I’ve been obsessing about music since about the year 2000. Over this time I’ve bought what must now be nearly 1,000 albums, and heard hundreds more through friends, relatives, streaming services and whatever else. I’ve also watched over a decade’s worth of music videos and heard countless individual songs on the radio, free covermounted CDs, websites and whatever else. All that, as well as read years and years worth of music magazines and websites.
I’m a nerd. Basically. Only, instead of Space 1999 or collecting antiques, its Music that I obsess about. Lots of people are nerds and don’t even realize it. Sometimes its obvious; trainspotting, stamp collecting etc. Sometimes its less obvious due to presentation. Some (make that many) football fans’ depth of knowledge about players and transfer costs and club histories would make many tram-enthusiasts seem normal by comparison. The amount of information that some people know about Reality-TV celebrities and their sex-lives would easily overpower my knowledge of bands, or the most dedicated Dr. Who fan’s knowledge of the Tardis.
But I don’t like Football or Reality TV or Trams or Dr. Who. I like Heavy Metal music. That’s what this Blog is all about.
Welcome to my First Impressions series of articles too, incidentally. In this series I (or sometimes my friends, or readers) pick an album for each entry that I will listen to for the first time. I then write in depth about what I know about that album or the artist that created it and the genre and subgenre to which they belong, before describing the experience of listening to it in real time, in a sort of semi-stream-of-consciousness way intended for entertainment purposes. I also enjoy writing reviews of albums, but when I write reviews my goal is to be helpful and provide you with information with which to aide your decision about whether to try out an album or not. When I write a First Impressions article however my goal is purely to entertain the reader, explore how much I know about music and be my own psychiatrist in the process.
I may go into some very specific detail and assume you have heard everything I’ve ever heard and perceived everything in the manner I’ve perceived it, and call out very specific sections of music and draw comparisons between things that the casual listener may find completely unrelated. Don’t worry, most of these songs are on Youtube and most of the terminology is on Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary anyway, so if there’s anything that goes over your head, you can always get clarification in a second web-browser-tab (or ask about it in the comments).
According to the aim of the series, the albums are considered by the public and music critics knowledgeable about the subject to be Classic albums within Rock and Metal, or at least within their own Subgenres. Classic albums that I’ve somehow missed out on, despite my nerdly need to hear and understand almost every piece of recorded Metal music ever.
If you have an album that you’d like to read a KingcrimsonBlog First Impressions article about, please suggest it in the comments, I’m game, I’ll give anything a try.
So that’s the preamble out of the way, on to the article: I’ve just packed up all my things except my laptop because I’m moving house once again (how many of these articles involve me moving?) but before I did I finally got my Vision Of Disorder albums in the post, after mentioning it all that time ago in the Life Of Agony Article. Its been a long wait. In that time I’ve grown to really like Life Of Agony incidentally, especially the title track of the debut.
I’ve been to the Doctor’s once again and found out there’s still more to come. Investigative mystery ala House. Harumph. New, more invasive tests to come. Harumph. I have to get a new GP and continue it all in my new city because I’m moving. Harumph. Oh well, its probably nothing. Only if these articles suddenly stop… you know my organs exploded and my brain melted out my ears.
Also, on a less whingy note, I’ve been listening to a lot of Fat Man On Batman Podcasts lately. If you want to hear some really interesting thoughts on aliens, meditation, higher plains of being, the afterlife and the fabric of reality (and I mean this in real life, not in Batman) then listen to Episode 26 (Feb 15, 2013) with the incredibly interesting Grant Morrison and his trip to Machu Peachu to achieve enlightenment.
But that’s beside the point. The point is a groovey 90s Hardcore-Meets-Metal band to explore. Another piece of the puzzle that Life Of Agony were a part of. I hope it will hit the spot that Prong didn’t. I’ve been listening to more Madball than I already did, as well as re-listening to a lot of Biohazard because my friend Magnum reminded me how good they are, and I’ve also discovered Alice In Chains and rediscovered Silverchair’s early stuff (oh and finally gotten around to buying Freakshow… incase you were wondering about that after my Silverchair post). Basically I’ve been contemplating the 90s a lot. How Punk and Hardcore and Grunge and Groove all relate to one another. I’ve noticed parts in Madball songs that explain parts in Pantera songs, I noticed parts in Biohazard songs that explain parts on Chaos AD. I noticed parts in all of them that explain parts of Burn My Eyes. I already knew that those bands listened to Hardcore as well, but this is one of the first times where I really felt it.
I’ve noticed with all the dialogue samples in Biohazard’s sound, a link of sorts to Ministry. A link which is shared with the likes of Rob Zombie and American Headcharge (who are back and have a new EP by the way).
Similarly; I noticed Alice In Chains parts that explain just about every Nu Metal band and 80s band that went a bit “alternative” in the 90s. I think I really must listen to Rage Against The Machine with this new headspace. I love learning more and more about how all the pieces fit together. I suppose that’s why I keep advertising my 1000-albums-list so much. In fact I’ve gone back to it today for the first time in ages and fixed a lot of the grammar and spelling mistakes now that I can see it with fresh eyes.
I’ve already explained my history with this band album and how I got them confused with Life Of Agony due to the connection of famous tracks with the word “river” in them, the similar release era, the similar Stephen Hill is a fan status etc. so I think I’ll just jump right in and start straight away.
The album opens up with ‘Element.’ The intro doesn’t tell me much yet. That riff could be Korn, Biohazard, Sepultura or Drowning Pool. Those Vocals could be Alice In Chains. I’m not sure where this is going.
It takes a lot of different twists and turns there’s so many different different parts crammed in a small space. It goes from Will Haven to Deftones to Biohazard to Pantera. Sometimes the vocals are a bit Grungey. Sometimes they’re a bit At The Drive In. Man, you know who they remind me of? Chimaira! I bet they were a big influence.
The next song opens up with a weird ass bit that sounds like a mixture between industrial and Nu Metal. It then goes a bit My Own Summer but with a very Alice In Chains vocal, but that gets interrupted by a subtle jazz interruption then it turns into a very Amen sort of flappy stomp section. Its got a bit of a Sikthy math vibe to it. It’s a bit Dillenger. It toes the line of not-to-my-tastes and right-up-my street.
‘Through My Eyes’ opens up with a great Biohazard riff but when it goes into a weird time sig drum beat and the vocals come in it sounds a bit more like the Korn end of Nu Metal. Then there’s a funky quick Slap Bass interruption and it kicks into a fun one-finger riff like the best part of a Korn song… the fast bit. Then the toms start rolling like exciting Hardcore but the painful 90s vocal (is it Jane’s Addiction or Stone Temple Piolots maybe that they remind me of? …I can tell that whoever they are influenced by, also influenced Maynard James Keenan but from a different angel, if you get me.) Then they go into a cool, sad sounding bit that reminds me of Deftones and Rishloo’s debut, but then it turns into bouncy fun-beat Nu Metal.
‘Viola’ starts off with a Thrash riff that gets betrayed by snotty tuneless vocals and a slow drumbeat. Then they throw in a brilliant part that you can tell came from the same thing that explains a lot of Fear Factory and Pantera but that I can’t quiet put my finger on. It also reminds me a bit of Marilyn Manson’s Misery Machine. It then cuts to a brilliant groove in the Chaos AD and Burn My Eyes end of song tradition, before playing a Grungey bit like Life Of Agony’s second and third album. When that bit finally pays off after a quiet bit, its very Deftones. Then that Burn My Chaos bit comes back. It morphs into a bit that slightly reminds me of Dry Kill Logic of all people before ending in very Grunge era feedback (I just rewatched “Hype!” yesterday so I’m very attuned to Grunge at the minute).
‘Liberation’ is pretty much a Nu Metal song. It reminds me a bit of Strictly Diesel. Sometimes the vocals sound like Chimaira but sometimes they sound like this horrible angsty talking type of Grunge and late Hardcore delivery that I don’t like anybody but At The Drive In doing.
‘Divide’ is next. Its pretty short. It opens up with a riff exactly like something off of Korn’s debut but goes into a nice Biohazrd type bit and then into something slower off of Roots or Chaos AD. It reminds me a bit of ‘We Who Are Not As Others’ and ‘Territory’ at the same time for a second. There’s a cool bouncy bit where the drummer slowly plays a paradiddle on the ride-bell and snare. Sometimes the riffs sound like Fear Factory slowed down 200%. It speeds up like its going to be good but then just ends.
‘Ways To Destroy One’s Ambition’ opens up pretty cool, and it has a really nice fast bit with superfast double kicks. Its probably the most interesting and enjoyable song so far. It has a lot of different cool parts and all the dives and squeals over the top of it are cool. There’s none of those awful vocals. There’s a cool Vocals-through-a-megaphone bit that reminds me of Deftones and Tool. If it wan’t for the bit between the intro and the fast bit it would’ve been brilliant all over.
‘Suffer’ opens up with a great fast punky bit banging away. Then it goes into a cool Madball/Biohazard bit. Then a Chaos AD roll with Distortion. The fast bit comes back and it reminds me of Superjoint Ritual. That’s followed by a cool Arty Bit that reminds me of At The Drive In or something. There’s a big fat Sabbahty riff in there somewhere too …and a great ending. This is also one of the best songs on the record so far.
‘Zone, Zero’ starts off like a drum solo and devolves into a slow whingy Korn’s-bad-parts Nu Metal number. Then after a while of arsing about aimlessly it just stops and starts as a great bouncy Heavy Biohazard type song and mixes the heavy and clean vocals more effectively. Its actually a pretty great song once it finds its feet. Y’know, I can actually hear a lot of Slipknot’s debut in here. Songs like ‘Scissors’ and ‘Tattered And Torn’ in particular.
‘D.T.O’ opens with a really Wes Borland riff but quickly changes into a mix of everything else on the album so far. There’s the Slipknot debut thin-riffs, the Biohazard stuff, the Korn stuff, the Grungey vocals, the Chimaira and Sikth squeals. Big Fat Madball riffs but with more cut up Nu Metal deliveries. The slow-to-slower-to-unrelated-part structures. I can actually hear parts of Shadows Fall’s The Art Of Balance in there too, if I really think about it. The riff at the very end is cool.
‘Excess’ opens with a part that reminds me both of Fear Factory, Slipknot’s ‘Surfacing’ and Stone Sour’s ‘Get Inside.’ It then goes into a big Deftones swerve city bounce, and then finds a sort of middle ground. Its very Tony Hawks Pro Skater soundtrack, with just 10% too much unpleasantness. The riff at 2.12 could be Lamb Of God with the right production. If this didn’t have the super flappy production and thin guitar sound it might be really impressive.
The album closes with ‘Gloom.’ It opens up with some whinging over a cool drumbeat. The rest of it alternates between Strictly Diesel and Adrenaline. This along with Prong answers a lot of questions for me about where certain parts of Nu Metal came from.
Then the record ends. It was an interesting history lesson with some cool bits, but it wasn’t amazing and I’m not exactly feeling converted.
I let their next album, Imprint carry on playing next. OK. They fixed the production, nice one. The music has a lot more “Pop.” ‘What You Are’ opens the record. It bounces out savagely like a bizarre mixture of Amen, Mudvayne and Dillenger. There’s a lot less Korn and whinge-Grunge going on. It’s a lot more savage without being Noisy. This album is closer to Gallows and Mastodon than the other one was. Its played with more power and intensity too.
‘Twelve Steps To Nothing’ really, really sounds like Devildriver. A sort of mixture between the harshest parts of Ministry and Amen follow. This amazing groove kicks in that reminds me a bit of SOAD. The clean vocals are waaaay better on this album. This is already a way better album. Its fully formed where the other one feels like a demo. The other one had weird structures that sounded “wrong” wheras this one has interesting structures that sound “complex.” The otherone had limp aggression. This has thick, threatening aggression.
‘Landslide’ opens up with a very SOAD beat that gets eaten by a Dillenger noise battering then kicks into a bouncy groove. The clean vocals are enjoyable. It then takes a crazy-ass left turn into a super noisy bit but the virtuosic drum performance and short duration save it. This song is better than everything on the previous album.
‘By The River’ is next. The song that caused all the confusion. Phil Anselmo time. His vocals sound like they do on ‘The Underground In America’ and also parts of ‘Floods.’ The song itself is pretty good. I don’t know why I should like this. Its got a better than the sum of its parts quality. The ending is like the best bit on a song of Chimaira’s debut.
The title-track ‘Imprint’ is next. Its in a pretty similar vein to the last one. Its still good for the same mysterious reason. I think its just to do with confidence and intensity. The last record was doing the same thing, but the improved production and the different vocal style help my brain to enjoy it more, it suits me more.
I’ve just been listening to a lot of Power Metal, and repeat listening to Protest The Hero. This sounds a billion miles away from both, but its still great. It tickles a completely different part of my brain.
‘ColorBlind’ is next. It opens up with a very interesting weird twisty riff. That cuts down to some screams over a tom roll and some very Ross Robinson guitars. That loosens up into a noisy part I’m not keen on but when the heavy bit comes back in it sounds massive so I guess the contrast helped the song in the long run.
The next song ‘Rebirth Of Tragedy’ has some very impressive drums.
There’s a part of ‘Locust Of The Dead’ earth that strangely reminds me a little of a certain part of Monster Magnet’s ‘Silver Future.’ Obviously this song is a lot more crushing and intense, but there’s something about a certain vocal pattern.
It sounds like there’s sound effects in part of it of Formula One cars speeding past your ear. I wonder if there are, or its just a ‘Surfacing’ style guitar noise.
‘Up In You’ sounds like menace. It’s a loose cannon. It sounds like shits going to kick off. If the feeling you get when you see Frank Begbie get insulted was a song, it would sound something like this. ‘Oh noooooooooooooo’
‘Clone’ is more of the same. That was not a joke.
The last song ‘Jada Bloom’ is strangely melodic and has a sort of Post Hardcore vibe to it in places while sounding a lot like Chimaira in other places. Its got this hypnotic quality due to the repetitive stop start riffs.
That was a way better album. It could’ve done with maybe cutting out two songs so it was a bit more succinct and punchy but it was pretty great either way.
Ok. That’s enough for tonight. Time to move house. G’bye.