Archive for dark angel

Review: Power Trip

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2017 by Magadh

Power Trip, Nightmare Logic, Southern Lord

power trip2There are a number of things that differentiate this disc from Power Trip’s previous outing (2013’s Manifest Decimation), but the one that you’re really going to notice if you’ve heard the earlier release is the production. Manifest Decimation was a good record in a lot of respects, an example of the mid-80s style thrashmetal that occasionally lifts its head above the sea of black metal and grindcore. It has some pretty good songwriting and a decent degree of aggression. The main problem was that the recording seemed so awash in something (reverb probably) that it made the songs hard to discern.

I’ve got no problem with raw recording values in metal and hardcore. Sometimes, given the right overall tone, it can add an element of atmosphere (I won’t tax you by reciting where I think this is the case but if you page back some of my reviews you will find ample evidence). But in the case of Manifest Decimation, it just made it difficult to follow the chord changes without really adding the needed atmospheric dimension.

I am happy to report that this problem has been sorted in their new disc. Nightmare Logic is crisply recorded and features a wealth of punch, intense thrash metal cuts. Those who heard their split with Integrity from last year will have seen the moves in this direction, but the release of Nightmare Logic shows that they can put it together for a whole album’s worth of material, which is worthy of note. And let’s be clear: this album absolutely rips. They don’t have quite the tonality of a band like Havok, but they are none the worse for being a bit nastier.

power trip1As you might expect given the four year gap between their full releases, there are other improvements to be noted. Power Trip have made notable advances in terms of songwriting and arranging. Their sound is reminiscent (at least to my ear) the thrashmetal bands that labels like Combat seemed to release with such frequency back in 1980s, particularly Dark Angel, with whom they share more than a passing similarity. That said, their songs are more complex and intensively developed than Dark Angel were in their heyday.

That said, their songs are more complex and intensively developed than Dark Angel were in their heyday. Power Trip’s songs are full of little back picked elements that add power in ways that are hard to quantify or to describe in the abstract. I found myself thinking of the picking style of Artillery’s first couple of records. The drums are clearer as well, and I really loved the snare sound, thick and thudding, but with enough tone to cut through and be heard.

Nightmare Logic is one of the best exemplars of the thrashmetal genre to be released in at least the last five years. It’s got a lot of variety and changes of speed, and the musicianship is about as close to flawless you’re ever going to hear. I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting a great deal to begin with, these guys have produced some really hard rocking stuff that’s going to be infesting my stereo (and tormenting my neighbors) for a long time to come.

Review: Deathhammer

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on June 30, 2012 by Magadh

Deathhammer Onward to the Pits Hell’s Headbangers

Deathhammer is one of those bands that doesn’t get a huge amount of front line press, but who get name checked a lot by scenesters. This can be a good thing. After all, Von were pretty great even if only about sixteen people ever saw them and the only props they got while they were around were from Kristian “Varg” “Douchebag” Vikernes. On the other hand, one gets the feeling that a lot of times these name checks are all about illustrating one’s own connection to the obscure, rather than intrinsic qualities of the band in question.

I’d been vaguely aware of Deathhammer’s existence for a few years, but had never heard them until recently. Onward to the Pits, which was just released a couple of months ago, is one of those records that really takes me back. Now, you might think that I’m talking about being taken back to the lowball thrash era of the 1980s, when bands like Cryptic Slaughter and Wehrmacht stripped away all the inessential elements in the pursuit of thrashing purity. There is certainly an element of that here, but that’s not really where this disc takes me.

No, to really get to the essence of Into the Pits, I have to go back to my days in 7th grade of sketching pictures from the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual on the blank spaces of my peechee during social studies class. It starts with Deathhammer’s logo. I am all for rawness and simplicity, but their logo make’s Beherit’s look like an engraver’s masterwork. The cover of the record looks like the kind of thing you might have found doodled on a discarded program from Gen Con III.

Having seen that, I was really prepared not to like this record. My hackles were further raised by the first cut on the album which occupies a territory about halfway between Bloodthorn and Nifelheim. The riffs are good, but it’s like 80% blast beat, and I kept wondering when they were going to shift to a tempo that could actually keep my attention. This is not to say that it was bad; it was just a little on the boring. From that point, matters improved dramatically. Much of the rest of the album is 1980s style thrash metal, with deathish elements. Some of it kind of sounded like Dark Angel, while at other times they moved into slightly grungier territory, ala Infernö (the Norwegian one) or earlier Aura Noir.

This isn’t the kind of record that you get to the end of and think, “I’ve never heard anything like this before.” But it is aggressive and played with real intensity. It doesn’t try to be anything other than it is. It’s the sort of thing that demands to be turned up loud and consumed with large quantities of beer. They do what they do well, and if you like unapologetic black thrash, you will certainly dig this.

Magadh

Review: Warbringer

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on June 16, 2012 by Magadh

Warbringer Worlds Torn Asunder Century Media

I suppose we all like a little nostalgia from time to time. Listening to Infernö and Gehenna in the 1990s gave one a little taste of that moment of the first time you dropped the needle on Hell Awaits, or the day you got the Exodus demo in the mail. There will always be a place in the metal world for bands that recall the halcyon days of thrashmetal in the mid-1980s. It’s a sign of the essential quality of that music. On the other hand, there was a lot of mediocre metal in those days, and I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that that is getting revived as well.

For your consideration, I offer Warbringer’s most recent release, Worlds Torn Asunder. I must admit that the enjoyed the first couple of Warbringer discs. For me, they were a throwback to bands from the 1980s like Dark Angel: they were enjoyable for a couple of listens but they never quite had the quality of songwriting to lift them into the top level of thrashmetal elite. Warbringer demonstrate mastery of a lot of the fundamental elements of the genre. There is a lot of double bass thumping and damped chugging. The vocals are gruff, but clean enough such that you can understand what is being said. So what’s not to like?

Well, for starters, there’s not a great deal of progression across their catalog. This might strike some as a sort of an odd expectation for a band whose stock in trade is 1980s atavism. However, it’s one thing to like the style, and another to be satisfied hearing the same record over and over again. If you put the first three Warbringer discs on shuffle, you will be hard pressed to figure out for sure which songs come from which record, unless you are one of those brave souls who have conceded enough of your life span to recognize each song individually.

Warbringer’s most recent offering is, it must be said, a bit more varied than previous releases. It is nonetheless the case that they are sort of trapped by the format. Essentially, there are three stylistic choices for a band like this. They go more technical. Alternatively, they can take the At the Gates route and up the level of brutality. (If you’re wondering about that reference, just listen Slaughter of the Soulnext anything else that At the Gates released). Or they can just wallow in the style that they’ve been doing so far. Clearly, it is this third choice that they have gone for. Once again, atavism isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. The thing that differentiates bands like Infernö and Gehenna from Warbringer is that their atavism consisted in an effort to take the format back to it’s roots, thereby to recapture some the rawness and intensity that had been lost by subsequent purveyors. Warbringer was a throwback to a style that is already fully developed and plunging headlong toward decadence. It’s like trying to renovate rock and roll by starting a Genesis cover band.

In spite of all of this, it must be said that Worlds Torn Asunder is not a bad record. Even with the significant lineup changes that Warbringer have gone through in the last couple of years, they have retained their core sound and technical consistency. What it comes down to is a calculation that each listener must make between love of the style itself the actual quantity of one’s lifetime that should be devoted to hearing the same old thing. Given the choice, I’ll probably just listen to Hell Awaits again.

Magadh