Monthly Archives: May 2010

Facelift-ALICE IN CHAINS-1990


Many bands on their debut album do not exactly know what is gonna sound good and what they are best at. Therefore, we find many debut albums where there was no focus and it ended up in a mish mash, with a lot of different things being tried out. Sometimes great bands find that they are good at most of it, and therefore the experiment is a success, but most good bands find that they are competent at most things but deadly at only one. I suppose that was the state of Alice in Chains at the time of this, their debut. They tried punk, funk etc, and most of the album drags. However, the first four songs completely rock and are classics, and should be there on any AIC compilation album. Those ones are of course in many ways the precursor to Dirt and are the stylistic origins of AIC. I have already described those in my ramblings on Dirt and Jar of Flies. However, the only song that would have fitted well on Dirt is the opener itself, “We Die Young” which is in many ways the signature AIC song, and a little disturbing seeing as what happened in the course of the following decade or so.

I can be accused of not having heard closely what happens after those 4 beauties, but I shall tell you straight up that I have hardly heard anything to note closely, other than that there is an RHCP flavour to some songs, which hardly sits well with me. I like the death and desperation style and feeling better guys. Feels like AIC. Feels metal.

Recommended Songs- We Die Young, Man in the Box, Sea of Sorrow, Bleed the Freak, and trust me, these are very, very good.

- Baba T

More ALICE IN CHAINS reviews HERE.

More ALTERNATIVE ROCK/ GRUNGE/ INDIE reviews HERE.

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The Jester Race-IN FLAMES-1996


In Flames is one of those bands, who only know of one pattern, are characteristic of a specific sub-genre, and can be easily classified. They are Melodic Death Metal from Sweden, and they make catchy NWOBHMish riffs with growled vocals, and from what I can hear, sing of absolutely nothing of relevance, and the lyrics are typical metal, dragons and what-not. Oh yes, there are the typical dual lead harmonies, the soft interludes i.e called acoustic sections by the pros so on and so forth.

In this album they laid down the blueprint on which they have built the whole of their career so far, from what I have heard. They have produced a ton load of albums, and all of them are as relevant as Children of Bodom and Amorphis albums. Which to say, not at all. If you hear one, you have heard mostly everything the scene has to offer. Completely interchangeable, with minor variations. One problem I have experienced with metal bands, is that most bands, about 90%, tend to stick to stereotypical norms of that genre or sub-genre for throughout their career. Now take bands like,umm, Overkill, lets say. Would it really matter what album you pick up? They are all the same. There would be some which have more catchy riffs and are more memorable, and then others which are not that good, but in any case they are the same. Forgettable. I still keep searching for the great bands though, and I have found that searching for that “it” factor can be rewarding.

In Flames, never got out of the rut of being a steady, good band. They will never be great. After hearing a helluva lot of metal music, my favorites still remains the early Black Sabbath albums+Metallica’s initial golden run+Slayer’s Reign in Blood+ Iron Maiden friggin LIVE+ Motorhead “LIVE AND LOUD”+ Some Judas Priest.

However, what you should know is that they are part of the Swedish Death Metal scene, which mostly consists of them, Dark Tranquility, At the Gates and Edge of Sanity, EOS being by far the superior among all these, maybe because they were more innovative and liked to challenge themselves, while the others drove themselves into a rut, by doing the same thing over and over again.

Well, you have the gist. If you needs must listen to some entertaining music from this Swedish metal scene, you can hardly do better than to pick this one up, since it contains one really good gem of metal music, namely the short instrumental, “The Jesters Dance”, and also has a host of sweet riffers like “Graveland” and “Lord Hypnos”. After some time you will get the feeling that it is all the same, and you would be perfectly justified in switching to something which is less formulaic and monotonous.

Recommended Songs-The Jesters Dance.

- Baba T

More IN FLAMES reviews HERE.

More METAL reviews HERE.

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The Bends-RADIOHEAD-1995


It is one step ahead, in fact, a lot of steps ahead of the debut, Pablo Honey. But in the main it is still guitar rock. Nice Alternative guitar rock from the early 9o’s, that’s what it is. Emotionally, they are Radiohead. And you know what that means, doncha?? Our mechanical future and all that stuff. Alienation. Contempt for modern society. Basically they began as sad prophets singing and later on making futuristic songs, and then just kept getting better at the same. This was the start, so yes, the songs are not as good and dystopian as on Kid A, which I would say is the essential Radiohead, but still, some of the songs on here are among the best Radiohead ever wrote, and the best thing is, this is the most “catchy “ and “easy” album they ever made. Well, unless they get up one day and say “hey I am bored of this emo keyboard shit..lets get out and rock!!!”. And trust me at this point in their career, that is soooo not gonna happen.

As I said, this is very listenable, unlike later albums like Kid A and Amnesiac, which are a very hit miss for many people, and you only start understanding those with patience and regular listening. Those are not gonna hit you at the first listen. However, on this one, though the songs don’t make all that of an impact, and are very understated in a unique Radiohead fashion, you easily get into the thing. However, the song that deserves a special mention is the closer “Street Spirit”. It’s like with the last song they said, “hey, here is a taster of what the rest of the albums are gonna be like from now on, so say bye-bye to clean guitar riffs!! Say hello to piano, horns, trombones and our mechanical, ravished future!! We are the voice of the disenchanted, alientated generation of today. WOOOOO!!!”

Recommended Songs-Street Spirit(Fade Out), High and Dry, The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees

- Baba T

More RADIOHEAD reviews HERE.

More ALTERNATIVE ROCK/ GRUNGE/ INDIE reviews HERE.

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The Work Which Transforms God-BLUT AUS NORD-2003


Yea, its black metal from Europe (France, not Norway), but to categorize it in a more narrow way so that you people know whether you want to go in for this or not, I would say this is Atmospheric Blackened Doom. They utilize the classic features of traditional doom metal to create a dark atmosphere. Ever heard of dark ambient music? Well there are features of that too. This is not quite removed from the traditional black metal approach of Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone and Anaal Nathrakh (but that band is too hardcore, quite at the other end of the spectrum) etc, for example tracks like “The Supreme Abstract” have your traditional blast beats and growled vocals, but that is not the strength of this band. In fact, I almost always skip that track in favor of dirges like “Our Blessed Frozen Cells” which employ what I would like to call the slow, plodding drums and instead of screaming guitars played at a breakneck pace, we have guitars being used to paint a picture (a rather dreary and dark picture, it ain’t about no pixies and tooth fairies this stuff), heavily distorted of course. Yes, it is different from the traditional black but I like it, being tired of the traditional ways of Emperor and such like. After all how many times can you listen to “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” done in a hundred different ways by inferior bands?

The album does include a lot of filler in between the longer songs, and these are nothing but feedback and noise and are meant for heightening the intensity and atmosphere. I would skip all of that, tracks like “Fall” and “Density” and “End” are almost completely useless once you have heard them once and only serve to lengthen the track listing. A good thing about this band is that they have almost completely eschewed growls and tortured screams. Yes they are present on some tracks, but this is few and far between, and the production is such that they are only in the background, while the drums have been pushed to the forefront. That is another point, the drums, instead of sounding like a child beating incessantly on a piece of cardboard with his rattle, (to be found in the early releases of most black metal bands of the first wave, and also employed by bands today who want to sound “traditional and “true to the roots”) are the driving force of most of the cuts on this album and are the first thing you will notice on your first few listen. I have started to enjoy this album, not only because it’s not your traditional ground your face into the mud black metal, but also because the “ambient” growling of the guitars really does have some intensity and focus. Thumbs up to this album and I will be back in some time with more Blut Aus Nord. (which literally translates to Blood From the North). The minor quibbles that I have, of the album having a lot of go nowhere short pieces of ambient music are easily removed once you start appreciating the longer pieces. Also, I do not like it when they venture into the more hardcore aspect of black metal. But then those are easily avoided with the help of TDSR!!

Recommended Songs- Our Blessed Frozen Cells, Metamorphosis, Procession of the Dead Clowns. (the name sounds more like a Manowar or Exodus piece of thrash, pun unintended),

-Baba T


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