I didn’t have time last weekend to make my usual weekly exploration of new music for our MISCELLANY series, and so my list of un-heard bands grew. I’m now trying to catch up a bit with a mid-week installment, and with any luck, I’ll do another one this weekend.
I’m sure our previous readers are sick of me explaining what they already know, but our audience still seems to be growing, and so just in case someone’s reading this MISCELLANY thing for the first time, I feel like it’s only fair to give them the usual warning:
MISCELLANY is an unfiltered stumbling around in search of new music (and by “new”, I mean bands I haven’t previously heard, even if the rest of the fucking world knows them like the back of their hand). I keep a running list of bands that look interesting for some reason — sometimes for no better reason than they have an interesting name or cool album art — and then I randomly choose names off the list and go listen to what they’ve got to offer on MySpace or elsewhere.
What I hear, I stick into these MISCELLANY posts, regardless of whether I thought the music was worth a shit. More often than not, we’ve had good luck with the choices, but you never know. That’s part of the cringing fun of doing this.
For today’s installment, I listened to The Burning (Denmark), Caliber 666 (Sweden), and Sacred Oath (U.S.). And here’s a hint — I unintentionally hit a trifecta: All killer, and no filler. And although the styles of music are different, all three have returned to the earthy roots of older genres in a very appealing way. (more after the jump, including your chance to stream the same songs I heard . . .)
My first random selection was this foursome from Denmark whose music I’d never heard before I saw a blurb about them on Blabbermouth a few days ago. They’ve got a new album (their third) called Hail the Horde scheduled for an October 25 release in the U.S. and Europe on Massacre Records, and it will be available as a digital download from Amazon and iTunes (at least for those of us in the U.S.).
I was attracted by the nasty cover art for the forthcoming album by Brent Elliot White (whose creations have graced covers for Megadeth, Death Angel, Whitechapel, among others) and by this description of the music: “Musically, the backbone is heavily inspired by mid-Nineties groove metal, mixed with heavy, dirty rock choruses and crossover thrash. Not unlike the albums released by bands like Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Sepultura, and Helmet during the mid-Nineties.”
I liked all those bands. From what little I remember, I liked the mid-90s, too.
So, I jumped over to The Burning’s MySpace and listened to a track from the new album called “Bait the Hook” — and holy hell, that’s a damned fine song! It’s a nasty piece of stripped-down, mid-tempo, power-groove with an absolutely killer, headbangingly-compulsive, main riff; a gritty low end that vibrates in the gut; expressive, throaty vocals; and a nice old-school, grinding breakdown that just churns and churns.
Pantera may be no more, but The Burning is carrying the standard proudly. Hail the Horde goes on my list of albums to get. An excellent first stop on this MISCELLANY tour! Here’s that song, “Bait the Hook”. If you can stay still while listening to this baby, you may have narcolepsy.
OK, so be honest: Did you move? Or do you have narcolepsy?
The next name I stabbed randomly on my list was Sweden’s Caliber 666. About one week ago, I read this on Blabbermouth:
“Swedish death-mongers CALIBER 666 have inked a deal with Ibex Moon Records. The band’s full-length debut, Blood Fueled Chaos, will be available digitally on October 1 via MetalHit.com. Mixed and mastered by Fred Estby (ex-DISMEMBER), the CD features guest performances from L.G. Petrov of ENTOMBED (on “The Worthless”) and DISMEMBER vocalist Matti Kärki (“Let The Blood Flow”).”
Now, if you’re a fan of old-school Swedish death metal, like I am, tell me this: Could you possibly have resisted checking out this band? With participation by Fred Estby, L.G. Petrov, and Matti Kärki? Well, fuck, I couldn’t. Of course, when it comes to those names and the bands they’re associated with, I have all the willpower of a starving dog looking up at a dangling steak.
So, I hungrily slobbered over to the Caliber 666 MySpace page and played a song called “To the Killing Fields”. And it was all I was hoping for. Big, meaty, distorted chords; rumbling double-kicks; the piercing sawing of tremolo-picked guitar; evil growls bubbling up from a deep place; rhythmic diversity; and deep grooves. There’s also a nice, martial, drum-and-bass interlude.
This is ominous, mid-paced, well-executed death metal that brings to mind early Entombed, Grave, and Asphyx. As they say in the high-brow literary magazines, this is some fucking good shit.
Here’s “To the Killing Fields”:
The entire Blood Fueled Chaos album is available at MetalHits for the grand total of $4.99. Guess what spendthrift has already bought it? Yeah, you’re fucking right I did.
This next band, from Connecticut, also leaped out at me from the pages of Blabbermouth a couple weeks ago. The article I saw then reported that Sacred Oath had completed work on a new album called World On Fire that it planned to release at some unspecified time before year-end. A more recent report now indicates that the album will be released on October 26 as an iTunes exclusive in a bundle that includes a PDF of the cover art, lyrics, and liner notes.
Now, I have to say I’m stoked to see that. As the music world moves ever more inexorably in a download direction, I live in fear that the things you get with CDs — the art and the lyrics — will go the way of the dodo. My selfish hope has been that bands will continue to include art and lyrics, even when the day comes that no music will be available except as digital downloads.
The other thing that caught my eye was the news that World On Fire is a concept album based on Frank Herbert‘s sci-fi classic novel, Dune. I love Dune. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. So, that Dune-based concept was enough to set the hook in my gills. And if that hadn’t been enough, I also thought the album cover by sci-fi artist Michael Whelan (Sepultura, Evile, Stephen King) was also fucking cool.
Venturing out into the ether, I discovered that Sacred Oath has been around a loooong time — sort of. Their debut album was released in 1988, but the band quickly broke up, only to reform and re-record the debut in 2005. That’s a long fucking hiaitus, but the reunion seems to have succeeded. A couple more studio albums followed the re-release of their debut, as well as a live album.
The Sacred Oath song I heard on this MISCELLANY exploration is from the new album, and it’s called “Meet Your Maker”. It’s a hard-hitting dose of power metal — a thundering gallop of a song, with shrill guitar leads, clean James Hetfield-style vocals singing about rocket ships to the moon, and some ear–piercing guitar solos that build to face-peeling levels of shred. This thing put a big smile on my face.
Here’s “Meet Your Maker”:
If you like what you hear, there’s more available at Sacred Oath’s official web page.
That’s it for this installment of MISCELLANY. I can’t say any of this music is breaking new ground, but it’s helping to keep some older styles of music alive and fresh. It’s simple, stripped-down, in-your-face metal. Maybe we can call it “roots metal”. Anyway, hope you liked it as much as I did. And if you didn’t, well, to quote the last line of Gone With the Wind, “tomorrow is another day.”
I know it’s absurd, but a cover by Michael Whelan’s usually a good indicator that the music it accompanies is worth a listen. I must say, I’m kinda surprised that you liked Sacred Oath, but they are on the side of power/prog metal that isn’t accompanied by excesses of cheese oozing from the speakers (based on what I’ve heard from them to date).
I’m with you about losing some of what make an album an album with digital sales. While I don’t have an extensive digital collection yet (but do have more than just a few), those that come with more than a jpeg of the album cover are rare, including those on iTunes – although that may be changing I haven’t bought an album from iTunes in quite some time. Of course, the lengths some bands/labels go to with some of the packaging is lost in the digital format, but that doesn’t mean that something can’t be offered along with the tunes.
On a side note, I wish more digital promos would do the same. Only one digital promo I’ve gotten has had the entire booklet in jpeg form and that album also came with notes about the songs and other info. In general, I get the songs, the cover (sometimes high res) and can get a PDF with the same information that’s in any press releases or a label’s page for the band/album. While the focus is on the music, the liner notes and artwork are often complementary and in many cases vital to follow along with what the album’s doing – sometimes because the lyrics aren’t intelligible, sometimes it’s just a busy album.
I was surprised about my reaction to Sacred Oath, too, because you’re right that “power metal,” for want of a better term, isn’t usually my thing. A lot of my distaste for it has to do with the vocals and the cheese factor, but I thought the Sacred Oath vocals were good, and at least on the one song I’ve heard so far, it’s cheese-free.
I’ve got the same reaction as you to most of the digital promos I get — though there are a few exceptions, including one I’m reviewing for tomorrow’s post (more about that tomorrow).
Fortunately, the vocals and music make for something that does represent the music as a whole, yet isn’t a typical example of that kind of music. Pretty much every corner of metal has bands that fit this description and they are often easier to get into that others of a similar vein. Opeth’s a great example of a band hat has this ability. Barren Earth and Futures End are recent additions that have this same quality, due in part to the members’ musical background, and I may have to add Man-Eating Tree to that list. Possibly even Borknagar, although my current overplaying of Universal may have something to do with my including them as a maybe.
I haven’t heard much Sacred Oath before, but I liked what I heard before and this new track sounds like they haven’t turned away from being one of the top notch power metal bands that can be more than what the genre is “known” for. Although like progressive metal, it’s really hard to say what power metal really means these days – they have become umbrella terms that can be used (and often are) to describe a wide range of material.
I liked The Burning. It got my toe tapping right off the bat. The grooves are infectious and that breakdown is so old school.
I thought I would really like Caliber 666, but I feel kinda meh about them. I will give them a more dedicated listen, but the first listen didn’t do much for me, which is odd becuase I love old school swedish death metal.
The only thing that Sacred Oath song has going for it is the fact that it is about Dune. Everything was solid for me except the vocals, which were killing me. I just can’t listen to clean singing anymore.
Speaking of not being able to listen to clean singing, last night was opening night for the NHL (HUZZAH!) and they were showing some concert that was going on in Toronto featuring a some whiny ass pop rock band that had spacers in their ears. When the fuck did whiny ass pop rock bands get the ok to put spacers in their ears? I thought that was reserved soley for metalcore scenester idiots. And dear fucking cube the music WAS AWFUL. I wanted to puke, cry and then puke again and then huddle in a foetal position and cry some more. Why on earth would the most METAL sport on earth have crap like that to open the season? I know Canda has some awesome metal bands they could have trotted out, instead of that caterwauling we were tortured with last night. Fucking Gary Bettman. Goddamn I hate that man. I would love to give him the old Vlad the Impaler torture. Set that asshat on a spike and let him slide all the way down.
I’ve never gotten into hockey. Probably something to do with growing up in Austin. But although I have no idea what’s happening on the ice during a match, I do appreciate that it’s a hard-ass sport with a significant violence quotient, and therefore perfect for a metal soundtrack. I can understand why you would have wanted to vomit at a pop rock overture to the season opener. Ridiculous in the extreme.