Helloween – Pink Bubbles Go Ape

- 22/04/17 Music,Reviews

What happened here?

Helloween’s fourth album is stupid and bad, and it’s stupid and bad in a way that bands are normally immune to. Pink Bubbles Go Ape would have made sense coming from a solo artist. All artists have THAT period, where they snort a rail of coke laced with rat droppings and make a concept album about socks disappearing inside the lint dryer. But how the fuck did five members all agree to sign off on this inanity?

To recap, Helloween were on an incredible hot streak through 1985-89. Walls of Jericho and both of the Keeper albums (notice that I make no mention of a third) wrote the book on Teutonic power metal. After touring with Exodus and Anthrax, and getting airplay on Headbanger’s Ball, they finally seemed on the verge of a big break.

Then principle songwriter Kai Hansen left the band. His final composition on a Helloween disc, “I Want Out”, was apparently less a catchy tune than a dire prognostic. Immediately, the band went into a tailspin, with drummer Ingo Swichtenberg’s schizophrenia becoming worse and vocalist Michael Kiske now harboring delusions of reinventing the band as a pop group.

Three years later, we got this, and the band’s chances at becoming a mainstream metal act ended in a fit of pure absurdity. It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the head. Helloween managed to shoot itself with one of those joke store pistols with a spring-loaded *BANG* flag.

The album is either hard rock music that isn’t very good, or comedic lyrics that aren’t very funny, and usually both at the same time. Almost none of it sounds like power metal. “Kids of the Century” makes an effort at rocking hard, before confessing partway through “yeah, I got nothin'”. “Number One” is a Weikath song from the early 80s. It’s no mystery why it never appeared on a past Helloween, but why it’s on this one is mystery aplenty. “Goin’ Home” and “Heavy Metal Hamsters” are like special-needs glam rock, if such a thing existed. I’m imagining huge teased 80s hair, hidden beneath a SPED helmet.

In a final surrealistic touch, the only songs that sound like old Helloween (“Somebody’s Crying” and “The Chance”) were penned by new guitarist Roland Grapow. Both of these songs are great, particularly the second one, which has lots of soaring guitar harmonies and a dog-whistle high note from Kiske. Grapow was a thirty year old car mechanic, drafted to fill the gap left by Hansen’s department, and “The Chance” reflects the optimism at such a stroke of luck. Unfortunately, Helloween was and is a dysfunctional band (even without Kiske), and in ten years he’d probably relate more to “I Want Out.”

“Mankind” wastes a great Queensryche atmosphere with a goofy chorus, and the final ballad “Your Turn” is saccharine gloop. It’s nearly as bad as “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”. Put this in your car’s fuel tank and your ride would never work again.

What’s the French expression? Folie à deux? A bunch of people suddenly going mad (or ape, as the case may be?) It basically put a spoke in the band’s wheel, and set off events that would leave most of Helloween’s lineup getting fired or dead. It’s a tragedy, masked as a comedy.


Rob Zombie – Educated Horses

- 02/04/17 Music,Reviews

“Raw” is a dangerous aspiration to have as a musician. It’s supposed to mean artistic freedom, and the throwing away of artifice and pretension. All I can think of is that raw things give you salmonella.

Rob Zombie’s puzzling third album takes all the electronics and danceable aspects of his past work and replaces them with…nothing much. Bare fragments of grinding riffs and Iggy Pop vocals drive the album. Not a single track sounds like it could have been on Hellbilly Deluxe (although Hellbilly Deluxe has a song called “How To Make a Monster” that sounds like it could have been on this one) and even his vocals sound totally different. It’s was a bold move to throw out every aspect of his previous sound, and a curious one, as his previous sound was mostly working for him.

But there’s an explanation: his film career.

His directorial efforts almost deserve a documentary in their own right. Basically, 2003’s House of a Thousand Corpses had a sweetheart of a deal that he obliterated with a poorly chosen joke on a TV show (or something), and his funding disappeared with the film half shot. Rather than cancel the film, he somehow figured out how to get the rest of the footage just by shooting stuff for free around his house. Sounds like a recipe for a shit sandwich, but when he watched the final cut, he actually liked the zero-dollar shots better, and his films have essentially relied on that approach since.

I imagine he wanted to try the same approach with his music. Just throw together some stuff with a live band and see what happens. Well, something happened. I don’t think he covered himself with glory here, but it has some strong moments, particularly in the deeper cuts.

After an arty piano tribute to the Halloween theme called “Sawdust in the Blood”, “American Witch” kicks off to unimpressive results. With a plodding tempo and a chorus that sounds like it was made up on the spot, it’s just a boring song. A lot of tracks here are like that. “Ride”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “17 Year Locust”. None of them are complete throwaways, but they just don’t have enough actual content to sustain your interest. It’s like being at a party with twenty people, but the host only bought enough snacks for ten.

Then there’s the songs that provoked revulsion among the Zombie faithful. “Foxy Foxy” is kind of cute. “Death of it All” is an all-acoustic track that I like. “The Scorpion Sleeps” sounds like a fucking beer commercial. The two best songs are “Let It All Bleed Out” and “Lords of Salem”. The former has the energy and the latter has the heavy. Either of those songs would have been a good direction to explore more fully. Rob Zombie’s never been comfortable playing all-out metal, but I wish he’d get comfortable, because the closer he gets the better he sounds.

Well, it’s an experiment, which guards it against criticism in a way. This is just a lab experiment, to be accepted if it works, and flushed if it doesn’t. I think it does a little of both.


Metallica – Hardwired…to Self Destruct

- 06/02/17 Music,Reviews

Metallica_Hardwired..._To_Self-Destruct_2016Kerry Packer was Australia’s richest man, and he didn’t care who knew it. It was dangerous to mention your own wealth in his company. Once, at a baccarat table in Vegas, a Texas oilman bragged that he was worth sixty million. Kerry didn’t miss a beat. “Toss you for it.”

Metallica’s like that. It’s all or nothing. Once they decide on a direction, they take that direction to its full or logical conclusion. Sometimes that conclusion is “Ride the Lightning”. Sometimes it’s “Lulu.” And now we’re here, with an album that’s average, but strangely intense in its averageness, if that makes sense. Imagine pouring a mug of tapwater, that’s utterly uncompromising in its 50C-ness. The definitive mug of lukewarm water, that all mugs of lukewarm water aspire to be.

Hardwired tries to merge their 80s thrash metal sound with various hard rock influences, with somewhat good results. I was hoping for more, but it’s listenable and well put together. Greg Fiedelman’s earthy production job stops things from sounding too modern, but the album doesn’t have a sonic “center”. There’s not a single track you can point to as a summary of the album’s thesis. It jumps around in style a lot, and also in quality.

The performances shocked me. James’s voice sounds…good. No more “GIMME FUE GIMME FAI GIMME DABAJABAZA” enunciation. And he’s backing it up live, too. Lars’s drumming is basic but sounds pretty decent now that he’s mixed in a non-asinine fashion. The band probably pulls of its best rhythm tone to date, with the guitars like a scorching streak of red war paint against the dry skin of the bass and drums. Everything works, everything makes sense.

The weak performer on the album is obviously Kirk Hammett. His bad habits are now incredibly pronounced, turning songs like “Confusion” into your one stop shop for bad Jimi Hendrix imitations. Sloppily played pentatonic runs, drenched in masturbatory wah pedal noise, written with no thought, no technique, and no ability to “ride” the feel of the song. On 2008’s Death Magnetic, he didn’t stand out at all. Now, he’s actively making the band worse.

If you agree, take heart from my suspicion that he won’t be in Metallica much longer. Note that he has zero writing credits on the album, and my reading of Blabbermouth reveals a dog-ate-my-homework level excuse about losing the phone that had all his riff ideas (should have lost the phone that had his shitty guitar solos, instead). I don’t buy it. There’s kids on Youtube who can play every riff Metallica ever recorded, but Kirk Hammett needs a phone to remember his own material? His heart is obviously no longer in this band and I predict he will be the next member to leave.

But he keeps his noodling down to a few seconds per song, leaving us with Hetfield’s amazing left hand and surprisingly decent voice to carry the album, and they both do…to an extent. “Hardwired” doesn’t stand out to me as excellent material, but “Atlas, Rise!” and “Moth into Flame” are incredible, capturing everything that was good about the Black album and marrying with a greater sense of musical adventure. If the whole album had sounded like this, a renaissance would be underway.

“Now That We’re Dead” and “Confusion” sound like efforts at arena rock. I can tolerate them, if not love them. Much of the second album is skipworthy, with the big exception being “Spit Out the Bone”, which brings back the riffs and speed and evokes memories of “Damage Inc” and “Dyers Eve”.

The pace of the album is fairly staid: I could have used more speed and energy. And this is one of those single albums turned into a double disc for no reason at all: I suspect you can make a far superior version of Hardwired…to Self Destruct by deleting/rearranging some of the tracks. Nothing like having to perform emergency triage surgery on an album, but there’s enough good material here that it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Being a Metallica fan is exhausting. Some think they should have retired in 1991. Some think they should have retired in 1988. Some think they should have retired in 1981. No matter where you stand, this might be the closest to a return to form we’ll ever get, and I know not to look a gift Horseman in the mouth. Metallica tossed for it, and I don’t know if they beat the house, but they’re still here doing what they do.


Sabaton – The Last Stand

- 25/08/16 Music,Reviews

sabaton-the-last-standImagine you have a friend who tells you a joke about their prolapsed rectum. You laugh. It was sort of funny, and also they’re your friend. Their eyes light up, and the next day they come back with an entire notebook full of prolapsed rectum jokes, and the expectation that you will listen to and enjoy all of them. At what point do you stop laughing? At one point do you say “look, I’m at saturation point. Enough about your stupid rectum. I liked the first one but I don’t want to hear them for infinity.”

This is how I feel about Sabaton.

It’s a mistake to think this band makes music. That would be like saying Adam Sandler makes movies. This project is just Joakim Broden, pulling a lever over and over and over, until his fucking hand falls off. It’s cynical. It’s formulaic. It’s artless. And it’s all our fault. We rewarded laughed along with the joke once, and now we get to listen to Sabaton forever.

You know what’s coming. The Last Stand is another plastic collection of charmless Nuclear Blast Metal, filled with horrible forced-catchy singalong choruses, and the band buried underneath a mountain of choirs and keyboards. If you’re wearing a Pewdiepie shirt and need a score for your next gaming marathon, go and make your day. If you have a brain in your head, you’ll hate this with every fiber of your being.

This album has some of the worst choruses I’ve ever heard – we’re talking Dream Evil shitty. Lead-off song “Sparta” has Broden singing (which is obviously a Platonic bad idea) and a stupid “HOO-HA” gang shout that gives me douche chills. Several songs like “Rorke’s Drift” and “Hill 3234” don’t even have chorus melodies, just Broden belting some lines in that staccato manner of his (nice to see Sabaton writing double-bass songs, though). “The Last Battle” is just irritating AOR gloop. Battle Beast does this better. Battle Beast does everything Sabaton does better.

The production is slick and clean. The songs are hobbled around the three minute mark. The album is short, and padded with bonus tracks nobody gives half a fuck about. The military theme is hampered by the fact that they’re running out of good battles to write about: on their next album they’ll be down to writing about the time Gene LeBell choked out Steven Seagal and made him shit his pants.

This review is dogshit, but there’s just so little to talk about. It feels like trying to analyse elevator music. Listening to The Last Stand just makes me feel sad and empty. The music’s a nonevent, but did they have to steal Tommy Johansson? Forget getting a new Reinxeed album any time soon.

The Last Stand will keep Sabaton on the festival circuit a little while longer, and all the critics listen to a few songs then copy+paste their “7/10, gives the fans what they want” review from the last album, and meanwhile, the genre keeps spinning its wheels. Power metal isn’t a magical unicorn. It’s a rotting donkey carcass with a novelty dildo glued to its head, and every day, the stench becomes harder and harder to disguise. There’s going to be a shakeup soon. This is exactly the sort of stagnation that led to the overthrow of metal by grunge rock in the 90s. Until then, enjoy the rectum jokes.


Running Wild – Victory

- 08/08/16 Music,Reviews

Victory_(Running_Wild_album)Running Wild is known as “that band with pirate-themed lyrics”, but that’s the least interesting thing about them. One of the early German power metal bands, they’re a striking case of musical taxidermy. They got their sound figured out in 1986, or dunked it in a tank of preservatives, and thirty years later they’re still playing it. No new ideas allowed!

No other band has hewn to a sound this hard or this long. Helloween went through a Beatles period. Accept went through a hair metal period. Rage has played every single metal genre under the sun. But Running Wild now has a streak of thirteen albums that, on a sonic level, all pretty much sound the same. When Otto the school bus driver complains about bands ripping off Priest, this is the one he’s talking about.

Sadly, the quality level started dropping around 1995 or so. You can only photocopy your ass cheeks so many times before the printouts get all faded and weak, and that seems to be happening to Running Wild. Depending on who you ask, 2000’s Victory is either “the last vaguely good album” or “the first legitimately bad one.”

Myself, I like it. It lacks the epic, exploratory quality of their early 90s work, but it’s has a disciplined, martial aesthetic. The songs are short, punchy, and to the point, like parade drills. Part of it is songwriting. Part of it is the ultra-mechanical production, bolstered by a drum machine (Rolf Kasparek had the chutzpah to claim that the drumming was a friend who didn’t want to be credited).

Obviously there’s enough filler for a Tempurpedic mattress. I don’t know if I needed a Beatles cover. “The Fall of Dorkas”, “Silent Killer”, “Into the Fire”…boring, boring, boring. Running Wild has a unique talent for writing songs that induce narcolepsy without actually coming off as bad, and that side of the band is on full display here.

But I don’t care, because there’s enough highlights to wake you back up again. “When Time Runs Out” has an evocative main lead melody that reminds me of “Rock Hard, Ride Free”. “Return of the Gods” could be titled “Return of the Goods”.

The album’s two greatest cuts are “Hussar”, taking us from the Spanish main to a couple hundred miles inland, and “Victory”, where Rolf Kasparek displays his penchant for snaking, pentatonic alt-picking. Running Wild has an interesting conflict at its heart: they are generic as they come and unapologetic 80s revivalists, but they have a singular sound that’s entirely their own – nobody writes riffs like Running Wild, unless they’re trying to sound like Running Wild (and usually not even then.)

Don’t let a Beatles cover and a nonexistent drummer put you off. This is unequivocally one for the “good RW” table, and it’s not seated at the foot, either.


Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

- 03/04/16 Music,Reviews

rulebreaker-cover-400This album has metal’s most misleading title since “Fast” by Dopethrone, “Plenty of Mids” by Pantera, and “Not Boring” by Opeth. This is very conservative German power metal that can mostly be predicted in advance.

The BPM is stuck between 120bpm in a generic uptempo stomp. There are screechy, trying-too-hard-to-be-Halford vocals, and guitars chugging away on the 8th note.

Plus, there are liberal occurrences of the Generic Primal Fear chorus. What’s the Generic Primal Fear chorus, you ask? SONG TITLE! / JABBER JABBER JABBER! / SONG TITLE! / JABBER JABBER SCREEEAAAAAAAAM! They have literally forty or fifty songs with this exact chorus.

…Are you excited by this? I’m not. How many homages to Judas Priest do we fucking need?. In the transhumanist community they talk about “rogue superintelligences” – basically, superintelligent computers with interests that are not aligned with humanity’s. A commonly given example is a computer that wants to fill the universe with paperclips. Primal Fear is exactly like a rogue AI that wants to fill the universe with “Breaking the Law”.

In the past I’ve stuck it out through Primal Fear’s crappy songs (and they have an ENDLESS SUPPLY of them) to get to the occasional barn-burner like “Give Em Hell” and “Nuclear Fire”. This time, I approached track 7 in a state of near-narcolepsy with a realisation – here was a new beast, a Primal Fear album with no redeeming tracks!

I was half right. The album has a bonus track called “Final Call”, which is fast and thrashy, and has some neat sectional contrasts. Why it isn’t on the album is a mystery. I guess they threw it off for another song where Ralf Scheepers shouts the title like a mongoloid. “Your holy scripture – your bible verse / They cause all conflict and make things worse”. Great lyrics. I just threw up in my stomach.

I don’t get it. Why do you people like Primal Fear? They make album after album of mechanical and boring metal that disappears from my memory roughly 2.1 seconds after listening to it. Iron Savior has great production. Gamma Ray has Kai Hansen’s songwriting. Helloween has some vestiges of nostalgia value. These guys have nothing.

Remember how we always mourn that Judas Priest never made another Painkiller? Be careful what you wish for, I say. Imagine Judas Priest in their current state of decreptitude, still trying to rewrite Painkiller with every album.

They’d be making…Primal Fear albums.


Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys II

- 11/02/16 Music,Reviews

The second of the classic-era Helloween albums, Keeper part Deus is a fifty minute fanfare of melodic power metal that leaves no tooth unrotted. Until Helloween, power metal’s approach was “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Afterwards, it was “a spoonful of sugar helps the sugar go down”.

It’s a little less earnest in its sweetness than Keeper 1, and a little more self-parodic. You can see vague reflections of the internet conflict that would eventually break up the band. Imagine the creepy forced-happy vibe of “Future World” spread over an entire album. At times, Keeper 2 sounds like fiddlers playing as the ship sinks.

It’s not as good as the first one, mostly because Michael Weikath has stepped into the role of primary songwriter here – the album’s absolutely infested with his tracks, and other than the opener “Eagle Fly Free” he doesn’t do anything truly great here. “Dr Stein” and “Rise and Fall” are midpaced, and quickly let the excitement ebb away. The closing epic just doesn’t have enough songwriting-fu to stay interesting for 13 minutes.

Michael Kiske’s contributions are likewise forgettable: he has a spectacular voice, and not much else. It was once joked that Jayne Mansfield’s acting abilities consisted of filling out a sweater. In Kiske’s case, his one redeeming attribute is located a few inches further up on his sternum.

But suddenly, the goods get develivered. Kai Hansen’s lonely three songs run back to back to back in the album’s middle, and they’re arguably the best three song run in Helloween’s history.

“Save Us” is fast and savage, upping the ante on “Twilight of the Gods.” “March of Time” is another golden Helloween standard that delivers everything you could want from this band. “I Want Out” is genius that years of overplay only slightly diminishes, featuring a jagged dual-guitar melody and lots of great vocal acrobatics. The lyrics pretty much state Kai’s frame of mind at the time. It’s good that he only wanted out from Helloween, not out from power metal.

Pablo Picasso years trying desperately to do something new, something unique. He moved from style to style, mastering and then rejecting methods…and then he paid a visit to the newly discovered Lascaux cave paintings. As the story goes, seeing these 16,000 year old works of art almost broke him. “We have invented nothing!”

Helloween’s Keeper albums might provoke a similar reaction to fans of modern Nuclear Blast-style metal. Other than the thunderous orchestras (which Helloween couldn’t afford in the era before software symphonies), there’s really nothing around today that wasn’t either invented or perfected here. Bits and pieces of power metal have always existed, from Iommi’s overdubbed guitar tracks to “Highway Star’s” duelling solos to Meat Loaf’s shamelessness. Helloween took those elements and made a style out of it. It’s naive, inconsistent, and sometimes irritating. It’s also the bedrock of a good amount of what’s considered cool today.

Which is ironic, because this album is weapon-grade uncool.


Mayhem – Deathcrush

- 08/02/16 Music,Reviews

Deathcrush-MayhemHeavy metal is a masked ball where everyone pretends to be a lunatic. No matter how excessive KISS, Black Sabbath, and Slayer, they were always willing to unmask themselves at the end of the night and admit that it was an act.

It was only a matter of time before metal attracted a band of actual lunatics who didn’t realise or care that it was supposed to be an act . Mayhem was that band. Marking their career with dead bodies and burned churches instead of gold and platinum records, the sheer spectacle of Mayhem destroyed any serious mainstream interest their music might have had. Maybe that was their goal from the start. Either way, there was no mask or pretense with the music they played and the people they were, the ugliness started at the face and went straight to the bone.

Deathcrush, released in 1987, provides a bridge between the first wave of black metal and what would eventually become its second. It retains the sloppy punk tendencies of Venom and Discharge, but spikes it with antifreeze, creating something colder and more emotionless. The guitars are trebled to a fizz that sounds like hissing bacon. The drumming could be described as “spirited”, and not the good kind of spirits, either. The percussion section thrashes and pounds wildly like a demonically possessed horse trying to gallop on three broken legs. Somewhere in this mess there’s a bass guitar. Songwriting? What is this songwriting of which you speak?

Tracks kind of blur into each other, merging amoeba-like into a continual impression of darkness and coldness. It’s certainly violent and noisy. It’s also calculated and conniving. The EP opens with an avant garde percussion piece by experimental electronica producer Conrad Schnitzler – probably to give the EP art school pretentions. “(Weird) Manheim” is more experimentation, this time on a slightly out of tune piano.

The rest of the EP is a blur of frost-rimed crust punk. The title track is fast and unrelenting, “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” is even more so, and then you almost stop noticing when one track ends and the next begins. There’s a Venom cover stuck somewhere in this anthology of musical hoar frost, pulverised into something as brutal and faceless as all the others.

Despite the EP’s 17 minute length, you’ll eventually start searching for more substance, and you will not find it. The musicianship is basic. The riffs are all interchangeable. Maniac’s yelps and shrieks soon stop being terrifying and start verging on being nearly comical, like a cat trying to yodel.

Is a dark atmosphere enough to anchor an EP as a classic? In the minds of many people, yes. For the rest of us, it’s interesting to know that at Prince Prospero’s ball, the Red Death once walked in earnest – if perhaps only for a brief time.


Gene Simmons – Asshole

- 21/12/15 Music,Reviews

Asshole_album_cover_2004How many tell-all books about KISS do we need? Here’s everything you need to know: Gene and Paul = high-functioning assholes, Peter and Ace = low-functioning assholes. This dynamic anticipates and explains every twist and turn of the KISS story in the past 40 years.

Drilling a bit deeper, you could say that Peter is deeply insecure and has a Napoleon complex, while Ace was/is a skinsuit piloted by various drug monkeys that doesn’t care about anything much except getting high. You could say Paul is deeply insecure and holds fantasies of being an “icon” (a rock god, a sex symbol, whatever), while Gene Simmons is basically after “fuck you” money. So in a sense, you could draw a dividing line orthogonal to the first one. Peter and Paul’s motives are complex. Gene and Ace motives are simple.

Despite his simplicity, Simmons is the most intriguing part of KISS. The man is so naked and undisguised in his greed that he becomes fascinating, and even a bit likable in a perverse way. It’s as if Donald Trump played rock and roll.

This is the worst album I’ve heard all years. It’s the worst album I’ve heard in several years. It is unmarred by a single listenable cut. It’s not even a failure, it’s just…anti-musical. Like something that was never even intended to be good.

What do you think of bands like the Pretty Reckless? If you’re like me, your answer is “not much”, but I wouldn’t dispute that they’re at least trying to write music that you’ll enjoy. There is no way on earth you’re supposed to enjoy Asshole. It was made by a mind filled with contempt and loathing for his audience, someone who wishes he could just reach into your wallet and take money but is limited by law to the next nearest thing. It’s like having Gene Simmons flip you the bird for 40 minutes.

Horrible performances of horrible songs, that’s what’s on offer here. Gene’s voice is shot, he sounds like a 60 year old man doing karaoke. “Sweet and Dirty Love” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” sound like what old people think heavy metal is – noise and no hooks. The title track features the couplet “you’ve got a personality / Just like a bucket full of pee”…yes, that’s what we’re working with here. “Carnival of Souls” has an unbelievably terrible chorus.

Then there’s a cover of “Firestarter”, a perplexing choice that is ruined by Gene’s flat “your call is important to us” vocal delivery. You know how they used to joke that Arnold Schwarzenegger has an acting range stretching from A almost to B? Gene Simmons is the same, but remove the “acting” part.

And are you ready for the horrible news? The terrifying “Soylent Green is People” revelation?

These are the album’s good songs.

The rest of this CD is packed with terrifying and near-apocalyptic crap that sounds like adult contemporary/soft RnB music. It’s not hard rock, it’s not even soft rock, it’s basically Boyz 2 Men with a bad singer. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. It feels like this must be a false memory implanted by the government. Why would the bassist of KISS release an album where at least 50% of the music sounds like a gentle spanish. Then I hear the gentle Spanish guitars and female backup vocals of “If I Had a Gun”, and I realise the nightmare is made of flesh, not dream matter.

Did you know Gene Simmons has a sex tape? Yes, I’ve seen it. No, he doesn’t look any better in his birthday suit. This album sounds like the kind of thing that could have scored it.


Dethklok – Dethalbum

- 23/10/15 Music,Reviews

dethalbumYou know that guy at work who can burp the alphabet? And does so at length? That’s what this dipshit’s voice sounds like.

Dethklok is the fictional band on Adult Swim’s animated TV show Metalocalypse. As happens to all fictional bands (Spinal Tap, The Monkees, the Blues Brothers), eventually someone smashed the fourth wall with a Flying V and made them real. Obviously it’s possible to beat a joke into the ground through overuse and thereby make it not funny, except Metalocalypse avoids that problem by not being funny in the first place. I’ve watched a few episodes of the show. What am I missing?

It’s just The Big Bang Theory, except about heavy metal. Shallow, pandering references and cheap namedropping, without any effort at serious analysis or commentary. I remember seeing an episode where they’re at a burger joint called “Burzum’s Burgers”. Lest you miss their writers’ sparkling wit, there’s a metal band called “Burzum,” who’s name sounds a bit like “Burger”. Let me try: Underoath Underwear. Bathory Bathtowels. Great stuff. If only I an aisle to roll around laughing in.

Is there good music on this album? Fuck no! Why would there be good music? This is an album made for people who don’t really listen to heavy metal and have no way to tell good from bad – who only appreciate it as a kind of fashion accessory. It’s just crummy unoriginal dogshit from beginning to end. I hate even thinking about it.

The drums have zero reverb and sound sterile and fake. The guitars have no body, and seem half as loud as everything else, especially Brendon Small’s voice. This is bad news, as he should not be twice as loud as ANYTHING, including the repairman working on the power lines next door and the bird crapping on the roof. Words cannot describe how shit his voice is, how utterly devoid of emotion and intensity.

“Murmaider” merely sounds like Pantera with bad production up until he does that incredibly annoying “Knives, check, rope, check, dagger, check” part. Remember Metallica’s “frantic-tick-tick-tick-tick”? This guy apparently decided that was the future of metal. “Awaken” – tonelessly shouting the song title over and over again, awesome. “Bloodrocuted” actually has two or three good riffs, a stupid chorus, and then they self-consciously switch it out and bring in an equally stupid chorus. “Hatredcopter” got a laugh out of me. “Face-Fisted” is more senseless chugging on an album that conspicuously does not need more senseless chugging.

Even when there’s actual songwriting happening, the weak production and bad vocals just cut everything away at the knees. There’s no sense of brutality or heaviness, everything sounds like a fake plastic-like slab of processed sound. The overall tone is something like Slaughter of the Soul era At the Gates with the guitars turned down 9db at the mixing desk, songwriting c/o a troupe of monkeys, with awful burpy vocals. What a horrible, horrible album. If your imam catches you listening to this in the back streets of Riyadh, you richly deserve beheading.


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