Thanksgiving Turkeys: 2017’s Fowlest Flops

If you’re among the cherished tens and tens of regular readers we have here at Last Rites, you might notice something about us as a group: we aren’t particularly negative. This isn’t because we simply love everything—we can be a saltier group of curmudgeons than a particularly old can of anchovies—but purely because we’d rather focus our writing time on stuff we truly enjoy. We don’t get paid for this, so why waste too much time on the crappier tunes of the world, right?

In this way, you might say that we express our thankfulness year round, so there’s no real point in getting all redundant on Thanksgiving Day. Besides, with List Season about to start, there will be plenty of opportunity for us to restate how much and why we love a lot of 2017’s heavy metal.

With that in mind, we flip the script on Turkey Day, instead making it Turkeys Day. A lot of stuff sucks, and we do hear it, even if we aren’t always spending a lot of words on it. Behold then, our biggest turkeys of 2017, albums that we felt to be huge disappointments or just outright failures. These albums might have been points of debate among the team, or universally loathed platters. Regardless, we’re pouring on the salt.

Chime in with your most hated or tell us where we’re incredibly wrong. And make sure you only express your ire after about three pounds of fried bird and a bottle of red. Aim your Thanksgiving belligerence our way instead of spewing it at ol’ Aunt Nettie just because she can’t stop expressing how all lives matter.

In all seriousness, try to enjoy the company of friends and family today. You’ve earned it. Well, probably not, but the food is there anyway, so get fat.

DANHAMMER’S TURKEY: SUFFOCATION

Let’s cut to the chase: …Of the Dark Light is dreadfully boring. Coming off the heels of the tremendous Pinnacle of Bedlam, perhaps my expectations were unrealistic, but it definitely feels like the cumulative departures of Mike Smith and Guy Marchais have finally caught up with the otherwise steadfastly reliable Suffocation. …Of the Dark Light is a worse version of Blood Oath, which was already handily the worst Suffocation album. Think about it this way: Imagine the most perfect mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted in your life, with just the right amount of butter, salt, pepper, and sour cream. They’ve been whipped just enough for smoothness, but not so much that they’ve become glorified cream of wheat. That’s Suffocation at their best. …Of the Dark Light, by contrast, is the worst mashed potatoes you’ve ever had – dry, unseasoned, mealy, and utterly bland. And that supremely, almost insultingly stupid breakdown towards the end of “Clarity Through Deprivation”? It’s like someone put a rock on your plate, called it a potato, and demanded you choke it down. That’s not the kind of pierced from within we all need in our lives.

[DAN OBSTKRIEG]

DUVALL’S TURKEY: OVERKILL

Overkill_The_Grinding_WheelListen, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that The Grinding Wheel is a bad album. In fact, it’s still better than most of the albums Overkill released during the Slick Willie and Dubya presidencies, so it really isn’t even a bad Overkill album. Why, then, make it my Turkey of 2017? Because Bobby, D.D., and company made the fatal mistake of raising their expectations back up to elite levels. In Ironbound, The Electric Age, and White Devil Armory, Overkill dropped three albums that no Thrash Band of a Certain Age has any business releasing. All three are among the best albums the band has ever done, and are easily the best three albums they have done post-Horrorscope.

The Grinding Wheel’s biggest crime is that it fails to live up to its predecessors. By comparison, it plods through too many mid-paced songs that are often too long, and even with a little trimming wouldn’t have been highlights that could compete with the likes of “The Green and Black,” “All Over but the Shouting,” or “Down to the Bone.” Had The Grinding Wheel come prior to Ironbound, it would have been considered a preview of the band’s impending renaissance. Instead it marks the end of it.

*sheds a single green tear*

[ZACH DUVALL]

MANNY’S TURKEY: TAU CROSS

Pillar of Fire doesn’t end up as my fowlest flop without an understanding of just how much I expected from the record. The Self-Titled debut figured very high on my 2015 list, and since the day that album came out I have been anxiously looking forward to a time when Tau Cross would release more killer material. What I got was Pillars of Fire and a huge emotional letdown, like the time my parents left me in Niagara Falls because they simply forgot I existed. Sure, the band was hamstrung by distant geography, but, despite its title, what is most lacking on this album is any real fire from the band, any vicious desire to write stellar compositions. It’s like Thanksgiving without gravy: dry. The whole thing sounds quite phoned in, including the production. It’s not crazy to expect more from a band consisting of members of Voivod, Amebix, War//Plague and Misery. It’s not crazy to expect more from the guys that made the damn debut, which is an almost flawless record. There’s not much I could say that hasn’t already been said by my colleague Captain, so I’ll just stress that the reason this album stands out is because of how high my expectations were going into it, and how far below those expectations the album delivered.

[MANNY-O-WAR]

CAPTAIN’S TURKEY: ELECTRIC WIZARD

Two points I’d like to clarify right off the bat before jumping into the melee for this particular turkey: 1) We all understand that it’s unreasonable to expect bands that manage to endure for decades to stick to the same formula year in and year out, and 2) Most of us who’ve been in Electric Wizard’s corner at some point during their long career still consider themselves extremely lucky to have releases that boast head-pummelers such as “Wizard in Black” and “Funeralopolis.” But my dawgs, dropping the needle on a record like Wizard Bloody Wizard and realizing this is the same band that produced 2007’s Witchcult Today, let alone Dopethrone is fairly depressing, even if you count yourself a fan of their noisier, more rock-oriented doom. This is the first record I’ve come across in ages where I actually wish the production was worse, because an extra dose of mud might help offset the overall brittleness behind the drums and riffs. Yeah, that’s right: a soft-riffed Electric Wizard. Did we suddenly slip into the Bizarro World of the Superfriends? Can anyone confirm whether or not Coldplay managed to drop the heaviest record of the year? And grrrreaaaat horny toads, why are Oborn’s vocals so far forward in the overall mix. The dude has always delivered nasally, and EW has worked that element to their advantage in the past, but here it comes across as if you’re sitting two inches away from the Emergency Broadcast System for forty minutes. I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Electric Wizard at this point in the game, but it was more than Wizard Bloody Wizard.

[CAPTAIN]

KONRAD’S TURKEY: KREATOR

The contrast between following a formula and phoning it in isn’t always stark, but there’s an impenetrable line between the two when comparing Kreator’s last two albums: Phantom Antichrist and Gods of Violence. While some long time fans were naysayers to the unthreatening, arena thrash sing-a-longs taking up the majority of the space on Phantom Antichrist, there’s no denying the perfection with which the harmonious leads and choruses were written. Antichrist was the least abrasive album Mille Petrozza had written since Endorama and yet, it was impossible for most folks not to stomp their feet to tracks like “From Flood into Fire,” “Civilization Collapse,” or “The Few, the Proud, the Broken.” Over the last five years, Kreator’s active touring schedule provided fun for the whole family with its newest creations, but still included a lot of the classic songs every old school fan wants to hear regardless of the band’s latest output. Kreator’s arena style family fun had already reached full throttle prior to the release of lackluster Gods of Violence, an album that displayed Nuclear Blast’s marketing strategies oozing from the seams. Kreator is supposed to be better than that.

Kreator’s latest album is difficult to get through, not because of poor songwriting or bad leads, but due to its disingenuous approach to metal in general. Where Phantom Antichrist challenged its rough-and-tough fans in an emotional way, tracks such as “Satan Is Real” make the latest album feel like the Nick Jr. of thrash metal. Kreator isn’t a gateway album band, and judging from the skill level and ferocity that Mille and Co. still bring to the table in a live setting, there’s no question the band can do much better than an album that’s difficult to get through even once. Gods of Violence is not only predictable, but infuriatingly so.

[KONRAD KANTOR]

gobble gobble

Posted by Last Rites

GENERALLY IMPRESSED WITH RIFFS

  1. The turkey in the Ghost Bath tee nearly made my morning.

    I don’t think I’ve really spent time with any turkeys this year, but I have been disappointed by a few – mostly they suffered from expectation Overkill (see what I did there?). Namely Mors Principum Est and Solstafir. MPE just had a string of savage records and the new one is just a bit of a let down. Then, even though I have still spun Berdreyminn a lot, how do you reasonably follow up an album like Ötta?

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  2. Probably outside of Last Rites remit, but my biggest turkey was Trapped Under Ice- Heatwave.

    Trapped Under Ice released, what I consider to be a hardcore classic with Big Kiss Goodnight. It was hard as hell and catchy as fuck. An absolutely bruising half hour of hardcore anthems. After a 6 year wait, the band returned with a 13 minute “album” of half-baked, underwhelming tracks which could barely be called songs. TUI have had much success with their side projects, Angel Du$t and Turnstile. Angel Du$t play fast, fun, punk rock, and Turnstile play really fun, funky hardcore which sounds like RATM via Ride The Lightning. Both are great in their own right. This Trapped Under Ice record was like the two side projects smashed together, with none of the songwriting which makes them so great. Incredibly underwhelming for a bunch of guys who can evidently do better.

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  3. Suffocation’s Of The Dark Light…, is fucking grrreat! That is all.

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  4. This is really the worst shit y’all heard all year? Really?

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    1. What album(s) would you nominate? GIVE UP THE GOODS. I MEAN THE NOT-SO-GOODS.

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  5. Reality, This Spiteful Snake November 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Wintersun – Forest Seasons

    As a staunch defender of the self-titled (despite the odd tracklisting) and Time I (despite the turducken level of effects), I was stunned to find Forest Seasons to be so banal in its existence. I actually enjoyed Time I for how over-the-top it was in its delivery, but Forest Seasons just seemed to play for no particular rhyme or reason. No tempo changes. No ebbs or flows. Just very static.

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  6. I hate to say it but Suffocation absolutely belongs on here. It works better as standalone songs shuffled into a iTunes/mp3 playlist but I can tell you that the last time I listened all the way through this album, it started over and I couldn’t even tell that it had. Hopefully Terrence picks up the pieces and puts forth a more inspired effort next time, especially after he’s got Suffo touring all over the place for this one.

    Disagree on OverKill and Kreator. The Grinding Wheel rules even if “Goddamn Trouble” is goddamn too long and even if “Shine On” includes the spit-milk-out-yer-nose opening line “Someone left the cat out in the rain.” And this assessment of Kreator…there is a right time and a wrong time to bash a band over “selling out,” this is not one of those right times, because Kreator’s latest album is better than the two that preceded it, those guitar solos are like butter.

    Biggest disappointment for me this year, there hasn’t been too many but I’d go with Suffocation and believe it or not Decrepit Birth…DB’s music is tremendous, but they went to the Italians to mix and master their album and it’s been squished to hell as a result. I like Axis Mundi but I’d like it a hell of a lot more if it breathed.

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  7. I’ve liked everything I’ve heard this year to various degrees. I wouldn’t describe them as flops, but I’m not enamored with the latest from Decapitated, Decrepit Birth, Mastodon, River Black, and Wolves in the Throne Room. They do have their respective share of worthwhile tracks, however.

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  8. The biggest let down for me this year was the latest from Black Dahlia Murder. I was surprised how bad it sounded for me. It sounds like 2 bands are playing different songs at once.

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