Friday, July 28, 2006

Shelfcore Quest 2006: Step 16 [26] (repost)

More reposted album review snippets.


Infernal Majesty - One Who Points To Death [6/7]
"Because Canada has so few people, they have to economize on band output, and hence these guys are the Great White North's answer to Slayer, Death, and practically the entire first wave of death metal. This is a bit of a comeback record, but still tight and sharp even if it's not as revolutionary as their earlier material."

Hypocrisy - Osculum Obscenum [5/7]
"...raw and rawly recorded death metal, though the distinctive riffs and grooves are starting to emerge. The production works against it, but it's still pretty good; for a band that regularly puts out superlative stuff, it's sub-average, but fans will still dig it..."

Hypocrisy - Inferior Devotees [5/7]
"...from this point on, we have Hypocrisy as the classic three-piece lineup that would go on to do so much with and for death metal. Those records, of course, are still in the future here, and the recording still isn't to Abyss-standard, but this is an absolutely crushing EP that committed death metallers will definitely add to their list of essential Hypocrisy records."

Hypocrisy - Pleasure of Molestation [5/7]
"...a sound better than the full album, which by contrast doesn't seem either clean or dirty enough to really allow the music full rein. The narrower track selection gives greater focus on the parts of the Hypocrisy sound that would be important in the future, and the result is that this disc is a real precursor to The Fourth Dimension..."

The Black Dahlia Murder - Unhallowed [4/7]
"While the composition and arrangements are well-done, the writing is unimaginative and basically pulls from a bag of riffs that In Flames and Sacrilege had already long since exhausted. If you wish In Flames had repeated Lunar Strain and Subterranean instead of developing, you may want this..."

Deeds of Flesh - Path of the Weakening [6/7]
"...much of what they do here has already been done, in large measure, by Incantation, Suffocation, and other brutal death bands, but the band is able to successfully turn this around and inside out, making brutal music that most of the time sounds truly new and fresh, no matter how often the same concepts have been done before and since."

Melechesh - As Jerusalem Burns... [5/7]
"...there isn't much here that really sets the band apart as doing something original or even particularly interesting. There are definite cool parts, but many of them get somewhat lost if you're doing anything else while listening to the record; this becomes background music too easily, and this is never a good sign for a metal album. Underground collectors will want this, but everyone else can feel free to skip it..."

Decapitated - The Negation [6/7]
"This disc is as trim, tight, clean, and brutal as could possibly be desired, and full of a genuine fire that shows the band's commitment to their intricate technical structures is still ironclad; about the only knock on it is that it barely tops 30 minutes, and there's enough good ideas and kickass performance to make you really wish that it extended out to the 45-60 minute range."

Abigor - Channeling The Quintessence Of Satan [6/7]
"It's not the band's fault that a lot of the memorable points heavily recall Emperor's classic sound; they do it well, and that combination of instrumental tones is one of the classic sounds in black metal history. However, the necro production on this disc obstructs the fullness of the recording, preventing the musicianship from showing up fully in the riff sections. Even with this handicap, this is still a very cool album that black metallers will want in their collections..."

Slayer - Show No Mercy [6/7]
"The amount that I like this release is out of proportion to its actual quality. As music, it's still very good, but early Slayer, like early Venom or Bathory, has a lot of intangible value to it that is not really connected to the playing so much as the feeling behind it. As such, it's essential, but the actual music on here is good enough that those buying it for historical reasons won't be disappointed."

In Extremo - Sieben [5/7]
" amongst the singable hooks and choruses is relatively less that appeals to the metal side of the equation, which is a regrettable but probably necessary part of the compromise. On their following record In Extremo would unify their new mass appeal with thorough metal punch, as they earlier unified the metal and folkic sides of their sound, but on this one the fusion isn't perfect..."

Holy Moses - Strength, Power, Will, Passion [6/7]
"This isn't one of Holy Moses' historically canonical works, but time may later give it that status, and it definitely is the entry point that modern metalheads will want to use to get into the band. The sharp, clean production conveys the full power of their brutal thrash style, and the digressions into black and death metal only throw the main body of the riffage into fuller detail..."

Opeth - Ghost Reveries [7/7]
"When I first got this record, I wasn't this into it. Opeth has probably made better records, but this one is unique in that you can let it loop for basically forever, and while it never seems to really go anywhere, you don't really want it to. Both solidly metal and indescribably something else, Opeth is both accessible and impenetrable on this one, and the result is an incredible and inscrutable album that cannot really be cut apart or analyzed, merely experienced..."

Hypocrisy - Virus [6/7]
"Here as little elsewhere since Peter started Pain, the sound is a fusion of both the groove-ridden death metal and death-blasting electrogrooves that form the two usually distinct sides of his musical personality. This makes this record sound more like a Pain disc in some places, but in others, it sounds like nothing less than the perfect actualization of the Tagtgren experience. An awesome album on its own as well as for Hypocrisy fans and collectors, this is probably essential for anyone whos going to own anything beyond Abducted and The Final Chapter..."

Kataklysm - In The Arms Of Devastation [5/7]
"...this record shows a fairly accessible side of Kataklysm that is not immediately separable from a lot of other bands inspired principally by At The Gates. It's a decent record, but the distinctive sound has been mostly lost in the process."

Vio-lence - Eternal Nightmare [6/7]
" a lot of spots recalls Slayer a little too easily, but it's still a classic. I first heard this on vinyl in the basement of the radio station, and there's something about it that really demands those kinds of circumstances... This is the most essential of Vio-lence's works, and probably still the most important record that Rob Flynn and Phil Demmel have been involved with..."

Vio-lence - Live At Slim's [6/7]
"...not the best metal live in history, but it's pretty damn good and unexpectedly shows Vio-lence still at full power despite their extended layoff and member changes. A lot of the material is from Eternal Nightmare, where this is almost always packed in with the re-release, but that's kind of expected as it's their best album, and the performances are good enough that it doesn't really matter."

Bolt Thrower - In Battle There Is No Law [5/7]
"...the music is still pretty much thrash, with a lot more of the Bay Area in it than the nascent Birmingham death metal sound. ...If you like Bolt Thrower, you like extreme metal and will also like this, but it's not The IVth Crusade by any means."

DragonForce - Inhuman Rampage [6/7]
"This is a fairly good record that even people who don't like DragonForce ought to give a try, but it's not the disc that is going to achieve their full musical potential, or even break them out of their autopilot mode. When that one drops, though, you may want to have this one around to point out the diverse moments and say ''I told you so''."

Skyclad - The Answer Machine? [5/7]
" all too often, Skyclad doesn't know to stop putting songs on the CD when they run out of good ones. There's some cool stuff on this, but there's also some clunky and uninspired material that works much better as poetry than as metal songs which could have been safely and conveniently omitted."

Charon - Songs For The Sinners [5/7]
"...this whole disc sounds like ten singles that [Sentenced] didn't think had enough punch to go on their real records. It's decent enough music, especially if you want more Sentenced now that the band has lowered the flags, but it may not be metal enough for their older fans... Normal people should be satisfied with Sentenced's heroic body of work and leave this also-ran to collectors..."

Dio - Magica [4/7]
"...there are a lot of fairly boring interludes on this one, and the disc winds up with a 20-minute audiobook that has nothing to do with most of the tracks on the record. This short story covers the concept of the album, where the music doesn't by any reasonable listening standard, and the result is, frankly, a mess. The concept is fairly cool, and the story is well-done, but the music isn't tied into it as all, so the record kind of fails as a concept album."

Sentenced - The Funeral Album [6/7]
"If the band was going to go on, most of this would be somewhat mediocre, but the knowledge of their impending end really puts more into the last few tracks, so that you really notice that they really are giving their all here. That the album is as good as it is is an enduring testament to the power and quality of Sentenced; that it's not better is a testament to the fact that they made the right decision to hang it up when they did."

Hrossharsgrani - Of Battles, Ravens, And Fire [3/7]
"There's a fair bit of decent music on this record, but nearly all of it is stolen from Basil Poledouris, and the original music that flows in around the gaps in the Conan soundtrack is not particularly inspired -- and in a few cases, comically bad rather than just massively boring. By such, the disc becomes not atrocious, but merely totally superfluous..."

Dew-Scented - Issue IV [7/7]
"...relentlessly thrash while still fitting into the modern era, and I'm quite surprised that their US distro sucks as bad as it does. The silly name aside, this is some serious and strong metal that definitely belongs in your collection."

Blind Guardian - Live [6/7]
"...there's a lot of Nightfall and post-Nightfall stuff on here, which may or may not sit well with old-time fans, but it's certainly well-played, and equally good as, though quite different from, the older, thrashier stuff. It's a lot of material for an introduction to the band, but fans will like it, as well as those looking for a convenient compression of their late catalog."

Just striking out kind of wildly here, but if you or someone you know has a four-year degree in a CS- or engineering-related field and a basic knowledge of computer hardware and software plus a high tolerance for short-lead-time international travel, let me know (over email, obviously), because my section is hiring. No semiconductor-industry experience necessary, just the basics mentioned above and the ability to pick everything else up rapidly. More details will be provided privately to those interested.

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