Friday, July 28, 2006

Shelfcore Quest 2006: Step 9 [29] (repost)

Yet another reposted batch of album review snippets.


Duncan Wilder Johnson - Why Is Duncan Wilder Johnson Yelling At Me? [5/7]
"Damn short, even for a sampler, and people will have different opinions based on whether they can put up with spoken-word, but....nice thrashcore..."

Cannibal Corpse - Vile [4/7]
"...decent for brutal death, but so completely generic-sounding that I really can't get too passionate one way or the other about it. If you concentrate closely enough, you can make out the band's impressive technical chops, but nothing in the music itself immediately compels you to put that level of attention in."

Finntroll - Visor om slatet [5/7]
"...a fairly soft album, not really for those looking for a lot of screaming or craziness, but for fans of Ulver's early work or the softer digressions of Norway's older folk-viking scene, this would be a pretty good pickup."

Tyrant - Grimoires [2/7]
"Not only dishonest but truly sucky, this band has nothing to recommend them, and stayed at their current rating only by not being totally unlistenable. They can make the instruments make the notes, but they can't make anything out of them."

Decapitated - The First Damned [5/7]
"...this is a nice crunchy collection of brutal death demos with a suitable infernal punch for hardened veterans, despite being originally recorded by a bunch of middle schoolers. All four guys in Decapitated are now over 20, but these tracks from the late '90s show them as already being a solid and fairly practiced death metal horde..."

Goat Horn - Threatening Force [5/7]
"Despite its lack of length and terminal underground nature, this is a decent record with mostly decent production, and though the actual music may or may not be up to your standards, it's still essential if only on metal spirit."

Withered - Memento Mori [5/7]
"...the comparisons to Dissection and Mastodon on the cover stickers are not spurious. This band is better live and probably has a better record in them still, but this one is still pretty good."

Antimatter - Lights Out [6/7]
"...far from hard-hitting as music, but that softer approach is just what is required to pull you down the closing spiral of despair and morbid anxiety, towards the death that none escapes."

Atheist - Unquestionable Presence [7/7]
"Atheist's more open but still intricately woven style stands alone, breathing and flowing freely where Death's Human, probably the best point of comparison, wraps itself close in dense and tight knots of riffage. Even with only the 8 original tracks, this is one of the best metal albums ever recorded..."

Deimos - Never Be Awaken [5/7]
"For fans of odd, intense black/death metal, this is a good pickup, as the music isn't really ever bad, but I can't see this record really appealing to anyone beyond terminal completists."

Warblade - A Crisis In The Gray Space [5/7]
"...this is not an essential release, but a very solid work with a sound reminiscent of In Flames' legendary Jester Race. The sound is reminiscent, but the writing has a way to go before it gets to that level... If you dig melodic death, you will also enjoy this release."

Cronian - Terra [6/7]
"This is almost, but not quite, a new Borknagar album...[t]he best comparison is probably to Sigh's latest, that same blend of structured experimentalism and tenuous order working towards an unexpected but yet familiar end. A Borknagar version of this material would have come out more metal, but for what it is, it's pretty damn cool."

Immolation - Harnessing Ruin [5/7]
"While Immolation is not going to surprise anyone with this, they certainly aren't going to disappoint either; their dry, closed-in death metal sound is by this point a finely tuned precision machine."

Fall of Empyrean - A Darkness Remembered [4/7]
"The result comes out fairly well, and the music is good enough that picking points over originality isn't extremely productive, but these Arizonans do not do enough to separate themselves from those who have gone before."

Belphegor - Goatreich - Fleshcult [6/7]
"I'm glad to see that they've been merely tweaking and pushing forward with their violent blend of Immortal and Morbid Angel, rather than materially changing it... This band is not interested in pushing the frontiers back or converting people, but converted cultists of ferocious extremity will find nothing to disagree with here."

Atheist - Elements [6/7]
"This is still Atheist, and still, in large part, death metal, but it's certainly understandable that this is the most often overlooked of the band's three discs. This is not an album for everyone, or, in comparison to their other works, a permanent classic, but it's still a decent disc...."

Demiricous - One (Hellbound) [4/7]
"This is a decent record of brutal thrash, drawing on Slayer, Possessed, Exodus, and The Haunted, but as good as it is, its barely original. Though the music kicks ass if you're not listening closely, it may be more interesting if you do; you can play Spot The Famous Riff with your friends..."

Maudlin of the Well - My Fruit Psychobells ...a Seed Combustible [7/7]
"....a great disc from one of the most truly original bands ever to appear in the American extreme music scene. While they came from, and eventually, in Kayo Dot, went back to more normal varieties of art-rock, this is undeniably metal, inspired by Opeth as well as the folkic and experimental tendencies in black metal of its time, but pushing it farther and stronger forward."

Noctuary - When Fires Breed Blood [7/7]
"...this gem has by now sunk back into the mists of time, which is not only a shame but a crime. Their national origin may not be exotic enough, but the music is certainly more than cool enough, and this should be considered a must for any black metaller who happens across it."

Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond [7/7]
"While, really, it's a union set of material covered on the preceding and succeeding records, making it the best inessential record ever published, it's still an excellent release that won't let down anyone who's willing to pick up a Guardian record in the first place."

Hypocrisy - The Fourth Dimension [6/7]
"Driven forward by ceaseless attack riffs, this album only rarely slows down and allows the contemplative depths that would take subsequent releases further, but still shows off Peter's trademark sense for melodic composition and songwriting, even in a matrix of thorough brutality. Highly recommended for death metal devotees..."

Iced Earth - Dark Genesis - Enter The Realm [5/7]
"....this record, while kind of out of character for what Iced Earth would later become, would be a pretty good EP for any other band.'s too bad that this was only ever released in the Dark Genesis box, but it does make a nice bonus in that context."

Iced Earth - Dark Genesis - Iced Earth [5/7]
"It's a good album, but the Maiden influences are transparent and it's easy to see how this could have struggled along to only 600 copies sold back in 1991. There are good songs here, but Iced Earth would get better from here...."

Iced Earth - Dark Genesis - Night of the Stormrider [5/7]
"Iced Earth has always been more streamlined and focused than Manowar, but Greely's voice -- a thoroughly bad fit for the band -- suggests Eric Adams too strongly, based on the expansive material, and gets the record lost."

Iced Earth - Dark Genesis - Burnt Offerings [7/7]
"...a great album made better. It had the best original production of any of the remastered releases in this box, and though in some places the additions made seem to be just adding stuff for the sake of adding stuff, in almost all cases they work to positive effect."

Iced Earth - Tribute To The Gods [5/7]
"At a basic level, this is fan service, and as such is all right in the Dark Genesis box, where it was originally delivered, but it stands less well on its own, where it's now available. Pretty much for Iced Earth fans only..."

Judas Priest - The Best of Judas Priest: Living After Midnight [6/7]
"What sets this one apart is the amount of live material; five of the 16 tracks are live takes... It's not the best Priest collection out there, but there's not really anything wrong with it either."

Enslaved - Below The Lights [7/7]
"...a magnificently off-kilter mix of varying shades of pure awesome that, perhaps, only the true underground will find and appreciate, but that shouldn't stop them from trying to spread the infection over the earth. It's not quite as good as Mardraum, but most people will be satisfied with an album that is merely 'excellent' rather than 'epochal'."

Evanescence - Fallen [3/7]
"...while this release is spectacularly boring, it's also moderately metal, and given the few passable tracks that can be downloaded off it, it's not correct to throw down the garbage chute to lower ratings. Of course, that doesn't mean you should actually buy this record unless your doctor's got something against prescribing you sleep aids..."

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