November 30, 2019

Belinda Carlisle - Heaven On Earth (1987)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
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© 1987 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
When Belinda Carlisle pursued a solo career, she took more than her share of criticism from rock critics -- who complained that slick pop/rock collections like Belinda and Heaven on Earth lacked the bite of her work with the Go-Go's. But while nothing here packs quite the punch that "How Much More," "We Got the Beat," and "Turn to You" did, such memorable songs as "Heaven Is a Place on Earth," "Should I Let You In?," and "I Get Weak" show that the Angelino still had plenty of spirit. "Circle in the Sand" is in fact a gem -- a haunting Shangri-Las-like song with an early-to-mid-'60s-ish quality that makes you wish you were back in the Summer of '64 on your way to the beach. If one were to own only one solo effort from Carlisle's MCA years, this would be the best choice.

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Belinda Carlisle - Runaway Horses (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
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© 1989 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Fair or unfair, Belinda Carlisle's solo recordings were destined to be compared to the Go-Go's. Carlisle resented the constant comparisons, but as great an impact as the group had, did she really expect anything different? Understandably, rock critics missed the harder-edged Carlisle, but in fact, the more polished and slicker one has had her moments. Runaway Horses, Carlisle's third solo release, isn't as strong as Heaven on Earth -- let alone her work with the Go-Go's -- but is generally likeable and appealing. Although not most critics' cup of tea, the good-spirited, romantic idealism of "Valentine," "Leave a Light On," "Whatever It Takes," and other sugary pop/rock and power pop confections is tough to resist.

tags: belinda carlisle, runaway horses, 1989, flac,

Billy Joel - Glass Houses (1980)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1980-1990 CBS Inc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The back-to-back success of The Stranger and 52nd Street may have brought Billy Joel fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn't bring him critical respect, and it didn't dull his anger. If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker -- a soft rocker -- infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him. He didn't take this lying down -- he recorded Glass Houses. Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, Glass Houses still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker. Even its hardest songs -- the terrifically paranoid "Sometimes a Fantasy," "Sleepin' With the Television On," "Close to the Borderline," the hit "You May Be Right" -- have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play. Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy ("Don't Ask Me Why") and arena rock ("All for Leyna") to soft rock ("C'etait Toi [You Were the One]") and stylish new wave pop ("It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," which ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock). That's not a detriment; that's the album's strength. The Stranger and 52nd Street were fine albums in their own right, but it's nice to hear Joel scale back his showman tendencies and deliver a solid pop/rock record. It may not be punk -- then again, it may be his concept of punk -- but Glass Houses is the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.

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Billy Joel - The Nylon Curtain (1982)

*Reissued in 1998 by Columbia Records with a slightly altered cover that does not feature the "Compact Disc" logo. Track listing, track total and audio mastering remains unchanged. Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1982-1998 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Billy Joel hit back as hard as he could with Glass Houses, his bid to prove that he could rock as hard as any of those new wave punks. He might not have proven himself a punk -- for all of his claims of being a hard rocker, his work inevitably is pop because of his fondness for melody -- but he proved to himself that he could still rock, even if the critics didn't give him any credit for it. It was now time to mature, to move pop/rock into the middle age and, in the process, earn critical respect. In short, The Nylon Curtain is where Billy Joel went serious, consciously crafting a song cycle about Baby Boomers in the Reagan era. Since this was an album about Baby Boomers, he chose to base his music almost entirely on the Beatles, the pivotal rock band for his generation. Joel is naturally inclined to write big melodies like McCartney, but he idolizes Lennon, which makes The Nylon Curtain a fascinating cross between ear candy and social commentary. His desire to record a grand concept album is admirable, but his ever-present lyrical shortcomings mean that the songs paint a picture without arriving at any insights. He occasionally gets lost in his own ambition, as on the waterlogged second side, but the first half of the song suite -- "Allentown," "Laura," "Pressure," "Goodnight Saigon," "She's Right on Time" -- is layered, successful, mature pop that brings Joel tantalizingly close to his ultimate goal of sophisticated pop/rock for mature audiences.

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Billy Joel - An Innocent Man (1983)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1983 CBS/Sony, Family Productions
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Recording The Nylon Curtain exhausted Billy Joel, and even though it had a pair of major hits, it didn't rival its predecessors in terms of sales. Since he labored so hard at the record, he decided it was time for a break -- it was time to record an album just for fun. And that's how his homage to pre-Beatles pop, An Innocent Man, was conceived: it was designed as a breezy romp through the music of his childhood. Joel's grasp on history isn't remarkably astute -- the opener "Easy Money" is a slice of Stax/Volt pop-soul, via the Blues Brothers (quite possibly the inspiration for the album), and the label didn't break the pop charts until well after the British Invasion -- but he's in top form as a craftsman throughout the record. Only once does he stumble on his own ambition ("This Night," which appropriates its chorus from Beethoven). For the rest of the record, he's effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles, from the Four Seasons send-up "Uptown Girl" and the soulful "Tell Her About It" to a pair of doo wop tributes, "The Longest Time" and "Careless Talk." Joel has rarely sounded so carefree either in performance or writing, possibly due to "Christie Lee" Brinkley, a supermodel who became his new love prior to An Innocent Man. He can't stop writing about her throughout the album -- only three songs, including the haunted title track, aren't about her in some form or fashion. That giddiness is infectious, helping make An Innocent Man an innocent delight that unwittingly closes Joel's classic period.

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Billy Joel - The Bridge (1986)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1986 CBS, Inc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Riding high on the blockbuster An Innocent Man and with a new jet-setting bride at his side, Billy Joel took full advantage of the high life, as is clear from The Bridge, an album that unwittingly celebrates the excesses of the Reagan years. While he hasn't quite settled into middle age, Joel is ready to take advantage of his wealth and status, recruiting a hero (Ray Charles) and a new wave kid (Cyndi Lauper) for duets, turning to Sting for inspiration ("Running on Ice"), fronting a big band ("Big Man on Mulberry Street"), writing a song for a movie ("Modern Woman"), and picking up the guitar ("A Matter of Trust"), just for the hell of it. You could say that it's eclectic, but it's scattershot, because it's just Joel showing off his musical skills. He's done this before, to great effect on Turnstiles, but this is all about hubris and, as such, it sounds exactly like its time. From its processed, distorted guitars to its hollow synthesizers, The Bridge sounds dated and it's his most uneven since Streetlife Serenade. Even on the hits, he sounds as if he's stretching -- "This Is the Time" is labored compared to "Just the Way You Are" (not to mention considerably more vulgar); "A Matter of Trust" never hits upon a solid riff like "Sometimes a Fantasy"; "Modern Woman" is catchy but fluffy; "Baby Grand" is weighed down by Joel's vocal affectations. In context of the album, they're fairly enjoyable, but they hint at the dry spell that was just around the corner. Nevertheless, Joel still has enough panache and is riding on so much exuberance that The Bridge remains an entertaining listen, especially if it's viewed as a Reagan-era artifact. It just doesn't compare to what came before.

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Billy Joel - Storm Front (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1989 CBS Records, Inc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
When he went for a masterpiece on The Nylon Curtain, Billy Joel worked with his band and producer Phil Ramone, crafting a Beatlesque song suite that was perfectly in step with Turnstiles. For Storm Front, he decided it was time to change things. He fired Ramone. He fired everyone in his band, save longtime drummer Liberty DeVito. He hired Mick Jones, the architect behind Foreigner's big AOR sound, to man the boards. He wrote a set of sober, somber songs, save "That's Not Her Style," a weirdly defensive song about his model wife, Christie Brinkley. He was left with an album that is singularly joyless. Joel makes no bones about his ambitions for Storm Front -- when you lead with a history lesson as your first single (the monotonous chant "We Didn't Start the Fire"), it's clear that you're not interested in fun. That wouldn't have been a problem if his melodic skills weren't in decline. Joel packed all the strongest numbers into the first half of Storm Front, from the rocking "That's Not Her Style" and "I Go to Extremes" to the fisherman's plight "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" and the power ballad "Shameless," which Garth Brooks later made a standard. Compared to the murky second side, which perks up only mildly with "Leningrad" and "And So It Goes," it's upbeat, varied, melodic, and effective, but when it's compared to his catalog -- not only such high-water marks as The Stranger or Glass Houses, but with a record as uneven as The Bridge -- it pales musically and lyrically. The five singles ("Fire," "Style," "Extremes," "'Alexa'," "Goes") were catchy enough on the radio to propel the album to multi-platinum status, but in retrospect, Storm Front sounds like the beginning of the end.

tags: billy joel, storm front, 1989, flac,

November 29, 2019

Papoose - The Nacirema Dream (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
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© 2013 Honorable Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
A couple years before this official debut landed, Papoose was hip-hop's great East Coast hope, but by the time the much anticipated The Nacirema Dream landed at least five years late, the million-plus-dollar Jive Records contract and the aboveground "buzz" had both vanished. Nacirema -- and that's "America" backwards -- barely cracked the Top 100 its first week, but you can blame the long birthing period and the miles of bad road to get here because Papoose is as angry, as snide, and as clever as the man who burned up the mixtape circuit. He's no serpentine or subtle rapper either, preferring to pull curious listeners instantly into his "Motion Picture" by telling a paranoid story of his crew and their willingness to mutiny, rather than the usual don't-jack-my-swagger track. Titles like "Pimpin Won't Die," "Die Like a G," and "Where I Come From" lead to tracks much more meaty and fresh than those beat-up words might suggest, and with dancehall don Mavado (toasting on the stately anthem "On Top of My Game"), fellow cold gangsters Mobb Deep (sounding perfectly at home on "Aim Shoot"), and the legendary DJ Premier (a massive production asset on the infectious smackdown called "Turn It Up") all here, this is the non-crossover, not-so-radio-friendly guest list fans always hoped would happen. What doesn't happen is that satisfying overall album flow, and when it comes to production, the highlights are mentioned above with the rest of the album sounding mixtape rough or just plain old. It might not be the grand arrival showcase that was expected but Papoose hasn't fallen off the "ones to watch" list quite yet, even when he's been on there longer than most anyone else.

tags: papoose, the nacirema dream, 2013, flac,

Ulver - Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler (1995) ☠

Country: Norway
Language: Dano-Norwegian (Dansk-Norsk)
Genre: Black Metal, Folk Metal
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1995 Head Not Found
AllMusic Review by William York
Ulver's first official album blends together diverse elements that would surface on their next two (wildly different) albums. On the one hand, there are sections of grim, blasting black metal with harsh vocals and blurred, buzzing guitars, similar to their later Nattens Madrigal/Madrigal of the Night album (though with less savage production). On the other hand, there are also a number of quiet, folk-like acoustic passages (including an entire song, "Bergtatt -- Ind I Fjeldkamrene") in a style that the band developed more fully on their subsequent release, Kveldssanger. Forming a gray area in between these two extremes are the more subdued, mid-paced metal sections, during which frontman Garm sings in an unusual semi-chanted style. His overdubbed vocals resemble a choir of Gregorian monks, but instead of sounding merely odd, they fit really well with the music. Bergtatt is not the heaviest or most aggressive black metal around by a long shot -- even the faster, more intense sections feel atmospheric due to the somewhat distant-sounding, not very closely miced production -- nor is it the most evil or blasphemous. What makes the album stand out, along with the varied vocal styles and the excellent songwriting, is its unique atmosphere -- mysterious, melancholic, eerie, and oddly tranquil. Considered a black metal classic by some followers of the genre, Bergtatt is an excellent debut and one of the high points among Ulver's impressive, diverse discography

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Suppository - Punching Out Reality (2002)

Country: Netherlands
Language: English
Genre: Grindcore
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© 2002 Forensick Music
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Atheist - Piece of Time (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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© 1990 Death Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Recorded in 1988, released in Europe in 1989, but only made available in the U.S. a year after that, Atheist's first album, Piece of Time, nevertheless had a huge impact on the death metal scene, which, at the time, could be said to be enjoying its peak years. A death album as conceived from a jazz-rock aesthetic, its unpredictably shifting tempos, non-linear riffing progressions, and sheer technicality did as much as any release of the era to push the genre's boundaries, breaking through preconceived limitations and preempting similarly adventurous contemporaries like Cynic, Pestilence, and Death (who had yet to become at all seriously progressive). One listen to brain-twisting creations like "Mother Man," "Room with a View," "On They Slay," and "I Deny" -- meshing frantic, severely discordant chords and sparse melodies with the agonized growls of frontman Kelly Shaefer -- and realizing they still stand up to scrutiny following the many repeat listens necessary to absorb them, is enough to prove this assertion. The title track is another fine example, as it threads a dizzying path through sudden stops, starts, and turnarounds before finally unleashing a small taste of straight-ahead, 4/4-time thrashing at its conclusion. Also worth pointing out is that most of these tracks were initially composed by the Roger Patterson/Steve Flynn rhythm section, with guitarists Shaefer and Randy Burkey only subsequently adding their riffs to the insanity, marking a rare example of metal not based entirely on guitars. Even more impressive, though it was a remarkable achievement in its time, Piece of Time only hinted at the technical daring and unorthodox sophistication to be achieved by Atheist's second full platter, the watershed Unquestionable Presence.

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Atheist - Unquestionable Presence (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1991 Death Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Despite the very positive reception that had greeted their bold first album, Atheist almost didn't last long enough to finish their second. Taking a break from recording to embark on a short tour, the band suffered a terrible blow when founding bassist Roger Patterson was killed in a horrifying Louisiana highway van crash. Shattered, but determined to finish their friend's last project at all costs, the remaining members drafted session bassist Tony Choy in order to get the job done, emerging with a landmark recording in the process. Indeed, whereas 1989's Piece of Time had been a shock, 1991's Unquestionable Presence was a revelation. With their sparing but highly effective use of melody (mostly nuances and accents during solos and choruses), challenging songs like "Unquestionable Presence," "Your Life's Retribution," and "Enthralled in Essence" advanced Atheist's uncompromisingly dense "death-jazz" to previously unscaled heights. Throughout the album, dissonant, lightning-speed guitar riffs, slap bass, and screwy time signatures collide to create a recipe at once more intricate and more approachable than its predecessor -- all the while keeping song lengths to manageable three to four minutes for maximum, concentrated impact. Matching the band's evident musical growth, vocalist Kelly Shaefer also stepped it up on the lyrical front, issuing inscrutably enigmatic, eyebrow-raising lines on par with the album's nearly impenetrable sonics. A daunting album to decipher, Unquestionable Presence is just as rewarding once decoded, and is still considered by experts to be one of the Floridian death metal scene's ultimate statements in progressive metal.

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Atheist - Elements (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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© 1993 Metal Blade Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Easily the most accessible of Atheist's three albums, 1993's Elements was recorded under duress from the band's record company, which forced them back into the studio after their initial breakup in order to fulfill their contractual obligations. But remarkably, the group rose to the challenge, delivering another highly accomplished set that illustrated both a natural evolution of their sound and served as a worthy final chapter to their all-too-brief and very troubled trajectory. Shedding most of the harsh dynamics of efforts past, Elements was the first Atheist LP to welcome melody with open arms, resulting in a far more immediate and organic listening experience throughout. Conceptually linked by lyrics focusing on the various elements (see title), songs like "Air," "Mineral," and "Fire" remain admirably true to the band's famously complicated arrangements, syncopated rhythms, and ultra-precise attack, but also boast a cleaner musicality never before attempted by the group. The only challenge to the album's creative continuity then becomes the short instrumental mood pieces ("Samba Briza," "Fractal Point," etc.) interspersed between the actual songs, these proving a tad too off-kilter and oblique even for Atheist to pull off convincingly. Yet with the final, old-school aggression of the excellent title track, the band offers a fitting, all-inclusive swan song summarizing their entire musical odyssey.

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Atheist - Jupiter (2010)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2010 Season of Mist
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman
This album isn't a failure by any means, but it's not going to make old-school Atheist fans very happy, either. Unquestionable Presence, Vol. 2 it ain't. Only two members remain from the classic lineup, guitarist/vocalist Kelly Shaefer (these days, he's strictly a singer live, though he still plays guitar) and drummer Steve Flynn, and their interaction is as tight and telepathic as ever. But the music they're writing is very, very different from Atheist's jazzy, progressive vision of death metal as articulated in the early '90s. This band sounds more like modern tech-death; half the riffs here could have come from the first two Dillinger Escape Plan albums, Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine. The melodic complexity is still there, and guitarist Chris Baker and bassist Jonathan Thompson can shred with the best. Still, it's not the same; the organic, human feeling of old has been pared away, revealing the gleaming Terminator skeleton beneath. Every once in a while, a short break will recall the Atheist of old ("Fictitious Glide" does it toward the song's end). And Shaefer's vocals have become weirdly shrieky; he sounds like Mudvayne's Chad Gray too much of the time. The record's best quality is its mix. It's not brick-walled like so much contemporary death metal -- each instrument gets space to breathe. But the frantically complex riffing sacrifices the exhilaration the band's older material inspired in favor of a hammering relentlessness.

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Anaal Nathrakh - Passion (2011)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Black Metal, Grindcore
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© 2011 Candlelight Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Once it seemed unlikely, if not impossible, that Great Britain would ever bless/curse the world with a truly formidable black metal band -- no thanks, Cradle of Filth -- but the duo known as Anaal Nathrakh immediately began making a case to the contrary with 2001's landmark The Codex Necro debut, and they've rarely disappointed since. 2011's Passion falls pretty much in line with that trend, but it also explores new ways to alter and expand Anaal Nathrakh's already improbably vast vocabulary for all things excessive, driven as always by the positively nightmarish visions of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Mick Kenney (aka Irrumator). Both his compositional and instrumental capabilities receive frighteningly stunning showcases in the album's first pair of miniaturized, industrial black metal mini-symphonies: the majestically hellacious "Volenti Non Fit Iniuria," and the spectacularly titled "Drug-F**king Abomination," which doesn't even break a blastbeat sweat until it's had three minutes to build a Baroquely-appointed stage it can then torch to the ground. Later on, minute-long murder sprees like "Post-Traumatic Stress Euphoria" and "Locus of Damnation" leave no room for subtlety or compassion, but, right there along with them, vocalist Dave Hunt (aka V.I.T.R.I.O.L.) persists on imprinting his controversial, histrionic clean singing all over the likes of "Le Diabolique Est L'ami du Simple" and "Paragon Pariah," to the eternal, eye-clawing horror of more stubborn constituents in the black metal audience. Even these holdouts will have a hard time resisting the especially awe-inspiring "Tod Huetet Uebel," though, which ignites on a classic, high-speed Norwegian black metal riff-web ├á la Emperor, then builds in intensity, layer after chaotic instrumental layer, and is capped with hysterical, spine-shivering shrieking from Irrumator. Like Passion‘s other best moments, the song goes over like a snuff film scored by Ennio Morricone (sorry about the association, Mr. Morricone), and that's a twisted view of the sensible universe that only lunatic geniuses like those behind Anaal Nathrakh could possibly implant into unsuspecting minds and smashed eardrums. Give them credit: they're still freaking folks out after ten years.

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November 28, 2019

Anaal Nathrakh - Eschaton (2006)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Black Metal
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© 2006 Season of Mist
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman
The third full-length release by this two-man U.K. industrial black metal project is slightly less concerned than its immediate predecessor with injecting melody into the shrieking blast-furnace/blender noise that is their primary sound. There's a guitar solo on "The Destroying Angel" that's heavily indebted to Slayer's Kerry King, and a melodic chorus on "Timewave Zero" that recalls their previous effort, Domine Non Es Dignus, but for the most part it's a savage, ugly album produced and programmed with merciless precision. The programmed blastbeats create a foundation of cold inhumanity which is matched by the nihilism of the electronically altered vocals, while the guitar riffs, which seem doubled by heavily processed, in-the-red keyboards, saw at the listener's eardrums. These guys have taken Mot├Ârhead's dictum of "everything louder than everything else" and blended it with the Tyrell Corporation (from Blade Runner) motto "More Human Than Human" to build something like a sonic Terminator. Some songs, like "Between Shit and Piss We are Born" and "The Yellow King," offer a slightly more humanistic feel, and wind up approaching (if not incorporating -- Shane Embury guests on this album and plays with Anaal Nathrakh live) the fury of Napalm Death. By the time it winds down, the album does grow somewhat wearying; its constant abuse of the listener eventually starts to exhibit diminishing returns. But for much of its running time, it's the kind of record that makes you take a step backward in welcome surprise.

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Anaal Nathrakh - Hell Is Empty & All The Devils Are Here (2007)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Blackened Death Metal
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© 2007 Feto Records
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman
The fourth full-length from British industrial black/death metal group Anaal Nathrakh is an improvement over the slightly disappointing Eschaton, despite not changing the sound much. With a band so committed to head-down sonic destruction, evolution is incremental at best. Napalm Death's Shane Embury, an ally of the core duo for several years at this point, plays bass on a few tracks, but the primary instrumental contributions are by Mick Kenny, while Dave Hunt performs the vocals, assisted here and there by guests (on this album, Circle of Dead Children's Joe Horvath and Exploder's Dirty Von Donovan). This is a more precise, death metal and grindcore-inspired version of Anaal Nathrakh, moving ever further away from black metal. The high-pitched belt-sander guitar riffs of black metal show up from time to time, but there's a lot of downtuned riffing and thunderous double bass drumming as well, plus the usual electronic noise, aptly chosen samples and howling storms overtaking the mix and turning everything into a ferocious blast of raw hostility. The riffs on songs like "Until the World Stops Turning" and "Virus Bomb," even as they roar past at 1,000 bpm, are almost catchy, in an extreme metal sort of way. One could even imagine singing along with the chorus of the latter track, as it approaches a Dimmu Borgir-like accessibility. Anaal Nathrakh's single-mindedness must always be respected, without failing to acknowledge that some albums are better than others. This is their best effort since The Codex Necro

tags: anaal nathrakh, hell is empty and all the devils are here, 2007, flac,

Anaal Nathrakh - In The Constellation of The Black Widow (2009) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Black Metal, Grindcore
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2009 Candlelight Records
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman
British industrial black/death metallers Anaal Nathrakh have returned to full distortorama screaming strength on their 2009 full-length. The melodies that crept in at the margins on Eschaton and Hell Is Empty, and All the Devils Are Here have been almost entirely obliterated, replaced with the savage, relentless drum programming and blasts of dissonant guitar and electronics that marked their first (and still best) album, The Codex Necro. This is a fierce and unrelenting album unlikely to appeal to anyone who doesn't like being shrieked at for 35 minutes at a time, but there's subtlety within the sonic maelstrom. Voices are heard in the distant reaches of the mix like lost souls calling out in Hell as the larger roar overwhelms, with guitar solos and drum (machine) breaks emerging from the waves of audio hate. The relatively short songs (almost all in the two- to three-minute range) speed by, and though the album begins slowly, with sound effects of a rainstorm and maniacal sobbing as a slow riff builds in intensity (rather like a 2009 analogue to the first Black Sabbath album), it ends quite suddenly, with the digital equivalent of a tape slice. This is a harsh journey, but one well worth taking.

tags: anaal nathrakh, in the constellation of the black widow, 2009, flac,

November 27, 2019

Anaal Nathrakh - The Codex Necro (2001) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Blackened Death Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2001 Mordgrimm
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Anaal Nathrakh introduced the world to their devastating maelstrom of black and death metal, grindcore and industrial music with 2001's astonishing The Codex Necro, almost singlehandedly pushing England back into the forefront of global musical extremity in the process. More astounding still, this incredibly radical and complex sonic vision (think Ministry on crack, piped up straight from the very depths of hell) was the work of but two men: the demonic duo of vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (aka Dave Hunt, of Benediction and Mistress) and self-sufficient songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and drums/keyboards programmer Irrumator (aka Mick Kenney of Frost, Mistress, Exploder, etc.), both of whom had spent the better part of three years orchestrating this inexorable, sensory-overloading debut. Indeed, there are so many things going on during any given track here that simple stamina quickly becomes the skeleton key to deciphering (and withstanding) The Codex Necro's "anything (heavy) goes" stylistic potpourri. This in spite of the especially raw production standards employed throughout (noticeably rawer than Anaal Nathrakh's later-day efforts), thus forcing listeners to earn their sonic just desserts amid the densely layered guitar parts, rumbling roars, and nails-on-chalkboard screeches, blastbeat after blastbeat, needlework synthesizer patterns, and abundant spoken word dialogues taken from this film or that. Before it's all said and done, insanity is a distinct possibility -- as are widespread plaudits placing The Codex Necro on many metal publications' "best album of the month," "year," even "decade" lists -- and deservingly so. [The 2006 reissue of The Codex Necro by Earache Records tacked on four rare live performances from a 2003 BBC Radio 1 session curated by the legendary John Peel; quite a treat considering that Anaal Nathrakh very rarely take their music beyond studio walls.]

tags: anaal nathrakh, the codex necro, 2001, flac,

Anaal Nathrakh - Domine Non Es Dignus (2004) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Black Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2004 Season of Mist
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Like Poland's Behemoth or Australia's the Amenta, Anaal Nathrakh bring a near-industrial, highly mechanized precision to their fast and violent black metal (mostly resultant from a hybrid human and drum machine match-up), and like Norway's Emperor in their latter days, they also add clean vocals into a churning maelstrom of non-stop, orchestrated madness. Oh, and they do it really well! Of course before we get to any of that good stuff, there's a nails-scratching-on-blackboard intro brilliantly called "I Wish I Could Vomit Blood on You...People" to get out of the way, and serve as notice that perhaps this whole "soundtrack to Armageddon" mission the band claims to be on shouldn't be taken quite so seriously. Whatever the case, ensuing bloody mayhem like "The Oblivion Gene," "Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light," and the devastatingly good "To Err Is Human, To Dream -- Futile" lacks nothing in terms of vicious and convincing execution...emphasis on "execution". Rather, they generally prove as entertaining as their titles, and, in the case of album highlights "Do Not Speak" (featuring surprisingly musical guitar patters), the Celtic Frost-quoting "Procreation of the Wretched" (replete with terrifying shrieks), and "The Final Destruction of Dignity (Die Letzten Tage Der Menschheit)" (with a very memorable chorus section emerging from out of the chaos) often astound with their creativity. Really, it isn't every day one can describe a black metal album as immediate, but Domine Non Es Dignus comes as close to accomplishing that feat as anything so extreme-sounding could feasibly be expected to. Which is to say, it's very, very good.

tags: anaal nathrakh, domine non es dignus, 2004, flac,

Regurgitate - Carnivorous Erection (2000) ☠

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Goregrind
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2000 Relapse Records
Review by "Krys" for Metal Bite.com
Being in the underground since 1990, Regurgitate continues the great tradition of Carcass, early Napalm Death, Repulsion or lately Nasum by selling the most brutal death-grind that was ever played. 38 tracks squeezed into 32 minutes should give you a very good idea about the tempos played on this album but that says nothing about the quality of this material.

You are not going to believe what you’ll hear. It’s not only violence and brutality; this album is a monster wall of guitars full of outstanding riffs, gore-gurgling vocals and not to mention a human machine behind the skins. Rather than concentrating on pure brutality (like Nasum), Regurgitate emphasized the quality and structure of the songs. It’s still vicious but not tasteless like a lot of gore bands where cold and primitive compositions are kicked to a higher level by tons of studio equipment. If, on the list of 38 tracks, I can’t find a weak one then it should tell you how impressed I am with this release. This is so good I wish it didn’t have the one-second breaks between the tracks, let my ears bleed! "Carnivorous Erection" is easily the best grindgore album of the year!!!

And as for the cover art... there's no chance that the cover, graphically depicting the album title, would be in any form uncensored in USA or at least a little covered. Wes Benscotter delivered something quite out of the ordinary, to say the least: porn-gore that once seen will leave a scar on your brain and will never let you forget it.

Bottom Line: "Carnivorous Erection" is a condensation of what's forbidden, filthy and inhuman in music. But what a great listening it is!!!

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Regurgitate - Deviant (2003)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Goregrind
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© 2003 Relapse Records
AllMusic Review by William York
The surprising effort Deviant comes from a revamped version of cult gore-grind act Regurgitate that includes just one member of their original lineup of more than a decade before. Earlier Regurgitate releases struck a chord with fans of disgusting, Earache-schooled grindcore and death metal, but they were hardly groundbreaking. One could argue that Deviant isn't all that groundbreaking either, as the influences of Earache bands such as Napalm Death, Carcass, and Terrorizer are still strongly evident (there's even the cover of a song by another, more obscure Earache band, Unseen Terror), but the presentation is different. For one thing, the group has largely ditched the old scatological, medical textbook-referencing song titles (and lyrics, presumably, though it's hard to tell) in favor of more abstract, sociopolitical-themed titles such as "Systematic Demoralization" and "Depopulation of the Human Race." With this shift comes a new, more aggressive sonic edge, with a more punk-inspired musical attack and vocals that are more of a hardcore-derived scream than the guttural growl of before. The production also has a harder edge, with a grainy, bass-heavy sound similar to the recent Nasum releases (no coincidence, as the album was produced by Nasum's Mieszko Talarczyk under the pseudonym Mierre Mongo). The songs are still brief, concise blasts (i.e., about a minute apiece) with enough meaty, Carcass-inspired death metal riffs to keep old fans happy, but Regurgitate has wisely (and successfully) updated its overall sound in the process. This is not merely another serviceable gore-death-grind metal album; it's one of 2003's best -- right up there with Nasum's Helvete.

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