Saturday, February 6, 2016

"THEY CAME TO KILL" by WITCHES OF GOD

WITCHES OF GOD: THEY CAME TO KILL
HARD TO CLASSIFY / HARDER TO STOP LISTENING TO

This is a really cool find.  Each tune on this album has something different to offer.  There are times in this album where stoner rock seems like the best label, and others that scream out punk and metal as well.  I'm posting one tune from the album here but trust me, no tune is representative of what the album has to offer.  Each track is unique and highly worthy in its own right.  Here is the opening track, "We Are Not Alone." 

If it sucks you in like it did me, you'll want to check out the whole album on bandcamp here: https://witchesofgod.bandcamp.com/album/they-came-to-kill, where you can buy the whole album for 7 bucks (less than a dollar per tune).

Do they have any releases before this one?  Yes, sir.  In 2013 Witches of God released its first album, "The Blood of Others", which is equally awesome.  Somehow as a new band they managed to land Scott Weinrich (aka "Wino") for some guest vocals on this track, "The Horror."
It's really hard to find info on the band members themselves.  These are the only pictures I could find of the band, the first one from the bandcamp page and the second one from metal-archives.com
Names?  Can't find 'em.  Just increases the aura of mystery for the band.  Maybe if I had bought the physical copy instead of the digital download?  For now, their names are the Witches of God.  So far this is my favorite album I've found in the early stages of 2016.  Hope you enjoyed listening.

Enjoy the Superbowl - don't think it's gonna be the thriller that last year's was (I think Denver is getting smoked again), but I'm still going to watch.  And maybe I'm wrong. There's a reason I don't bet on football.  Until next time!      -ULTRA


Friday, February 5, 2016

LOTD! DEFTONES Prayers/Triangles


Prayers/Triangles
DEFTONES



    The Deftones are back with a new album, Gore. What can we expect from the new album? It's always a guessing game, Deftones keep each album close to their breast. It's a major reason I try not to hear any of the leaks or singles before a Deftones album is dropped. In this case, I just couldn't wait. I mean there was a leak last week that I really wanted to hear but I couldn't bring myself to it. Then yesterday I noticed that a full official single was available and 24 hours later I've already given it a couple listens. 
   Well man, what do you think? I think it sounds like the Deftones. If I had to compare the Prayers/Triangles track to anything they've done before....I'd say it's somewhere between Saturday Night Wrist and Diamond Eyes. Their last album Koi No Yokan followed the pattern of Diamond Eyes but it seemed a bit more layered with atmospheric bells and whistles. Prayers/Triangles is stripped down, still beautiful and still the Deftones sound. So take that for what it is. As a fan I'm still hoping the band releases Eros, the last recordings with Chi on bass. Even if it's unfinished, I need to hear it. For now check out Prayers/Triangles and pick up the album Gore in some format on April 8th.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A short take on a long standing problem. Race and Hate in the Metal Community. Op/Ed


To the outside world Heavy Metal is leather, spikes, shaved heads and bloody knuckles. The music itself is loud, in your face, aggressive and all of the lyrics include themes of death, drugs and satan. 
Why?
National and Global Media can sell a hell of a lot more newspapers and adspace showcasing the dastardly church burning antics of Scandinavian satanists than spotlighting the good deeds of charitable rockers who come together united by a greater cause than themselves.

___________________________________________________________________________________


This past week, the news story about a tribute show called the "DIMEBASH" began with a quick piece about Dave Grohl joining former band members of Pantera to offer a musical tribute to their deceased band member Dime Bag Darrell. It was newsworthy because Dave Grohl in many media circuits is a big hearted rock star who writes great rock tunes that even your parents will enjoy. 

By the weekend, Heavy Metal suffered yet another black eye in the form of a racist salute and shout on that same very stage. Through social media, fans seemed to immediately square off in wall of death, tearing each other down over which side they fell on this controversy. "Loyal" fans who would forgive Anselmo even if he drove over their own parents with a tank accused "Social Justice Warrior" fans of not having thick enough of skin when they began calling Anselmo's "Sig Heil" and "White Power" shouts racist. Other metal musicians like Robb Flynn felt that the incident warranted a response and called out the Pantera front man for being a bully. 

I responded during the weekend on our social media page with a short post. I decided to use subtlety rather than call out any of the parties involved by name. I asked the metal community to move forward but to also realize that Anselmo's (I left his name out) actions were not something we should gloss over. He was wrong, no matter how much you love the guy, he was wrong. Several hours later, Anselmo himself would post an apology backing away from an earlier response where he blamed the incident on an inside joke. He asked for the forgiveness of his fans and anyone hurt by his actions.

The reaction from fans over this incident has been just as big of a black eye as the actual incident itself. While I've always felt Metal music can affect change and unify people of various backgrounds, cultures, sexes and ethnicity, the overall picture I got from reading the various racist rants of fans turned my stomach. Is loyalty to your favorite musician reason enough to treat others so terribly for having differing opinions? Especially when it comes down to condemning an artist for a racial tirade? I had high hopes that the majority of fans would call Anselmo out on his poor judgement and show the world that we are much more than what the media around the globe likes to represent us as. Unfortunately, too many folks are playing up this controversy to act out on latent prejudices and racial views. 

My last thoughts on the matter as I move forward and try to discover more bands from around the world and various cultures. Be the change you want to see in the world. Stand up against hate and remind those artists you support that it does matter what they say and do on stage. This is the only way we succeed as fans and as people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CD REVIEW - David Bowie's Blackstar


David Bowie goes out on a high note with final opus BLACKSTAR.

It's difficult to describe the feeling of losing as an iconic rockstar the size of David Bowie. A real once in a lifetime artist who transcended music, fashion and pop culture. The man who reinvented himself time and again. The spaceman who created characters and worlds none of us would even think of until he came up with them. How do you sum up a career like that and what's been left behind? I guess, Blackstar.

   Blackstar is the final Bowie album. It's performed and written in an almost hallucinogenic state of being. Death plays the protagonist on this album. Bowie understood how short his time was on this planet and the importance of leaving behind something important for future generations. For older fans of his more popular sound this will probably be an introduction into the more free form and avante garde style he worked on in his later years.

  It is rare that an artist has the awareness or the strength to go toe to toe with his or her mortality. This is a complete album back to front. "Blackstar" begins eerily modern sounding. The off timed percussion and rhythm are uneasy. Bowie's own vocals sound ancient almost on the verge of coming from some type of ghost box. The song eventually transitions into subtle moments of 80's chic bowie. Even in his most difficult moments he still cut a fine "Thin White Duke' stance. Track two, "Lazarus", is a beautifully hip tune that is both somber and driving. The lyrics feel like hand written notes. The classic Bowie vocal strain is touched by age and wear. In it's desperation it sounds like echoes from the heavens and is absolutely what sold me on this album.

  "Tis is a Pity She Was a Whore" is a sexy jazz dance number. I could almost imagine this being played at a night club in limbo. Bowie strains at points to get out the vocals and thanks to a comment I read on youtube, if you listen early into the opening of the track you can hear him taking in deep preparatory breaths. Given that Bowie was many times too weak to make rehearsals for the album, it just goes to show that there were few opportunities to do more than one take. "Sue (or in a season of crime)" as it appears on Blackstar is an alternate version of the same track that originally appeared on a compilation Nothing Has Changed. It showcases the amazing talent of the band he handpicked for this album. Mark Guiliana's frenetic work on drums deserves high praise.

  "Girl loves me" is a strong tune. My favorite lyrics "where the fuck did Monday go" pops up like a mantra. You can almost imagine how quickly the last 18 months of the artists life passed by and this is almost like a subliminal reminder to the listener to make every moment count. It's a much less straightforward tune that still packs a great wallop.

  "Dollar Days" is amalgam of repose and static thoughts. The artist realizes the importance of things he has to do without in order to get the most out of each moment that is left. He is dying and hoping to reverse fate but at the same time realizes how short time really is. The album ends on the track "I can't give everything away". It begins literally with the lyrics "I know somethings wrong" and is probably the easiest track to decipher. Bowie literally spent his dying moments trying to complete his life's work. Friends accounts even say that he may have miscalculated how much time he had at the end. Bowie wished to complete another finished album before his death. He fought to leave everything on the table and given that there may be a final five tracks in some state of completion for the future, I think he succeeded.

Friday, January 29, 2016

LOTD! Iggy Pop - Break Into Your Heart




Hey we're back for a quickie. No time to lose the socks. Iggy Pop is making some news, he collaborated with Josh Homme (KYUSS/QOTSA) for his new Post Pop Depression album. After hearing two of the leaked tracks, I find it ironic that this new album's sound borrows strongly from the recently passed David Bowie's Berlin era. I've never been a Iggy Pop fanatic. I appreciate what he's done for music and how unique he is. Not unlike Bowie, his music has continued to be relevant for decades. He's not only a musician but also an actor. He's an enigma very much like Bowie as well. SO I really do dig this new offering by Iggy. Unintentionally, it pulls on the heart strings a bit more now that the spaceman has departed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Witchcraft's "Nucleus"

WITCHCRAFT: NUCLEUS
NOT FOR AMATEURS

Witchcraft is one of the more unique rock bands of modern times.  The band started off in 2000 when Magnus Pelander, Jens Henriksson and Ola Henriksson got together to record a tribute to the band Pentagram.  Their single "No Angel or Demon" got the attention of Rise Above Records, who produced Witchcraft's first three full-length albums, all stoner rock "must have" classics.  Their latest two releases are on Nuclear Blast Records.  Each time Witchcraft puts out an album, there is a change in band members, with Magnus Pelander (vocals, guitar on the early albums) being the only constant in the sixteen years or so of the band's existence.  Witchcraft had five members on their 2012 release "Legend", and is now a trio with 2016's "Nucleus." 
So how to describe "Nucleus"?  Well everybody describes the first three albums, "Witchcraft", "Firewood" and "The Alchemist" as having an authentic 1970's sound, yet I would add that the songwriting sets them apart from sounding like any particular band from the 70's or any other time for that matter.  The fourth album, "Legend", had a much more modern, polished sound, while being heavier than any of the previous releases.  The sound for "Nucleus" is somewhere in between the sound of the Rise Above releases and Legend, but the songwriting is perhaps the most ambitious and grandiose of all their albums to date.  I've been listening to it for a while now, and it has everything I expect from a Witchcraft album:  Top-notch musicianship, creative and unique songwriting and professional production.  My only gripe with Nucleus is that tracks 4 and 9 get a bit repetitive and I find myself getting impatient before the next transition.  
Here's track #1, Malstroem, an awesome lead-in to the album:



Summary:  If you already love Witchcraft you will be psyched when you hear this;  it's almost an hour and fifteen minutes of Witchcraft, likely to make your top albums of the year list.  If you are new to the band, don't start with this one; start with "Legend" or "Witchcraft" and then explore the others before working your way up to this one.  

Just for kicks, here's a classic from the first album.  
The tune is "Her Sisters They Were Weak":

I feel like my thoughts have been all over the place in this post, but that's appropriate for Nucleus, which is musically all over the place. Thanks for reading and listening;  over & out!
-ULTRA

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Anthrax - For All Kings - track by track Review!



 FOR ALL KINGS
Anthrax

Grownman's Track by Track review!!!!


You Gotta Believe - Great start on this one that matches up quite well with their last album. The writing is strong and Belladonna feels like a better fit for the pace of this song. The main riff is reminiscent of early Anthrax. This is the first recording with Jonathan Donais of Shadows Fall on lead. It's definitely a plus that he's such an instrumental part of this song with his solos. This is how you introduce a new member.

Monster At The End - Two tracks in and Anthrax feels like their back for good. With all the line up changes in the past few years it's pretty cool to see Anthrax back at it's best. Donais once again is the spotlight of this track with his leads and solos peppering the listeners ears throughout. I can't say it enough this song is made for Belladonna. The pace of the last album made it sound like he was playing catch up. This time around, this is a perfect fit.

For All Kings - Check out that friggin bass beneath it all, Frank Bello is on point. When I first heard this track alone, I wasn't digging it. Now in the context of the album, it makes a hell of a lot more sense. The pace of the track is in order with the rest of the album. The production is so well balanced that you can clearly hear how great the new lineup gels together. The band sounds tight.

Breathing Lightning - A radio friendly track that incorporates all the thrash crunch the band's known for. I guess this old dog can learn a few new tricks. It's probably the most pop thing the band's ever done and I can't hate on them because it's actually good. The track even ends with an outro similar to the acoustic strumming on Sabbath's Laguna Sunrise.

Suzerain - This is what Scott Ian was talking about when he said that this album will have some of the most metal inspired music they've performed in their careers. Belladonna embraces his Dio on this one and the new kid Donais adds that next level of guitarmanship the band's needed for a very long time. I recall the band heading into the much more metal territory when they first hooked up with Dan Nelson. We saw how that went right? This time around, I think the band is well equipped and comfortable enough to explore their darker side. Come on now, Donais solo in the latter half of this song slayyyyyyyyyyyys!!!!!

Evil Twin - Break out your long board and thrash hard.

Blood Eagle Wings - The track begins with Uniquely Distorted riffs that transition into a signature Anthrax thrash groove. This will keep you swaying and singing along the whole way through.

Defend Avenge - What year is this? This is straight outta the early Anthrax songbook. No time to write. Time to MOSH! ..... this will even put a smile on the hardened brows of Testament fans

All of Them Thieves - This tune has a heavy Pantera influence. By demons be driven this feels like something that could have easily been on "Sound of White Noise' or 'We come for You All". The band has never sounded fuller or more confident.

This Battle Chose Us - While it definitely has a beautiful crunch, I'm not completely sold on the entire track. It's lost a bit of the energy and steam the rest of the album embodies. It might grow on me after a few listens but for now this feels like filler. 

Zero Tolerance - Bouncy signature grooves reminiscent of early Anthrax. Some of the best guitar work on the entire album and when I consider what I've just listened to, I'm blown away. The song as a whole isn't my favorite track right now but it definitely will thrash your face off.

extra live tracks - a bonus 

This is the album that will finally satisfy both the Belladonna and Bush fans. The thrash and metal components really work well on this album in a way that I haven't heard for sometime. Compared to the many original Thrash/Crossover bands from the 80's, Anthrax still deliver and bring to the table some fresh ideas without changing the dynamics of their sound. The album really benefits from the lack of drama and lead vocalist shakeups their last one dealt with. That was a large problem with even getting that album completed. I can't say it enough, Jonathan Donais is the fuel injection that Anthrax really needed going into this album. Many fans had no clue what to expect from yet another Anthrax line up change. His playing brings out the best in these thrash vets. It sounds like the band has found a fountain of youth in their playing. The production is pristine and does a great service to the melodic moments that appear throughout this album. If I had my hands held to the fire to actually give this album a score, I'd definitely give it 8 out of 10. It's so much better than their last album and it feels like everyone is on the same page now. As a long time fan, I'd like to see the band be even more productive in the future to knock out a few more albums before any shake ups occur. Shadows Fall is on a hiatus, Ian is focused on Anthrax business again and Belladonna seems to be fully initiated into his role as vocalist which means that they should not wait very long before getting into the studio again after they complete a touring schedule for this one. Strike while the iron is hot men!