Metal Monday #27

These past few weeks have been great for new releases. It’s a common marketing strategy of releasing an album in first quarter of the year before tour season starts (during the summer) and then play songs off the new album after current fans have had a few months to absorb it. There are a few releases I don’t want to ignore so here are some quickie opinions.

Do you like endless brutality? Dissonant off-key chords? Rhythms that imitate a drawer full of silverware falling down a staircase? Well this is just the thing for you. This is some serious death metal. It doesn’t relax for one second, it transitions from complex combinations of notes and time signatures to smooth melodic, although still dissonant, riffs that never end. Part of me wishes it never did end, but I guess it’s good for my sanity that it does.  Lyrical themes are alien abduction and space exploration metaphors for feelings, but good luck deciphering the story on your first try or even fifth try.

Djent will be djent. A genre that became the most over-saturated in the shortest amount of time has offered little in the way of progress, even though most ‘djent’ artists claim to be progressive metal, whatever that even means. This is a rather unique take on the style, incorporating musical keys chord progressions more often found in traditional middle-eastern music and a decent display of talent. The vocalist has decent range and tone in both harsh and clean vocals (not heard on this track), so at any rate it is easy to enjoy. Its really good for what it is, too bad they feel like they have to be djenty to succeed.

The note/chord selection is typical for a ‘progressive’ metal band, but they do some actual unique things with the vocal melodies and the phrasing of the guitar riffs. Plenty of guitar solos throughout the album for those of you who demand supreme talent to consider an artist valid. They also are very good at beginning songs, lots of the introduction sections are the most memorable parts, but the endings are pretty meh and don’t give quite the amount of resolution I would like (with Breakthrough and Spectre being the outliers).

Two sentences in one album title. The music is just as quirky and unexpected as the title would suggest. They are not afraid to have some fun with the song structure, transitioning from catchy classic heavy metal style into explosions of dissonance and rhythmic chaos. The vocalist has quite the unusual set of lungs, always having an edgy sound yet having a range that covers many octaves as well as brutal harsh vocals when the song calls for it. To put into perspective how absurd and almost deliberately obscure this band is, the first song on the album ends with a drum n’ bass break, and the last song ends with a polka trumpet solo that transitions right into the most epic face-melting guitar solo on the whole record. I’m not kidding you.  I would honestly consider this a contender for metal album of the year, and its only march.

In contrast, breakdownz.

1:30, 2:37

Dirty stuff. I feel like I need a bath after listening to this EP, it’s so full of sludge and breakdowns even the corest core kids will cringe (I did). Definitely takes deathcore to the extreme. Pretty bad as music, but if you consider it as some artsy sonic representation of hate and anger, well it’s still pretty bad. I still can’t deny the entertainment value.

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Metal Monday #22

You can give me crap about taking this much time off, but nothing good ever comes out in the end of January and December anyways so, semi-legitimate excuse? Nope, this happened.

starting @4:19

After a slow start, I was expecting this to be another minimalist guy-with-guitar type of artists. There is nothing really wrong with that except that it is not metal. This song has two themes, one that you hear for the first time at 5:47. This one is melancholy and has sad feelings and stuff.

6:28 shows the second theme. It is much more simple, it is just two notes a chromatic step apart (the higher one starting sharp them bending down) in a quarter note triplet pattern. The contrast between these two themes is what grabbed my attention. The first is played very lightly and sustained while the second theme is played more aggressively. It returns to the first theme again after then the song slowly ends itself.

The songs structure is reversible, not sure if this is even relevant but I thought from a songwriting perspective it was cool. I’ll call the developmental chord progressions in the first and last 1:30 of the song part A and the themes 1 and 2 respectively.
A 1 2 1 A

From pop music we are accustomed to the repeat of the chorus or part C (which would be theme 2 in this situation) at the end, not the beginning, so it interesting to hear how changing this alters the flow of the song. That second theme was pretty heavy, but I just feel like… I need more.

@1:34

Not sure what Texas has to do with anything, or why they only spent one night there, but they must have had a pretty bad time.

Obnoxious-deliberate breakdowns aside, this band is better than most of its kind, at least in the top 50%. I guess that’s not saying much though…

Metal Monday #21

If I were to do a post relevant to the holidays, which I would never do, but if I were to do such a thing, this is the song I would feature. There isn’t much to say about it musically, it’s the same song as ‘The 12 Days Of Christmas’ except the gifts are changed to objects that are stereotyped to metal culture.

A tattoo of Ozzie

Two pairs of spandex pants

Three studded belts

Four quarts of jack

Five skull earrings

Six cans of hairspray

Seven leather jackets

Eight Pentagrams

Nine tattered T-shirts

Ten pairs of platforms

Eleven black mascaras

Twelve silver crosses

The patience required to perform this song is amazing.

You probably think since its Christmas time, there will be no brutality. Well that’s where you’re wrong

@00:46

I like to imagine santa listens to this during his physics defying trip around earth in one night. After all, he is essentially a pagan god in our society worshipped by children until they come of age.

Happy holidays, hail  Satan Santa.

Metal Monday #16

So you only learned how to play one chord, but don’t want to suck, what do you do?

Na, these guys definitely know more than one chord. What I mean though, is most of their phrases are one chord cadences that have an open ended length. :01-:10 is part A in one key. :10-:15 is part B in another. They continue to change keys as their phrases transition from one to another, it makes up for the lack of structure in the rhythmic patterns. Notice at the first part A (0-:10) then another (1:34) the rhythm and pattern changed form before, but the key is the same as before.

Man is this guy upset though.

It makes me feel upset and want to punch things, so maybe it’s time for BREAKDOWN BEATDOWN

Not as heavy as usual (whatever that means), but I really dig this. This breakdown is not what I would typically expect as a breakdown. The ‘build-up’ part actually does the opposite, at :46 it drops off, then at 1:20 the full instruments (with gain) return until 1:45. After this the instruments slowly get phased out until only the vocalist is left. The vocalist also designed his lyrics to hit one of his more impactful lines right at at 2:00, when it finally happens. This ‘breakdown’ is followed by a more traditional sounding breakdown at 2:15. Two for the price of one.

In metal news, Dying Fetus is officially scheduled to play at Download Festival 2014. This wouldn’t be news, if the headlining bands weren’t Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park, and Aerosmith. We have ourselves to thank, this magical event is happening because of a social media campaign. Rumors say it started because of a post on metal injection, which I can confirm nor deny, but the story goes that someone saw the headliners, was upset, and so asked the event managers one simple question : #whynotdyingfetus ?

For a glimpse of just how quickly this escalated

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23whynotdyingfetus&src=typd&f=realtime

So many people tweeted/social media’d that the people behind the event decided the people could not be ignored, Dying Fetus will be playing at the event. I hope thousands and thousands of Aerosmith fans have their lives changed that day.

Metal Monday #15

After just 15 seconds you have heard more notes than all of the notes combined in last weeks edition of Why It Sucks.

Its been 4 years since No Tolerance For Imperfection. The grooves have always been good, and the speed coupled with precision makes for great death metal.

To me, the musical phrases make sense in this song. Even the sections where it is mostly one note strummed quickly, the transitions make up for it with forward movement. Especially the first half of the song has satisfying half cadences, only landing on the perfect authentic cadence when the groove is about to change significantly. Even the vocal lines flow and fit within the length of the phrase. Basically they all play well together and don’t hold back, so it’s a recipe for success. My only complaint isn’t a complaint at all, there is so much going on at every turn it is hard to keep up on the first listen. I would recommend taking in one role at a time, so you can really notice how much weight each individual member is pulling.

There are some song writing techniques that are so OBVIOUS, that are so simple, that I wonder why they are never used. For example, the title of this song is On The Verge Of Collapse. Now lets remember sonata form, exposition, development, repetition.

This song is exactly sonata form with the exposition building to the lyric “I am on the verge of collapse.” Then the song ends exactly the same way. The lyrics make their point, their punchline, exactly as the song reaches its two peaks. Even though the amount of notes and the speed might seem overwhelming, even on the first listen, these moments stand out. This group doesn’t use cheesy breakdowns and dissonant chords, they use the shape of their phrases to add tension an release. It’s that extra dimension that makes it interesting.
DID SOMEONE SAY BREAKDOWNS AND DISSONANT CHORDS?

Thies weeks Breakdown Beatdown is at 1:06 and 3:04

In the next month I will begin to work on compiling my top 10 albums of the year. It was a good year for me, with releases from Dillinger Escape Plan AND Between The Buried And Me AND Streetlight Manifesto (who I thought would never release another album after 99 songs). To compliment this post I will also have a worst 10 albums of the year, and terrible music has also had a good year with releases from Beiber, Miley, Avril Lavigne, and Black Veil Brides. If you had a favorite album this year that you think it worthy, I’d love to listen to it, if not at least to understand why you like it.

Metal Monday #14

It’s almost frustrating to me, when groups demonstrate that they are capable of writing good music, but only seem to fully apply themselves on a small number of tracks. Reflections is an example of talented performers without the spark of creativity, but can use what they have heard before to put together pretty good songs.

This song starts off with lots of dissonant off-beat chords and double bass drum, then at 2:07 the guitars both turn off most of their filters and it becomes a calm acoustic feel. Especially when listening to this whole album, this relief comes well received because aside from this song it is pounding off-beat djent almost exclusively. The song would have been ok if after this section the song ended, it’s even what I was expecting to happen. At 4 the sound from before comes back in unison on the same progression, followed by an actual guitar solo. Then the song builds until the very end, reaching a point equally as heavy as the beginning was. Its essentially a big V shape in terms of the excitement level of the track over time. It has good horizontal movement as the song develops, and a definitive beginning middle and end. You would think this is common, but verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus doesn’t lend itself to have much shape. Looking back all the way to my song structure post, Mozart invented sonata form because it was an effective method of writing music that would almost always have a shape and forward movement. You start off with the exciting melody or theme you have come up with (exposition), then most of the song is the development, building back to the ending which is the recapitulation, playing the theme from the beginning again. It catches their attention, then builds their anticipation to a climax right as the song is about to end. That is essentially what this song does effectively and why I think it is a good song, despite the rest of the album. No, it’s not that it’s bad, but when you have heard as much music similar to this as I have, it doesn’t stand out from the rest of it. On the subject of Mozart, it is time for…

BREAKDOWN BEATDOWN

Some moments on that Reflections album (‘Ex(i)st’)could be considered for this section as well, but Acacia Strain has spoken.
At about 2:15 it becomes apparent to me that there going to be some sort of breakdown in the near future.

It’s at 2:38, if you weren’t sure. Points were deducted for having the hit on the word ‘clouds,’ which is not a br00tl word related to violence at all. Clouds are not br00tl, but that one note sure seems to be.

Metal Monday #9

Oh yes, another cliche deathcore album. I can’t wait to listen to it once and never listen to it again.

This album made me question exactly what it is that sucks about deathcore. This album has breakdowns galore and for the most part has one type of song on it.

WHY DO I LIKE THIS

Maybe it’s just because I recently saw this group live and have some bias going on in my subconscious, but there are legitimate feels in this album. THE FEELS. Deathcore lyrics are typically some of the most uninspired angry words in all metal, here each song has a distinct theme that I was able to identify by merely listening to it. These themes are in general about the current state of society, our endless wars (Hellbound), our obsession with processed food (Children of the Corn Syrup), the evil in human nature (Do You See Him), finally all culminating together in The Travelers, which explains that with all these subjects combined, we are all “Hellbound” because we make the society we live in into its own hell.

To go with these lyrics, the band incorporates the instrumentals to build and release with the lines of lyrics. As the vocalist reaches a main point in this song, it will almost always be followed immediately by a breakdown. The breakdowns once they hit avoid falling into repetitive rhythms on single notes, and instead usually transition very cleanly into the next part of the song.

Hellbound just came out last week. It isn’t the redefining album of deathcore, instead FFAA seems to have found their distinct character in a far to over-saturated genre. Its good to hear a band contribute to an old genre with new ideas. Hopefully there is a lot more to come.