Friday, January 28, 2011

Pentagram - Relentless

Pentagram has been around a lot longer than many people realize.  They were actually formed way back in 1971 with Bobby Liebling on vocals (he's the only constant in their lineup).  They recorded some good quality demos in 1972 and 73, but were never signed to a major record label.  They wallowed in obscurity and were plagued with lineup changes for several years until they merged with fellow Virginia band Death Row.  This is defined as their classic lineup with Bobby on vocals, Victor Griffin on guitar, Joe Hasslevander on drums and Lee Abney on bass.  Their first album was released independently as a self titled album, but when they signed to Peaceville in the 90s, the record was re-released as Relentless (with a different track order and different album artwork).

This is among the most highly revered albums in the Doom subgenre.  The musicianship is top notch.  The guitars have a rather unique sound, but it fits the album very well.  Joe's drumming is great (as expected) and it drives everything along very nicely.  Lee's has some interesting basslines which stick out, not surprisingly very similar to Geezer Butler.  The most remarkable thing in terms of the music on this album is Bobby's vocals - they are incredibly unique.  Unlike most vocalists in the Doom subgenre, Bobby sticks to his own voice rather than trying to imitate Ozzy (this is probably because Pentagram itself is only two years younger than Black Sabbath).  This is one of (if not THE) quintessential Doom release.


Recommended Tracks
Death Row
All of Your Sins
(Pentagram) Sign of the Wolf
Dying World

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Type O Negative - Slow, Deep and Hard

If you pose the question "What is your favorite Type O Negative album" to a typical Type O fan, you'd probably get the answer Bloody Kisses or October Rust.  However, if you ask a metal fan the same question, you'd be more likely to hear Slow, Deep and Hard.  Why?  Because its a best of both worlds album - you get the thrashiness of old Carnivore material while mixing keyboards and catchy pop melodies often associated with later Type O Negative work.

Slow, Deep and Hard has an interesting history that many do not know.  As many fans DO know, the album was written by Peter Steele in response to his girlfriend cheating on him.  He had attempted suicide as a result of this betrayal and large majority of the songs have to deal with either suicide or this chick.  What many people don't know is that Slow, Deep and Hard was originally intended as only a demo, and nothing more.  Due to pressure from Roadracer (later Roadrunner), Type O Negative had to put out a full length album and quickly.  So they rushed into the studio and the recorded what would become Slow, Deep and Hard.  The album was met with mixed reviews, the negative reviews mainly to deal with the lyrical content.  Peter later said in an interview that he regrets releasing some of the more nasty songs (ie: "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity").  People clearly took the intended meaning the wrong way (as they always do....ugh).

Now, to look at the album musically.

Slow, Deep and Hard is a rather interesting combination of crossover Thrash and Doom metal. The gang vocals bring out the NYHC influence and provide an interesting contrast as well.  Those two combined with Peter Steele's voice, vocals and the atmospheric effects provided by the keyboards lay the foundation for a fantastic album (arguably my favorite release of all time).  The guitar sounds almost mechanical, and its very reminiscent of an early industrial sound (its very interesting considering Kenny's rig, but thats another story altogether).  The bass has a very processed sound (very chorusy, with a bi-amped kind of a sound), but its very prominent in the mix.  The drumming isn't anything special really, and is probably the weakest point of the album - but hey, they get the job done, and I do like the snare sound quite a bit.  As mentioned earlier, Peter's vocals and the gang vocals are fantastic.


Recommended Tracks
Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity
Der Untermensch
Xero Tolerance
Gravitational Constant

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Disembowelment - Transcendence into the Peripheral

If you're really into the Death/Doom scene, you've probably already have heard about this band, but for those who haven't, I highly suggest that you read on.

Disembowelment is an Australian group that formed in 1989.  They released two demos which had more of a sludgy Death sound than anything.  The demos ended up catching the attention of the then relatively new Relapse records.  The band then put together an EP called Dusk, which contained two tracks from their demo Deep Sensory Procession into Aural Fate and a new track called "Cerulean Transience of all my Imagined Shores".  All of those tracks were later re-recorded for their full length release, Transcendence into the Peripheral.  Transcendence into the Peripheral was everything the demos were not - the album was phenomenally well produced and it showed more ambient side of the music that the demos did not.  Transcendence into the Peripheral is more a less a soundscape of extremely heavy, yet beautiful proportions.  It goes from Funeral Doom to Grindcore to clean ambience in seconds.  The ambient parts are an excellent transition and they provide a very atmospheric effect.  The guitar sound is dirty and very low-end oriented. The vocals are the same way, but it fits very well with the dirgy bits of the songs.  The drumming is incredible and I'm not afraid to admit that the drum work on this album is probably my favorite over everything else in the Death/Doom sub-genre.  Overall, Transcendence into the Peripheral might just be the best Death/Doom release...ever.


Recommended Tracks
The Tree of Life and Death
Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory
Burial at Ornans
Cerulean Transience of all my Imagined Shores

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grotesque - In the Embrace of Evil

Almost every fan of Death Metal (especially Melodeath) has heard of the band At the Gates.  However, not every Death Metal fan has heard of the precursor to this band - Grotesque.  Grotesque was formed back in 1988 in Gothenburg (home of the Swedish Melodeath scene).  They consisted of two members which would later form At the Gates (Tomas Lindburg on Vocals, and Alf Svensson on guitar).  The other members are connected to a whole host of other Swedish bands including Liers in Wait and Diabolique.  They recorded a few demos in 1989 and 1990 and they recorded a now legendary EP called Incantation.  The demos hinted at a Death/Black metal combination that predates Dissection, but that wasn't made fully clear until Incantation's release in the latter half of 1990.  The production is much clearer and focused. Lindberg's howls sound more primitive and raw than his vocals on the At the Gates material.  The guitar work is wonderfully complex, yet they sound rough and jagged and fit in very well.  After Incantation, the band split up and the members went their separate ways, but in 1996, the band recorded a few new songs for the compilation, In the Embrace of Evil, which also features the Incantation EP and a few remastered unreleased demo tracks.  They then later reunited briefly in 2007 and played a few shows in Sweden, but they officially disbanded shortly afterward.

Here's that compilation - enjoy it

Recommended Tracks
Blood Runs From the Altar
Submit to Death

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Let us begin....Heartwork

The purpose of this blog is to not only to introduce people to music they may or may not have heard, but its also is a place for me to rant as I please, so I apologize in advance for any rants that may not make sense, or that may be rude, absolutely repulsive, or just flat-out uncalled for.

Anywho, I figure I'll start off posting with one of my favorite albums of all time: Heartwork.

Its a damn good album in my opinion, but its often considered the point where Carcass "sold out".  Now maybe its because this album was technically before my time, or that I just love the album regardless, but I don't see how Carcass sold out on this one.  Yeah, its not as ridiculous and over the top as Reek of Putrefaction (nor as juvenile), but the music is some of the best stuff they've written.  Its like Necrotisicm in its musical technicalities, but with better production - more or less, its the best of both worlds.

Recommended Tracks
Buried Dreams
Arbelt Macht Fleisch
Blind Bleeding the Blind
Death Certificate