Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Update: Art Attack and Release Date!

Hey errybody in the internetland, remember back in April when I announced I'd be putting out that compilation album? Well, we're one step closer to finishing it up! The artwork is complete, and I'm super stoked. Check it out:

This kickass artwork was done by the unfuckwithable Taimoor Khan, a good friend of mine. This is almost maybe potentially the final artwork for the comp, and the only change that might need to be made would be the addition of Hiroshima Vacation to the list of bands at the bottom. It all depends on whether or not I get the track from them in time or not.

In time for what, you might ask? Well, I'm planning on releasing the compilation on Tuesday of next week (July 2nd), after I get back from the Canada Day long weekend. If I don't get a track by Tuesday then Hiroshima Vacation is just S.O.L. for this comp, which is a real bummer because they rip damn hard. The only reason I'm setting a solid deadline is because this idea first came together many, many months ago, and I feel awful keeping so many bands waiting for this any longer.

So, this release is going to be free over at our Bandcamp page, and the download will come with some extra concept art from Taimoor. Awesome, right?

That's all for now, folks! Remember: July 2nd is when this beastly comp drops. Until then, keep grinding, folks!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekly 3x3: 23-Jun-2013

Yeah, yeah. I know I'm a day late and it's actually the 24th today. Whatever. Fuck the police.

Weedeater - God Luck and Good Speed: More Weedeater this week. It took me a while to get into them, but I definitely love their Southern style sludge. Between God Luck and Jason, I'm going to have to go with the former, if only for the back-to-back riff fest of the title track and "Wizard Fight".

Mastodon - Crack the Skye: Well, it's my favorite album. The fact that I'm getting a Crack the Skye tattoo in a couple weeks means that I'm going to be pumping myself up by listening to this over and over.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist: "Can't Hold Us" and "Thrift Shop" are bumpin' summer driving songs. But this whole album is wicked solid, too.

The Acacia Strain - Wormwood: Another one of my favorites, I credit this album as one of the heaviest ever recorded (alongside Dopethrone, and Nothing). It's a great album to blast on the way to work to wake yourself up by inducing non-stop rage and headbanging in any listeners.

Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: Yeah. I'm a pleb entry-level hipster. Fight me.

Lil B - God`s Father: Seriously. This mixtape is legitimately some pretty solid music. Who doesn`t love the Basedgod? #bitchmobtaskforce #tybg

Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive: After discovering this band through the awesome show Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, this album has definitely begun to enter my usual rotation of albums with its interesting blend of sludge, doom, and NWoBHM.

Weekend Nachos - Worthless: Move over Hatebreed, I've found new workout music.

Bongripper - Hippie Killer: I've always heard of this band, but only through /r/doommetal's "Heaviest Riff Ever" contest did I actually take some time to check em out. Heavy as fuck, psychedelic as fuck, and all around a sweet stoner/ doom record.

That's all for now, folks! There won't be a Weekly 3x3 next week because here in Canada we have a long weekend coming up. I'll be up in my igloo, and my moose doesn't get any wireless up there.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Album Review: Kanye West - Yeezus

It's been a while since my last non-metal review, so I feel like I'm due for another one soon, and if y'all remember from before, I dug Kanye West's last album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. To be honest, Fantasy (and Kanye in general) has grown on me over time, and I jam his tunes pretty regularly on the old iTunes. Now, Yeezy is dropping his highly anticipated follow-up to Fantasy, Yeezus.

Yeah, I know this isn't the official album art, but it's so much better than the original. I mean come on, seriously?
So, Ye needs no intro, you all know him, a motherfuckin' wordsmith, and a voice of a generation, connoisseur of fish dicks sticks. Let's just get on with the review. This will probably be a pretty short one.

First off, this is not My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2.0. I thought it was going to be. I couldn't have been more wrong. Where Fantasy is a lush, bombastic album, covered in strings, horns, guitars, synthesizers, choirs and singing, Yeezus is its dark, dingy, and moody step-brother. It's interesting, because while this album drops some loud, obnoxious and cacophonous tracks, it also shows some really nicely laid out and almost beautifully produced sections, which stand out even more with the album's overall harshness. There are no strings, no big choirs, no shiny horns. There's Kanye, a buttload of autotune, a synthesizer, and a drum kit. Now, the synth takes on some piano and traditional keyboard sounds, as well as a screechy set of horns on the track "Blood on the Leaves". For the most part, the production here is loud and obnoxious, but I can handle it. But once these horns on "Blood on the Leaves" kicks in, I feel like I just downed a 40 of rageahol. They're tonally low, but they're the thinnest, screechiest horn samples I've heard in a long time. One of the parts that really stands out as one of the more accessible and beautiful parts of the album is the ending of "New Slaves" which features some absolutely awesome sampling of Omega's Gyöngyhajú Lány in the outro.

Even though there aren't many hooks and melodies on Yeezus (most of them are just samples, or Ye singing through some heavy autotune), the album has it's pretty catchy bits. Songs like "Black Skinhead" and "Bound 2" show their catchiness through solid drum beats, and awesome choice of samples. Now, even if Yeezus has departed from Fantasy's sonic style, Kanye is still a total champion at choosing samples. Blood on the Leaves" has even got some pretty controversial sampling. Kanye pieced in bits of the old song "Strange Fruit", a song about hanging African Americans. Surely, this poignant statement about race in today's culture must be the most though provoking and memorable part of the album, no? Well, no. Not at all. The part that I (and a couple other people I know) keep getting hung up on is the track "I am a God (feat. God)" is a tune that is featuring God. God, guys. Like, the big dude upsairs. Guys, guys, I think Kanye just ended the fundamentalist-athetist deba-- oh, wait, no, he's the only one who appears on this track. Oh, I get it! Yeezy is saying that he is god. Cool.

It's good to know Kanye West's ego can overshadow an entire civilization's history of racial prejudice and denial of human rights.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Blood on the Leaves, Bound 2

On a Playlist With: Kanye West, Yeezy, Ye

Overall Score: 3/5

Douchebag makes decent music again. It ain't no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it's definitely something fresh. The more I listen to it, the more I seem to warm up to it, and the more I warm up to it, the more I listen to it, but I'm not sure if I'll be putting this on my top 10 albums of the year list in December. Check it out, it's definitely an interesting listen.

Yeezus comes out tomorrow everywhere, but leaked like, three days ago, everywhere.

That's all for now, folks!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weekly 3x3: 16-Jun-2013

Howdy, y'all. I'm starting up a new weekly post called Weekly 3x3 where I share and talk briefly about what albums I've been jamming for the past week. I've only chosen 9 albums because it's close enough to 10 and square/ rectangular layouts are the only thing this site can do. So yeah.

I'm thinking of posting it every Sunday, just because it's usually the day I have the most off in the week. I also just want to say, albums I review aren't included, unless I end up listening to them a bunch after my review is up. Here's this week's:

Weedeater - Jason... The Dragon: Southern sludgy doom made for headbanging and whiskey drinking. It took me a while to get into Weedeater, but now I can't get enough of Dixie Dave's raspy growls :and mind-bending bass riffage.

Isis - The Red Sea EP: I bought this on vinyl before ever listening to Isis before. It was a risky buy, but I've only ever heard great things about all their albums, so I decided to take the plunge, and it was totally worth it. The Red Sea is some heavy as fuck post-metal and is a must-listen for anyone who is into atmospheric and totally engulfing music without much vocal work.

Kanye West - Yeezus: It took me a couple listens to warm up to Yeezus. As underwhelming as it is (compared to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, at least), for some reason I can't help but keep jamming this record. It's dark and simple, but still pretty powerful. Check it out if you can. It officially drops this Tuesday.

Minor Threat - Complete Discography: I don't even have to explain this. Blast some Minor Threat and start circle pitting!

Nails - Abandon All Life: Grindcore/ hardcore done right. It's a short, brutal album that I haven't been able to stop spinning since I first heard it. Kurt Ballou is a studio wizard with this album's production. Hard. As. Fuck.

The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of us is the Killer: Any Dillinger is good Dillinger. Get wrecked with this year's most unfuckwithable album.

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories: There was so much hype for this album, what when it finally dropped, I was a little disappointed. After realizing that I was a wet blanket, I opened up to RAM, seeing it as it really is: a simple, awesome dance record. It's tons of fun and has some seriously infectious grooves and hooks. Highly recommended, but don't go in expecting the usual Daft Punk house music.

Baroness - Blue Record: This is a modern classic in sludge/ progressive metal. Definitely my favorite Baroness release by far. It was raining like crazy earlier this week, and Blue Record fit perfectly with the torrential downpour on the way to and from work.

Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll: Opposite to Blue Record, this album makes for some of the best summer driving music there is! Luckily, the past few days have been beautiful, so I've been jamming this with my windows down for everyone to hear.

That's all for now, folks -- that's been my week! What have you guys been listening to?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview: Weslie J. Negrón Pagán of Zafakon

You all know it because I just said it yesterday, but here we go again. Guys, Zafakon rules. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the rafter-rumbling bassist of the band for a little chat.

And by sitting down with, I mean sitting down.

At two different computers.

3000 kilometers apart (that's about 1900 miles for our American friends).

Over Facebook.

Yup, I'm cool.

The interview is after the jump. Be sure to grab a drink, cause this one is a long one!

Heh. Long one.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Album Review: Zafakon - "War as a Drug"

Hey, so uhhh... I just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive. I know haven't posted in over a month, but I've been really busy and worn out from my new job. I'm working back where I was last summer, but I've got a boatload more work to do this time around. Enough of that, though. You folks don't read this shit to hear about what I do for a living, you read it to find awesome new music, and holy hell, have I got some awesome music for you today.

Zafakon is a band that is rising out of the Puerto Rican scene, beating the shit out of anyone's eardrums that dare stand in their way. They throwdown a crossover between old school Swedish melodic death metal, traditional death metal, and thrash. This leads to fast, brutal tunes with enough badass riffage to make even Scott Hull blush. The band is still short in tooth, having only been around for about 2-3 years now, but they've already gotten around to pumping out an EP, opening for bands like the almighty Goatwhore, and dropping their debut album, War as a Drug.

The first thing that struck me on this album, has to be the way it was produced. All the instrumentation sounds fucking amazing. Guitars sound huge and thick (heh), the bass is surprisingly defined and can be heard through the mix at all times, and the drums share that same massive sounding quality as the guitars. So far, it's a pretty above average sound coming from these dudes, but the vocals really take away from the hugeness of the band's sound. Don't get me wrong, the vocalist here has major chops (more on that, later), but he sounds like whoever produced his tracks tossed on a little too much reverb. While it's not uncommon to add some reverb to a vocalist to give them a fuller sound, too much makes them sound a bit muffled and distant, which in this case kinda clashes with the confined and in your face style of the rest of the album. By about halfway through the record I seemed to get used to the vocal style and it didn't really bother me too much. However, each time I start War as a Drug over again, it always takes me some time before I re-warm up to this.

Production nitpicking aside, War as a Drug rips pretty hard. The music itself is solid death/ thrash. There are plenty of blast beats, double kicks, and tons of facemelting riffage, but the band knows exactly when to pull back into mid-tempo groovy sections for maximum headbangability. Like I said, there seems to be a strong melodic death metal influence, with quick, alternate picked/ economy picked riffs flying around everywhere, and a guitar harmony here and there to go underneath. Very reminiscent of bands like Dark Tranquility, The Crown, and Arch Enemy, which when mixed in with the thrashy bits makes for a European thrash sound. Some bits like the guitar leads in the second song (third track) even have a distinct Michael Amott flair to them, which if I didn't know better, I would have thought he actually played. Something I really loved about War as a Drug was that the bass actually acted as another instrument, not as just a compliment to the guitars. Instead of just bouncing on root notes, bassist Wesley actually riffs pretty hard, occasionally taking counter-point to the guitars (a la Chi Cheng and Stephen Carpenter of Deftones). Coupled with the bass' awesome clarity, it really makes for something refreshing in the death/ thrash sound.

Speaking of guest artists, Zafakon have their very own on War as a Drug. The unfuckwithable Joel Grind (of Toxic Holocaust fame) jumps in on vocals for the track "Summoning the Vortex". Unsurprisingly, this is easily the most straightforward and thrashy tune on the album, and honestly, it sounds like the best song Toxic Holocaust never wrote. Joel brings his gut-wrenching snarl into the mix, and actually compliments pretty well with Zafakon's vocalist, Marcus' style.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Fall, Summoning the Vortex, At the Mercy of Fate

On a Playlist With: Arch Enemy, Kreator, Destruction

Overall Score: 4/5

Slammin' riffing, excellent production (save for the vocals) and solid songwriting make for some headbangable as fuck death metal in Zafakon's debut album War as a Drug. It's for anyone who digs melodic death metal, European thrash, or even traditional American thrash.

War as a Drug is out now, check it out on their BigCartel page. Zafakon are also on Facebook and Myspace, so go toss 'em a like/ whatever the MySpace equivalent is. They deserve it.

That's all for now, folks! Remember, always leave a note.

-Grave Dave