The November Shortlist is finally up, but I’ll be taking a few days off due to the business of the holidays and some current issues in my daily life. I’ll still be working on a few things here and there, but I need a couple of days to deal with these issues. I will still be listening to all of your records, so keep sending them in. Remember that December will be extremely furious in an effort to completely review all of my backlog and even the present lists before the end of the year. That’s my goal and I’m sticking to my guns. The reviews there will be a bit shorter than some of these however and I’ll admit that I went a little overboard with some of these “short” reviews. Be sure to check them out!
Oraculum – Sorcery Of The Damned (2014 SPOTLIGHT) – This three piece Chilean black death act do not fuck around and this little EP proves it. With a raw and foggy production that showcases some rather threatening melodies in the vein of Dissection (Primeval Flame 6:35) and a short section of doom and memorable fear in the vein of “Passage I 2:07” I really can’t wait to see what’s next for these guys. I really think that “Endarkenment 8:01” shows their true potential however, as they really seem to let loose and fire off a slew of solos and brackish drumming efforts which allow the horror-inspired riffscapes to come off even more noteworthy. Once again, these guys do not fuck around and I think we’re going to be hearing more great things from them soon. This disc is just as dark and fucking evil as you’d expect to sound and it’ll be great to drown out the coming wave of Holiday themed carols that will no doubt be playing (are already playing at my place of employment) for much longer than they need to be.
(4 Tracks, 21:00)
Cropsy Maniac – Shear Terror (2014) – If you have ever wondered what kind of music Jason Voorhees might listen to (which has honestly been one of my biggest inquiries in life) then this short album of murder and mutilation might be just up your alley. I especially like the cover (which has me a bit more interested than the bare-bones approach to death grind on the disc) as it displays some sort of cloaked figure with a pair of giant shears (ala Scissorman from Clock Tower) attacking a bunch of young teenagers at summer camp. A severed head rises to meet the listener, who will no doubt find the same amount of carnage unleashed by the mix of groove, speedy thrash and brutal death metal that seems to comprise the album. Its vocal element might be its strongest however, with one vocal style sounding like it’s coming from Toxie and the other from a sort of demon beast. Hell, for all I know; the guy on the front cover is on the mic. But that would be fucking awesome. The disc completes with a Hemorrhage cover of “Dawn In The Rotting Paradise 2:12” which seems to mix punk and death metal together in an awkwardly interesting way. Definitely worth checking out if you like death grind and horror in the fashion that these guys seem to. There’s actually some promise to be had in parts of the disc, but so far I think that Hemorrhage cover is the best cut here.
(5 Tracks, 9:00)
Woemit Angel – Holy Goatse (2014) – This three-piece considers their sound a mix of black metal and sadomasochistic punk, which is what this twenty-five minute release seems to display. The first track on the disc “Serpens Cauda 4:07” is the longest cut and it seems to display the act as solid black metal, but then you’ll get into the rest of the disc which is composed of blast beasts and tremolos as well as punk riffs as well as the kind of drumming that you would expect from traditional punk rock. The frontman has the kind of scowl that might make locals think he needs a lozenge, but the guitarist does manage to pull off a solo or two on the disc when there’s enough time in the piece for them. The best cuts here are “Summoning The Spirits Of Agony (Through Self-Fatality) 3:19”, “The Witchhammer 2:47” and the title track (3:03) which seem to show the band mixing punk and black metal together quite well. It’s a promising little act, which seems to have just as much appeal for black metal fans as it would to punks. But I don’t think that people who are elitist about either of these two genres would find much enjoyment in it though, as the group constantly flips between the two styles.
(9 Tracks, 25:00)
Corpse Garden – Suspended Over The Abyss (Single 2014) – The first single from these progressive death metallers seems quite promising. The beginning of the tracks begins with a razor sharp vocal approach that builds into an all-out blast of gravel and drums. A few unconventional riffs are utilized in between the chaos, letting some progressive ideas flow into the mix. As the track rolls into its second portion, some progressive era Death influences are noted as well as early Cynic. A smooth guitar solo comes into play to decorate what made such a tremendous transformation in little more than a few seconds… and it’s a performance like this, that’s going to make me remember them most. As the piece nears its end, there’s a return to the raspy approach, as a couple of growls ensue and the whole things fades into what seems a ghastly bit of noise. Gentlemen, I like what I’ve heard and I’m thirsty for more. Definitely give this piece a listen as I really think there’s something here. This is the definition of a good song, bar none.
(1 Track, 4:27)
Third Ion – Capital Spill (Single 2014) – Another single approaches from a more modern sounding and definitely melodic act in Third Ion. Though djent is in employ, I definitely like some of the melodies here and the interesting approach to technical/progressive meta that has been taken here. The frontman seems like he’d be right at home in the nineties singing for a popular rock act of that era, but that just shows how marketable the man’s voice is. There’s a little bit of Nu-Metal and hard rock to this, and I can’t say that it’s a bad idea. It just makes the progressive approach that these guys utilize sound more in the vein of alternative or modern rock. They really begin to do some experimenting in the second part of the song, which seems a little Opeth in nature and a Tool as well. There’s no doubt that both bands may have played a role in Third Ion’s forming and this single definitely sets them up for greatness. I think it’s prog rock for the radio, which is not a bad thing – as it’s bound to be better than 90% of the shit that most of us hear on our way to and from work. Definitely give it a listen; it’s a really solid track.
(1 Track, 5:16)
Seneron – Parasites And Poets (2014) – Ireland’s Seneron are finally back with their first full-length album. It’s not a very long release (or it wouldn’t be reviewed in this list) but it is most certainly potent. Each of these songs feature a display of hard-driving riffs, fronted by a radio-friendly vocal approach that could take American radio by storm on the strength of virtually any song on this release. These Irishmen are doing alternative/hard rock music with just as high of a caliber as their American counterparts and I hope to see them release even more music in the future. They’re still at it and prove that they’ve got the proper skill and talent. The riff melodies on the album aren’t quite so simplistic and there are even a couple nice guitar solos to go with the catchy choruses. This is the kind of album that gets stuck in your head and that’s just what a great stack of people want these days. Hopefully those same people will go out there and buy a stack of these records as well. These guys have what it takes to matter and they deserve the support. Parasites And Poets did not disappoint, just as I expected.
(8 Tracks, 28:00)
Butcher Babies – Uncovered (2014) – Well, you should already know about these gals… and by that I’m not referring to the prominent displays of female breast ala Wendy O’ Williams that you see emblazoned about the internet and various metal and rock metal magazines. No, I’m referring to the two crazy frontwomen of the band, Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd who bare it all, especially on this covers EP. Several artists are featured here, including Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away 3:16” which is probably my favorite cover on the release. Though much of the disc sounds like Otep in their early years, this one actually covers the spirit of the original. Another interesting cover is The Osmonds “Crazy Horses 2:55” which Donny Osmond actually listened to himself. Yeah, he actually sat down and listened to it. So commend the man for that. Musically the record seems to have some interesting moments, but the listen as a whole is not for me and “Pussy Whipped 2:32” seems to come off a little speedy in the lyrics, which just kills it for me. Unfortunately, the cover of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” that got the band known is nowhere to be found on this disc. On another note, they have finally decided to ditch the nipple tape in favor of a further evolved design and for that I’m grateful. Again, it’s not really my kind of thing but I’m sure there will be some angst-ridden youth who’ll find something in it. Butcher Babies music is obviously not for my generation, so it doesn’t speak to me the way that it might speak to someone of the current generation. I understand that and I’ll score accordingly.
(5 Tracks, 13:00)
Prayed And Betrayed – The Abundance Of A Sickened Mind (2014) – The little girl with a halo of crows swarming above her and a severed wolf’s head in her lap might work well enough to sell any album, but clearly Prayed And Betrayed are not the “death metal” band that they’re marketed to be. There are definite moments of rough metalcore and some tremolos amongst the normal core fare, but not one sign of traditional death metal – maybe melodic death sections here and there, but that’s putting it nicely. They do manage to pull off a few nice solos, which is more than you’d expect for a band of this nature. There’s a healthy drumming effort on the disc and some hints at the music of the grave as I’ve described, but it’s much more along the lines of melodic deathcore than anything else. The guitarist is also doing a hell of a job most of the time, making for an effort that doesn’t seem half-hearted and comes off pretty fucking memorable all things considered. There are no clean vocal iterations or even a sense of whine from the whole of this EP. It very much seems like a modern approach at combining core melodies along with some semblance of melodic death metal, which rounds out to a punchy version of melodic deathcore. It fares much better than other discs I’ve heard by similar acts though and I think it’s actually worth checking out if you’d be open to a little more deathcore in your life… especially the disc’s closing and title cut (4:51) which seems to drive the effort far away from death metal and right into melodic death/groove. So it’s very hard to place them to be honest and I think that’s what I like so much about the record.
(3 Tracks, 11:00)
Preemptive Strike 0.1 – Pierce Their Husk 7″ (2014) – As part of a new label called Sonic Hell Records (dealing with dark ambient, ritual, industrial and dark electronic albums) this 7″ release from dark electronic veterans Preemptive Strike 0.1 (dark electronic fans should be well aware of them, they have had four albums to their credit and some of those were released on electronic/industrial/goth heavyweight Metropolis Records) contains several compilations from members of the black metal scene, to create the sort of electronic black metal release that even I myself have given a shot a very long time ago in a project called Ebon Etheric (Don’t listen to that stuff – It’s terrible, but some people like it) but they’ve done it much better than my little tinkerings. At any rate, the first piece features Niklas Kvarforth of Shining on vocals, which seems to be a dream for me as I’ve always wanted to hear an actual black metal vocalist do this (as opposed to Grendel, even though I really like his older material) even though it’s about fighting giant bugs, which is hopefully a reality that I never have to face in my lifetime. Because bugs should never get that fucking big. The first version of the title cut (4:21) is definitely the norm for this style of dark electronic music, but the Skiltron NV101 (members of black metal acts Enshadowed and Vulturine) remix (4:36) is much better and it’s definitely my favorite track on the album. Using actual guitar sections and even some saxophone, this really seems to be the definitive version of the track. “Interstellar Threat 5:04” also seems to come off rather well, with its fierce guitars and scowling vocals courtesy of Norwegian metallers V28. This track absolutely slaughters, mixing both elements together much better than I would have expected. These Greeks definitely know what they’re doing and this record proves it. Nyne (live guitars for SepticFlesh) changes the format of the song even more as it pounds in some sections and fills with beeps and bloops in others. The lead melodies are also quite memorable, as are Nyne’s vocals which make for another great track on what is shaping up to be a really stellar album if you love electronic black metal as much as me. “The New Era Of Immortality 3:58” features Lyfthrasyr (who you may remember getting a spotlight back on the old blog) alongside Preemptive Strike 0.1 and it definitely makes its presence known. Both bands are known for their use of electronics, so the track came off just as one might expect and shows off the best qualities of both bands, albeit with a more electronic fare than Lyfthasyr’s normal material. “Insects Intrude/The War Against The Bugs 2:55” was remixed by industrial metal legends Vigilante and it comes off rather strong, but I wished there was a bit more to chew on in that respect. The final track here is “Interstellar Threat 4:29” which still features V28 but has been remixed for the club scene by Nano Infect and Degenerated Sequences. It turns the track into pretty much standard-fare for the genre and give it a dance quality that you wouldn’t expect and that some black metal fans will not be into that much at all. But you’ve got to be a brave little kvltist to get into something like this to begin with. It’s definitely a massive undertaking with hits and misses, but comes off ultimately potent and quite memorable in the end. Just another reminder that bugs should never get that fucking big and hopefully these gentlemen will be on the frontlines if they ever happen to do so. Rest assured, I’ll be cheering on Mr. Kvarforth from the comfort of my (undamaged by giant space bugs as of yet) own home.
(7 Tracks, 29:00)
Recreant – Still Burn (2014) – Recreant craft a sort of crust/sludge thing with progression and melody. It reminds me a little of Graves At Sea, but I like Graves At Sea better. Well, hold on a second… is that a violin I hear? Perhaps there’s more to this band than meets the eye. That is certainly a rather odd place to hear a violin and blast beats in the same section. So I’ll take my remark back, as I definitely think there’s something of note here and it’s definitely just as entertaining as Graves At Sea. The performance seems to deal with mainly a lot of angry shouting amidst the oddly tuned riff melodies, violin and fast-paced drumming but in a live setting this could prove to be very interesting. Additionally, there’s a little number called “Silent Plague, Secret Trauma 5:53” which seems to recall a little bit of Isis in their more melancholic state and adds the extra element of violins and melodic keys to create an atmosphere that almost seems out of place for the onslaught that continues. Recreant are a band with so many bells and whistles and ideas that it sounds like they’re all overlapping each other at once, which makes something that is dare I say it… original. Give this record a chance if you think that you’re man (or woman) enough for the journey. It’s far different than you might expect and I’m really curious as to how they’ll pull something as multi-faceted and peculiar as this onstage. It’ll be quite a sight though, of that I can assure you.
(9 Tracks, 29:00)
Subservience – Upheaval (2014) – If you’re looking for groove laden death metal with a fierce vocal delivery and riffs chunkier than Campbell’s Chunky Soup, then I think you’re going to find something in Subservience. Sometimes the frontman even attempts what appears to be a rapped form of growl much like the frontman in Archspire, but I’ll allow it as it adds to the punch. The riffs aren’t necessarily amazing and the drumming isn’t incredible, but when you put it all together it seems to offer up a solid performance that hits like a sledge and crushes like a steamroller. The most prominent part of Subservience is in the vocals, which are mainly what kept me hooked to the album in the first place. It’s a meat and potatoes performance that could use a little more pizzazz in some areas, but I’m sure there will be many who don’t mind one bit. Check it out if you like really chunky stuff.
(4 Tracks, 19:00)
Vomit Fist – Forgive But Avenge EP (2014) – This EP has one of the most interesting covers I’ve seen in a while. Soldiers appear to be battling what look like the mermen from Castlevania, and these things seem to be winning. They’re swallowing some of the soldiers as others are tearing off their limbs and causing all sorts of mayhem. Needless to say, this has become my new Desktop Wallpaper. As for the band, they have a really unique and somewhat comical approach to their progressive punk grindcore stuff. “Frogmen 1:24” for example declares one to “go take a shower” while “Story 1:27” seems to tell a tale about some ancient race who treated their children like shit, apparently. I really don’t know how else to say it, Vomit Fist is one of those weird little bands that mixes a lot of little things into a bowl and records the final result. But it’s exciting, because you never know exactly what you’re going to hear, like the technical freak out of “A Public Execution 1:38” or the clean vocals that come into “In Your Skin/Born 1:12.” Then when I get into the chug of “The Sacred Slut 1:04” It almost sounds like a completely different band altogether. I really don’t know how to classify this shit because it does everything from Celtic Frost to Dillinger Escape Plan and beyond, which has me completely puzzled. “Sodom 1:58” has a lot of black metal influence, while “Broken 1:52” sounds like stoner doom/death. What the hell kind of band is this exactly? I’m just as confused by the music as I am by the artwork and the title that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Vomit Fist want to simply create a song for every sub-genre in the halls of metal and they don’t seem to care who they offend either. It’s difficult to tell whether or not these guys are even serious. In the image, they look like some kind of occult black metal act, but um… they’re not. Instead, they seem to be confused and I seem to like it. If you want to hear the sounds of utter confusion done right, then definitely give this album a spin. I’m really curious to hear what these guys will do next, especially after such a mind-boggling release such as this!
(13 Tracks, 19:00)
Party Cannon – Partied In Half EP (2014) – Death metallers Party Cannon seem to have one of the most unique severed corpse images that I’ve ever seen in death metal emblazoned on their front cover. It’s made to look like a classic severed body image, except that all the blood and guts have been replaces with confetti. But then if that’s true, then are all those anatomy books wrong? Holy shit, so I’m actually filled with confetti and candy, just like a fucking piñata. Well, if that’s the case, then I’m never going to hurt a piñata ever again. But as far as the album is concerned, you’ve got a truckload of gravel to back the chunky riffs (these guys might even be chunkier than Subservience) and thundering drums along with the use of a raspy vocal, which is kind of commonplace for these records. The music as a whole sounds like technical brutal death metal, because that’s what it is. It isn’t so technical that you’ll become either enamored or turned away from it (depending on your idea of technicality) but there are a few odd time signatures and awkward progressive moments among the onslaught that you’ll take notice (or maybe you won’t.) It’s a decent enough record, but there’s very little deviation between songs and it all just sort of sounds the same despite what the band manage to do. It’s a bit brainless, but it’s definitely fun. For a band with a name like Party Cannon though, I wasn’t expecting Necrophagist. My favorite cut on the release is the solo packed closer “Battle Of The Spidermen! 6:06” which manages to knock it right out of the park and ends the album on an odd acoustic note. There’s definitely some intrigue here, but I’m not sure how much I’d recommend it. Though I guess if you really like brutality and technicality, you’ll give it a shot. These guys aren’t well known, so give them and their unique party favor approach to death metal some support.
(6 Tracks, 29:00)
Jess And The Ancient Ones – Castaneda 10″ (2014) – Jess And The Ancient Ones are back with another slice of occult rock and… surf. Yes, this record totally sounds like it should have been called Surfin’ With Satan and it makes me want to ride a wave on the seas of hell. The title cut (5:07) actually sounds rather classic, sort of like a retro-throwback approach that you can tell they were going for and it makes me really want to hang-ten with Beelzebub. But the frontwoman really dishes it out as you’d expect and she doesn’t disappoint with such a pleasant and memorable vocal approach. I’m not normally a big fan of Jess And The Ancient Ones, but this material really gelled with me. “As To Be With Him 6:44″ continued to trippy vibe, as the vocal display is still just as breathtaking as ever. These guys definitely play an old style of music, but it’s the kind of classic that you would not want to break. There’s just nothing out there like this anymore. Back in the days when this used to be pop music, we lived in a much better, more open age. Compared to today’s pop music, this may as well have come straight from the mouth of the metatron. It’s a clarion call to what rock music used to sound like and a sign that the 60’s are so far behind us. Fortunately, there’s just enough of that classic age to be found on this little 10” vinyl and I’m sure that you’ll find something great in it.
(2 Tracks, 11:00)
Nuclear Perversion – Desolation Rituals Tape (2014) – Nuclear Perversion are a black metal act with obvious elements of death and thrash metal, but are most notable for the fuzz that they emanate and the fierceness of the drums, along with an extremely memorable vocal approach. Sometimes these vocals get a little weird, but there’s no doubting the severity of the performance. I’ve heard “Satan!” being hollered a few dozen times throughout the release, as various chugs and blasts ensue throughout the devastating course that this album treads as it hammers on for about twenty-five minutes. But unfortunately, too much time is used on the nearly five minute introduction track (4:23) and outro (3:52) and this time could have been spent on another thrash heavy dose of black metal and blasphemy. The end result is a solid tape that delivers from beginning to end, as long as you skip both the intro and outro, which leaves you with about seventeen minutes of total play. Hopefully the next release from Nuclear Perversion will feature more music and less of this unnecessary filler. Even so, I still recommend that you check it out because it did deliver with enough Satanic might and venom to turn your frown upside down.
(8 Tracks, 25:00)
Funerals – Human Ruin (2014) – Funerals play a sort of dark post metal and sludge mixture, heavily influenced by Satanism with some technical toying. There’s only three songs on this disc, but the title cut (3:00) soars high above everything. It starts out almost as a sort of prayer to the father of sin, but then when the track heats up, the frontman fucking explodes into a memorable rage of passion. He’s got a bit of a rasp that really seems to work well with the dirty crusty stuff that these guys slop around in, but I’d have it no other way. There’s almost a little bit of modernization to the mixture – maybe a little core influence – but nothing that I’d consider worth passing due to simple influence. Sometimes a band is truly made by its frontman and with Funerals that seems to be the case. The drummer and guitarists are both laying down layers of thick gunk as doom even rises to the occasion for a few moments on the closer “Sick Of Sun 4:50.” Whatever deep demonic praises these guys are up to, well… I want to hear more of it. This is like EyeHateGod gone to much darker pastures and I there’s definitely a lot of fucking promise here. This is a band that I’d really like to see live.
(3 Tracks, 11:00)
Pretty Little Flower – Ultimate Whirlwind Of Incineration (2014) – With a name like Pretty Little Flower, I was almost certain that blaring brutal death metal was about to bellow out from my speakers and that’s exactly what happened. But while that’s all well and good and comical, are they actually any good? Well, yeah. There’s definitely some merit on the disc, especially for blast aficionados who want a dump truck full of coarse gravel to be poured over them. I can’t really hear the guitars themselves very well, but they manage to add a slight bit of noise that sort of makes this sound like more than a bout between the frontman and the drummer. As you might expect, there are also slights rasps or scowls featured on the disc in addition to the drums and whatever little bits of guitar you’ll hear. The riffs are heard quite well when the drums are silent, but that’s basically never; so just get used to hearing the drums and the vocals for the majority of this rather short disc. An Assuck cover of “Page By Page 1:14” follows at the end of the album, but other than that; there isn’t really too much on this record to separate one song from another. It’ll give you a beating, but that’s all it will do. But if you’re looking to get your face smashed in by an album, then this one will definitely do it. On the strength of the vocals and the drumming alone, it’s a relatively solid effort – but I wish that I could hear the guitars on the disc a little more. Of course, that is my complaint with a lot of bands of this type. At least 7.H Target got it right. But the drumming here is very close to that caliber, I think. So there’s one reason for you to pick this devastating little flower.
(14 Tracks, 22:00)
Second To Sun – Thee Fairy Tales (2014) – Second To Sun is an instrumental band who utilize a lot of weirdness in their compositions. There are some nice guitar passages that creep into the djent-laden piece “The Trapper 4:02” along with some piano and slams and whatever the hell that kind of weird flute playing is. But I normally don’t care much for djent based metal. “Meramaa 3:01” mixes djent with what reminds me a little of Rare’s Donkey Kong Country soundtrack, which then throws in a little tiny bit of djent as it sounds piratey and mysterious at the same time with the band’s use of well… it went directly into electronics from harp playing. So that should tell you everything. The final track here is “Barmaley 3:59” which observes darker atmospheres as it encases black metal and what later sounds like a sort of siren… I’m serious folks; I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Then the whole thing ends out on light acoustic… I mean dark acoustic. If you’re truly an adventurer and can battle your way through great beasts and monsters and monsters of men, then there might just be something for you here. But as for me, I always get killed by the minotaur. Damn that axe!
(3 Tracks, 11:00)
Internal Rot – Mental Hygiene (2014) – Internal Rot are just fucking insane. Whatever the hell Pretty Little Flower did, these guys multiplied it by fifty. But what’s different about these guys, is that even when the drums are pounding – I mean blasting new life into the goddamned walls – I can still discern the guitars. The frontman is an absolute nutcase in all of his growls and scowls and screams and gurgles, with the guitarist playing all sorts of death and doom and punk riffs, and no fucks are given during these changes. Take “Long Pig 1:16” for example. Jesus, the fucking blasts in that song… I just can’t explain the rage accurately enough; you’ll have to hear the insanity for yourself. If you’ve ever been pissed off for any reason whatsoever, play this fucking album and destroy your table. Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea – but it would definitely be wise to beat the hell out of a… punching bag while you’re listening to this record. (Note: The Grim Tower does not advocate violence towards punching bags of any shape and size.) Some of the songs are only a few seconds long, while others go on for a little over a minute, the longest cut being that of the album’s closer, “Riddled With Rage 6:01.” It’s actually a combination of two songs, but both seem to deliver an absolute beating and make their presence truly known. Just like this whole fucking album. It’s absolute fucking insanity in less than thirty minutes, which is great if you want a power lunch, or should I say a pile driver lunch, a real fucking slobber knocker of a lunch. This is what grown men listen to while they eat… and they eat bricks and nails and fucking concrete blocks. Because that’s what real men eat. Food? How about a whole pack of brad nails. That’s food.
(20 Tracks, 29:00)
Gravitation – Gravitation EP (2014) – Somehow I got an album from a Japanese metalcore band, but I’m a huge fan of Japanese music and I’ll allow it. I think the real difference between this and metalcore from any other country is the fact the J-rock influence pops up in the vocals, which I have to say I actually like much more than typical rock. I think the fascination that I have with this kind of music is in the fact that it has its own style, no matter how much it copies American metalcore. There are female backing vocals in the male clean chorus, yet it still manages to come off with the normal set of hardcore riffs and breakdowns. Not to mention a guitar solo, because I think the Japanese are the only culture out there who have recognized the importance of the guitar in all forms of music, like pop for example. It might be hard for some of us to imagine a song from Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj with a guitar solo, and I mean a full on solo – not something you hear on the radio – but that’s not uncommon for J-Pop. The song can be as happy or depressing as hell and still manage to contain a strong guitar solo. A few pop stars have tried this, like a live recording of Rhianna’s “Diamonds” which contained an honest to God legitimate guitar solo, but you’re never going to hear that on the original track, because for some odd reason American pop music shuns guitars. Getting back to Gravitation, the album’s title cut (3:51) doesn’t even resemble core as with the first track, which is yet another reason I like Japanese music so much. It sounds kind of like J-Rock with some melodic death metal riffs. But that’s cool, because not every song has to sound like it came from the same genre. “Not Found 4:08” tries for the party rock style, but it adds some heavier sections that you might not find in party punk style song. “Reflection 3:11” adds a little bit of rapping to the mix, along with some harsh vocals but it manages to come off as a rather interesting core song. The first time I heard rapped vocals in J-Rock was on the Mega Man X6 opening (2006) and I’ve always loved them ever since. The last track here is “Vortex 3:13” which really pounds down and delivers a strong last jolt of energy right before the disc ends. Gravitation prove that they’re definitely one of the best modern metal acts out there in Japan and they’re definitely unlike anything else out there in the rest of the world. I’ve been a fan of Japanese music for years and have wanted to do a special column highlight the very best of it, but have not been able to find the time to do so. Maybe one of these days I will. Until then, definitely check out this disc if you’re as adventurous as you should be for nearly any Japanese act. Sometimes this kind of music sounds like it wasn’t even created on Earth and I guess that’s another part of my appeal to the genre.
(5 Tracks, 18:00)