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Orion Festival-themed metal reviews

11 JulyComments Off
Author: Sam

I’m super stoked that I got to see the Orion Festival in New Jersey a couple weekends back, catching a buttload of sweet bands and rocking tunes. (Check out my thoughts on everything that went down!)  In the aftermath of the fest, I thought I’d review several of the latest releases from a few of the metal bands that I saw (or would have seen had their set not coincided with Baroness’).

Sepultura – Kairos

First up, we’ve got metal legends Sepultura.  This group of Brazilian heavyweights (and one guy from Cleveland) have been around seemingly forever.  Well, the name “Sepultura” has at least.  This band has gone through so many lineup changes that when I saw them in Jersey, there was only one remaining original member.  Kairos is the band’s dozenth (heh, that word just looks funny spelled out, like it’s shouldn’t even be a real word) album and it’s pretty much a bread and butter, no frills groove metal record – they can probably churn tunes like these out in their sleep at this point.  But the record’s spartan qualities aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  Now, notice I said “not necessarily,” because while on the whole this album acquits itself well in comparison to their classic Roots, it feels overly formulaic (especially the guitar solos) at times, and a track like “Mask” is embarrassingly trite.  Seriously dudes, calling out internet trolls doesn’t make you look cool, especially when it’s with lyrics like, “The typing and bitching / it’s how you keep your distance / Take your mask off.”  Lame.  And although it isn’t lame, what is up with the album-closing cover of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” inexplicably titled “4648″?  Sepultura has clearly entered the cranky old man phase of their career where they yell at bloggers to get off their lawn and generally just do whatever the fuck they want.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Black Tusk – Set the Dial

I would have liked to see Black Tusk’s set at Orion, but they were playing across the field at the same time as Baroness was kicking off the weekend’s festivities.  So while I wanted to check out this sludgy, frantic band from the swamps of Savannah live on stage, there was just no way I was going to miss Baroness.  It’s OK though because I’ve still got the latest recorded material from Black Tusk, Set the Dial.  For a band that sees its roots dug deep in the murky waters of southern sludge metal, Black Tusk surely does buck the trend a bit by setting their dial (see what I did there?) up several notches higher than many of their more lethargic peers.  This high fructose punk-like energy is reminiscent of some of Mastodon’s early material, and I’m still shocked at just how similar Black Tusk’s dual vocalists, Andrew and Athon, sound compared to Mastodon’s Troy Sanders and Kylesa’s Phillip Cope.  Unfortunately, the music, for the most part, never comes close to sniffing the heights achieved by those other two paragons of southern sludge.  Set the Dial isn’t bad or tossed off; it just pales in comparison to their genre peers.  Much like the band’s previous album, Taste the Sin (reviewed here), Set the Dial suffers from a lack of musical dynamics.  I’m all for stepping on the pedal and charging full speed ahead, but give that hard charging some context lest it swallow itself up and begin to feel tired.  For what it’s worth, the best song here is the infectiously grinding and grooving instrumental “Resistor.”  Maybe it’s the lack of anxiously yelped lyrics, but “Resistor” takes the time to luxuriate in the glory of its riffs.  It really offers a taste of this band’s untapped potential.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

And one more after the jump!

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Straight from the horse’s mouth (aka Metallica’s website):

A few months ago our own Kirk Hammett hinted at a new Metallica project that’s “not really 100 percent a Metallica record.”   While Kirk may have jumped the gun a little (and has since been properly punished with a series of push-ups!), we are more than proud to announce that we have just completed recording a full length album that is a collaboration with none other than the legendary Lou Reed.

Ever since we had the pleasure of performing with Lou at the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden in October of 2009, we have been kicking around the idea of making a record together.  Some of you astute Bay Area residents may have picked up news of recent Lou Reed sightings in the greater San Francisco area and we have indeed been working at our home studio at HQ on and off over the last few months.  In what would be lightning speed for a Metallica related project, we recorded ten songs during this time and while at this moment we’re not exactly sure when you’ll hear it, we’re beyond excited to share with you that the recording sessions wrapped up last week.

A true innovator and easily one of the most influential songwriters, musicians, and performers in rock music history, Lou’s work with the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist has such an enduring quality that he has long been revered and respected by us and many of our peers.  We can’t wait for you to listen to the finished record, so as we like to hear ourselves say around here, keep watching this spot for updates . . . we’ll be back with more details as they come together.

How cool is that?!  They were really good together at the Hall of Fame concert, and I could definitely see this combo working on a full album.  According to Ulrich, the album is already 90% done, but there are currently no firm release plans.

What do you think – good idea or bad idea?


Plastic Beach – it’s the new compound for the cartoon characters which make up Gorillaz (and what you see on the album cover).  According to a press release, it’s “made up of the detritus, debris and washed up remnants of humanity. This Plastic Beach is the furthest point from any landmass on Earth; the most deserted spot on the planet.”

And that’s an absolutely fitting place for this group of misfits to take up residence since Gorillaz make some of the most genre-melting and unique pop music you’ll hear.  They don’t fit in anywhere but on their own unnatural island somewhere in the middle of the ocean.

It’s just too bad that the album starts off like its inspiration, and by that I mean a big pile of garbage.

Plastic Beach starts off harmlessly enough with a minute-long and rather unnecessary orchestral intro before segueing into the second track which is basically another intro track, only this time we get to hear Snoop Dogg phoning in some of the laziest rhymes he’s done as he welcomes everyone to the fictional island.  With track three, “White Flag,” we finally get a real song.  Unfortunately, it’s downright annoying and easily the worst song on the album.  It features two British rappers, Bashy and Kano, who sound like two amateur freestylers struggling to come up with something clever to say over a lousy beat.

That’s over eight minutes of at best useless and at worst annoying music to start off the record.  When you dig a hole that deep, it’s damn near impossible to get out.  But Damon Albarn finally shows up on track four, and all is well with the world again.

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First “Plastic Beach” single released

21 JanuaryComments Off
Author: Sam

A couple of days ago, Gorillaz leader Murdoc announced to the world that his cartoon group’s new album Plastic Beach was almost finished.

Well, today we got the official release date as well as the first single.

Plastic Beach will be released on March 9th, and the first single called “Stylo” is currently available on the band’s YouTube channel HERE.

“Stylo” doesn’t hit you over the head with Gorillaz’ trademark ingenuity the same way that “Feel Good Inc.” did way back in 2005 when it swept the country.  Instead it opts to lock into a rock-solid funky disco beat that maintains a chill vibe throughout the song while guest vocalists Bobby Womack and Mos Def do most of the emoting.  One thing’s for sure though -  when it comes to Gorillaz, they rarely have many tracks that sound the same, so even if you can’t totally get into this first single, I’m betting there will be something on the new album that will get your hips shaking.

And like usual, the band has recruited more than its share of guests to appear on Plastic Beach.  Some of those guests include Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, and De La Soul.  Count me as particularly interested to hear the Snoop collaboration.

The full tracklist is after the jump.

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