Abbath – Abbath
Season of Mist
Release Date: January 22nd, 2016
FFO: Immortal, I, Venom
Before you listen to ABBATH’s debut solo album, forget everything you know about his musical past. Forget about a certain iconic black metal band, forget about the blackened Motorhead worship side project, forget it all. From the very start of the first track ‘To War!’ you’re going to hear new styles and rhythms that are rarely played in black metal. It may challenge everything you know about the genre, but keep an open mind and you’ll see it for the brilliance it is.
Despite a modern sound and clean production, the first wave black metal influences are undeniable, with songs like ‘Winterbane and ‘Ashes of the Damned’ taking a VENOM style approach to making hard rock riffs into extreme metal. The latter of the two actually just sounds like a sped up ZZ TOP riff, and that isn’t even the biggest surprise of the track, the sudden dramatic horn section almost blew me away when I first heard it.
I wasn’t expecting a solo ABBATH album to be anywhere near this creative. I was expecting every track to be fast riffs and hammering blast beats start to finish like ‘Endless’, and that’s fine for one track but thank the gods above it wasn’t the whole album. Instead we got a breath of fresh air in the big players of the genre, and a record that shows ABBATH still has plenty of potential left in the tank. This is definitely up there with the top black metal albums of the 21st century.
Guttermouth – Got It Made
Release Date: July 15th, 2016
FFO: NOFX, Pennywise
GUTTERMOUTH are back and surprisingly in good form with new music that carries their undeniably unique style, especially in the vocals. I’ve always loved Mark’s vocals and was ecstatic to hear he’s still got it after all these years. To my ears his vocal style is the spiritual successor of Jello Biafra’s.
Moving on from the frontman, this EP is a delightful package of great riffs, and well written and structured songs. There are some parts where I’m not always sure if an old riff is being reused or if it’s just a throwback to their past styles, but that can be said for most older punk bands since there’s only so much you can do with 3 chords. Regardless, ‘Got It Made’ draws inspiration from different eras of their career, “Shitty Situation” is old school for example whereas “Frekles The Pony” sounds more like the later albums. Not all are winners though, ‘The Point’ is very lyrically weak but that could simple be a throwback to very early material maybe? Or maybe just bad writing?
‘Got It Made’ is probably not for the PC punx, but that’s just GUTTERMOUTH being GUTTERMOUTH. They’re a band of rascally scamps that a lot of people love to hate, with lyrics filled with many casually offensive things that might stress out the overly sensitive. Those with a sense humor and a thicker skin will probably find a few chuckles in each song. Either way, it’s a fun EP and I really need to pick up the full length that followed it.
Kvelertak – Nattesferd
Release Date: May 13th, 2016
FFO: Certainly not for fans of Kvelertak, that’s for sure
Let me preface what I’m about to say, I am not a bitter KVELERTAK hater expressing his rage. I love the band. I’ve worn their tour shirt to more gigs than any other shirt I own, and when it finally falls to pieces I plan on getting the design tattooed on me so I can wear it for ever. This band and their first two albums filled a niche gap in my heart that no one else ever could. Now let’s continue.
There’s raw like a nice rare steak, a bit of dripping blood on your plate that you can soak up with your chips when you finish it, and there’s raw like under-cooked chicken. ‘Nattesferd’ is a big dose of salmonella.
I know not ever intro track can be a masterpiece, however having four terrible intros totaling 20 minutes before you reach the three good songs on the album is a bit much. What’s that? They’re not intros? They’re meant to be actual songs? Jesus Christ guys, what went so wrong after ‘Meir’?! I still hold out hope that they’ll announce they accidentally sent the demos to the pressing plant, because this album features their worst mixing yet and songs feel unfinished.
When the ‘1985’ single dropped, I wasn’t immediately impressed. Past albums had singles like ‘Blodtorst’ and ‘Bruane Brenn’, absolute bangers that get the crowd wild and randy. ‘1985’ is more likely to get you dad tapping his foot while fondly remembering his first URIAH HEEP concert. KVELERTAK were masters of mixing genres, but dad rock is not something it ever needed. ‘Nattesferd’ is a mistake that shouldn’t have been released. As a disappointment of a third child myself, I think I finally understand how my parents feel when I listen to this album and feel such overwhelming disappointment for what could’ve been.
Overall, this album made me want to re-enroll at uni so I’m not remembered as the ‘Nattesferd’ of the family.
Tempest Rising – Transmutation
Release Date: November 14th, 2014
FFO: Lamb Of God, Trivium, Machine Head
I feel like I’ve written the review for this album 100 times over, because every time I listen to this album I feel differently about it and rewrite parts. I even went all the way to Alice Springs to see them at Blacken, and sat there through the entire set not knowing how I feel about it. If TEMPEST RISING were a packet of chips, you’d finish the whole pack in one go but not know if you should still have dinner or if that was enough.
‘Transmutation’ combines a lot of metal styles, and honestly does it pretty well. Despite doing it well, there’s only so many styles you can try on one album and sometimes it feels thinly spread, a bit more focus would improve the music. It’s like if you tried to condense all of TRIVIUM’s discography into one album, and then put some PANTERA covers in for good measure.
All in all, listening to this album is a good time, as a whole doesn’t overstay its welcome, despite some songs being drawn out. It’s not the type of album that would see me going to watch TEMPEST RISING headline a show, but if they were a support act I definitely wouldn’t miss a chance to hear a set of the better songs from the debut album. Regardless, I’ll definitely keep these guys on my radar, and I’d recommend you do too.
I also award this album with bonus points for having the best album art of the lot! Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good copy, just the very dark version below.
Fav tracks: War, Wretch, My Ecstacy
The Yard Apes – Night Of The Living Dead
Heart of the Rat Records
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
FFO: Misfits, Nekromantix, The Mummies
I absolutely adore THE YARD APES, they’re one of the closest things you’ll find to being able to watch Marty McFly tear through ‘Johnny B. Goode’ at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. Their release ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ will be less likely to have Marvin Berry calling his cousin Chuck though, and more likely to have Marvin Danzig calling his cousin Glenn.
The Ballarat garage rockers have taken a dark and fuzzy turn for their three-track 7”, giving the middle finger to modern-day audiophiles and bringing back that dirty, noisy analog feel. The tracks are powered by surf rock riffs with a lick of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. It really brings back memories of listening to old punk cassettes in my brother’s Datsun as a kid.
Despite loving some lo-fi goodness, I must say it’s definitely shooting yourself in the foot to push it so far to the edge listenability that the guitar solo in ‘Don’t Give a Shit Anymore’ is the worst part of the song. I’d probably have more of an issue with this if it was more than 9 minutes long all together, but in such a short burst, I thinks it’s more than tolerable for three wicked jams.