Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wombripper - From the Depths of Flesh


I've sat here with a blank document open for like two hours because I just can't figure out where to fucking start with Wombripper, and I mean that in the best way.  I want to devolve into some Navy Blue Vicar nonsense and blurt out SHREDDED FETII BELCHED FROM TSATHOGGUA or some shit to express what From the Depths of Flesh is to me.  I have this niggling little hobgoblin in the back of my mind telling me to stay professional and talk about the riffs, the guitar tone, general tempo, song construction, vocals, et cetera but I just don't fucking care.  From the Depths of Flesh sounds like POPEYE SQUEEZING A CAN OF ROLLERCOASTERS DOWN YOUR THROAT and that's all that really needs to be said!  This is one of the most relentlessly intense albums I've heard all year and with every listen it becomes more and more obvious that this is one of the best damn things I've come across in 2018.

While Russia's death metal scene may be more immediately known for dumbass gurgleslam, Wombripper here takes a decidedly more Scandinavian approach to their craft, channeling the power-tool-shreddery of Entombed, Dismember, and Carnage, while drifting from Sweden by throwing in occasionally slower and more morbidly twisted sections reminiscent of Autopsy or Asphyx.  The diversity in the back end is welcome because the album's sole flaw is simply that it's a bit too long if you're listening to the Redefining Darkness release (like I am).  Twelve tracks at 45 minutes just gets to be tiring when it's this raw and frantic.  The album could probably stand to shave off about three songs and ten minutes, and hey whaddaya know the original release is exactly that!  So the album's one and only drawback is actually a later addition, as its virgin form omits the last three tracks, and as a result makes the album much more palatable and less of an endurance test.  Keep in mind it's a pretty enjoyably brutal endurance test, but I'd much rather a band show up, kick ass, and then carry on with life than to overstay their welcome, even if "Morbid Aberration" is notable in that it seems to have cropped up on every prior release.  The band must be mega proud of this one.

But with that out of the way, there's really nothing else to complain about.  There's one tiny flaw that can be safely ignored and the rest of the album is THE OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM OF CHAINSAWS.  Even after all of these listens I struggle to find songs to point out as particular highlights but it's because the entire damn album is so consistently reckless.  "Godless Slaughter" and "Locked in Iced Coffin" stand out a bit for being more developed and containing those gruesome crawly slow parts, but the main attraction is just how fuckin EATEN BY AN ON FIRE SHARK the rest of the album is.  From the opening notes your entire skeletal structure gets vaporized by a veritable onslaught of caustic riffery.  This shit is fuckin' loud.  It feels like my speakers can hardly keep up with the filthy mach-speed morbidity on display.  The drumming sounds like an avalanche, the vocals sound like the logical midpoint between an extremely pissed off Yeti and Tom Waits in a coughing fit, everything is so distorted and manic that it doesn't sound like anything resembling a mistake or careless mastering.  It's just vicious in every form.  Pure, undiluted death metal malice with no frills to distract from the bludgeoning.  Normally there wouldn't be any logical reason for this to stand out since it's just Swedeath worship at its core but ECHOING BOWELS AS MINOTAUR COMBUSTS. 

I can't go on at length about From the Depths of Flesh because nonsense ejaculations of mad-lib gibberish is about all that my brain can comprehend after a few tracks.  This is thunderous, pulverizing Grave-esque death metal with enough added zeal to shatter the skulls of anybody in earshot.  I apologize for all the JAW-CAUGHT IN A PITCHING MACHINE stuff but when I'm faced with something that delivers so many Joe Frazier-style gut punches that my number two starts to resemble number one point three, that's all that makes sense.  I'd say give "Locked in Iced Coffin" a shot for being one of the few to rein in the intensity a bit and focus on just damn strong mid-paced riffs, but really the first five or six tracks hit the hardest with their boundless ferocity so choose the form of your destructor really. 


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Dynazty - Firesign

Actually pretty de-fec-tive

Without actually looking at any stats, I'm willing to bet with a pretty major degree of certainty that this is my most listened-to album of the last month, hell maybe even over the course of the entire year.  I've been listening to Dynazty's third album (actually their sixth but to my knowledge they've pretty much retconned everything prior to Renatus out of existence), Firesign, on a nearly constant loop for an embarassingly long time now.  I've been passing up other assuredly great releases that have the potential to completely blow me away because I keep coming back to this.  The reason this is notable is because I'm not actually listening to it because I love it so much.  No, I can't kill this album because for the fucking life of me I can't decide whether I love or hate it, because I'm pretty sure I feel both with equal intensity.

See, Dynazty's last album, Titanic Mass, was exactly as the title indicated.  It was a huge album, with skyscraper sized hooks being thrown at you from all directions.  It was a shallow and basic album but these Swedes were just really god damned good at focusing all of their energy into these gargantuan anthems with rousing choruses, incredible vocals, and surprisingly meaty riffage.  The whole thing took on this form of a dumb arena metal band if all of the members were sentient guitars made of pure Kobe beef.  I loved it, I still love it, I spin it just as much now as I did two years ago, "Untamer of Your Soul" is one of the most finely-tuned expressions of pure triumphant uplifting glory I've heard in years.  That song is what plays during my training montage before the big karate tournament.  FILL YOUR HEEEEART WITH GASOLIIIINE!

And now here's Firesign, and it really sounds like three different bands, none of whom put out the previous two goliaths of modern melodic metal.  And that's not exactly a bad thing either.  Evolution is inevitable and encouraged as far as I'm concerned as long as a band continually plays to their strengths, and there's no denying that this album focuses on great hooks just as much as the previous two, so I don't hate it on principle.  The problem is that this feels... lazy?  Safe?  I'm not sure, and even then I don't really think that at all.  This is a fucking confusing album for me.

Let's get the positives out of the way first, because there are a lot of them.  Nils still sounds like an impeccable Adonis belting out completely banging vocal hooks every single time he opens his gorgeous mouth.  Listen to something like "Ascension" or especially the title track.  It's like he's on top of Mount Olympus and we're all in the palm of his hand, and he's belting his heart out with a powerful tenor about how we're all amazing people who can accomplish great things.  I'm completely in love with this man, and he's still the highlight here.  There's also a heightened keyboard presence here, which is welcome enough considering some of the negatives I'll get to later.  They give the songs a lot of forward momentum and carry many of them on their own (outside of Nils, obviously), which is different, but neat.  Really the main positive is just how strong a good amount of the hooks are.  "In the Arms of the Devil" sounds like some lost Hellfire Club era Edguy track, and the title track is seriously phenomenal.  The chorus on that one is such an incessant ohrwurm that it's almost insulting.  It's dumb but holy hell does it stick, and I can't adequately express how much I adore the corny "whoa-oh" part that shows up for half a second in the background.  It's little details like that that turn this stupid thing into something special.  The band is barely power metal anymore, but on tracks like "Firesign" they prove that it doesn't really matter.  They don't need to be playing fast, they just need to be playing loud, and dammit they'll leave their mark.

The problem is that when they stripped away the hard hitting power metal from their sound, they sorta... forgot to replace it with something else.  There are a few noticeable filler tracks here ("Closing Doors", "My Darkest Hour", "Let Me Dream Forever"), which wasn't really a problem on their previous albums, but here even the good songs feel somewhat unfinished.  There is barely a riff to be found here, honestly.  Those lightspeed palm mutes that were an obvious signature on Renatus and Titanic Mass are almost nowhere nowhere to be found here (there are some slowed down versions of what I'm talking about on "Starfall"), instead the guitarist finds himself playing exclusively dumbass chugs and sustained power chords for the entire duration.  One cool Running Wild style triplet melody on "Ascension" can't cover up how empty "The Grey" is in the riffing department.  And I mean, maybe I shouldn't be too hard on them for this, because they obviously weren't going for riffs on this one.  There are some new hints of darkness on "Follow Me" which helps it stand out, but overall this is a very light, sugary album with absolutely no teeth whatsoever.  I can't really let "The Grey" go,-

Okay, I have to admit something here.  I don't plot out my reviews before I start writing, I just whip everything out as a first draft, and it was at exactly that point up there that I decided to go double check the Metal Archives page for the band to learn the guitarist's name (It's Mike, by the way), since I was gonna point out how fucking bored he must be during that song.  And what do I see on their artist page?  Nils Molin is active in one other band.  What band?


That is exactly who I was going to compare them to.  The line in my head was something like "Mike must be so bored with this song, 'The Grey' sounds like something post-Tarja Nightwish ghost wrote for Amaranthe".  And then I fucking learn that the vocalist is actually in Amaranthe now.  Suddenly every negative thing I was going to say about Firesign makes complete fucking sense.  The complete lack of riffs, the focus on vocals and keys at the expense of the now-unimportant rhythm section, the hooks being great but everything around them being so wholly unexciting, the few songs outside of the four or five that I really like sounding like they were written in a day, everything perfectly mirrors Amaranthe.  I was gonna call this "corsetcore with a dude" and it turns out that's exactly what it is.  There is absolutely no way that influence from them hasn't snuck in.  Whether it was a deliberate attempt to become a bit more palatable or just happenstance by the virtue of creative osmosis, it's there, and it's completely impossible to brush from my mind now that I know it for a fact.  The overt pop influence isn't necessarily a band thing in itself, and it's precisely why I like the title track so much, but it's so much more prominent now because the band decided to focus entirely on one strength when really they had a bunch of others as well, so a lot of cool elements were dropped.  Titanic Mass powers forward, Firesign bounces around.  And while the bounciness totally works for the title track or "Follow Me", it makes dull crap like "The Grey" just annoying.  God dammit god dammit all.

Well I guess that sorta shortens the rest of this review doesn't it?  There we have it, listen to corsetcore like that band Annette formed after leaving Nightwish or any random band Nuclear Blast pumps out with zero concern for quality simply because big tits in a corset are guaranteed Youtube views, that's exactly what half of this album sounds like.  There are great songs here, no doubt, I can't get enough of the title track, "Ascension", "In the Arms of the Devil", and "Follow Me", but the rest of it is either filler or just plain stupid.  That's why I'm so torn.  Do I want to recommend an album that I openly don't like half of because there are some great songs?  Do I want to tell you to pass because the good songs are great but the rest of the album is forgettable nonsense?  I still don't know!  This is a frustrating album for exactly that reason.  I feel kind of duped by the Amaranthe-isms being so prevalent immediately after the singer joined that band, but I kind of like the new direction when they hit the mark.  I don't know, I'd leave the rating blank or just rate the good and bad parts of the album differently if I could... so I will!

RATING: 84% when it's good, 39% when it's lame