There were a number of albums that came across my desk as I pondered what I would follow up my review of Prong’s latest with. Some garnered more interest than others; some were destined to be stashed away for a future collaborative feature. Some were solicited promos; others were just things I stumbled across that intrigued me. After a period of muddled indecision on how to proceed, and being fully aware of the short shelf life of interest and/or relevance of new releases, I thought, “Why not just knock it all out in your own Fast Rites?”
That sounded like a great idea: clean the slate, clear the pipes, get a fresh start. Back when I wrote for print, cranking out 5-6 reviews of 200 approximate words in a matter of days was a regular occurrence. See, this was before digital promos, so we’d have to submit our picks by email and then wait for the discs to arrive in the postal email. They almost always arrived 2-3 days before the deadline set forth when the list was sent out, and I’ll never know if the short window was the result of poor planning or an evil genius plot to spur us on (if you didn’t get your work in on time, you didn’t get to pick the next month). But I see now that I’ve digressed…
There wasn’t quite that much pressure this time, but it did remind me of just how difficult it was to process so much in so little time, and those fluff pieces wouldn’t cut it in the land of Last Rites…so it took a little longer. I don’t expect to put myself through this again, but I have been known to have a masochistic tendency or two.
So here are the results of said pipe-clearing, of decisive indecision (or would it be an indecisive decision?): six musical releases from various subgenres that have little in common aside from sharing space in my taste palette. While you enjoy these, I’m going to go wait for another new album from Prong…or maybe Pro-Pain…
• • • • •
Karma To Burn – Mountain Czar
The titans of instrumental stoner rock follow up 2014’s solid if not unspectacular Arch Stanton with this five song EP that both captures their classic essence and forges new ground. Surprisingly cohesive for an EP, which tend to be cobbled together from leftovers or offer little more than a taste of an idea, if not a partially realized one. Starting with “Sixty Two”, Karma to Burn Takes you right back to Almost Heathen and hangs around that territory for “Sixty One”, “Sixty”, and “Sixty Three” – and might I say it’s nice to see them sticking to their guns on the naming front.
Now let’s step back a minute to focus on “Uccidendo Un Sogno”. You might recognize that opening riff but now the song that follows; you might eventually recognize the song structure but not the lyrical patterns, and it’s going to nag at you until you dig a little deeper and realize that yes, this IS Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream”…reworked into Italian…with guest vocals by Stefanie Savy (who I otherwise cannot find any information about). It’s pretty awesome.
If you’ve found yourself disenchanted with much of the band’s post-reunion output, it sounds like this might be a good time to revisit them, having rediscovered the rock n’ roll mojo that brought them to our collective attention in the first place.
• • • • •
Aborted – Termination Redux
According to the press release, Aborted released this five-track EP both to celebrate their 20th(!) anniversary and offer a taste of what is to come on their upcoming full-length. Well, five is a bit misleading due to the opening clip/movie sample/narration, but four is still a nice little EP/taster/teaser.
So this is some prime Aborted right here, more like Global Flatline than The Necrotic Manifesto. Maybe the material is that good, or maybe it’s just not long enough to grow tiresome. I have to lean towards the former, though, because when the last track has finished, I’m angry and disappointed that it’s over, and this type of EP should always leave you wanting more. Only the title track will appear on the new album Retrogore, so there is plenty to look forward to.
• • • • •
Anvil – Anvil is Anvil
Pirates! Zombies! Fire! Trains! Guns! These subjects and more are all covered on the latest from Canadian stalwarts Anvil. So much is covered by the album’s title, Anvil Is Anvil. What does it sound like? Anvil. What does Anvil sound like? Anvil. Who is Anvil, exactly? Anvil.
Let’s face it – they’ve never been particularly innovative, but they’ve been pretty damn good, and it was enough to get them a rabid following in the early days that faltered then was re-energized in 2008 with Anvil! The Story of Anvil (and to a lesser extent, in 2011 with Juggernaut of Justice). Since then, though, its been a slow roll back to the mean: the albums have been less exciting (but still very Anvil) and the venues have gotten smaller. To their credit, though, they haven’t let it phase them, even reaching out to the most dedicated of their base to help fund this one.
To sum up this already short take: Anvil Is Anvil is the new album from Anvil, and it’s an Anvil album – nothing more, nothing less. What that ultimately means is up to you.
• • • • •
Triddana – The Power and the Will
This one popped up on my radar right about the time I was making the final edits to my 2015 year-end list, so there was no way I could include it. I might have had the label not released it so late in the year, but they can’t let us journalists control their business decisions. This Argentinian four-piece plays a folky brand of power metal that I’ve not heard before, or at least not in as memorable a manner as this. The whistle brings to mind a more melodic Eluveite; the bagpipes sound straight from the hills of Germany.
That being said…it’s a good thing that they’ve taken this route, because without the folk elements they’d probably be pretty average. The vocals are good but nothing spectacular for the genre; the guitar/bass/drums are well played but nothing jumps out and blows your mind. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It simply means that Triddana has found a powerfolk way to set themselves apart from the tepid legions.
• • • • •
d’Artagnan – Seit an Seit
I’m told that Facebook has been messing with their recommendation and suggestion algorithms lately. I’m not sure how well they’re working, but they did bring d’Artagnan to my attention, so there is that. The album artwork and band photos are what the most typical power metal bands are made from, and I figured their tag of “Musketeer Rock” was just a lame attempt to distract from that tag.
Turns out that “Musketeer Rock” could actually be a thing. Imagine an all-acoustic In Extremo (without so many bagpipes) and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the music that d’Artagnan creates. Visions of journeys and quests and missions, maybe a little swordplay, swirl about the tales being told. If only I understood enough German to truly get it. That isn’t a prerequisite to enjoying it, though. Music is the universal language, they say, and it does plenty of talking.
It’s debatable whether or not this one belongs on our site, but I went for it anyway, because to me there is no debate that Seit an Seit one hell of a fun album.
(PS: The catch, at least for us Americans, is that much of their music online is restricted by German copyright law. They have a lot of clips at their Facebook page though that you can check it before taking a leap of faith on my say-so.)
• • • • •
Making Fuck – A Harrowing End
Did I just say…no, no, no…not going there. Not yet anyway. Suffice to say, the moniker grabbed my attention.
Making Fuck considers themselves a doom band but I’m not sure I would say the same after listening to their sophomore effort A Harrowing End. They offer a mid-tempo beatdown with vocals that are part angry, part anguished. The wall of sound is in effect, but…there’s something different about it. I thought maybe it was just some thin production keeping the bass levels down. Then I get around to reading their bio and see that there is in fact no bassist – just a cellist. That explained it.
Not that it really changed my opinion. It had already hit just off the bullseye of how I like this style of music (where I keep the likes of Iron Monkey and Eyehategod as benchmarks). It’s not quite the soundtrack to the most tortured parts of my psyche; rather, it takes me just about to the edge, and holds me there. Apparently that’s what “making fuck” is, taking you right to the edge of release and then stopping short. It’s its own kind of exquisite head trip.
Would you like some? Damn right, you would, Olaf.