The Metal Gods have frowned upon us, resulting in what could be the most desolate new release week in the history of this column. But there's still some stuff to like, some stuff to hate, and some stuff to feel completely indifferent about. So the reviews are a little longer and the jabs are a little (a lot) meaner; on the receiving end are new releases from Cloudkicker, Rob Zombie, Striker and Saccage. So check it out, these are all the new releases for 8/7:
Rob Zombie – Mondo Sex Head
Country: United States
Label: Geffen Records
Listen: "Thunder Kiss '65 (Jonathan Davis Remix)"
I'm not sure why, or for what purpose, I'm reviewing this album -a collection of Electronic/Techno remixes (a genre I despise) of classic Zombie tunes (an artist I don't care for)- but nevertheless, here I am, in the off chance that some of you may actually be interested. But I digress. To the point: this album made me want to kill myself. In fact, the album seems to have been designed specifically with my mental demise as its primary goal (with Jonathan Davis' remix of "Thunder Kiss '65" admirably leading the way). Korn frontman aside, a bunch of Electronic artists I've never heard of have taken already formulaic and simple songs and made them even more formulaic and simplistic; the type of endlessly repetitive thumping 4/4 beats that have fueled every rave in existence. Being Zombie tunes, there is of course a slight tinge of the occult and the sinister here, albeit however comedic, by which I mean these are the type of songs that belong in every club scene from Blade and XXX (the Vin Diesel one). All hopes of artistic merit (there are a few) are quickly eliminated, and every catchy melody and every potentially poignant atmosphere is eventually bludgeoned and drowned by the ceaseless thumping of the type of electronic drums that come pre-programmed on your Yamaha keyboard. But hey, who am I to judge? If you're into self-torture go ahead and pick this one up.
Cloudkicker – Fade
Country: United States
Listen: Full Album Stream
To be fair, this album was released last Thursday; but we'll make exceptions for Mr. Sharp, who in all of his non-conforming glory, enjoys randomly springing his creations upon us with no warning and on days that are not Tuesday. But every Cloudkicker release is a worthy event, and also like every Cloudkicker release, the amount of musical information to process here is certifiably staggering. For starters, it seems that Mr. Sharp has left most of his djent roots behind; Fade is an exercise in space and texture, in transparency and harmony, optimism and hope. No amount of layering (and, as expected, there is quite the amount) can suppress or dampen the airy and ethereal post-rock sentiments that exude from the albums core, and the production is as organic and natural as the pure nostalgia that rings through every note. In this sense, the album is entirely more Alcest than it is Meshuggah; but fret not, songs like "Seattle" and "Making Will Mad," pulling subtly from all genres of metal and non-metal alike, are demonstrations in progressive songwriting, and are some of Sharps' most ambitious compositions to date. Fade somehow manages to be simultaneously simple and complex, allowing you to zone out while perpetually demanding your full attention, and while I don't think its quite as good as some of his earlier albums, it can certainly stand proudly among them, and will be making its case through many years of repeated listening.
Striker – Armed To The Teeth
Genre: Heavy Metal/Speed/Thrash
Label: Napalm Records
Why yes, you are correct, that album artwork IS a picture of a dinosaur skeleton wielding machine guns. And, I'll be damned, you're correct again; that IS all you need to know about this album. Striker released their first album in 2010, but for all intents and purposes, they are in possession of the one and only genuine Dolorean and have come rip-roaring, solo-shredding, falsetto-screaming, leather-pants-wearing right out of the 80's. And I really have nothing else to say, because like their image, this sound got old 30 years ago, and they are actively trying NOT to reinvent the wheel. Which I guess is cool if you like this kind of stuff (though I'm not sure why you wouldn't just throw on a Saxon or Ratt record or whatever). And its obvious these dudes are just having fun and making the music that they love, which is cool. So there's that.
Saccage – Death Crust Satanique
Label: Witchhammer Productions
Listen: Full Album Stream
And our second Canadian band of the day is also easily stereotypable, which is cool because it makes my job easier. But between the album title, the artwork, and songs like "Beer, Dope & Evil" there's really not much left to explore, as I could probably review the album without even listening to it. But that wouldn't be fair. So to be fair, I did listen to it, and there are actually a few surprises here. For one, the album sounds absolutely colossal and crushing, pushing its way through filth-saturated guitar tones, impenetrably thick bass, and a barrage of snarled, bestial vocals. In fact, the production helps propel otherwise mediocre material to another level entirely, making even the most generic of riffs sound insanely violent. The musical content is a nice mash-up of Black Breath style crust/thrash and old-school death metal, with the type of melodic phrasing one would find on an early Slayer record. In summary: you could certainly do worse. Death Crust Satanique, like its title suggests, is full of unbound energy and aggression and occultism, and where it lacks creativity it exceeds in sound and spirit. A worthy addition to those who prefer their music to sound like dirt mixed with spit and drowned in beer.
Join The Dead – Join The Dead EP
Laster – Wijsgeer & Narreman
Shores – Leavening