Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review Your Face Off: Carnifex - "Hell Chose Me"


Regular readers of this blog know that I love me some Carnifex, so let’s just say I’m going into this review a little biased. However, I would like to point out that I had some apprehension before my first listen. Carnifex is on Victory Records, which is by far one of the crappiest labels in existence, and bands have been known to slowly turn into the pathetic metalcore known to be put out by the label that made Hawthorne Heights and Atreyu popular. Since Hell Chose Me would be the second release for the ‘Fex on Victory, I had to wonder if the new record would be a bunch of over-produced, watered-down garbage made for boys in eyeliner and tours with Hatebreed. Beyond that, as much as I have praised the idea of death metal with hardcore breakdowns, I will readily admit that deathcore is already starting to get stale, so I would not have been surprised if Carnifex’s new offering sounded fairly familiar.

Well Bellions, you can plainly see from the header that this album was not good enough to make it into the coveted “So Sick It Hurts” category, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. The release is actually pretty solid, but I don’t think it was anywhere near as interesting as the band’s last album, The Diseased and the Poisoned, which was just fucking destructive as all hell. But let me give credit to the band for trying to keep things a little fresh. There were some changes made to the sound, although I don’t think they necessarily made anything better or worse. For example, the growled, death vocals are not as prevalent, instead being replaced with more of the black metal sound. I personally liked the Cookie Monster vocals, but in the big scheme of things this didn’t really come off as a big deal. As for the music itself, Carnifex delivers an album that is played with more speed and less breakdowns than before. I would say the shift sort of resembles what Job for a Cowboy did a few albums back, moving away from the “-core” aspect and more toward the “death.”

Speaking of the breakdowns, those present on this album lack the insanity they have in the past, which is disappointing. One of my favorite things about Carnifex was how intense all that chugging could get. Oh well. While I’m complaining, I also want to point out that the album art is lame as balls.

So where exactly do I stand on this album? I’d say it’s worth the listen, but I can’t tell anyone to run out and buy it. I think this release sort of gives us an idea of where the genre of deathcore is going. By that I mean this: Bands will probably realize that they need to change things up a bit, but nobody is going to figure out how to make things as exciting as they were a few years ago.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Review Your Face Off: Living Sacrifice-"The Infinite Order"

AAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhh.....where to start? This album is such a snooze-fest that I hardly can tell the head from the ass here. I guess my absolute disappointment with this album is as good a jumping off point as any so let's get this ball rolling before my buzz wears off...
Living Sacrifice is, admittedly, a guilty pleasure for me for one simple reason. That being that they happen to be the theological opposites of mine, yet, one of the first metal bands that I listened to with my pink virgin ears. As such, I've cut them a lot of slack in the past and continued to see them live and to listen to their albums even though I disagree with almost all of their god-loving proselytizing ways. Aside from their lyrics I've actually enjoyed their somewhat unique flavor...until now. Having broken up a few years ago I had high hopes that this album would blow me away seeing as this was their inaugural coming-back album. Sadly, I've had my head up my ass.
These guys aren't exactly amateurs at what they do. In fact, this album is very well played and mixed. However, there is nothing unique here. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Fuck-what. Zero. I won't go into detail about every song and how they humiliatingly break down into banal metal riffs and rhythms that any self-professed metal-head out there has undoubtedly heard from not just one source, but multiple. This album was outdated the day it came out and even the almighty himself could not help that fact.
I've read numerous reviews and comments of this album online and have become very despondent at all the positive praise it has garnered. It makes me feel just how trivial metal has become and how innovation, or the complete lack thereof, has been turned on its head in the current scene. It also makes me remember the last show I was able to attend where Converge headlined with one of the most wrath-tastic supporting line-ups I've personally been witness to. Let's just say that the place should have blown up...but the reality was far from it as 90% of the crowd simply stood around and looked really cool in jeans tight enough to constrict all blood flow to a mature, fully grown scrotum. This album is a sorry reminder to me of how dismally the scene has changed along with the quality of music being lauded as "awesome." God damn....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dispatches from Powerviolence: Top Ten Albums of 2009

It's January, and you know what that means: snow. But it also means we get to post our top ten albums from the year that was 2009. It's pretty much recommended you check these fuckers out, because if we like them, they have to be good. The following are all presented in no particular order.

The Hellion:
01. Goatwhore - Carving Out the Eyes of God
02. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
03. Behemoth - Evangelion
04. Dying Fetus - Descend into Depravity
05. The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate
06. Tim Hecker - Imaginary Country
07. Gaza - He is Never Coming Back
08. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
09. Rumpelstiltskin Grinder - Living for Death, Destroying the Rest
10. Vader - Necropolis

Old Iron Blood:
01. Born of Osiris - A Higher Place
02. Burnt by the Sun - Heart of Darkness
03. Goatwhore - Carving out the Eyes of God
04. Katatonia - Night is the New Day
05. Suicide Silence - No Time to Bleed
06. Mastodon - Crack the Skye
07. November's Doom - Into the Night's Requiem Infernal
08. Secrets of the Moon - Privilegivm
09. Swallow the Sun - New Moon
10. Vader - Necropolis

Spleen Latifa:
01. Converge - Axe to Fall
02. Magrudergrind - Magrudergrind
03. Graf Orlock - Destination Time Today
04. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
05. Coalesce - Ox
06. Gaza - He is Never Coming Back
07. The_Network - Bishop Kent Manning
08. Ben Weasel - The Brain That Wouldn't Die
09. The Chariot - Wars and Rumors of Wars
10. Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
.... Honorable Mention:
11. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution
12. Defeatist - Sharp Blade Sinks Deep Into Dull Minds
13. Rise & Fall - Our Circle is Vicious
14. Doomriders - Darkness Comes Alive
15. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Featured Book: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground

Authored by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind

I believe I first heard about this number through Amazon.com when I was looking into purchasing a book of photographs called True Norwegian Black Metal. This read came up under one of those “you might also be interested in” sections, if I remember correctly. At any rate, I figured it might be interesting so I picked it up. Knowing that the history of Black Metal is pretty fucked up, I assumed it would score fairly high on the gnarliness scale. Instead, it scored extremely high on the “meh” scale.

This book is written in a way that seems to meld crime drama and investigative journalism. It’s also full of interviews with many of the prominent people within the Black Metal scene, as well as people completely outside of it. The problem is, sometimes things get too far outside of what I expected to be reading about. Some cases it seems warranted, and other times it just seems extraneous. In fact, this bad boy is almost 400 pages long, and I have a feeling I would have gotten the same amount of information even if it was cut down to 200. At times this read just wanders.

Moynihan and Soderlind start out with a basic history of the rise of Satanic metal in general, citing bands like Black Sabbath and Venom. Then they move into how Black Metal itself actually started, still keeping a close tie to the Satanic aspects. All of this is pretty interesting, even if you’ve heard it before. Obviously the book takes on the infamous church burnings and murders involved with Black Metal, thus giving it the crime drama feel, but after awhile things changed, and it began to get a bit boring.

A massive amount of this book is spent talking about Varg Vikernes from Burzum. It’s true the guy is batshit insane and had a lot to do with where Black Metal began to progress, and it’s also true the guy murdered Oystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous from Mayhem), who was probably the most important person in the scene, but I just didn’t want to read that much about him. The whole section just talks about how Varg moved from Satanism to Odinism and is now a Neo-Nazi. Basically, you spend about a quarter of the book reading about Vikernes’ view on Nordic legends and getting a taste of his hate speech.

Using Varg as a bridge, the book then takes a turn from covering the “bloody rise of the Satanic metal underground” to covering nothing but the right-wing politics of many metal bands. If you want to read about that, then you’ll get plenty of information, but that isn’t what I was looking for when I got this. The writers still include information about various crimes and murders committed by the people involved, but most of them are politically based. I don’t know, I just lost interest.

The writing isn’t bad, and the amount of information contained in these pages is pretty impressive, but I lost a lot of respect for the authors because they tend to get very preachy or have a heavy slant towards one person or another. The way Euronymous was described used loaded words that gave me the idea that the writers didn’t respect him. On the same token, when they talked about his murderer (Varg), they seemed to praise him. I later read somewhere that one of the authors is actually a huge supporter of Varg, and whether or not that’s true, I could easily see why someone would think that.

In all honesty, I would recommend the first half of this book as an interesting history on the development and background of Black Metal, but I’d leave all the rest behind. It’s too drawn out and not really worth the time invested.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Heavy Rotation: January 8, 2010

The first Heavy Rotation of 2010 has arrived, and I know you can all breathe a sigh of relief now. So here comes what we've been rocking to within the last week.

The Hellion (has gone folk):
01. Wye Oak - The Knot
02. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
03. Architect - Ghost of the Saltwater Machines
04. Blues - Snakepit
05. Harlots - Betrayer
06. Orenda Fink - Ask the Night
07. Method Man - Tical
08. Chuck Ragan- Gold Country
09. Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive
10. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves - Self-Titled

Spleen Latifa:
01. Mammoth Grinder – Extinction of Humanity
02. Aneurysm Rats – Dying to Live
03. The Broadways – Broken Star
04. Nasum – Helvete
05. Coalesce - Ox
06. Kent Brockman – Discography '99-'03
07. Angry Samoans – The Unboxed Set
08. Dear Landlord – Dream Homes
09. Medusa – En Raga Sul
10. Deadguy – Fixation On A Coworker

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Featured Live Show: Small Brown Bike / Bridge and Tunnel

Small Brown Bike / Image taken from last.fm

12.04.2009 - Beat Kitchen - Chicago

I’m sure many of you have heard that Small Brown Bike recently got back together and are actually playing shows and working on new material. In fact, you all should know because we posted this news on the Belly a little while back. Well, I managed to get myself some tickets to one of the two shows they played here in Chicago, and while my plan was to get turbo-drunk and rock out to some hella tunes with my friends, let’s just say things fell a bit short.

Let me begin by pointing out that I could only get tickets to the earlier show of the two. Of course this ended up being the all ages show, and I think as we get older we understand that all ages shows can really start to suck. All the usual pop-punker teens were there, probably only showing up because they heard one SBB album from their older brother or something along those lines. Fact: These kids are little shits. Look, I know there was a time when we were all younger going to punk shows too, but at least back then most of the underage crowd actually hated MTV and bands signed to major labels. We had somewhat of a handle on what we were talking about because we still used mail-order to get records and read zines. The fucks that show up now have no clue that punk and hardcore are actually not supposed to be mass-marketed and that eyeliner doesn’t make you look cool; it makes you look like a dumbass. I just wanted to make this disclaimer ahead of time in all fairness to the bands since it’s hard to enjoy yourself at a show when the kids in front of you are making the same jokes over and over that are about as funny as those found on South Park (which aren’t funny, by the way).

Alright, now let’s move back to the bands. I’m not even going to go into a lot of detail about the first band. I was in the bar while they played, and honestly, my friends and I all decided those jokers were doing everything in their power to sound like a Gin Blossoms cover band. So instead of heading into what seemed like an XRT sponsored concert in the 90’s, I drank beer. Since the beer was more interesting than the band, I’ll give you some deets on that. This beer was of the Pabst variety and came in a 16 oz. can of deliciousness. It was cold and crisp, and it managed to be the perfect vessel for routing alcohol into my ever-waiting body. If this beer was a band, it would be like mashing Hot Water Music, Leftover Crack, and Dillinger Four into a group that put out music that was completely unintelligible but awesome, and which also had the power to make you pee way more than normal.

Pabst / Taken from my camera

When Gin Blossoms: The Second Coming got off the stage, we packed up and headed in to listen to Bridge and Tunnel, a band that I particularly like and have seen play before. As expected, they put on an excellent show, and I found myself yelling along with every song. If you want to get down to some excellent post-hardcore jams, you must check this group out. If you don’t want to get down to some excellent post-hardcore jams, then you’re probably waiting online to purchase Soulfly tickets right now, and I feel sorry for you. I would say half of the people at this show wanted to do the former, but that still wasn’t enough to really get the place going, which is very unfortunate.

Bridge and Tunnel / Taken from B&T's Myspace

When it came time for Small Brown Bike to play, I figured things would surely pick up. People began to surge forward to get at the stage before the set started, so I had a good feeling. Straight out of the gates, SBB came through would a few of their most energetic and well-loved songs. Everyone old enough to recognize the sweet sounds being relayed from the band’s equipment went nuts. SBB had the crowd in their hands, but unfortunately decided to drop them all on their heads, presumably so we were all too unconscious to try and figure out what happened next.

The Bike played the slowest shit ever following this amazing beginning. It was like they sat down and picked out which songs would bore everyone to sleep. I don’t know if they wanted to force us to finally listen to all the songs we usually skipped on their albums, but the feeling was sucked out of the room leaving us all wondering, just like Superdrag, where the hell it went. Here and there the band would inject a few familiar numbers to wake everyone up, but then it was right back to naptime. In all honesty, I was completely disappointed when their set was over.

Small Brown Bike / Taken from Smallman Records

So I would say the high points of the night were me imagining Pabst as a super-group (Slash’s Snakepit, anyone? No? Okay.), and Bridge and Tunnel’s fantastic set. It seemed like Small Brown Bike still needed some warming up, and I would be interested to see how their second show went.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Heavy Rotation: December 18, 2009

And here we are, back on track... Hit it up, fuckrazors.

Spleen Latifa:
01. Phobia - 22 Acts of Random Violence
02. North Lincoln - Midwestern Blood
03. Choking Victim - No Gods / No Managers
04. Insect Warfare - World Extermination
05. The Copyrights - Mutiny Pop
06. Infest - Discography
07. Bullet Treatment - The Mistake
08. Spazz - Dwarf Jester Rising
09. Tear It Up - Taking You Down With Me
10. Combatwoundedveteran - This Is Not An Erect, All-Red Neon Body

The Hellion:
01. Knights of the Abyss - Shades
02. Lewd Acts - Black Eye Blues
03. I Declare War - Amidst the Bloodshed
04. Crestfallen - Streaks of Terror
05. Mastodon - Leviathan
06. Skullflower - IIIrd Gatekeeper
07. God Equals Genocide/Shang-A-Lang - Split
08. Razor of Occam - Homage to Martyrs
09. Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
10. Racebannon - In the Grips of the Light

Monday, December 14, 2009

Review Your Face Off: Lewd Acts - "Black Eye Blues"


San Diego is home to many things, most of which I can't think of right now. However, there is one important thing that comes to mind, and that happens to be the band Lewd Acts. I think you should know about them and their album on Deathwish Inc., so I'm going to give you the lowdown.

If you are a fan of raw and gnarly hardcore, then you need to set aside some time to rage out to Black Eye Blues. Lewd Acts isn't here to try and start a new scene or fit into the latest trend; these fellas are keeping hardcore true to its roots. This record is chock-full anthems for those with bleak views on pretty much everything. While other bands are pumping out crap that remains irrelevant to their audience, Lewd Acts manages to hit home with listeners by taking the time to show they actually give a shit about what they are putting out for consumption.

Most of the album keeps a fantastic amount of energy, but at times it does seem to get a little slow and even drag. It's alright though, because there is a lot more good on this record than bad. Songs like "Young Lovers, Old Livers" and "Wide Black Eyes" will bring you back to the times before hardcore was a fashion show. You'll be screaming along to this like you did the first time you heard Minor Threat (or The Counting Crows, depending on how you were raised).

So there you have it; this album isn't so sick it hurts, but it's definitely worth checking out.

Here's Lewd Acts live playing "Penmanship Sailed" off this album:

Heavy Rotation: December 14, 2009

It's been a long, long time since we put up a Heavy Rotation, but in case you haven't noticed, we're actually posting shit again. I know it's a Monday, so we'll post what we listened to last week. This upcoming Friday, look for another Rotation showing what we jam to in the days to come. Don't fret, these will be back in the normal Friday spot come the end of this week.

I would also like to make note of a new writer the Belly is proud to have. You might have noticed someone named Old Iron Blood has popped up on our contributor list. Yes, friends, we are expanding! If you remember back, we had an article posted about Unleashed's Midvinterblot, and now the man responsible for that article is here ready to rock with the crew. As usual, these are in no particular order, so let's get to it.

The Hellion:
01. Wolfbrigade - Comalive
02. Breathe In - From This Day On
03. Disfear/Doomriders - Split 7"
04. Sworn In - Sworn In EP
05. SS Decontrol - The Kids Will Have Their Say
06. Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli
07. Behemoth - Evangelion
08. Origin - Antithesis
09. Me and Him Call It Us - Loss
10. Cephalic Carnage - Xenosapien

Old Iron Blood:
01. The Faceless - Planetary Duality
02. By Night - A New Shape of Desperation
03. Bloodbath - Unblessing the Purity
04. BloodStream Parade - The Apocalypse in Retrospect
05. Agalloch - Ashes Against the Grain
06. Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli
07. Grand Magus - Iron Will
08. Vader - Necropolis
09. Katatonia - Night is the New Day
10. Gama Bomb - Citizen Brain

Spleen Latifa:
01. Pretty Little Flower – Pulverizing Lethal Force
02. Black Army Jacket – Closed Casket
03. Hellnation – Cheerleaders for Imperialism
04. Coke Bust – Lines In The Sand
05. Blotto – Get On Bored
06. XBRAINIAX – Hail Fastcore
07. Traitors – Traitors
08. Low Red Land - Dog's Hymns
09. No Comment – Discography '87-'93
10. Jawbreaker – Unfun

Sunday, December 13, 2009

So Sick It Hurts: Low Red Land - "Dog's Hymns" and "Weight of Nations"

Ok, truth be told, this was just going to be a So Sick about Low Red Land's brain-flooring and practically pitch-perfect "Dog's Hymns"... but as I was refreshing my memory of the brilliance that is that record, I was reminded of the stepping stone brilliance that paved its way: their previous monstrous effort, "Weight of Nations". Perplexed with how to approach this gnarcolumn, not wanting to sacrifice any opportunity to turn any of you loyal Bellions onto ridiculously talented and masterful artists you might not have came across yet, I decided to make this So Sick more just about the band itself, since I'm including both their full-lengths, which to my knowledge is pretty much their discography. I promise to keep that a one-time occurrence, since we probably don't want this to evolve into just a mere gushing over a rad band, but rather keep it about an over-the-top sick record you need to own, like, yesterday.

So anywho, where do I begin? Fuckin Low fuckin Red Land... Fuck... I will go out on a limb and say "Dog's Hymns" is probably one of the few records that I would truly refer to as a "cinematic triumph". No joke in the slightest. Each track after track just paint and evoke such vivid, and often haunting, representations of our most basic of feelings: be it despair, triumph, regret, optimism, loss, camaraderie, rage, nostalgia, sadness, etc. It baffles me how this band can capture more raw, gritty, aggressive emotion in one verse than some brutal bands can in an entire album, let alone their entire career. But this isn't even the clincher -- They can do it in a song that is most assuredly the opposite of brutal. Hell, they can even do it with just a fuckin banjo. And if you can make a banjo stir up such visceral feelings that can make a brain feel like it's on autopilot, lost in a movie scene directed by the accompanying tragic/inspiring lyrics, you win.

But don't get me wrong, these guys are not some sad-sack piece of shit weepy band... They construct every turn of their musical landscape with fucking teeth. They deliver those kinds of sentiments that can hit you in the gut like that first time you saw your tough as nails father accidently let a little of the waterworks show through his stonefaced exterior, to only choke it back down again into forgotten existence. Shit, I have never heard so many songs one after another that would be the quintessential soundtrack behind every shot in a movie where a character stands lips pursed staring off into space... I'm looking at you Gus Van Sant... And I haven't even begun to talk about the songs where the singers fucking YELL. These cats have shredded throats can peel paint off a '74 Dodge. The range of the tunes are seriously fucking batty. I dunno, I could totally be in the minority with these claims, so you'll just have to pick up these two records and decide for yourself. But seriously heed this call, cuz I really doubt you'll be disappointed in the slightest.

Low Red Land - "Dog's Hymn" (live @ Monkeywrench Books SXSW '08)

Low Red Land - "Dreams That Heroes Dream"