Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Album Review: MASTODON - Emperor of Sand

Mastodon - Emperor of Sand

01. Sultan's Curse
02. Show Yourself
03. Precious Stones
04. Steambreather
05. Roots Remain
06. Word to the Wise
07. Ancient Kingdom
08. Clandestiny
09. Andromeda
10. Scorpion Breath
11. Jaguar God

I must confess that I've never been a huge Mastadon fan. They've had the odd song here and there I've really liked (what's not to love about Curl of the Burl?), but I've never understood their immense popularity. I saw them live at Sonisphere a few years ago, and I still didn't get it. Having said that, they seem to be getting bigger and bigger to the point where they're on the cover of magazines and have become a household name amongst Metal fans across the world. I recently heard some old school Mastadon fans moaning about the direction of the new album, so I thought I'd check it out in case they'd made a record I could finally get into.

I did a little research on Emperor of Sand before listening to it, and apparently it's a concept album about having cancer, but told in the form of a story about a  desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. It's a reflection of mortality based on the real life experiences of the band members and the people close to them. I like the concept, as it's a fascinating one that anyone can relate to, and has plenty of depth and scope for interesting and compelling lyrics.

The opening track Sultan's Curse is a riffing monster and feels like a real journey because there's so much going on musically, even though it clocks in at just over four minutes. It's followed by Show Yourself, which is a short snappy track that makes for a great lead single, but has a much more commercial sound than something I'd expect from Mastodon.

For the most-part of the record, they still have that heavy lo-fi sound that comes across like a detuned Queens of the Stone Age playing Black Sabbath, but with complex arrangements and time signatures that make them so popular in Prog Rock circles. It's all very clever, and I'm sure it is both lyrically and musically a work of art.

Personally, I really like Show Yourself and the epic final song Jaguar God, but the album as a whole isn't going to change my mind about Mastodon. I appreciate that it's a well written and performed album, it's just not for me. Thousands of people will disagree with me on this, but that's cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Album Review: THE OBSESSED - Sacred

The Obsessed - Sacred

01. Sodden Jackal
02. Punk Crusher
03. Sacred
04. Haywire
05. Perseverance Of Futility
06. It's Only Money
07. Cold Blood
08. Stranger Things
09. Razor Wire
10. My Daughter My Son
11. Be The Night
12. Interlude
13. On So Long (Bonus Track)
14. Crossroader Blues (Bonus Track)

The Obsessed are one of those band that have been around for a very long time, but haven't released very much. They formed in 1980 and have split up and reformed a couple of times, and now in 2017 they're releasing their fourth album Sacred.

Fronted by Doom Rock legend Scott 'Wino' Weinrich, who also sang for St Vitus for a chunk of the 80's, The Obsessed has become known as one of the pioneers of the Doom and Stoner scenes. If I'm honest, those scenes are basically a bunch of bands who seem to want to sound as much like early Black Sabbath as possible. That's cool with me, but I rarely hear anything from those scenes that I haven't heard a thousand times before. Consider it a form of Heavy Metal recycling. However, The Obsessed are a bit more interesting than many of their peers because they inject a small bit of Punk into some of their material to give it a bit of spice.  They are also on top of their game in the song writing department too.

Sacred doesn't really display anything much in the way of musical progression for The Obsessed. They do what they do and do it very well. It's still 90% Sabbath and 10% Motorhead which I'm sure will guarantee them an audience at biker rallies from now until the end of time. Wino's vocals still sound great, and he sounds a little like Deep Purple's Ian Gillan at times.

When all's said and done, Sacred offers nothing new, but really hits the spot if you want to hear some badass Classic Rock delivered by true masters of their craft. It's also worth pointing out that their label Relapse Records have put the entire album on YouTube (link below) to listen to for free.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Album Review: SEETHER - Poison The Parish

Seether - Poison The Parish


01. Stoke the Fire
02. Betray and Degrade
03. Something Else
04. I'll Survive
05. Let You Down
06. Against the Wall
07. Let Me Heal
08. Saviours
09. Nothing Left
10. Count Me Out
11. Emotionless
12. Sell My Soul
13. Feels Like Dying (Bonus Track)
14. Misunderstood (Bonus Track)
15. Take a Minute (Bonus Track)

It's easy to be cynical about South Africa's Seether. In the late 90's and early 2000's, a number of mainstream Heavy Rock bands appeared that sounded like the missing link between Grunge and the emerging Nu-Metal scene. They had lyrics that were less abstract and more obvious to the casual listener, and the music was that bit more sanitised and moulded to fit American Rock radio stations. There were hundreds of these 'Post-Grunge' bands sprouting up with their over processed Nu-Metal production and their marketable angst, and they were all so damn safe compared to what was going on in the early 90's. I'm talking about Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, Staind, Creed, 3 Doors Down etc. Seether were one of these bands.

I warmed to Seether simply because they have some really good songs in their repertoire. I remember when I heard the single Same Damn Life from their 2014 album Isolate and Medicate and was utterly blown away by it. It was at this point that I started to pay more attention to their back catalogue, and realised that they're a much better band than I initially gave them credit for.

Seether's new album Poison The Parish was a pleasant surprise. They're still clearly worshiping at the temple of Kurt Cobain, but this time around they sound a little grittier and more aggressive. I can hear some other influences in there, most notably Tool and Soundgarden, making this another release that'll appeal to lovers of early 90's Grunge. There are some seriously good songs on here including Count Me Out, Sell My Soul, and the lead single Let You Down. Seether aren't bringing anything new to the table, but what they have brought is a fine collection of songs that'll please fans and sits nicely with the rest of their back catalogue.

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