I Lack A Sense Of Purpose: In Flames at the House of Blues, 10/3/2009

I pledged to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t put this off any longer, mainly cos life is uncertain and if I have to wait ’til next October… well frankly I don’t know if I’ll die or not. So before some punk decides to run up and smoke me with a Mac 10 as I walk home, I’ll write this account of what can be called my first showgoing experience, excluding Madonna, because what can I really say about that? It’s Madonna, nothing mindblowing happened, and someone probably did coke backstage, but that’s all speculation. Since In Flames is playing the House Of Blues again soon, it seems appropriate to dredge up this tale of naïvetè, with no holds barred.

Since this was my first ever Metal show, I could say with certainty that I was almost breathless at seeing so many people with the same musical taste as me gathered in one place at the same time. So many heathens bearing the logos of their favourite bands, most Satanic, cryptic to anyone not in the crowd, or just blatantly offensive. I wore my Behemoth shirt, because it was probably my most extreme at the time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t wear it with some amount of pride, despite getting it at Hot Topic. Looking across the street and making fun of the “normies” going to see the Red Sox game is always a great pastime for those waiting to get beer spilled on them and violently collide with sweaty men for a few hours. It’s a fair cop, I suppose, spending some hard-earned cash from an extra-cirricular program to buy pain, tinnitus, and morning-after soreness in the neck, back, and legs enough to make waking up a Herculean task.

After marvelling at all of the other black-shirted monstrosities surrounding me, I inched my way toward the door, practically shaking with excitement. At the time, I hadn’t heard much by The Faceless, but I was stoked for 3 Inches Of Blood, In Flames, and most of all, Between The Buried And Me. Hell, I watched their Silent Circus bonus DVD with live footage twice just to get in the right mood. Of course, not being battle-ready and pit hardened, I was nowhere near as adept at any of the manœuvers I had witnessed in some live footage I had seen, but more on that later. It’s hilarious.

When I finally entered the venue after being felt up by the ever-so-friendly security, I was just barely able to contain myself. I immediately half-ran, half-walked up to the massive stage, taking in the sheer immensity. Here I was, after listening to this music for years, finally getting a chance to see how it’s done in real life. I made a five-minute friend, which is exactly how it sounds: You meet someone, you complement one another’s shirts, tell them who you’re there for, talk about the bands on your shirts, and drift off into something else until the band begins sound-check and it becomes too loud to hear normal speech.

It was this very occurrence that cut my engrossing Buckethead conversation with Andrew short, since The Faceless were revving up and about to blow a Tech-Death load all over our faces. Note that in lieu of the professionally taken pictures that I normally post, they shall all be photos I took with my then incredibly inept cellphone, complete with the streak effect that comes with poor motion capture.

 

At that time, Planetary Duality had just recently been released, so naturally they based their setlist mainly in that album. Having only listened to “Leica” and “An Autopsy”, and not even being particularly learned in those, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the action. Sensing air turbulence behind me I wheeled around to witness people throwing down madly to the breakdown sections. I was simultaneously enthralled and frightened, having never seen it in person. A veritable sea of flailing fists and legs I decided wisely to not entangle myself in. I was immediately sold, especially after hearing the tastefully melodic “Sons Of Belial” (the clean vocals were a big plus), the evil Carnival tinged “Legions Of The Serpent”, and of course, the energy displayed by both the band and the crowd. I stole Planetary Duality a few days later, and became a fan. I showed my appreciation by immediately going to the merch table… and buying an In Flames tour shirt.

Up next were Speed Metal freax 3 Inches Of Blood, bringing to the table lots of loud noises and songs about battle with various mythical creatures and non-Metalheads.

 

I went in without a terribly great knowledge of 3 Inches Of Blood’s discography, and if asked today how many songs by them I even moderately know, that number would be only several higher. However, one doesn’t need to know the songs when going to see 3 Inches, but just be prepared to run in circles for the duration of the set. It was at this point I can say that I had my first collaboratively Metal experience in the real world, being a part of the Goatrider’s Horde, brandishing tooth and fist against the indomitable forces of mainstream pop culture. It was a glorious dithyramb of Heavy Metal debauchery, marred only by my losing the In Flames shirt in a circle pit. Luckily I have that same shirt, though a few sizes smaller than I originally bought, through an act of charity by Christian, my best friend at the time who was with me, which I thank him endlessly for.

With spirit undampened due to Between The Buried And Me setting up, I took my place in the crowd, virtually shaking with the anticipation of being able to witness my favourite band.

 

Upon hearing the opening notes of “All Bodies”, I instantly ran into the pit, colliding with any knave foolish enough to be in my way. I was embarrassingly green when it came to moshing of any kind, so I aped the techniques of those around me, including an uncannily Godawful floorpunch. Realizing the silliness of it all, I went back to shoving people. The great thing about Between The Buried And Me is that there’s no shortage of people to sing along to the clean sections with. “People of the stars” we are indeed.

Selkies: The Endless Obsession made an appearance, and I damn near cried. My favourite band playing my favourite song? Pinch me, Mister Ho, I think I huffed too much propane. The only real downer was that people continued moshing to the outro solo. Thus, I learned that some BtBaM fans are not exempt from being as stupid as everyone else. Their then new song Obfuscation was played, which made me a little sad at the time, but since it was a good enough song, I went along with it and watched the band in their fine-tuned ministrations. Tommy leapt around the stage, never once losing energy or spirit, and the crowd reacted in kind. Paul and Dustie’s dual guitars wrapped around one another with the majesty of the Caduceus, and Blake’s drumming resounded in my chest as it never could on record. It was a sensory heaven, aside from the smell of spilled beer and fat man sweat.

The Foam Born series was where my burgeoning mosh-warrior re-awakened and slew some more posers. White Walls made me tingle from start to finish, especially when the entire crowd chanted “Get. Out. Of. This. Closed. Off. Cir. Cle.” In unison. It was at this moment I realized the power that comes from seeing such a great band live. Sure, you can imagine it, but nothing beats being there. By some amount of luck I managed to not be knocked out during the ending breakdown, since it was a veritable tempest of frenetic rushing in and out of the areas quickly becoming safe and unsafe. There was nowhere to hide, and it was great.

It seemed almost impossible that In Flames could live up to my favourite band, even though they were my second favourite. Now they are my third, following Dir En Grey after a rather shameful bout of conduct, what with releasing Sounds Of A Playgound Fading… Whatever, the fact of the matter is, they played, and it was fun.

 

After a set-up time that even I could tell was somewhat abnormal, they launched into “Cloud Connected:, which caused the entire venue to jumpdafuckup. Quite a good time, at least in my mentality at the time. I shouted along every word, since it was quite simple and I listened to it frequently for a quick fix of headbanging action. Looking back, I realize now that a lot of the moshing during the set was completely incongruous to what was being played. Sure, faster songs like “Drifter” and “Pinball Map” can get a circlepit treatment, but the choruses of “Come Clarity” and “Alias”? Makes me want to place my head upon the nearest brick wall for not knowing that was a silly thing to do. The oldest song they played was “The Hive”, which I am certain some sucka MCs thought was a cover of “Right Side Of The Bed” by glamcore stalwarts Atreyu. My generation fails me.

I may not have the same amount of respect for In Flames’ more recent output now, but I’ll be damned if Anders isn’t an entertaining frontman. He cracked jokes, complemented shirts, and was all around a showman at heart. Guitarist Niklas Engelin, presumably taking a break from Engel, was filling in for Björn and sporting a cheesy Red Sox shirt, which begs the question as to whether he wore the shirt of a local sports team at every stop. Björn at that time in the process of being kicked out of the band for being a drunk fuck. We’ll miss ye, as you were the only thing keeping the band from making Sounds Of A Playground Fading. But it is too late. Oh, it is far too late…

By the time the set was nearly over I was almost dead tired from running in circles, pleading to the gods they wouldn’t play “Take This Life”, because by that time I had figured that a huge circlepit would break out and joining would be mandatory. Take a guess as to what happened? Oh yes, I was quite thirsty afterward, that’s for sure.

This concludes this stroll through memory lane, I hope you hated it. I still look fondly upon this event in my mind and almost shed a tear. No, not because it’s a sentimental thing, but because I was such a damn dork. Imagine me floorpunching in a Behemoth shirt with some shitty worn-out Adidas. Time to go drink to my newfound awesomeness.

In all seriousness (kind of), this show may not have been logistically the best I’ve ever attended, but the fact that it served as my gateway into all the countless others I would go on to see at the Palladium, assorted Allston basements, and even as far as Maryland Deathfest, it’ll remain on top for some time to come. Until next time, where I’ll review something that happened relatively recently.

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ALBUM REVIEW: NAILS

Obscene Humanity (Southern Lord Records)

NAILS, formed from ex-members of TERROR, CREMATORIUM, and BETRAYED, totaling up to one member from each, is the sonic definition of hate. If you regularly listen to NAILS, you’re probably pissed about something. If stay-posi Pop Punk a là THE WONDER YEARS had an evil counterpart, it would be NAILS. Formed in 2007 in the sun-baked climes of Southern California,  home of the Bay Area Thrash scene as well as fellow hatemongers EARLY GRAVES, they’ve been shedding the blood of fearful lambs since the release of their first 11 minute cannonade, also entitled Obscene Humanity, setting the tone for the follow-up, Unsilent Death, with just under a quarter of an hour of face-ripping metal inflected Hardcore that was like TRAP THEM with even more “fuck off”. With Kurt Ballou of CONVERGE fame behind the board, they saw a tone that ENTOMBED would doff their collective hat to, and a killer live show to boot. Their split with fellow Metalcore swordsmen SKIN LIKE IRON was a small taste of a new artistic direction, and now we have this, the reboot of three songs off  of their first release. I would first like to note that writing about any given NAILS release takes about three times longer than the complete running time, and since this is their shortest release… You do the math.

I’ll be honest, when I found out that this was simply a rehash of old material, I was bracing myself for a letdown. I’m quite glad I did, however, since they have exceeded expectations. Not to say that the original Obscene Humanity LP was bad, but  hearing these three well-chosen tracks (“Obscene Humanity”, “Confront Them”, and “Lies”) fleshed out with their ENTOMBED meets WEEKEND NACHOS sound, courtesy of Kurt, makes these songs even more powerful.

“Obscene Humanity” opens like some of TRAP THEM’s more vicious tracks, then  goes into that good old fashioned NAILS assault we’ve come to love. “Confront Them” shows their ability to go from piledriving mayhem to a more controlled and bludgeoning stomp within under a minute and a half and still make it a fulfilling listening experience. “Lies”, for any who have listened to Unsilent Death, will notice that the two beginning sections are basically cut and pasted from “Scum Will Rise”, but with some minor variations and more dirt. Though this recycling is nothing new, being that “Lies” came first on the debut LP, it’s more apparent due to them having defined their sound beyond just another pissed off Hardcore band wielding feedback and intentional refrigerator box lo-fi quality. Whether or not this takes you out of what is otherwise a very well-written track on its own, that’s up to you.

Overall, it’s nothing new, but at the same time it gives a different perspective on the old material, which sounded like it came from a last-minute Deathwish Inc. demo. Though Obscene Humanity 2009 was good, Obscene Humanity ca. 2012 is a chance to show fans that A) they remember where they came from and B) they’re hard at work on new material with which to wage war on Pop Punk.

The Verdict: It burns.

Piss’n’Vinegar Chips

Grade: B+

 

ALBUM REVIEW: BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME

The Parallax II: Future Sequence (Metal Blade Records)

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME are a Progressive Metal band from Raleigh, NC, and what I can confidently call my favourite band. These guys have shown, through both timelessly innovative songwriting that draws from an endless bank of influence (THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, CYNIC, CEPHALIC CARNAGE, COUNTING CROWS, QUEEN, and DREAM THEATER to name a few), as well as a commitment to pushing their skill further with every release, they can do no wrong. Aside from the unfortunate mess that was “Roboturner” and a few adorable but lackluster covers on The Anatomy Of, BTBAM have yet to disappoint. So here we stand, the second part of The Parallax series, which shows BTBAM taking on a yet unheard ambition, where Hypersleep Dialogues played more as a continuation of The Great Misdirect, another solid release and a worthy follow-up to the groundbreaking Colors. Parallax II, like Colors, is a single piece of music artfully divided into many, and by Jove, it’s shaping up to be their most epic release yet.

BTBAM is one of those bands that won’t simply rest on their laurels and release album after album of the same material phrased differently. From the breakdown-laden and aggressive self-titled album, the dark and moody Silent Circus, the boundary-breaking and experimental Alaska, the grand and semi-operatic quality of Colors, the decidedly elusive Great Misdirect, and the odd but always welcomed Hypersleep Dialogues, they’ve refused to stick with just one sound, flirting with everything from Death Metal, Grindcore, Bossa Nova, carnival music, show tunes, Deathcore, and of course, Prog, to weave a unique sound that is undeniably progressive. No subject is taboo, no art form too odd, they can make it work. I have suddenly become aware of the fact that I’m borderline hyping this album, but fuck it, it’s living up to it so far.

The Parallax II is yet another splash of vibrance that is the ever-evolving portrait of BTBAM’s sound, from the BEACH BOYS-esque surf of “Bloom”, the punishing semi-Hardcore stomp near the end of “Telos”, the subtle callbacks to “White Walls” seamlessly embedded in “Melting City”,  the world-uniting joyous melodies of “Astral Body”, and of course, the ability to balance all of these elements and more is something BTBAM has proven themselves time and time again to be unfairly adept at. Tommy Rogers’ command of both singing and harsh vocals, perfected on Alaska, and improving even more since, betrays no flaw, to say nothing of his increasingly wacky keyboard textures that provide a bonus for the careful listener. Paul Waggoner and Dustie’s dual-guitar assault with dizzying solos, choppy rhythms, and superb note progressions borrowed largely from Eastern music proves to be one of their most stellar performances since Colors. Blake Richardson is able to change his drumming at the drop of a hat, providing both your punishing Metal/Hardcore rhythms and blasts, complete with complex jazz-influenced sections that demand equal parts creativity and focus. Last but certainly not least, Dan Briggs brings his trusty orange fretless bass to complete the picture, with both smooth rhythm as well as his own unique dynamics proving that not all bassists are just kinda there.

if I gush, it’s only because it’s worth gushing over. BTBAM have outdone themselves with this one. As SUM 41 put it, it’s all killer, no filler. Not a note here is misspent or misplayed, not a single song out of place, no heaviness off-putting, no melody too soft. This album, along with SIGH’s insanely layered Insomniphobia, THE ACACIA STRAIN’s impossibly heavy Death Is The Only Mortal, CATTLE DECAPITATION’s misanthropic Deathgrind masterpiece Monolith Of Inhumanity, and THE CONTORTIONIST’s mindblowing Intrinsic, to name a few, is definitely making 2012 one of the best years for extreme music, as far as I can recall. But then again, I’m not usually the most current person, which calls into question the validity of my making such a statement, but new BTBAM just about tops all else, so go buy it and be amazed. I have seen BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME every time they’ve come through my area, and they’ve been Godly every time. If you’re not into them for any reason, hopefully this album will change your flawed mode of thinking.

Spacin’ out.

The Verdict: Worship at the altar of Prog

Grade: A+
By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese

The Bro Show Of The Year: “Death Is The Only Mortal” CD Release at the Worcester Palladium

So I may have lied, seeing as Terror/Bane was just this summer, but I wasn’t able to make it out to that, so going with what I know here. Windbreakers, flat-brimmed caps, plugged ears, pullover sweaters, jersies, and square logos over the left breast were out in full force. ‘Twas a sight to see for anyone unfamiliar with the basic HxC dress code, indeed. Having gotten my ticket quite literally at the last minute, I was able to take my place in the mating ritual one calls a Hardcore show. Buckle up, cos this ride’s for alpha males only.

Opening up the festivities just as I arrived were Dysentery, the most metal band on the line-up, which did little to prevent five people from being knocked out, to say nothing of the countless nosebleeds within the first few minutes. Some kids there obviously didn’t really know any Dysentery songs, but still stirred things up during the slamdowns. Such good sports, making total destroy to the soothing ballad-esque “Genocidal God”, and raising some friendly ruckus to the closing song, “Devourer Of The Dead”. Much appreciated by the band, and anyone there who liked to move. Up next should have been Rude Awakening, who had come all the way from Merrimack Valley to play as a local act, but unfortunately the band got into a bit of a kerfuffle with Palladium staff, and as a result couldn’t play at a venue where they had just freshly knocked someone the fuck out. Their loyal hometown fanbase was understandably a little angry, and the fallout would precipitate throughout the rest of the show in the form of crowdkilling.

I neglected to do research on No Bragging Rights before the show, but their combination of stay-positive Melodic Hardcore with heavy chugging breakdowns to wake up any unaware made for an entertaining set. They brought a lot of energy to their stage presence, and even had a little of that clean vocal stuff that was in short supply for the other bands. Following them was Fit For An Autopsy, an example of what Deathcore should ideally sound like; equal parts the blasting fury of Death Metal and breakdowns that make you feel bad for not moving to.

They also get the first band picture in this post, hurray!

FitFo, as they are often called by real hood niggaz, have exploded in recent times, possibly helped by having Nate Johnson of Through The Eyes Of The Dead fame (ca. Malice) on vocals. Add to this a group of musicians who have a good idea of how to play extreme music and you have a good band overall that both Metal and Hardcore people can enjoy without feeling the guilt I assume most women associate with chocolate while dieting. I’m not terribly familiar with any songs of theirs aside from “The Jackal”, and am moderately acquainted with “The Conqueror”, so I’m not a person to have an in-depth FitFo conversation with. Seeing as they bookended their set with the two aforementioned tracks, I was able to react at the most opportune times, so thanks for that, guys. Aside from nearly losing a shoe in the circle pit, all went well, and we lived happily ever after until I Declare War came and burned down my village.


I Declare War was one of the bands I was actually excited to see despite reports and some preliminary hearings of their new material being unworthy of being listened to even when you’re bored and just want to hear a meaningless breakdown. It would be an understatement if I simply said I was “let down” by their performance. They played “Putrefaction Of The Population” too slow, they played “New Age Holocaust” too slow, and new boy (pictured above) fucked up the vocals with his own improvisations instead of sticking to the semi-growl formula that makes them identifiable. New boy also demanded an old-school circle pit, which was damn pointless because there was only about 5 seconds worth of circle-pit material in the song they played. Definitely not worth almost tripping yet again. The crowd was half-hearted in their reception of IDW, and it’s a bad sign when even an established Deathcore band can’t get an audience moving enthusiastically all the way through their set.

Our saviours in Cruel Hand were there in due time to rinse the bad taste left in our mouths with what I can confidently call literal non-stop action.

Cruel Hand is notorious for their rowdy live set, and I can see why after experiencing it first-hand. Ye gods, it’s one thing to pre-game mosh, but a whole 5 minutes of silent throwdown while the band sets up and has some random symphonic music playing in the background has to be a unique phenomenon. These stretching exercises completed, the Hand came out and ripped their fair share of face, with crunchy Thrash Metal riffing colliding headfirst with the intensity and drum-patterns of New York Hardcore at its finest. If I had been more knowledgeable of the band’s output aside from some songs on Lock And Key and Prying Eyes I would have gone about half as balls-out insane as the rest of the guys there, though I’m considering myself lucky to have gotten out with only the hardest kick in the cojones I’ve experienced. Seeing some people walk out with blood streaked down the front of their shirt and face like a bucket of paint was spilled on them from above did wonders to remind me how fortunate I was in the end. A five-minute sit-down was in order, and I’m proud to report that I did not piss blood that night. Here’s to hoping I can see Cruel Hand again, and if I am indeed injured, that it isn’t facial or genital.

The grand ministers of this whole shindig, The Acacia Strain, proudly celebrating the release their fifth full-length in their home state of Massachusetts, took the stage as yet another silent mosh was underway to establish the perimeter of the killzone.

He sure is friendly for the end of the world.

I’ll start by saying that if you thought The Acacia Strain was heavy before, you’re in for a surprise with the new album. If one had the energy, they could dance all the way through, with pauses only for the moments between songs or transitioning to another breakdown. TAS, being gentlemen and not wanting to wear everyone out or misspend precious time on songs that few would know aside from thieves, only played “Doomblade” and “Dust and the Helix” from Death Is The Only Mortal, and mostly built their set from fan-favorites with quotable lines like “Dr. Doom”, “See You Next Tuesday”, “JFC”, and the like. Along with having a killer setlist, Vincent proved his strength as a frontman by encouraging the crowd to let loose, commanding everyone to stagedive at least once. I, being a gentleman, wouldn’t let the man down, so I did my part in inconveniencing the front-most rows during “Passing The Pencil Test”. It’s a wonder TAS aren’t allowed to play the upstairs Palladium more often, since the crowd simply thrives more under conditions that allow up-close interaction with the hatemonger Bennett himself. In a barrierless setting, TAS not only sound better and taste better, but seem more energized and vital, and Vincent’s words resonate more effectively. There’s also potential for disastrous hilarity, but none of that made itself known.

The Palladium seems to be making more of a conscious effort to end shows early, since JFC ended at precisely 10:30, giving everyone more time to mill about after the show, trade stories of how many scene kid faggitz were knocked out, and just reflect on the good time that was had. For any who stuck around long enough after the dust settled, they could get a picture with Vincent himself, most likely to carry in their wallet and pretend they know him personally or whatever else you do with pictures of band members.

My lover and my arch nemesis.

Ah yes, the point of writing this whole review was to relay the fact that I survived, and am able to continue wasting your time for years to come. Until the next review, cheers.

ALBUM REVIEW: GRAVE

Endless Procession Of Souls (Century Media)

Let me tell you how good of a band GRAVE is; They’re the kind of catchy, nasty, no-frilly laces Swedish Death Metal that almost made me want to go to the MORBID ANGEL/DARK FUNERAL show just to witness live. I very well could have, but I must be conservative with money, you see. GRAVE’s running not only on ten full-length albums, but associations with other legendary Swedeath bands like THERION (old, of course), ENTOMBED, and THE PROJECT HATE MCMXCIX, so yes, they have what may be called a career. Look ’em up on LinkedIn. The question that arises is, how does Endless Procession Of Souls measure up to everything else in the Death Metal scene after existing for over a quarter of a century?

It pains me to say it’s quite underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent album, packed to the bursting point with groovy headbangers, pooka-pooka-pooka circle pit bits, and classic slowdowns that will get a good zombie mosh going. Though these elements are used well by guys who clearly know their craft, they almost seem to be resting on their laurels and not trying their best anymore. For the first song or three, you’re finger-drumming along and whatnot, clearly diggin’ where it’s going, but by them time you’ve reached “Flesh Epistle”, you’re already wishing they’d either try something different or just begin eating each other.

One hearkens back to the Into The Grave, where they simply blazed through the album in an idiotic brutal frenzy, armed with can-of-bees production and guitars that sounded like gore soaked chainsaws, or Fiendish Regression, which saw them move in a slightly different direction from the standard Swedeath sound, while still maintaining what made GRAVE entertaining. Now, it just feels like something’s missing. Something that could ideally turn just another Swedish Death Metal album into a masterpiece that would re-claim their spot on the throne as the kings of all that is ugly in Sweden.

One glaring weakness is the vocals. Where the fuck did the intensity run off to? I’m guessing it was stolen by Travis Ryan of CATTLE DECAPITATION fame. While I’m not one to trash bands, AUTOPSY’s vocals, as far as I have been exposed to them, grate on my senses, and I feel like even I could have done a better job at the mic. GRAVE, while they’ve never had a bad vocal performance as far as I’m concerned, have done much better in the past, and it begs the question as to why Ola decided to neuter himself with the standard everyman style of Swedish Death Metal vocals that you’d probably hear on an UNLEASHED record.

Speaking of UNLEASHED, they get dangerously close to sounding like them on this record. UNLEASHED does what they do best, which is writing and playing songs about Vikings, war, Norse mythology, and evil stuff, who knows, really. GRAVE is just supposed to be all about death and rotting stuff. While the music is not entirely unsuitable for a zombie invasion (though I’d personally pick a better album that Endless Procession), the lyrics could easily be swapped out with nothing but tank bombardments and trench warfare. Not only is the music and atmosphere created uninspired, but they insist on using the same songwriting techniques over and over and over. How many times can you have every instrument cut out aside from the guitars to segue into a Thrashy part, or have a slowdown section with a random solo over it, or recycle the same punky Swedeath section that we all know by heart with a slightly different SLAYER police siren solo over it? Not enough times, if you ask GRAVE.

The highlights are few and far between, but the straight up Thrash section in “Perimortem”, as well as the consistenly doom-tinghed crawl of the closing track “Epos” are welcome change-ups from the endless procession of tired riffing and cut’n’paste drum patterns from the Swedish Death Metal handbook. While it’s still a well-produced bit of face-ripping from a band that was crucial in inventing the formula, the mediocre outweighs the good.

The verdict: It would be better with fresh ideas, more gore, and a production that made it sound like it was recorded in a tin shack dripping with fungus.

Str8 Outta Visby

Grade: C

By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese