Hello, and welcome to the second entry in my new series of Blog articles, Get (Into) What You Paid For. This series is designed as a little project, sort of mixing parts of TGR and What I’m Listening To These Days, in which I describe the music I listen to, to distract myself from the burning desire to buy new music.
I listen to albums that I feel I haven’t ever given enough spins or “gotten my money’s worth” out of. I’ve owned some of these records for a few weeks, some for a few months and some for over a decade.
I tend to always mentally “lose” albums in a crowd, when I buy an influx of multiple albums at once (especially some of those that come in boxsets… no matter how often I listen to it, I never feel like I’ve properly listened to Faith No More’s Album Of The Year) or receive multiple ones at Birthdays and Christmas.
So, rather than throw all my money away on new music almost every day, and feed the screaming goblins in my head that scratch the walls of my brain until new purchases have been made, I’ve decided to revisit albums that I never really cared for, never really appreciated or just haven’t fully absorbed yet.
Its been Eleven days since my last purchase. (That sounds a bit “forgive me Father for I have sinned” but don’t read into it). My current challenge is to make it to the end of the month without buying anything new. 12 days to go so far. I’m not actually feeling to itchy today. I mean, I’m quite keen on getting Momument’s Gnosis record, but that’s been going on for months.
Now. To distract myself from the urge to buy new albums, I’m going to listen to some old ones. I don’t mean old as in Bob Dylan. Just old as in, they aren’t sat in my “I’ve just bought this” mental-drawer. Yes. My brain is a small stationary cupboard in a medium sized office in an unsuccessful local accountants firm. Emotions, memories, theories and thoughts are all stored in different filing cabinets, file-o-faxes, ring binders and post-it notes.
Whatever… time to check out something I don’t listen to enough.
So now I’m listening to Arch Enemy’s Wages Of Sin album, a Melodeath classic that somehow I managed to get into on the ground floor with when it was new (in the same holiday trip to Blackpool where I got Chimaira’s The Impossibility Of Reason and Slayer’s War At The Warfield DVD if memory serves). I don’t really remember how or why I chose this album. I don’t remember if there was any video to it at the time. I don’t think they really showed Arch Enemy videos during the day until ‘We Will Rise.’ Both of those non-AE releases were released in 2003, so it wasn’t actually that on the ground floor, since Anthems Of Rebellion was released only about a month later.
You know, I think I would’ve bought Anthems Of Rebellion if it had’ve had a different name. At the time, the idea of Rebellion was very cheesy and annoying, since the perception of Metal as a bunch of rebellious uneducated teenagers being rude to their parents was something I didn’t want to be associated with.
All I remember was that Arch Enemy were sort of a hot ticket at the time, because of the supposed guitar brilliance, the mixture of Iron Maiden sounds with Death Metal sounds, and the female singer who wasn’t doing Opera vocals or wearing a corset and looking Gothic all the time. I remember at the time, everyone seeming to rush to say that you couldn’t tell she was a woman, as if that was not sexist, when instead it was actually more patronizing than if they’d just kept quiet. Of course now they’re an institution and everybody has learned to just not bring up the whole gender thing. Well, hey, progress, who’da thunk it.
I’ve never really gotten into this album despite buying it so very long ago. I think I always enjoyed the first two songs when I listened to it, but I don’t really recall ever liking the rest. I remember one time I actually got rid of it (because I didn’t like it enough to keep) but backed out a week later and got it back (because I didn’t dislike it enough to get rid of). I remember it had a bonus disc called “The Vault” which had a cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Ace’s High’ on it. I wrestled with enjoying and resenting it over the years. It also had a cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Starbreaker’ on it, but I never gave that the time of day before I got into Judas Priest. I remember I revisited the cover around the time I bought Sin After Sin. Since getting into Children Of Bodom, who also have a Melodeath cover of Ace’s High, I haven’t listened to the Arch Enemy version though.
I’ve heard a few songs from each of the subsequent albums, but still to this day I’ve never heard their early material with their old singer, or his voice.
That new Carcass single that was recently released reminds me of Arch Enemy, in the same way that some stuff from Slipknot’s All Hope Is Gone reminds me of Stone Sour.
I’m listening to it again now. It opens with a tasteful piano intro and melds into a great section that sounds like Children Of Bodom without the Keyboards. When the vocals come in, there’s this great dark riff with a sort of rolling quality to it, and all the little Judas Priesty tails that follow are right up my street. The chorus comes in with a quality I don’t like about Arch Enemy, but toned down. I don’t know how to describe it… sort of like rain. I’m only just noticing now what a great drummer these guys have, lots of great little touches on the bell and unexpected fills. Genuinely enjoyable song.
The next song opens up straight into that style I don’t like. Its sort of like crying. The vocals and drums which come in later save it. Then there’s lethal little Priest-esque lead ‘doodle-ey-do-doodle-ooo’ part that brings a massive smile to my face. It really saves the song. Changes the whole mood. There’s a great breakdown in the middle before the super-happy almost Hair Metal guitar solo. At this stage I think the song is absolutely marvelous. Y’know, I think I like everything about Arch Enemy except for the Rhythm guitar. I like the mixture of slappy, bouncy drums with metallic double-kick steadiness. I like the characterful lead guitar. I like the Priest/Maiden twiddles and harmonies thrown in. I like the bits of Thrash and Death that form the main body of the music. There’s just this one style or direction they occasionally veer into that I really can’t get along with.
‘Heart Of Darkness’ opens up with a bit that ties Bodom to Amon Amarth in a way I’ve never understood before, then goes into a sort of Heartwork era Carcass sound. Very good track for understanding Melodeath. Very good track up until the chorus, that is. There had been none of that stuff I disliked about Arch Enemy and even the rhythm was great. That chorus however typifies the things I don’t like like about the band. Shame really, as the part which directly precedes it is absolutely banging. At about 3.30 it morph’s into something off a ’90s Megadeth album, its absolutely great. This whole song is gold apart from that chorus. I just cannot stand that chorus. I wish I knew what it was that was influencing that side of Arch Enemy, so that I could avoid it. Is this the Europe influence? They cover Europe too. They also cover Queensryche’s ‘Walk In The Shadows’ and Kiss’ ‘The Oath’ later, both of which are absolutely fantastic… but that’s beside the point. Is it some kind of Godflesh or Celtic Frost influence? Is it something they got from King Diamond? What is it?
‘Ravenous’ starts off very well, going from At The Gates style fury into a splendid Power Metal style happy guitar dance, and even has a quick, Kerry King style noise-solo but done well. The chorus here threatens to be bad, but is instead a mixture between Power Metal triumphant sounds and ’90s-Megadeth. In fact there’s also a build-up in the middle of the solo that could be lifted right out of ‘A Tout La Monde’ and another part that could be a heavied-up cover of ‘Victory.’ Oh hey; a song that was all good, all the way through. Hooray.
‘Savage Messiah’ opens next with a creepy riff like ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ mixed with ‘Cajun Hell.’ Then it goes into a great Groove Metal/Stoner Metal riff that sounds a bit like Pantera and Black Label Society with harsher amps. Then a slightly Cradle Of Filth sounding bit with a ghostly keyboard line. Then a chorus comes in that I really don’t like. Luckily, its interrupted by that crunchy Groove riff. During the slow bit that mixes ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ with ‘Welcome Home Sanitarium’ in mood, there’s this delicious little “get sexy” guitar line that I have never noticed before but have now absolutely fallen in love with. During the last chorus, they throw in extra music and it sounds massively like Amon Amarth and is the best version of that chorus. If that was the way they played it each time, the song would be about 50 times more enjoyable.
‘Dead Bury Their Dead’ opens up with some very enjoyable Kreator sounding rolly Thrash. Then a big fill and it goes a bit Gothenburg. I suppose that makes it like modern Kreator then. There’s a pure, Decapitated/Cannibal Corpse Death riff in there for the chorus, then a very Death breakdown, then it gets bored and interrupts itself with a thrash bit that evolves into another super happy solo, that goes into a dual-harmony-tapped bit that sounds both like Bodom and Stratovarius at the same time. Then the rolls come back with a solo, then the guitar cuts out and its that part with just the rhythm section and its absolutely bloody cracking. I frigging love this song now actually. Five iPod stars have just been added.
‘Web Of Lies’ opens up slowly, it reminds me of Megadeth a lot. Songs like ‘The Right To Go Insane’ ‘Promises,’ ‘The Hardest Part Of Saying Goodbye,’ ‘Blood Of Heroes,’ and ‘Tears In A Vial.’ I don’t like the chorus. Well, I like the Priesty tail, that reminds me a bit of ‘Riding On The Wind.’ Otherwise, its pretty great. It’s a shame there’s all these really rather small and inconsequential bits that I’ve let spoil a whole good album.
‘The First Deadly Sin’ opens next with a Carcassy riff into more of that At The Gates blistering stuff. When the Carcassy bit comes back it actually reminds me a bit of Dew Scented on closer inspection. In Fact, all of it reminds me of Dew Scented, something like ‘Life Ending Path’ or ‘Unconditional.’ I love the stop-start bit that’s under the solo, its like if Dave Mustaine had wanted to write ‘Spheres Of Madness.’ When this super slow bit comes in after the solo, it really reminds me of the end to Machine Head songs on the first two albums, except for the fact that secretly the riff is actually fairly triumphant and Power Metally, but its kind of hidden behind the tempo. This is another song that’s absolutely good all the way through without any of the stuff I dislike.
What happens next is a bit strange. ‘Behind The Smile’ opens up, sounding exactly like Limp Bizkit. That is such a Limp Bizkit riff, rhythm and beat. What’s going on there? I really rather enjoy it. A nice change of pace on this record. Then it mixes that part with a more low rumbly Death section. Then a sort of funereal part comes in that I don’t like. Ok. On second listen, its not actually that bad. The bit that follows the 2nd bit is very Machine Head’s first two albums. Then there’s a Queen solo. It sounds like a solo from one of Stratovarius’s 10-minute songs. I guess when you think of it, Arch Enemy are quite clever getting all these different parts into the one band without people complaining too much (me aside).
‘Snow Bound’ opens up next, it sounds like Camel. Its simply splendid. A beautiful, emotional sounding piece, with what sounds like a flute melody over the top, and some fantastic almost neoclassical sounding lead guitar. Delightful.
Then ‘Shadows And Dust’ opens up with a mix of the bits I like from Bodom and Stratovarius, with the bits I dislike from Arch Enemy. There’s a brilliant low pitched lead guitar line that reminds me a bit of Cradle Of Filth. I still can’t decide if I like the main part or not. The chorus is a mix of a billion different parts, and some of them I love while others I think spoil the song. It’s a weird song. I wrestle with every single bit of it. Do I like it or not? I’m not entirely sure to be honest. Its certainly well done either way. I like the guitar solo that’s over silence and stabs. The one that follows, with the hanging chords underneath it is even better. The riff that follows it, the one that sounds like Amon Amarth covering Judas Priest is excellent. If they opened with that, I think it would’ve put me in the right mood. The main riff actually seems really good at the end however, when they play a Hatebreed style leaning-on-the-crash-cymbal-as-if-it-were-a-hihat-but-in-a-bouncy-groove underneath, the whole last 30 seconds of the song is great.
The final track, ‘Lament Of A Mortal Soul’ opens with what I would describe as a signature Arch Enemy section. You can really hear how they are the centerpoint between Bodom and Amon Amarth here too. Then a brilliant Fear Factory style staccato stop-start chugs-synched-to-kicks bit. The drums are really good on this song. Then an absolutely horrible chorus. Then the great bit. Damn. It was fast on track to be my favourite song on the album but then that chorus totally made my brain jump off it like a hand that brushes onto a soldering iron.
The brief guitar solo and recurrence of the Fear Factory bit is all golden. Then the extra solo. Then they spoil that with that chorus again. I really can’t stand it, again, I wonder what the influence for that bit is so I can avoid it. Soooooo not my cup of tea. Its memories of bits like that which make me mistakenly think I don’t like this album. The album is not only 90% good 10% not-for-me, but realistically, its about 50% bloody-brilliant as well. It’s a real shame that 10% stands out so clearly in my mind as the Arch Enemy sound. Its all I think about when I see the album artwork. It’s the bit I remember the most from each song. Bad Mental Thumbnails at work again.
With all that talk about Periphery yesterday I decided to put on Periphery II. Its interesting, the choruses are so very radio-friendly at times, but the rest of it can be so extreme and crushing, or indeed jazzy. I sometimes hear a Periphery song on shuffle, when the jazzy bits go off and I wasn’t paying attention, I sometimes mistake it for Distorted Harmony.
The clean vocals they employ are so different from the heavy sections. I could see them putting off some listeners, which is a shame, because the crushing, mechanical sounding, technical sections are really appealing and surprisingly extreme.
The electronic, floaty bits remind me a lot of the direction that both Architects and Bring Me The Horizon have taken on recent albums. In fact, given the amount of Djenty riffs that both of those band’s have played over the years, its odd that neither of them are counted as Djent bands. If you compiled a list of everything that constitutes a Djent song, there’s quite a few Architects and BMTH songs that would have all those boxes ticked. I guess that’s kind of like when you listen to Metal Church or Anvil, who have all the Thrash Metal boxes ticked, but aren’t counted as Thrash.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Djent’s legitimacy as a subgenre recently. It seems as though every time something new comes along, people are resistant to it, call it a fad and criticize its name. Then, ten years later, everyone but the most stubborn conservative fans agree that it exists, and is real, assuming enough bands come along that actually sound like it.
You watch old documentaries and people act as if Glam or Hair Metal isn’t real, or Nu Metal won’t end up as “a thing” but they always do. Sure, sometimes the name gets changed, and sometimes, like with “Pirate Metal” not enough bands come out and play similar enough music for it to develop into a real subgenre, but as it stands, it seems as though there are enough Djent bands, that either call themselves Djent, or get called Djent by enough people that is becoming harder and harder to deny Djent exists. As it stands, Djent is almost as legitimate a term to use as “Folk Metal” and any criticism you could apply to the legitimacy of Djent could also apply to the legitimacy of Folk Metal.
I mean, you just have to hop over to Got-Djent? and see the sheer number of bands with common sonic links. People occasionally say things like “Djent was over before it began” but why then are there still countless new Djent bands getting signed, why are the biggest Djent bands still releasing albums and touring? Why are more and more reviews coming out online that use Djent as a real term without question and simply as a matter of fact? In precisely what way has it gone away?
People seem to complain that Djent owes a debt to Messuggah, and use that to argue that it isn’t a real thing. (If you really think about it though, you should probably add Sikth, Nine Inch Nails, Dillenger Escape Plan and possibly even Slipknot to that as well). Well, Hair Metal owes a debt to Van Halen, Areosmith, Kiss and The New York Dolls and it still managed to exist.
Nu Metal owed a debt to Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine, Tool and White Zombie but it still managed to exist.
Black Metal owed a debt to Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Sodom, and Mercyful Fate but it still managed to exist.
Thrash Metal owed a debt to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Diamond Head and even Black Sabbath but it still managed to exist.
Doom owes as much to Black Sabbath as Djent owes to Messugah, but all the internet Djent-Skeptics seem oblivious to that. I could go on, but it would seem more like an angry rant than a simple explanation if I typed anymore at once.
What I would say to anyone who still doesn’t think Djent is a real subgenre, is to listen to three tracks each from Periphery, TesseracT, Monuments, Circles, Destiny Potato, Bulb, Structures, Textures, Volumes, Fellsilent, Skyharbour, Intervals, The Contortionist, The Algorithm, Veil Of Maya, Stealing Axion, Uneven Structure, After The Burial, Ion Dissonance, Aliases, Sybreed, Returning We Hear The Larks and Eggeh and extrapolate what the Djent sound is. You won’t even have to make it through half of them before you see the similarities.
Sure Hacktivist don’t sound exactly like Periphery all the time, and both are pretty different to Born Of Osiris… but Megadeth’s ‘Wake Up Dead’ isn’t a clone of Slayer’s ‘Chemical Warfare’ either, and that is pretty different to Kreator’s ‘People Of The Lie’ and they are all still Thrash bands.
Anyway; the album opens up with ‘Muamasa.’ It starts out with electronic beats and clear, commercial clean vocals like Architect’s newest album, or stuff like Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘And The Snake’s Start To Sing’ or ‘Blessed With A Curse.’
Its got a melodic, lead guitar that sort of sounds like its playing a solo but isn’t. Then a Djenty riff almost comes in, but its more straight forward and less complex and all-over-the-place than the typical Djent bit. The song ends. It was sort of like an album closer for a modern Metalcore act, but three times shorter.
Then ‘Have A Blast’ opens up with a squelchy sounding violin line that’s interrupted by some happy Japanese electronic shopping channel sounding bubbly music, that then gives way to Blast Beats with Dream Theater sweeps over the top, then a Djent riff with Death Vocals. Then the big youthful clean vocals come over the top. Then it goes down into a sort of Ghostly background keys-ambience, with a Djenty bass and drums interlocked section, with a jazzy sweepy guitar part over the top of it. Depending on what angle you look at it, it can look like Horizon or Dream Theater. Strange mix. I noticed that Dream Theater’s John Petrucci guests on this album, but I never noticed a musical connection before.
Then that’s interrupted by a brilliant slightly dissonant Math-Metal style rhythm with complex drums but before you can really sink your teeth into it, a very Horizon/Architect’sy electronic ambient bit comes in. When that ends a commercial-vocals-over-slightly-less-complex-but-still-complex-enough part, then they go into a sort of Post Hardcore bit. Then they sneak in bouncy Messuggah rhythms in there with very virtuosic guitar sneakily acting straight forward.
Then comes the next Jazzy bit, which they pretend is a commercial Metalcore chorus. Its amazing how the manage to be so radio-friendly in one way, but then so ear-painful in another way. Its way, way too complex to sit in a Kerrang TV line-up beside A Day To Remember and Paramore, but yet I dare say there’s a fair few Opeth fans who would take one listen to Spencer’s cleans and instantly dismiss the band forever. I know I would’ve back in about 2003.
Oooh; a lovely solo that reminds me of Distorted Harmony. I knew there was some of that in there.
It ends with one of those “blast beat sections that don’t seem so unpleasant because of the guitars being more like solos” things that I talked about in my DragonForce First Impressions.
‘Facepalm Mute’ opens with the archetypal Djent bit; A jagged, angular heavy riff, in an odd pattern. There’s some Sikth-style vocals over a modern UK-Hardcore part, then another Djenty riff. Then… a super slick, clean chorus with a commercial sheen. If I recall correctly, this was the first Periphery song I ever heard. At about 2:17 it goes into full Sikth-over-the-top-of-Messuggah mode and fulfills all the Djent press-promise. Then that massive chorus. That chorus is the difference between playing in a Gazeebo supported by an iPod sellotaped to a statue of a dog, and getting to play with Dream Theater, Devin Townsend and Gojira. Those choruses are also the key to breaking away from the 40 people who talk about Metal on the internet and onto the iPods of the 40,000 people in Universities and Colleges up and down the country that listen to it (but who you couldn’t tell listen to it without asking them).
Hey, a bit of that atmospheric, clean, Prog Metal stuff and the electronic beats that are also a big part of Djent. This song’s got a bit of it all. The Robert Fripp, the Trent Reznor, the Fredrick Thordendal and then those make-some-money choruses over the top.
‘Ji’ follows. It opens with a more Death-fan friendly unpleasant sounding version of the typical Djent riff. There’s also more of the harsh vocals. Ok. Then they throw a clean chorus. There’s a great broken up low-pitched riff with a weird Yes-esque synth part over the top and some extremity-relieving clean vocals, which then melds into a very Dream Theater part. I can see him trying to sound a bit like La Brie. Hey never noticed that before. Then just about a full minute of really pleasant Prog Metal with occasional Djenty tails to otherwise very Images And Wordsy parts.
Then a bunch of mixed parts that would suit people who like both Dillinger Escape Plan and Asking Alexandria at the same time. (Confusing thought I know, internet trolls).
The brilliant single ‘Scarlet’ comes next. I’ve always liked it. The way the vocals work (but not how they sound) really remind me of Coheed & Cambria. Its one of the less-heavy songs on the album, and probably one of the least complex songs on the album too. Its kind of more like just a really good Killswitch Engage song than a mixture of Messuggah and Nine Inch Nails. Its damn good. Some of the little guitar parts and drum beats are so enjoyable. There’s a cut-out to just guitar and vocals that reminds me of the guitar sound to the cleaner moments by Animals As Leaders and Scale The Summit. That sort of last-three-King-Crimson-albums guitar sound, of reverby spiders scuttling up and down clean notes.
‘Luck As A Constant’ follows with an awkard, all-over-the-place sort of riff. Then a heavy bit that turns in and out on itself, which really, really typifies Djent to me. There’s a similarly heavy part that’s diluted by clean vocals and a Frippy topping. Then a vocal line that really reminds me of Iowa era Slipknot. You know the techniques that you can tell Corey took from Jonathan Davis, but now you associate more with Corey, like when he goes from a harsh vocal to a slightly cleaner but still harsh vocal as he inhales on-mic in a sort of crying way? That. Spencer does that. Then after a while it cuts out to another Animals As Summits Fripp fest. “If you love the guilt then let it die.” I love the kick drum in this part. Reminds me of being shown Cloudkicker one night a few years ago. The guitar solo is so emotional and pleasant sounding. Then the song ends in a sort of ambient noise moment.
‘Ragnarock’ is next. Its got the most Messuggah sounding riff on the album so far. Its got a weird dance music-repurposed thing over the top though. Then it turns into a different bit with clean vocals and robotic odd horror movie key strokes then something else that reminds me of different parts of Iowa. ‘Everything Ends’ and ‘The Shape’ in particular. Then a good minute of just the harsh vocals and pure-Djent riffs. After that smack around the head, the synths come in and relieve a bit of the headache that was causing. Then they bring in clean vocals over the same sort of rhythm but with the guitars 90% less heavy. It then brings in somemore dance music sounding parts, but disguised as the synth parts to a modern British Metalcore album if you understand me. Then it takes a leaf out of the old Scale The Animals book only softer and more plinky plonky. After a while the glitch beats come in and its all very pleasant and “the bit in the movie when the little girl saves the parent’s marriage.”
‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’ opens up with a very insistent and faster than usual Djenty riff, but then some brilliant Coheed vocal patterns come in and the music takes all sorts of turns like waves rollicking up and down. So much of the song runs along Coheed Mechanics, but sometimes you’ll get an actual sound straight out of Mastodon’s Leviathan hidden in there. I think this is one of the best and most unique songs on the album.
‘Make Total Destroy’ makes up for that with a much heavier, more aggressive opening. There’s another very Mick-from-Slipknot bit in there, under a clean vocal that distracts you from how heavy it all really is. The vocals for about the next minute are so varied and characterful and follow no logical pattern I can understand. This is something of an album highlight too. I can see the cleanest parts putting people off, but this is so bloody good all over that its worth persisting with. Then some Dillinger stuff. Then an almost out of place Post Hardcore clean bit, with some electronic drums over the top, but that unleashes into a really, really intense Messuggah bit with a great little Dillinger meets Brent Hinds style tail. The song is over, except for the usual twenty seconds of ambient electronic music.
‘Erised’ starts next. I wonder if that’s ‘Erased’ in an Australian accent mate? John Petrucci’s on this one. It starts off clean, with very noticeable bass. The drums on this one are great. They remind me of LD. 50. The solo comes in with that jazzy sound and Distorted Harmony-confusion-inducing sound that I was on about earlier. They’re two such vastly different bands, but these brief parts really remind me of them. I love the bit just before 3.25 that mixes LD.50 with Messaggah and Coheed, but has this Frippy clean background bit quietly spidering away underneath. At 4.15 they morph into Porcupine Tree with even better drums than Porcupine Tree already have. Its an absolutely brilliant little Drum Solo-within-a-song affair like ‘Anesthetize.’ Then the absolutely delicious guitar solo kicks off and you feel like you’re floating on a cloud, watching nations triumph over natural disasters.
That melds seamlessly into the next song, ‘Epoch.’ ‘Epoch’ begins with that floaty-keys and electronic beats style, it’s an instrumental. It reminds me a little of Sonic The Hedgehog for some reason.
The oddly-tittled ‘Froggin’ Bullsish’ starts next. It opens with a riff that is almost the exact halfway point between Dream Theater and Animals As Leaders. You know, I used to not understand the ‘Progressive’ tag that Periphery have, but I get it now. Its got another Distorted Harmony guitar lead. Then some of the Harsh vocals over a more pleasant section. There’s a part in the middle that starts to really remind me of Fair To Midland. Its got the same vocal mechanics, like how that previous song used the Coheed mechanics. This one is very Fair To Midland all over actually. Great little vocal flourishes and oddly rammed-in parts. After a while it cuts to some Spanish sounding guitar that reminds me of Pink Floyd’s More album and fades out.
‘Mile Zero’ opens with a riff that reminds me of Head Automatica only Djented-up. The first vocals that come in are clean and quiet too. This could be a single. It has a more radio feel than anything on the record so far. The chorus is fantastically catchy in a Modern Metalcore sort of a way. I could hear Jesse Leech singing it on the new Killswitch album. They start progging out in small touches afterwards. Its all non-in-your-face virtuosic on the instruments. Then they throw in a very Brent Hinds riff (think ‘Bladecatcher’) with some harsher vocals to balance it out. Then the ambient keys plus glitch beats and clean vocals return. Its all very much reminiscent of the new Architects and BMTH albums. Then a lovely Distorted Harmony solo (have I mentioned their guitar solos remind me of each other?) and plenty of drums that sound too hard to play when you think about them but simple if you’re thinking about what to have for lunch. Then that gorgeous chorus and it ends. Apart from the obligatory ambient segue into the next song.
Then it ends with ‘Masamune.’ Its got the typical Djent riff with the heaviness dialed down by about 40% and a nice-bit-in-an-Architects-song wibble over the top. There’s a mixture of Harshes and Cleans vocals-wise. The wibble gets its own little highlight. It seems a bit Fripp and a bit Tosin Abasi upon closer inspection. Then it cuts to this very Death-Doom slow bit for a few seconds before mixing the glitches into the heavy Djent stuff so instead of the riffs having tails they glitch out. Its well done, but it would give me a headache out of context. Then they keep that bit but swap the glitch tails for an atmospheric keyboard holding long slow notes out of time underneath as the music seems to go further and further out of time and the old chorus is presented in a new way as the band just tech-the-fuck-out with low super heavy Messuggah bits. Around 4.40 it gets really oppressive and crushing. It reminds me of Fear Factory very vaugly but mostly Messuggah. The low-in-the-mix screams underneath really remind me of the intro track to Iowa (Y’know… ‘,’ …the one that is just a bunch of screaming and noise? Literally. Not in an insulting “this song is just screaming and noise” way that your parents might say about any Metal) …Then that bit fades out. No atmospheric bit this time though, because the album is just over… Unless you have the special edition with one more nice Instrumental like ‘Epoch’ and a very faithful cover of Slipknot’s ‘Heretic Anthem.’ Which I don’t.
Y’know I’ve heard this album before, but I’ve never “listened to it” like this I know realize. This album is fantastic. I mean, I already thought it was, but like, on the most shallow surface level. I liked a centimeter and missed about a kilometer of the depth. Nowadays I always feel very kind towards Periphery ever since they shared my List Of Albums That Metal Fans Should Try on their Facebook page and got me 7,500 viewers in one day. I mean, I liked them before that… I listened to the album when they were streaming it for pre-release excitement and I bought it when it was new. I gave it a positive review and I’ve usually had it on my phone (hard to get on for all but the best songs and newest purchases) but for some reason I’ve only just noticed today exactly how bloody good it is. I guess writing about albums helps me really absorb them. You’d think the writing would be distracting, but it seems the opposite is true.
Ok. Both of those were pretty modern albums. I’ll take a different approach next. How about Heathen’s ‘Breaking The Silence’ record? I never really actually “listened to it” either. I certainly put it on a few times. I “listened to” their 2nd album a lot, its brilliant. This debut, I think I got it just as I’d heard too much Thrash. I heard so many different Thrash albums that by the time I got this one I just couldn’t even hear it.
I remember that I got this album for free because the band just gave their music away for free before
I also remember not liking the singer on this one as much as the one on the next one (brilliant memory as to names there, KCP). Listening to it now, ‘Death By Hanging’ is a very pleasant if unremarkable Thrash tune. Its not as heavy as Slayer or even Exodus, but it’s a bit less humorous and unique than Anthrax. It kind of reminds me of Slayer’s debut more than anything, but with the production of a Vio-lence or an Exodus. I can see how Lee Atlus ended up in Exodus actually. You know what it really reminds me of? Overkill’s Feel The Fire album but without that sloppy punky feel. It’s a super tight, professional version of Maiden-meets-Priest-meets-Motorhead-but-heavier.
I really like ‘Goblin’s Blade’ here. I mean, you can’t really say anything about it. Its exactly Thrash, but without that USP. Its not Punky, its not Proggy, Its not Deathy or Blacky (or Blackie Lawless). It doesn’t add extra instruments or deviate from the formula in any way, and they don’t Play The Fuck Out Of It. There’s nothing that makes it stand out. Not that that’s a problem now when I haven’t gotten into a new Thrash band since about 2008 with Kreator. Its just like if somebody mixed ‘Iron Fist’ with ‘Starbreaker,’ ‘Princess Of The Night’ and ‘Back In The Village.’
‘Open The Grave’ opens with some very showy guitars that remind me more of their next album, then it builds up into exactly the kind of music that Overkill played on their first two albums but with a Bay Area production instead of an East Coast one (or a horrible British one… uggh, British Thrash Production is not kind to my ears). It goes on for seven minutes. All of it is good, if pretty unremarkable. It isn’t going to make Testament or Forbidden’s debuts look embarrassing any time soon. Despite having almost nothing going for it, its brilliant fun at the minute. It’s the perfect, simple, easily-digestible morsel of every-second-is-a-sound-I-like true Metal that I need after having the shit kicked out of me by Periphery, and my tastes challenged by Arch Enemy. Two records that mix styles second by second and sit on the forefront of genres that people like to say don’t exist. This is just absolute Thrash, in its purest form. Well I say purest, this one is seven minutes long and has an acoustic bit in it, but you get the point.
‘Pray For Death’ is a very direct and simple version of the album’s sound. If you wonder what it sounds like, try this one out. I just gave it three iPod stars. I like the bit in the middle when it speeds up. The solos are great, they have a lot more character than on the previous song, and the galloping quality reminds me of the video for ‘The Trooper.’
Next up there’s a cover of ‘Set Me Free.’ Its better than Saxon’s cover of it. I like the production on the little bass solo bit.
The Title Track opens up with a great harmonized lead and a bouncy section that sounds like a Pirate Ship, then morphs into a mixture between the usual Overkill copying and a bit of a The Legacy feel. This one feels a lot more like an “A-Tier” Thrash song, than the C-list status I currently have them filed under. Sometimes his vocals really effectively mimics Bruce Dickenson. Sometimes the riffs remind me of Kill ‘Em All. Actually, there’s one slower, darker riff on here that sounds oddly like Black Album era Metallica too. The solo is pretty enjoyable. Its very melodic and distinctive, it manages to mix a lot of different styles in one go. It goes on for a long time, which I approve of as an absolute solo-glutton.
There’s another 7-minute track, in the form of ‘World’s End.’ It opens up with nice Spanishy guitars (as so many Thrash songs did) and there’s some lead guitar crying over the top. It them takes a Prog Rock turn, like the “Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win…” bit on that Maiden song. After about 1.49 it kicks in with one of the most unique riffs on the album. I mean it’s the usual fast Thrash riff with chugs then a tail, but the tail is unlike any I’ve ever heard before. It works with Dave Mustaine style fingers, but with notes that he’d never use. The vocal patterns in the chorus couldn’t sound more like early Overkill if they tried. There’s a cool variation of that unique riff at around the 4-minute mark. Its even more unique then, and they also work its mechanics into the solo, very nicely done. Then a very good solo kicks off in many different parts.
Y’know. I really like this exact amount of heaviness. It’s a sort of soft heaviness. Its clearly Metal because of the style. But realistically, there’s almost nothing heavy about this. Its very clear, clean and separated. I’d love to hear a Cannibal Corpse or Napalm Death song with this exact production, tones and mix. I’d love if they had left the studio exactly as it is, with the setting on the amps and the same pickups and strings in the guitars and the desk preset… and then just let someone that hurts my ears like Dillinger Escape Plan or Emperor come in and play their album here. This production style is an absolute treat. I wish Nuclear Assault had recorded their songs with this production.
The album ends with ‘Save The Skull.’ Its more of the same. Its probably the heaviest song on the album, but only by a small margin anyway. Of course I like the solos. This is what I’d describe as a “perfect song.” Even though its not particularly amazing, or the most memorable song ever (although that riff at around 4.01 is fun and the ending is pretty cool) its just so perfectly formed and absolutely demonstrative of what it is, it falls under the remit of perfection. If somebody wanted to know what Thrash Metal was, this is a quick and easy way to show them exactly what Thrash is. I guess maybe you could call that “generic” or “middle of the road” but I feel more like its “a good example.”
Ok then. I’ve spent about three hours listening to these and about another hour on the writing side of things. That’s probably enough for today. Especially since I don’t particularly feel like buying anything today. If I was going to buy anything, it would probably be Periphery’s debut… but I already got it for my brother. Perhaps I’ll listen to it tomorrow.
Ok. That’s me done for the day. I’ll write more updates between now and the end of the challenge.