[Metal/Thrash] Metallica – …And Justice for All (30th Anniversary Review)

Following the recent announcement of the final remastering of the fourth Metallica album “…and Justice for All” at its 30th anniversary, I thought providing a retrospective review of this album was due.
“…And Justice for All” is the fourth album by Metallica that is a milestone for many different reasons. First, it marks the slow but steady transition of the band artistic direction from heavy thrash into more refined (and maybe watered down) metal that we will get with the “Black album” (still selling 27 years after its release). Second, and more tragic trivia, this is the first album lacking the bassist Cliff Burton. Cliff Burton died during their 1986 tour during their bus crash accident in Sweden, occurring roughly two years before the release. Therefore, this album has this particular feel and sound due to the lack of bass. That did not stop Metallica to produce a good album (I have a preference for “Master of Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning”), with 9 tracks spanning a bit over 65 minutes.
We get into the album with the classical “Blackened”, a very aggressive track that really contrast with the rest of the album that have this more mellow feel. It is followed by in my opinion the average “…And Justice for All”.  The third track “Eye of the Beholder” is still sounding this kind of “fatigue” giving this average to this song. However, things change when we enter the fourth track “One”. Certainly the quintessential track of this album by its complexity and by the narrative. It really speaks up to any WW1 enthusiast. It starts with the guitar solo following by a crescendo in the guitars riffs and the drums.  James kicks in the lyrics directly taken inspiration from “Johnny Got His Gun”, an anti-war novel depicting Joe Bohnam, an American soldier prisoner of his own body after loosing his limbs, his sight, his tongue and his hearing. As the song goes comes in this fantastic musical trick of reproducing a machine gun sound with drums and guitars, musically accompanying the violent lyrics of James. “Darkness emprisoning me, all I can see absolute horror!” depicting Joe waking up from his comatose only to realize he is prisoner from his own body. The fifth track “The Shortest Straw” brings back the aggressiveness of the previous albums. A good one but still lacking the punch from the Metallica you expect. “Harvester of Sorrow” is a damn good track. “The Frayed End Of Sanity” starts with the thematic of the castle of the Wicked Witch, and “To Live is To Die”. There are good, but I heard better from the band. Finally, “The Dyer’s Dye” brings back on the fast riffs and frenetic pace encountered with their previous albums.
Now, the hope to see this album remastered with bass is vanished as Lars mentioned that their final remaster of “…Justice…” will not include bass and we may have to consulate ourselves with this fan-made remaster including bass.

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[Metal/Symphonic] Adrana – Pertubatio (10th Anniversary)

Few days ago marked the release of Adrana’s first album “Perturbatio” (according to Metal-Archives.com, it was released on June 8th 2008). What can I tell about from one of my favorite French metal band? That it was an interesting first album, that it can sounds sometimes goofy as any first albums but also also has some valuable gold nuggets, just by listening to the soprano voice of Anne is enough to bring it up into the ranking. And also because it has a lots of tracks sung in French, so thats another perk to add.
It is a 14 track album, totaling about 50 mins of songs. We get into it with an intro sequence “Enter Prusias” that sounds like a medieval swordfight (for me, it sounded like more a cutelry fight) which you can guess is a ramp to “Prusias”. With “Prusias”, you get insta-slapped by the voice of Anne, singing with her high vocal ranges really making the tone of Adrana over a “Symphonic metal” band and more into its own “Opera metal” subgenre.  Blending soprano opera feminine voices with metal riffs is my guilty pleasure and Adrana in my guilry indulgence. The second is the pace and musical arrangment, raw and not much relying on the synth keybaords. “Saneday” brings on with a piano solo and progressively introduce metal elements into the composition. “The Moonchildren” is one of the track that I found it a bit goofy, as Anne French accent betrayed her in the introducting narrative and it is quickly followed by “Mortelle Fourberie Infantine”, brining the fast-paced rhythm with Anne’s voice. One of my favoirte. It is followed by “The Nymph’s Corpse”, another of my favorite. But the “piece of resistance” is coming with the following track named “Gabrielus”. Oh boy, this is a battlecry song, that feel like jumping a ride on a white armored horse and raise your sword in the sky calling for the ultimate assault on the legion of orcs, all sang in French and with this might power metal tunes (the 14th track, is an acoustic version of “Gabrielus”). If I have to have someone introduced someone to Adrana, I would definitely use this track.
“Secret Gathering” is an another track that has some goofy elements, especially at the beginning. “l’Eveil de Marklus”, “The Lords of The Tapestry”, “Oprane” and “Ingalrian” are nice tracks but nothing transcendental for me. You can skip them without missing much in my opinion. But the one you should not skip is “Mortualia” that is almost an acapella/acoustic version of Anne with a baritone. Very beautiful if you are into opera voice.
In conclusion, “Pertubatio” is an album like any first album with some goofiness but also some potentials, both from Anne and from musical elements. Indeed, the band further blacksmithed their core element and perfected it with their following up album “The Ancient Realms”.

 

[Metal/Symphonic] Whyzdom – As Time Turns To Dust (85%)

Whyzdom (probably the best French Symphonic Metal band IMO), after three years of waiting, released their fourth album “As Time Turns To Dust”. So, how does this album stands and compare to their previous releases? I would say unique and similar at the same time (for some reasons it reminded at times of their second album “Blind?”, propelled by Vince Leff at the helm and by Marie McLeod at the front.
We have in hand a 9-tracks song with 58 minutes of pure enchantment Whyzdom-style. It all starts with “Armour of Dust”, introducing us in a Hans Zimmer’s style “a la Dark Knight” followed by some classic Whyzdom. The second track, “Armageddon” is surprisingly not really my favorite despite being heavy. I don’t know why I dont really click on that one. “Fly Away”, is a good track but still missing something to make me all excited about. “The Page” is probably my favorite starting with a guitar solo and Marie, going crescendo and becoming more and more complex until you reach a paroxysmal euphoria. Thats the kind of auditive cues that make you limbic system overstimulated. “Follow Your Heart”, the 5th track of the album, has this Epica feeling that is making it very attractive. “Angel of Tears” is a good one, starting with the Celtic vibes and very dynamic. “Free As a Bird” is for some reasons reminding me of “Cassandra”. “The Mistchild” has this feeling of proximity of “Blind?”.  The last track, “Dust We Are”, is good but I have experienced more enjoyment in tracks of their previous album.
Overall the album is good, but I feel there was something missing. I really worked hard on this album by listening at least five times before writing my critique. I did not feel the shock and awe that I have with “Tears of a Hopeless God”, I don’t why. The album is good, but it was not giving me the thrills that would make it “an amazing experience”. Maybe it is just me becoming an old schmuck.
Anyway, the album is a good one and if you are looking for some new sounds in the Symphonic that is not from the four Valkyries of the Symphonic Metal, you should definitely try Whyzdom and feel what the French touch sounds like when they tamper with Symphonic Metal, something unique.

[Metal/Death] Cab Ride Home

I have a strong urge of listening something brutal this morning, in particular something from a band named “Cab Ride Home”. The video is a bit garbage (the audio is horrible!) but it is some good death. I let you with this video. Oh, did I mention that a certain Danica Roem is on the vocals? :p
https://youtu.be/aHvbLXyzank

[Metal] Headbang local! Some hometown local metal albums I bought

Following my attendance of the scientific meeting in Paris, I headed back to my hometown (Strasbourg, France) for 48 hours before heading back in the US, taking advantage of an upcoming weekend to see my family.
I also took advantage for some shopping (in addition of the traditional gift shopping and souvenirs) to support the local record store (l’okaz de l’uncle Tom), one of the oldest and most favorite record store in town (that was my first experience going downtown with my brother when I was 10-11, bought my first AC/DC and ZZtop tapes from them). One of the niceties of the store is their decent selection of metal albums but what I really liked was their shelf dedicated for the local and national metal scene.
If you are a stoner, you may have heard about “Bull Terrier” that is a local stoner doom band. Not really much into stoner so I skipped it. But I found some interesting nuggets in my disc hunting.
The first was “Darkest Hours” from Khaelys, a local symphonic metal band original fronted by Kenza Rafi. This was their first of their two albums, released in 2009. I really liked it, probably because of the gothic atmosphere and the very simple but enjoying sound, not drowned over keyboards and studio processing. Although Kenza’s vocals were not the level of a mezzo-soprano, her voice remembered me a lot of the one from Jamie-Lee Smit (Azylya). Sad to also discover that the band disbanded in 2015, according to their Facebook page.

pochette_darkest_hours

The second album I purchased was “Unleash Your Wrath” by Bloody Pride, a melodic death metal band. I am not a big fan of death metal, but I enjoy some good melodic death metal from time to time. Nice album, nice tunes. The band has apparently a Bandcamp site, you should give them a try if you are looking for good French melodic death bands.
a0691128043_10

Finally, the last album was rather a compilation playing on the word “Elsass” (the name of the region as cited in the local German dialect) morphed into “Hell’s Ass”. It’s an old compilation (2005), so I assume most of the bands have likely disbanded or went into a hiatus. It is a bit of a hodge-podge of different artists and different genres, a sort of melting pot that give you a glimpse on how the local scene was vibrant back then. I wonder how the scene stands right now.

 

[Metal/Melodic Death] Exalt The Throne Last Show @ Dallas, TX (O’Rileys Bar – 07/29/2017)

We are born, we live and we die. Some people call it the circle of life. I don’t, i prefer the allusion of the thread of life metaphorized by the Ancient Greek through as the Moirai (or Fates) Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. We exist as a thread with our beginning and our end. We cease to exist with the continuum but we remains as part of the fabric (history).
Same applies for our intellectual endeavors, scientific and artistic alike.
I have seen bands being born bringing the joy and the excitement with their innocence and novelty. I have bands that have been following me through my life, becoming a sort of travel companions through my own journey. Sadly, I also have seen bands giving their last breath and close their eyes.
The announcement of a band going into hiatus or disbanding is always a sad news to hear because you know that you will not experience anymore that auditory and visual stimuli that made them listen and like their work, over and over.
One of the band that lately gave their final curtain, their “barroud d’honneur” was Exalt The Throne (Dallas, TX). I discovered the band very recently as their supported Epica second leg North American Tour following the release of “The Quantum Enigma”. It was love at first sight because of this very interesting blend of melodic death (with high-paced guitars of Charles, Tim and Kanyon and drums) with symphonic metal (clean female vocals performed by Courtney). It was neither the former nor the latter. It was its own blend that made them unique. When the band announced their final show a month ago, it was unexpected and a very sad moment to experience.
However, I decided to drive all the way to attend their final show and have a chance to collect a last souvenir from the band. The gig was short but oh boy you could feel how the band matured over the last 18 months, refining their performance.  The band played three of their songs present in their album “Long Live the King” (“Long Live The King”; “Perpetual Agony” and “Rampant Idolatry”) and one cover from Amon Amarth (I ain’t fan of folk metal but if someone can help identify the song, I would be more than happy to update this post).

If I have to find a silver lining into this final show, I would definitely cite the first law of thermodynamics that stipulates “energy is not created nor destroyed in a closed system, it is only transformed and transferred”. Same applies to the artistic energy. It is only transformed and transferred. I wish to the band members all the best and success in their endeavors and in their personal and professional careers. The king is dead! Long live the king!

 

[Metal] Joyeuses fete du 14 Juillet, ma liste des groupes de metal Français

Since today is the French National Holiday, I wrote down the rest of this post in my native language…..that is French! Nom de Dieu!
A l’occasion de la fete de la prise de la Bastille, qui eu lieu en ce jour, j’en profite pour mettre en avant les groupes de metal français qui peuplent ma discotheque. Si vous ne trouvez point chaussure a votre taille, il y a certainement deux raisons: soit sous êtes passe en dehors de mon collimateur, soit ne j’ai point eu un effet boeuf.
Sans trainer plus, ma liste de groupes de metal français:
Adrana (Tours, France): du metal opera avec Anne derriere la voix mezzo-soprano. Du très bon calibre.
Alkemy (Genève, Suisse): un petit groupe metal sympathique venant de nos cousins Helvetes qui font pas mal de covers, avec Katia et Jess. A découvrir.
Alwaid (Lille, France): Les chti’mis connaissent leur metal et savent l’art du raffinement. Deux albums: deux styles de metal different (le premier était dans le genre atmosphérique, le deuxième bien plus power metal) mais la meme solution détonante.
Arcadia (Mulhouse, France): Une petite pousse de l’Alsace Bossue qui avait un EP assez sympa sorti l’automne dernier.
Asylum Pyre (Paris, France): Un tres bon groupe de prog/power metal de la region IDF. Surtout de plus que Oxy Heart a récemment joint le groupe.
Au Champ des Morts (Clermont-Ferrand, France): Une découverte Bandcamp de cette année avec leur premier album intitule “Dans La Joie”. Je suis pas un fan de black metal, mais il dire que ce groupe nous fourni un sacré “sweet crude” produit raffine, surtout que c’est un des quelques bandes qui chantent en Français (ca vaut le petit coup de pouce supplémentaire). A découvrir.
Azylya (Bruxelles, Belgique): Un sacre bon groupe de gothic metal venant de nos voisins belges, avec Jamie-Lee Smit au vocal.
Blazing War Machine (Marseilles, France): Si tu cherches un groupe de metal surfant dans le black melodic a la Dimmu Borgir/power metal avec une voix feminine en premiere line, voila un groupe a découvrir. Effet cathartique assure.
Bloody Melody (Tours, France): Un petit groupe de gothic metal, alternative qui avait un son bien sympa avec leur EP. Je me demande ce que mijote dans leur marmite? Ca va faire une peu plus de deux ans et pas trop entendu de nouvelles de leur part.
Dreamslave (Lyon, France): Du power metal a la Francaise, avec memes des pépites de pirate metal. A essayer.
Ethernity (Bruxelles, Belgique): Du prog metal en provenance de Belgique, un premier album vraiment sympa.
Erzebeth/ex-Darkonelly (Dijon, France): Marion a cloture son project Darkonelly et a decide de larguer les amarres vers d’autres horizons avec son nouveau projet “Erzebeth”. Si vous êtes dans l’ambience médiévales, elle tourne actuellement avec Tony tels des troubadours quelques festivaux pour animer de sa voix suave les longues nuit d’été. En parallèle, Marion a lance son projet solo sous le nom de Marion Lamita avec deux videos en ligne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAk0Zb9lkG4 et https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gViPbhKuajI
FT-17 (Nantes, France):  Les suédois ont Sabaton, nous on a FT-17. De plus, feru de la “Der des Ders” que je suis, aux anges de la mort fut-ce. Decouvert lors de la récente campagne Bandcamp. Du très bon calibre, avec des interludes de lettres d’un poilu décrivant les quatre années de la premiere guerre mondiale.
Heonia (Lille, France): Un autre groupe des corons. Aggressif, bimodal. A essayer!
Inhepsie (Paris, France): Un autre groupe de gothic metal chantant dans la langue de Molière.
Lethian Dreams (Paris, France): La littérature française a contribue de manière importante a la vague “romantique” du XIXe siècle, qui naturellement servi de source pour le mouvement goth et bien entendu pour le doom metal. Lethian Dreams connait son doom metal et nous en démontre sa maitrise avec trois excellent albums.
Midnight Sorrow (Strasbourg, France): Yay, un groupe de metal Strasbourgeois, symphonique de plus. De quoi être un peu chauvin, surtout que leur premier album “Pick A Tale” sorti ce printemps était un très bon robuste premier album. A essayer de toute urgence!
Pray Manticore (Toulouse, France): Un groupe de death metal de la ville rose.
Pyrah (Strasbourg, France): Un autre groupe de Strasbourg, cette fois de prog metal.
Seyminhol (Metz, France): Un groupe de power metal, si vous aimez Kamelot et chercher un equivalent Français.
Veil of Mist (Reims, France): Un groupe de metal bien sympa, a découvrir.
Whyzdom (Paris, France): La creme de la creme du symphonic metal Francais. Avec Vynce Leff derriere l’instrumentation et Marie McLeod au vocal, on a un melange detonant de baroque, d’orchestration et de rugeur de metal.