Review: Deadlock – Bizarro World (2011)

Pop music is all relative. Pop music is considered the shenanigan of the mainstream music world; i.e. a gigantic blunder that few give any real credence to. What many fail to realize though, is that pop music is merely a direct focus on melody and hooks, with few other requirements to fall under it’s guise. Few metalheads will admit that some of the greatest singers and song writers of the last 100 years would fall under the moniker of “pop music,” because it flies in the face of their image of the spirited downtrodden outcasts of the music world. However, the great thing about metal (and perhaps it’s greatest irony), is that despite it’s continuous shunning of mainstream concepts by it’s audience, the musicians continue to be true artists, by adopting new ideas that might not otherwise be a part of the scene. This is what makes metal an ever-growing, progressive movement, and realistically, the longest lasting rock music scene that has never truly seen a downturn. Now, outsteps Germany’s Deadlock, and their latest album Bizarro World which combines Euro pop electronica, Gothenburg/American styled melo death, and the greatest aspect of the album and band, the marvelous pop vocals Sabine Scherer. This album has aggression and overall metal attitude, but make no mistake, this is a pop album at heart, and it’s brilliant.

There will be a segment, as always, that will shun Bizarro World out of sheer reaction, but this is an album that reaches far being the well-worn path of melo-death to achieve such creative, melodic songwriting, that it’s hard to imagine the scene existing before this. There will also be a segment of the population that refuses to acknowledges just how monumental this album is, and that’s fine, after all this is all a matter of taste, right? Well, there’s a part of me that cannot acknowledge how one can ignore the mind blowing capabilities of this band, that are literally throttling themselves so as to allow the sensibilities of the pop music to breathe, and not stifle it into yet another tech death album. Deadlock are a VERY accomplished, tight unit that doesn’t write good music by happenstance, but rather a pre-ordained brilliance, that if executed without a metallic shell, would be amongst the great albums of mainstream music, no doubt.

This, despite not being metal beyond it’s convenient shell, will never be an accepted tradition, until metal fans get over their tragic ignorance of pop music, and that’s fine, because it allows true music fans to bask in it’s greatness without having to trifle with ignorance. If you don’t like Bizarro World, that’s fine, but don’t like it on it’s merits (or lackthereof), not because of it’s style.

MANDATORY OWNAGE

Similar Artists: Delain, Lacuna Coil, The Gathering, Omnium Gatherum, Scar Symmetry

1.     Virus Jones
2.     State Of Decay
3.     Falling Skywards
4.     Earthlings
5.     You Left Me Dead
6.     Brutal Romance
7.     Alienation
8.     Renegade
9.     Htrae
10.     Bizarro World
11.     Paranoia Extravaganza

Tobias Graf     Drums
Sebastian Reichl     Guitars, Keyboards
Johannes Prem     Vocals
Gert Rymen     Guitars
Sabine Scherer     Vocals
John Gahlert     Bass

Lifeforce Records

http://www.myspace.com/deadlock

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Review: Freedom Call – Legend of the Shadowking (2010)

German power metal stalwarts Freedom Call are back with their 6th studio album, which in itself is a respectable feat, but the fact that Freedom Call have been very true to the traditional power metal sound all these years, is incredibly commendable. Despite the fact that Germany and other European nations are much more receptive to power metal bands still today than in North America, metaldom has still experienced a large change in it’s musical landscape with traditional metal in all it’s forms suffering in the process. Freedom Call are one of the few bands still breaking out melodic power metal with no shame, holding the banner high. How can you not get ay more “metal” than that? With that said, not only are Freedom Call still pumping out their tried and true brand of metal, but their latest album, Legend of the Shadowking is actually a worthy addition to their arsenal!

With highlights such as the outright power metal blazer “Out of the Ruins,” melodic AOR-inspired mainstream tune “Thunder God,” and the heavier side in “The Darkness” amongst many other solid tunes, there is no shame in enjoying power metal in the modern era of metal! Of course, those who doubt the legitimacy of power metal (which is more and more fans as the years go on I’m afraid) will take a giant steaming shit on this album as “80′s metal” with no other descriptors describing why exactly it is bad. Truth be told, there is nothing bold about Legend of the Shadowking, in fact it’s exactly what one would expect from the Freedom Call camp, but it’s still a solid slab of metal, taking advantage of good ole’ chunky guitar riffs that get the head banging, and melodies that will inevitably stick in your head. You don’t NEED progressive metal crossover appeal, and you don’t NEED gutteral vocals, or hip grooves to attract the kids. Freedom Call are still around because they have a strong base of fans that keep coming back for more, because they know they’ll be treated to something listenable, and I for one take pride that there is still reliable forms of metal out there that won’t change with the seasons amongst the fair weather metal crowd.

Germany still rocks hard, and I for one will keep spinning this lovely bitch for awhile.

GOOD

Similar Artists: Edguy, Avantasia, Masterplan, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray

1.     Out of the Ruins
2.     Thunder God
3.     Tears of Babylon
4.     Merlin – Legend of the Past
5.     Resurrection Day
6.     Under the Spell of the Moon
7.     Dark Obsession
8.     The Darkness
9.     Remember!
10.     Ludwig II – Prologue
11.     The Shadowking
12.     Merlin – Requiem
13.     Kingdom of Madness
14.     A Perfect Day

Chris Bay     Vocals, Guitars
Lars Rettkowitz     Guitars
Samy Saemann     Bass
Dan Zimmermann     Drums

SPV/Steamhammer

http://www.myspace.com/callforfreedom

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Review: Spellcaster – Under the Spell (2011)

Fiery paced speed metal, and larger than life fantasy topics about molten steel and chainsaw champions, Oregon’s Spellcaster are the latest in the traditional metal craze hitting Europe and America, and I fucking love it! I won’t preach about the need for these types of bands to help ground the metal community, educating us all on the basics of what makes metal great, instead, I will focus on why Spellcaster’s debut album, Under the Spell is pure, unadulterated entertainment that clearly does not take itself too seriously, and fuck does the metal community ever need a dose of humility these days!

From beginning to end, Under the Spell is a ferocious torrent of riff after speed metal riff (note: if anyone wanted to know the difference between speed metal and thrash metal, this is a great album to define that), with tight coordination between dueling riffs, and well paced drums that aren’t under-utilized, or an over-abundant buzzsaw, and of course, entertaining solo’s that don’t melt any brains with their complexity, but fit the nature of the music perfectly.

The only real noteworthy drawback of Under the Spell, and the preceding EP Spells of Speed, is the pitchy and flat vocals of singer Thomas Adams. The man has the pipes to be recognized as legit, but he desperately needs a good vocal coach to bring something more to the table in order to supplement the already outstanding instrumental work of the band. This problem is very reminiscent to Boston’s Ravage, who have all the chops in the world, but severely drop the ball in the vocal department.

All in all though, Spellbound have all the makings of a very promising career, promoted by the fantastic indie label Heavy Artillery who shamelessly stick to old school metal such as this, brandishing album after album of noteworthy material. Hail to the old school, I’ll be humming a few riffs from this album for at least another week longer in the shower (too much? sorry…).

Similar Artists: Jag Panzer, Armored Saint, Metal Church, Ravage

VERY GOOD

1.     Spellbound
2.     Chainsaw Champion
3.     Molten Steel
4.     Locked On
5.     Power Rising
6.     Nite of the Hellbeast
7.     Sands of Fear
8.     Spellcaster

Gabe Franco     Bass
Shad Covert     Drums
Cory Boyd     Guitars
Tyler Loney     Guitars
Thomas Adams     Vocals

Heavy Artillery

http://www.myspace.com/spellcaster123

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Review: Wormrot – Dirge (2011)

Wormrot‘s Dirge begins with “No One Gives a Shit” and ends with “The Final Insult.” Those tracks, and the 23 between them, make up some of the most punishing auditory abuse anyone could ever order up.

Clocking in at only 18 minutes, the Singaporean three piece’s second effort does much to live up to the hype machine that was their debut, 2009′s Abuse. And while it by no means eclipses the first record, Dirge serves as a validating reminder for why the Internet metal world became so intoxicated by Wormrot in the first place.

While Abuse opened the world’s eyes to Wormrot, it’s Dirge that will sustain the stare. Fueled by the same driving guitar and pummeling drums, songs come in one minute blasts of frustration, anger, and what one can only assume is merciless social commentary. The vocals alternate between shrieking that would fit right at home on any black metal album and guttural growls. The effect is one that sounds like the two voices are screaming back and forth at each other, when in fact they’re actually the same person. And that is the draw of Wormrot; the band sounds like they’re doing much more than their numbers indicate. With only one guitar and no bass, the riffs are fast, driving and memorable, and they’re accented by drumming that is not only hammering away at an unthinkable BPM for its blast beats, but can easily slide into any groove the guitar leads it through.

On Dirge, Wormrot correctly maintains this same winning formula. Never known as a genre that pushes its limits, Wormrot keeps its grindcore within that special sweet spot that is accented by the almost demo like buzz and hammer of the guitars and drums. The effect is one that stresses just how raw the grind really is.

Dirge probably won’t be the bait that lures in those that haven’t been initiated into grind yet, but it will absolutely tickle the blackened and warped musical brains of current grind aficionados.

VERY GOOD

Similar Bands: Pig Destroyer, Nasum, Kill the Client, Insect Warfare

1. No One Gives a Shit
2. Compulsive Disposition
3. All Go No Emo
4. Public Display of Infection
5. Overpowered Violence
6. Semiconcious Godsize Dumbass
7. Spot a Pathetic
8. Evolved Into Nothing
9. Butt Krieg is Showing
10. Fucking Fierce So What
11. Ferocious Bombardment
12. Principle Of The Puppet Warfare
13. Deceased Occupation
14. Waste of Time
15. Stench of Ignorance
16. Meteor to the Face
17. Addicts of Misery
18. You Suffer But Why Is It My Problem
19. Erased Existence
20. Back Stabber Mission Aborted
21. Destruct the Bastards
22. Plunged Into Illusions
23. Manipulation
24. A Dead Issue
25. The Final Insult

Fit – Drums

Rasyid – Guitars

Arif – Vocals

Earache Records

http://wormrot.tumblr.com/

http://www.myspace.com/wormrotgrind

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