - 10/10
    5. Dead Memories - 10/10
    6. Vendetta - 10/10
    7. Butcher's Hook - 10/10
    8. Gehenna - 10/10
    9. This Cold Black - 10/10
    10. Wherein Lies Continue - 10/10
    11. Snuff - 10/10
    12. All Hope Is Gone - 10/10

    Slipknot, All Hope Is Gone
  • Review - Death Magnetic

    21 sep 2008, 16:30

    In most ways Death Magnetic delivers, but in others it doesn't. This is without a doubt their best effort in eighteen years (Simply put, since ...And Justice for All), but at times, it hauntingly harkens back to Load/Reload. The vast improvements over St.Anger are enough to overlook this, but overall this is deeply disappointing. While the album certainly has it's share of promising tracks (Thrash-wise), it seems that once they went radio-friendly hard rock, they're gonna have a hell of time shaking that off, if they ever completely do.

    Thrash is evident in tracks such as "All Nightmare Long" and "My Apocalypse", but that simply isn't enough to save the album. The album has a high degree of catchiness, especially in opener "That Was Just Your Life" and middle track "All Nightmare Long". I find the words stuck in my head long after finishing the album. That, due in part, I think, is what ultimately saves the album.

    This is Metallica's heaviest album in eighteen years, they have definitely proven themselves as capable musicians. Kirk, simply put, is a beast. In Death Magnetic he and James provide some of the most intriguing guitar-work I've heard in any Metallica album, and his solo-work is absolutely amazing. After an absence in St.Anger, solos are back, and I think anyone can say this with confidence, and back with a vengeance. This is Metallica's first album featuring new bassist Robert Trujillo, of Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne fame. It must be noted, throughout the entire record, you can barely catch any of the bass-work. The bass' weakness is painfully evident in "Cyanide", where in sections of the song the bass gets singled out. Not only that, it just doesn't sound like a bass. This also happens in instrumental "Suicide and Redemption", but sounds more like a bass.

    Many hated the drum production of St.Anger, I was not one of those people, but I can understand why. Instead of a snare, it sounded like Lars was beating on a metal barrel, which is enough to make you flinch. Fortunately, the production of Death Magnetic is a vast improvement over St.Anger. The drums sound more natural, as they should, but, seemingly, it comes at a price: distortion. While not relatively prevalent in the album, its definitely there. Listening the more intense parts of "The Day That Never Comes" there is obvious distortion, in the heavier guitar/bass-work and snare-work. Its really not a major problem, but one worthy of noting.

    Top Picks: The End of the Line - The Day That Never Comes - All Nightmare Long - Suicide and Redemption

    1. That Was Just Your Life - 10/10
    2. The End of the Line - 10/10
    3. Broken, Beat, and Scarred - 10/10
    4. The Day That Never Comes - 10/10 (Comments: This song is truly amazing)
    5. All Nightmare Long - 10/10 (Comments: This has got to be one of the best songs on the album)
    6. Cyanide - 8/10 (Comments: What drags the song down is the weak bass)
    7. The Unforgiven III - 7/10 (Comments: While an excellent song, its too much like Load/Reload)
    8. The Judas Kiss - 9/10
    9. Suicide and Redemption - 10/10 (Comments: This is without a doubt Metallica's best instrumental)
    10. My Apocalypse - 9/10