Tag Archives: united states

festival review: Animals As Leaders live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

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A major chunk of the population that was there to attend Bangalore Open Air this year was for Animals As Leaders, which could be easily seen from the excitement in the crowd. Now that excitement was because they were all fans of extreme progressive instrumental metal or because Animals As Leaders were the first international band to hit the stage after Demonic Resurrection‘s slot is something I’d like to leave for the readers to interpret. I’ll add this for some assistance – “Arey wo foreign wala band chalu ho gaya hai” was overheard while I was walking towards Jeff Hanneman stage with my beer in tow. For readers not versed with the language Hindi the statement translates to “That band from abroad has started performing”.

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Frankly, I wasn’t there at the festival for Animals As Leaders simply because I don’t understand them. Before everyone draws a conclusion about the writer here, I merely implied that their music is not supposed to be understood. Such level of progressiveness is a gift of Animals As Leaders‘s sensory abilities. Keeping up with the marvelously frequent change in the pace and shredding of the guitar, and neatly done so, watching the drummer communicate with the rest of the troupe at the same speed and watching the coordination between the trio from the United States is not anyone’s piece of cake. It is enjoyed because it is not something everyone can do.

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Toshin Abasi is a genius, and let me re-iterate, he is a genius. He doesn’t even look at his guitar strings while animatedly scribbling his fingers through them. Instead, he smiles at the audience and humbly gathers all the affection that everybody has to offer. Well, let me put it this way – You cannot not love someone who is so precociously talented, be it a musician or a writer for that matter. That knowledge of the unknown, that confidence of the unheard and that guitar playing unlike anyone cannot be ignored.

Javier Reyes is no less, folks. Going hand-in-hand with the complicated instrumentation, Javier aided in getting those fists high up in the air while drummer Matt Garstka fucking broke the bass drum by bashing the kit inhumanly. Matt does his shit with complete concentration, and that’s what happens when so much awesome intensity gathers at one place and all of it culminates into an explosion. New bass drum please…

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Animals As Leaders possibly got the best reception as it was during their set that we saw maximum mayhem. No, bodies weren’t flying but hell of a lot of metal love was bestowed upon the band. So, it would be safe to say that Animals As Leaders left the stage and the country with a lot of satisfaction, and we, the crowd are still trying to understand what happened during their majestic set with only one question on our minds – How the fuck do they play all that?

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]

album review : Blood for the Master (2012) – Goatwhore

album : Blood for the Master

artist : Goatwhore

genre : Black/Death Metal

year : 2012

Blood of the Master contains crushing blackened death metal from the United States-based Goatwhore, packaged well with a hell lot of dislike for the false creator, popularly known as god. All the members of the band are continuously swimming in a pond of hate talking to everyone in the only language they know. One of the most consistent band from the genre they play, Goatwhore‘s music from their fifth full-length falls on you like a false ceiling ready to break your fucking head. A well timed album at a little over thirty eight-minutes, the album contains morbid guitar solos and some sick drumming to go with it. The vocalist forces his throat to growl and screech out the band’s true sentiments about ‘religion’, thereby making me the happiest person on the planet at that moment.

Check out the supersonic riffing on An End To Nothing. The guitarist has done some breathless stuff with the guitar, and he challenges the rest of the members to catch up with him. The best song on the album is this weird-ass one named Embodiment Of This Bitter Chaos, which begins on a really unpredictable note with the guitarist twisting the strings of his instrument. The song goes onto include the better bits of speeding black metal, only this time the drumming is heavier. The solo in between is enough to impress you all, but listeners who are looking for a lot more than just music will find it here. On the darker side we have Beyond The Spell Of Discontent. It has a vague flow which only adds to the excitement of the song.

The album has more positives than negative points which makes it a win-win situation, both for the band and the listeners. The cover art could have been improved, considering nowadays bands have gone three dimensional to explain the concept behind their album. Forget 3D, but the artwork could have been a little more detailed. All-in-all Blood for the Master is one massive album, and you should readily donate your blood to Goatwhore so they can quench their master’s thirst. Out with it, now!

Rating : 4/5

album review : Resolution (2012) – Lamb of God

album : Resolution

artist : Lamb of God

genre : Groove Metal/Metalcore

year : 2012

The sixth full length

With the experience of having toured with all bands that are part of the big four behind them, I wasn’t expecting these angry American sons to sit down and rest on their past merits. Richmond, Virginia is the place that’s famous because these five individuals hail from there, who at one time might not have thought that they’d be legends at a relatively younger phase in their lives. On their way to becoming the most revered metal act from the groove metal / hardcore genre, Lamb of God are one of the most holistic bands out there kicking ass since day one. To that I’d love to add that, out of their discography, they have scored a five out of five till now. Now we are onto the sixth which is titled Resolution which is going to embrace our ears.

The songs

Yea, I know. You were expecting some sort of ‘change’ or ‘innovation’ in their sound, a kind of a growth and they ended up doing what they have already done. Smack yourself for that stupid expectation. In the history of metal there have been only a few bands that have been forever respected till of course, today. So why don’t you just take some good shit coming your way. The songs on Resolution are certainly not in the forward direction but they aren’t a step backward either. It’s an active battle that can be placed alongside the rest the records recorded by the impatient fivesome.

There is a showcase of advancement on tracks like Desolation, The Undertow, Invictus,  Terminally Unique, Cheated and Visitation wherein melody and groove are brought together in classic LoG style. It is raining solos on Ghost Walking, The Undertow, Insurrection and King Me. Randy has demonstrated vocal variations from north to south and from east to west, here and even before this, while Chris has added more polyrhythms to his already complex resume. So, let me not comment on them. The remaining tracks need not be talked about as they had to be a part of Resolution.

The album

At fourteen songs, Resolution happens to be Lamb of God‘s longest yet. Thereby, they erase one more of my doubt which had be asking whether they’d be able to pull it off. They have, and the walls in your room will begin to respect you since you can slap them anytime by playing Resolution. This way you get respect for once just because Lamb of God write mad songs. Wonderful.

The production

Talk about the album’s production and it would be the first thing that might irritate your nerves in the head. You might even want to wait for the release date to see if it’s actually sounding like this. But, if you’ve heard the five earlier releases by them then you’ll find similarities between Resolution, New American Gospel, As the Palaces Burn and Wrath. Resolution is a bag wherein the sound and production efforts from all of the mentioned four albums have been borrowed and throw in. I am reminded of Black Label more than once and I kid you not. You get the opportunity to hangout with that characteristic jarring sound one more time.

The verdict

I do not expect the genre haters to understand the revolution that is Lamb of God, and well its not their fault. They are just too dastardly up (and down) there to figure out what’s happening on a LoG record. I pity them. Time to announce the verdict after having heard Resolution more than half a dozen times over a period of several days. Like any other LoG album, even Resolution does not contain stuff that is going to help you get over your break-up in the very first go. It grows, and grows enough for you to add it to your playlist, your collection, or whatever you wanna add it to. Hear it at least three times, is my suggestion, because the moment you are done playing the album once, you will have an urge to disrespect it like what happened when you heard Sacrament or Wrath. Do not forget how the song Redneck, that you thought is insipid, turned out to be a goldmine of groove once it was blasted over and over again. Give Resolution time and space, and you’ll find yourself looking at and hearing an album that could not have been better.

Rating : 3.5/5

Other Lamb of God related articles on this blog –

album review : Ashes of the Wake (2004)

Review of Lamb of God’s 2006 album Sacrament

Wrath (2009) – a review

Lamb of God live in India – requiem for a dream

gig review : Summer Storm Festival 2010 featuring Lamb of God

album review : Worship Music (2011) – Anthrax

album : Worship Music

artist : Anthrax

genre : Speed/Thrash, Groove Metal

year : 2011

Call this a major coincidence or a planned move, I get a feeling that several major bands had a round table conference and decided to release their tenth album in 2011. RHCP, Opeth and now Anthrax. Without any second thoughts I have to say the first two did not stand tall with their respective releases, and I was so looking forward to a band from this angry genre to smack me hard enough to have me on the floor looking for my lost tooth. Never mind.

Anthrax – they have nine albums to their credit, they’ve given hope to countless and they have a style that cannot be imitated. Of the so-called big four, Anthrax has more or less remained my least favorite. Sure they knew and know how to set the ears ringing but then it was all relative when it came to being a part of the four thrash biggies and Anthrax lacked something. Not necessary that it is something the other three possessed but it is just that Anthrax lacked something. This time these ageing thrashers took a good eight years to feed us with some new speed/thrash reasons to munch away. It’s called Worship Music.

Throwing in an intro that sounds as if a suspense is going to unfold leads the listener into a groove-oriented speedy track Earth On Hell that is very much the sound I had been craving for. For a thrash album getting the sound right is as essential as the music. Amongst one of the most thrashy tracks on the album complete with every reason to headbang and hair-raising melody is The Devil You Know. The chugging is carried forward on Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t where the vocals and guitars go together making it an experience to remember. I particularly am made to obey them for the melody that has been used in parts.

There is a continuous effort to ramp up the speed and it works well and can be seen as the tracks progress. The band’s efforts to try and keep the listener hooked is appreciated but then comes I’m Alive where the band runs after the sound they are trying to achieve so the continuity is maintained and it’s not happening here. Hymn 1 is just a break of half a second so we are taken towards the next part. And so we hit In the End. Anthrax fails to shoot up on In the End. The moments on the song is like climbing down and then up a hill but overall it’s loose. By the end of the song I would prefer remembering In The End as a Linkin Park track. A lot of chorus is repeating over tracks, and despite this being a strength it does not make The Giant likeable.

Hymn 2 is again a forty five second filler and it is not being very kind here. The lane is changed on Judas Priest, where the band hides the fact that they wanted to write a better track but they couldn’t. The band runs around in circles, and the outcome isn’t really the kind that would make you run along with them. Crawl is a welcome change, and knowing that there is at least one such track on an Anthrax record, I was anticipating it. Slow, with a dark theme, and constant throughout. That’s what the track is. An interesting song named The Constant follows where nothing at all is constant. There are a few effects used in the track that clears the head. Groove returns, solo returns and even the mood returns. I say this for the next song as well, where variety and variations are displayed in loops, and Anthrax signs off in style.

Although it isn’t raining riffs on Worship Music, there definitely are drizzles throughout. Rob Caggiano and his instrument are inseparable on the album, as he reproduces a cyclone of solos. The Devil You Know, I’m Alive and The Constant are just a few names that belong to Rob Caggiano. Joey Belladonna had to do justice to the vocals and the microphone feels glad to be in his hands.

We listeners have always worshiped music to the point of tripping over it, dancing to it, providing it undivided attention and boasting about it. But when a thrash giant decides to worship music then it definitely isn’t meant for the listeners who aren’t ready for it. Anthrax, on the other hand, take it upon themselves to enter the listener’s ears, battle the unbearable ear wax with ease and settle down. Worship Music isn’t the revival of thrash but at the moment, apart from Megadeth, the only other band (out of the big four) that is making music worth paying attention to is Anthrax. Believe me, for I believe in thrash.

Rating : 3.5/5

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