Dienstag, 19. September 2017

amon amarth - the crusher

another record from amon amarth's early days. "the crusher" is the band's third full length album from 2001. again the guys recorded their material at the abyss studios where peter tägtgren mixed and mastered it. the album was well recieved by fans and i can see why. it's fourty five minutes of all amon amarth stands for. if you know any stuff of the band and liked it, you can't go wrong with "the crusher". because of the really bad cover i was always sceptical about this album but with repeated listens, it may even attack the top position of "versus the world" in my personal ranking.
there are so many strong songs on this record, that i fail to name a favourite. check out "as long as the raven flies", "a fury divine" and "the fall through ginnungagap" for some amon amarth melodic death metal supremacy. i bought my copy, just like the "once sent from the golden hall" copy of the last post, from the metal blade europe ebay store. for all of their amon amarth vinyl re-presses they sold a special ebay store exclusive version. all come on "flame" splattered vinyl, a clear orange with red splatter variant.
i opted for this edition because it is limited to 200 copies for "the crusher", whereas for "once sent..." and "the avenger" they were limited to 300 copies. in this case metal blade didn't stand true to the original pressing as the first press came on a double lp edition. still this re-issue looks super lovely. matte cardboard sleeve, a poster, cool custom metal blade dust sleeve and this nice colour-way. all hand-numbered with my copy being #72. metal blade records. 2001/2017.

Montag, 18. September 2017

amon amarth - once sent from the golden hall

continuing the recent re-press series of amon amarth complete back catalogue by metal blade with their first full length. "once sent from the golden hall" was already released in 1998. man, this is almost twenty years. the album itself is actually twenty years old because the first take was recorded in 1997 in stockholm's sunlight studios. the band wasn't satisfied with the end result and therefore looked for an improvement.
they found help in the person of peter tägtgren of hypocrisiy fame. at the time tägtgren was already a producer of renown throughout the metal world with his own abyss studios. amon amarth and tägtgren re-mixed andre-mastered album so it would meet the demands of the band. with a little delay "once sent from the golden hall" was unleashed in early 1998 via metal blade records.
the album wasn't a huge success but it put amon amarth on the map of the metal world. still the album recieved mostly positive reviews and is now considered a classic. musically i wasn't sure what i would get here. the earliest work of amon i know is "versus the world" (which i still consider their finest moment) and i somehow imagined their previous records to be musically not as well written as the stuff i knew.
that fear was washed away with the forst notes of the opening track "ride for vengeance". it's all there, the band's unique feeling for epic melodies, the groove-driven riffs and, of course, the viking lyrics. an absolutely rock solid debut with a few hits (check "friends of the suncross"). the re-press is part of the "original series"and thus is detailed replica of the initial lp version from '98 except the vinyl colour. 500 copies on orange black marble. metal blade. 1998/2017.

Samstag, 16. September 2017

thy art is murder - dear desolation

thy art is murder is one of those tech death metal bands that walk around with a deathcore label. beside the look of some band members there are no core elements in their sound at all. of course, there are breakdowns on this record but suffocation has breakdowns in their songs too and nobody would go as far as calling the new york death metal institution a deathcore band. anyway, whatever you want to call the sound of thy art is murder, the adjective "phenomenal" should always precede the genre description.
"dear desolation" is the fourth full length of this australian monster and the second for nuclear blast records. after the departure of vocalist cj mcmahon in december 2015 and his return in early 2017 the band released split lp and the song on that split promised great deeds. the new album has become an utterly dark and aggressive slab of technical death metal. there isn't too much change to "holy war", which is (still) good in my book. the guys have an unique feeling for the right mixture of groove, fast tech death assaults and apocalyptic melodies.
check out their impressive wall of sound with "the son of misery". nuclear blast came up with numerous vinyl editions. four american, three european and two australian versions are floating around. nuclear blast had two euro versions and one u.s., the latter of the three just looked lovely on merge vinyl. the artwork by german artist elrian kantor, who also worked for testament, hatebreed or crowbar, is a breathtaking oil on canvas piece. so a great package all around. 800 copies made. nuclear blast. 2017.

Montag, 11. September 2017

suffocation - ...of the dark light

when i discovered this new york death metal institution something like a year ago, their at the time most recent record "pinnacle of bedlam" was already three years old. therefore time for a new release was long overdue. so four years after the pinnacle there is now the dark light. when pre-orders went live at nuclear blast, i didn't jump at it immediately because i figured that the coloured versions wouldn't sell out that fast. i was right with that assumption, you can still buy all three european colour-ways from nuclear blast.
what actually took me so long to get a copy of "...of the dark light"? the album was released in early june but i pre-ordered the new thy art is murder record as well and included it to the order. so it wasn't until late august that i could unwrap the band's new masterpiece. musically this is more of the same suffocation brilliancy. they didn't change much in their trademark sound but to me it doesn't go out of style. technical and fast death metal with that special ingredient, which makes me initially think of no one else but suffocation.
listen to "your last breaths" and the mighty title track. clocking in a bit over thirty five minutes, this is a short and hefty kick to the head. great album overall. with "epitaph of the credulous" they have now re-recorded five of eight songs from "breeding the spawn" on their following albums. three to go for future releases. my vinyl edition comes on nice azure blue and looks classy. it must be the same technique they use for the solid gold and silver colour-ways. it's pretty shiny and has this distinct water-sign-like pattern around the centre. 300 copies made. nuclear blast. 2017.

Sonntag, 10. September 2017

kreator - flag of hate (u.s. edition)

three weeks ago i visited one of the nicest flea markets in my area. it took place in three old warehouses in a village a thirty minutes drive away. my mother in law told me about it and that there was a seller with over a few hundred used records. sounded good and when i was entering the hall and saw the stall with the vinyl, i rubbed my hands in gleeful anticipation. i waved kid and wife goodbye for the next hour and began flicking through the racks. next to some nice electric light orchestra and simon and garfunkel records, i came across a familiar looking band logo.
at such flea markets i usually pursue my passion for seventies and eighties pop and prog rock vinyl so i wasn't expecting any metal records here. the more i was surprised to find an early kreator record. as i am not familiar with the band's early stuff, i didn't really know what i was holding in hands here. i bought six records all together for twenty five bucks, so four euros and something per record. good deal. back home i searched discogs for some pressing information.
the e.p. was released in 1986 after their second full length "pleasure to kill" of the same year. it was actually produced to promote their tour with destruction and rage. the german version on noise records comes with the re-recorded song "flag of hate", which was already on the debut "endless pain", and two exclusive songs. i have the u.s. version on combat which is expanded by three additional track also taken from the first full length. the vinyl is in pristine condition, whereas the cover sleeve had seen better days. but for this price i won't complain. noise records. combat records. 1986.

Samstag, 9. September 2017

beastwars - s/t

beastwars is a stoner/doom metal band from new zealand and i stumbled upon them earlier this year because of their most recent album "the death of all things". it was actually released in 2016 already on destroy records. when i checked the kozmik artifactz store i came across the nice cover art and took a quick listen. i did like what i heard but i still didn't come around to order a copy. i forgot about the band in the coming months.
beastwars were brought back into my focus with an ebay auction for their debut full length from 2011. because i checked discogs for second hand prices and availability of their first two records, i knew that it would be tough to get them. that was why i couldn't let this opportunity slip through my fingers. it was one of those ten-days auctions, so i was pretty tensed when the day of the auction's end finally came.
thankfully i got the record for under fifteen bucks, which is quite a good deal in my book. when this beauty arrived and i dropped the needle on it for the first time, i was all satisfied. this self-titled album is the perfect mix of high on fire's stoner metal and crowbar's mighty sludge metal. together with vocalist matt hydes' whisky formed voice, the record makes for a very variable and unique listen. check it out here.
the presentation adds to the overall good impression. the unbelievably detailed artwork by nick keller, who also graced records of the black dahlia murder or horn of the rhino, is perfectly presented on a gatefold cover, which has some even nicer art on the inside. the vinyl comes on a lovely white with black marble colour pattern. it was part of the second press out of 200 copies. destroy records. 2011.

Dienstag, 5. September 2017

obscura - cosmogenesis

obscura have really left their mark on my musical horizon. i bought their latest full length "akróasis" when it was released last year and it quickly became one of my favourite records of the year plus it helped to kick start a tech death obsession i still cherish. almost exactly one year ago i bought my last piece of obscura vinyl - their odds and ends compilation "illegimitation". that left me with two records of the band still to chase down, which are "omnivium" and "cosmogenesis".
discogs was a dead end because the prices asked for both of the records are far from what i call reasonable. ebay was even worse. no auctions, just offerings with inflated buy-it-now prices. a seller had both records at hand and was lowering the price each time the auctions ended without anyone pulling the trigger. "omnivium" was pulled at fifty euros, i believe. when "cosmogenesis" was at fourty euros, another seller from germany offered his copy for thirty bucks. i was there to end this price battle and left the war zone with a record under my arm for an ok price.
"cosmogenesis" is prog/tech death metal perfection. a timeless piece of culminated musical craftsmanship. not one note is random, everything is so deliciously sophisticated. check it out and bow to the sheer superiority of obscura's "cosmogenesis". the first and to this date only pressing is out of 1000 copies. here is the breakdown: 100 copies on the obligatory clear vinyl, 400 copies on 180g black vinyl and 500 copies on this beautiful opaque blue vinyl. comes in a slip sleeve with printed dust sleeve and is looking sharp! relapse records. 2009.

Sonntag, 3. September 2017

converge - i can tell you about pain

at some point at the beginning of the year i read about converge working on new material to be released this year. as time went by without any informations of a recording process or similar, i began to doubt the actual release of a new album for this year. then, a few weeks ago, i got a message from a good friend with a screen shot from the converge facebook page, which showed a date in july.
when the day finally came, i was a little disappointed to see that all the buzz was about only a two song 7". i really hoped for a new full length but that wish should be fulfilled a bit later. nevertheless i ordered the 7" right away because it was a new converge piece of vinyl and this is reason enough for me. i ordered at kingsroad merch europe and they had an opaque blue version out of 1000 copies.
the first and name giving song "i can tell you about pain" is a typical fast and feedback induced outburst of converge venom the band is known for. whereas "eve" on the b-side is one of those fragile and desperate balladesque songs that show the other side of converge's sound cosmos. to me "eve" definitely lifts the silverware here. the sleeve has a metallic foil print all over it which made it difficult to photograph. nice teaser for the lp which i already pre-ordered. can't wait! deathwish inc. 2017.

Samstag, 2. September 2017

forming the void - relic

the second record i put into my cart at kozmik artifactz was the sophomore release by a doom/stoner band called forming the void. again the main aspects for my purchase were the cover art and the bands in the description the sound of "relic" was compared to. funnily the artwork bears resemblance to the hyborian cover. it was time for hooded guys in a space background, it seemed. the album was recommended for fans of baroness, torche and mastodon.
this meant two out of three (torche is not really my cup of tea) and was a strong sign for me to check this louisiana based four piece. the band has a hefty doom metal sound with some progressive and lengthy outbursts. definitely appealing to me. the price was very moderate and so i had no excuse not to add the record to the cart. you can check out the record via this link. kozmik artifactz has momentairly sold out on the lp but you can order directly from the source, lonestar records. the band's first album "skyward" from 2015 was self-released. initially the follow-up "relic" was a cd-only release on the italian label argonauta records.
the band actually always opted for a vinyl release but didn't have the right partner for a vinyl output. the problem was probably that "relic" is actually too long for a single vinyl release. round about fifty five minutes of music call for a double lp release and thus for increasing production costs. therefore forming the void dropped one song and changed the tracklist so that lonestar records from germany could press the material on a single lp. 500 copies pressed on coke bottle clear vinyl. lonestar records. 2017.

Mittwoch, 30. August 2017

hyborian - vol. 1

i had some money left to burn of my monthly vinyl budget and so i looked around what records would probably suit my mood. i landed at the kozmik artifactz store which is one of the best stoner/doom/psych mailorders here in germany. i browsed through the "new arrivals" section and came across two records that looked really interesting. the first one was the first full length by a band called hyborian.
the four piece hails from kansas city, mo and the description at kozmik artifactz said something about high on fire and mastodon worship. that was pretty much all i needed to make me more than curious. i checked out their bandcamp page and what i heard made me crave this record. the comparisons made in the description are absolutely accurate, even though i fell they lean more towards the early mastodon side. if you are a fan of the aforementioned bands you should definitely check them out.
"vol. 1" is a riff monster that sinks its claws into the listener and won't let go. i was lucky enough to snag the last remaining copy in stock at kozmik artifactz. this edition comes on slick blue and black merge vinyl and is called "aqueous nebula". the rest is a sturdy slip sleeve with a double sided insert and a download code. the clear and black vinyl options are still available via the label the company. go, get a copy before they are gone! 100 copies made. the company. 2017.

Dienstag, 29. August 2017

amon amarth - with oden on our side

back from the dead. i wasn't too dead actually because i attended the reload festival in sulingen, germany. two good friends and me were at the festival last year as well (i wrote about my festival pick up here) and we wanted to kind of establish a custom. this year's fest saw great shows of terror, august burns red, whitechapel, life of agony and amon amarth. yepp, amon amarth again. i saw them a few weeks ago at wacken festival and at reload they were the saturday headliner.
the guys played pretty much the same show but this time i had a better view at the stage because there were not as many crowdsurfers as at wacken and so i didn't have to turn around every two minutes to pass another body to the front of the stage. of course, the stage show was a bit cheesy with the viking duel, a guy costumed as loki and the huge midgard snake and johan hegg fighting it with a plastic thor's hammer, but at the same time it was pure entertainment. i really liked it and am now on a little amon amarth kick.
the second record i ordered along with the "fate of norns" record was the band's sixth full length, called "with oden on our side". it was released in 2006 and marked the first recording for the band as a full time job. they recorded the album with all members being present at fascination street studios in örebro, sweden and the outcome was one of the strongest amon records in their history. check out the whole album here.
this new pressing consists of a slip sleeve, which differs from the original and back on black pressings as they have a gatefold sleeve, a double sided insert, a poster and the record on lovely yellow marbled vinyl. i opted for the less limited version out of 500 copies because the most limited comes on clear gold with black marble and tends to look a bit dark. the opaque colour is super bright. nice! i am out for more amon amarth vinyl. metal blade records. 2006/2017.

Montag, 21. August 2017

amon amarth - fate of norns

so this is my wacken post. at least kind of. i didn't buy any vinyl at this years festival because there wasn't any interesting stuff. but i saw amon amarth and as their stage show and the whole gig were nothing short of amazing, i thought it might be apt to write about my recent purchase in combination with the biggest metal festival in europe. again it was raining the week before the festival started and left sodden ground. a heavy shower on thursday and the ground was soaking wet. again rain boots were my best friends.
next to great shows by nile and the dillinger escape plan, i was eagerly awaiting the performance of amon amarth. i saw them once at elbriot fest 2015 and they were a blast. this time on an even bigger stage, promised a great show. the stage show looked real sharp with the drum kit set on an over dimensional viking helmet. during the set two viking performers fought a duel on stage, the vocalist johan hegg lit fireworks with the hit of thor's hammer and a huge midgard snake crawled on stage at the end of the show.
amon amarth absolutely killed it and the guys had one of the best performances of the whole festival. good for me that metal blade re-releases the whole amon back catalogue on some fancy vinyl options. i missed out on the first four records but "fate of norns" and "with oden on our side" caught my interest. metal blade releases two albums at a time and so i pre-ordered both records at emp mailorder. for "fate of norns" i chose the limited european colour-way on grey marble vinyl.
of course everybody knows "the pursuit of vikings", which was the opening track of their wacken set by the way, but the rest of the album is at least equally as good. a great melodic death metal album through and through. the recording process was pretty stressful for the band because amon amarth was still no full-time job at the time and the guys could only work on the record after their day jobs. the stress isn't noticeable on all accounts. "fate of norns" was the first to even enter the german album charts. great edition with additional poster and insert in a slip sleeve. #109/300. metal blade. 2004/2017.

Samstag, 19. August 2017

rings of saturn - ultu ulla

the long awaited fourth full length of rings of saturn is finally upon us. it was three years in the making and it was worth the wait. i am familiar with the band for not too long now. since the beginning of this year to be more exact. nevertheless i awaited the record eagerly because their back catalogue is superb. "embryonic anomaly" was a more than solid debut, "dingir" a better follow-up and "lugal ki en" a matured tech-death album that matched up with the big bands of the genre like whitechapel, obscura or decrepit birth.
"ultu ulla" (the sumerian cuneiform of "time immemorial") definitely topped "lugal ki en" in my humble opinion. who thinks rings of saturn is just some alien freak band with stolen riffs and some random breakdowns should take a closer listen to their albums, especially to this one. "ultu ulla" is packed with hooks, melodies and ideas. the song-writing on this album is a few levels better than on the preceding stuff. listen to the opening track "servant to this sentience" and the instrumental "the macrocosm" and convince yourself.
the u.s. offshoot of nuclear blast did quite a few colour versions for this release. the visually more appealing ones were an electric blue with splatter and a green and yellow merge with splatter variant but those were exclusive to either band webshop or tour merch and thus out of the question for me. nuclear blast germany had a few copies of the mint green version in their store and so i opted for one of those copies. again the artwork looks real spaced out and is so rich in detail. great job by mark cooper. next to an opaque yellow version my green copy is part of the most limited edition out of 300 copies. nuclear blast. 2017.

Dienstag, 15. August 2017

decrepit birth - axis mundi

decrepit birth is another discovery in my ever expanding tech death band cosmos. i was browsing through the nuclear blast online store, which i do regularly not to miss any new vinyl, and came across the band's new output "axis mundi". the name sounded familiar and the cover looked ace. enough reasons for me to check them out. as soon as i listened to "epigenetic triplicty" i was sold on them.
decrepit birth was founded in 2001 and members changed quite frequently since then with vocalist bill robinson and guitarist matt sotelo being the constant ones. they released their first two albums via unique leader records and their third on nuclear blast. the latter, "polarity", was already unleashed seven years ago. quite a long time between two records but "axis mundi" was worth the wait.
the band plays, quelle suprise, technical death metal with an odd feeling for melodies. with a few spoken words here and there and the use of keyboards those melodic parts have a real dark touch to them. the rest is sheer technical diversity. i read a few fan comments complaining about decrepit birth being too much metal mainstream now but i cannot hear anything slightly mainstream here. of course they have evolved but this is the way things go. lovely clear blue with yellow splatter vinyl out of 500 copies. nuclear blast 2017.

Sonntag, 13. August 2017

elder - live at roadburn 2013

three weeks ago two of my best friends and me were on a trip to hamburg to catch one of our favourite bands live. elder is the name and i was pretty excited to see them. i missed them last year and therefore i was almost hysteric when i learned about the concert in hamburg a few months ago. on a little side note i also wanted to snag a little piece of u.s. vinyl of the new record "reflections of a floating world". the gig was on a monday and the day started out with constant heavy raining.
the highway to hamburg was blocked because of a construction site and so we thought to get to the city via ordinary roads. those were inaccessible as well because of another construction site. so we drove to wedel, a small town near hamburg with access to public transport. halfway in hamburg we had to get out of the train because of yet another construction site. so we took a rail replacement bus, hopped into another train and finally arrived after two and half hours. usually the trip takes an hour.
we missed one of the two supporting bands but that wasn't too much of an issue. when elder started their set, the small venue with a capacity of maybe 200-300 people was on fire. great set list with mainly new songs and a great atmosphere between crowd and band. the only tiny downer was that the band didn't carry any u.s. vinyl but the european edition instead, which i already own. in hindsight that seems very plausible. on such a small d.y.i. euro tour the band only took the most important merch with them. the european label delivered the vinyl. next to a shirt and a patch i still bought some elder vinyl.
they released a live record from the 2013 edition of roadburn festival in the netherlands. recently burning world records re-pressed this record on opaque red and green vinyl and i actually wanted to pick up a copy before but never came around to it. so this was the chance. after a little chat with some band members at their merch table after the concert, i took my stuff and was delighted to find the green vinyl inside the gatefold. an all around great gig with good friends. what more can a guy ask for? the record itself is a mix of mainly songs from their "dead roots stirring" album and one from their self-titled debut. solid performance with nice artwork. burning world records/roadburn records. 2013/2017.

Freitag, 11. August 2017

arch enemy - war eternal

not long ago i couldn't care less for arch enemy. i knew stuff of them vaguely but what i heard always confirmed that they were an ok band which isn't worth further efforts. that changed last year when i witnessed their live shows at reload festival and above all at wacken festival 2016. their set was a blast with great stage show, loads of pyrotechnics and the band in splendid shape. this lead to my purchase of the live vinyl release of this event, called "as the stages burn". then i heard of the announcement of a coming record this autumn.
a flame was lit and i wanted to check what the recent stuff with new vocalist alissa white-gluz sounded like. after a few bits i was pleasantly surprised at how much i enjoyed it. so i pre-ordered the up-coming record "will to power" in the box-set edition. after that was done i searched discogs for the first record the band recorded with white-gluz. "eternal war" was released through century media in 2014. the label released a variety of colour vinyl back then and i thought it wouldn't be too hard to get one for a reasonable price.
i was shocked at the asking prices over at discogs. in case discogs is to be believed, the most limited gold vinyl version was once sold for one hundred euros... seriously? i mean, the record is pretty good but i don't see why it is so special that someone feels it is worth one hundred bucks and another one feels it is acceptable to unload one hundred bucks. anyway, even the silver version i have is now offered for round about sixty euros and at that point i didn't believe in owning a copy all too soon.
the next common source for second hand vinyl is ebay and just like the gods knew that i was chasing a copy, someone wanted to let go of his silver vinyl edition of "war eternal". the starting bid was twenty bucks and i wanted to bid in the last seconds. i did so an in the end i was the only one placing a bid. reasonable price if you ask me. musically this a fistful of melodic death metal right where it hurts. michael amott and the guys deliver the goods and alissa white-gluz impresses with an energetic performance. check out the album and hear for yourself. i am now really excited for the new record. 300 copies on silver vinyl. centuria media. 2014.

Mittwoch, 9. August 2017

summoner - phoenix

after i bought the latest summoner record "beyond the realm of light", i felt the urge to search what else might be available of this boston based stoner four-piece. they have three full lengths under their belt with "phoenix" from 2012 being the first and "atlantian" from 2013 being the second album. all have been released on magnetic eye records on multiple lovely looking vinyl colour-ways across three pressings each.
it speaks for itself that all of the coloured copies of those re-pressings are sold out, except a few copies from the latest re-press of "phoenix" from overseas (all that is heavy). in such cases i see what second hand markets has to offer. ebay and discogs are the main sources and while the bay didn't have any options, discogs saved my day. a seller from latvia came to my rescue with a very nice looking copy of the third press from 2015.
the album itself lacks a bit of the progressive feel that "beyond the realm of light" comes around the corner with. still "phoenix" is a very solid stoner metal album which doesn't have to hide behind the band's subsequent records. the presentation is more than solid. the artwork by alyssa maucere is stunning. the colour pattern chosen for this third press copy is almost as stunning. awesome cream and red split with grey splatter. a beauty. magnetic eye records. 2012/2015.