Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 07/16/2019
It shouldn’t be this hot; the planet is dying. That’s it that’s the opener. Oh, yeah: Vader, Amygdala, Blood Command, Metsätöll and Wheel.
What can you possibly say about Vader that hasn’t been said a thousand times over, that bears repeating and that not literally everyone who’s even remotely interested in the band will already know? Not much, I’d wager, and for Thy Messenger, less than that because at 5 songs and thirteen minutes there isn’t much of it, but also because it’s the most Vader-ish the band has sounded in years. Their most recent compilations, re-releases, live albums, re-recordings and cover albums as well as 2016’s The Empire focused on the thrash-ier half of the bands sound, but although it’s not completely absent on Thy Messenger, it largely doesn’t. Before closing with a cover of Judas Priest’s “Steeler”, Vader treats you to “Grand Deceiver” and “Despair”, the first of which is roughly two minutes of blast-beats and the band’s trademark tremolo riffs and an ending that sounds like the song cut off one mosh-riff too early. The latter is the same, but angrier, faster and barely a minute-long, yet somehow feels like a more complete song. You’re also treated to a re-recording of the title track from one of the band’s most popular records, 2000’s Litany and “Emptiness” more balanced than the other new tracks, and features some very Kat-circa ’86 like riffs, which essentially comprise the “not entirely devoid of thrash” section of the EP. For those who felt estranged by the band re-embracing their thrash past, Thy Messenger will probably serve as an assurance of a brighter future, for those previously disinterested it will do nothing, and for me it serves as a fine appetizer. – Karhu
Blistering yet melodic hardcore with a social purpose? Prosthetic stole a good one from Holy Roar’s usual output. The urgency in Our Voices Will Soar Forever is jarring. The raw anger triggers a call to action, yet you feel you are acting in a void. Truth is not enough to solve anything. The pace of the first half of the album is staggeringly fast with some grind-like d-beat tracks but still with some progressive guitar work on top. The back half slows things down quite a bit, possibly lingering on a few ideas too long, but ultimately keeps up with the creative energy. If you have 11 minutes, jam those first 6 tracks! – Joaquin
Eleven minutes is not enough. One of my favorite…uh…post-hardcore? bands released an EP that is basically 3 short songs with some filler but I love it dearly. With track names like “S01E02.Return.Of.The.Arsonist.720p.HDTV.x264” and “No Thank You, I’m More in to Fake Grindcore”, they just keep raising their own bar. The screechy vocals that extend more than a few seconds may be grating to some, but everything else is a 10/10 for me. The track progressions are very satisfying in their simplicity with varied verses and just banger choruses. I wish I had more to say about it, but this band just hits all the spots for me. Get on it, and while you’re at it, listen to probably my favorite song from 2017. – Joaquin
Metsätöll has managed to carve their own niche out of folk metal, sung in their native Estonian and defying clear genre-definition, I’ve even read several reviews where their bass-heavy, thrash-riffing, blastbeating music has been called grunge influenced. Äio and Ulg arrived at a time I was very much into folk metal as a whole and made into constant rotation. Their follow-up, Karjajuht, came out after a somewhat longer wait and in-between my love of folk metal had began it’s plummet towards the depths. I never listened to it as much so I always jotted down it’s relative weakness to unfamiliarity, rather than a drop in quality. It’s been five years since Karjajuht and while it could be said that I don’t dislike folk metal like I used to either, I never regained my affection towards the genre. In preparation to Katk Kutsariks, the existence of which I wasn’t aware of until April, despite still following the band on social media, I re-listened to their older records and found that neither Äio nor Ulg had lost a bit of their charm, and that while Karjajuht reached for the same heights at it’s best, it also showed some wear and tear. Sure, they kept busy for a while afterwards, with an excellent EP and a compilation with good new tracks, that also finally propelled me to check out the band’s earliest work – but even that was 3 years ago. Surely Katk Kutsariks features a band with renewed vigor? Much is as it always was, Metsätöll is still instantly recognizable from their tone alone, and still aren’t afraid to discard their folk instruments for lengthy whiles, pushing the riffs and vocals to every bit as important, and often more so, parts of the music. This is no 00’s melodeath with the keyboards switched for a flute. When the lengthy chants of “Toona” finally subside, and the title track blasts away, I’m immediately cast back into 2011 and Ulg’s opener “Sõjasüda”, such familiarity remains throughout the album. Though unfortunately not all is well. No previous album has taken as much advantage from blackened edges of the band’s inspiration, the blastbeat/tremolo-riff combo is almost as common here as Lauri’s kannel. I can hum along every song front-to-back, when they’re playing, but as soon as they stop they’ve disappeared completely from my mind. While it’s alright, Katk Kutsariks barely features anything memorable, and those few moments are chiefly thanks to guests. I can only hope that it’s the lengthy wait that had seen Metsätöll’s songwriting muscles grow stiff. – Karhu
Wheel’s only been around a few years, and their previous two demos/EPs have been screaming Tool at the top of their lungs – especially at the top of vocalist James Lascelles’ lungs. There have been many bands that have tried to emulate Tool’s sound – we’ve hierarchically compiled and dissected several of them over here – but few of them have had vocalist whom have seeked to reproduce Maynard himself so badly. The similarities don’t end there by any means, the flow of the compositions is constantly similar and especially the drumming remains Tool-like, despite Santeri Saksala’s effort to present a style of his own, an undertaking overshadowed by decisions such as the spot-on additional percussion on the band’s title track (way to not complete the trinity, guys). Wheel isn’t reducible to a mere Tool-clone though, there was always some semblance of originality, and it’s grown from their demo-days to the point where not every riff sounds like it was forged by a tribute band. In it’s own right Moving Backwards is a good, rhythmic, grooving prog metal album but it’s extremely wearisome, and annoying in the case of Lascelles, how much they resemble the LA-foursome. I don’t see myself returning to this record very much, though I remain interested to see if the band will better break on their own in the future. – Karhu
Hey you. Yeah YOU. Want to contribute to mini-reviews? Find an album you’ve dug (or not) that preferably hasn’t been reviewed on the blog yet and has been released recently (within the last few months, or year if you’re so inclined), write around 100-120 coherent words about it and send it to toiletminis[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Please include the album’s release date, title, label, a link to the band’s facebook (if they have one), another one to their bandcamp (or any other place to listen to/buy the album if they don’t have one) and any other information/links that you think are relevant and want to include.
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