Blood Red Throne – Union of Flesh and Machine Review

When I first heard this band’s 2007 album Come Death they quickly shot to the top of my favourite bands list. They were everything I’d been looking for since I got into death metal. They had plenty of fast technical riffs but also knew when to slow it down which is something death metal bands often forget. A textbook example of the genre, this is a band you could show someone if they ask “What is death metal?”. Over their next 3 releases they’ve been consistently good but unfortunately “Union of Flesh and Machine” was a disappointment to me, in a pretty unusual way.

 

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This newest release marks a change in singer for the band and it is immediately noticeable. The new singer’s voice is a bit lower giving the songs some more bass. I feel like the band might have adjusted their guitar sound to match his voice because everything sounds a bit lower. I don’t know if I’m sold on this new sound, it does make them sound heavier overall but they lose some distinction in the riffs and at times it can sound like a dirge.

 

The first couple of tracks “Revocation of Humankind” and “Proselyte Virus” are great openers. They hit hard, fast and never slow down. As you can tell by the album cover and song titles BRT are unabashedly death metal. All the songs are about murderin’ or gross things happening to people and that’s fine. Sometimes I just want a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously especially in the metal genre which I believe to be inherently ridiculous to begin with.

 

Track 3 is where things start to get problematic for me though. First red flag is the song title “Patriotic Hatred”, sounds like a polite way to describe racism. The next thing I noticed was the voice over at the start of the track and my heart sank. They’ve used some voice over from the video game Hatred which is a horrible game both quality wise and in concept. Hatred gained some bad publicity October 16th 2014 when it’s first trailer hit. It’s essentially a game where you control a white guy with long black hair and a trench coat who decides it’s time commit a mass shooting. You’re literally given points for killing innocents and police officers and in the end blow up a nuclear plant to take out most of New York.

 

Basically it’s the game that all politicians think Grand Theft Auto is. They touted it as a response to political correctness in games so naturally it was championed by far right gaming hate groups like gamergate. Then it came out and people realised that in addition to it being a tone deaf white power fantasy it was also a crappy game and it got destroyed by any review site that bothered to cover it (most refused). The icing on this poop cake is that the developers (Destructive Creations) made the news again for alleged links to hate group Polska Liga Obrony (Polish Defence League) which they of course denied.

 

I messaged BRT just to make sure they weren’t racists and while they were fairly condescending in tone they did explain their side:

 

 

 

Why Blood Red Throne decided to hitch their wagon to a garbage fire like Hatred is beyond me. Frustratingly the song is actually pretty good! Just give me a version with the voice over track muted and I honestly would have liked this album a lot more.

 

 

After this momentous low point the album gets better. “Homicidal Ecstasy” kicks in with a really powerful main riff. It a prime example of how to slow down your death metal but still keep it heavy and intense. The title track “Union of Flesh and Machine” is another standout track but after that the album does have a bit of a lull. There are a few songs that sound similar to previous tracks in structure but I’ve played in metal bands and I know how easy it is to form song writing habits so I can’t judge too much.

 

The last two tracks are pretty much bonus tracks. “Leather Rebel” is a Judas Priest cover in a death metal style of course. Priest songs work well when a heavier band covers them probably because they influenced their style anyway. They approximate Rob Halford’s high vocals using the backup vocalist’s higher pitched screeches. I’m not that much of a fan of these type of vocals, he sounds a bit like Tokka from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze.

 

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The last track “Mary Whispers of Death” is a redone track from their first album “Monument of Death”. Before I realised this I was going to say this was my favourite track on the album but I guess that just means I much prefer their old writing style.

 

I was really looking forward to this album coming out but it’s just been a massive disappointment in a multitude of ways. It’s a very rare occasion that my two favourite things video games and death metal come together but unfortunately it was in the worst way possible. If no more of my favourite bands could associate themselves with racist game developers that would be great, thanks. I can only hope that this is just growing pains because of their recent lineup change and hopefully they’ll be back on top form for the next album.

 

★★☆☆☆

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G.L.O.S.S. – Trans Day of Revenge Review

G.L.O.S.S. aka Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit, are a hardcore punk band from Olympia, Washington (State). They specialise in writing songs in support of the LGBTQ+ community with their own very personal brand of unflinching musical protest.

 

Trans Day of Revenge is a follow up to their incredible 2015 debut demo and this release is equally incredible in it’s own right. It’s an album calling for an end to the pacifism people have regarding violence against the LGBTQ+ community and People of Colour. The singer Sadie’s lyrics burn with rage and a cynicism that you rarely hear when people talk about these topics in mainstream media.

 

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While the lyrics are poignant and modern, their actual musical style is kind of a throwback. It reminds me of Minor Threat and other American Hardcore bands of that era. G.L.O.S.S. skate the musical line between control and a frenzy so well. Every song will immediately get you fired up and you can almost feel the band’s passion flowing through you.

 

The first song “Give Violence a Chance” starts out with Sadie screaming out a battle cry “When peace is just another word for death/It’s our turn to give violence a chance.”. This song deals with the many deaths of black people there have been at the hands of the law. The release of this album on June 13th 2016 also tragically coincided with Orlando Pulse shooting giving this song extra impact and importance. It’s a great opener to the album and sets a hard and fast pace that the rest of the songs follow.

 

The song “Fight” is a powerful call to arms encouraging trans people to fight for their lives. The song starts off with an awesome scream and runs from there, never stopping for anything. The lyrics “Don’t give them a chance/Sleep with a hammer/Fill a clip with nine rounds/Plus one in the chamber/When the front door comes down” are really effective at conveying the struggle trans people are forced to deal with. At the time of writing the last 3 reported murders of trans people of colour were all in their own homes. It’s an uncomfortable message to hear but it’s something that needs to be heard.

 

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Their singer Sadie is a trans woman herself and the song “We Live” is an introspective chronicle of her own experiences growing up trans and finding solace in the punk scene. It’s also an inspirational song for anyone else going through similar issues with the lyrics like “We live and die/Against the grain/For ourselves we live” encouraging solidarity.

 

The final song “Trans Day of Revenge” is my favourite track of the album. This song opens with an awesome groovy riff. It just makes me want to dive into the mosh pit immediately. The punching chorus repeats the title of the song and every time I hear it I want to shout along with them. The song ends on a perfect line to sum up this whole album “Not as weak as we seem”.

 

 

I believe that this will go down as one of the most important punk albums of all time. If I achieve anything by writing this it’s that a few more people will know about this band. They’re a band for all the outcasts, a voice for the voiceless.

 

This release may only be 5 tracks and clocks in at 6 minutes and 58 seconds but that in no way diminishes any of it’s impact. I’ve just been playing it on a loop, I just can’t get enough. Right now it’s only available on their Bandcamp page for pay-what-you-want.

 

We need bands like this to exist in the world. Trans Day of Revenge feels like closest my generation will have to a Sex Pistols moment, an album and band that deserve to set the world on fire. It’s a really exciting start to what’s hopefully a long music career. Wherever G.L.O.S.S. go in the future they have my full support. Get used to it or get out of their way.

 

★★★★★

Gojira – Magma Review

In a departure from their usual style, Gojira’s 6th studio release ‘Magma’ is a very personal album dealing with concepts of grief and despair over the loss of a loved one. During the recording of this album vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier and drummer Mario Duplantier lost their mother and this had a profound effect on the mood and theme of the songs.

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Not only is the tone of their songs quite different from the previous work their sound has also changed quite a bit. Everything sounds stripped down, the guitars aren’t as harsh, the bass has a distorted muddy sound, the drum compositions are simpler and there are more instances of clean vocals. If you’re already a metal fan this may sound a bit off putting but all of the changes together really help with the concept of the album. The quality of the songs in no way suffer from the simpler instrumentation. No track feels out of place on the album and they all sound like they’ve had a lot of thought put into them.

 

The opening tracks of the album ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Silvera’ really set the tone up front with heavy droning guitar riffs. The way the songs meander creates an otherworldly dreamlike feeling that really helps you get into the band’s head space. The main riff in ‘The Cell’ demonstrates this perfectly, the punching guitar and bass build an impressively oppressive sense of dread throughout the track.

 

The standout song for me is ‘Stranded’. The vocal performance during the chorus is amazing. You can really feel the emotion and the pain, Joe sounds like he’s singing for his life. Pouring every bit of his passion into it, especially when they change the key the last time around.

 

 

Some of Gojira’s more classic sound does come back for the later songs ‘Pray’ and ‘Only Pain’. Mario’s trademark double bass pedal drumming is back in full force here. It feels as if this is the band finding themselves a little amongst all the darkness as the album progresses. The lyrics in the song ‘Low Lands’ reads like a message to their mother and it’s heartbreaking. There’s a hopeful theme to this song and it has a strong ending riff that feels like the band is waking from a dream state, ready to tackle the future.

I will admit that it took me a few listens to really get into this album. It is a bit of a change in style from their previous albums which was a shock at first but it’s actually became one of my favourite metal albums of all time. You can tell it’s a deeply personal work of art right from the start, Gojira have expertly translated all the pain and emotion of grief into some of the greatest music of 2016.

 

★★★★★