500 Word Review: Azuresands 大麻 “Inner Journey”

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A few weeks ago, versatile vaporwave artist, Azuresands 大麻, released his latest project, “Inner Journey”.  For those who might not be familiar with the prominent electronic composer, Azuresands 大麻 has established a reputation of being one of the most innovative artists in the genre’s fairly brief history.  With the release of varying projects that not only directly contrast one another in theme, aesthetic, sound, composition, and influence, but also push the limits of vaporwave itself by creating new subgenres and concepts only imaginable by Azuresands 大麻 himself, Azuresands 大麻 continues to impress the rest of the vaporwave community while simultaneously leaving them on the edge of their seats in anticipation with what he will release next.  That being said, it’s no surprise to see “Inner Journey” recognized as one of the most significant albums in the genre to be released this year.

For this project, Azuresands 大麻 is working alone to create an ambient, atmospheric album.  Despite his recent success with collaborative projects like “Compass Rose” and “American Truck Songs 8”, Azuresands 大麻 is returning to writing solo work, and being a huge fan of not just vaporwave, but Azuresands 大麻 specifically, I was very excited to see how the accomplished artist would approach the album as far as composition goes.

For starters, I really enjoyed the diversity of this project. Every single song is distinct and can be recognized within the first few seconds of its playing time.  For example, in the first few measures of the project “Inner Journey” itself, an ominous, nearly inaudible bass is the foundation of a space, and of course, meditation themed ambient track, as the album slowly fades in, making this first track, “Waveswell”, instantly significant and recognizable. From here, the prominent project by Azuresands 大麻 will quickly change and transform as each track takes on a different sound, influence, and even persona, leaving the listener completely clueless as to what is about to come next.  In fact, the sound of the album constantly jumps around from the more traditional ambient vaporwave sound, to multi-layered synths and soundscapes in the form of atmospheric tracks, to even tracks that feature just percussion or vocal samples, which results in a fairly interesting project.  However, while this is fascinating to say the least, I believe that if Azuresands 大麻 narrowed down the core sound of the album itself and shortened the project to only feature the most memorable and well composed tracks heard, the entire project would strengthen as a whole, easily making “Inner Journey” one of the best vaporwave releases of the year.  What is consistent, however, is the integration of prominent altered samples featuring edited tempos and pitch changes, heavy use of reverb, often heard soundscapes that are a staple for this project, and the slight addition of echo effects that give these songs the distinct vaporwave sound and influence.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the spoken samples, like those heard on “Tacoshimi” and “Bummerman”.  The overwhelmingly loud samples distract the listener from the superb instrumental tracks through the use of slow, nonsensical ramblings that the album really does not need to be successful.  However, where these songs fail, tracks like “Heartglow” easily exemplify excellence and redeem the previous, underachieving songs.  After “Tacoshimi” finally comes to a close, “Heartglow” enters with utterly captivating and mesmerizing internationally influenced instrumental tracks.  This use of complex composition combined with inspiration from South American culture and music creates an overall sound that is not only catchy but also unlike anything I’ve ever heard in vaporwave before.  Intricate layering of numerous percussion instruments to the point where it sounds like an entire village is recording the track live in one take with simple, unique instruments makes “Heartglow” one of the most memorable Azuresands 大麻 songs in his discography.

Overall, this is definitely a must listen to Azuresands 大麻 project.  While it’s unlike any of his recent material, his experimentation with ambient vaporwave, while also adding in aspects unique to his personal sound, results in a very solid release.  With a track list featuring everything from songs that are unique compared to one another and sound nothing like their album counterparts to a heavy layering of soundscapes, synths, and the occasional light and pleasant arpeggiator heard from the first few measures of “Waveswell” until the last few moment of “Charismaring”, it’s clear that every prominent aspect heard works together collectively to truly make this a relaxing and interesting album.  I will say that the sound quality is pretty low on this project (and not because I listened to the album primarily on cassette tape) compared to my favorite vaporwave releases.  Although, after seeing the aesthetic on the album cover, the muddy recording that features a lack of clarity in sound quality seems to fit the overall theme of the project and doesn’t deteriorate my overall enjoyment of the release.  I give “Inner Journey” an 8.1/10 and highly suggest you listen to the tracks “Waveswell”, “Brookwhisperer”, “Halo Cubed”, “Heartglow”, “Barkcloth Tapestry”, “Many Hands of Fate”, “WishWash”, and “Wholeing”, as these make up the vast majority of the highlights heard throughout the album.  Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Inner Journey” on cassette (seen below), especially since the tracks “Heartglow”, Osmosis”, “A Dusty Vhial”, and “Many Hands of Fate” have only been released on the cassette format and cannot be heard anywhere else!  Listen to the digital version of the Azuresands 大麻 record below, pick up a copy on cassette, and stay tuned for more vaporwave reviews out soon!

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“Inner Journey” cassette:

https://azuresands.bandcamp.com/album/inner-journey

“Inner Journey”:

Album Review: DANNY BROWN Atrocity Exhibition

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Last last year accomplished hip-hop artist, Danny Brown, released his latest project, the full length record, “Atrocity Exhibition”.  After switching labels to Warp Records, there was speculation that Danny would yet again venture into a different sound and approach for this 2016 release.  However, no one, including myself, could’ve seen this drastic new change in sound and experimentation coming.

Personally, I discovered Danny’s material during the “Old” album cycle and instantly fell in love with the EDM based hip hop tracks.  Songs like “Side B (Dope Song)”, “Kush Coma”, “Dip”, and his collaboration with EDM artist, Rustie, with the song, “Attak” almost immediately became not only some of the greatest rap songs I had ever heard by the Detroit based artist, but some of the most stellar hip hop tracks I ever heard period.  It was clear that Danny’s distinct songwriting and sound was unparalleled to the rest of the noise in the genre, even after hearing only a fraction of his entire discography.

After listening to “Atrocity Exhibition”, my first reaction was complete shock at how Danny Brown was able to take 15 of the most odd, peculiar, and to put it simply, weirdest, beats I had ever heard and turn them into successfully written hip hop tracks.  Especially starting out with tracks off “Old” that follow a very simplistic, catchy, festival-oriented structure, it completely took me off guard to hear such experimentation from Danny on “Atrocity Exhibition”.  Tracks like “Downward Spiral”, “Get Hi”, and “Goldust” left me utterly dumbfounded at how Danny can take these bizarre instrumental tracks and record a vocal performance that not only rhythmically makes sense, but actually results in well-written songs that I actually enjoy.

Despite the odd approach to songwriting, every track seems to fit well in the track listing.  The songs themselves, beats, and song structure may vary greatly, especially when comparing songs like “Really Doe” and “Goldust”, however each track seems to fit perfectly into the overall composition of the album as a whole. On one hand, “Really Doe” features a very modern, almost radio friendly beat with features from Kendrick, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. On the other, “Goldust” features multiple, repetitive horn section parts accompanied by an overly distorted electric guitar strumming barely audible chords.  However, each track features the same avant-garde influences while also including impactful lyricism that is often filled with dark imagery and honest depictions of Danny’s thoughts, experiences, and environment around him, like what is heard on “Ain’t It Funny”, “Really Doe”, “Pneumonia”, “When It Rain”, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know”, and “Get Hi”, showing how each track does not seem out of place on “Atrocity Exhibition”, despite the fact that no two songs are fairly alike in sound or overall composition.  The spectrum of influences, sounds, song structure, differences in beats, and even vocal delivery is extremely broad in Atrocity Exhibition and trying to compare any two songs on the album, whether its “Ain’t It Funny” vs “Hell For It”, “Get Hi” vs “Pneumonia”, or “When It Rain” vs “Downward Spiral”, perfectly exemplifies the blatant diversity that is without a doubt the most memorable aspect throughout the latest Danny Brown project.

There really aren’t any significant complaints I have about this album in general.  The only songs I really don’t like on “Atrocity Exhibition” are the “Downward Spiral” and “Rolling Stone”.  “Downward Spiral’s” beat is so bizarre that it takes multiple listens to just get used to its odd sound.  Also, “Downward Spiral” is a fairly weak way to start out the album.  The lyricism represents what is to come in “Atrocity Exhibition”, however, the very laid back, lazy sounding beat should not be the first thing you hear on this latest Danny Brown project.  Honestly, if “Downward Spiral” and “Pneumonia” switched places in track order I think this album would sound even better when listening to it from start to finish.  I personally can’t imagine how powerful it would sound to have “Pneumonia” as the first track you hear off of “Atrocity Exhibition”.  The haunting, echoing bells heard in the hook that starts the song would instantly grab my attention and keep it unwavering, which is something that “Downward Spiral” simply cannot do.  Also, having “Downward Spiral” at the halfway point of the record would symbolize how the audience is about to dive further into Danny’s unique songwriting and dark lyricism before hearing tracks like “Today, “When It Rain”, and “Dance In The Water”. To me, “Rolling Stone’s” hook is both redundant and annoying and I personally believe it slightly holds the entire album back.  If it had a different hook it might be better overall, but regardless it is definitely one of the weakest songs on the project.

Despite these minor setbacks, there are numerous aspects that I personally thoroughly enjoyed on “Atrocity Exhibition”.  For starters, the sampling on “Lost” is sensational.  The repeated looping of the horn part, keyboard melody, and female vocal track provide a simple, repetitive beat that fits Danny’s vocal performance flawlessly (not to mention this song would fit in well with any of the old Tony Hawk video game soundtracks, as it features the same looping beats heard on hip hop tracks on these soundtracks).  Interestingly enough, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know” and “From the Ground” are songs that don’t feature vocals from Danny himself.  This is something he’s done before on previous releases, but it’s very interesting to hear a song he wrote that does not feature any vocal performance from the rapper personally.  In my opinion, I would love to see more prominent hip hop artists write songs that don’t feature their own vocals, as I think this is a really interesting concept that adds further diversity to projects, but I can see how this idea might cause some negative feedback from these artists respective fan bases.  I absolutely loved “Dance in the Water”, as the internationally influenced beats, backing vocals, and overall melody make it an extremely catchy song that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear on the next FIFA soundtrack.  Lastly, I personally think that “Ain’t It Funny”, which recently saw the release of a music video directed by actor Jonah Hill made for the track itself, despite the criticism the song got.  The beat on “Ain’t It Funny” is stupid catchy, and when mixed with the self-destructive, dark, and honest lyricism featured, “Ain’t It Funny” instantly becomes one of the most significant songs you will hear from Danny Brown on this 2016 project.  My favorite tracks off “Atrocity Exhibition” have to be “Ain’t It Funny”, “Really Doe”, “Pneumonia”, “When It Rain”, and “Dance in the Water”, and the more I listen to the record the closer I get to declaring “Atrocity Exhibition” as the greatest Danny Brown release in his discography.

“Atrocity Exhibition” was the greatest hip hop release of 2016, and was the 6th best album of 2016, only falling behind artists like Saor, Trophy Eyes, Fallujah, Real Friends, and Every Time I Die.  This project truly pushes the limits and creativeness of hip-hop and will hopefully pave the way for future projects at the same caliber of excellence as “Atrocity Exhibition”.  Personally, I still can’t get over my initial reaction of how shook I was after hearing “When It Rain” and waiting for the bass to drop, like in “Dip”, only to never hear the anticipated drop.  Even though I was initially disappointed to not hear more EDM inspired tracks from Danny Brown, I am ecstatic to instead receive one of the best projects ever released in hip hop’s modern history.  Danny Brown will be remembered as a trailblazer in hip hop and his projects will surely inspire countless other phenomenal artists and projects.  In summation, I give “Atrocity Exhibition” a 9.6/10, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to and truly appreciate this album.  Danny Brown’s latest project is attached below.  Give it a listen and stay tuned for more reviews due out very soon!

 

“Atrocity Exhibition”:

Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release Third Single Off “DIVISI”

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Words cannot describe the shock and pure excitement I had today when I opened up Youtube to see that A Lot Like Birds finally released the track “Trace the Lines”.  If you have been following my coverage of A Lot Like Birds’ upcoming fourth full length album, “DIVISI”, you would know that not only am I extremely excited for this album to be released, but I also was most anticipating hearing the track “Trace the Lines”, as the teaser for it was simply blissful.  Now, the single has officially been released, along with a music video to accompany it, continuing the theme of having every single released so far represented with a music video.

Harmonizing vocals and a slowly plucked, reverb-filled electric guitar gracefully start this track and instantly I find myself having goosebumps from the magnificent sounding first few measures.  Out of nowhere, string sections emerge and I can instantly tell this track will surpass already high expectations in a remarkable way.  Matt Coate and Cory Lockwood effortlessly trade back and forth as the first verse slowly fleshes out further and further as “Trace the Lines” builds up to the chorus heard in the teaser released months ago.  Next, intricate drumming and a slight but noticeable emphasis of suspense is heard as the first verse is about to come to a close.  The moment I heard the lines “I know it tore you up, it wasn’t by design” I uncontrollably starting singing along (at least attempting to) as I was overcome with complete and udder joy at how phenomenal this song sounds.  From hear on out, the song itself is nothing but masterfully written.  An earth-shattering, powerful chorus, slight but noticeable string section harmonies, and heartbreakingly honest lyrics like “I made you sick where I had meant to make you mine”, “Do you care that it’s over”, and “I said I loved you as a way to change the subject” help make “Trace the Lines” easily the most beautiful song I’ve heard this year.

The music video for “Trace the Lines” seems to be a sequel to the video of “The Sound of Us”, as it uses the same characters and themes from “The Sound of Us” video and the main character appears to wake up after experiencing the party and performance that he takes part in in the previous video.  Also, I found it interesting that in the first video, the band is seen wearing white button up shirts, compared to the all black attire and the decorated masks seen in “Trace the Lines”.  This could be symbolic of the relationship Cory and Matt are singing about coming to and end, or how the main character’s emotions went from joyous and happy in the first video to sober and depressive in the second.  Regardless, after watching the first 3 music videos I have decided that “DIVISI” needs a video album to accompany it.  Each music video so far has been rich with symbolism, solid acting, meaning, and an overall heightened representation of the tracks they accompany, and it would only make sense to now have a music video paired with every track heard on “DIVISI”.

At this point, I would do questionable things to hear the entire full length record tomorrow.  I will of course be playing “Trace the Lines” non-stop until May 5th, but the fact that every song released so far is stellar leaves me dying to hear the entire project, as this will definitely be a strong contender for the best album released in 2017.  If you don’t like the “DIVISI” singles, especially “Trace the Lines”, I simply do not understand your apparent odd taste in music.  Check out “Trace the Lines” below and stay tuned for more updates, as we are less than 2 weeks away from its release date!

My last two posts about A Lot Like Birds:

“For Shelley (Unheard)”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/breaking-news-a-lot-like-birds-release-first-single-of-upcoming-fourth-full-length-album-divisi/

“The Sound of Us”:
https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/breaking-news-a-lot-like-birds-release-music-video-for-new-single-the-sound-of-us/

 

“Trace the Lines”:

500 Word Review: Primal Rite “Sensory Link To Pain”

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Recently I’ve gotten back into thrash metal by listening to both classic bands like Metallica and Slayer and newer bands like Skeletonwitch and Eternal Champion.  However, through listening to the new era of thrash metal, I was able to discover a recently formed band, Primal Rite, who combine influences from hardcore punk and thrash metal to embody a hard-hitting, completely abrasive thrash metal sound that is simply addicting.  Last month, the San Francisco based metal band released their latest EP, “Sensory Link To Pain”, which showcases the group’s stellar, most recent sound.

The EP begins with a sinister, ominous sound of guitar feedback slowly fading in, leaving the listener anxious and at the edge of their seat as to what is coming next. Suddenly, the whole band enters and a wailing, distorted guitar, pummeling drums, rattling bass, and of course aggressive, hatred filled vocals create the title track, “Sensory Link To Pain”. Sporadic section changes with heavy, yet intriguingly groovy riffs encompass the entire EP with only a few moments of chugging riffs at a slower tempo to give the listener some kind of breathing room in between the chaos filled parts heard throughout each track.

These slower tempo sections can easily become highlights of tracks, however, as the near breakdown heard on “Is It Me?” becomes the most memorable part of the entire track and is easily the catchiest riff you will hear in Primal Rite’s latest project. This hardcore influenced breakdown perfectly exemplifies Primal Rite’s raw, bone-snapping sound of hardcore influenced thrash metal. The project itself, which comes in at just under 8 minutes, leaves its audience feeling like they got hit by a train of pure hardcore and thrash metal, as the project ends just as abruptly as it began with the fast tempo, mosh pit inducing riffs on “Primal Discipline” transitioning directly into the same eerie guitar tone heard at the beginning of “Sensory Link To Pain” slowly fading out. This Primal Rite EP is in your face hardcore thrash metal done right and is full with non-stop, unrelenting heaviness from start to finish.

In summation, this is metal, simply put. Everything from the harsh vocals, to the phenomenal guitar riffing to the upbeat, old school thrash metal inspired drum beats purely encompasses what the new era of thrash metal is all about. The only gripe I have with this project is that it sounds a little too much like Power Trip, who happen to be the most prominent modern hardcore influenced thrash metal band, and my personal favorite thrash metal band as well. I’m sure over time Primal Rite will find their signature style and sound in this crossover subgenre of punk and thrash metal, but their latest material still resembles, and is inspired by, the Texas based act in a very prominent way. However, if you listen to older Counterparts material, you can hear how it is directly influenced by Misery Signals, so it’s not a huge concern to seem Primal Rite paying tribute to the sound of the act they most likely look up to, especially since sounding like Power Trip is far from being an insult. I give “Sensory Link To Pain” an 8.6/10 and highly suggest that you check this EP out by the soon to be household name, Primal Rite.

 

“Sensory Link To Pain”:

500 Word Review: Jeff Caudill “Voice/Wishing Well”

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For those who might not be familiar with Jeff Caudill, he is the frontman for the notable punk band, Gameface.  Singing for the band since the early 90s, and also being apart of the group, Your Favorite Trainwreck, since 2012, Caudill has established himself as an accomplished artist within the punk scene for decades.  However, it’s the recent release of two tracks as a solo artist that has caught my attention.  The tracks “Voice” and “Wishing Well”, which are Sense Field and Black Sabbath covers, have been recorded to fit the style of Caudill’s solo material with all proceeds earned from the two singles being donated to the family of Jon Bunch.

Photo by Todd Fixler

After listening to the 2 song project entirely, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the instrumental tracks embodying a soothing and well recorded sound.  The vocals from Caudill himself are very clear in quality and intertwine well with these superb instrumental tracks.  Starting with “Voice”, in Jeff Caudill’s version of the song, the track starts off very bland, but begins to steadily improve as Jeff fleshes out the track further and further. The use of multiple electric and acoustic guitar tracks, keyboard, bass, and percussion tracks, and even doubled tracked vocal sections that slowly emerge as the song progresses truly strengthens the song. In a similar way to how Sense Field originally recorded the track, Caudill starts off with only a handful of individual tracks and builds upon this base gradually as the song goes on.  Even though Caudill’s version is very similar to Sense Field’s original recording, I actually like Jeff’s version a little better, as it is able to embody the distinct power that the original track features without bombarding the listener with noise.  The use of varying acoustic instruments and better recorded vocals give it a more fuller sound that is not heard on the original version. Essentially, “Voice” is a song that starts off simplistic and gradually adds different parts brick by brick until you hear the true, full sounding composition.

“Wishing Well”, the Jeff Caudill version that is, starts off in a very similar way that “Voice” does.  An intricately strummed acoustic guitar matched with a vocal track, that I have mixed opinions about, are the only two instruments heard when we initially hear the first few measures of the song. “Wishing Well” also fits “Voice’s” structure of gradually adding parts, but instead of constantly adding more layers of instrumentation, “Wishing Well” adds a single piano track, a single percussion track, and only double tracks the vocals in sections where Jeff sees that it is necessary to fit the delivery of the specific lines sung. The rhythmic flow of the song itself and the calm, melodic guitar riffs give the song a dreamy sound that I really enjoy in “Wishing Well” that also reminds me of mid to late 90s Bush material. This is slightly different from “Voice”, which has more of an upbeat, sing-a-long structure that is also something I’m fond of.  When comparing Jeff’s version to the original Black Sabbath track, it’s clear that the two versions are polar opposites, as the Black Sabbath recording is more harsh and in your face, and at some points, even reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is fairly odd considering this song was written by one of the first metal bands to exist.  There are some notable similarities, however, as the chorus in Jeff Caudill’s version matches the melodic, close to anthem sounding, structure heard in the original and each version features a powerful delivery of the meaningful lyrics that make up “Wishing Well”.

Even though I am really not a huge fan of the vocal melodies heard on these two songs, how Jeff uses the powerful lyricism in the original tracks to relate to his personal life is fantastic and helps explain why he chose to cover these two tracks.  The purpose behind this project is to pay tribute to Jeff’s late friend, Jon Bunch, who was the vocalist of Sense Field.  After his death last year, Jeff Caudill has put together these two songs, which lyrically are dedicated to him, in order to pay tribute to the singer and close friend while also donating the profits made to Bunch’s family.  Hearing the somber, sincere sadness in his voice mix with the powerful lyricism in both “Voice” and “Wishing Well” elevates this project to something truly memorable.  Lyrics like “And I want to hear it again that it’s going to be all right” and “Look in the water, tell me what do you see reflections of the love you give to me” truly resonate with the listener and help connect with the emotions Jeff is expressing in these two tracks.

Overall, while I was not a huge fan of the overall sound of the covers, their meaning and how they were recorded are truly phenomenal.  I give the project a 7.5/10 and highly suggest that you take 6 min out of you day to listen to and appreciate this release from Jeff Caudill.  The songs are attached below and check back in later this week for more reviews due out very soon!

 

“Voice”:

“Wishing Well”:

500 Word Review: Mastodon “Emperor of Sand”

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When “Once More ‘Round the Sun” dropped, I was still in shallow denial of Mastodon’s new direction. But after the release of “Sultan’s Curse”, I had to cast aside all delusions of bearing witness to the return of their unstoppable sludge. Those days are long gone, and it’s impossible not to hold them over what Mastodon has become.

Mastodon took nearly 3 years to put out this album since their previous release. During that time, the band was dealing with family issues, a problem that has never stopped them before. Instead they took a lousy situation and turned it into musical inspiration again. Despite that, my first impression of “Emperor of Sand” was that it felt rushed. More specifically, it sounds like the band barreled through the writing process and rushed on to recording and production. It has some telltale qualities of an album put out to satisfy the requirements of a record deal. There is filler at every turn. They kill time with uninspired guitar solos lacking class and containing too many pinch harmonics, reminiscent of the ostentatious shredding cherished by Avenged Sevenfold. Such douchery is available in “Word to the Wise.” There are two, or even maybe three respectable solos on the eleven-track album, but none of them are particularly memorable. In other cases, halfhearted guitar parts and mediocre verses serve as a vehicle for a more compelling vocal section or instrumental feature. “Roots Remain” fits that description well, containing two clunky verses sung by Troy Sanders backed by an unpleasant guitar riff and an acceptable solo to pad the rather excellent vocals of Brann Dailor. Unfortunately, this gives similar songs on the album the vocal driven, for-the-masses rock experience heard on albums like Queensrych’s self-titled 2013 release. These have the regrettable quality of predictable track structure. The lyrics should be well inspired, but there are plenty of lazy rhymes like in “Ancient Kingdom.” The narrative is hindered by offending lazy lyrics, but it still captures a mournful tone. The vocal delivery is inconsistent, ranging from passable to excellent, but they, along with everything else on the album, seem a bit artificial. This gives the drumming, the most consistent element of the album alongside the unfaltering bass guitar, a very subtle case of metalcore drum kit.

Returning to the idea that “Emperor of Sand” sounds rushed, I am reminded of problems with transitions and pacing. “Show Yourself” and “Precious Stones” begin abruptly, as if they had their first half spliced away. The rapid and awkward verse/chorus transitions, while not limited to these tracks, are distracting. When each song ends, something seems to be missing.

There are satisfying parts here and there, like the refreshing guitar lead in “Scorpion Breath” but a comparable number of poor sections. In “Andromeda” the band seems to mistake loud and ugly for heavy. Where “Crack the Skye” is elegant and “Leviathan” is powerful, ‘Emperor of Sand” is choppy and weak. To wrap things up, I thought the mixing was representative of the Mastodon experience, except for the volume of the lead guitar at times. While this was a critical review “Emperor of Sand” is still a decent album, I just happen to be disappointed with the lack of sludge metal.

 

Score: 7/10

 

Album Review by Zachary Norton, April 2017

“Emperor of Sand”:

Breaking News: The Black Dahlia Murder Release Custom Glass Pipes for 4/20

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In case you might live under a rock, today is April 20th, which is the international smoke marijuana day.  Many labels, artists, and even media sites in the industry will celebrate this joyous holiday in different ways.  Some labels might release THC themed content (like Nuclear Blast releasing a music video for the remix of Surgical Meth Machine’s “I’m Invisible”), other media sites might even dedicate the entire week to the plant (like Noisey’s weed week), and many artists will sell grinders and merchandise covered in designs with their logos and pot leaves.  However, nothing is as amazing as what the Black Dahlia Murder recently did for the stoner holiday.  Through Indiemerch, the band themselves sold 7 different colored pipes made by Chameleon Glass.  The pipes each featured the bands iconic logo on the stem and were unique to each of the 7 full length studio albums that TBDM has released in their impressive history as a metal band.  Each pipe was marked with a logo at the end of the bowl that represented the respective album and the entire pipe itself was colored to match the same respective album’s visual appearance, based off the album artwork.  A list of what pipe represents what album is listed below along with a picture of all 7 pipes on display.  Fans could also buy a travel bag covered in TBDM’s logo that could fit one pipe safely.

Unfortunately, these pipes, which were limited to 100 pieces per color, sold out practically instantly and cannot be purchased anywhere else.  The pipes, which sold for a reasonable $30 each, appear to have only been made for sale on April 20th, and the possibility of more being made in the future is unclear.  Who knows, maybe it will become a yearly tradition for The Black Dahlia Murder and other bands to sell well thought out and produced pipes at the tail end of April.  If you picked up a piece for yourself, let us know what you think of the product and if it was worth it or just a scheme for the marijuana holiday itself!

 

Pipe Colors:

Unhallowed (2003) – blue glass

Miasma (2005) – onyx black glass

Nocturnal (2007) – navy blue glass

Deflorate (2009) – clear glass

Ritual (2011) – green glass

Everblack (2013) – purple glass

Abysmal (2015) – amber glass

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Breaking News: Fit For An Autopsy Announce Headlining Tour with Tombs and Moon Tooth

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Recently, the trailblazing, New Jersey based deathcore band, Fit For An Autopsy, announced a new headlining tour in support of their fourth full length album, “The Great Collapse”, which was released earlier this year.  The US tour will start this June and will run until the first week in July and features only 20 total dates.

What’s most interesting about this tour is the support FFAA will have while performing in support of “The Great Collapse”.  Only two other bands are embarking on this North American tour: the famous death metal band Tombs and lesser known, but extremely skilled, prog/math metal band Moon Tooth.  This support is pretty odd, yet fitting for the tour itself.  It is peculiar to see a deathcore band play alongside these notable bands, especially Tombs who have a completely different sound and possibly a bigger fan base, but FFAA is becoming one of the few versatile modern deathcore bands who can successfully and effectively tour with deathcore, metalcore, death metal, deathgrind, and other varying genres of extreme metal without appearing out of place on the lineup.  In fact, after further listening to the two supporting bands for the upcoming tour, it actually seems like the 3 groups themselves will actually fit well together on this upcoming tour.  Even though Tombs does embody a sound that is very unlike Fit For An Autopsy, the aggressiveness and overall heaviness of their sound is actually very similar in comparison.  Also, after listening briefly to Moon Tooth, its pretty apparent that their songwriting and guitar riffs heard on projects like “Chromaparagon” is extremely similar to FFAA, and one could even go on to say that riffs heard on “The Great Collapse” could be directly inspired and influenced by the 2016 Moon Tooth album.  A small group of diverse, yet similar bands should result in one of the most entertaining metal shows to come to a city near you this summer.

Fit For An Autopsy have seen some extremely successful recent years as a band.  Not only have they released some genre defying albums, but they’ve also had very well known, prominent bands like Tombs, Aborted, Lorna Shore, and Black Tongue open up for them.  This tour, which will feature FFAA playing mostly tracks off the latest full length album and older tracks that they haven’t performed in awhile, is sure to be one of the most interesting tours you will see all year.  The official tour poster is attached below for you to see where’s the nearest place to see FFAA, Tombs, and Moon Tooth perform on the same stage!  Also, I do want to mention that the new version of the artwork featured on the poster actually looks better than the original artwork.  The blueish filter applied to the artwork looks fantastic, and after seeing it I really wish it was used for the album itself, rather than just the tour poster.  Lastly, a video review of “The Great Collapse” will be posted to the Erik’s Album Reviews Youtube channel and will be one of the first ever reviews published in video form!  Check out the channel below and visit the site for more news and reviews about Fit For An Autopsy!

Erik’s Album Reviews Youtube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT2WZ3e5utc9eqs7JF8PnTA/videos

 

“The Great Collapse” Tour Poster:

Fit-For-An-Autopsy-Tour

Breaking News: Woe Responds to Being Kicked Off Droneburg Festival For Touring With Inquisition

woe hope attrition

Recently, Brooklyn based Black metal band, Woe, were scheduled to play the Droneburg Festival in Germany along with Ulthra and other acts.  However, only hours before the festival would open their doors, they notified the two bands mentioned via SMS text messages that they had been kicked off the shows lineup.  The reasoning behind this swift and drastic decision was that Woe and the other band in question had toured with Inquisition and played the Conspiracy of the Damned Festival, which took place in Rotterdam and featured Inquisition and other similar acts, and because of this the festival assumed Woe held the same beliefs as Inquisition and decided to prevent them from performing on the Droneburg stage.

For those who don’t know, Inquisition, and most of the artists who make up the Conspiracy of the Damned Festival, are nationalistic, and in some cases openly Anti-Semitic and racist, NSBM artists whose ideologies and beliefs are both reflected in their art and representation of their respective bands and above all, inhumane.  Droneburg Festival apparently has a very strict policy about NSBM associated bands performing on their bill, so before doing any further research, they decided to kick Woe off their roster last minute.

Despite touring and playing alongside Inquisition, Woe actually openly embraces an entire different political stance. Woe represents a very anti-fascist political stance, and not only is it embedded in their material, like in the song “No Blood Has Honor”, but they frequently play in front of apolitical black metal crowds while playing this material and even educate concert goers and other black metal fans about how they can also embrace an anti-fascist stance without “sacrificing the harsh, abrasive stance of a black metal band”.  This explains their touring with infamous fascist bands and playing festivals that support these acts as Woe is not supporting these ideologies, but directly challenging them, protesting them, and openly opposing them in hopes of educating those in that environment.  Woe further explained their response to being unfairly omitted from the Droneburg festival in a well-spoken way in their statement attached below for you to read.

If you weren’t a fan of Woe by now, this statement should definitely help at convincing you to become a fan in the very near future.  This political activism and active attempt to grow and help broaden the perspectives of individuals in the metal community is something that is admirable to say the least.  Also, political opinions set aside, Woe writes some sensational black metal that is truly impressive to say the least.  I enjoyed the New York black metal outfit before this news story initially broke, and I can now say that I am an avid fan and cannot wait until this group makes it to a nearby venue!  I’ve also attached the stream of their latest project, “Hope Attrition”, for you to check out below!  Let us know what you think about Woe’s response to the Droneburg Festival incident and stay tuned for more metal news!

 

Woe’s Statement:

“Hope Attrition”:

Vinyl and Cassette News: Periphery Repress Debut Album On Vinyl

periphery.jpg

Sumerian Records quietly repressed one of the most influential albums in their extensive catalog recently.  In case you missed it, this week is “Sumerian Vinyl Week” and many of their records for sale on their merchandise site are for sale at prices 40% off the original retail price.  Along with this, the metal label also repressed some of their most notable releases, that are not for sale, but are in promotion of the vinyl week.  These represses include Animals As Leaders’ “The Madness of Many”, which sold out fairly fast, Erra’s “Drift”, which was also previously sold out, Asking Alexandria’s “The Black”, and the Faceless’ “Planetary Duality” and “Akeldama”, which were repressed on silver colored vinyl limited to 100 copies.  The repress that was the most significant, however, was Periphery’s first self titled album.  “Periphery” was repressed on two variants, one on Red/White Haze out of 500 copies and one on Clear with Blue and White Splatter, also out of 500 copies.  To add to this, the instrumental version of “Periphery” was pressed for the first time on an opaque blue vinyl variant and the amount of copies pressed is currently unknown.

Before this repress, only 150 copies of the album were ever released on vinyl.  In 2011, the metal band sold 3 different variants of the album (Blue, White, and Blue/White mix) each limited to 50 copies that could only be bought from the band’s merch table while they were on tour.  Since the 1st pressing was released, the demand for the vinyl copies drastically increased, causing the value of these records to skyrocket up to $200+ for a copy in many cases.  It was insanely hard to find any collectors willing to sell their copy, nonetheless for an affordable price.

Now 150 copies have skyrocketed to 1,150 copies worldwide and I for one am completely outraged at Sumerian Records.  Being an avid collector of vinyl, cassettes, and other physical formats, I believe that some albums should never be repressed.  In many cases, especially in the extreme music scene, some albums themselves become extremely rare and in high demand from many record collectors globally.  This results in vinyl records that become highly sought after collectors items, even branded as “holy grails” for these respective collections.  Personally, I was shocked when I finally got my hands on a copy of the Blue variant of “Periphery”.  It instantly became my favorite and most valuable individual record in my possession and I was extremely proud and stunned to have it in my collection.  Now, a sense of defeat and disappointment has been overwhelmingly encompassing everything I think about since seeing the infamous repressing.  Not only does this repress drastically decrease the value of the 1st pressing, as the total supply of “Periphery” vinyl copies practically increased 10 fold this week, but the rarity and significance of owning this record has now greatly diminished.  Before, it was impressive to say you have the first Periphery full length record in your vinyl collection, but now everyone who is somewhat familiar with the material will have a copy in their possession, and soon record stores will be filled with a copious amount of the release.

Being a record collector means that sometimes the record you love or need to have is insanely hard to come by.  It might be years before you get your hands on a copy, or you might never get it at all, but that is part of the entire experience in collecting vinyl.  Represses for legendary presses like ‘Periphery” are perfect examples of how greed and utter stupidity from labels and even bands themselves can ruin the vinyl collecting community.  If Sumerian, or whoever had the genius idea of repressing “Periphery”, wanted to make money off the release through represses while keeping the collectable aspect of the 1st press in tact, they would’ve combined “Periphery” and the instrumental version of “Periphery” (which is something I’m actually glad they finally pressed) into one 4xLP package, which would’ve made the item a unique product that would have a higher retail value than the items separately.  They would be guaranteed to sell out both the instrumental and regular versions of the album on vinyl, instead of having one version sell faster like how “Periphery” is selling faster on its own as we speak, and in the process they would be creating a new collective item in the Periphery discography that would not hurt the value and significance of the rare 1st pressing of “Periphery”.  But instead, Sumerian, Periphery themselves, or whoever is responsible simply was ignorant, blind, and unfazed by the impact this repress might have on the vinyl collecting community and decided to produce a ridiculous 1,000 copies.  What irks me the most is that there are a handful of great Sumerian releases that have never seen a single vinyl pressing, yet “Periphery” just received a completely undeserving, unnecessary 2nd pressing.  Betraying the Martyrs’ “Breathe in Life”, Veil of Maya’s “The Common Man’s Collapse” and “Eclipse”, After the Burial’s “Rareform” and “In Dreams”, Structures’ “Divided By” and “Life Through A Window”, every full length album by Upon a Burning Body besides “Straight From the Barrio”, Dayshell’s self titled debut album, Erra’s “Moments in Clarity EP”, and even Periphery’s “Icarus EP” have been release through Sumerian Records and have never been pressed on vinyl, and could sell better than “Periphery”, yet “Periphery”, a record that should’ve NEVER been repressed, received a 1,000 copy 2nd pressing.

It’s literally impossible to express how ashamed, disappointed, and above all outraged I am at Sumerian Records about this recent repress.  I probably sound very pretentious and even elitist at this point, but like I mentioned before, some records truly should not be repressed due to their rare and collectable nature.  The process of searching for and finally buying a copy of the record you truly want to add to your collection is what record collecting is all about.  You may have to wait years and pay a fairly large amount for these records, but that is what the hobby is truly about.  Pressing literally thousands of copies of a previously hard to come by record panders to those who do not wish to truly emerge themselves in the record collecting community, and as a result produces a scapegoat for these vinyl consumers to buy a record they want without having to actually go through the long, and sometimes challenging, process of collecting a rare item you truly want.  After seeing this repress I’m now very concerned that The Devil Wears Prada’s “With Roots Above and Branches Below” and August Burns Red’s “Thrill Seeker” will also receive unnecessary and truly greedy represses and further hurt the vinyl collecting community.  Maybe I am overreacting about the situation, but 1,000 new copies released of such a previously rare and important item like “Periphery” vinyl is where I draw the line.

Regardless of my anger and frustration about the whole situation, I have included the links to where to buy copies of the represses.  If you absolutely have to buy a copy of “Periphery”, at least buy it off of the band’s store themselves instead of further supporting the ignorant culprits behind the repress at Sumerian Records, assuming it was their idea and intentions to go through with the repress, as they are in control of vinyl sales and distribution of their releases.  I’m actually very interested in hearing what other vinyl collectors have to say about this!  Do you think repressing “Periphery” is as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be, or am I simply overreacting to news about plastic discs?  Leave a comment below and see what other vinyl and cassette news we’ve covered hear at Erik’s Album Reviews lately!

Periphery’s store:

http://store.periphery.net

 

Sumerian Records’ store:

Vinyl Records