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”:

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Breaking News: Opprobrium’s Label Brutal Records Issues Cease and Desist Stating “Moth Into Flame” Ripped Off Opprobrium’s “Hunger For Power”

Oddly enough, only a few days after I posted my unboxing video in which the first record I received from my Relapse Records 10 LP grab bag was Opprobrium’s “Serpent Temptation”, Opprobrium’s label, Brutal Records, released a statement saying that they believe Metallica ripped off Opprobrium’s “Hunger For Power” in their song “Moth Into Flame”.  The label then went on to issue a cease and desist letter to both Metallica and their attorney.

According to Brutal Records, the similarities between “Moth Into Flame” and “Hunger For Power” are too close, and because of this the label believes that Metallica copied and “ripped off” the track featured on the 1988 death metal album, “Serpent Temptation”.  Brutal Records announced this cease and desist letter via their Twitter page and have since unrelentingly tweeted out statements about the alleged copyright.

Apparently, the person behind these tweets is actually related to the two brothers who were in Incubus (named changed to Opprobrium in 1999 due to the more widely known Incubus copyrighting their band name) as their uncle and godfather and claims to have produced “Serpent Temptation” and “owns the publisher and copyrights for the master recording”.  The link to the label’s recent tweets about the cease and desist letter and the official cease and desist statement towards Metallica and their legal team are attached below for you to scroll through and read.  Honestly, the tweets seem fairly deranged and lack enough credible proof to truly show Metallica’s guilt without reasonable doubt.  These were the only statements about the cease and desist letter from any parties involved until Opprobrium themselves commented on the news story days later…

 

Brutal Records’ Cease and Desist Statement to Metallica and their legal parties:

As you have not sought or requested permission/authorization to use, nor to make and/or distribute, sell, lend or lease my copyrighted work entitled Hunger for Power, you are hereby notified to CEASE AND DESIST any and all further unlawful acts of copyright infringement with regards to your actions and/or statements relating to this matter.

Failure to comply with this notice will confirm your complicity and leave me no other alternative but to proceed to file a civil action suit seeking monetary damages and compensation for court and attorney’s fees incurred as a direct result of your unlawful actions of copyright infringement. It is not my wish to seek legal recourse; however, I will vehemently do all that is necessary to protect my work, Hunger for Power, and interests. Please note that this letter will be the only warning I will provide.

THEREFORE, you are hereby requested to immediately CEASE AND DESIST any further acts of copyright infringement and within 10 business days return the signed written assurance below affirming that you will refrain from any further acts of copyright infringement.  (via Exclaim! Music)

 

On April 8th, two days after the story of Metallica’s alleged “ripping off” of death metal band Incubus’s track “Hunger For Power” broke, Incubus released a statement via Facebook about the cease and desist letter (this was through the Opprobrium Facebook account, since Opprobrium recently rereleased a rerecorded version of “Serpent Temptation” through Relapse Records).  Apparently, Opprobrium themselves never released the cease and desist letter, or even knew of its existence before the story broke.  Opprobrium then went on to say that they are fans and love the band and that they would never do anything of the sort to the thrash metal legends themselves.  What’s most shocking is their response to the individual at Brutal Records claiming he owns the rights to “Hunger For Power” and the rest of “Serpent Temptation”.  Opprobrium stated that this is not true at all and that the death metal band themselves holds all of the rights to their songs.  Their statement via Facebook is attached below.  Also, it appears that “Spit Out The Bone”, another Metallica track off their latest album, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”, is also in question now of “ripping off” “Hunger For Power”.

This news story has been a combination of both fascinating and extremely odd, in my opinion.  The label, Brutal Records, refuses to let up on the accusations of Metallica’s alleged copyright, and Incubus (Opprobrium) continue to state that they do not approve of or want to issue this cease and desist towards Metallica.  The bay area thrash legends have yet to release a statement on the issue at hand.

Personally, I don’t hear the resemblance that Brutal Records is claiming.  Are both of the riffs heard in the sections at question, fast chugging riffs?  Yes, but they are in no way illegally similar, especially since they are written in two completely different metal sub genres.  I will say though this has brought significant attention to Opprobrium, who deserves more traffic as their album, “Serpent Temptation” is fantastic!  This recent attention however, made me initially question if this was just a publicity stunt, with the end goal of receiving more album sales of “Serpent Temptation”.  However, I quickly realized that Incubus’s release of “Serpent Temptation” has been out of print for decades now and the only copy of “Serpent Temptation” you can still buy today is the repress sold through Relapse Records, which features the new band name, Opprobrium.  If album sales were to increase from this possible publicity stunt it would benefit Opprobrium, but would not benefit Brutal Records, as Relapse Records would earn profits from the repress sales.  Although, if Brutal Records does repress “Serpent Temptation” in the near future I would easily draw the conclusion that this whole scenario was designed in order to profit off a classic death metal album.  For now, based on the little information given, it appears that someone with access to the Brutal Records Twitter page is attempting to acquire some royalties from Metallica that are not owed to them in any way.  Of course we will keep you updated as more information about this news story unfolds, so stay tuned!  Also, listen to “Hunger For Power”, “Spit Out The Bone”, and “Moth Into Flame” below and let us know if you think Metallica copied the death metal band Incubus or not.  Lastly, while you’re at it, check out the full albums for “Serpent Temptation” and “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”, as both of these albums are classics and should not be warped or diminished by this odd news story.

“Hunger For Power”:

“Moth Into Flame”:

“Spit Out The Bone”:

“Hardwired… To Self Destruct”:

“Serpent Temptation”:

Classic Album Review: FALLUJAH The Flesh Prevails

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I hadn’t listened to Fallujah before I heard “The Flesh Prevails”. I believed what I was told and anticipated a polished progressive metal album with a deep atmosphere. I knew my expectations had got the best of me from the first volley of machine gun double bass. After accepting that Fallujah was in fact a death metal band, I strapped in and started again. Even with my expectations out of the way, I found myself dissatisfied. While there isn’t anything terribly wrong with the album, there isn’t much to praise either.

“The Flesh Prevails” is by no means a poor album. It is a valiant attempt at the difficult task of combining atmosphere with sheer brutality, but fails to seamlessly unite the two themes. Instead, atmospheric trances are often interrupted by grisly vocals, and soaring guitar leads compete with the domineering rhythm guitar. Their use of contrasting elements is, at best, partially effective at lending gravity to critical moments. An overabundance of bends, reverb, pinch harmonics and sparkly tremolo is often their idea of ambience. This style works in small doses, but gets tiresome too. On the other hand, the pensive atmosphere gives the album a wonderful sense of organic flow. But at the same time, its unity is cause for giving songs lack of distinction from each other.

Fallujah was certainly successful in making their music powerful. Each component is complicated, or simply busy enough to contribute to the sense of onslaught. Alex Hoffmann’s vocal delivery, both punishing and gorgeous to behold, is the backbone of the album’s muscle. Even though I can only make out one out of every ten words heard, it does not detract from the vocals’ emotion.

The instruments donate to the cause as well, but fall victim to the botched production job. They have a noticeably sterile sound. The drum kit and bass guitar in particular feel very synthetic, reminiscent of crappy post-hardcore metal bands. Double bass is heard without end and is regularly just a source of noise. However, the band does make interesting use of it in moments such as the blazing drum fills in “Sapphire”. The other instruments receive their moments in the spotlight too. The guitar isn’t at its best in the solos or nonchalant shredding, but in its excellent regular lead lines, like those amid “The Night Reveals”. The bass has increasingly more involved parts as the album goes on, being featured in the beginning of “Levitation”, but it occasionally gets swamped by the other instruments. Despite any setbacks, the album is full of moments of true brutality that manage to hold an elegant air.

In the end, “The Flesh Prevails”, is restrained by the production effort. The guitars and drums are turned up to eleven and are both in competition with Hoffmann’s voice. The volume is taxing and distracting, but the down time we get from “Alone with You” and “Allure” helps some. The production really gave this album a flat tire. Perhaps with better mixing and mastering, Fallujah could have achieved a more persuasive atmosphere and a palatable drum kit. Perhaps it could have been great.

 

Score: 7.2/10

 

Album Review by Zach Norton, December 2016

“The Flesh Prevails”:

 

500 Word Review: Dwellings “Foreverest” – Single

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On November 25th, Modesto, California based post hardcore band, Dwellings, released the follow up to their debut single “Lemonade” with the release of their latest single, “Foreverest”.  For those of you who have been following the page you will know how excited I am to hear new material from this group.  Their debut single was nothing short of phenomenal, and based off that performance alone, I honestly believe that this group is the future of the post hardcore sub genre.  That being said, I was extremely excited to hear new material from this group because I’m still curious to see how their sound will develop throughout this debut EP.  This new single, “Foreverest”, definitely varies significantly from their debut release, “Lemonade”, however there are still consistent themes heard on both tracks that give listeners and fans of the group a sense of what this up and coming band will sound like!

As stated earlier, there are multiple clear differences that you can hear between the tracks “Lemonade” and “Foreverest”.  For starters, “Foreverest” is somehow even more melodic than the anthemic track, “Lemonade”.  To be clear, this is not a negative quality, but it is still a surprising feature, especially when considering how harmonious multiple sections and choruses were on “Lemonade”.  The guitar work is simply graceful and does a great job with complimenting the superb songwriting and vocal performance heard on “Foreverest”. However, the most significant and enjoyable difference between the two tracks is how the overall sound of the track ,”Foreverest”, is more unique to Dwellings.  As much as I love “Lemonade”, there were multiple instances where the track sounded a lot like previous Dance Gavin Dance releases.  “Foreverest”, on the other hand, sounds more unique to Dwellings and their specific style of songwriting, and in the process, shows off their own personal take on post hardcore.  The influences from DGD and other well known post hardcore bands can still be heard, but Dwellings’ personal and recognizable sound is without a doubt the most prominent aspect heard, and in return gives their fans a better idea to how their sound will develop and become even more unique with future releases.  “Foreverest” will probably be the most melodic and slowest song heard on the upcoming EP and it gives the project a good range from higher energy,  in your face songs to slower and even more emotional tracks.

However Dwellings, like most other major California based post hardcore acts, still show some examples of similarities to Dance Gavin Dance in this new track.  These similarities are not a bad thing, or show lack of creativity, but demonstrate how they are able to take this modern style of post hardcore and transform and mold it into their own unique sound.  The first similarity a listener familiar with DGD will hear when listening to “Foreverest” is that this song is heavily influenced by Dance Gavin Dance’s third full length studio album, “Happiness”.  “Lemonade” featured elements from both “Happiness” and “Acceptance Speech” (the fifth studio album by the Sacramento based band), but “Foreverest” appears to just draw influence from “Happiness” alone. This is not a surprise to me since they have already shown signs of writing in a similar style to “Happiness”, and Dwellings’ bassist, Anthony Pacheco, has even stated that this DGD record is his favorite to date.  That being said, it now seems obvious why “Happiness” and “Foreverest” might sound somewhat similar.  “Happiness” is one of, it not my absolute favorite, DGD record as well, so Dwellings’ use of mixing in elements from this legendary record is something that I definitely approve of.  These elements, which include everything from the sincere, emotion filled lyrics to to the slow, yet melodic song structure can be directly compared and sound similar to songs like “Happiness” off the album of the same name, but can also strengthen their own songwriting by combing their favorite moments from “Happiness” and their own personal songwriting sound.  However, it is important to note that all of Dwellings’ material has been recorded by Josh Benton, who used to play guitar for Dance Gavin Dance and now records some of their releases like “Tree City Sessions”, and has been mastered by Kris Crummett, who recorded most of DGD’s full length records and other releases by notable California based post hardcore groups.  Because of this, some of aspects of Dwellings’ material might be similar to DGD solely because their production process is almost identical to Dance Gavin Dance’s.  Regardless of where they take influence from, Dwellings is making some serious progress at becoming the next legendary post hardcore group.

In conclusion, this is another solid track from soon-to-be household name, post hardcore group, Dwellings.  My anticipation for this debut EP continues to grow with every single released and I simply cannot wait to see what they put out next.  I give their second single, “Foreverest”, and 8.9/10.  The release date for the EP, “Lavender Town”, hasn’t been posted yet by the band, but when it does the staff at Erik’s Album Reviews will be the first ones to share it with you!  Check out the review for their debut single, “Lemonade”, below and give the latest single, “Foreverest”, a listen and let us know what you think!

“Lemonade” Review:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/album-reivew-dwellings-lemonade-single/

“Foreverest”:

500 Word Review: Metallica “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”

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Last week, thrash metal legends, Metallica, released their tenth full length studio album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, which is their first full length album since 2008’s “Death Magnetic”.  Personally, I’m not a massive, avid fan of Metallica, however, they are the first ever metal band I listened to and became a fan of, and the releases I do enjoy are very important to me.  So with the announcement of a new Metallica album to be released in 2016, my anticipation and excitement for new material was very high.  Although, if you are familiar with Metallica’s discography, then you will know that the California based metal act has had some questionable releases in the post-“The Black Album” era.  So my excitement for new material would greatly depend on how the record’s singles sounded.  Thankfully, these singles exceeded expectations!  The three singles, “Hardwired”, “Moth Into Flame”, and “Atlas, Rise!” were phenomenal tracks and only increased how much I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the project!

When you first listen to “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” the first thing you will notice is that this is probably the best production a Metallica album has seen in literally decades.  Albums like “St. Anger” and “Death Magnetic”, which were the two releases prior to “Hardwired…”, feature some of the worst production quality in Metallica’s career.  Everything from how the drums were recorded to the mix and mastering of the entire album overall were terrible and at some points unbearable.  On “Hardwired…”, the exact opposite is seen.  The drums, especially the tight, bone-snapping snare sound, are recorded perfectly and the distorted guitars and bass tracks sound amazing.  The vocals sound powerful, well mixed, and most importantly, in tune.  Overall, the great production quality allows the album to sound like a successful modern day thrash metal record, and in return makes the whole release more enjoyable.

The songwriting exemplified on the new Metallica album is ridiculously good as well.  The entire album is full with catchy, memorable tracks that sound like great, classic thrash metal songs.  Chugging, head-banging worthy riffs are simply powerful, especially with stellar vocals.  Tracks like “Now That We’re Dead” and “Halo On Fire” are perfect examples of this and are reminiscent to their older sound heard in the mid to late 80s.  Even tracks like “Atlas, Rise!” and “Murder One” are instant classics and should be praised as some of their best tracks in their extensive catalog.  If you are a fan of the mind-numbing guitar solos from lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett, then  you will love this album as it is full with solos of his, like the extremely impressive solo heard on “Murder One”.  Overall, there are only two songs that personally I thought were just ok or decent songs on the record, but there is still over an hour of amazing material off this two disc record.  Besides the fact that there are only two decent songs, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” is mostly fast tempo, in your face, classic thrash metal with some great, short, melodic breaks in between the hard-hitting riffs and catchy choruses.  There is rarely a dull moment throughout “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, which keeps the listener attentive and into the album despite the fact that it is well over an hour in length!

In conclusion, this is one of the best Metallica albums in literally decades.  The record features all the classic, widely praised aspects of Metallica that make their old releases so phenomenal.  It’s important to not listen to this album thinking it will be as good as the legendary releases like “The Black Album, “Master of Puppets”, or even “…And Justice For All”, considering the fact that these are some of the greatest metal albums of all time, but “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” is still a remarkable album and is for sure their greatest release in the post-“The Black Album” era.  I give “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” an 8.5/10 and highly encourage anyone, regardless of their opinion on Metallica, to give it a listen!  The Youtube playlist for the album is attached below to view and make sure to check back in this weekend for more reviews and other music content!

Classic Album Review: METALLICA St. Anger

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Metallica may be a thrash metal band, but for all their aggressive drive, they manage to make their music balanced. The same cannot be said for “St. Anger”. To put it quite simply, it is a mess. In an attempt to recreate the raw sound of their early work, Metallica decided to make new material for their album in an old military barracks. A noble idea, but one that ultimately failed. In the end the band decided the sound was too raw, and moved to their own studio to record the final product. Sadly, even a bona fide studio and the skills of producer Bob Rock were not enough to save this album.

Shortly before recording started, Metallica’s bassist Jason Newstead left the band. Determined to release a new album, Metallica had Bob Rock step in as a temporary replacement. James Hetfield’s alcohol addiction and personal issues further complicated recording, and a sloppy album was the result.

Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich is often criticized for his decision to remove the wire from his snare drum, and for good reason. The drums are overwhelming. The kit doesn’t sound raw, but like it is composed of trash cans. The gimmick is distracting from the rest of “St. Anger’s” noise, which is probably a good thing. Apart from their sound, the drumming is tame compared to the skill Ulrich has shown before.

Putting it mildly, the vocals are strident. Hetfield is frequently off key and manages to sound far less suave than before. Uncomfortable wailing and ugly shouts plague the album too. The lyrics are all things childish, cliché, and boring. In the title track, Hetfield spouts cringe worthy lines like “fuck it all and fuckin’ no regrets” and the album ends up sounding ridiculous, rather than metal. Other times the lyrics are lazy.   For example, Metallica lists off as many words as they can think of ending in “or” in the track, “Dirty Window”, to show off their rhyming skills. The background vocals are usually buried in the mix, but Metallica has hung on to the kind of gang vocals that have worked for them in the past. Unfortunately, we can often hear what sounds like layers of Hetfield screeching over each other, like what is heard on “Some Kind of Monster”, as if he wasn’t making enough of a ruckus already.

It was depressing to listen to a Metallica album without a single guitar solo. Kirk Hammett usually delivers standout riffs at the least, but none were to be found on “St. Anger”. In general, the guitar could be described as uninspired. Hetfield’s performance wasn’t very impressive either. It doesn’t have much of an impact on the album, instead it’s just there. Perhaps they are rusty or old, but it was a lackluster performance.

Bob Rock’s bass performance was completely drowned in the mix, which is strange considering he was the album’s producer. You really have to press your ear to the speaker to notice the bass, and when you do, it sounds like a carbon copy of Korn’s signature rattling bass, especially when listening to “Purify”. On the other hand, who knows what that sound is. It could even be Hetfield puking into one of Lars’ trashcans.

“St. Anger” is not cohesive. Each transition is clumsy, and the instruments fail to complement each other. Not a single aspect of this album is without flaw, and that includes its themes. The lyrics, like those heard on the track, “Invisible Kid”, try to be philosophical, but sound like they were written by an angsty teenager. The songs last too long and even when they have something good going, they ruin it moments later. One of the albums redeeming moments, reminiscent of the stylish rhythms of Metallica’s self-titled album, is when the band lays down a grooving riff to Hetfield’s well delivered lyrics of “Open your heart, I’m beating right here”, but the moment is murdered moments later with more horrible wailing. Overall, this is a horribly discordant album that relied too much on production despite its goal of achieving a raw sound. Something tells me that recalling an album on the sight of a trashcan is not a good sign.

 

Score: 3.4/10

 

Album Review by Zachary Norton, November 2016

The Thursday Ten: 11/24/16

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After missing last week we are now back with the next installment to “The Thursday Ten”!  Like usual, the rules for “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed and we encourage you to check out every album listed below on any of the major music streaming services.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums we should do next, and don’t forget to read previous “The Thursday Tens”, like the most recent one attached below!  Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

  1. Hail The Sun – Culture Scars: 8/10
  2. Stolas – Allomaternal: 8/10
  3. The Devil Wears Prada – Transit Blues: 7/10
  4. Gallant – Ology: 9/10
  5. Sianvar – Stay Lost: 8/10
  6. Memphis May Fire – This Light I Hold: 6/10
  7. Fire From The Gods – Narrative: 7/10
  8. twenty one pilots – Heathens *single/not an album*: 5/10
  9. Rob $tone – Chill Bill *single/not an album*: 9/10
  10. Leon Bridges – Coming Home: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/the-thursday-ten-111016/