Reviews January 2004
Forward: During the last time there have been only few updates on this site, especially when it comes to the reviews. There were several reasons for this, the most important being that I had to pass my final exams, 8 tests in 10 days, each lasting 5 hours. So you can imagine I had pretty much to do before and during that time. After the tests were done I moved to another city (new address see below) so I didn't find the time to write much. And to make things worse, I found out that the fuckin' postal service stole some of the parcels I should have received, so I guess not every CD you sent me might have found its way to me. But be assured these problems are fixed now, regular updates are on the way and I apologize for the longer delay. Anyway, here's the new and only address for you to send your releases to:
Voice of Reason
c/o Stefan Muench
BOOZED -- Seezin' The Day (CD / Kamikaze Records)
Now this one has a nice front cover, hehe. Hopefully there's also a vinyl version coming out because some things might come out even bigger... "Seezin' the day" is the first album of a very young German Rock'n'Roll band which is in existence for only two years now. And even though I don't care about that kind of AC/DC influenced (Hard) Rock that much I think that this record is a pretty good start for this band. It starts off quite funny, pretending to be a live recording with thousands of people screaming their lungs out. I like the band the most when they play up tempo songs (which happens quite often), and if I'm not completely wrong all fans of bands like AC/DC, Motörhead or Gluecifer might like what they're about to hear on "Seezin' the day". The only point of criticism are the vocals that could be a little more dirty, but that's just my opinion. Cool cover art, good production and entertaining songs, what do you want more? Fans of this kind of sound should take a listen. (Stefan)
CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE -- As The Roots Undo (CD / Robotic Empire)
Usually I find it pretty hard to listen to bands playing a complex blend of chaotic and emotional Hardcore, but bands who come up with such an amazing and impressive layout really deserve to get a closer examination. The packaging is far away from the average, more in the vein of a fold out digi pack. I always wonder how small labels like Robotic Empire can come up with such a great packaging while many major label releases are just boring when it comes to the layout. Anyway, let's got to the music which is, as I said, complex, intense and emotional Hardcore with all three band members adding vocals, which means you can hear one female and two male voices on "As the roots undo", the first full length of CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE. "Straighter" parts are repeatedly turning into eruptive, blasting and complex parts. You know, not the stuff that I put on daily, but I can say that it's damn good musicianship you can find here and I could imagine that their even more intense on stage. Fans of this variation of Hardcore (Botch, Converge, Children of Fall etc.) can add another fine group to their list of favourite bands, I'm sure they will like CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE. (Stefan)
CRIMINAL -- No Gods No Masters (CD / Metal Blade Records)
Before Metal Blade sent me this CD I had never heard of CRIMINAL before to be honest, so I was quite curious what kind of sound the band plays. The surprise appeared even before I listened to the music when I looked at the line up of the band: The vocals are delivered by none other than Anton Reisenegger himself! Maybe most of you won't know this guy, but let me tell you that he was the singer in the legendary Death Metal outfit PENTAGRAM from Chile who -as far as I know - only released a 7" on a Swiss label (which I have in my collection of course, haha) but have been influential as hell on lots of Death Metal bands. Now CRIMINAL don't sound like PENTAGRAM, but Anton's unique vocals are still there. Being around since 1994 and one of the biggest name's in Chile's respectively South America's Metal scene supporting acts like Slayer, Anthrax, Kreator, Exodus, Sepultura, Motörhead etc., CRIMINAL released three albums before "No gods no masters". In 2002, the two founding members Anton and Rodrigo (guitars) decided to move to the UK to join forces with Zac O'Neil on drums (Extreme Noise Terror), Robin Eaglestone on bass (ex- Cradle of Filth who's no longer in CRIMINAL) and Mark Royce handling the keyboards. Without Eaglestone they recorded "No gods no masters" (wasn't that a title from Crusties DOOM? Or AMEBIX?!), and it's without a doubt a brutal piece of Metal that can't be labeled that easy, too wide are the influences CRIMINAL put together in their songs. There's blast parts, keyboard parts, fast Thrash rhythms, brutal riffing and above all the aggressive shouting delivered by Anton. Definitely no easy listening, but far away from your average (Death) Metal album. Check 'em out!
DESCENDENTS -- 'Merican (CD EP / Fat Wreck Chords)
I guess it was in 1990 when I first heard the DESCENDENTS. Before I knew them and their music I stumbled upon their name mainly because of the comic drawings I of their singer Milo on records and t-shirts. That somehow gained my attention and eventually I bought their album "I don't want to grow up". Even though I was totally into Death Metal at that time (and I still am), bands like Bad Religion or the Hard-Ons also made it into my stereo frequently, so I was totally blown away by the DESCENDENTS. The music was amazing and their heartfelt lyrics appealed to any guy who felt like a loser and thought he'd never find a girl. Definitely the right stuff for me. I was not aware of the fact that the band had broken up already in 1987 after the release of their last studio album called "All" (well, "break-up" is probably not the right word because singer Milo Aukerman left the band once again to pursue a career at college while the rest of the group joined forces with former DYS / Dag Nasty singer Dave Smalley and went on as ALL). Needles to say I bought all of their records and especially the first one "Milo goes to college" is still one of my all time favourite records. I seriously doubt anyone would disagree if I say that this record is a Punk classic, defining a whole genre: The so called Pop Punk. In 1996 I was in the US for one month, and one week before I went back home I was going through a copy of Flipside magazine I had bought earlier. On one of the last pages there was this small ad from Epitaph Records that only depicted Milo's comic head and said: "New record out September 23rd". Nothing more. I almost got a heart attack. On that day I went to a record store in Berkeley and there it was, a new DESCENDENTS record after almost ten years. I bought it right away and asked the sales guy if he had heard it yet and he was like "Man, it's as great as the old stuff". That was also my opinion after I had listened to "Everything sucks". They simply made another record as if they'd never been away (yeah, ALL had been there all the time, but... you know). In February 1997 I saw the live in Stuttgart, Germany, and it was he best show in my entire life. I thought or at least hoped that they would put out records now on a more regular basis. But it took them almost 8 years to release new music!! A very long time indeed, but the wait is finally over and be sure it's been worth the while! "'Merican" is kind of a teaser EP before the full length album "Cool to be you" comes out at the end of March. I don't know how many times I played "Merican" since I got a copy, but it's again as if they'd never been away. The only difference compared to "Everything sucks" is that both the EP and the new album are coming out on Fat Wreck instead of Epitaph. But everything else is 100% DESCENDENTS: The cover art, the layout, the band photo and of course the music. Four songs can be found on here (well actually five but only four are listed) and they all rule. "Nothing with you" and "Merican" will be on the full length, too, while "Here with me" (my favourite one, an absolute killer song!) and "I quit" are exclusive to this EP. Milo Aukerman wrote three out of the four songs, so I guess he had a real urge to to DESCENDENTS again. To make a long story short: The DESCENDENTS are back and they're as great as always. They totally rule and you have to get a copy of both the EP and the album when they come out!! Praise the godfathers of Punk! (Stefan)
FLESHCRAWL -- Made Of Flesh (CD / Metal Blade Records)
Did you really think that German metalheads FLESHCRAWL would come up with their seventh album "Made of flesh" without a Swedish production?!? Of course you didn't, because since their debut album "Descend into the absurd" (1992) these guys went to Sweden to record their albums, and "Made of flesh" is no exception. Well, I was curious how the band would manage to deal with the departure of founding member and long time guitarist Stefan Hanus who left the band in 2002. They managed fuckin' good I can tell you! "Made of flesh" starts off with "Beneath a dying sun" which is mid tempo killer song and it doesn't take long to recognize that FLESHCRAWL are still Germany's number one Death Metal act (at least in my opinion, as DEW-SCENTED are more Death/Thrash anyway). "The title track is a pure high speed killer and apart from the mighty DISMEMBER lots of Swedish bands would be glad if they could write and record such anthems. The guitar sound is once again totally old school and typically Swedish, like in the good old days of the early 90s when bands like ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER or CARNAGE came up with their debut albums. But of course that doesn't mean that the production lacks of power and brutality. Fuck no, FLESHCRAWL come up with a blasting sound made inStudio Underground in Västeras where they already recorded their previous album "Soulskinner". I could spend days listening to songs like "Into the depths on no return", "Flesh bloody flesh" and the rest of the album, haha. Even though there are many bands around these days who try to bring back the sound of the early 90s bands there's hardly any band around who does it as good as FLESHCRAWL. Maybe that's because FLESHCRAWL are around since 1987 and know when they sound best. By the way, in one way or another FLESHCRAWL seem to break with tradition as there's no cover song on this album as far as I can see. Well, most of the time covers are pretty superfluous on a studio record anyway (in my eyes they're only interesting when the band comes up with an old unreleased demo classic), so that's ok with me. Once again a fine record released by Metal Blade Records and another milestone in FLESHCRAWL's history. Needles to say that "Made of flesh" is a must have for all Death Metal lunatics. (Stefan)
FRAGMENTS OF UNBECOMING -- Skywards/Chapter II: A Sylphe's Ascension (CD / Metal Blade)
"Skywards" is exactly the outstanding follow-up to their demo-release "Bloodred Tales" that I expected. Those of you who are familiar with their first MCD will know what to expect: Swedish-styled Death Metal with lots of double bass and blast parts and guitar-harmonies that sometimes remind me of Naglfar. I know that these guys are going to nail me to the (inverted?) cross for this, but their influences (namely At The Gates and Unanimated) are quite obvious. But hey, let's be honest: I guess nobody's really expecting a real revolutionary sound in Death Metal these days anymore. Nonetheless Fragments Of Unbecoming offer us some (uncheesy) accoustic interludes that make me quite sure that "Skywards" is going to be one of the best Death Metal releases in 2004. For all those out there who can't get enough of Mid-90s Swedish Death Metal "Skywards" is definitely a must-have! (Tobi)
LAST DAYS OF APRIL -- If You Lose It (CD / Bad Taste Records)
"Angel youth", Last Days of April's 2000 album, was licensed in the US by Deep Elm Records and that's when I first heard of this Stockholm, Sweden, based band. I don't know "Ascend to the stars" which came out in 2002, but here's their latest effort entitled "If you lose it", their fourth album for Bad Taste Records (and fifth full length in total). Compared to the quiet atmosphere on "Angel youth" I have the impression that "If you lose it" is a bit more rocking. Well, not with tons of distorted guitars and stuff but more laid back if you know what I mean. Last Days of April still have this typical Indie Rock/Pop appeal but still create a unique and nice atmosphere. Once again Pelle Gunnerfeldt produced the record (currently he's producing the new Hives album; he also worked together with The International Noise Conspiracy in the past), but this time not in his own studios but in Mission Hall Studio. Furthermore Pelle's not the only producer. Mathias Olden of LOGH also turned the knobs and created a very warm sound. Both Pelle and Mathias can be heard on the album playing the bass guitar. "If you lose it" is a sure shot for Indie fans, everyone else is invited to take a listen.
MONSTROSITY -- Rise To Power (CD / Metal Blade Records)
Finally the gods are back!! MONSTROSITY have always been one of my favourite Death Metal bands. I first heard of them when they released the "Burden of evil" 7" in 1990 on Relapse Records and loved them ever since. 1991 saw the release of their classic debut album "Imperial doom" on Nuclear Blast Records, and even though this album and its sucessors "Millennium" and "In dark purity" were also very strong pieces of Florida styled Death Metal MONSTROSITY never gained the success they deserved. Many people I know have heard the name MONSTROSITY only because their former vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher joined Cannibal Corpse a couple of years ago. However, that could change with their latest output "Rise to power" which comes out on Metal Blade Records and features new singer Sam Molina after former vocalist Jason Avery quit due to personal reasons. In my opinion this is one of the finest Death Metal albums in a very long time, and everyone who thinks that the new MORBID ANGEL record "Heretic" is a good album is in my eyes only afraid to admit that MORBID ANGEL are just average these days. Those people should listen to "Rise to power" instead, 'cause here you get great brutal songs PLUS a powerful production. Drummer Lee Harrison who also produced this record is the only remaining guy from the original MONSTROSITY line up and I really hope that his never ending belief in MONSTROSITY finally pays off with this album. Songs like "A casket for the soul", "The exordium" or the title track are just three examples how technical yet brutal Death Metal should sound in 2004. Both thumbs up for MONSTROSITY and hopefully these guys will come over here soon to blow your heads off live. Get this fuckin' killer!!
SHIKARI -- s/t (CD / Level Plane Records)
SUBHUMANS -- Live In A Dive (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)