Thursday, July 31, 2008


Opus Magnum
Napalm Records

I am a sucker for cool cover art and Hollenthon's latest dark epic has a great one. Picture this evil looking demonic creature with outstretched arms, that turn into hundreds of arms that almost look like wings. Oh yeah, I am digging it. However as the old saying goes, you can't judge a book, er... a Cd by it's cover. Anyway, Hollenthon's music falls into the grandiose, symphonic, black metal category which in itself is fine. The guitar riffs are excitingly evil and wicked (nothing less would be expected). The synths and background choruses are huge, giving it a larger than life feel. The vocals, while being growled (in true black metal fashion) are very discernable and all this with bombastic bass and drums make for fine metal fare.
So, what's that nagging feeling your having that there's some issue I have with this album? Well there is, but thankfully it's minor. Hollenthon, as good as they are, sound a little too much like Dimmu Borgir to be honest. However, I can overcome this small quibble because this Austrian band does everything dead on, despite the comparisons to their black metal brethren. I guess I shouldn't bitch that much, because it's hard as hell to be totally original, if not impossible. So, yes Hollenthon should definitely grace your Cd/Ipod or whatever type of music collection you have. If you don't buy it, these guys might send that creepy, fucking demon thing on the cover to kill you and that would suck.

- Craig Harvey

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Napalm Records

"Land" is the sixth release from these Nordic metal warriors who proudly hail the old ways, defiling those who would deny them their heritage. The cover art depicts a Viking ship coming to rest in calm waters, while village fires burn along the coast (of which we do not know) and this visual representation gives a perfect idea to the listener of what awaits inside. (However, if you are already familiar with Tyr it's just icing on the cake). The vocals are a mix of the traditional Nordic and English with a very anthemic and uplifting style. Speaking of the vocals, no screaming or death styles here, just great singing and powerful harmonies. The songs are catchy, but not overly fast, having just the right tempo that grabs hold and instills you with the band's proud vision. The guitar riffs were outstanding and there was some impressive lead work as well. The traditional melodies are prominent but are void of any type of folk instrumentation. This is pure metal regardless of the lyrical and historical elements. Tyr truly takes us back to a more simple time when survival, adventure, and the will to conquer and endure were all that mattered.

- Craig Harvey


Ot Serdca K Nebu
Napalm Records

Straight from the heart of Russian Federation, Arkona deliver a massive album of Pagan Metal that shows they are at the top of their game. Front woman Masha produces devilish screams and growls (that are downright scary) and then graces us with a clean, bardish style to offset things. The guitars, bass and pounding drums rage along side more traditional folk instruments (many of which I have no idea what they are). Some tracks have battle cries chanting in the background (in which you can envision massive armies, swords and other weapons held high waiting for the upcoming battle) while others are devoid of any modern instrumentation or vocals and are wonderful, elegant pieces using the aforementioned folk instruments. Arkona skillfully connect the sounds of the lost, ancient past with the powerful metal styles of today that showcase an extremely multi-talented band. To be honest, they could drop the metal aspect of their music and focus entirely on the folk elements and still have a brilliant album. Perhaps they might explore that as a side project somewhere in the future.

- Craig Harvey


Folie A' Deux - The Elements & The Madness
Artoffact Records

Prospero's latest release could be described as a jack of all trades musical grab bag. It's rare to see so many types of electronic styles spread across one album, but Wade Anderson, the mastermind behind all this sonic diversity is a man of many talents. The album is divided into two parts. The first being "The Elements" which consists of four tracks (representing each of the four elements) of experimental noises, tribal rhythms, dark synth's and a plethora of zombie movie samples (all from Night Of The Living Dead from what I can gather).

The second half, "The Madness" moves into ebm/industrial territory blending more minimal electronic styles (some sans vocals) with harder edged tracks all tailor made for maximum dance-floor efficiency. Three guest artist's (Ayria, Battery Cage and Terrorfakt) also lend their considerable skills to Mr. Anderson's brilliance. I thought I recognized Tyler Newman's (Battery Cage) distinct vocals on "Let The Planet Burn" but Terrorfakt's noise grinding beats just put this track through the roof. One my favorite songs on the second half.

While the entire cd is extremely well done, I have to say that I favor the first half the most. Mainly because it just had so much going on musically and reminded me of some of my favorite experimental acts, especially "This Morn' Omina". Regardless, this is a superb release, one that has just about everything but the kitchen sink. Who know's; after a few listen's, that to may be in there lurking in the mix as well.

- Craig Harvey

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Silent Hill

Break Me To Pieces
Yo Yo Israel

Ok, first off; this album is not, I repeat, not related to the Silent Hill game or movie franchise in any way, shape or form. (However, by the cover art you would think otherwise). I have no idea how they managed to obtain the rights to name their band Silent Hill, but somehow this Israeli duo has done just that. So, what's in the box (musically that is)? Well, Silent Hill are a mix of electronic trance, guitars/bass and vocals. As far as the guitar and bass, well it's really hard to hear it in the mix. When you can make it out, it's really processed to sound more like keyboards anyway. To be honest, I didn't find anything overly special with this release. It's just trance. It's not bad trance, but I have heard other artist's in this genre do much more interesting things with this style of music. Kudo's go to the art and the packaging which were excellent, but the music rates pretty average.

- Craig Harvey

Lamb Of God

Walk With Me In Hell DVD

Lamb Of God have been a rising force as one of the new breed of metal bands from the US. Their latest album "Sacrament" did extremely well and the band toured all over the globe in support of it. "Walk With Me In Hell" is a two DVD set documenting all the triumphs, tribulations and wacky chaos of life on the road for a metal band. There are snippets of live concert footage on the first disc between all the commentary from the band, fan footage, etc.... The second disc has a making of "Sacrament" a live concert from the Download festival in Scotland (which has to be seen to be believed) and various other goodies. These guys have no shortage of finding things to do when boredom sets in. Witness the "Tiger Mask" punching session, learning to use a whip (painfully, I might add), using a machete for cleaning one's toenails (thus involving a trip to the ER) and oh yes, lots and lots of alcohol. Regardless of all this insane behavior, the band is unstoppable live, drawing massive crowds at every show (I wouldn't want to follow playing after them) and their fans are legion all over the world. This a must have for fans of Lamb Of God as it's truly dedicated to them, because they have helped make the band what it is today.

- Craig Harvey

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meat Beat Manifesto/Badawi - Orlando, FL

In the darkness....We all live in the darkness according to Meat Beat Manifesto anyway. But I get ahead of myself one clear night, the doc took a drive down to Orlando because he heard that Meat Beat Manifesto was throwing down at The Social. Having seen there mind blowing show a few years ago in Jax I was excited to check out the new material and see what they added to there visual mayhem. What I didn't realize was that Badawi, the opening act was gonna reign sonic dub destruction down upon all that were there. I did a little reading up on this composer/dub freak, but you really had to be there to witness the bass rumbling in your gut. This wasn't your grandmothers dubstep either, Badawi was droppin' three am pounding dub beats just as hard as any techno dj. With a brief respite we went and checked out the t-shirt booth and the girl running it was dating Mark Pistel (the funky drummer on a lot of MBM tracks). I was tickled pink by the whole encounter but it didn't stop there. When Jack took the stage he out came punching, with the the latest tracks off his new album Autoimmune. This hip-hop dubtastic electronic jam had us all enthralled as we watched Jack Dangers and crew weave a tale of a society taken over by the television, ruled by fear of the president and controlled by the powers that be. For 10+ years MBM has been an experimentalist dub act, influenced by the hip hop sounds of San Francisco there is less anger and more of a stoned realization of what we are doing to the world or what the world is doing to us. Gone are the industrial strength pop tunes replaced the the smell of "marajuna smoke" as the images of self destruction and sampling mayhem ask us to question our reality. Of course he could not help but play a few vocal favorites stating the "consequences" of "past present and future are up to you" all realizing we watch way to much tv.

- Dr. Strangelove /