Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dodge's Top 10 Albums of 2013

Well it's list season! While top 10 lists are never a just means of displaying all the awesome music we've seen over an entire year, I can't resist an opportunity to talk about some of the incredible albums released in 2013. Coming into 2013 there wasn't a whole lot I was really excited about. Most of my favorite bands had released amazing albums in 2012; it was tough to see what was left for poor 2013. To my pleasant surprise 2013 was an incredible year full of new discoveries and killer releases by some old favorites.

Honourable Mentions

Chon-Newborn Sun (Prog Rock)

This 8 track long EP, while clocking in at a mere 17 minutes, is full of short but wonderful instrumental tracks. This album is just non-stop good vibes in the form of Mario Camarena's clean guitar playing. Chon has managed to form their own sub-genre before they can legally drink. Chon uses beautiful clean passages and the occasional mild distortion to create 17 minutes of prog rock heaven.

Misery Signals-Absent Light (Melodic Hardcore)

2013 was the year that saw some bands take the groundbreaking shift from record labels to crowd funding records. Misery Signals was one of the first huge crowd funding successes, with the band raising over twice their goal (raising over $100 000). Absent Light is Misery Signals at their best, the Canadian melodic hardcore titans have returned from a 5 year hiatus with what is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Skynet-The Wild (Djent/Hardcore)

As its name would suggest, this album is ferocious. Skynet are easily one of the hottest up and coming metal bands in Ontario today. The Wild takes the idea that you need complex music to make a good record and smashes it back in your face. Skynet first release under new label Underground Operations is heavy, in your face and will have you headbanging from start to finish. Skynet's Blake Prince provides one of the most aggressive and precise vocal deliveries in the industry. This record is full of great vocal hooks and it's all mixed in beautifully with djenty groovy awesomeness. The Wild is tons of fun to listen to and will have you rocking out until your neck falls off.

Mandroid Echostar-Citadels (Progressive Metal)

Mandroid Echostar continue to push the limits of incredible riffage with their second EP Citadels. With phenomenal guitar work and enough talent to make any musician feel incompetent, Mandroid Echostar provide the listener with an epic and awe inspiring experience. This being an EP is the only thing that kept it out of the top 10. Citadels is a diverse but consistently amazing EP that gives the listener a thousand reasons to love this band

The Top Ten

10. Altar of Plagues-Teethed Glory and Injury (Black Metal)

Alter of Plagues' final album is one of the best black metal albums to date. 2013 had two of the most interesting and awesome black metal albums ever released with new albums from Alter of Plagues and Deafheaven. Teethed Glory and Injury maintains a genuine black metal feel while experimenting with incorporating many new ideas into the somewhat stagnant genre. It's really unfortunate that this is Alter of Plagues final record as I really enjoyed the direction they were taking the genre. Teethed Glory and Injury is ferocious, very dark and yet unquestionably beautiful.

9. Tesseract-Altered State (Progressive Metal)

Altered State was probably the album I was most excited about at the beginning of the year, and I was not disappointed. Tesseract had been having problems since the departure of original vocalist Dan Tompkins but new vocalist Ashe O'Hara had people floored since the first single "Nocturne" was released in late 2012. While Ashe lacked the screaming element that had been a large part of Tesseract's previous album, he more than made up for it with epic soaring clean vocals.Altered State is full of monstrous grooves, beautiful vocal lines and prog-y awesomeness (there's even an epic sax solo).

8. Karnivool-Asymmetry (Progressive Alt Rock)

Until this year I was under the illusion that I didn't like Karnivool. For me it was one of those bands that you just hear the wrong song and assume all other songs are similar. The 2003 single L1FEL1KE had a very nu-metal feel to it and really failed to display the creativity of the Australian prog rock gods (and remains to this day my least favorite Karnivool song). However with the release of Asymmetry's incredible first single "We Are" I was completely sold on the band. I've had the wonderful and unique opportunity to fall in love with their three albums all at once; all three are masterpieces in 3 very different styles. Asymmetry is a euphoric progressive alt rock album, featuring some of the most unique and moody songwriting ever seen coming from a rock band

7. Last Chance To Reason-Level 3 (Progressive Metal)

LC2R take it to the next level with their final installment in the epic album trilogy (previous albums being named Level 1 and Level 2 and having connected lyrical concepts).  Progressive bands are constantly evolving, changing genre and providing a truly new experience with each album. Few extreme metal bands display that more clearly than these Maine, USA metalheads. Level 3, what is likely the band's final album, saw a drastic turn in the bands style, with clean vocals evolving from a rare occurrence to the primary form of vocal delivery. While this is bound to encourage thoughts of the band "selling out", this is definitely not that case. This is a clear and calculated direction the band wanted for the album. Lyrically Level 3 follows up Level 2's machine uprising concept with the story of a machine ruled world after the destruction of humanity. The machines rule the earth but begin running into problems that draw many parallels to the issues seen in humanity, from spiritual issues, to existential issues, to political issues this album is a brilliant metaphorical display of what it is to be alive in this complex world. Level 3 instrumentally is a blissful sounding progressive metal album, with a strong focus on the band's jazz influence and less aggressive prog-y tones. Level 2 was one of my favorite albums ever and Level 3 in a worthy continuation of the concept but somewhat lacked the intensity of its predecessor. While this post about the album might seem long, there's enough thought put into this album for me to write multiple essays. Last Chance To Reason's album trilogy is one of the best concepts ever and Level 3 is a beautiful end to the story (ending the final song with a quiet and sad "this can't be the end" and one of the most gorgeous pinch harmonics I've ever heard in my life).

6. The Ocean-Pelagial (Progressive Sludge Metal)

If this list was a contest of putting the most thought into an album, Pelagial would certainly take the cake. Pelagial began as a conceptual instrumental album, intended to be a journey from the surface of the ocean to its deepest darkest depths (I guess at some point in your career you might as well write a concept about your band name). This idea worked brilliantly with The Ocean's progressive yet sludgy style of metal, with early tracks on the album displaying the bands impeccable fast paced melodic guitar work and the later tracks displaying the bands slow but monstrous sludge style. The Ocean wasn't done there though, they had an album that could make this list as an instrumental album but with an unexpected speedy recovery of vocalist Loic Rossetti (who left due to serious medical problems involving his voice, it was thought he might never perform again) the band decided to officially release the album BOTH with AND without vocals. This lead to the album having a well thought out instrumental that stood out on its own, and vocals adding that human element. Apparently singing about the ocean getting deeper and darker wasn't much fun, so an entirely new lyrical concept was invented. The instrumental and lyrical concepts both add different elements to the album and are subtly connected, providing the listener with a concept album complex to never grow tired of and yet remaining very straightforward in its structure. Personally the 3rd track Bathyalpelagic (which is itself 3 songs long) falls right in the sweet spot for my metal tastes, featuring both blisteringly fast prog riffing and powerful heavy riffs. Pelagial is an epic and insanely well thought out album that has plenty for any metal fan to enjoy

5. The Safety Fire-Mouth of Swords (Progressive Metal)

The Safety Fire are a band like no other. Not only do the British progressive metal act have a very strange look for a metal band (wearing bright colours, playing custom telecasters and every member rocking a mustache) but their music stands miles apart from anyone else. While not every idea they experiment with is on this album is perfectly to my liking, the pros of their experimentation outweigh the cons by so much that it's tough to criticize anything this band does. Mouth of Swords incorporates both the happy and jazzy metal riffs the band had become known for and some of the bands most aggressive material yet (the intro of The Ghosts That Wait For Spring almost gave me a concussion from smashing my face into things when the song comes on unexpectedly). Also as a huuuge between the buried and me fan, seeing Tommy of btbam featured on Beware the Leopard had me ecstatic, his feature is incredible, if he was on every track I wouldn't complain.  Also, Peter Capaldi who started the "Fuck The Safety Fire" meme was selected as the twelfth Doctor this year, so now that meme is even more hilarious. Mouth of Swords is loaded full of power, technical skill and is possibly the most creative metal album this year. Fuck The Safety Fire, All hail the sloth king.

4. Dead Letter Circus-The Catalyst Fire (Alt Rock)

Dead Letter Circus had been living in the shadow of their fellow countrymen Karnivool since their formation. There's no question that Karnivool is one of DLC's biggest influences but to competing with one of the best rock bands on the planet, in their own country, in their own sub-genre, was no easy task. 2013 saw incredible releases from both Dead Letter Circus and Karnivool. The Catalyst Fire was a far more straightforward and easily digestible record compared to Asymmetry, leading many (me included) to actually prefer DLC's take on the sound that 'vool created. Comparisons aside, The Catalyst Fire is a futuristic sounding rock album that is packed to the brim full of talent, creativity, great songwriting and addictive vocal melodies. On first listen I realized this album was good, on second listen I was already becoming addicted, by third listen i went out and bough a hard-copy and my love for this album has yet to stop building with each listen. The Catalyst Fire is an unbelievably good rock album, with a solid dose of both familiarity and yet still creating a definitively new sound.

3. Counterparts-The Difference Between Hell and Home (Melodic Hardcore)

I've always been a big fan of Counterparts. Hailing from Hamilton, this melodic hardcore group puts on an incredible live show and has music jam packed with pure passion. However I've never thought of either of Counterparts previous two releases as anything too special. While both good records, I knew the band was capable of more from how much better they were live. The Difference Between Hell and Home is everything I'd ever dreamed Counterparts would be. With the addition of Kelly Bilan (ex-Dead and Divine) on drums, the band's songwriting grew exponentially better. This a phenomenal hardcore record, never compromising for the sake of being catchy and having the band's intense passion shine through. This record on its surface comes across as incredibly negative and as a relatively optimistic person it took me a while to get past that, but I'm so grateful I did. The Difference Between Hell and Home is a grim and brutally honest record that brings forth some of the darkest elements of humanity.

2. Protest the Hero-Volition (Progressive Metal)

Firstly, I looove Protest the Hero (I could recite every word from every song they've ever released), so their new album making my list isn't a huge surprise. However, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this album. As mentioned before, 2013 was a huge year for crowd founding and Protest the Hero's crowd funding was a phenomenal success (raising over $340 000). Adding to the pressure of departing from their long term label, the departure of drummer and founding member Moe Carlson left many PtH fans fearing the new album would not meet the quality of their previous releases. Chris Adler (of Lamb of God) was chosen to record and write the drums for this record, in what was possibly the strangest choice the band could have made. However despite the doubt surrounding the album Protest The Hero stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball out of the park. Volition is absolutely incredible, not only did Chris' drumming work perfectly but the Whitby, ON prog legends put out what is possibly their best written album to date. While Protest The Hero didn't exactly re-invent themselves, the general tone of Volition is very comparable to the last two albums, the return of Rody's growls and some clearly much more inspired lyrical material lead to a spectacular album. Volition is Protest The Hero at their best, with guitar riffs that'll make your head spin, bass playing perfection, Chris Adler killing it on drums, fantastic vocal melodies and powerful lyrical material.

1. The Dillinger Escape Plan-One of Us is the Killer (Mathcore)

Mathcore kings The Dillinger Escape Plan released their 5th studio album this year. As a fan of chaotic music, Dillinger releasing new music is a big deal, but I really wasn't expecting much from this album. Little did I know that Dillinger was about to release an album so good that their entire discography fails to compare. It's like Dillinger had been experimenting with different sounds with each album over their 16 year career and then finally sat down and decided to bring back every style at once and do every style better than ever. One of Us is the Killer brings forth everything Dillinger is capable of, from the straightforward catchy title track to the pure hate and chaos of tracks like The Hero of the Soviet Union and everything in between. Every song on this album brings something new to the table while still maintaining a very authentic Dillinger feel. One of Us is the Killer has something to make any Dillinger fan happy with tracks that could have been singles on any album the band has ever released. With fierce guitars, mind bending rhythms, and everything from catchy choruses to riffs that make me what to smash my face through a wall, One of Us is the Killer is without a doubt my favorite album this year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Writer: Jeremy Dodge

Greetings internet folk!

I'm pleased to announce that I will be joining David in writing for Needs More Noise Gate. That brings us to the first question: who the hell am I? Existential questions aside, my name is Jeremy Dodge, I play bass in Guelph hardcore band Seducing Medusa, I formerly co-hosted the metal radio show Forever Deaf (Thursday nights on CFRU), I am a 4th year mechanical engineering student at the University of Guelph, but first and foremost I am a huge fan of music. Every second of every day I'm thinking about music (and usually air drumming along to it), so I figured writing for Needs More Noise Gate would be a good way to focus my thoughts into something productive.

While I'm fairly open minded towards all genres, I'm most likely to be writing about genres such as: mathcore, post-hardcore, alt rock, metalcore, deathcore, prog metal, prog rock, djent, hip-hop, jazz fusion, acoustic rock and bacon. Bacon isn't a genre you say? I disagree, I will listen to the sweet sound of smokey sizzles, call it music and review it.

I'm looking forward to this musical blogging adventure. My first real post (my top 10 albums of 2013) should be up tomorrow!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gupta's Top 10 Albums of 2013

List time, list time, list time. It's list time for all the bloggers and actual music critics of the world. And while I don't particularly like lists for their ability to only capture a snapshot of my tastes and opinions, I think they serve a great purpose of bringing great artists and albums into the spotlight, letting people check them out if they normally wouldn't have. This year's music was super exciting for me. A bunch of my favorite bands released albums this year, I discovered a bunch of new artists, and even grew to like a few new genres of music.

For the first time, I'll include a short list of of my honorable mentions for the top 10 list. These albums were freaking sweet, but didn't end up cutting it when it came to fitting into those ten coveted spots. Here are the honorable mentions, in no particular order:

  • Yattai - Fast Music Means Love (Grindcore)
  • Ghostface Killah - 12 Reasons to Die (Hip-Hop)
  • Clutch - Earth Rocker (Rock)
  • Hatebreed - The Divinity of Purpose (Hardcore)
  • The Ocean - Pelagial (Sludge/ Progressive Metal)
  • Gorguts - Coloured Sands (Technical Death Metal)

Enough lollygagging now, here's my top 10 releases from this year!

                                                        #10: Rotten Sound - Species at War

Who doesn't love these Finn grinders? Stepping up the intensity and heaviness from their last release, Cursed (as if we thought that was even possible), Rotten Sound blow minds and speakers with this non-stop grind assault. This release is an EP, not a studio album, but I don't give a shit, it's amazing, so it's going on the list. There isn't much to say about this one. If you dig grindcore, pick this bad boy up.

Listen: Peace

#9: David Maxim Micic - Bilo 3.0

I'm going to copy and paste part of my review here because I'm a lazy asshole.

Bilo 3.0 is the most adventurous of his releases so far. There's still djenty goodness hidden deep in this album, but it's covered in layers and layers of orchestration, choirs, jazz fusion, and a gajillion guest vocalists. David Maxim Micic flexes his song-writing muscles here, and while he's a phenomenal guitarist, I really think his composition skills are streets ahead of his djenty peers.

Listen: The entire thing

#8: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

This album rounded out my Top 10 Albums of 2013 (So Far) list, and have moved up a few positions for the year end one. Fat beats, dancey grooves, and non-stop 70s worship makeup the meat of this album, and I love it. From club singles to love songs, to instrumental moog synth jams, this album covers a wide breadth of emotions and styles, while still being a consistently fun listen all the way through, every time.

Listen: Lose Yourself to Dance

#7: Weekend Nachos - Still

I'm going to go back to a familiar old equation.

New Weekend Nachos = You're Moshing

Listen: Satan Sucker

#6: Carcass - Surgical Steel

It's been over 15 years since grindcore/ melodic death metal titans and pioneers Carcass have released an album. When I first got wind of Surgical Steel coming out this year, I was really, really skeptical. I thought it was nothing more than a quick cash grab by a bunch of old over-the-hill Brits, but man, was I wrong. Surgical Steel is like Heartwork 2.0 for me. It's uncompromising melodic death metal, and it's 100% authentic Carcass.

Listen: Captive Bolt Pistol

#5: Corsair - Corsair

When I reviewed this album way back in January, I thought it was going to be my album of the year. Midway through the year, Dillinger Escape Plan's One of Us is the Killer bumped this album down to second place. Now poor Corsair has been bumped down to 5th place. Don't get me wrong, I still love this album, but I've noticed I haven't been playing it as much as I used to. It might have moved to my backburner, but it's still a sweet slab of prog rock/ metal. Maybe I'll end up rekindling my love of this album in the coming months.

Listen: Gryphon Wing

#4: Nails - Abandon All Life

This album is an absolute leviathan of an album packed into less than 18 minutes worth of music. You might not think an album that's shorter than an episode of South Park could offer that much, but I'm here to tell you that Abandon All Life offers the one and only thing you need from a Nails record: pure violence. This album is the musical equivalent to beating an entire pub's worth of people to death with your fists.

Listen: The entire thing

#3: Protest the Hero - Volition

This album really blindsided me, because I've never really been a fan of Protest the Hero. I thought their music was just unsolicited wankery, but despite being incredibly technical, Volition plays like a pop album. It's catchy, it's upbeat, and it's tons of fun to toss on and jam out to. I might be a little biased against them, but I think this album is definitely their best work yet.

Listen: Clarity

#2: The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us is the Killer

This was my number one pick halfway through the year. Dillinger have quickly become one of my favorite bands, and One of Us is the Killer one of my favorite albums of all time.

The album is a perfect blend of their earlier spastic music with their more modern, easy-to-digest stylings. It really comes out in songs as crazy as "When I lost My Bet" and in songs as catchy as the title track, and how they sound totally different, but flow consistently in the album.

Listen: Prancer

#1: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels

I really dig a fair share of hip-hop, but I never thought an album in that genre would top any of my year end lists. I'm surprised I haven't actually written a review for this album, but it makes no difference. This album rules. Hard. El-P blends old school boom-bap and modern sci-fi/ electronic styles to make some unforgettable tracks on Run the Jewels. The killer production is matched perfectly with El and Killer Mike bouncing off each other from verse to verse all the way through the album. Lyrically, the album spends most of it's time shouting out brags or listing of a plethora of ways El-P and Killer Mike can beat the shit out of you. There are some socially conscious lyrics sprinkled here and there throughout the album, but they take a back seat to their more violent siblings. This can be a deterrent for people who care a lot about lyrics, but fortunately, I am not one of them.

This list throws away all the scores I've given albums during the year, and doesn't take into account how boundary breaking certain albums are, or how far they push the musical envelope. The slots in this list get filled based on one criteria, and that's how much enjoyment I got out of the album. I can't deny the fact that I've been listening to this album at least one a day since I first heard it. So despite how much people might bitch about not including album X or artist Y on my list, I really fucking loved Run the Jewels, and I wholeheartedly think it deserves the number one spot on my list. Fight me.

Listen: 36" Chain

That's my list for 2013! As per usual, once this list is published, I'll find another album that I feel can boot off some of these from my list. What have been your favorite albums of 2013? Let me know, either down in the comments or on Facebook!

That's all for now, folks! Merry Winter Christmukkahmadanstivus!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blastbeat Reviews: David Maxim Micic, Red Fang, MEASURE X UP

More quick reviews before the year is over!


David Maxim Micic captured my attention a couple years ago when he dropped his instrumental djent/ progressive metal project Bilo for free to the masses. Fast forward two years and two more albums, we have Bilo 3.0, the most adventurous of his releases so far. There's still djenty goodness hidden deep in this album, but it's covered in layers and layers of orchestration, choirs, jazz fusion, and a gajillion guest vocalists. David Maxim Micic flexes his song-writing muscles here, and while he's a phenomenal guitarist, I really think his composition skills are streets ahead of his djenty peers. Overall Score: 4.5/5

RED FANG - Whales and Leeches

I love Red Fang. They're the prefect blend of doomy, fuzzed out stoner rock and high energy, straight-forward, crush-beers-and-bang-your-head metal. Whales and Leeches is a touch darker and heavier than their previous effort, Murder the Mountains, but everything essential to the Red Fang sound is there. Kick-ass dual vocals, monster riffs, and bluesy leads are found all over this album. I'd definitely recommend checking this album out if you're a fan of any sort of stoner, doom, or sludge metal. Personally, I like it but I prefer their previous two albums for their more fun and laid back attitudes. Overall Score: 3/5


More from the Halifax hardcore scene! These Maritimers keep sending me promos, I keep loving 'em, and MEASURE X UP's 2013 demo is no different. This is more straight-forward 80's and 90's straightedge hardcore, reminiscent of bands like Minor Threat and Youth of Today. The vocals are absolutely vicious on this demo, and the music matches the singing's intensity to a T (or in their case, an X). Whether you're edge or not, MEASURE X UP's demo is some killer hardcore, and you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out. Word on the street is they're working on another demo to be dropped soon, and I'm super stoked to hear that once it's out as well. Overall Score: 4/5

In other news, my yearly Top 10 list is going to be posted soon! Until then, satiate yourself on my unsolicited opinions from last year. Also, there's a big announcement coming up which may or may not involve Needs More Noise Gate picking up another writer! Excitement.

That's all for now, folks!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Hipsters Have Gone Too Far.

I love physical media as much as the next guy. Maybe a bit more. Or less. I don't know actually. Point being, I love collecting CDs, DVDs, and records. I think it's cool that even though we're in the era of digital media, physical formats are making a comeback. I find there's some extra fun and enjoyment that comes with laying down an old Minor Threat record and hearing the soft crackling before the music starts, and the act of having to get up and flip the record over before you can listen to the next half of the album. This kind of stuff, even though it started before my time and seems a bit disingenuous for someone my age to do, helps me enjoy my music a little bit more. It makes my music a real, tangible thing, and I love that.

I have hipsters to thank for this. I know, everyone hates hipsters, and I do too most of the time. But without hipsters bringing records back into the mainstream, I never would have started collecting. I didn't even know people still pressed records until a couple years ago, but I blame that on my own ignorance. Now though, hipsters have gone too far. Records and cassettes are fine and dandy, because most people who want to buy them have inherited old record players or cassette decks from their parents to play them with. If not, you can just mosey on down to your local thrift store or electronics shop and pick one up for real cheap.

But this. This is too much for me to handle.

No, that's not some rad 90's educational video game. That's music. Music on a god damned floppy disk. Why would anybody in their right minds collect music on a 3.5" floppy disk? I mean, I guess storage isn't an issue. The biggest 3.5" disks held like 200 to 250 MB. Just looking around, a 320 kbps version of Converge's newest album takes up less than 100 MB of space. But just having music on that medium seems to be so ridiculous, it has to be either a joke or a gimmick. It's not a gag, though. There are entire record labels dedicated to music on floppy disks. Nobody owns a computer that can play floppy disks anymore, you certainly can't buy a new one, and I don't think I've seen a computer that old show up in a thrift store ever. If you do for some reason have a computer old enough to play floppy disks that still works, you've also got to somehow explain to your friends that come over as to why you have a 1995 HP desktop sitting on the shelf on your living room.

It doesn't make sense to my why bands would want to record albums on floppy disks either. I understand that the medium is analog, which is nice, but records and cassettes are analog formats, too. Unless you press your album on multiple formats, only releasing your shit on a floppy seems to put your fans in kind of a shitty situation. What's the point of making music if you toss it onto formats that only a handful of your fans can actually listen to? Again, if it were a gimmick, I'd be cool with it. I probably wouldn't pick up an Agoraphobic Nosebleed 3.5" floppy (J. Randall would go straightedge before he did something as stupid as release music on a floppy for money) if they pumped them out for shits and giggles anyways, but I'd be more accepting of the medium if it were just a joke.

Maybe 3.5" floppy disks are the future. Maybe I'm just a grumpy fuck. What do you guys think of this? Are floppy disks cool? Is it a medium you would buy your music on? Do you want to hang those hipsters by their own cashmere scarfs? Let me know, I'm genuinely interested to hear what different people think of this trend.

At least people aren't releasing music on VHS tapes or anything.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Blastbeat Reviews: Protest the Hero, Exivious, Snakes Get Bad Press

Time to rapid fire off some quick reviews. My to-listen list for this year's records is on the order of dozens, so there might be a fair few of these quick reviews before the year is up. Up on the chopping block today are prog-metalcore dudes Protest the Hero, Exivious, a jazz-fusion metal(?) supergroup featuring members and ex-members of Cynic, Textures, Dodecahedron, and Pestilence, and Aussie underground spastic hardcore group Snakes Get Bad Press. Let's get the ball rolling!


I've never being a huge Protest the Hero fan (even feeling lukewarm about one of their most highly praised albums, Fortress), but everyone and their mothers has been telling me to get my ass in gear and check out Volition, their newest album. I put it off long enough, but when I finally got around to listening to it, man, I wish I had checked it out sooner.

Volition is an absolute banger of an album, dishing out massive songs in the usual spastic and super-technical vein we're used to, but focusing more on making the songs catchy as hell than just wowing people with how well they can sweep pick in 27/16 time. The songs are all real fast, and super high energy, making this album feel more like a super proggy pop album than a metal record. After a year of pissed off grindcore and doomy sludgy metal, it's nice to have a record that's so much fun to listen to. Score: 4.5/5


I love Cynic, and in 2009 when I discovered ex-guitarist and ex-bassist Tymon and Robin's jazz-metal-fusion project called Exivious, I was pumped. Their self-titled debut was absolutely awesome, and I'm super happy to see they were able to crowdfund their second album to completion.

Liminal is like Exivious 2.0. The album is even more diverse, flows more beautifully, and sounds crystal clear. The boys build amazing soundscapes and textures (get it?) with their music as usual, with some great solos from all instruments, written or improvised. There are some bits on this record that are total surprises, keeping Liminal from being too much like Exivious, but honestly, I listen to so little of this jazz fusiony stuff that even more of the same is fine by me. This is an album made by musicians for musicians, but I wouldn't be surprised if just about anybody picked this up and enjoyed it. Score: 4/5


I've barely been exposed to the Australian hardcore scene. Other than bands like Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt, Jackals, and these dudes, there isn't much else I've heard hailing from down under. Snakes Get Bad Press follow their Aussie brethren by taking things in the spastic/ mathcore direction, working dissonance, shifting time signatures, and odd song structures into their music like nobody's business.

Obvious comparisons that come to mind are bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot, but I hear a bit of Converge in the music, and just a touch of Pig Destroyer in the vocals.

Residues came out on Art As Catharsis Records on September 20th, and can be streamed over on the label's Bandcamp page. Check Snakes out on Facebook, too! Score: 4/5

That's all for now, folks!


EP Review: bluebird - "bluebird"

We're diving back into old territory with this review: underground Halifax hardcore bands. I've already written about post-hardcore bros The Wides, crust punkers Napalm Raid, and Converge worshippers Barlow, so I've already got a pretty optimistic outlook on the area's hardcore and punk scene. Newest to the list of Eastern Canadian bands I've dealt with is bluebird, another band of The Wides' bassist Keegan Goodspeed.

To me, these dudes sound heavy in a different way. There's no crushing guitars, no blastbeats. It's not what they're playing that makes them so heavy, it's how they're playing it. bluebird is one of those bands that bring on a sort of catharsis through their music. They beat the shit out of their instruments, scream their hearts out, and you can feel it. bluebird is an emotional EP, raw and loose in its execution, showcasing some really rough around the edges production, and showcasing some solid songwriting and riff-making to boot. It gives off a bleak and melancholic vibe without sounding like a bunch of kids whining and complaining about things. It strikes a nice balance between strength and fragility that way.

The music is pretty consistent across the 6 tracks, trudging along with midpaced songs full of melodic guitars and grooving basslines and drums. The album picks up for a less-than-a-minute long track titled "made up ends" and the noisier and proggier "please leave" before slowing back down partway through the closer ""on eulogies you'll have to write"". There are some interesting parts among the songs, most notably for me are the very first echoing notes of "outlook" (the record's opener) which sets the melancholic tone of the rest of the album, and the closing song, which shows off some really nice riffs and some pretty moving chord progressions, reminding me of sludge legends Baroness for some reason. I'm not sure why, but anything that reminds me of Baroness is always a good thing in my books.

On a Playlist With:

Overall Score: 3.5/5

bluebird is a really solid hardcore/ post-hardcore EP. It's raw; it's emotional. You can tell it was made with passion. bluebird dish out equal parts chaos and melody with their debut release, and honestly, I enjoy it more and more each listen.

This EP came out on October 31st, 2013. bluebird have a Bandcamp page, where this EP is available digitally at a pay-what-you-can price. If you're interested in more Halifax hardcore, check out Keegan's other, other band, Botfly.

That's all for now, folks!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Album Review: Weekend Nachos - "Still"

I'm generally a pretty happy, laid-back dude.  I don't punch walls or get in peoples' faces when I get frustrated and I don't throw my phone across the room when it doesn't work. I can't remember the last time I raised my voice at someone out of anger or frustration. I just don't get angry. Well that's not true. There's a handful of things in this world that make me angry.

Weekend Nachos is one of them.

The Nachos are a Chicago based hardcore/ powerviolence band who specialize in being the aural equivalent of beating someone to death with your fists. No, not the usual description of this band is so heavy it feels like you're being punched in the face. Weekend Nachos are hate incarnate. I don't care if you're the god damn Dalai Lama, Still will turn you into the fucking Incredible Hulk. Once the opening D-beats start pounding and the first chord rings, everything you see turns red, and you lose control of your limbs, sending them wildly off in every direction, creating a zone of destruction around you. In short, everything can be summed up by this simple equation:

New Weekend Nachos = You're Moshing

Still is by far my favorite Weekend Nachos release that I've heard so far. I've only heard three of their studio albums so far (the other two being Unforgivable, and Worthless), but this album is definitely a reason for me to actively start digging through their back catalogue of EPs and compilation tracks. I really dug their 2011 effort Worthless, but I found something lacking from it. This record is what Worthless should have been. It's just as punishing, but the boys cut the fat here, making sure every track is somewhat unique and keeping things rolling at a breakneck speed.

There's a fair amount of breakdowns and mosh sections on Still, but it's nowhere near as many as Worthless had. Just about every song in Worthless had a breakdown in the same spot which did nothing but gum up the works, and then there was that two minutes of solid piercing feedback right in the middle of the album. I had no idea what that was for (experimentation? I'll have none of that in my ignorant moshcore, thank you very much), but I'm glad Weekend Nachos have moved back to the tried and true method of beating the ever loving fuck out of their instruments and recording the noises that come out. The songs seem to flow organically on Still, getting grindy as hell when you want to circle pit at mach speeds, and getting balls-crushingly heavy and slow right when you feel like stomping on the ground throwing your arms around pretending you're a dinosaur.

On a Playlist With: Nails, Magrudergrind, (old) Doomriders

Overall Score: 4.5/5

Still is angry. Still is mean. Still makes you want to kick old grannies in the face and burn down playgrounds. Weekend Nachos hit it out of the park with this thing. If you're into hardcore or powerviolence, you've got to listen to this album.

Eat Taco Bell, hail Weekend Nachos.

Still came out on November 8th, 2013 on Relapse Records. Decibel is streaming the entire god damn thing, so you have no excuse not to listen to this right now.

That's all for now, folks!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Album Review: Grind-O-Matic - "Flower Power"

Everyone shut up. I know I've been gone for a while. School is happening (that reminds me, I have robotics and signal processing labs to do, fuck), I've started recording a project with a friend, and I'm now writing for the online zine Cinema Terrible. I only have so many hours in a day, so I'm trying my best to balance not failing my courses, keeping creative content rolling on weekdays, and feeding my borderline alcoholism on weekends.

As many of you regular readers know, the French grind scene is fucking nuts right now. Tons of wicked bands are surfacing and pumping out rad EPs and albums like no tomorrow. If you want a taste of the French scene, check out the compilation In Grindo Veritas released by Kaotoxin Records, and Grindhouse: Vol. 1 put out by your's truly. I recently got a CD in the mail all the way from France of Grind-O-Matic's newest album, Flower Power.

GOM have been around for ten years now, and have been steadily releasing music for nine of them. They hail from Paris, France and have shredded onstage with bands like Cloud Rat, Chiens, and Yattai over the years. I really don't have much of a bio for them, so I'm going to jump right into the album.

First thing's first. This album is fast and loud. The album might churn through 20 tracks in just under 40 minutes (mid paced for grindcore standards, for those of you who don't know),  but this band can play blisteringly fast. I usually tap along to the drumming of my music with pens and pencils in hand, but sometimes here I can barely keep up. Don't get hung up on speed here, though. Unlike mechanical speed demons Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Grind-O-Matic blends a nice amount of mid-paced and slower chaotic dissonance into the fray to break up all the grind. Majority of this album sounds like a cross between Nasum, Gridlink, and early Dillinger Escape Plan to me. Sometimes, all three influences come together into a giant clusterfuck of sound that makes me stop whatever I'm doing and audibly say "holy fuck". Paired with the band's great choice of samples before and after songs, the band sets the bleak and twisted tone of the album.

Speaking of tone, I really have to commend these guys for the themes presented here. Flower Power is a testament to how much we've fucked up the Earth in all our years of greed as a society. It's nothing that hasn't been done before, especially by grindcore bands, but the atmosphere crafted by the music, samples, lyrics, and artwork is definitely more striking than a majority of other socially conscious bands out there.

On A Playlist With: Nasum, Discordance Axis, (early) Pig Destroyer

Overall Score: 4/5

Flower Power is a grindcore album with some real substance behind it. All the power and perversion of the French grind you love, mixed with some awesome chaotic guitar and drum playing and top notch sampling makes Grind-O-Matic a winner in my books.

Flower Power came out on Grind-O-Records on September 13th, 2013. You can listen to it here, and you can check the band out on Facebook and Reverb Nation.

That's all for now, folks!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Slaughter 2013 or, Why I had to Explain to my Co-Workers why I Limped into Work Today

Last night I went to catch this year's iteration of the Summer Slaughter Tour, a yearly North American touring metal/ hardcore festival filled with mediocre deathcore bands and a handful of decent death metal groups. This was my first time hitting up Summer Slaughter because this year they actually had bands worth seeing on the bill, and tickets were mad cheap. I mean, 35 bucks for 10 bands? Even for a mediocre bill, that's worth the price of admission, but 35 bucks for 10 bands, including Revocation, The Ocean, Cattle Decapitation, and Dillinger Escape Plan? Holy monkey balls, I don't think it's even possible to get a better deal for a festival.

Because I'm a big kid now and work 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday, I missed the first few bands. Door opened at 3 or 3:30, and I ended up missing Thy Art Is Murder, Rings of Saturn, and Aeon, which really, I'm not heartbroken over because I'm not a fan of deathcore or tech-death, and I feel like I would have done nothing but hang around the merch booths until they all finished up. I did however, arrive just in time to catch Revocation, who put on a high energy set filled mostly with older material and crowd favorites ("Dismantle the Dictator" and "No Funeral" garnered some of the biggest circle pits of the night), but they jammed two new tracks off their new self-titled album too, which nobody seemed to mind.

The next two bands were The Ocean, and Cattle Decap, and I remember reading a review of a different tour date where the main complain the the sudden drop of energy in between Revocation and Cattle Decap because of The Ocean's slower and sludgier sound, but either that was an off day for the German metallers, or Toronto got a wicked treat last night. Loïc Rossetti, their vocalist was going absolutely nuts on stage, jumping off of it and nearly into the pit no less than 5 time during their half hour set. The rest of the band kept up as well, brandishing some entry-level Dillinger Escape Plan stage moves like jumping on monitors and flailing guitars around to keep the momentum going. I don't know what happened at that other concert, but The Ocean  dominated the stage at the Sound Academy last night. Definitely my second favourite performance of the night.

Cattle Decapitation rounded out the section of the show where I cared about the bands, but for a majority of their set, I was off getting pizza with a buddy of mine. I was really impressed with Travis Ryan, who stalked the stage like a madman, hitting every single crazed wail, scream, and growl he's ever put to record. The rest of the band was tight, especially their bassist, who we found out mid-set was actually Oli Pinard of the legendary Cryptopsy!

Next up were Norma Jean, Periphery, and Animals As Leaders. I wasn't particularly excited to see any of them (I hadn't even heard of Norma Jean before seeing their name on the bill for this show), but I was happily surprised by the latter two. Norma Jean started off with what I can only assume to be the most misleading intro track of all time, laying down some Southern sludge riffs with the bass cranked all the way up. I thought I was in for some Weedeater or Electric Wizard type shit, but my dreams were crushed faster than when they were in W-Men Origins: Wolverine when shitty metalcore filled the hall and the pit turned into a dojo. Snapbacked scene kids in skinny jeans started beating up the air and doing spin kicks to prove how HxC they were filled the centre of the floor, and honestly, my friends and I took a solid 30 seconds to laugh at all those goofballs. Once Norma Jean finished their way-too-long of a set, Periphery and AAL brought everything back with some high energy metal tunes and solid stage presence. I had already seen Periphery before,and they didn't really do much for me, but that was at a huge outdoor festival. Inside a smaller venue is where they really shine. AAL took me by complete surprise, not because I doubted Tosin Abasi and co.'s ability to play their music, but because I expected AAL to be a snorefest between Periphery's great set and Dillinger. They really got people moshing, jumping, and headbanging along, even though it was just three dudes chugging bass strings and sweep picking for 45 minutes.

Finally, after many long hours, it was time for Dillinger Escape Plan to hit the stage. Holy fuck. I was right up front and centre, and this was without a doubt, the most intense show I've ever been to. I've seen Slayer, I've seen Amon Amarth, and I've seen Rotten Sound, but nothing, nothing would have prepared me for this. Dillinger was off the fucking walls. Literally. There were bodies and limbs flying everywhere, I think I was covered with at least three dozen's peoples' sweat, beer, and once I got home, I noticed I actually had someone else's blood on me. I know whatever I write won't do it justice, so I'll post some videos of other gigs of theirs so you know what you're in for when you go see them.

Yeah. Fucking amazing.

My entire body still hurts, and I wasn't able to take any pictures or videos of bands, but I did run into a somewhat familiar face at the merch booth:

There are way too many Davids in this picture.
That's David Davidson (yeah, seriously, that's his name) of Revocation. He was a cool enough dude to actually hang out and chat with people at the merch table, but I didn't really get a chance to talk to him much.

My final verdict on Summer Slaughter 2013 is: totally go see it if it comes to town. It was hands down one of the best shows I've ever been to, and every band (shitty metalcore excluded) played to the nth degree and beyond. And for 35 bucks a ticket, how could you not go?

That's all for now, folks! I'm going to go sleep for a weekend to recover.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Blastbeat Reviews: Gore Edition! Carcass, Exhumed, Basement Torture Killings

More quick reviews because I'm a lazy asshole. This time around we're taking a crack at Carcass' comeback album, Exhumed's follow-up to 2010 comeback, All Guts, No Glory and Basement Torture Killings' just-a-few-days-short-of-a-2013-debut-release The Second Cumming. Crass, I know.


I've been hyping this album like mad since the teaser dropped a couple weeks ago, and the wicked jam "Captive Bolt Pistol" dropped a week later, but deep down, I was so scared that the single was going to be the only good track on the album. Maybe my beloved Carcass had gone the way of the dollar (or pound in their case) and released one solid track to rope everyone in, then unleash a mediocre attempt at reliving their past fame. I mean come on, the old 1980s logo, the Tools of the Trade rip off cover, and it's been over 15 years since their last studio album. This practically spells out gimmick and moneygrab all over the goddamn place. My jimmies were beyond rustled at the thought.

I finally listened to it, and instantly, my jimmies were soothed. They entered a state of bloodthirst and transcended into a state zen, a shift only attainable from an album as good as or perhaps, dare I say it, better than my beloved Heartwork. This album is Carcassas they were meant to sound. Melodic, grinding, heavy as balls, and headbangable as balls. Go buy this. Or torrent it. I don't care, just let the almighty Carcass eviscerate your ears with this unfuckwithable album. Score: 5/5


Exhumed blew me away with their last album, All Guts, No Glory. It was the first I'd actually heard of the band, a band that followed suite after Carcass pioneered the goregrind genre, and likewise, had a breakup and recent reformation. Now off the bat, I've gotta say that Guts was a way better album than Necrocracy. This album is still really solid, but it just lacks the ferocity and grind power it's predecessor did. Exhumed go for a more straightforward death metal sound here with some melodic elements thrown in. Unfortunately, everything seems to sound like a Heartwork b-side. Fortunately, everything seems to sound like a Heartwork b-side. The riffs show off some tight finger acrobatics and the album definitely gets your blood pumping, but I think the band tried to go as brutal as possible, but forgot what made All Guts, No Glory so good: how catchy it was. Score: 3/5


I honestly forget how I was introduced to this band. All I know is that one day I end up on their Bandcamp page blasting "31 Stabwounds to the Face", and I was loving it. This band whips out no holds barred goregrind, with non-stop blasting, tremolo picked riffs, and a wicked combo of raspy high vocals and guttural low vocals that would make even Bill Steer blush with envy. Over all I gotta commend these guys for making some goregrind that sounds like actual music amongst the masses of underground bands that release albums with production values that rival even Reek of Putrefaction. Come on guys, it's the 2010s, and BTK is doing it right. Why can't you?

The album loses some points because of the zillion samples that are used in the music which honestly take away form the crushing atmosphere of the album and get pretty annoying roughly four songs into this album, but they make it all back up with the greatest cover of "Pretty Woman" I've ever heard. Score: 4/5

That's all for now, folks!