Archive for the Music Category

Dimmu Borgir: Eonian – Quite Good!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags , on May 5, 2018 by slateman

I vividly remember 1997 and hearing Dimmu Borgir for the first time. That record remains among my favorite albums ever and the band never matched it in my opinion. I lost a little interest by the time Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropa came out but my interest was renewed with 2003’s Death Cult Armageddon. With only a pair of new-material, studio records since that, Eonian’s arrival didn’t really have me expecting altogether too much. The singles weren’t bad, I thought, but it turns out that in context, they are part of a rather grand presentation.

I’m not going to proclaim this the album of the year. However, my spins leave me wanting more. For whatever genre they’re in, symphonic black metal possibly, they do it well. As the weeks led up to release, the press has spoken of their ventures outside of their comfort zone. Words that leave a long-time fan hesitant. But the album is a rather solid outing and I’m thoroughly enjoying the adventure it takes me on. There are some killer albums on the horizon: At The Gates, and my most-wanted: Skeletonwitch. Though this won’t likely dethrone Kalmah or the potential of some of those aforementioned bands, it could possibly rank in the top-5 come December.

Kalmah Get! Album Of The Year?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags on April 6, 2018 by slateman

The mighty Finns return with album # 8 trying to trump the masterpiece that was Seventh Swamphony. The first singles didn’t win me over, but then again neither did the title track of album #7 and I’m thinking that may be top-20 ever. Really.

So, with the arrival of Palo – is Kalmah a shoe-in for yet another AotY victory? They took 2013, narrowly missed 2010, and won three times in the ’00s. Only fellow Finnish metalers Moonsorrow even mustered three AotY titles – could Kalmah make this their fifth?

Well, hold on now. We’ve got the mighty return of Dimmu Borgir ahead, Amorphis and even an Abbath-less Immortal record looming. However, neither of the two Norwegian bands ever captured an annual crown and Amorphis last flew their blue-and-white 24 years ago with 1994’s AotY Tales From The Thousand Lakes, truly a genre-defining album.

While some stragglers could pose a threat, there’s only one I can currently predict to genuinely battle the swamplords for the title. Yes, At The Gates is back! We’ve been treated to a pair of tracks from their second post-hiatus album: one an average filler song and the other which could vie for the best ATG riff ever written. That thing is a monster and made me salivate for the LP a mere eight seconds into the title track. The album arrives in six short weeks, plenty of time to devour this Kalmah opus.

And speaking of…just being a new Kalmah record is hardly enough to secure top honors for the year. Subsequent listens of those first singles has really gotten me on board, but some of the middle tracks haven’t hooked me yet. It ends well, with catchy grooves and some bloody-fucking-fast blastbeats. However, I’m not fully convinced it’ll lie atop 2018’s heap of music just yet. But come to think of it, the same thing happened with Vintersorg just last year. Let’s check back in a few weeks. They’ll inevitably reclaim the title as my top-played band, but beyond that – who knows. ATG might very well be that goddamn good!!!

It’s Official: Moonsorrow Is The Best Band Ever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags , on November 12, 2017 by slateman

In case you were wondering, the verdict is in: Moonsorrow is the greatest band to ever grace the earth.

If you weren’t wondering, then you either a) knew this to be true or b) are deluded into some nonsense.

After I proclaimed 2011’s Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maasa potentially the best album in a decade and Jumalten Aika the undisputed AotY of 2016, you’d think I’d have gone back through their catalog. You’d imagine I’d relish in their past successes as well! But no…I had yet to do that. The lengthy opuses were difficult to catch my interest. They were hardly passive listening experiences and so I never dedicated enough time to them.

Until now.

For some reason, with ample time on my hands (I guess I’m an author now), I decided to work in reverse. V: Hävitetty contains two half-hour songs. These are not easily digestible or easy to appreciate. However, once that appreciation arrives, it is enriching. The ebb and flow of an album like this spans both the obvious time as well as space. Its highs and lows are matched by shrieks and gentleness. Its grandeur – a word that can be attributed to every piece in this band’s catalog – can be reduced to the simple term: epic. This is massive and triumphant and remarkable. The only downside is that I’ve utilized all the superlative words in the English language before even moving on to the next record.

2005’s Verisäkeet contains four lengthy oeuvres and an outro. Each of those four songs has its own unique identity and since they three of them clock in at 14 minutes (the final at 19), they have enough breathing room to expand and explore. The third track, Pimea may be the album’s best and stands among the band’s greatest works and its outro is hum-worthy for weeks.

Kivenkantaja may be my least favorite LP so far, with very broad strokes, but less uniform vision. It is the only record that I might pick apart and listen to one song more than another. This album houses Raunioilla with the amazing choir voice of Janne Perttilä.

The band’s second LP, Voimasta Ja Kunniasta, was one I started later on. My initial spins were only appreciated at a low level, with the last few songs garnering the most attention. However, very shortly later did that appreciation grow to recognize this as yet another masterpiece by the band. From its folk-inspired intro to the tremendous Sankaritarina, there’s not a bad second on this album, despite being so early in the band’s catalogue. The finale is still a staple of the band’s live shows, and for good reason.

I have yet to really dive into Suden Uni. I’m taking my time with this stuff here. And I can’t forget Tulimyrsky, the behemoth EP that outclocks most band’s full-length efforts. The Metallica cover is unique, yet skippable, and the re-recorded songs are merely interesting takes on very early Moonsorrow songs. The remaining two tracks contain the 30-minute title track which has some of the rawest and fastest parts the band has written. Another epic ending stays with me for hours afterwards and the cover, Back To North lies next to Non Serviam as some of my favorite cover songs ever.

And let’s not forget, on top of this gush-fest of a post, that their last two albums are easily among the best albums of the 2000s, if not beyond. But, if you’re quick to mock my late arrival to the game, I’ll share with you this final point. At 41 years old, I’m living through a renaissance of incredible music. I’ve somehow managed to find the best band EVAR, after being an enormous metal fan for 30 years. And as my playlist is 99% Moonsorrow this past month, it’s the most exciting time I’ve experience in music since discovering bands like Opeth in 1996, or Slayer and Metallica almost a decade prior. And unlike those bands at the time, these Finnish geniuses have an entire catalog of awesomeness to appreciate!

TL;DR – Moonsorrow is the greatest band ever. Just go listen.

Vintersorg: Till Fjälls Del II – A Worthy Sequel?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews with tags on June 30, 2017 by slateman

The way I figure it, Vintersorg has gone through three phases. First, you had the original, folk-inspired, awesome, initial era. This was
followed by the progressive, non-Swedish and in retrospect, rather brief, second phase. I lost a lot of interest at this point. However, 2007’s Solens Rötter was a return to form that was all but perfected in the next releases. Jordpuls was brilliant and Orkan was 2012’s Album of the Year. Naturbål was no slouch, but perhaps more of the same wasn’t quite enough.

And while each release was solid and spectacular, I can see why something needed to change. So when it was announced that album #10 would be titled Till Fjälls: Del II, it piqued my interest greatly. But it also made me wonder. C’mon, how many bands can truly put out a sequel to something as awesome Till Fjälls? Can anything really live up to the first two LPs?

With a few spins under my belt, the answer simply is, “no.” Part II is on par with Naturbål and Jordpuls, but it’s no Orkan and it certainly isn’t in the same league as Vintersorg’s first few releases. Mathematically, it is sound. It is exactly what I would hope for. But it is not as rooted in the folky tradition. It is not nearly as catchy. There’s nothing as hum-worthy as För Kung Och Fosterland or the title track. Actually, Tillbaka Till Källorna is perpetually stuck in my mind these last few days. Additionally, the mix is questionable. Drums are awfully low, particularly bass drums, which is really quite strange.

In fact, the biggest downside of this album is its name. Just giving us the fourth and final entry into the earthly elements series would have been just fine. But that damn Till Fjälls name just gave me a sense of expectation that was almost impossible to live up to. (Edit: But with each subsequent listen, it grows on me.)

A side bonus is that I understand some of the lyrics and song titles now, with a little Swedish vocabulary.

Tons Of Rock: Slayer, Emperor, Awesomeness.

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags , on June 25, 2017 by slateman

My trip north on Friday was amazing and it’s one I will not soon forget. Seeing Emperor play all of Anthems and seeing Slayer for the tenth time…In Norway!? Just amazing. I’ve written up my review replete with some good photos, but I’ve also uploaded a video with some short snippets from the show. Figured I’d share here as this is the most updated section of my site. Enjoy

Nargaroth: Era Of Threnody – Spectacular!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music on June 9, 2017 by slateman

I’ve never listened to this German band, but I’m quite impressed with this album. Barring a pair of so-so rock-inspired cuts, the rest is a gritty, harsh and eclectic mix of black metal, Italian-sounding arrangements, melodic interludes and straight-up awesomeness. Hardly a review, this is just a friendly suggestion to check the album out. It’s got it all and will certainly be among the top albums of the year six months hence.

Upcoming Release Dates

Posted in Blog, Games, Movies, Music, Uncharted on May 25, 2017 by slateman

The usual “for my reference only” posting. Looks to be a promising second half of 2017!

Videogames
Jun 02 – Tekken 7
Jun 20 – Nex Machina
Jul 11 – Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Aug 22 – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Sep 12 – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of Dana
Sep 19 – Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite
Oct 10 – Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War
Nov 14 – Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
Dec ?? – God Of War

Music
May 26 – Alestorm: No Grave But The Sea
Jun 09 – Anathema: The Optimist
Jun 30 – Vintersorg: Till Fjälls Del II
Jul 07 – Blind Guardian: Live Beyond The Spheres
Jul 21 – Wintersun: The Forest Seasons
Aug 11 – The Lurking Fear: Out Of The Voiceless Grave
Aug 25 – The Haunted: Strength In Numbers
Sep 08 – Arch Enemy: Will To Power
Sep 22 – Satyricon: Deep Calleth Upon Deep
??? ?? – Dimmu Borgir: TBA
??? ?? – The Black Dahlia Murder: TBA

Live Shows
Jun 23 – Emperor/Slayer – Norway
Sep 21 – The Haunted/Witchery – Pustervik
Oct 20 – Satyricon – Pustervik
Nov 11 – Soilwork – Brewhouse
Nov 24 – Scorpions – Scandinavium

Television
May 26 – Bloodline (Season 3/Final)
May 30 – House Of Cards (Season 4)
Jul 07 – Castlevania (Netflix)
Jul 16 – Game Of Thrones (Season 7)
Sep ?? – How To Get Away With Murder (Season 4)
Oct 22 – The Walking Dead (Season 8)
Oct 31 – Stranger Things (Season 2)
Nov 27 – Vikings (Season 5)
??? ?? – Taboo (Season 2)
??? ?? – Westworld (Season 2)
??? ?? – The OA (Season 2)

Release Dates: 2017 Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Books, Games, Lists, Movies, Music, Street Fighter, Tolkien, Uncharted on March 3, 2017 by slateman

The usual ‘post so I can check back and remember’ release-date listing! This is for my interests only, really. I should mention it’s been a good start, with a great Kreator record and a solid outing for Overkill. RE7 was a spectacular game as well. However, I’ll be honest, I don’t see 2017 as being a tremendous year. There’s no major music on the horizon and movies??? That’s kind of frustrating. Surely something will be announced at E3, right?

Today: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
07 Mar: The Americans (Season 5)
29 Mar: Proof Set 2017
14 Apr: Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night
16 Apr: The Leftovers (Season 3 – Final Season)
26 May: Bloodline (Season 3)
30 May: House Of Cards (Season 5)
01 Jun: J.R.R. Tolkien – The Tale Of Beren And Lúthien
23 Jun: Emperor/Slayer in Norway
30 Jun: Vintersorg – Till Fjälls Del II
xx Jul: Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
22 Aug: Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy
19 Sep: Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite
31 Oct: Stranger Things
15 Dec: Star Wars: Episode 8 – The Last Jedi

Other Records
–A Perfect Circle
–Arch Enemy
–The Black Dahlia Murder
–Dimmu Borgir
–The Haunted
–Satyricon
–Skeletonwitch?

Other Shows?
–Taboo (Season 2?)
–Westworld (Season 2 – 2018)
–The OA (Season 2 ordered)

Emperor: Anthems In Norway!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags on February 15, 2017 by slateman

A ticket has been secured. I am going to see Emperor reunite to perform one of the best albums ever in its entirety…In Norway! Its only a few hours north of me and I haven’t a clue how I’m actually getting to the place, but who cares? The show will be held in Frederiksten Fortress, a 17th-century fortress which was the site of no fewer than a half-dozen Swedish invasions! Oh, and I suppose it’s worth mentioning that SLAYER will be playing as well. (listens for someone yelling the band name in the distance.) It will be my 10th time seeing them, but let’s be honest: Emperor. Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. I cannot explain this excitement. I hope to get a shirt this time around. :) So psyched!

Mini-Review: Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Blog, Music, Reviews on January 31, 2017 by slateman

Barring People Of The Lie and a brief interest in the band in the late ’90s (I saw them in March of ’96, the night I met Bobby Gustafson and Sid Falck!), I never got into Kreator. However, with buzz about their new album and a little spare time on my hands, I figured why not test out the thirty-year-veterans. Gods Of Violence, the title track, astonished me. It was riffy, catchy and heavy. The harmonies were great and the double bass kicked in right when it needed to! Opting to listen to the whole album, I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole thing is solid! The production isn’t quite what it could be, but beyond that, the album has everything I love about metal. Solos and fills and screams and riffs and clean sections and fast songs…as ineloquent as that comes across, it surmises how thus far (one month), it’s the clear Album of the Year!

With utter certainty that crown shall be bestowed to another, but for now I’m thoroughly enjoying a band I never thought I’d be listening to. Maybe at 20, but not at 40! This is a spectacular record and I’m so happy I decided to check ’em out. Kick-ass!