Enabler – La Fin Absolue Du Monde (2014)

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , on May 30, 2014 by toothlesstom

Much has been made of Milwaukee-based Enabler ever since they burst onto the hardcore scene in 2012 with All Hail the Void. Mingling thrash technicality with a convincing hardcore stomp, while featuring Adam Hurley of Fall Out Boy behind the kit helped propel the trio to the forefront of young hardcore acts who were taking the scene by storm. Yet, while the debut LP offered audiences a glimpse at the potential for greatness the band brings to the table, self-indulgent noodling and an unfocused approach to composition revealed a band still searching for a secure foothold in extreme music. After releasing a number of EPs, enlisting Adam Steigerwalt (The Ox King, Ringworm) to replace Hurley, performing at New England Metal and Hardcore Festival and Maryland Deathfest XII, as well as announcing a subsequent tour alongside EYEHATEGOD and Ringworm, Enabler seem poised to make good on the critical-hype with their second full-length, 2014’s La Fin Absolue Du Monde.

Album-opener “Close My Eyes” establishes a brisk pace within surprisingly traditional d-beat punk conventions. This, however, exudes a misleading impression of dramatically leaner songwriting; despite short run-times, much is packed into LFADM’s thirty-six minutes, and many of the songs fluctuate between generic extremes. “Information Overload” deftly exercises frantic, modern hardcore before losing much of its energy to an over-emphasized breakdown. Likewise, the toothy hardcore of “Felony” is bookended by a reverberating introduction and a moody, fading intensity that verges on melodrama. A general sense of songwriting-immaturity is evident throughout La Fin Absolue Du Monde, and is most evident on tracks “Balance of Terror” and “Linear Existence” – the former featuring buried-to-the-point-of-incomprehension singing provided by bassist Amanda Daniels, the latter recalling metalcore of the mid-2000s unfitting of a band so widely regarded as part of the vanguard of extreme musicianship. What is perhaps most disappointing about La Fin Absolue Du Monde is not that the album is generally underwhelming, but that there are songs of pure brilliance that allude to a profound yet untapped potential for angst and catharsis. The aforementioned “Close My Eyes” serves as an adept practice of d-beat punk aesthetics worthy of praise from fans of Tragedy and Disfear. However the best moments on LFADM come during “The Exiles” and “Prey” which encapsulate the breakneck ferocity of metal with a bludgeoning heaviness of jaded hardcore. “Prey” specifically shines through as album-MVP because of the band’s cohesion during the song’s execution: drums, guitar, bass, vocals and lyrics all sync to terrifying effect, conveying a tone of literal predation. A glaring lack of more songs like these ultimately dampens the overall impact of Enabler’s efforts.

Audiences should not take my criticism of Enabler’s latest album or of their catalog overall as grounds to dismiss the group entirely. In fact, I applaud Enabler for largely acting as a gateway band by which fresh audiences are being exposed to edgier metallic subgenres. Furthermore, the individual members of the band can undeniably crush their respective instruments with the acuity of long-seasoned pros. What remains to be seen is whether or not Enabler can trim the edges of their current songwriting process and craft focused, convincing songs that deftly walk the thin lines between their multifarious influences. La Fin Absolue Du Monde, for all the hype surrounding it and its ultimate short-comings, is a step in the right direction, however small it may be.

RAMMING SPEED Talks to The Blaze 1330 AM

Posted in Interview with tags , , , on January 29, 2014 by alecdamiano

We got the chance to talk to Ramming Speed before their show in Tempe, Ariz. last night. They’re currently on tour with Toxic Holocaust, Exhumed, and Mammoth Grinder. Drummer Jonah Livingston and singer Pete Gallagher talk tour life, favorite new bands and albums, and the history of Ramming Speed.

The Kennedy Veil – Trinity of Falsehood (2014)

Posted in Album Reviews on January 29, 2014 by toothlesstom

Moody intros be damned. The Kennedy Veil open 2014’s Trinity of Falsehood with the ferocious testimony “Ad Noctum” – a flurry of brutal death metal accentuated by violent assertions from vocalist Taylor Wientjes like, “To darkness we are sworn” and “Gods will fall from the sky”. Maintaining the energy and brutality, the running guitar and bass onslaught of “Eulogy of the Divine” revels in more nuanced, progressive death metal territory a la Atheist or The Faceless, albeit much much faster. Unlike more traditional practitioners of brutal death metal, who may spend much of their time in the lower registers and more punishing tempos, The Kennedy Veil rarely if ever slow down enough to give listeners a chance to catch up; “Enslave.Defile.Erase” exemplifies this breakneck ethos, as one member of the band is always tearing away at the fibers of their respective instrument while the others may be dallying at Mach 3. However, that is not to say that the album is technical to the point of being inaccessible. In fact, Trinity of Falsehood offers up enough groove, enough breakdowns, and discernible vocals that neatly position the album as a foray into more acquired tastes for fans of deathcore and the like (see “Beneath the Shroud of Atonement”).

The Kennedy Veil delivers a brand of death metal wholly characteristic of the post-deathcore explosion of the middle to late-2000’s. Widely marketed as the new face of American brutal death metal, moments on Trinity of Falsehood – the quartet’s latest album and first for niche label Unique Leader Records – echo the accessibility of bands like Whitechapel more so than extreme labelmates Disgorge. Don’t read too far into that though – The Kennedy Veil are an unrelenting band deserving audiences from both sides of brutal. Fans of a rougher production quality who prefer a more human touch to their technical death metal will likely be dissatisfied with the ultra-precise cleanliness of Trinity of Falsehood; likewise, fans of straight forward old school death metal could easily dismiss The Kennedy Veil as simply another frilly example of twenty first-century death metal. Whatever the individual’s final opinion may be, The Kennedy Veil and their 2014 offering stand as exemplar progressions of death metal past some of the generic hang-ups that plagued the market for close to a decade. For better or worse, Trinity of Falsehood and albums of its ilk signify a blurring of lines between technical snobbery and simple accessibility, even if only slightly.

Score: 3/5

Don’t forget to see The Kennedy Veil on tour this spring as they tear through Joe’s Grotto on March 6th with labelmates Arkaik and Lord of War!

Toothless Tom’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013

Posted in Editorial on December 29, 2013 by toothlesstom

Year-end lists are always so problematic. Invariably, there are albums I’ll stumble across that I completely overlooked when they were initially released only to feel foolish and naive for being so blind to their blatant superiority. I’ve yet to fully delve into the newest releases by Batillus and Convulse, and the Southern Lord debut by Agrimonia is only now making headway in my regular playlists. Regardless of what gems I may uncover in 2014 that were criminally neglected, with only a couple of days left in 2013 I present to my devoted readers (hi Dad) my selections for the best metal albums released in 2013.

10. Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Though the black metal duo has not changed the core of their sound much over the span of their career, the dynamic shifts between adrenaline fueled frenzies and croaked funeral dirges haven’t lost their charm.

9. Wormed – Exodromos
Technical death metal and brutal death metal generally aren’t as musically accessible as more straightforward death metal subgenres. Yet Wormed, in their all their low-ended, gurgled glory, managed to craft a death metal opus that is at once infectiously catchy and aurally punishing.

8. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
Admittedly, this has been the first album by Altar of Plagues that I could get into; that being said, once I started listening I couldn’t stop. Out of uncomfortable claustrophobia the black metal duo expose blossoming beauty, always pushing the limitations of black metal further than any other this year.

7. Portal – Vexovoid
Goddamn this band is terrifying.

6. Lycus – Tempest
The promises offered on the group’s 2011 release are fulfilled tenfold in 2013, as massive guitars and echoing cymbal crashes amount to what is arguably the funeral doom album to top going forward. And dat Giardi artwork.

5. Primitive Man – Scorn
Liquid malice pours through the speakers every second this album is allowed to play. Vitriolic, unrestrained, and exhilarating.

4. Mammoth Grinder – Underworlds
Whereas Extinction of Humanity sounded more like a trimmed down Harmony Corruption (I mean that in the best way possible), Underworlds finds the band kicking down the doors and developing a style all their own. Definitely the surprise record of the year.

3. Gorguts – Colored Sands
Let’s face it, this album is perfect. While Carcass’ first album in 17 years may have nostalgia’d its way onto many other year-end lists, Colored Sands in all of its boundary pushing, monolithic majesty stands as one of the greatest death metal albums of the decade, let alone the year. Luc Lemay by himself is a musical force to be reckoned with, but coupled with the genius of Colin Marston (Krallice, Dysrhythmia, Behold…The Arctopus) and the stamina of John Longstreth, Gorguts couldn’t not put out an absolute monster of an album.

2. Intronaut – Habitual Levitations
It’s not the conceptual giant that Valley of Smoke is, but Intronaut’s toned down aggression did nothing to cheapen the songwriting and utter brilliance of Habitual Levitations. Complex time signatures slip into jazzy grooves slip into rumbling bass rolls slip into velvety vocal harmonies, and for 52 minutes all is right with the world.

1. Nails – Abandon All Life
Nails do not make music for the faint of heart. Heavier than most death metal albums, more apathetic than most black metal releases, and boasting more -core credibility than the entire line-up on Within These Walls, Abandon All Life set a bar for “extreme” way back in March no other band could even come close to matching.

Note: I would have included True Widow’s Circumambulation to this list if its identification as a metal album weren’t so hotly contested. While I view the band’s music as extreme in its own regard – plumbing melancholy and torpid sorrow in ways unbeknownst to many popular doom acts of today – others in this department have an adverse reaction to classifying True Widow as metal. C’est la vie…

Alex’s Top Albums of 2013

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2013 by ajaguiar

10. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Mind Control

This Uncle Acid album is the first time I have even heard the band, even after hearing of them for so long. To me, these guys just sound like a better version of Ghost.

9. Vista Chino – Peace

From the makers of Kyuss and Kyuss Lives comes the new low-carb edition of the Kyuss line: Vista Chino. It’s just Brant and John this time, but they still jam like its 94.

8. Wolvserpent – Perigaea Antahkarana

This is the one album this year that came out of nowhere, but took my senses by storm from the minute I heard “In Mirrors of Water.” Absolutely beautiful black metal from Boise, Idaho. And that’s great because until now, I only knew two things that they have in Idaho: potatoes and the set of Napoleon Dynamite.

7. Palms – Palms

What a project… Chino from Deftones and members of Isis. The first song released, “Tropics,” had me beyond captivated, and is probably what I would declare my favorite song of the year as well. The rest of the album is great, but nothing this year compares to that jam.

6. Nails – Abandon All Life

Everyone is talking about this… and if they are not, they should have terrible things done to them.

5. Dead In The Dirt – The Blind Hole

It crushes and crushes and then you die. If you haven’t heard this one, you are truly missing out.

4. SubRosa – More Constant Than The Gods

Having not listened to much SubRosa in the past, I came into this album with an open mind, but it didn’t take long for my mind to be blown. The bass man, the bass.

3. Locrian – Return To Annihilation

This took only minor getting used to before I was completely impressed. However if you have heard previous Locrian work, you will notice how much more electronic-y and polished this release is. But don’t let that deter you from listening one or one thousand times. I sure haven’t. Not to mention that “Panorama of Mirrors” and “A Visitation from The Wrath of Heaven” are two more of the best songs I’ve heard this year. Maybe they should come out west…

2. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

I actually bought this one in the store and didn’t play if until a couple weeks after that. Lost time, feels bad. This album has it all, from the deep filthy bass of a sludge metal jam, to ballroom piano, to funk like none other. There’s something for everyone here.

1. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory & Injury

The best way they could have finished off their career. This I know. From the moment I heard “God Alone” I knew we had something special on our hands. There was no denying that from the beginning, this record had “top” written all over it. Thanks for the menacing vibes, guys.

Honorable Mention:
11. Gorguts – Colored Sands
12. Windhand – Soma
13. All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature
14. Deafheaven – Sunbather
15. Primitive Man – Scorn

Alec’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

Posted in Album Reviews, Editorial with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by alecdamiano

2013 is drawing to a close. It has been a significant year in metal, and many great albums were released. I struggled to put this list together, scouring my music library for albums I purchased this year. I’d start to type my bit for one album and later deleted it because I realized I had left another great album out. So, these are the 10 that made my list.

10. Pulse – Diamond Plate

This is Diamond Plate’s first album with new vocalist/bassist Matt Ares, and it does not disappoint. Instead of being filled with the same riffs and “boom-tiss” drums that may be expected of other thrash releases, “Pulse” verges on the experimental at times. Mark Szlchita from Chimaira lends guitar duties to this album. A very solid set of songs from an underrated band that made a drastic change to their lineup.

9. Fires of Life – Starkill

Compared to acts as diverse as Children Of Bodom and King Diamond, Starkill’s debut album is a force to be reckoned with. Combining death and thrash metal riffs with epic orchestras, “Fires of Life” is a collection of excellent songs that transcends subgenres and is bound to please fans of extreme and power metal.

8. UltravioletKylesa 

I was honestly indifferent to Kylesa at first. My colleagues here at The Blaze would talk about them from time to time, but the conversations didn’t really spark anything in me. One day, out of curiosity, I decided to check this album out. It’s psychadelic sludge metal at its finest, giving you the high without the narcotic. All the members of the band contributed instrumental duties on “Ultraviolet”. It is bound make more converts.

7. Surgical Steel – Carcass

“Surgical Steel” is the first album Carcass has released since they reformed in 2007, and is their first record in 17 years. There is no filler, plain and simple (not even the instrumental Queen-esque opener “1985”). Flawless production and mastering by Colin Richardson (Bolt Thrower, Sepultura, Trivium) and Fozzy’s Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Megadeth, Accept). One hell of a comeback that shows newcomers how death metal is supposed to sound.

6. Labyrinth – Fleshgod Apocalypse

Fleshgod Apocalypse’s epic third album takes on the myth of the Labyrinth of Knossos. It shows a great deal of musical and production maturity from their last album, “The Agony” (2011). Fantastically over-the-top with Wagnerian orchestral arrangements and vocals ranging from death metal growls to operatic soprano wails. The drums are quite simply, insane, and the guitar solos make good use of every individual note without sounding too “shreddy”. If Freddie Mercury were into death metal, he’d be proud.

5. Chemistry of Consciousness – Toxic Holocaust

“Chemistry of Consciousness” is Toxic Holocaust’s 2nd record where Joel Grind didn’t record all the vocals and instruments himself, and the band is tighter than ever. Eleven songs of brutal punk, thrash, and death metal are crammed into a mere 28 minutes–28 minutes that will make you want to jump out of your seat and start a pit in the middle of your bedroom or office cubicle.

4. Halo of Blood – Children of Bodom

Bodom’s best album in over a decade. With songs that sound like they could have come straight off of “Hatebreeder” (1999) and “Follow The Reaper” (2000), “Halo of Blood” takes all the best elements of COB and compresses them into 42 minutes of great melodic death metal. The deluxe edition has a hilarious cover of Roxette’s “Sleeping in My Car,” done in Bodom’s signature hilarious fashion.

3. The Dream Calls For Blood – Death Angel

“The Dream Calls for Blood” is major steps up from “Relentless Retribution” (2010) and the rest of the reunion-era albums. It also reached #72 on the Billboard 200, the first time the band cracked the U.S. Top 100. Many have even called “The Dream…” Death Angel’s best album, period, despite the fact that singer Mark Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany are the only members left from the classic lineup. Whether you think it tops “The Ultra-Violence” (1987) or not, “The Dream Calls for Blood” is the quintessential thrash record of 2013.

2. Infestissumam – Ghost

Ghost’s follow-up to 2010’s “Opus Eponymous” is polarizing, to say the least. More radio-friendly than their previous album, “Infestissumam” ventures into doom metal, Gregorian chant, and even dance music. But it delivers a consistently creepy atmosphere throughout with very catchy songs that could be mainstream hits–if it weren’t for those Satanic lyrics.

1. 13 – Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath’s first album in 35 years and also their first to hit #1 in the U.S. makes you feel as if Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony picked up right where they left off in 1980. The material sounds as if it were beamed from the drug-fueled 1970s straight to 2013, but was produced with better technology. Fits nicely between “Paranoid” and “Volume 4”.

Fragacore’s Top 10 for 2013

Posted in Editorial, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by fragacore

10.) Your Itinerary – Evan Brewer

Bass sexiness.  Versatility. Jazzy as fuck. What more can I say?

9.) Teethed Glory and Injury – Altar of Plagues

Just how I like my coffee….FRANTIC AND COLD! with soy milk and truvia please.

8.) Habitual Levitations – Intronaut

uhhh…..fuck yea!

7.) Level 3 – Last Chance to Reason

Feelin’ the r&b on here.  Lessard being all sexy and shit.

6.) Altered State – Tesseract

With a mutherfuckin saxophone and the second coming of Freddie Mercury

5.) Doris – Earl Sweatshirt

This shit is just straight-up dirty

4.) Newborn Sun – Chon

Seriously, check these guys out.  Seriously guys. Seriously. You guys. Seriously.

3.) The Migration – Scale the Summit

Holy fuck! Migrate into my pleasuretown, please?!

2.) Sunbather – Deafheaven

Redefine. Revolutionize. Refreshing. Let the countdown begin for the first wave of copy-cats who water down the second wave of hipster-black metal

1.) Is Survived By – Touche Amore

Gave $60 to a scalper to see AFI.  Touche took $55. One of the most honest bands I’ve ever heard.

Honorable Mentions

Absent Light  – Misery Signals

Memorial – Russian Circles

Volition – Protest the Hero

Mouth of Swords – The Safety Fire

Rescue & Restore – August Burns Red

Pelagial – The Ocean

and of course….

8:18 – The Devil Wears Fraga


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