Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kingsblood's A King Reborn EP now due May 17, 2012. New Track, "A Warriors Past," Previewed

Kingsblood's long-awaited EP, A King Reborn, was originally due for release on April 15, coinciding with their show with Skeletonwitch. Pushed back just a bit due to unforeseen delays, the new date, May 17, coincides with an opening slot with Watain at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. While I won't be able to make that show, their EP is one I have been anticipating ever since seeing them open the Jungle Rot/Immolation gig in 2011.

Kingsblood were determined, however, not to let their fans go away empty-handed on 4/15 and had a two-song pre-press demo preview of A King Reborn available at their most recent appearance. Comprised of "A Warriors Past" and "The Creature from the Black Forest," it is absolutely full of promise and sets my hopes even higher for the full EP. The band has also made both tracks available on Soundcloud ("The Creature from the Black Forest" hit the blog on February 23rd). Dig "A Warriors Past" below (and, while you're waiting for A King Reborn, be sure to follow the band on Facebook).


Monday, April 23, 2012

Demonocracy - Job for a Cowboy - 2012

Good things come in small packages, I guess. Job for a Cowboy's Gloom EP was one of my Top Ten favorites from 2011 and some of these best things I've heard since - from Dismemberment's The Condemned and Denied Salvation to Dalis Car - have all been of the Extended Play variety. Demonocracy, Job for a Cowboy's Gloom follow-up, and their third full-length overall, is certainly not too much of a good thing. It's a massive, mediocre, muddled heap of a record that slouches in, settles down and overstays its welcome.

I've given Demonocracy a few spins, figuring I must have been the one who was off during any given listen, and hoped that a fresh perspective, a different time of day, even a different stereo may change the experience. No such luck. This morning, then, I grabbed Gloom off the shelf to reassess and compare the two. Gloom is still a fierce, sharp, little record and each of its four tracks are far superior to any of the cold hash served up on Demonocracy, a record with two lonely high points: the opening thirty seconds to "Nourishment through Bloodshed" and the slightly varied album closer, "Tarnished Gluttony." Only those moments (and, frankly, neither are anything particularly special) distinguish themselves from the uninspired slop that makes up the lion's share of this album, by far the worst collection of material ever put to wax by this band who, until Demonocracy, were always improving with each release.

So what went wrong? Songwriting. Proof that tempo and technicality and lots of moving parts don't mean a damn thing without the ability to string together a structure of riffs, hooks and leads in any fashion that inspires the listener in any original way. There is nothing here that hasn't been done better in every way by their contemporaries in The Black Dahlia Murder. It's all flat and forgettable and it's a fight just to actively listen to the record. Job for a Cowboy's revamped lineup showed incredible audible promise on Gloom but, as writing credits are vague on all their records, one cannot help but wonder if the cogs integral to their compositional success left the machine with the departure of Bobby Thompson and Brent Riggs. Easily the biggest disappointment thus far in 2012.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

InGladAloneness - Dalis Car - 2012

The original 1984 effort by Dalis Car, The Waking Hour, was a superb little album that featured textured, electronic backgrounds that somehow communicated an organic quality, not unlike some of Brian Eno's ambient work. Mick Karn's fretless bass shared the spotlight equally with Peter Murphy's vocals and the combination of the two created an atmosphere as fluid and eerie as the best Bauhaus recordings, but entirely different in overall sound.

Following The Waking Hour, Murphy went straight ahead into a more "conventional" solo career, though, ironically, the evolution of his records - leading to a more elemental sound circa aLive Just for Love and, to an extreme degree, Dust - hearkened back to this original recording, rendering it all the more valuable and worthy of another listen for those who may have initially turned away. With Murphy and Karn more or less incommunicado since the 1980s, any follow-up seemed incredibly unlikely if not impossible. Then, following Mick Karn's terminal cancer diagnosis in 2010, he and Murphy miraculously reunited for an encore effort.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skeletonwitch • Dismemberment • Kingsblood • Arise the Titan - April 15, 2012 - Skully's Music Diner, Columbus, Ohio

artwork by Kingsblood axeman,
Jason 'Mcfly' Kincaid

Words will ultimately fail me when attempting to describe the Skeletonwitch concert I experienced last night. But I'll try anyway. I'll start by planting this flag firmly in the ground: the succession of performances by Kingsblood, Dismemberment and Skeletonwitch on April 15, 2012 at Skully's Music Diner in Columbus, Ohio was, hands down, the best show - of any genre - that I have seen in 17 years. And out of personal concert experiences numbering in the triple digits it ranks in my Top Three of all-time (I'll tell you about the other two some other day).

Driving home, I kept conjuring parallels to Game of Thrones for whatever reason. Two sets of brothers: kings and princes, all. A band of Nordic marauders, either guarding the wall or tearing it down, I'm not yet sure. None born into nobility yet each clawing their way through bone, flesh and sinew to ultimately claim dominion. Overly dramatic? Only if you weren't in attendance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Death on the Vine - April 14, 2012 - Bogart's, Cincinnati, Ohio

It was all so good. An embarrassment of riches, really. By the time Cincinnati's mini-death metal festival, Death on the Vine, ended near midnight Saturday night eight bands had played across a solid seven and one-half hours and the first acts were already beginning to feel like memories from long ago.

Death on the Vine brought me back to college haunt Bogart's for the first time in over fifteen years. The place seemed bigger to me now but perhaps I have just become accustomed to smaller venues in recent years. While Bogart's has hosted many, many incredible bands over the years the venue is fairly unremarkable - a large hall with high ceilings and small balcony (which remained closed for this event). An elevated bar and now, apparently, "VIP area" sit in the rear where merchandise is also staged (the variety available from each band for this show was immense). The acoustics have been decent every time I've been there. Staff are unobtrusive and moshing and crowd surfing are the norm. The turnout for Death on the Vine was impressive from the get-go and when I arrived after the published (and, as always, delayed) 3:00 doors time there was already a line down the block.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

De Vermis Mysteriis - High on Fire - 2012

I'm no High on Fire aficionado. I was/am a Sleep fan (though not a fanatic by any means). I've got a few High on Fire records, namely Death is this Communion and Snakes for the Divine, both added to my library within the last year after a friendly reader recommended I check out a few select tracks on iTunes. I am a Lovecraft fan (and probably border on fanatic) and appreciate Robert "Psycho" Bloch's addition of the band's latest album's namesake into the larger Cthulhu pantheon. I dig that High on Fire work Lovecraft into their story and, even as a well-read Lovecraft fan, find De Vermis Mysteriis impenetrable on a lyrical level, even when guided by reviews and articles of those who purport to be able to explain the story of a time-traveling twin to Jesus Christ. Whatever. To borrow another term from Lovecraft, all I care about are the cyclopean riffs. This is rock as juggernaut. It's as massive and momentous as the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth. It's pretty much the shit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Electric Age - Overkill - 2012

I have always taken Overkill for granted. For someone who is less than a devotee, it's pretty easy to do. They were always there, for about as long as I've been buying music, their ubiquitous green logo and bat-winged skull seemingly always available in multiple variations in the "O" section of any record store I visited. I never gave in until I reached the peak of my metal awakening in the 90s and grabbed W.F.O. Liked it, didn't love it, and it's more or less stayed on my shelf for nearly twenty years accompanied only by The Years of Decay which also fell, for me, into the same category. So - Overkill have been underplayed by me but appreciated in the consistent rock-and-grind style of their Motörhead-inspired namesake. With The Electric Age, though, Overkill have moved themselves firmly into the "love it" section of my music collection with what has to be a front-runner for the best records of 2012.