Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Jumpin' Jesus- The Art of Crucifying

Jumpin' Jesus is a very overlooked German death metal band that formed in 1989, but didn't release anything until the early 90's. With only one demo and one full-length they failed to make a noticeable mark in death metal history, but that's not to say fans of the genre won't enjoy this record. 

When the vocals kick in on "Out of the Unknown" you know you're in for an evil satanic treat. The vocalist pounds his style into your head throughout the record, his vocals aren't anything particular special, but he does have a rather wide range compared to most death metal vocalist from around this time. He mainly sticks to growls and screams, but occasionally a raspy falsetto will find it's way out of his throat, along with some more traditional thrash style vocals. 

The guitar work on the album is noteworthy. It is easy to see that this department was heavily influenced by thrash. There are some fairly complex riffs to be found here, and the distortion is set just right. For the most part the record is played at a break neck pace, but Jumpin' Jesus isn't afraid of slowing down, this is best shown during "The King of Worms" when a fairly slow, epic riff kicks in, it doesn't stay long due to it being interrupted by a face melting solo, but it plays to be one of the most effective riffs on the record, and trust me it has some healthy competition. 

This album is also one of the few death metal records where the bass is audible throughout! Sure, a lot of the time the bass is just backing the guitar but every now and then you'll hear a little jazzy bass going on in the background, when this happens it only boosts the song's level on the metal meter. Without the bass being audible the record may have came off as hollow, but with it there and firing on all cylinders the album has a nice high end, low end ratio. 

The album has some odd effects peppered in. At times it seems as though you are listening to a cheesy 80's synth filled horror movie soundtrack, but these moments are short lived, due to the low end growls intruding and the neck snapping speedy riffs that are tearing the amp to shreds. Along with these odd effect and overtones are some really cool, eerie acoustic intros. Examples of this are "The King of Worms" and "Chaingang", the intros to these songs really create a great atmosphere for the old school chaos that is about to ensue. 

The drumming actually is pretty brutal as well, it isn't just non-stop blastbeats. It definitely isn't the most groundbreaking work either but there are some complex drum patterns to be found in the albums run-time. With all that being said, every single instrument has it's fair share of time to shine. The production is very clear for it's time, which was also noticeable on their demo. 

Bottom line: Go get yourself a neck brace and find this record ASAP. It's a shame this band didn't continue after this record was recorded, it and their demo show boat loads of potential. Any fan of death metal, especially die-hard old school fans must hear this album.

Resurrection- Embalmed Existence

Resurrection was a band that formed in Florida in the early 90's and broke up shorty after releasing their old school death metal opus "Embalmed Existence". This album isn't for everyone, but it will have fans of the old school Florida scene on their knees praying to their overlooked gods. The band reformed in 2008 to release the album "Mistaken for Dead" which also failed to get noticed.

The thing that sticks out most on the album is the wicked vocals and guitar rhythms. Songs introduced by the sinister noises that come out of Paul Degoyler's mouth give the album an overall creepy feel. Resurrection created this album with one thing on their mind, to sicken the weak with some old school crushing death metal, and at that they did not fail. The production on the album is very crisp unlike some older death metal records, this gives the overall sound a great boost which is always a good thing. The guitar parts are fairly varied changing from very fast riffing to slow apocalyptic infectious riffs. The solos on the album kick mutiple asses, ranging from fast and shredding, to slow melodic solos. Both are done skillfully and would be a tear to the eye of a guitarist.

The vocals have a snarl to them, they are not quite the typical death metal growl, if compared to anyone though, it would be Malevolent Creation vocalist Brett Hoffmann. The spoken word introductions work effectively, some do find them quite annoying though due to the fact that they are used on nearly every song. I can see why some would find this tedious but it feels as though it creates the atmosphere for the song. 

The bass for the most part is inaudible, on occasion it leaks it's way into the mix but when this does happen it is brief and nearly unnoticeable, which is a shame because when the bass does creep into songs it sounds sick and would of really added to the album if it stayed throughout. The drumming on the album is also consistent, constant double bass pounds throughout the album, this style of drumming would typically become boring but on this album it is not the case. The constant pulse pounding beat blends all too well with the riffs and atmosphere. 

There really isn't one weak song on the album, none of the songs drag nor does the album as a whole. The only track on the album that has been openly complained about is "War Machine" the KISS cover song. This song gave the album a good change in pace but I don't like it's placement as the last song on the album, it would of been more fitting to put it in the middle, as a kind of break from the blistering thrash influenced death metal riffing, overall it is still a good song though. The majority of the songs do have the same structure, but each individual song manages to remain fresh sounding and entertaining.

The bottom line is if you are in need of death metal with that old school fresh into the 90's feel this is the cure for the itch, the album maintains it's fury and manages to create a fairly punishing sound, but for some reason it failed to be noticed in the death metal scene that Florida had going. While this isn't exactly the most creative album you'll ever hear, it is a damn good one and should be heard by any fan of the genre. Overall I give this album a firm 4.5 out of 5. Coming from a person who is obsessed with death metal as a whole, I can say with pride that this would most easily make it into my top 10 death metal albums of all time. Check it out now.

Scaremaker- What Evil Have They Summoned...

Scaremaker is a three piece that just recently hit the scene. Their first release was a three song demo in cassette form that was only a hint to the horror drenched death metal that their full length would deliver. Given that the band is signed to Razorback Records and that the album comes packaged with a toe tag some might already have a slight idea of what approach Scaremaker takes, but most will be surprised with the depraved sound coming from their speakers. 

First things first this record is some of the most evil sounding death metal that comes to mind in recent years. The band has a straightforward old school death metal sound that many bands have tried to capture and failed. Let them be tortured by their envy, this would please the beast known as the Scaremaker. What Evil Have They Summoned... features a fair amount of variation for a band with their "straight to the jugular" style. The tempos vary throughout and the riffing is always memorable. Backed with one of the most consistent drummers in the business there is no excuse to make avoiding this album acceptable.

The guitar tone has a mean crunchy sound that meshes flawlessly with the overall sound. Many of the riffs pumped out create an epic feel, this can be easily seen on tracks like "Nocturnal Bloodbath". There is a good amount of diversity in the playing as well, on the instrumental "Fatal Eve" an atmospheric riff creeps along in a slow and almost relaxing manner. Also the bass intro to "Nocturnal Bloodbath" is excellent. It works as a solid build up to the killer riff-fest that ensues shortly after. The vocal delivery shall leave anyone who dares to listen in a pool of their own blood. The use of dual vocalists is executed perfectly. Anyone who says Arch Enemy's vocalist is the best harsh female pipes around needs to give Scaremaker a listen, the music is proof enough. The sickening lows and wretched highs mix well with the tortured sound Scaremaker throws down. On top of all that clean vocals are used on the cover of "Devil's Son", and as to be expected they slay just as much as the rest of the album it closes out. The cover track shows that if the band decided to explore more punk oriented styling that they wouldn't have to much trouble getting comfortable.

Elektrokutioner is behind the kit for this band and that is always a good sign. He is known for his work with Festered and Decrepitaph (both signed to Razorback as well). He playing displayed on this album is just as top notch as all of his other work and he continues to show his talent as one of the most underrated drummers in extreme music today. Just when you think his precise pummeling has ended it starts back up again and proceeds without mercy. 

Overall Scaremaker brings what they intended and they bring it with full force. Armed with the sinister sound they have this band could really go places. The bottom line is Scaremaker is a band that metalheads in general should keep an eye out for. The album doesn't produce one dull moment from start to finish. They without a doubt, show some of the greatest potential out of the many bands that are trying to resurrect the old school death metal sound, hell if more bands of this quality step up to the plate this year might be one of the best for extreme music in quite some time.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fin- The Furrows of Tradition

Chicago black metallers Fin have been quite busy since their formation in 2011. Having dropped a full length every year since 2013 the band managed to find their very distinct sound at a rapid pace. Their 2014 effort Refutable Arts of the Noble Reserve easily earned its spot as one of the highlights in metal for that year and The Furrows of Tradition continued that tradition for 2015. The band also dwindled down to a duo with this release and after comparing the final product it's clear that this decision was for the best.

The Furrows of Tradition kicks right off with a flurry of barbaric melodies. From this point on the band provides very little breathing room and tramples over the listener in the most satisfying way possible. As opposed to the previous full length this one comes across with quite a bit more bite considering the relentless barrage of masterful fretwork and kit abuse. That's not to say the previous effort didn't have these attributes but it's clear when listening that Fin is tapping into their potential and becoming more and more focused and refined in the songwriting process with each release.

Tracks like "A Final Shots Report" and "Arrogance... A Bridge to Fall" drive home the warlike atmosphere intended with undeniable accuracy. The triumphant melodies spread throughout are backed by distant, tortured shrieks that will surely make you want to go out and pillage your neighborhood. All these factors make for a listening experience just as uplifting as it is pummeling. This also makes the album a good entry point for people looking to get into black metal. While The Furrows of Tradition does have a barbaric stride it isn't as nasty sounding or menacing as many of their peers. The band's incorporation of infectious melodies are attention grabbing enough to allow the musical merit to shine through even to those not into extreme music.

The Furrows of Tradition should be considered essential listening for all black metal fans. Fin has a truly unique sound and this album marks the beginning of it becoming fully realized. The album clocks in at over 50 minutes and it flies by with every listen and leaves you craving more. It's clear that this duo has a classic in them and they are on the brink of putting it together. This effort is near perfection as is and I can only foresee things getting better from here. Check out Fin, you'll feel pretty victorious after doing so.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Imperial Savagery- Imperial Savagery

Imperial Savagery is a nasty death metal band hailing from Chicago, Illinois. The members are no stranger to the genre given their past experience in bands like CorpseVomit, Lividity, Enmortem, and that is just scratching the surface. Not to mention a few of the members also being involved in the stellar aural onslaught that is Sons of Famine. This is one hell of a debut to say the least, it clocks in at under thirty minutes and packs more of a punch than some bands manage in their entire discography. 

The hellish opening sounds featured on "Faithless Emptiness" sum up the descent the listener is in for perfectly. The instrumental aspect of the album feels as though it could completely derail at any point and it truly gives the entire listening experience a disorienting vibe and a constant anticipation of how the band will strike next. This is something that very few death metal acts of today can pull off without it coming out sounding forced. Dalzell's vocal delivery is insanely powerful and meshes all too well with the musical assault. The level of hatred coming from the man's vocal chords cannot be ignored.  Each member plays their part equally in making Imperial Savagery the untamable beast that it is. 

Although only two out of ten tracks break past the three minute mark they all play out to their full potential. The band wastes no time on filler and within the first thirty seconds of each song you're already feeling bludgeoned beyond the point of repair. The riffs delivered from start to finish are jarring and couldn't be crafted anymore skillfully to drive home the lyrical content. Rhythmically as a whole the album is nothing short of whiplash inducing. It delves into a level of extremity that is seldom seen and doesn't give even the slightest hint of letting up throughout the entire runtime.

Overall Imperial Savagery's debut is a superb chunk of no bullshit, blasphemous death metal. These guys deserve so much more attention than they've garnered since this albums release in 2014. From start to finish this album is going to have your headbanging harder than it has ever banged before. I highly recommend anyone into extreme metal in general to give this a spin. I'd say there's a pretty strong chance that most of you will be hooked the way I am. This is without a doubt a band to keep an eye on. Also if you get a chance to catch them live don't miss it. On stage these vets were even more crushing. DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD? IF SO YOU WILL NOT FOR LONG!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Volumes of Blood

Volumes of Blood is a new indie horror anthology from directors Jakob Bilinski, Nathan Thomas Milliner, John Kenneth Muir, P.J. Starks, and Lee Vervoort. I have yet to see any of these filmmakers previous efforts, but this is a clear example of why that needs to change. Each director brings their own distinct flavor to the table and works with the central theme given for the film. Prepare for fun.

Volumes of Blood follows a group of college students studying Urban Legends. For a project, they decide to delve into how exactly these stories start, and how they spread. They start by sharing ideas of potential fables to spread. Each one plays out in some way involving a library, like the one they are meeting in.

The first story shows a girl who is in dire need of more hours in a day. Although this isn't a feasible option, there is another, more convenient alternative: more energy. A simple solution, offered by a shady peddler, ends in a more unsavory manner.

Following our first gal, the second fable to be passed is of another nature. One man, left alone after hours to work, finds one particular task to be rather hard to accomplish. As he tries to place the books in their rightful homes, a book on the supernatural seems to gain a mind of its own. The more he tries to replace the book, whilst catching glimpses of something out of the corner of his eye, the more redundant the task becomes. The further from its shelf the book becomes, the closer something else gets to our leading man.

Next, we find ourselves in a library again after hours. This time, it is a young coed trying to finish her studies. Her eccentric boyfriend joins her, urging her to leave her responsibilities for a bit of fun. She compromises, saying she'll join him when she finishes. She is then left alone to her work. Or is she? Something is lurking, waiting for a chance to distract her by means other than drinking.

The last idea to be bounced is the story of a girl named Paige. Paige finds herself working in the library alone at night. Familiar, right? Except the fact that it's Halloween, and an unfamiliar book, supposedly able to allow its reader to speak to a deceased loved one, has found it's way to our heroine's desk. Most people would probably have the good sense to leave such a book alone. At least, people who don't harbor guilt for the suicide of an ex boyfriend. This is why children shouldn't play with dead things...

As we hear the stories passed around by the students, we start to realize that while they are discussing a part of their thesis, they have yet to discuss how exactly these grisly scenarios become perpetuated into a viral part of folklore. The head of this group of students seems to have a pretty good hypothesis. The best way to spread a make believe tale, is for it to have actually happened. 

I've always been a sucker for anthologies. They are my favorite type of horror film and have been since my childhood. While I love anthologies, there is one little problem that rings true for the bulk of them. When lacing so many short stories together, it is very difficult to compile more than a few of the same quality. Even the "top dog" V/H/S series for this generation hasn't managed to put out a consistent package in their three attempts. In this film all five tales manage to deliver the goods. They all bring a different tone to the table but not a single one of them is below average. Volumes of Blood maintains the perfect balance of camp and tension. Each segment manages to contain enough of these elements to satisfy your horror loving needs.

Overall Volumes of Blood is an old school anthology that stays consistently awesome. The final story and the tie in finale are easily my two favorite sections here. Things wrap up with a bang followed by an onslaught of bloodshed. These final moments are probably my favorite of any anthology that has came out within the last decade, and possibly the best wraparound featured in any anthology I have seen. This is a must watch for all indie horror fans and anthology lovers alike. It's definitely getting another spin from me come Halloween. It really is a blast that every horror fan should experience. Keep an eye out for Volumes of Blood to release on DVD, you won't regret it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Computer Hearts

Computer Hearts is an interesting short directed by Canadian duo Turner Stewart and Dionne Copland. The directing team has a few shorts under their belt and have recently tackled the cinematography on Ryan Nicholson's Gutterballs 2. Watching this short, it is easy to see why they were chosen for the long awaited Plotdigger sequel. Computer Hearts is an incredibly well crafted early film project that should easily put them on the radar of most low-budget film enthusiasts. 

The film centers around a man named Albert who has become overly obsessed with a character on an interactive sex game website. He's letting his relationship with his fiancee fall apart by feeding this addiction. As he slowly begins to fall apart at the hinges, his future wife decides she is tired of his distance. She leaves and with that Albert is alone with nothing but his computer. Things go south quickly when Albert reconnects with his digital playmate quite literally.

Vanessa2 seems to have Albert's heart, though she is lacking one of her own. She is his escape. She is seemingly perfect, no real obligation (though he doesn't seem to notice), and she is always happy to see him. This low maintenance dream girl starts to really byte. Pun intended. Once the 'real' Vanessa leaves Albert, Vanessa2 sees an opportunity. Albert must decide exactly which of his lives he really wants to live.

This release contains two vastly different cuts of the film. Although most of the content is the same, the extended "Hentai Cop Cut" throws in a bit more dialogue and info that manages to completely change the intentions of our lead, Albert. If you are going to check this out I would recommend giving the "Vanessa Cut" a watch to start out with. This cut is significantly shorter, and although both cuts have things I prefer over the other, I would say this one reigns supreme. The pacing in "Vanessa Cut" makes for a much more enthralling watch, while the "Hentai Cop Cut" sacrifices that for a few extra plot points and character building.

Overall Computer Hearts is an exhilarating exercise in the oddities of the body horror subgenre. If you thought browsing the dark side of YouTube at 1 a.m. was intense, think again. Albert showcases how easy it is to get sucked into alternate reality, especially if yours is monotonous. Albert enhances the creep factor by showing how even though he plays through his every day life, his virtual feelings seem to have more depth. The extremely stylish black and white bathtub scene alone is worth the price of admission. This one comes highly recommended for fans of strange, twisted horror flicks. GET IT!!