A Week In Reviews: Facemeat, Grand Magus, Involuntary Convulsion, Jack The Envious, Tower Of Fire

Facemeat – Questions For Men
Art As Catharsis
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
FFO: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Frank Zappa, keeping strange pets like spiders

Listening to FACEMEAT for the first time is like waking up during sex with a supermodel with no memory of the last 6 months. It’s great, you’ll want to tell your friends about it, but you also have to stop and think how you got to this point in your life.

With no knowledge of the genre at all to make comparisons, I can only sum their album ‘Questions For Men’ as the jazz equivalent of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’s ‘One of Us Is the Killer’ (I really want to call it djazz, y’know, djent meets jazz). It’s like grindcore for people with good taste in music. A brilliant mix of male and female lead vocals, saxophones, trumpet, cello and keys show that each of the nine musicians behind this album are talented in their own right, how ever their combined effort is beyond fabulous.

Describing themselves as jazz folk rock funk punk fusion, I struggle to find better words for this madness (excluding djazz), but it doesn’t quite cover how dark it gets. Adultery, addiction, revenge, rape, and even bestiality make up just some of the lyrical themes, and yet at the same time it can stay surprisingly camp throughout the darkness.

This is an album for the weird kids, the minds so open that very little unsettles them, the tastes that passed eclectic miles ago. I strongly recommend checking it out, most people I’ve shown it to have dug it, but approach with caution.

Fav tracks: My Wife and Children, In Time, I Shouldn’t Have Killed You.

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Grand Magus – Sword Songs
Nuclear Blast
Release Date: May 13th, 2016
FFO: Black Sabbath, Amon Amarth, riffs for days

Grand Magus’ 2012 masterpiece “The Hunt” was one of the first albums I gave a perfect score to when I used to score albums. While the follow up “Triumph and Power” was a good album, “Sword Songs” is the true heir to the legacy “The Hunt” left behind.

If you only had a copy of the lyrics and guitar tabs, I could forgive you for thinking this was an AMON AMARTH album, and honestly it sounds like what they’d sound like with less distortion and clean vocals. In fact “Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel” is pretty much the new anthem for the viking metal genre, and a monster workout jam too!

This one is really for the headbangers, the riff lords, and the air guitar extraordinaire. GRAND MAGUS have served up another album of monstrous heavy metal the way BLACK SABBATH designed it to be. It’s definitely in for a chance to be my album of the year considering how much it’s been played in my car since it came out.

Buy it for yourself, buy it for your friends, buy it for a stranger and bond over how amazing it is. But also, buy the edition with the bonus tracks, because the cover of DEEP PURPLE’s “Stormbringer” ventures into the realms of stoner rock and it’s so rad.

Fav tracks: Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel, Born for Battle (Black Dog of Brocéliande), Stormbringer.

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Involuntary Convulsion – Tempus Edax Rerums
New Standard Elite
Release Date: May 31st, 2016
FFO: Nile, Suffocation, new school death metal, old school death metal

Like it or not, death metal is changing, and at the forefront of the new world is New Standard Elite. That’s why I was super stoked to see Melbourne brutal death metallers INVOLUNTARY CONVULSION releasing their debut EP through such a label. Being one of the first local death metal bands I ever saw, it’s great to seem them come this far.

Structure wise the songs are brutal death metal, but there’s definitely tech death influences in that, and possibly a hint of slam? I’m not entirely sure, death metal subgenres are confusing. Regardless, old school death metal fans will froth over the low tuning, guttural growling, and unclean mix. The mix is a risky move, it deters the casual metal fan who isn’t well versed in extreme subgenres, but those with a more developed taste for filth will find themselves agreeing with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER’s Trevor Strnad when he says the mix is “raw enough to send some of you wimps packing right from the get go.”

A special mention on this one also has to go to the album art, I fell in love with this monstrosity at first sight. I was stoked when the pre-orders had album art flags, now I get to hang this on my walls and look at it every day. Amazing band and an EP that’s truly love at first sight!

Fav tracks: I’m not going to pick my favorite 3 out of only 5, they’re all killer, go make up your own mind!

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Jack The Envious – Pull You Down
Independent Release
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
FFO: Funeral for a Friend, Panic! At The Disco, Make Them Suffer

I don’t know what’s more shocking in 2016, the fact people are still making post-hardcore bands, or the fact some of them are actually good. Despite the letdown of an amazing intro with a disappointingly weak follow through, JACK THE ENVIOUS is one of those new and very good post-hardcore bands.

Utilizing keyboards to build an atmosphere to project the music into, the songs are powered through the choruses and verses by melodic alt rock vocals that are strongly reminiscent of PANIC! AT THE DISCO, making this album as much of a guilty pleasure as they are. The keyboards also bring something new and epic to the genre, symphonic breakdowns, it’s breathtaking to hear it for the first time.

While not a massive fan of the genre, I feel I’ve seen enough friends post-hardcore bands at the local on a weekday night to know that this above the standard. From the soft melodic parts to the intense hardcore sections, JACK THE ENVIOUS remains well composed and sound consistently tight as a band. It’s hard to believe this is a debut release, but I’m keen to see what they have to offer in the future if this is just the starting point.

Oh, and just as a little bonus, the album also comes with the greatest “Feel Good Inc.” cover you’ll ever hear, and it’s in the style of those lovable Punk Goes Pop albums.

Fav tracks: More To Life, My Beloved Target, Feel Good Inc.

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Tower of Fire – This Time It’s On Fire
Independent Release
Release Date: March 15th, 2016
FFO: Gloryhammer, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Chicken

Now I know TOWER OF FIRE say “This Time It’s Serious”, but I don’t quite buy it… I would buy this album though if it ever got a physical release. I would buy several copies because I’d very likely wear it out from constant repeats.

This album is the second full-length dose of silly, over the top power metal from the mind of Dale Williams (formerly known as Ultralord of LAGERSTEIN). Just like the debut album, it’s a worthy piss-take off the genre, and it details the type of Lord of the Rings epic with Monty Python humor that Terry Pratchett would be proud of.

Despite been more cheesy than France, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Germany combined, the actual instrumentals are genuinely amazing, as is the production. It’s very akin to STEEL PANTHER or TENACIOUS D, but without Jack Black bankrolling the band (also no movie, but a TOWER OF FIRE movie would kick ass…).

Now if you don’t mind I need to show this album to my parents so they stop saying that me dropping out of uni was a massive waste of talent, because it’s nothing compared to this much skill being used to write clever parody albums. This album is probably the best album you’ll legally pay nothing for this year.

Fav tracks: Beware the Dragonchicken, The Swordsman of Outspoken Misc, And Back Again.

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