Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review Format Change!

I have come to a realization over the last few reviews. That realization is such: track-by-track reviews are too long! Yes, I've finally come to that conclusion myself. In addition to their exorbitant length, they take a really long time to write, because I have to sit & listen to the album at least once all the way through & pause several times to describe what I'm hearing. As such, I've been able to write fewer reviews lately than I've liked (one that I've been working on for several weeks that I need to get complete, for example), and that bothers me. I'd rather get my major comments out there & give readers an overall impression of what the work will sound like when they listen to it, rather than trying to describe the experience in detail.

Thus, I will no longer be composing full, track-by-track reviews. My reviews will still be verbose, as that is my propensity. However, you won't have to wade through a lot of verbiage to get to the bottom line. So my reviews will begin to look a lot more like those I wrote in the beginning, when this was a much simpler blog. That will make reading them more fun, and less an exercise.

Rest assured, I will continue to do the video companion reviews. I believe it spices things up some, and gives readers a reason to keep coming back. Not that watching me at my desk blabber on about a CD is fascinating, or that people want to see my goofy face. But I do believe that in today's fast-paced world, if someone just wants the quick & easy look at something, they can watch the video, get the sound samples in there, and get the basic gist of what I'm saying, even if the video is different than the full-text review. Still, I think there's a value in having that text review to read.

So what does this mean? Hopefully more reviews! Wow, all that just to say I'm changing the way I do things...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Gamut" - Asher/Monolith interview & more!

Tonight is a special episode, because the middle section contains several tracks by the unforgettable Asher from Canada. In addition, You'll hear an interview I did with former Asher guitarist Colin Parish, and we'll also talk about his new band Monolith. Plus, The Gamut is the ONLY place you'll get to hear the exclusive - 5 of the new tracks from the up-coming Monolith debut, out soon on Bombworks Records! That's right, "The Gamut" is the ONLY place you can hear these Monolith tracks!

Tonight's playlist!
Impending Doom - Silence the Oppressors (Brutal Deathcore)
Men Walking As Trees - Seal Upon My Heart (Folk/Pop/Lounge)
Afterimage - Nexus (Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal) - New track!
In Grief - I Am (Progressive Death Metal)
Kinetic Element - Now and Forever (Progressive Rock)
I Built the Cross - To Deface Grace (Technical Deathcore)
Post Mortum - Drip (Progressive Nu-metal)
Ascension Theory - Perfect Plan (Progressive Metal)
Vomitorial Corpulence - Human Slaughter House (Grindcore)
Blame Lucy - Lonesome (Modern Rock)
Feast Eternal - A Hymn (Death Metal)

Asher (CA) & Monolith Interview Time!
Asher - Exhortation (Female-fronted Melodic Metal)
Asher interview part 1
Asher - The Shadow Hour
Asher - Fallen
Asher interview part 2
Asher - Paradox
Asher - Unavoidable
Monolith interview part 1
Monolith - A Faithful Few
Monolith - Call Of Wisdom
Monolith interview part 2
Monolith - Chokehold
Monolith - Break the Cycle
Monolith interview part 3
Monolith - Golgotha

Asher (CA) - This Burden
Stronghold (US) - Nobody Owes You Nothing (Hard Rock)
Veni Domine - Someone's Knocking (Progressive/Gothic Metal)
Common Children - Storm Boy (Alternative/Indie)
Kosmos Express - Emotional (Modern Rock)
Project 86 - Bottom Feeder (Modern Heavy Rock)
August Burns Red - Composure (Technical Metalcore)
Eternal Ryte - No More Lies (Classic/Commercial Metal)
Suspiria Profundis - In War Against Satan (Black Metal)
Fewleftstanding - What's the Use? (Metalcore/Chaotic Hardcore)
Resurrection Band - The Crossing (Classic Rock/Hard Rock)
Saving Grace - In Your Own Hands (Metalcore)

Don't forget, you can tune in easily at the BlabberBoard via www.blabberboard.net & use the convenient flash player on the front page. Or, click the "Now Playing" link to open in another media player (Winamp, Real Player, VLC, and more!). Sign up at the BlabberBoard to use the chatbox on the front page & chat with me & other listeners during the show!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New logo for The Gamut!

Major thanks to Open Grave Records/Divine Metal Distro head James Mattern & his wife for providing me with this great new logo:

Also, don't forget to tune into "The Gamut" this week! We have an exclusive interview with former Asher (CA) guitarist and current Monolith guitarist Colin Parish about the rise & fall of Asher (CA), as well as the up-coming Monolith debut, out soon on Bombworks Records! I'll be playing 6 Asher (CA) tracks, as well as featuring 5 new Monolith tracks from the album. The Gamut is the ONLY place you can hear these songs right now, so make sure to tune in for this Sunday's episode, as well as in the coming weeks to hear more Monolith!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Gamut" - tonight's theme is BlabberDownload.com!

Tonight's theme is Blabber Download. That's right, everything you hear in tonight's show is 100% free & legal to download via www.blabberdownload.com ! Lots of great bands & albums totally free, so don't hesitate - if you like any of what you hear in tonight's show, by all means, go download it!

Dosel - Ciudad Sangrienta (Thrash Metal)
The Eternal Chapter - Only the Lost (Gothic Rock)
The Lead - Abomination (Female-fronted Hardcore PUnk)
Falling Fadedown - The Covenant (Melodic Hardcore/Screamo)
Martiria - Reborn in Christ (Power/Melodic Metal)
Hell Bovine - Never Falling From Grace (Experimental/Electronic/Metal)
The Intolerants - Die the American Dream (Punk)
Kekal - Vox Diaboli (Experimental Extreme Metal)
Menahem - Angels and Shadows (Progressive Metal)
The Blood Reckoning - Dowards (Deathcore)
Betrayer - Partaker of Evil (Power Metal)
Worthless Without - Choreographed Comedy Acts That End With Dead Clowns (Post-Hardcore)
Nothing's Sacred - The Price Paid In Blood (eGrind)
Unveiled - Contagious (Female-fronted Modern Rock)
Desire of Pain - Destroy the Madness (Progressive Death Metal)
Job - Coram Deo (Funeral Doom)
Katamari Deathroll - Funeral Birth (Dance Punk/Hardcore)
Lamentations - Where Have You Been (Doom-Death Metal)
Our Fathers Were Blind - Banner Bedsheets (Screamo)
Confide - Artax (Metalcore)
Epta Astera - Superbia (Folk Metal/Experimental)
RED+TEST - Unforgiving Landscape (Industrial)
Rising Cross - Pentecost (Power Metal)
Integration - Breaking Myself (Ambient/Experimental)
Elgibbor - The Silent Scream (Black Metal)
The Ortistix - Red Bin (Drum & Bass Punk)
Saron Rose - Al que me cine (Nu-Metal)
I Destroyed Leviathan - GROWR! (Nintendocore/Experimental)
Bloodforge - Show You the Way (Female-fronted Melodic/Gothic Metal)
Sacred Warrior - Children of the Light (Classic Metal)
Pistis In Him Alone - Redemption (Melodic Hardcore/Metalcore)
Death List - Will It End (Death Metal)
Disaffection - Blind Mind (Thrash Metal)
Hot Pink Turtle - Hideous (Funk/Metal/Alternative)
Watchmen - Fear No Evil (Classic Metal)
Buried Yesterday - Torture Room (Deathcore)
Blood Covenant - Dedication (Symphonic Black Metal)
Anguidara - SEOS (Industrial)
Angel 7 - The Power of Belief and Love (Black/Death/Power Metal Hybrid)
Eclipsing Black - The Eclipsing Black (Dark Ambient/Black)

Don't forget, you can tune in easily at the BlabberBoard via www.blabberboard.net & use the convenient flash player on the front page. Or, click the "Now Playing" link to open in another media player (Winamp, Real Player, VLC, and more!). Sign up at the BlabberBoard to use the chatbox on the front page & chat with me & other listeners during the show!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"The Gamut" - tonight's playlist!

Tonight's playlist!

Demon Hunter - Our Faces Fall Apart (Metalcore)
Novella - One Big Sky (Progressive Hard Rock/Ballad)
Undercover - Where I should Be (Alternative Rock)
Dance House Children - Eve Leaf (Synthpop)
Human Condition - Life and Love (New Wave/Rock)
The Corbans - Paul (Acoustic/Alternative Rock)
One-21 - Good Guys Where White Hats And So Do Bad Guys (Punk)
ChloesHouse - Overtaken (Rapcore/Modern Hard Rock)
Divinefire - Grow and Follow (Power Metal)
Patriarchs - Mountains (Progressive Hardcore/Metal)
Jet Circus - Victory Dance (Metal/Experimental)
Starflyer 59 - Unbelievers (Indie Rock/Alternative)
Everdown - One Knuckle Shy (Post-Hardcore/Heavy Rock)
The Scurvies - Mind To Heart (Punk)
AD - We Are the Men (80s Rock/Progressive)
Kinetic Element - Riding In Time (Progressive Rock)
Final Axe - Baptized in Blood (Classic Metal)
Morella's Forest - Love Is Blind (Female-fronted Indie Rock)
Staple - The Songwriter (Post-Hardcore/Heavy Rock)
Maylene & the sons of Disaster - Bang, the Witch is Dead (Southern Hardcore/Heavy Rock)
Eternal Mystery - Pseudo-Christianity Pt. 2 (Grindcore)
Petra - Disciple (80s Rock)
Joy Electric - Old Castle Madrigal (Synthpop)
AXP - Heart of Gold (Hardcore)
Argyle Park - Headscrew (Industrial)
The Burning Season - First Glance (Metalcore)
The Deal - Attack (Punk)
Immortal Souls - Constant (Melodic Death Metal)
Inked In Blood - This Moment (Melodic Hardcore)
Encryptor - Horrific Engenderment (Brutal Death Metal)
Maugrim - Decrepit Beings--They Fled Into the Shadows (Dark Ambient/Black)
The Chariot - Need: (Chaotic Hardcore)
Deitiphobia - Hypnotique (Industrial)
Dryve - Stay (Alternative/Acoustic Rock)
Bloodgood - It's Alright (Commercial Metal/Hard Rock)
Saint - Invader (Classic Metal)
Bathtub Mary - Wisteria (Female-fronted Indie Rock)
P.K. Mitchell - Take My Life (Commercial Metal/Hard Rock)
Lust Control - Mad at the Girls (Punk)
Saviour Machine - Christians and Lunatics (Gothic Metal)
Blindside - SilverSpeak (Post-Hardcore/Modern Heavy Rock)

Don't forget, you can tune in easily at the BlabberBoard via www.blabberboard.net & use the convenient flash player on the front page. Or, click the "Now Playing" link to open in another media player (Winamp, Real Player, VLC, and more!). Sign up at the BlabberBoard to use the chatbox on the front page & chat with me & other listeners during the show!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Grief - Deserted Soul (2009)

Uniqueness is something that is often lost in the musical landscape. Pop acts constantly rip each other off, as well as all those that came before. Rock & roll, country, metal - it's the same in every genre. The differences are much more subtle sometimes, but bands try to put their own "stamp" on the music, even if what they're doing has been done to death already. The treat is when a band comes along and does something, that, though they bear similarities to what's come before them, they put enough of their own "stamp" on the formula or genre aesthetic to say they're doing something new or unique. Norway's In Grief may not be the most original band out there, but they are putting a semi-unique stamp on the death metal sound.

What In Grief does have that makes them stand out is a superb debut that combines all the right elements with such balance, style and panache that you wonder what woodwork they came out of. These guys are incredibly tight, have a distinctive sound that reveals more elements with repeated listens, and ultimately, comes up with a debut release that stands out from the crowd because of its sheer quality and listenability. That doesn't mean this is a "fluffy" record; far from it. It's not an immediate album, and it takes several listens to truly pay off. However, there are elements from the first listen that will reward listeners, and the rewards continue as more time is devoted to the album.

With the amount of near-hyperbole I just spouted, it must be said that intro track "Darkening Horizon" is a bit of a generic, quasi-"cinematic" intro, not unlike the atmospheric intro to any melodic death or symphonic metal album. The difference here is that it's not all that distinctive. It's just keyboard atmospherics, symphonic drum/cymbal work (complete with big cymbal crashes & timpani), and the like. It's not a throwaway track, per se, but compared to what follows it, or compared to some of the heavyweights of bombastic, symphonic album intros (Rhapsody, Bal-Sagoth), this is a bit tame. Still, I'm guessing understated is what the band was intending, so it works for what it is. The intro fades gently into "I Am", with some nice keyboard atmospherics, clean guitar, light cymbal touches, and an interesting effect that sounds like burning fire, and screaming voices in the background. Then the music picks up a bit with more drum & cymbal work, no more fire effect, and just builds from there to fade in a heavily distorted guitar sound in the mix. When the song kicks in near the 1:30 mark, you know you're in for a melodic death metal treat. The riffing isn't overly complex, but it shows the proficiency of the players, and the lightly effecte vocals work well. I like the "phased" guitar grind that presents after the primary verse section. The chorus has a nice layering of death vocals and a low-end clean vocal that sounds as though it's "off in the distance". The 2nd verse has a great layered death vocal effect that sounds like it's double-tracked, but one of the tracks is highly effected, giving it a nice sci-fi type of feel. The song circles back to the intro riff again with a nice high-pitched keyboard sound and winding riff, then down to a semi-spoken word bridge with driving riff and some nice atmospheric elements in behind. The keyboard solo that follows is great; very subtle at the start, then increasing in complexity and retaining a nice melodic quality. There is some great double-bass and cymbal work going on here, and then a great guitar solo with some wah-wah effect and a lot of melodic elements to it. We are treated to the "phased" grinding guitar sound near the close of the song as the death vocals bring us back to the sound of fire with a thunderous blast and a brief fade-out. "Invited War" starts with the sound of a car starting, some interesting atmospherics, an explosion sound, people screaming in the background, and a distorted voice singing a middle-eastern melody briefly before the guitar, drums, bass and keyboard come storming in arond the 30-second mark. The riff here is great; it's very rhythmic in nature, and the atmospheric keyboard complements it well. A bit of complexity added to the riff after the initial piece, followed by a fade-in of death vocals into the verse. The slight echo effect on the vocals is a nice touch, and the double-tracked vocals in some spots works well. The clean vocals are nicely layered w/ a subtle death vocal in the chorus, and sounds great against the backdrop of melodic crunching metal. Keyboard atmospherics continue to play a subtle part here, and become a key element of the sound. The riffing changes slightly nearing the 3-minute mark to a very melodic riff, then back into the melodic chorus. There's a nice instrumental section with a simple, yet effective riff, and some good keyboard elements being thrown in before introducing the guitar solo. The solo is great, combining the right balance of speedy picking, melodicism, and just overall technicality. The speed picks up a bit for a short spell nearing the 5-minute mark, then slows back down again to allow the solo to flash out a bit before going back to the clean-sung chorus. One final verse section to another chorus (with heavily effected vocals) and some nicely layered death vocals to bring the song to a close over the chunky intro riff again.

"Modern Truth" begins with a ticking clock sound, and radio static as the clean guitar and keyboard sounds fade in during the first 40 seconds. Then things pick up with double-bass pounding, bass guitar, and heavy riffing. Then nearing the 1-minute mark, we get some nice speedy solo picking and some "big" keyboard sounds in the background. The riffs here are very thick, and sound great against the rest of the instrumental backdrop. Suddenly the riffing stops, returns to a cleanly picked guitar and atmospheric keyboard sound again, picks up to riffing again just after the 2-minute mark with death vocals in tow. The riffing & sound here is highly melodic, but retains the heaviness and power that death metal should have. I like the layering of the crunchy riffing here with the high-pitched picking for the chorus; it gives it that touch of extra melody. Then it comes down again to the clean guitar & keyboard atmospherics for a few respite measures until fading in the snare drum to a full-blast heavy verse again. After a 2nd run through the chorus we are treated to a crunchy bridge with a "single syllable" vocal delivery where each measure may have only 2 words or syllables grunted/growled over the riffing. Then back to the melodic chorus again with added keyboard. The melodic riffing & keyboard atmospherics continues with double-bass & great cymbal work to finish out the song. The title track "Deserted Soul" has a real science fiction feel to it, beginning with some interesting atmospheric effects, then very quickly into off-kilter rhythmic guitar riffing and "80's sci-fi" keyboard atmospherics. The drum work keeps time very well here, and helps to move things along. The verse is heavy and driving, and has a nice combination of drum work, guitar riffing, keyboard effects, and vocals. The chorus has a subtly layered clean vocal that is well harmonized, and an added death growl for contrast. I like the rhythmic riffing after the chorus and the nice keyboard sound that accompanies that. The "punchy" snare sound is great here as well. After the 2nd verse and chorus there is a stunning keyboard solo that has a bit of a Dream Theater-like quality to it, but retains its own identity. Another run through the chorus, and a return to the "sci-fi" sounds and atmospherics to close out the song.

"In the End" begins with a nice "hum" sound in the background, and nicely picked clean guitar rhythm, and a bit of a "bass hum" underneath it all. The keyboard atmospherics are very subtle, but add a nice texture. Nearing the 1-minute mark the metal kicks in w/ a nice melodic riff, cool keyboard line and a long death growl. The riffing changes slightly to a real chunky thing w/ some cool keyboard effects & some nice double-bass & cymbal work leading into the verse, which takes things back down to clean guitar, keyboard, subtle bass guitar, and some nice drum/cymbal work. The vocals are semi-spoken word, then into death vocals as the pre-chorus blows in w/ heavy riffing, double-bass and full-speed instrumentation. The chorus is melodic, and has a nice guitar sound/feel to it. The lick at the end of the chorus is very melodic, and leads back to a heavy 2nd verse. There's a bit of layered clean vocals at the end of the verse that have this "background" feel to them that is nice, and gives a bit of atmospheric touch. Once again we have a super-melodic chorus, and the melodic lick at the end, transitioning into a melodic bridge, then into a contrasting moment of quiet piano w/ sound effects of burning fire & people screaming (like in "I Am"). Great solo work right after the piano interlude as well, with very melodic lines, some great harmonized dual-guitar lead work, and just overall fitting lead playing. More great drumming & riffing going on here as well, adding the perfect backdrop for the leads as they're picked out. This transitions back into the melodic chorus riff again for a few measures, then into the actual chorus again nearing the last minute of the song. The melodic post-chorus lick returns to help close things out, with the keyboard lending a hand mimicking the guitar lick as the song winds down to the end w/ the sound of rain. The final track, "Weak" opens with a nice bass hum, interesting keyboard sounds, and a dark atmospheric sound that reminds one of the more intense parts of a Role Playing Game like Final Fantasy or something of that ilk. Then comes a deep spoken voice and some symphonic elements like cymbal crashing, timpani rolls, and keyboard sounds that mimic a choir. At about the 1-minute mark the metal comes roaring in, with a plodding double-bass rhythm quickly turning to double-time, melodic riffing that turns into fast crunchy riffing, and keyboards that go from light & airy to brooding. Things stay heavy yet melodic as the verse kicks in with layered death vocals, good drum work, and then into a highly melodic chorus with cleanly sung vocals that have a slightly "distant" feel to them, and a bit of layering for effect. The post-chorus transition is great with melodic riffing, nice keyboard sounds, and great drumming. The 2nd verse has chunky riffing, and layered extreme vocals that have a nice effect. The subtle low-end death vocal underscoring the guitar lick after the 2nd chorus is a cool effect, and sounds great in headphones. Then some great guitar & keyboard dual soloing happens, and gives way to a full-on keyboard solo, then melodic guitar solo at around 6 minutes. This fades out to a soft keyboard backdrop & back to the symphonic elements present in the intro track "Darkening Horizon" before the heaviness returns with melody in tow. This ties together well with the intro, and brings the album full circle in a sense. Near the 8-minute mark we're back to a verse, with a higher-pitched extreme vocal, reminding almost of a symphonic black metal kind of feel, which works well here. More nice soloing shows up in the last minute of the song, bringing things melodically & technically to showcase the players' abilities right up to the end, then a sudden stop.

In Grief hasn't created a unique recipe here. What they have done is taken all the right elements of progressive and melodic death metal & put just enough of their own spice & flavoring on it to make it a different dish. It doesn't have to be wholly unique because it does enough on its own to stand on its own. My only qualms are rather slight. The editing of the tracks seems a bit lazy, as there's a lot of "white space" at the end of each track, and there are a couple instances where it seems like there's "tape cut" noise after the track is done or into the next track, as if this were still a demo. The production quality elsewhere is fantastic, so this was likely an oversight. My other complaint is that in the layering of the instrumentation, there are times I feel the vocals are a tad buried in the mix. It's not a huge concern, but there are times when I wish I could hear the vocals more. Otherwise, the mix is great - not too compressed, but still with power. Also, it's heavy without being overbearing, and melodic without losing the crunch factor that death metal should have. In short, this is overall a well-produced effort. I can't say they sound like anyone else, though comparisons have been made to Opeth, Soilwork, Amon Amarth, and Katatonia. They don't really sound like any of those bands, per se, but those are touchstones. If you like progressive extreme metal, melodic death metal, or just extreme metal in general, this is a release you should not pass up. Highly recommended.


Video review:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"The Gamut" - tonight's playlist!

Tonight's Playlist!

Northern Ash - The Terror That Waits (Death/Black/Thrash Metal Hybrid)
Human Condition - In Time (Rock)
Darkness Before Dawn - Battle On (Melodic Death Metal)
Bride - Dust Through a Fan (Commercial Metal/Hard Rock)
Kinetic Element - See the Children (Progressive Rock)
Pastor Brad - Metal Devotional
Pastor Brad - Reshredded (Instrumental Metal)
Hope For the Dying - Our Fallen Comrades (Progressive Extreme Metal)
Coram Deo - Fall of Babylon (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)
Mike Phillips - Nails and Tears (Progressive Metal)
Hit the Deck - Another Game (Hardcore Punk)
Monolith - Golgotha (Symphonic Extreme Metal) - The Gamut exclusive!!!
Symphony in Peril - For Now We See In a Mirror, Dimly, But Then Face to Face (Chaotic Metalcore) - CD Giveaway!!!
Thresher - Raptor (Thrash Metal)
LSU - The Boyos (Alternative Rock/Acoustic)
Mortal - Gaza (Electronica)
Spoken - Stupid People (Rapcore)
Narcissus - Twin-Allergy (Post-Hardcore/Modern Heavy Rock)
Guardian - Dr. Jones and the Kings of Rhythm (Commercial Hard Rock/Metal)
The Chariot - The Company, The Comfort, The Grave (Chaotic Hardcore)
The Ortistix - I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, but You'd Look Better In a Moshpit (Drum & Bass Punk)
Saint - In the Battle (Classic Metal)
Galactic Cowboys - Blind (Progressive Metal)
Sleeping Giant - King of Kings (Hardcore/Sludge)
Eowyn - To My Surprise (Female-fronted Modern Rock)
The Gentleman Homicide - Looking Within the Heart of a Man (Chaotic Metalcore/Hardcore)
Hero - I Surrender (Classic Metal)
Detritus - Masquerade (Thrash Metal)
Halcyon Way - A Manifesto For Domination (Progressive Metal)
Divinefire - Life My Life For You (Power Metal)
Opposition of One - Dishonest (Metalcore)
Joy Electric - The Girl From Rosewood Lane (Original mix) (Synthpop)
The Deadlines - Murder Creek Road (Horror Punk)
Jesus Freaks - D.U.I. (Thrash Metal)
Petra - Midnight Oil (Rock)
The Seventy Sevens - One More Time (Rock)
Elgibbor - Heaven or Hell (Black Metal)
Norma Jean - The End of All Things Will Be Televised (Chaotic Metalcore)

Don't forget, you can tune in easily at the BlabberBoard via www.blabberboard.net & use the convenient flash player on the front page. Or, click the "Now Playing" link to open in another media player (Winamp, Real Player, VLC, and more!). Sign up at the BlabberBoard to use the chatbox on the front page & chat with me & other listeners during the show! Direct link to the feed (Winamp, Real Player, etc). Alternate feed location.