Archive for March, 2010

Blessed Are The Sick

Posted in Cynic, death metal, Meshuggah, progressive metal, technical metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

The goal of Pantheon Magazine is to provide you, the music-listening hordes, with literary nourishment. With this goal in mind this article will discuss two bands who exemplify all things prog and metal…

-Cameron Davis

Meshuggah – “Chaosphere”

Highlights:

“The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled”

“New Millennium Cyanide Christ”

“Sane”

The Prog:

The bass-heavy, polyrhythmic grooves presented in the album are reminiscent of funk and the guitar solos come straight from jazz.

The Metal:

The album is a testament to the delicate art of “head banging.”

A Mandatory Listen? NO

Chaosphere is an amazing album, but it is by no means a perfect one. Though the rhythms are mind blowing and the vocals are beyond perfection, some songs fall short. The final track “Elastic” includes an eight minute period of pure static which, in my opinion, deters from the general aesthetic of the opus.

Cynic – “Focus”

Highlights:

“Veil of Maya”

“Celestial Voyage”

“I’m But A Wave To…”

The Prog:

An amazing integration of jazz and extreme metal. Also, the vocoder used on the album was light years ahead of its time.

The Metal:

Cynic stands as god in the technical death metal community. Their Focus album is as necessary as Necrophagist’s Epitaph.

A Mandatory Listen? YES

Focus is the perfect album! There is no weak moment in this cosmos-altering masterpiece. I am not kidding, this album is quite possibly one of the finest moments in extreme metal history. Listen to it, own it, and let it reshape your musical reality.

Prog Promulgation #2

Posted in avant-garde, iceberg, prog promulgation, progressive rock, van der graaf generator with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Note: Prog is often called ‘pretentious.’ Thus, so are our personas. Although on the surface this may seem overtly insulting towards most musical genres, we only wish to immerse the reader in the pretentious lifestyle of prog. The music is still fantastic and necessary, and the pretention is (usually) meant with good humor.

Brother Bartholomew is currently fencing in the Tuscan fields, fighting for the good of prog overseas.  Unfortunately, this means that he is not here to preach to the prog-thirsty masses of Pantheon.  Never fear, aficionados of good music!  The Red Barron is more than qualified to introduce you to a few wondrous prog gems.

Van der Graaf Generator, while critically acclaimed, is often ignored when compared to Genesis, Yes, and other symphonic bands.  Eschewing traditional instruments such as guitar in favor of saxophone and keys, the eclectic prog band manages to create a dark and occasionally menacing atmosphere.  Lead by virtuoso Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator released a series of brilliant and genre-bending albums throughout the 1970s.  While all are necessary if you are to call yourself a true prog fan, the 1975 release Godbluff is a masterpiece that commands your full attention.

The album begins with “The Undercover Man,” a song which slowly builds to a brilliant chorus.  As you will soon find, Hammill’s vocals sound quite odd at first, but, given time, they prove to be awe-inspiring to the true music lover.  After moving through the scorching “Scorched Earth,” the listener is struck by “Arrow,” surely a highlight of the album.  With lyrics more macabre than most of the metal in this magazine (How long the night is, Why is this passage so narrow? /How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow!) and eerie howls by Hammill, this would be the centerpiece of the album if it was not for “The Sleepwalkers.”  Be warned; this track may be too much for lowly prog initiates, especially after the aforementioned three songs.  Go ahead, listen to the album, but Brother B and the Red Barron are not liable for the shock and awe that comes from witnessing such a brilliant piece of music.

While you have undoubtedly not heard of Iceberg (I have already assumed that you live under a rock), you most certainly should have.  The seminal fusion band released Sentiments in 1977.  Iceberg goes above and beyond the usual trappings of the genre to create a pastoral and whimsical atmosphere while retaining a technicality that simply annihilates other fusion bands.  While “Joguines” must be mentioned due to the fantastic, flamenco-influenced guitar work, the true centerpiece of the album is “Alegries Del Mediterrani.”  Featuring meandering keyboards and sublime solos, the song truly encapsulates the feel of the Mediterranean coast.  I am sure that as you read this, Brother B is listening intently to this album as he gallops across the Tuscan plains on his valiant steed.  Compared to Van der Graaf Generator, Iceberg is indeed much more upbeat and, dare I say, happier, but this in no way makes it less worthy of your attention.  Prog legions, I command you to go out, improve your music tastes, and listen to these two magnificent recordings.  Surely, you will be better for it, and may even one day ascend to become a true progressive luminary, like Brother B and the Red Barron.  -Adam (the Red Barron)

Thronar – “Unleash the Fire” review

Posted in album review, black metal, folk metal, metal reviews, thronar with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I heard about Thronar a few years ago while looking through the Metal Archives. They were being recommended for their epic nature or something of the like. Luckily for me, Unleash the Fire was due to be released the same month that I found out about them. I went into this album with relatively high expectations based off of the reviews for their debut and these guys did not fail to deliver; this album is amazing.

The album starts off with the song “Prelude to War”, the perfect opener for an album of this style. There is a narration over horns and soft keyboards. Eventually it builds up into the second track, “Shield to Shield”, which is filled with furious blast beats and a great mixture of harsh and clean vocals. After Shield to Shield the album has one great song after another, going all the way to the closer, “Final War (Unleash the Fire)”.

I don’t want to waste your time describing each track because you need to hear this album for yourself. Each song has great qualities to it and has excellent musicianship from all of the members of the band. Each instrument seems to complement each other very well. When the guitars are shredding and the song takes a heavier approach, the drums become furious and much more apparent to the listener. During the slower parts, the keyboards are present and add a nice melody to each of the songs.

The vocals are quite good on this album as well. The harsh vocals are great and the clean vocals are a nice addition as well. When I say clean vocals, I’m not referring to something that you would hear off of a power metal album; they still have a rougher edge to them. The lyrics of the album itself concern battle, fantasy, and history, which is something that certainly does not detract from the value of Unleash the Fire.

Overall I must say that this is quite an amazing album. Since I have unfortunately not heard Thronar’s debut, I cannot say whether or not this album sounds or is structured like the debut. However, I can say that you will not be disappointed if you pick up this album. It’s a great recording from start to finish and is well worth many listens. -Sean Barron

Amesoeurs – “Amesoeurs” review

Posted in album review, amesoeurs, black metal, French black metal, metal reviews, shoegaze with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Imagine The Cure with blast beats and female vocals.

If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, you should probably stay away from Amesoeurs’ self-titled album. For everyone who is a fan of Neige’s ‘shoegaze black metal’ experiments, though, Amesoeurs is mandatory.

First, the bad: the main problem with this album is that it is not, in any sense, cohesive. ‘Trouble’, a blistering black metal track featuring Neige’s trademark screams, is followed by ‘Video Girl’, which is essentially a pop song. Both songs are incredible, but it’s very disjointing to leap from one style to the next, especially when this occurs several times over the course of the album. Also disappointing is that Audrey and Neige’s vocals are never used jointly. Each track is either predominantly a ‘Neige track’ or an ‘Audrey track,’ and it would be incredible to hear them together.

Don’t let these complaints fool you; Amesoeurs is fantastic. Once you get past the erratic nature of the album, you will find that each track is uplifting and gorgeously crafted. ‘Gas in Veins’, the instrumental opener, shows that Amesoeurs is more than just the vocals, and does post-black metal better than most other bands in the genre. ‘Heurt’ opens with furious blasting before segueing into sublime female vocals. The peak of the track comes when Audrey wildly shrieks over a brilliant lead. While ‘Les Ruches Malades’ and ‘La Reine Treyeuse’ are strong contenders, the true climax of the album comes with the finale, ‘Au Crepuscule de Nos Reves.’ The song truly amalgamates the black metal and shoegaze stylings. The album ends on a melancholy note, as Neige howls through a passage that easily ranks as one of Amesoeurs’ finest.

Amesoeurs broke up after the completion of this album, so unfortunately Neige will have to pursue his experiments in one of his other acclaimed bands. If you like your black metal with an experimental twist, or your shoegaze on a heavier note, then this album is a necessary listening experience. – Adam Barron

Two Mini-Reviews – Ihsahn “After” and Fear Factory “Mechanize”

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, Fear Factory, Ihsahn, Industrial Metal, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Ihsahn – After

Ihsahn, Emperor (R.I.P.) frontman and guitarist extraordinary, completes his magnificent solo album trilogy with his finest opus, After. His previous solo efforts, The Adversary and angL, feel relatively standard. After, with a little help from an eight-string guitar and saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby, feels like a tour de force in comparison. The black metal torrent that is “A Grave Inversed” not only shows Ihsahn’s ability to bend eight-string guitars to his will, but also showcases the fantastic free-form jazz saxophone present through out the album. In “Austere,”  Ihsahn presents some truly refreshing Deep Purple-sounding organ synth that is so deserving of his name. Finally, the vocal chorus in “Heavens Black Sea” brings to mind stoic, tormented angel chanting that literally sends a shiver down my spine. If you’re into all things “Kvlt” or “Tr00,” this album is definitely not for you. If you like bands that break the rules and make their own in the process, I highly recommend you add this masterpiece to your collection. – Cameron Davis


Fear Factory – Mechanize

If you are one of the Fear Factory fans who, like me, was left feeling betrayed by the band’s most recent breakup and reformation; get over it.  It becomes obvious before you even finish the first track on this album that everything has worked out for the best.  On this album, Fear Factory manages to recapture the sheer intensity and brutality of their older works without sacrificing the musicality found on the more recent “Transgression” and “Archetype”.  And, while not particularly innovative, “Mechanize” is easily the closest that Fear Factory has ever come to perfecting their unique brand of Industrial Metal.  -Matt Neri

Burzum – ‘Belus’ – Editors’ Review

Posted in album review, Belus, black metal, Burzum, metal reviews, Until the Light Takes Us, Varg Vikernes on March 19, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Three of the editors of Pantheon (Adam Barron, Max Rock, and Ryan Kirsch) sat down to discuss Varg Vikernes’ latest output, ‘Belus.’  The full, streaming audio of the chat can be heard below:

Click here for the full transcript of the review

Between the Buried and Me – “The Great Misdirect” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, between the buried and me, metal reviews, metalcore, prog reviews, progressive metal, progressive rock with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

With their magnum opus, Colors, Between the Buried and Me stretched the already distorted limits of progressive music. This included the insertion of many conflicting musical genres into one continuous album. The Great Misdirect picks up where Colors left off, but takes the sporadic passages and streamlines them into a transcending record. The band’s eclectic style makes the transitions seem very cohesive. The Great Misdirect is a transcendent experience, the majority of the album examining the mind and our own human perception.

Although not extremely technical, “Mirrors” opens the album by creating a preparatory listening experience. The listener is able to relate to their own existence through the calming mood created.  “Obfuscation” relays the overall theme of the album with these lyrics; “As humans we could never be content with knowing all, yet we can’t be content with the fact that our brains will never know.” Throughout the entire album, the band exhibits a knack for creating haunting vibes of mind control (“Disease, Injury, Madness”), questions of existence, and even UFOs (“Fossil Genera- A Feed from Cloud Mountain”).

Musically, the greatest evolution can be heard through Blake Richardson, the drummer. Prior to recording, Blake had been collaborating and working with Dream Theater virtuoso Mike Portnoy. That being said, Blake stays true to the heavy side of BTBAM by pounding out barrages of brutal drumming. Picking up from where he left off in Colors, bassist Dan Briggs plays with an enormous amount of talent and emotion, and should be considered one of the premier young bassists on today’s scene. Tommy Rogers is not the exclusive vocalist on the album. Guitarist Paul Waggoner’s takes the lead on vocals for “Desert of Song,” which is the low point of the album in my opinion. The 18-minute closing epic, “Swim to the Moon,” features Chuck Johnson, light tech and merch coordinator for the band.

Overall, Between the Buried and Me continue to exemplify the progressive label by adapting with each album and constantly reworking their personal goals as musicians. The Great Misdirect is a chilling, magnificent representation of what the band is capable of doing musically and lyrically. Though everyone may not approve of the eclectic shifts present in the latest albums from the band, BTBAM brings something new to the table with each release. One can only hope they continue down the road paved by Colors and The Great Misdirect.Matt Karow