Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tourniquet - "Antiseptic Bloodbath"

Tourniquet - Antiseptic Bloodbath
2012, Pathogenic

1. Chart of the Elements (Lincchostbllis)
2. Antiseptic Bloodbath
3. The Maiden Who Slept in the Glass Coffin
4. Chamunda Temple Stampede
5. Flowering Cadaver
6. 86 Bullets
7. Duplicitous Endeavor
8. Lost Language of the Andamans
9. Carried Away on Uncertain Wings
10. Fed By Ravens, Eaten By Vultures

You know that saying that goes "something is more than the sum of its parts?" What's the inverse of that? The sum is less than each of its parts? That's how I felt about the new Tourniquet album at first. It seemed like, much like Telescopic Realm the songs were sort of stitched together. However, unlike that album, the parts are a lot more compelling. As a result I listened to this album over and over until I could finally see the "big picture" and the songs came together. The songs are filled with killer riffs, classical parts, odd time signatures, and some off-the-wall bizarre stuff like the cheer-leading intro on the first track. I think having a good producer helped smooth all the parts together. All in all - I'm really impressed. It's been nine years since Where Moth and Rust Destroy but Antiseptic Bloodbath feels more vibrant and certainly heavier than the band has been in quite a while. Ted Kirkpatrick is still using that dirty, fuzzy tone from that Orange amp he loves so much but the production cleans it up and gives it some weight. The result is an awesome fat tone that is good and heavy with a nice crunch. Speaking of the production - it is stellar. Especially considering this is a Kickstarter funded release. There was a little bit of controversy surrounding the actual amount asked for ($30,000 I believe). I don't know how much money it actually takes to make an album but the money wasn't wasted, that's for sure. Everything from the sound quality to the CD packaging is top notch. This is seriously a great album and will be jockeying for a spot on my picks of the year!

Oh, one quick complaint. I don't like the name "Antiseptic Bloodbath." Yes, I know what the band is trying to say and I respect that. It's really the words themselves seem kind of silly. I can picture a group of young teenagers listening to Metallica and trying to think up a name for their band. "Yeah, man, how about ANTISEPTIC BLOODBATH!" "Oh, that's so rad!" So yeah... I think it's kind of cheesy, but that's just me. Like I said, though, awesome album!

Useless Fact: The album features several guest guitarists including ex-Megadeth shredder Marty Friedman who returns to whip up a few face-melters.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

King's X - "Manic Moonlight"

King's X - Manic Moonlight
2001, Metal Blade

1. Believe
2. Manic Moonlight
3. Yeah
4. False Alarm
5. Static
6. Skeptical Winds
7. The Other Side
8. Vegetable
9. Jenna
10. Water Ceremony

Manic Moonlight is the second of what I refer to as the King's X "experimental" discs. However, unlike Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous I don't think Manic works as well. Yes... the boys were definitely in their "don't give a crap what anybody thinks" phase. They use looping drum samples throughout to provide sort of a base line for the songs. After a few seconds, though, it's just regular ol' King's X. I don't really understand all the hate this album got originally. I was in college at the time and a friend loaned me the CD to listen to and neither of us really knew what to make of it. It wasn't some techno abomination, but it wasn't stupendous either. There are a couple of tracks I absolutely love like the title track, "Yeah," and "Jenna." Though, like I said, I don't think the experimentation pays off as much. Take "Skeptical Winds" for example - the vocals are spoken word and the entire thing is rather repetitive.  Whatever I might think of this disc at any given time I have to applaud the band for trying something new. Manic isn't lazy like Tape Head so that's something I suppose.

Useless Fact: "Water Ceremony" isn't even a real song. It's the guys drinking water, burping, and laughing. I bet it was hilarious in the studio. On the disc, eh... not so much.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

King's X - "Tape Head"

King's X - Tape Head
1998, Metal Blade

1. Groove Machine
2. Fade
3. Over and Over
4. Ono
5. Cupid
6. Ocean
7. Little Bit of Soul
8. Hate You
9. Higher Than God
10. Happy
11. Mr. Evil
12. World
13. Walter Bela Farkas (Live Peace in New York)

Is it possible for King's X to have a "worst album"? Sadly, the answer is yes - and here it is: Tape Head. After the bid for commercial success failed the band just went into the studio and banged out this album. It's very simplistic and very basic. I also don't think there's as much life in these songs as on previous releases. It's almost like they were tired of being King's X and didn't really want to even make a King's X album but did anyway. They've completely abandoned any sort of progressive sound by now, which isn't bad per se, but the songs are just not as catchy or as strong. I can only think of a few tracks that I really like, some of which include "Fade," "Hate You," and "Happy." "Groove Machine" is alright too and has become a concert staple. This is not the band's finest hour by far. Tape Head was the second King's X album to appear in Christian bookstores. Just in time for Dug to come out about his sexuality. Predictably, in their overwhelming Christ-like love bookstores pulled the album.

Useless Fact: Wally Farkas (from Galactic Cowboys) appears on the last track. Also, that's Dug's head wrapped in tape on the cover. "Happy" was originally a profanity laced song called "Quality Control" that was supposed to be on Dogman if I remember correctly.


Monday, August 6, 2012

King's X - "Ear Candy"

King's X - Ear Candy
1996, Atlantic

1. The Train
2. (Thinking and Wondering) What I'm Gonna Do
3. Sometime
4. A Box
5. Looking For Love
6. Mississippi Moon
7. 67
8. Lies in the Sand (The Ballad Of...)
9. Run
10. Fathers
11. American Cheese (Jerry's Pianto)
12. Picture
13. Life Going By

When Ear Candy first came out I tore a path through my hometown trying to find a copy. I was excited about the band returning to form, so to speak. Not that they were really out of form for Dogman but that's what I thought at the time. Ear Candy is a lot more commercial than anything the band had done before. This was also about the time the band was doing profanity laced interviews in all the metal magazines. Ironic given that this disc was probably the first to appear in Christian bookstores. I liked this one even though it's kind of hit and miss. It starts strong with "The Train," "(Thinking and Wondering) What I'm Gonna Do," etc. Also, I count "Mississippi Moon" as one of my favorite King's X tracks ever. It peeters out toward the end with some boring ballads and run-of-the-mill King's X fodder (granted, that's still better 99% of pop music, but still).

About the lyrics - while I do miss the C.S. Lewis type lyrics I have to respect the honest on here. I really feel for what they guys must have been going through. Especially on "Looking for Love" and "Run" both most likely inspired by Doug's struggles. I've totally been there.

Useless Fact: This would be the last album the band would record for Atlantic before moving onto Metal Blade.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dream Theater - "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence"

Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2002, Elektra

Disc One:
1. The Glass Prison
2. Blind Faith
3. Misunderstood
4. The Great Debate
5. Disappear

Disc Two:
1. I. Overture
2. II. About to Crash
3. III. War Inside My Head
4. IV. The Test That Stumped Them All
5. V. Goodnight Kiss
6. VI. Solitary Shell
7. VII. About to Crash (Reprise)
8. VIII. Losing Time/ Grand Finale

I vaguely remember when this came out some fans were upset because this was a heavier, more "modern" album. It certainly is heavy, probably the heaviest the band had done up until this point. The guitars seem a little bit thicker and the production certainly seems more "modern." However, I can't imagine there's really anything here to be upset over. "The Glass Prison" is an awesome ripping tune that begins the album quite nicely (it's also the first part in Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous Suite). I also like the ballad "Misunderstood." "The Great Debate" doesn't do too much for me. I don't hate it, but I'm not over the moon about it either. It actually seems a little drawn out to me (it's 13 minutes long - I think it could have been trimmed). The real treat here is the second disc which contains the ultra epic title track. At over 40 minutes long this collection of eight distinct movements runs the gamut from classically inspired passages to some of the heaviest riffs the band has put to tape then back to some beautiful melodic parts. Truly an awesome song and reason enough to buy this if you're a prog-metal fan.

Useless Fact: As most people know "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" is about different types of mental disorders such as bi-polar and autism.