It’s been twenty-two years since Liquid Tension Experiment, the Progressive Metal supergroup formed by Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, The Winery Dogs) John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson), released a record after their critically acclaimed album Liquid Tension 2 (Magna Carta). In this new album entitled LT3 (InsideOut Music) these musicians prove once again why they are part of the biggest bands in the genre and why they are considered to be among the best in their respective instruments and their craft.
I want to open this review by saying that the talent and obvious skills of all the musicians involved in this record is undeniable, these are musicians that have been proving over and over again why they are recognized as some of the top artists in their genre and why they have the following they have. Having said that, this solo album by John Petrucci (Dream Theater) was not for me. And though we can argue that this kind of album is for a specific sector in the Progressive Metal realm, I truly cannot digest music that is made to show off the skills that “x” or “y” musician has in their instrument and that is my perception of Terminal Velocity (Sound Mind Music/The Orchard).
As Technical Death Metal begins its third decade as a subgenre, the stakes for success have never been higher. Legends like Cannibal Corpse, Gorguts, Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Obscura, Dying Fetus, Immolation and more continue to churn out incredible releases every few years and still slay. New bands, buoyed by modern technology, scale new heights of musical proficiency. They write brain-exploding songs all the time. Hell, there are guys and gals on YouTube just shredding all the time on originals, covers, and playthroughs. But the question we have is can anyone write a truly memorable song anymore? Continue reading
Having been in the game since the early 90s, right about when thrash burned itself out and bands attempted to diversify, with predictably awful results (no-one needs an Exodus cover of Elvis Costello in their lives), Dew-Scented have steadfastly refused to sacrifice their intensity and heaviness. However, leaving aside the rather weak gimmick of every album title beginning with the letter ‘I’, they have never done anything to make them stand out from a densely populated crowd. Tenth full-length release Intermination (Metal Blade/Prosthetic) does little to change that.
After a brief melodic intro, the quartet launch into a fifteen song, fifty-three minute blitzkrieg of jacked-up thrash riffs that chug and shred with the best of them, thunderous drum beats that keep things tighter than a sealed tin can, and harsh, bellowed vocals that tell of their frustration in a violent world. It’s technically flawless; chock full of massive grooves and ripping guitar lines that just scream “Wacken Circle Piiiiit” and the band don’t miss a beat throughout. Standout tracks include the majestic solo and furious blastbeats of ‘Affect Gravity’, the razor-sharp thrash assault of ‘Means to an End’ and the primal neck-snapping brutality of ‘Power Surge.’ The Repulsion cover at the end (‘Radiation Sickness’) is a suitably feral way to close proceedings.
Unfortunately, there is simply too little variation between songs to justify there being so many of them. Dew-Scented are so far in their comfort zone that they’re on autopilot and have been for some time now. Intermination is one hell of a powerful and aggressive record, but it has little staying power and nothing to make you revisit it a few months down the line. German efficiency may get the job done, but in a totally soulless fashion.
German-based Israeli quartet Shredhead have just released their sophomore album, Death Is Righteous (Mighty Music). Despite the cheesy moniker and gaudy album artwork, the band – Aharon Ragoza (vocals), Yotam Nagor (guitars), Lee Lavy (bass) and Roee Kahana (drums) – are actually a surprisingly tight thrash outfit.
Muscular, groove-laden riffing is the order of the day, and everything on Death Is Righteous brings to mind the likes of Pantera circa ’91-94, Lamb of God, Sylosis and Dolving-era The Haunted. Such hero worship works out well; generally it’s a relentless swirl of shredding, squealing solos, Anselmo-esque screams and pummelling drums.
There’s plenty of good songs too; ‘Devil’s Race’, ‘The Lie’ and ‘Walk with the Dead’ all get the blood pumping with a furious mix of speed, groove and aggression. The likes of ‘Last Words Are Lost’ and ‘Hallucinations’ even stray into death metal territory. Shredhead are clearly a talented band – Nagor’s guitar work is especially impressive at times – and the ferocity rarely lets up and the appearance of Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Suicide Silence and Dark Tranquillity) on mixing/mastering duties give the whole thing a clear but muscular sound.
Unfortunately the consistency isn’t there and the song writing often lets them down. None of the songs are bad, but it’s often a case of once heard, soon forgotten – the title track is fairly non-descript and the album distinctly tails off towards the end.
If you’re after a stop gap until the next Lamb of God release, this should tide you over nicely. For the majority of its 42 minute runtime, Death Is Righteous delivers an enjoyable excuse to head bang. Unfortunately there’s too few standout moments for this to be a memorable or enduring listen, but maybe ones to watch for the future.