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Murder 1

Murder 1

On High

The Music Cartel

The guys in Murder 1 have names like Iceberg, Bram Phetamine and Boy Toy, while bassist Job The Raver is also credited with handling “backwards masking” duties. Ho-hum. Musically, though, Murder 1 aren’t kidding around, playing dark, gloomy psych rock in the vein of classic Black Sabbath and, as suggested by a somewhat plodding version of “Rock Bottom,” Schenker-era UFO. “White Horse Trail” is a groovy sludge track, and “Pimp Killer” abounds with Jon Lord moments on the keys.

On High delivers on the promise of grand hard rock pomposity, the songwriting isn’t exactly of the daring kind, and the album inevitably gets a bit too introverted and repetitious as it thumps along. Plus, Ozzy wouldn’t be caught dead doing the abysmal casual-noise thing that Murder 1 scramble together for “Hudson County Probation Blues.” All this, however, is just about forgiven and forgotten with the arrival of “The Raver, The Naga and the Holy Spirit,” a long, dark and grueling track that sums up everything that was fine about hard psych rock in the beginning, proving that there is still hope for the survival of this doomed [sic] genre.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com/

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Music Reviews

Lenny Dee Presents

Lenny Dee Presents

IFS4 : Chillin is Killin

The Music Cartel

A new massive double disc in Lenny Dee’s IFS series — Industrial Fuckin’ Strength, that is — on which the pioneering label head gives us 34 of his favorite hardcore techno tracks for your listening “pleasure.” Divided into a “chillin’ side” and a “killin’ side,” there really isn’t that much difference between the two — chillin’ in Dee’s world just being another term for fucked-up, sinister, hard techno.

Still, the first disc proves to be the best one out of the two — the mix kicks off with a whisper, gradually building to a frantic, pounding scream. Dee presents his twisted scope in a beautiful manner, holding it all back, teasing the listener with snippets of blasting beats, and not really giving the hardcore game away before the set is halfway through.

The “killin’ side,” on the other hand, may share some of the first disc’s musical diversity, but nothing of its subtlety. Here it’s all blasted fury from the opening and on to the end, with evil-spirited jokes rather than the first disc’s dark humor. It’ll all work wonders on a techno dance floor, but it’s the first disc that’ll make you pull this one out at home too.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Sheavy

Sheavy

Synchronized

The Music Cartel

No need to be any subtler about this than Sheavy themselves: Sheavy are classic Black Sabbath reincarnated. Nothing more — God forbid — but not much less either. Synchronized is super cool for those of us who thinks classic Ozzy-fronted Sabbath is super cool. It’s no Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but it makes a damn fine impersonation of it. And, for whatever reason, it even sounds convincing, exciting, and not really that derivative at all. Imagine that.

Sheavy play classic stoner rock then, taking more than a few cues from a classic like Vol. 4. Sonically, they add the phrasings of Kyuss to their psychedelic hard rock, but vocally, it’s all pure Ozzy. Songs like “Last of the V8 Interceptors” and the title track wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on Master Of Reality, which is a huge compliment, while “Ultraglide” is a new Sabbath ballad for those of us who thinks there are too few of those. “Planet Caravan” it’s not, but hey, what is?

Not reinventing the wheel, then, but Sheavy write great songs — most of the time — and have all the riffs and doomy atmosphere that the originals have been lacking for the last 25 years. You don’t really need this, but if you’re at all into Ozzy-era Sabbath, you won’t be sorry you bought it either.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Music Reviews

Rondellus

Rondellus

Sabbatum: A Medieval Tribute to Black Sabbath

The Music Cartel

In my Heavy Metal adult life I don’t think I’ve anticipated the release of an album as much as I have this one. I’d first found out about Sabbatum back in September 2002 from a Web search, believe it or not, for “death to false metal” and “latin” — I thus declare: falsus metallum delenda est!

A quick visit to the official Sabbatum Web site and I was hooked. Just the idea of Black Sabbath songs on medieval instruments would have been enough, but professionally-arranged Latin versions was more than I could ever imagine. This is the musical breakthrough of the 21st Century, direct from the 14th Century. Get ready to bang your heads…

Rondellus are a professional musical performance troupe hailing from Estonia, specializing in music of the Latin catholic mass as sung circa 1300. Their previous work, three albums’ worth, consisted of sacred and profane period pieces; e.g., Gregorian chants, Knightly drinking cantos, etc. Additionally, Rondellus have performed the same all over Europe. This amazing band (four Estonians and a Swede or two) have done what can only be considered an absolute triumph in the history of music: the successful transmogrification of what normally would be at home with an electric guitar and such to harp, lute, bagpipe, positive organ and psaltery.

The triumph is in the greatness of this album. First of all, this isn’t your grandfather’s Black Sabbath tribute. It’s not contemporary, it’s not expected, it defies and transcends what previous (and perhaps future) tributes to the Heavy Metal band are. The song choices are impeccable, here are just a few: “Verres militares,” “Funambulus domesticus,” “Symptoma mundi,” “Magus,” Post murum somnii” and “”Oculi filioli.” That would be, “War Pigs,” “A National Acrobat,” “Symptom of the Universe,” “The Wizard,” “After Forever,” and “Junior’s Eyes.” Between the Black Sabbath cognoscenti and me, simply reading the Latin translations of those particular songs is nothing short of electrifying. (“Verres militares” is better described as “chilling, like a feeling never before experienced prior to engaging in war…”)

Hearing these and other songs (there are twelve altogether) arranged for medieval instruments and sung in Latin as one might imagine before the prince under torchlight and stained glass windows, cannot be described by my vulgar words. It must be heard. Were I asked, I’d say my favorite Black Sabbath song of all time is “Spiral Architect,” off Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. It is at the same time heavy, powerful and yet intricate as a perfectly woven spider web… Rondellus salutes the listener with “Architectus urbis caelestis” as the final track on their album (they saved the best for last) and – macte virtute – here is the power, the majestic heaviness with all the intricacy – and more – fully intact!

For lovers of all things Black Sabbath, you already have this album. For lovers of the obscure, certainly this should be in your collection. For students of Latin (the translations are included in the album’s liner) Sabbatum is, without question, an absolute must and thus you will declare: Ne plus ultra!

The official Sabbatum Web site boasts some MP3 files — albeit they’re samples, but they’ll hook you, I stake my reputation on it.

The Music Cartel: http://www.musiccartel.com • Sabbatum: http://www.sabbatum.com

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Music Reviews

Deride

Deride

First Round Knockout

The Music Cartel

This is my first experience with Deride, and I must admit that I am thoroughly impressed. These guys play old school power metal, with hints of death, thrash, and grind. Their talent and desire to rock the listener out of his/her pants is obvious, as is their aggressive nature as insane lovers of all things metal! Wow! These guys are grrrreat!

First Round Knockout is the kind of title that begs to be contradicted; it’s always dangerous to give your album such an intimidating title, but in Deride’s case, I think their music actually trumps the title! Remember the way fighters used to actually appear frightened to fight Mike Tyson (Michael Spinx, for example) even before the first round had begun? That was, in a sense, even worse than being knocked out in the first round. Tyson’s opponents were beaten even before the fight started. If there is a word for such a devastating and controlling stronghold on your opponent, it’s what should have been used to title this Deride record.

The guitars have no slick production, no fancy overdubs, nothing flashy. What they do have is a precise and crisp ring, very similar to Metallica’s guitar sound on Master Of Puppets (which is in most everyone’s top five of great metal records). The drumming is completely punishing and technical, and the recording quality of the drums is nothing short of perfect. The lead growle/singer is in my top ten all time of tough guy metal vocalists. His voice is so authentic and strained that the integrity of this man is 100% pure and true, and never in question.

“Crusade of Self-Destruction” is so incredibly crushing and ferocious that most listeners will feel the undeniable urge to punch someone in the face upon listening! “Live While You’re Alive” has the sweetest melodic guitar part I’ve heard since the last Enter My Silence record. It flows beautifully into a merciless, stomping power riff that eventually ends the song. Awesome! There isn’t a bad song on the disc; all songs brutalize and beat the listener’s face with the heaviest and most black leather boot to come out of King Diamond’s closet.

My wife, a non fan of metal, describes this record as “angry, suicide inducing, and very disturbing.” If that doesn’t make you want to hear it, I don’t know what will.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Music Reviews

The Last Drop…

The Last Drop…

Where Were You Living a Year From Now?

The Music Cartel

What an interesting sound these guys have constructed. Any fan of Nirvana will notice, immediately, just how incredibly similar The Last Drop’s lead singer sounds/screams like Kurt Cobain; it’s kind of spooky. The sound on Where Were You Living a Year From Now? can best be described as this: Imagine Kurt were still alive, and that Nirvana is still a band and making records. Imagine, too, that the band had taken some music lessons, learned to play intricate/math metal, and gone back to their tough guy days of Bleach: you would have The Last Drop…

Being a Nirvana fan myself (although I prefer the In Utero-era Nirvana), I was instantly a fan of this record. It really is like a new, more talented Nirvana. I think, though, that the songs on Where Were You… are little too hard and metal to actually have commercial appeal. You must remember that the majority of the record buying public considers Godsmack tough; remember, too, that Godsmack’s style of “metal” is the low “E” string played in varied syncopation, each variation producing a new “song” (or as they call it, a “mover of product”). Now, with that being said, The Last Drop’s impressive technical and math skills may work against them, if their goal is to move unit.

On the other have, songs like “Cheese, Wine, and Discussion” have a very Lateralus-era Tool feel to them, which could make them darlings of the Tool/A Perfect Circle fan base. The same can be said about “The Cheese on Toast Experience” — it’s gritty and hard, technical and mathematical, but maybe too complex for a poorly educated record buying public, as to the ways of music truly decent.

To make a long story short, Where Were You… is fantastic and rocking; my opinion, though, is probably biased, because of my undying love for Nirvana (I nearly peed my pants when I heard “You Know You’re Right” on the radio a few weeks ago!). The music is very well constructed and delivered. The songs are relatively singable, and the guitar riffs are more brutal than any ever constructed by Nirvana, to be frankly honest. Tool fans, I think you’ll enjoy this too. Heck, anyone in the 24-34 age range will think this is the second coming of the early ’90s; but this time, the musicians are doing right, focusing on time changes and a truly metal base.

P.S.: These guys used to be called “Shallow,” so fans of them, take note.

The Music Ccartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Music Reviews

Orange Goblin

Orange Goblin

Coup de Grace

The Music Cartel

A great, churning album from British hard rocking cult faves Orange Goblin. Having traded in their brand of stoner rock for an ever more direct classic metal approach, there are now only the odd detour into spacey parts left to remind the listener of that once so integral part of their sound.

Genuinely exciting and up front, Orange Goblin is heavily influenced by both Black Sabbath and Motörhead as well as the NWOBHM bands, traces of both Angel Witch and early Iron Maiden can be found — and there’s still a healthy dose of Kyuss in here somewhere. Heavy, angular riffs blend with superb songs to create something as rare and welcome as vital and vibrant classic metal, with a sense of purpose and a sharp, contemporary edge.

From the terrific “Monkey Panic” to the raging “Red Web,” and ending with the call-to-arms “Stinkin’ O’ Gin,” this is a hard-hitting, uncompromising collection of songs that floods over with energy and pure, unadulterated sonic bliss. A new brilliant album from this influential, ever-evolving band.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Music Reviews

Codeseven

Codeseven

The Rescue

The Music Cartel

Back after a three year long recording hiatus, Codeseven go into their regular habit of transforming the idea of themselves and ending up with something truly remarkable. The emo of yesteryear prevails, but in addition come a cautious approach and a willingness to stop for breath. Lush and considered in sound and approach, The Rescue is also a more clinical album in a way, sounding as if it was conceived somewhere unknown and recorded through layers upon layers of wind and space.

Pop sensibilities combine with prog tendencies in a way that is more than a little reminiscent of Radiohead and, in particular, Elbow, but Codeseven is carving out a place of their own. If not a faultless album — midway through “Smell of Yellow and Black” they even go into a Lenny Kravitz kind of thing, which is mildly disturbing — this is still a brave move, and a successful one as well. Uncompromising and idiosyncratic, this is an impressive and beautiful album from a band that may even have their finest work ahead of them.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Music Reviews

Mammoth Volume

Mammoth Volume

The Early Years

The Music Cartel

This album compiles recordings that predates the 1999 debut album from Swedish metal stoners Mammoth Volume, and is convincing evidence that most pieces of their hard rock puzzle were in place well before they secured a record deal. This is churning and riff-heavy rock in the style of late Ozzy-era Black Sabbath that draws parallels to both Kyuss and, of all bands, Blue Öyster Cult. Doom rock with choruses, then, that still looses none of its punch and aggressive impact. At over 70 minutes, this is a bit overlong, with a few too many of the songs being little more than what seems like unfinished sketches. However, there are several great moments on here that makes this a worthwhile investment for fans of hard rocking gloom and doom.

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com

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Supersuckers / Electric Frankenstein

Supersuckers / Electric Frankenstein

Welcome To Splitsville!

The Music Cartel

Electric Frankenstein has to be one of the most productive bands I’ve heard. For a while, it seemed like they were unleashing a new release every couple of weeks…

Of course, it’s not hard to pull a million moronic punk rawk songs out of your butt, but EF’s songs are genuine and heartfelt, the result of an overactive musical imagination (or lack thereof, some may argue) rather than some sicko compulsion to keep churning out “product.”

And in the other side of the ring we have The Supersuckers, Arizona transplants that managed to stud a punk bull to a country cow and have been selling the milk ever since. They’re not nearly as prodigious as Electric Frankenstein, but their anthems of stupid desperation are just as fun.

Which is why this split is a good good time. Ten songs (each band gets five) about all sorts of dumb stuff — romance, bar fights, uh, drinking? These are the kinds of song a raging adolescent writes when they’re confined to their room, breakup songs, getting back together songs, they-laughed-at-me-at-the-Academy-I’ll-show-them songs. You’ll cry in your beer then smash the glass on the floor!

The Music Cartel: http://www.music-cartel.com/ • Supersuckers: http://www.supersuckers.com/ • Electric Frankenstein: http://www.electricfrankenstein.com/