F.K.Ü. “4: Rise Of The Mosh Mongers” (2013) [Deserted Island Records – Part 7]

rise_mosh

[Napalm Records]
[Release date: April 26th, 2013]

Again an album that I reviewed when it came out. I liked it then, but it has grown considerably more since then. This might just be my favorite thrash metal record. It has everything that makes this high school drop-out punk mofo genre so much fun to listen to, made tongue-in-cheek, beer in hand(s) and parents out of town (hehe, made me think of this video).

F.K.Ü. take their style from Exodus and S.O.D., so don’t expect any metal epics around these parts. No, instead we are served hit song after hit song on this buffet of fast riffing (guitar: Pete Stooaahl a.k.a. Peter Lans, bass: Pat Splat a.k.a. Patrik Sporrong), faster drumming (Dr. Ted Killer Miller a.k.a. Teddy Möller) and amazing half screamed/clean vocals by the character called Larry Lethal, a.k.a. Lawrence Mackrory.

There are 17 tracks on this album. The first is a really good intro (even though I dislike intro tracks in general) and spread out in between the songs of standard length are four tracks in “The Überslasher” series measuring between nine and 35 seconds. They all work up to the same climax: “You die!” These four slashers were something I didn’t really get when receiving the album for reviewing back in 2013, but now I really like the pause they create on the whole thing.

Put this on, turn it up, and prepare to sing along to some of the catchiest choruses and thrash metal anthems ever made.

Four fingers!

  • TBOJ score: 5/5
  • DR score: 6

Dark Fortress “Venereal Dawn” (2014) [Deserted Island Records – Part 6]

venerealdawn

I first heard this album, the seventh release by the band, as part of a review job when it was released. I was not familiar with the band (shame on me), but at the time I was very affectionate of the melodic black metal style and Venereal Dawn sprung at me, sunk it’s claws and has not let go since.

Dark Fortress have been going since 1994, but only guitarist Asvargr remains from that time. In 2007, original vocalist Azathoth left the band and in his stead came Morean. Morean brought a new depth to the music that after three records culminated in Venereal Dawn in 2014.

The history of the band is not over yet, but I think they will be hard pressed to make such an impression on me again as they did with this release. It’s a slow and monstrous album this, but it reverberates with an atmosphere I have not experienced on any other album. Much of this atmosphere stems from the rumbling ramblings of the vocalist, but the instrumentation is also unique in some ways.

The songs are very long overall, and the total running length of the album is 1 hour 11 eleven minutes, but it never stalls. Even the slowest and most circumspect arrangements has that special edge, and a promise of something coming. And it always does. The album is continuously waxing and waning and I think, among the many albums that in time will turn up in this Deserted Island Records series, Venereal Dawn is among the most well arranged. It’s not just a collection of song, it really is an album. And a stellar one at that.

  • TBOJ score: 5/5
  • DR score: 6

Withered Beauty “Withered Beauty” (1998) [Deserted Island Records – Part 5]

Withered Beauty are a true one-hit wonder. I like the notion that a band can be formed, create a great album and then disappear. It creates a mystery to accompany the music.

The self-titled debut of this Swedish band is such a powerful display of musicianship that few other albums can match. What Withered Beauty did was taking the contemporary melodic death metal, and make it as black and brutal as any Swedish band was at the time. The album has a wonderful organic warmth to it, but it is still pummeling my senses when I listen to it. There is such a deep bass on this album, and so very dark growled vocals that the whole thing is just growing from the bottom up, from my inside and out.

Well, it was recorded by Peter Tägtgren at Studio Abyss, and mastered by Peter In de Betou – two of the most well-known engineers in Sweden at the time – so it’s not a surprise that it is a class work. It is truly sad however, that whatever issues the band experienced during the time of planned release made the distribution of the album so very constricted. I have never heard anyone mention this masterpiece, or read anything about it. And this is originally a Nuclear Blast release, no less.

It did get a re-release a few years ago, but I suspect that the damage was already done. I sometimes imagine what would have happened if Withered Beauty had continued to exist after this album, but I take solace in the fact that a second record would never be as good as the debut.

  • TBOJ score: 5/5
  • DR score: 7

    Eternal Lies “Spiritual Deception” (2002) [Deserted Island Records – Part 4]

    Holy smoke.

    Eternal Lies only ever released this one album, but I have been dreaming about a follow-up ever since. Now it looks like my dream will come true, as the band is actually active again and are posting updates on Facebook.

    I had the pleasure of attending their reunion show in Varberg, Sweden last year. A mini festival where not only Eternal Lies, but Ablaze My Sorrow and Eucharist played sets for an audience puking rainbows. Among these bands and the rest that played that evening, I was most looking forward to Eternal Lies. And they delivered.

    With only one album in their back catalog they didn’t have much material to choose from, but since Spiritual Deception is such a masterpiece completely rid of filler material, I was never worried.

    I can no longer remember how I came across this album, but it’s been a hallmark of melodic death metal in my collection for 15 years. It blows most, if not all, contemporaries out of the water with their more straight-up take on the Gothenburg Sound.

    It’s fun to look at the Swedish map and find Eternal Lies just in between Gothenburg and Helsingborg/Landskrona, and be able to draw the conclusion that the band actually sound like a mix of these two cities. Imagine a middle ground between At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, mid-era In Flames, Darkane and The Forsaken (I left out Soilwork by choice since I have always considered them to be their own beast) and you will find Eternal Lies. But I suspect you won’t be able to imagine just how great this record is. You just have to experience it for yourselves.

    • TBOJ score: 5/5
    • DR score: 7

      Boil “aXiom” (2013) [Deserted Island Records – Part 3]

      Some records you love right from the get-go: others need more time. aXiom (no, I don’t know why it’s spelt like that) is one of the latter, and that is because of its progressive nature.

      The word “progressive” is thrown about a lot when describing music and, I think, metal specifically. I don’t know if there is a universally applicable definition of the word, but for me it has come to describe music that is the opposite of old-school or “classic” (e.g. “old-school death metal” and “classic heavy metal”). It’s intricate without necessarily being technical. It’s something that holds more than first meets the eye (or ear) and on an album you often have to work a little to discover or understand its essence.

      I spent some time with the album for reviewing purposes at first. I gave it a pretty good score, if I remember correctly, but it wasn’t until further listening that I really came to connect with it. At that time the review had already been published, but the work of reviewing is always subjective and things can change in a person to make them develop new tastes and preferences.

      Where at first I thought the album pretty incoherent (even though it’s actually a concept album, about mental suffering) it finally transformed into this remarkable melodic journey of harmony, heaviness and playfulness that the album represents for me now. Although I do get a warm and pleasant feeling when listening to it, it’s really not a positive sounding album.

      The concept of mental health is something the band worked very hard to describe. They even interviewed patients at mental institutions to be able to understand how a sick psyche thinks. That shows dedication to the art, and speaks for the authenticity and deep nature of aXiom.

      To describe the music in more than abstract terms is a bit difficult. Imagine the more soulful and softer bits of System Of A Down and you will know a little of what Boil sounds like. The reason that I use this strange reference first is because Boil‘s singer sounds a lot like Serj Tankian (when the latter is not on screaming craze) and the intro track on the album sounds like something that SOAD could have done, if they didn’t have the need to be so flipped out. For more influences on Boil‘s sound, we stay in America, and most of their heavy rock contemporaries. I won’t namedrop, because I think that already the mention of SOAD would scare people away from listening to aXiom. Not that SOAD are bad, but what Boil do sound like on this album is just part that, part radio-friendly American rock music, both blended so well together and then turned metal in a way that makes it recognizable, approachable (hopefully for most), heavy but still melodic, haunting and beautiful, gripping but never grasping.

      Hopefully I haven’t negged this wonderful album. Please listen to it. Please like it, and let me know if you don’t. Unfortunately the band called it quits toward the end of 2013, so we won’t be getting new music from these guys in a while. But at least they went out on a high note.

      • TBOJ score: 5/5
      • DR score: 11

      Pathos “Katharsis” (2002) [Deserted Island Records – Part 2] 

      When I think of Riffs, with a capital R, I think of this album. I bought this album when it was fresh – not unlikely because it was on in the store while I was browsing the shelves (I doubt something like that will ever happen again) – and it has not been surpassed, in all these years, when it comes to sheer riffing and melodic thrash.

      The band released two albums prior to “Katharsis”, but they lack the proper sound that comes from a more professional and modern recording, plus the band had another singer back then. The original singer was not bad, but Paul Schöning is in a class of its own and is integral to the success of this album. 

      Unfortunately, it was not a commercial success, as the band kind of dissolved some time after the release. The only positive thing about that is that they truly finished on a high note (and boy can Paul reach some high notes, without going falsetto). The drums are ridiculously groovy and the guitars never let up. “Katharsis” is a non-stop riff fest, except for the industrial instrumental outro track. I have hated that “song” for many years, because it’s so unnecessary, but I figure it’s time to let it go. The guys must have put it there for a reason…

      Check out the awesome “Inhale” on YouTube:

      • TBOJ: 5/5 of course (which, I maybe should clarify, doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, but pretty darn close!)
      • DR score: TBD

      The Breathing Process “Odyssey (Un)Dead” (2010) [Deserted Island Records – Part 1]

      The classic dilemma for any fan of music is to pick out ones favorite albums, and call it your “deserted island list.” Often it is decided that you will only be able to bring like five or ten such albums, and you could spend an eternity assembling that perfect list, which of course have to be re-written according to your mood at any given time, and because of the fact that new stellar records are still being produced.

      Someone born in the 60’s with a diagnosed case of modernophobia might be able to compile a pretty solid top 20, where no records newer than 1984 would make the cut, and be happy with it. But I can’t make a top list like that. What I will do instead is drop this series of awesome albums that I will always like a little extra, and we’ll see what amount we will reach.

      First off, for no special reason, is the second album by American metallers The Breathing Process. Who?, you say. Them, I answer. At the time of writing this, they have only released two full-length albums, and their earlier works were apparently in a different style. The debut is nothing special, but their sophomore output see a band that already have found a distinct sound and fully blossomed out into a veritable force of nature.

      The style is a blend of two modern extremes: symphonic black metal and technical death metal. If these two genres are something that you usually adhere to, then you might just be in for a treat. I am aware that this is not an album that the majority of metal fans would consider to be anything to write home about, but it struck something in me. The mix of blasting and atmospheric passages, the growled vocals and the sensitive female ditto are all composed with such precision that the album just flows and I can’t help but be carried along.

      I bought the CD for a cheap price, because I thought the cover art was pretty cool. I had my guesses that it would be a tech death deal, but not something as ambitious as this. I know that the band have been working on new material for quite some time, and I look forward to that seeing the light of day. But not without trepidation. While their taking their time to finish things speaks for quality, it’s still probable that it will not hit that sweet spot that “Odyssey (Un)Dead” have managed, without any pre-warning.

      • TBOJ score: 5/5 of course
      • DR score: 5