Freitag, 24. März 2017

archspire - the lucid collective

in my recent obsession with technical death metal i stumbled upon a band called archspire when surfing through youtube suggestions. i listened to a few bits and thought they were worth the effort of getting some recorded material. at first i seeked the assistance of discogs. the data base told me the band had two full lengths under their belt. the first one, "all shall align", never saw a vinyl release and the second one, their latest, was put to vinyl by season of mist records.
it came in handy that i listened to some songs of "the lucid collective" and therefore knew that this second album was definitely up my alley. so i gleefully checked the copies for sale only to find that the coolest variant, which is transparent red, wasn't for sale. the second colour-way, transparent blue, was available but only u.s.-seller offered them. a quick search through domestic distros and the mother label season of mist concluded with the insight that the red lp wasn't available via the usual channels.
i wrote the record off with the idea to get it if an ebay option popped up. when i searched for a copy of the dillinger escape plan's "ire works" last weekend, i came across a german record from berlin which also has an e-shop. the talk is of dodo beach records. i never heard of them before but they seem to have a decent selection of hardcore and metal titles. i didn't find my desired "ire works" variant but "the lucid collective" instead and was surprised to see that it was marked as red vinyl. i checked this sucker out immediately and two days later it was mine.
musically "the lucid collective" is an outburst of creativity and technical skills. fast, melodic, groovy at times and all arranged so sophistically evil that there is no denying these canadians know their craft. check them out. you can tell by the cover that my copy was a store copy that has been sitting in the dodo beach racks for almost three years. a bit shopworn here and there. the vinyl however is in top condition. 250 copies made. season of mist. 2014.

Samstag, 18. März 2017

galactic empire

this thing came straight out of the blue for me. i mean, i remember that i saw the video to the "main theme" somewhere along the way on the tube last year but i thought this was some well done fan project, a one-time occurence. i think, actually i am not far from the truth with that assumption. the "main theme" was put out to the release of star wars VII - the force awakens and was pretty succesful with over four million clicks to date.
backed up with such good resonance the guys set up a crowdfunding campaign and collected over sixty thousand dollars to record a full length album. rise records signed the band and over a year after they first appeared, the self-titled debut is out for the taking. i missed all the buzz around them and just learned about the existence of this record by seeing the album pop up for order at some german distros a week ago. i simply liked the cover art and then was delighted to find that this whole thing was a metal adaption of the music of my favourite movies of all time.
star wars metal is probably the coolest thing on earth, especially when it is so god damn well executed. their technical approach to the classic pieces is breathtaking at times. just listen to "duel of fates" (the first time i partly enjoy a prequel) and "across the stars" and be taken to a galaxy far far away... i ordered this pearl via jpc.de and i can only recommend them. fast and smooth transaction here. the vinyl colour looks awesome and matches the cover art very well. 1138 copies on transparent orange crush with halloween orange splatter. rise records. 2017.

Mittwoch, 15. März 2017

converge - jane live

another converge live album. after i unloaded an unholy amount of cash to buy the boxset edition of "thousands of miles between us" and still i think it was worth every goddamn penny, i wasn't too much a fan of the idea to get just another live record by the band. when i learned that it would be a recording of their set at roadburn festival in the netherlands, my curiosity was aroused. the band played two evenings, one set called "blood moon" where converge played some odds and ends from their albums they usually don't. stuff with additional instruments and musicians like "cruel bloom" for example.
the other evening the band played their legendary album "jane doe" in its entirety on the occasion of its fifteenth anniversary. at first i was delighted because i hoped for both sets to be released on vinyl. a little disappointment crawled in when i realised only the "jane doe" recording was pressed to the plastic discs. after a few moments i came to the conclusion that "jane live" was still special and that i wanted a copy, indeed. but just for a moment consider the greatness of both sets in an epochal boxset. not that bad, right?
anyway, "jane live" was available in five different versions. the idea was to give five befriended artists the possibility to make their own run on the iconic jane doe artwork. a lovely and very collectible idea for all the converge fangirls and -boys out there. i gave the crazy idea of getting one copy of each version a moment of reflection but then decided to just get my personal favourite. i opted for the "main" variant with ashley rouse couture's real life reconstruction of jane.
i really like florian bertmer's take on jane as well but in combination with this lovely merge colour-way, ashley rouse couture was an easy choice. the other cover variants were crafted by john dyer baizley (from baroness), thomas hooper and randy ortiz - choose your own fav. all of the other variants are limited to 500 copies each. mine is limited to 2000 copies but fuck those limitations and take another glance at this beauty. pre-ordered from the european deathwish store, which is really a nice idea for all the fans over here. self-released by the band. 2017.

Sonntag, 12. März 2017

rings of saturn - dingir

i got the first and third full length by rings of saturn pretty much hassle-free as they were both available via a german mailorder, hhv.de. the second album called "dingir" seemed to be much harder to come by. i searched all my usual distros in germany and europe but came up with nothing. so i was already close to order a copy from the states where there are still a few copies available from indie merch store. i did one last try to find a domestic solution by just entering the band and album name at google.
among the hits was an amazon option for a "dingir" copy. the price was reasonable, especially when i considered what i would have to pay, if i ordered from the states. furthermore i had a five euro credit from my last amazon order and so it seemed like the perfect solution. i pulled the trigger and four days later my copy arrived. on the package i read that amazon imported the record from a warehouse of them in england. the vinyl was pressed in czech republic, sent to the american label unique leader and then sent back to great britain to finally land in germany. some records move in mysterious ways.
fortunately i recieve more and more records shipped in cardboard mailers with a crumple zone to prevent bumped corners. amazon shipped this way as well. thumbs up! musically rings of saturn delivered a diverse and sophisticated piece of technical modern death metal. not one weak song on "dingir". listen to the whole output here. unique leader pressed the album on clear green and opaque blue vinyl. i believe clear green was more limited and so it was likely i would get the blue variant. suited me just fine. love this shade of blue. winner! unique leader records. 2013.

Mittwoch, 8. März 2017

isis - wavering radiant

isis is one of those bands that have a certain attraction to me but still i would never go over the odds to get a hold on their records. i'll gladly pick up whatever i find along the way but won't unload extra cash for a specific variant or something like that. nevertheless i am always very excited when an ebay option or colour re-press pops up. this being so i was surprised to find a coloured lp offer for the band's last full length "wavering radiant" from 2009 amongst the new stuff over at per koro.
even though the record was a little bit on the expensive side, i didn't hestitate to add a copy to my cart. i always loved the visual aesthetics of isis records and "wavering radiant" is no exception. the cover art looks like it was glowing and the blue streaks have almost a 3d quality to them. the haptic of the gatefold adds to spatial feeling because it is not smooth but a little wavy. well, sort of, you have to feel it yourself, i guess.
the gatefold is one of those ultra sturdy stoughton tip-on jackets. because of the cardboard being that thick, i can't even slip the gatefold into my usual reclosable pvc sleeves. a real piece of quality work. the vinyl itself is the european pressing on black with white splatter. i was a little sceptical if the outcome was looking good. in theory a cool colour-way but mostly those variants have way too less splatter and thus look still boring. fortunately i got a copy where the guys at the pressing plant didn't save on white vinyl pellets. looking sharp!
musically this is just the moody and avant-garde metal and hardcore mix i was expecting from isis. their stuff is nothing i can listen to on a daily basis but when i am in the mood for their atmospheric yet heavy stuff, i will definitely grab "wavering radiant" with a thrill of anticipation. it's hard to pick a favourite because i understand an isis record as a whole, so i suggest you listen to all of it. 775 copies on this variant. robotic empire. 2017.

Sonntag, 5. März 2017

xibalba - diablo, con amor... adios

a new release by one of the heaviest bands around - xibalba. unfortunately it is not a full length but whatever it is this band comes up with, i am there to willingly open my wallet and buy the product. the new 7" consists of three new songs and is aptly called "diablo, con amor... adios." which are the three song titles compiled in one sentence. the guys released it via closed casket activities, like almost all of their non-album releases like splits or 7"es.
the musical content is what you expect of xibalba. crushing riffs, kiloton heavy breakdowns and their very own doomy melancholia in the mix. you can check out the songs at the label's bandcamp site and also order the vinyl there. i ordered my copy via per koro, therefore it was clear that i would get the most common version. that's ok because the alternative meant ordering from the states with paying double for the shipping. smooth transaction as always with per koro.
the artwork by dan seagrave, who is also responsible for the look of "hasta la muerte" and "tierra y libertad" and for many other legendary records in the death metal genre, is really great. almost a shame that is wasn't used to grace the 12" format. there were four colour-ways pressed for this 7". electric blue with olive splatter out of 200 copies, clear orange with bronze splatter and blood red out of 300 copies and my electric blue out of 700 copies. closed casket activities. 2017.

Dienstag, 28. Februar 2017

rings of saturn - lugal ki en

the tunes from "lugal ki en" were the first from rings of saturn i enjoyed all aspects of. the production, the aesthetics and, of course, the music itself. i listened to a youtube stream of the record and it quickly became clear that i wanted their stuff on vinyl. as i already said in my last post, i was happy to find a german distro, hhv.de namely, to have a copy in stock. i ordered immediately which seems like to have been the right decision. apparantly hhv had only one copy left as they have sold out on it by now.
the first thing that struck me when i opened the package and pulled the record out was the insane artwork by mark cooper/mind rape art. it is so colourful and rich in detail that i can't get my eyes off of it. it matches the band's weird alien metal concept right to the point. somehow rings of saturn bring a certain depth into their lyrical theme so their stuff is still clearly self-ironic but never cheesy. the second thing that caught my interest was the album title.
wikipedia told me the following: "lugal ki en" translates from ancient sumerian cuneiform and means "king of the earthlings, lord of the cosmic world". i have no clue if that is true but if so, it is pretty damn cool. when you look at the title on the front, you can see the sumerian cuneiform behind the letters of "lugal ki en". musically this is modern tech death metal at its best. fast, crushing, melodic and with loads of quirky ideas that makes them really unique. check it out.
when i ordered i didn't know what colour my copy would be on. i hoped for the latest re-press on orange/purple merge with splatter. as you can see i got something different. it happened to be a first press on opaque purple vinyl. it may not look as extravagant as the other colour-ways but i still like it and the current international shipping rates definitely keep me from ordering a different colour from overseas. 400 copies made in gatefold sleeve with insert. unique leader records. 2014.

Samstag, 25. Februar 2017

rings of saturn - embryonic anomaly

i am still on this tech/prog death metal trip and it seems i will ride this wave some more time, because there is no sign of slowing down. unique leader records from the states provided me with some great bands and their releases as of lately. fallujah, invoking the abstract or the zenith passage to name them. so i checked the label's roster and found a few bands that were nothing for me and one that i struggled with. talk is of the guys that called themselves rings of saturn. i checked them out on the tube. their first album first. what i heard was a badly produced deathcore record with some tech elements and solos that reminded me of some musical themes from video games on my nintendo entertainment system console from back in the day. it didn't really caught my interest.
i didn't stop here though. i listened to "lugal ki en", the band's latest and third full length, as well and listened to a band with matured song writing and a way better production. still they had those weird elements in their music but that only added to their unique sound. that spark lit the fire of my curiosity. the hunt was on and i found some rings of saturn vinyl from a german distro. i bought unique leader records from hhv.de in the past and also found two records of my desired band to be in stock, one of them being the debut record "embryonic anomaly". i thought: "why the hell not?", and added it to the cart. in such cases i love to get the whole discography of a band on vinyl and even though it didn't blow me away at first sight, it still could grow on me, right?
the records arrived superbly packed and in no time and when i dropped the needle on "embryonic anomaly" for the first time, i was surprised to find the album had been remastered for this vinyl release and sounds so much better now. what can i say, the guys got me hooked with their fast tech death assaults, the ever present breakdowns and these freaky melodies and nes solos. a little bit over the top at times but a more than solid debut. astonishing that the band member's age ranged from sixteen to eighteen at time the album was recorded. self-released in 2010, re-released by unique leader in 2011 and pressed to vinyl for the first time in 2014. love this bright semi-translucent orange vinyl called "orange comet". unique leader records. 2014.

Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2017

animals as leaders - the madness of many

the animals are let loose with their fourth full length called "the madness of many". the album was actually  released in november of the bygone year 2016 on cd. the demand for vinyl exploded in the last two years and so the few pressing plants all over the world with machines build in the seventies or earlier can't keep up with usual release deadlines anymore. pre-order processes for vinyl records get more and more lengthy which does not really pose a problem to me, though. in this case it took three more months for the vinyl to be finally shipped.
after two more weeks of waiting for it to arrive i now hold the final product in hands. i listened to the album a few times by now and am still divided, yes even torn as to what to think about "the madness of many". let's make a little pro and con discussion here. a contra and probably the biggest one of them all to me is the lack of heaviness. it's not like i need beefy riffs all the time but a good dosage of them here and there deliver just the right punch to the face to keep the mix crisp. the second con is the choice in tracklist. three calm songs in a row at the end makes me lose interest and gives them the charm of lift background music.
the pro side shines with an increase in rhythm. as i don't know "the joy of motion" from 2014 i can only draw comparisons to the first two albums and the three-piece around tosin abasi lowered the melodic part in favour of more rhythm based arrangements. i think this is pretty cool because the guys can really emphasize their technical skills without getting lost in sheer finger exercises. another pro is the diversity. the band isn't considered a litte prog/tech legend for nothing. "the madness of many" is a big firework of ideas and love for details. all in all the pro side outweighs the con side and i think the album will grow on me in time.
the price for the coolest song title definitely goes to "backpfeifengesicht". it's a german compound noun which means roughly translated knuckle sandwich face. it is more of an mild insult which can be used for friends to tease. funny to see such a strange song title chosen by an american band. the artwork is quite cool too. reminds me a bit of jim carrey leaving his artificial world in the movie "the truman show". the splatter pattern differs a bit from record to record. although i like the heavy splattered record better, i think it is a nice idea to make them look different. whereas i doubt this was actually intended. u.s. pressing ordered from the label out of 480 copies. sumerian records. 2017.

Samstag, 18. Februar 2017

death - spiritual healing

back in business with some classic death vinyl. since this month was pretty low on new records, i was very delighted to stumble upon a coloured version of death's third full length entitled "spiritual healing" released in 1990. it was listed as "spiritual cleaning" and so i found the auction by a coincidence. it was one of that back on black re-pressings from 2007 on nice clear with red splatters vinyl. i missed one of those last year and was now determined to get my greedy hands on that copy.
that mistake in the description didn't hold others from recognising this auction and a few hours before its end the record was already at twenty-five bucks. my maximum bid was thirty-five and in the end i got it for thirty-three. not exactly a steal but ok for me as discogs copies start at thirty-eight excluding shipping. furthermore i was really excited to hear some new tunes on my turntable. i only listened a handful of times to "spiritual healing" but i love it already. one can definitely hear the evolution from "leprosy" to this one here.
the song writing on "spiritual healing" is one level above its predecessor, letting already shine through the technical monster which would become of death. especially the lovely melodic leads on the title track or the final song "killing spree" and all throughout the album could have been from "the sound of perseverance" as well. the lyrics are also remarkable. schuldiner dealt with topics like psychological mechanisms of self-protection (defensive personalities), wars in the name of religion (spiritual healing) or positivity from within one's self (within the mind). quite a change from the gore lyrics and unusal for death metal at the time.
the artwork is the last corner stone of the greatness that is "spiritual healing". ed repka outdone himself with this one. i love the evil and blinded looks on the faces of the believers. the reverend has a funny neck-tie with dollar sign buckle. looking closely the quality of the front and back cover pictures are a bit blurry, especially the death logo on the front. a shame back on black didn't go the extra mile here. the inside of the gatefold has a little band biography with some interesting facts in it to make up for the grainy cover. all in all a cool re-press which i am happy to call my own. 500 copies made, i believe. back on black. 2007.