So Much More Than A Review Site

Archive is to the right to go by genre and score. Below this post are my reviews from most recent. Currently as of May 2019 I am reworking my format and trying new things like discography reviews and theme analysis reviews.

Want to give me constructive feedback on my writing and lyric analysis? Go right ahead, I’d love that. I’m constantly wanting to improve and find new forms of research to employ.

  • I post cool album covers and promote the artists of the artwork on insta: @noobheavy
  • You can contact me there or on jarlinspace3@gmail.com.
  • I don’t review albums on request as I’m busy with uni studies but I am keen on recs to check out. Especially if they have rad album covers.

Here’s my top 25 metal records to show what kind of taste I have as a reviewer (no order):

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And my top 25 -core records:

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And top 25 non heavy records:

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Review/Story: Fear Before – Fear Before

  • Fear Before
  • Fear Before
  • Post-hardcore
  • USA
  • 2008

Fear Before, formally known as Fear Before The March Of Flames have had a career evolution that is admirable. One of the few bands where I listen to their last two albums way more than their first two, the other being The Always Open Mouth. These albums are equally abrasive and melodic, they pierce the heart and mind with poignant lines and moving compositions – both moving in the mosh sense and in the poignant sense. This album is the height of modern Post-Hardcore and it deserves every bit of love that Dillinger, Botch, Dance Gavin Dance and The Fall Of Troy get within the elite music communities. It’s got the perfect balance of aggression and vulnerability. Excuse the shit-house album cover quality used for this review, this is a hard cover to google for.

The guitar tones are clean and crisp, there’s not a whole lot of distortion on the lead guitars from what I can hear. Very expressive. It’s the rhythm section that’s bringing the loud. The format isn’t as clearly defined structure as much as it’s a logical progression of sounds. Their ability to restrain themselves for the sake of peaks is phenomenal. This albums peaks so hard throughout the entire thing, it’s really unlike anything I’ve heard. There’s a definite experimental element to it that separates them from the generic and pandering post-hardcore bands of today. They aren’t artificial peaks generated by vocal/music manipulation either, the lyrics are always clear and add so much punch. There’s presence. Even though these guys have been broken up for a decade, their sound still sounds alive.

What follows is an attempt to tell a chronological story using excerpts of lyrics from multiple tracks and my interpretation of those lyrics (Though the tracks aren’t presented here sequentially). The story is essentially (to me) a memoir of a person’s journey through religion as a youth and then out of it as an adult. It’s not necessarily an atheist story as much as it is an opposition to the organisation and dogma of religion and it’s potential to corrupt just as much as the lifestyles it disapproves of. That God isn’t for everyone, just as SOME people shouldn’t drink or do drugs.

Treeman:

“I’m bleeding but I’m alive
I’m breathing but I could die
I can’t explain why I’m made this way
Tell me you see we are all the same

When I look at you, I see all of you, not just the outside
Some people stare like my eyes aren’t there
I hope you see a piece of you in me
Because when we look into the mirror
Face could always be better, better better”

This is the seeking of faith. The need for familiars and the desire to fit in. The repulsion of the mirror leads to outreach – as opposed to the introspection and confrontation the mirror demands of us. A self loathing that makes us believe that we could be better, some find religion and religion says the same thing but not just that you can be better, also HOW. A promise of a cure per say. Treeman = Jesus, the peer you think you’ve found when you find religion.

Fear Before Don’t Listen To People Who Don’t Like Them:

“I watched the lightning in the sky
I couldn’t take my mind off the afterlife
As music filled the air”

Review Of Our Lives (Epic):

“Teach them when their young
Gods twisted game of hide and seek”

What I’m seeing is a description of indoctrination. A young person being around this religious community, perhaps an event. Around him was this idea that seemed so convincing and positive. And to finally have some ‘answers’ to questions that could never be laid to rest, and indeed lead to restlessness. Or at least a substitute for an answer. This character was a part of it out of circumstance more than intrinsic belief. To escape the crushing endless and pointless nature of existence. A side note: I think Treeman as a title is a reference to the youth of the character at the start of the album. That’s a child’s perspective of Jesus on the cross in the modern age, where the context is no longer innate. Only really seeing it as a detached symbol hanging on necklaces and on people’s walls.

I’m Fine Today:

“Floating in the ocean we were drifting all alone
He was looking to the sky for help
I was looking for the shore
He gave no apology as sharks came circling in
The answer must be here
Just relax now don’t look back you’ll only make things worse”

AND

“He turned the water into wine
We drank the ocean dry
He asked me for a cigarette, like any other guy”

Firstly, we have the notion of a religious man leading his people astray, instead of delivering them from danger, he becomes the source of danger. The search for the shore is our innate common sense to survive, our nature to reject god in moments of peril and danger. Animal instincts really. This is the turning point of the characters faith because it has become unhealthy. Then we have Jesus as an icon of faith and beacon of hope, twisted in this story into an every day person experiencing the same vices to get by as everyone else. No matter how close you are to god, he can’t help you… only you can. Water in to wine is the miracle Jesus is most known for as well as resurrection, I love how these lyrics imply that if such a miracle were possible, the world would just consume the ocean. It’s almost like faith is another form of hedonism – a lifestyle based on escapism from reality that can certainly lead to self destruction or even the destruction of others.

Jabberwocky:

“You’ve got the look of a skeptic in headlights”

“You’ve got the look of a believer on trial”

These are two contrasting ideas applied to the same person, a sign of the inner conflict that arises from a wavering faith, particularly when faced by the observations of faith corruption (church money, molestation, group think etc). A reaction to the metaphorical events in the lyrics previous to these.

Tycho:

“I swear I lost my mind a long time ago
I know a lot less than I think
I do I do”

The idea of faith being community and a rejection of faith being against the community is present here, with the perspective of losing faith as losing mind. Then once alone, the realization of reality – the hard cold facts that suddenly seem so alien without the delusion of destiny.

Review Of Our Lives (Epic):

“Stop!
Please will you take my hand
I thought of everything
Hear what we have to save?
Clean slates for living lies
We’re leaving the past behind
Are you along for the ride?
Please will you take my hand
I thought of everything”

This almost feels like Fear Before reaching out to their fans. It also sounds a lot like turning to the devil out of desperation. “Take my hand” is a common lyric associated with that as we hear in N.I.B by Black Sabbath. This probably doesn’t mean the literal devil or even anything necessarily negative. I think this is the alternative solution to faith – freedom to find your own means even if that means making mistakes along the way.

So that’s it, that’s the story I wanted to tell today.

An interesting note is that this is their first album where the lead vocalist wrote the majority of lyrics. The lyrics previously were done by other band members but there was still religious themes like in Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party. I feel like Fear Before is the definitive story, encompassing all of the stories into one tale that begins and ends. A more mature concept album.

A beautiful end note for this band.

Review: Cursive – Vitriola

  • Cursive
  • Vitriola
  • Post-hardcore/alternative
  • USA
  • 2018

Cursive are one of those bands that are considered post-hardcore and they absolutely are but in different ways across their career. Most of us are probably used to the core-touched post-hardcore stuff like Dance Gavin Dance or the emo based stuff like Foxing. Cursive finds a nice middle ground of melody and aggression, much like La Dispute but a bit more restrained with an alt rock and indie sound attached. I wanted to review this album because the lyrics really speak to me. This will be a metaphor heavy review with a lot of wistful imaginings on my part – something the tunes lend themselves to well. Naturally, my derived meaning is possibly not the intended meaning. These reviews are my writing and my writing is my perspective after all. Are you reading this incredulously? You bastard.

Let’s get the physical aspect of this out of the way, the music is typically chill and reflective. It does a good job and luring you into a false sense of security and then unloading on you with the burdens of the world in an outburst of emotional mania. This style of music would usually be lyric and vocal driven, sort like Mewithyou, but there’s so much going on instrumentally with Cursive. They have a good sense of emotional timing to their playing, taking cues from the singer. There’s the return of the cello from The Ugly Organ which I’m stoked about because that album too was very inspiring to me. It’s musically and spiritually a sequel. The recording quality and mixing is better here, and I’d dare say I like this more than The Ugly Organ which felt messy sometimes whereas Vitriol feels like peak performance. The sound has really matured in the time between these two releases. The message of this record is also more tolerable, having a perspective on the world rather than lamenting our mistakes within relationships. This way we can all relate to it or at the very least, it’s something we’re all more willing to confront than out own failings.

The first lyric I want to address is “Mastery? Who the fuck is mastering anything?”.

This is such a pointed and poignant line that really made me consider what we are all doing in this short garbage fire of an existence. Back in the day, like way way back to Mozart and Beethoven types, they had the freedom of day and mind to practice and perfect their craft. To a point of obsession and life sacrifice. As time went on this became less and less until we’re here now, just over the cosmic lip of the new millennium where we live chaotic lives. Not just jobs or school or other commitments. Our emotions and minds are chaotic with anxiety, depression and a general sense of inheriting the worlds problems. As per the lyrics on the track Pick Up The Pieces, “Wash our hands of our parent’s crimes”.

A lot of us have felt similarly for a long time, music has long reflected this idea as well but in recent times these feelings have been widely heightened by the Trump era. This record is choc full of condemnation of the way the world is. At some point you have to question what the point of it is. To virtue signal to people seeking refuge from this modern system? Catharsis? I appreciate it and relate to it strongly, but I also can’t be constantly caught up in these facts – it can be unhealthy. Cursive has always reflected a lack of health in life I suppose. It’s an album that engages intellectually, so it’s not an any-time kind of deal for me. I need to be seeking that level of interaction and attention in my music – what I need most of the time is a beat to work to or move to. As a big fan of hardcore music I’m well used to message laden music, but that feels like someone yelling into the void about suffering or issues whereas Cursive is talking directly to you, it’s a conversation. Demanding that you consider the world around you.

“So I dug deep back

Through a fractured past

Marriage, work and school

Every dagger twisting branch

Sadly, all my story told

Was an aging man”

As we can see, this is an agonized record with a lot of bite. Most of what I’ve heard from them is in the spirit of a cautionary tale from someone feeling like their life may have ended already. Musically it’s superb and they have really carved out a unique sound that works for them and works for me every time. Conceptually it’s relevant and masterfully communicated. The overall presentation is spot on. I’d be hard pressed to give it anything less than a 9. It comes down to personal taste if I were to recommend it, many would find the singer or the character in the lyrics unlikable.

 

Review: Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy 8.1

  • Full Of Hell
  • Trumpeting Ecstasy
  • Grindcore/Blackened death
  • USA
  • 2017

It occurred to me today that I don’t know enough about grindcore. As an avid fan of Cattle Decap and Bloodthirst era Cannibal Corpse, I really need to listen to more. For some reason in my head I had it associated with deathcore more than death metal. Full Of Hell brings an offering of intensely dark and heavy music that’s very modern but without adopting -core trends beyond perhaps periphery influences. It’s not afraid to slow right down to a crushing black metal pace either. They have a new album coming out soon called Weeping Choir, due early May. I also listened to their album Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light which was a collab between Full Of Hell and The Body from the same year as Trumpeting Ecstasy. While I can’t necessarily recommend that collab album – it shows a level of creativity and experimentation these musicians are capable of. Something that’s too often missing from grindcore and modern death metal.

I’m enjoying the variety at hand here, there’s a lot of shifts in pace and style that I can appreciate. It doesn’t drone out. The tracks are mostly beefy fits of grindcore and super blackened death metal. They’ve done the whole intro track thing that I typically hate but they did it right because it’s a named track that has composed music on it and contributes to the albums theme or story. There’s a couple of bits and bobs of story here but it’s not always a great track, there are definitely a couple of weaker ones. But hey, back in the day we used to expect three songs off of an album to be good sometimes. The title track tries to do something different from the other tracks with more ambiance and melody – featuring for the only time on the record – clean female vocals. It’s not a terrible idea for a track but I personally don’t like her vocals, it needs to be more haunting. They have a new track with the same female vocalist coming out tomorrow (2nd May). Perhaps it will win me over, I want it to.

Besides that, it’s a good album cover and a coherent album. I think the length of 23 minutes doesn’t quite lend it’s self to experimentation too well, perhaps if they made it longer they could flesh out those changes in tone more. I definitely would appreciate an expansion of their slower ideas.

The highlight of this record is the vocals. They’re very good death vocals with deepness that goes lower than you’d expect, but also higher at other times. It’s got a good sense of timing and knows when to let the music shine. Sometimes I get straight up Marduk and Behemoth vibes, then other times I swear I hear a couple of -core bells and whistles inspired by Whitechapel and the like. I love when it’s two vocalists at the same time, one screaming and the other growling. This is an ancient hxc technique that works well in any genre, it always excites me – reminds me Heavy Heavy Low Low in a way. The mixing is a little muddy on the instruments, I think the guitar needs to come forward a little more, that would also add more definition to the bass and drums. They’re good musicians but I think the style they play is less technical than a lot in the genre, using more tremolo based black metal and death metal styles and techniques as opposed to copious sweep picking and gratuitous blast beats (Don’t worry, I still love you, Infant Annihilator). It’s modern, but mature and metal focused.

Full Of Hell is an accurate name for this band, they do sound like someone just opened a can and it was straight up full of hell. I’d definitely stay tuned for their upcoming album, there’s a couple of tracks out already on Apple Music.

  • Presentation: 8.5
  • Style: 9
  • Craftsmanship 7
  • Concept: 7
  • Replay: 9
  • Total: 8.1

Review: My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures 8.6

  • My Dying Bride
  • A Map Of all Our Failures
  • Doom metal/Gothic metal
  • UK
  • 2012

Another highly influential doom band out of the UK, It’s just the right country for it.

Miserable cunts.

Every good aspect of gothic and doom metal is here. This is music played by its rightful owners and it’s glorious. An older sound recorded on modern equipment that doesn’t lose any amount of gloom. There’s a lot of “Oh fuck” moments that sneak up on you. A lot of this is achieved by the slow pace that transitions into entertaining grooves and crushing melodies. There’s wind instrumentation that gives the music an extra accent and keep it varied.

True to the genre, the concept behind the music is general misery and despair. It’s not so much about following a plot as it is occasionally hearing concepts like a flame going out. It kind of allows you to draw your own images of despair from that, just made me think of Dark Souls. There’s also themes of god and faith, specifically the loss of faith or rejection by faith. This is achieved through story telling and not so overtly. The tracks are all beefy doom epics beyond the loud and heavy opening. There’s no bullshit and the art depicts a sufficient amount of misery.

The vocals remind me a lot of Lake Of Tears as well as death rock in general, there’s some definite Bauhaus moments. It stays true to the gothic side of things but as a whole the band uses a doom metal coating to avoid cheese. There’s clean vocals and death growls, the growls are pretty similar to Swallow The Sun and October Tide. The clean vocals vary in tone going from softly spoken passages to righteous condemnation.

As I said about the wind instruments used on this record, they are complimentary and are used correctly. They are also used sparingly. When they do come in, it’s typically at the same time as the riff starts to peak. It adds a layering to the music that is interesting to listen to. It triggers a response in the listener during these peaks, they are really good moments to explore for those who like to listen closely.

The drums and bass go crazy slow on this one, to the point of being funeral doom at parts – It doesn’t get boring however. It’s more of a lull littered with sparks of guitar licks. Nice clean tones, with the bass doing the majority of the distortion from what I can make of it. The drums aren’t doing a whole lot for me, it’s pretty standard doom drumming. With that said, it’s not exactly demanding music so it’s not always impressive. It’s just fucking depressing and that’s what it’s all about.

Considering how keen I was on Novembers Doom, Paradise Lost and Lake Of Tears a few years back, I’m surprised I hadn’t given My Dying Bride a proper listen until now.

  • Presentation: 9
  • Style: 10
  • Craftsmanship 9
  • Concept: 8
  • Replay: 7
  • Total: 8.6

Review: Danger Inc – Are You Afraid Of The Danger Boys?

  • Danger Incorporated
  • Are you Afraid Of The Danger Boys?
  • Rap/Soul/Electronic
  • USA
  • 2016

At first, the name and album title may suggest a typical level of rap bravado but that’s not the case here. Danger Inc are onto something else, something darker, tragic and entirely striking. It’s not about being dangerous or edgy, or tough in the conventional sense. Being a Danger Boy (to me)is being the kind of person who lives a dangerous life, of addiction or apathy or some kind of modern malady. This is codeine rap that speaks to the heart from a very modern place, this is truly new music. Designed for those of us who grew up in suburbs watching Dragon Ball Z and being depressed about the girl in the neighborhood that won’t talk to you. A neighborhood where value is placed on success and money and how when you get there, and when you have what everyone wants you to have, there’s only alienation and toxic masculinity. Specifically, this album captures a specific period, of being a teenager during the onset of the internet age but still before it was in everyone’s pockets. It speaks to 25 – 35-year-old’s who are depressed about living in this current society, the empty pursuit of it all and the broken promises of our old school fathers, perpetually tired men. Sedated.

There are some problematic lyrics, but I still can’t decide if it’s misogynistic or if it’s brutally honest, in a melancholic confession kind of way. I’m calling it commentary within established framework. It also seems to be perceived as funny or gimmicky a lot, but I don’t think it is, I think the “humorous” references like the nod to Nickelodeon, Gameboy color or R L Stein, these are pieces of the setting and the story. It’s a frustrated record with a lot of dark thoughts, but that was the teen reality for many of us and our experiences during that time deeply informed our adulthood. A lot of drug addiction themes, particularly codeine – which I can relate to as I have found myself in dangerous binges to avoid this reality in the past. Lyrically it can be aggressive like threatening to fuck someone’s girl on their tombstone but even this – hopefully I’m not giving too much credit – is also a part of this teen story, this frustration leading anti-social and nihilistic behaviors. Dangerous moods on a good day for suicide – but it’s not suicide, not really… it’s destruction in general. Unless I’m reading the lyrics wrong and hearing the music wrong, this a surprisingly intellectual rap/electronic album with a lot of commentary and deeply personal themes. It’s tight.

Tyler covers similar themes, but they are more overt and openly aggressive, this albums aggression never feels like it’s coming from a place of confidence or superiority but rather coming from a place of chaos, hormones and societal standards. I feel like the music direction and the stoned vocals better capture the essence of what Tyler rapped about but better. This isn’t a record about mental illness and therapy as much as it’s about a sick society that raised a doomed generation of hedonists and suicidal adults. A generation of Danger Boys. And there is an innate toxic element to that in many cases.

“Bitch, can you tell that I’m high right now?/I don’t know if you’re my type right now/I fucked you in a dream once”

As usual this is just my own rambling, I could be so wrong that’s worth ridiculing me over it. It’s obviously mixed in with more recent visions of being a rapper, pondering the notion of ODing in a nightclub where no one around them would know how to help them. Super vulnerable ideas about highly stylized lifestyles as heard on Graveyard (feat Yung Ghoul). No matter what this is some goose bumps rap, and I don’t mean R L Stein. It’s powerful and yet chill, it speaks a lot of truths and shows some things people don’t want to admit to being. It’s super short though at 22mins, other rappers probably would have padded it with skits and mediocre tracks, but Danger Boys knew better. I’d rather repeat spin a 22min record of absolute message and aesthetic than listen to a sloppy or fatty rap record once.

My relationship with rap is that I usually make big playlists of what I feel like listening to, often handpicking songs from albums. Danger Inc is something that I seek out specifically. Completely memorable. In terms of rap I’ve listened to this year, this only just beats out Atrocity Exhibition for top spot. I highly recommend it. It’s a creeper because the more you listen to it the more lyrics and things you notice organically building a bigger picture. This is one big story told with a million tiny stories, often references or a single line. It speaks of afternoons and nights, girls and friends, video games and cartoons. Puppy love and puppy pain. “My love is like 2001, It’s forever”.

Musical memoirs in a way.

I love this.

Review: Mork – Det Svarte Juv 7.8 (2019)

  • Mork
  • Det Svarte Juv
  • Black metal
  • Norway
  • 2019

Just a quick review as I don’t have a whole lot to say today and I’m about to go to the ocean. So naturally I spent the sunny morning checking one of the latest black metal releases I’ve missed, Det Svarte Juv. Mork is a one man black metal band featuring Thomas Erikson. Really impressive work for one person, it sounds better than most shit I hear from your average 5 piece. For real.

The only weakness this album has is the drums. Since it’s a one man band it’s likely he can’t master every instrument and also likely that he doesn’t have the highest end of every instrument. What he does vocally and with a guitar on the other hand is exceptional. Love the tones and ‘depressed’ feeling of the riffs. Vocally it’s layered quite well with the blending of operatic styles and guttural vocals.

I like this note I found on The Metal Archives “Despite the resemblance, Mork is not derived from Mørk, which is the Norwegian word for “Dark”. Mork only stands for Mork”.

Quality black metal with a perfectly bleak album art. It’s all in crazy Norwegian language so you know it’s good.

  • Presentation: 8
  • Style: 8
  • Craftsmanship 9
  • Concept: 6
  • Replay: 8
  • Total: 7.8