If you're the kind of person that loves subtly crafted beats, insightful lyrics, and a gentle atmosphere, then most likely you'll hate this album. On the other hand, if you like to wander into vacant houses late at night, take baths in melted cheespuffs, and lather yourself with SPAM while watching the latest episode of Ghost Adventures, then you'll probably love Salem's latest album-"King Night."
"King Night" is about the album you would expect out of a genre called "Witch House". Listening to it is like taking one of those haunted house tours during Halloween where people jump out at you every time you turn a corner, fog machines churn out smoke all night, and a mix tape loops clanking chains and ghost howls in the background. Basically, subtley is eschewed and everything is thrown towards one goal-completely immersing the listener in the atmosphere of the album. For Salem this means lathering on thick, synth filled beats topped with Chopped and Screwed styled vocals-like if DJ Screw were reincarnated as a warlock.
Unfortunately, this overbearing and often tacky approach does more to remove the listener from the atmosphere than anything else. It's like with a B-grade horror movie where everything is so overdone that you can't help but rolling your eyes a little. Now, some of those B-grade horror movies do end up filling a sort of niche, but this isn't the case with "King Night". Maybe you could argue that there is a bit of that B-grade, made-in-grandma's-basement-charm to it, but for me it just ends being to dull and boring to ever achieve that. I mean in the end, a lot of the track just aren't interesting enough to make up for their shortcomings.
Being cheesy and creative is fun. Being cheesy and dull is not.
"Hound" is the track, for me, that epitomizes why the album fails as a whole. It starts pretty straightforwardly with a simple sci-fi synth melody and a Chopped N' Scewed drum beat, but 15 seconds into the track this timbale sounding drum loop comes in-high pitched, flat and thin. It's like if you were walking through that haunted house, when all of a sudden out of the fog machine smoke comes a gay pirate-the two just don't go together. So instead of establishing any sort of atmosphere, even an enjoyably B-grade one, Salem ends up shooting themselves in the foot.
There are some high moments on the album. To me, "Redlights" and "Traxx" both succeed in establishing a pretty unique atmosphere, envoking something similiar to the album's cover. But the production ultimately holds it back from becoming anything special. Really, it just sounds too BAD. Like not just cheesy, but actually bad-the drums, the mixing, the bass-all of it. If some time were spent giving some real depth to the beats, then there might be some real potential there.
I think as a genre "Witch House" has places it can go. It's appeal even makes sense to me-I mean, I enjoy a good B-grade horror film. But "King Night" is not the best best representation of what the genre can become. Instead, it ends up showing how, if the genre wants to succeed, it's going to be very challenging to find the right balance between being tiresomely tacky and endearingly cheesy, if that's what you want to call it.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Melodic death metal is generally not loved by your devoted fan of metal. Sure, bands like In Flames and Arch Enemy have got some pretty noticeable popularity, but most diehard metal fans hate them. Even some of the more respected melodeath acts like At the Gates, Carcass (Heartwork anyway), Dark Tranquillity and Edge of Sanity get their fair share of dislike. I’m a fan of melodic death metal when it’s done right. It can’t be too cheesy or too akin to it’s power metal influences or it gets hard to listen to. It also can’t be too alike those aforementioned bands because melodic death metal, even at it’s best, still doesn’t have a whole lot of variation.
While I’m on the topic of bands sounding too much like other melodic death metal bands, lets talk about the new album by Finnish melodeath band Omnium Gatherum. I thought to myself about how a Finnish bands of this genre was bound to sound like Kalmah or Children of Bodom and I dreaded trying this album out. Thankfully, it wasn’t a clone of one of those bands, but it does draw a lot of similarity to another Finnish band, Insomnium. Actually, the feeling of familiarity had me checking and double checking because I was absolutely certain this had to be a side project of Insomnium.
Insomnium is pretty awesome, though. Sure, there is a hell of a lot of cheese to it, but it’s still pretty badass. Which would mean that Omnium Gatherum would be pretty awesome, right? Well, yes and no. There is a nice feel to this album of seriousness but not exactly cheesiness. It’s melodic in nature, but for the most part it is progressive in feel, opting for peaceful slow sections and taking it’s sweet time. There is also a kind of nice variation to the music, too. Well, at least most of the songs start out different. “Nova Flame”, for example, feels like an attempt at being groovier. “An Infinite Mind” on the other hand sounds like it’s stealing part of it’s body from a Canvas Solaris or something of that ilk.
Again, as good as it is from a song to song basis, New World Shadows isn’t an album that stacks up as an album. Yes, the variation is there to a degree, but it isn’t common or thorough enough to make much of a difference when listening to this album in it’s entirety. Yeah, the music is pretty awesome but you after a while it just feels like it’s been done before, and when you go through that for almost an hour, it can get tiresome. If you are a die hard melodic death metal fan, I think you’d like this album. If you aren’t, I wouldn’t recommend it to you. Listen to Above the Weeping World by Insomnium instead.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Yeah, I thought it was pretty obvious that a band with a name like Owen Hart wouldn't be that good either. I saw that these guys had a sound similar to Converge, though, and curiosity got the better of me. Plus, I gotta say, the band name is actually pretty hilarious. Still, though, not even the hilarity of the name can save this album from mediocrity. I mean, good on these guys for giving it a go, but eh, I can't say I particularly liked the album one bit.
Much of the songs contained on the album are based on the hardcore genre, but display a strong dose of death metal influence. Perhaps this is what makes much of the album sound really samey. A lot of the time I don't view it as a bad thing, but for some reason I just couldn't wait for this particular album to finish. There's no denying that there is furiosity, anger and intensity throughout the entire length of the album, but it kinda doesn't really evoke much of a feeling from the listener, which I feel is important. I'm not trying to say some retarded shit like "This music has no feeling, maaaaan, listen to the blues", I'm just saying that it just made me feel nothing at all; just couldn't get into it.
If you're a fan of death metal, you'll definitely appreciate some of the neat riffage that's on offer, but I don't think it will be enough to lure in even the most die hard of metal fans. Or perhaps it would, seeing as those cocksuckers usually just dribble and go "Nurrrrrrgh, metal", every single second of the day. The production isn't too bad, either, but in saying that, it's almost a little too bland; not one thing stands out, and it just feels like a waste of time trying to digest, as pretentious as that sounds. I mean, I can only really compare this to a plate full of peas. Sure, there are a few nutrients and fibre - staple ingredients for healthy living, but can you really be fucked to feast upon that shit with a fork? Fuck no, you opt for something better and eat something that you'll enjoy. Gotta say, though, the vocalist on this album is pretty awesome, swtiching between death grunts and hardcore screeches with relative ease. Probably the only interesting aspect about an otherwise boring album. Oh wait, there's a track called "Fuck Morrisey, Fuck The Smiths, Fuck The Cure", I appreciated that album title a lot, 'cause really, FUCK them.
It might be worth checking out maybe once, at the very most, but don't go thinking that you'll be listening to this in your head everywhere you go, because it's simply a very forgettable experience. Then again, who knows? You might just enjoy this. You can probably just fuck off and die, though.
Monday, February 28, 2011
I don't even like mentioning this as a collaboration. Where the hell is Merzbow on this thing? Either way, looking at this as a release, it's pretty much what you'd expect from Boris. The Japanese drone/noise rockers sound much more subdued on this release with Merzbow (which was recorded around the time Merzbuddha came out, coincidence?) The newest versions of songs from Akuma No Uta are more chilled out and delicate compared to their past incarnations.