Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire - Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation (Prosthetic Records)
[9/10] A band's name is like the title of a book. It is often a deciding factor in whether or not the audience will take that extra step to read the book or, in this case, listen to the album. With a name like Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, it almost tells a story in itself. In a recent interview with the vocalist from Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire (hereafter known as CTFF), Ethan stated, "Our name comes from the idea of holding onto something completely and utterly fucked/hopeless/ruined..." Bands with unusually long and descriptive band names, for the most part, will either produce extremely impressive music or total garbage.
Fortunately for CTFF, they have succeeded in creating something that fans of several genres can appreciate. According to some tags from a website, if you like brutal deathgrind, chaotic grindcore, power violence, smoking pot, worshipping Satan, and being unreasonably pissed off, you will probably enjoy listening to CTFF and Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation.
Band members include: Ethan - vocals, Ben - Guitar, Zach - Bass, and J.P. - Drums. Ethan uses gruesome vocals alternating between harsh roars, and screams that could be resonating from a torture chamber or uttered from someone being burned alive. The drums create unexpected beats. Guitar and bass use unique riffs, clashing in all the right ways.
The album starts off with a blast of heat. If you are having a problem waking up, "Teeth and Hair" will solve it for you. It will slap you in the face like opening a scorching hot oven. Your eyebrows are singed, and you love it! Everyone had better get out of your way when this song is playing. Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation is what sounds like death metal and grindcore mixed with doom metal. It has elements of sludge metal, and has been referred to as "funeral grind." Each song is out of the ordinary, and that is refreshing. CTFF uses dissonant chords and bizarre progressions making it difficult for your ears to collaborate with your brain to process what is happening. Needless to say, they are outside of the box. In fact, you could say they are so far outside of the box, they have stomped on the box, run over it with their horse and plough, and buried it under 300 acres of shit!
CTFF's collective sound is remindful of early Anal Cunt (think Morbid Florist EP). My favorite song from the album is, "They Smeared Shit on Their Skin to Blend in at Night." It has such a splendid and amusing title, and reminds me of Ana Kefr's "Feed a PETA Member to a Starving Child in Africa." This song by CTFF is different from the other songs overall. It seems to roll around in every direction and has a brief spotlight on an accelerated bass. It is power and violence, inspiring destruction past the breaking point.
"Made of Coal" delivers angry screams accompanied by ultra-fast drums. Then it slows down to a stoner sound, with some of the riffs reminiscent to the work of Adam Jones from Tool. In "Boquet of Self Pity," our cochleas are pierced with a high-pitched squeal, and a slow start makes the drums stand out. The doomier moments of CTFF sound like some of the better doom elements of Cephalic Carnage; the song "G.lobal O.verhaul D.evice" as an example.
Overall, CTFF has managed to bring us material that the music world is severely lacking- something unique. What is particularly impressing is the last track of this album, "Remove the Light." Without giving it away, the ending is very dramatic. After it is over, we are left feeling disoriented, like after waking up from a terrible dream. It feels strange to return back to reality. Personally, there has never been another album that manifested such a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. That, in short, is stupendous!
Mose Giganticus - Gift Horse (Relapse Records)
[7/10] This is not a typical metal album. In fact, it is a stretch to call this "metal" at all. Others have described the genre of Gift Horse presented by Mose Giganticus as grunge metal, synth punk, electronic, and death metal. This also isn't a typical metal band. It is even a stretch to call Mose Giganticus a "band" at all! The style and sound of Mose Giganticus is created by the keyboardist/drummer/programmer/songwriter/vocalist Matt Garfield of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Personally, anything that is outside of the box is favorable. So, when playing Gift Horse for the first time, a curiosity arose. A blend of synthesized sounds combined with electric guitar-themed music, create a mellow image with a rock energy. There is a quality comparable to the Berlin electronica sound. The majority of it is entertaining. I, the reviewer, have stepped out from behind the shadows of the music, and taken the liberty to coin the term "relaxation metal" as a new, softer branch of the genre to describe the album.
We begin Gift Horse with "Last Resort." An upbeat synth sound welcomes us, and brings to mind visions of a sunrise. It has a slow tempo with a Dream Theater essence, but heavier vocals. The vocals retain the same quality throughout the album, and at times can sound like players of a football team belting out team spirit. The combination of the melodic sound with the guitar riffs in "The Left Path" make for a catchy beginning of the track. The lyrics are simple and follow straight-forward patterns. One source states that the lyrics in Gift Horse are written from the perspective of the Christian god and the fallen angel, Lucifer, having a conversation. However, when the "football vocals" (another term I have coined for this album) are remindful of the chorus from Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping," it is hard to imagine they are based on a topic of such serious nature.
By the third track, "Demon Tusk," the uniqueness of the synth metal sound loses its luster. Everything starts sounding repetitive, and it gets difficult to establish the differences between each song. They do, however, become songs that one might find useful to help cure insomnia, or to play after the end of a sporting event or a movie as the masses begin shuffling out to their cars. Background music.
There are two tracks that stand out in this album. "White Horse," and the last track, "The Seventh Seal" both have memorable aspects. "White Horse" begins with a high-pitched keyboard melody which jumps around energetically and sounds like it is running a race. Then, the guitar comes in to run alongside it. The fast keyboard accompanied by the slower guitar musically creates the idea of "The Tortoise and the Hare." Some may find the bouncy keys to be annoying, but this is personally entertaining, because it continuously brings to mind the scene from the movie Revenge of the Nerds where the nerds perform the ultimate synthesized musical number and it blows everyone away!
"The Seventh Seal" seems to have the most variation. It is not a happy song, and presents slow, clean vocals. The sorrow, in my opinion, would have been conveyed more effectively with one solitary, heartfelt voice, instead of the use of layering again. There is even a short solo here! Though, it seems that it is almost too little, too late.
A gift horse is an apparent gift that has substantial, associated costs. Maybe that is how we are to treat this album. It is a gift. Take it or leave it, but if you choose to accept, don't criticize. Applause should go to Mr. Garfield for his ambition and drive to create this full-length album practically on his own. There are not many people who have that kind of motivation. Mose Giganticus has given us the gift of music, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, Gift Horse has the ability to inspire our imagination.
Waking the Cadaver - Beyond Cops. Beyond God. (Siege of Amida/Candlelight Records)
Occasionally, before even listening to a new band to review, researching the band and their history, and observing what others have to say about the music will give an idea of what to expect. In the case of Waking the Cadaver, there was no other conclusion to be made from previous reviews but to expect the absolute worst piece of garbage that one has ever laid ears on in the history of music's existence! Seriously. Here are some excerpts of reviews written for the band’s debut album, Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler found on Encyclopedia Metallum - The Metal Archives:
"The breakdowns are uninteresting, generic, and boring."
"...guitar playing that is an insult to the instrument..."
"It shows no emotion other than a rape of a snare skin and a palm muted open note..."
"Just about everything sounds the same."
"Combining poor growling skills and cheap production with oinking, they seem to come from the most pissed off pig you will ever see."
Several reviewers claimed Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler was literally the worst album they had ever heard, and one said that the album was great if you were looking for a laugh. So, now that Waking the Cadaver are releasing their second album, Beyond Cops. Beyond God., have they taken any of these remarks into consideration?
My answer is both yes and no. First, "no" because, as a whole, the album is, as quoted, "uninteresting, generic, and boring." It is lacking originality, and the ability to make anyone want to listen to it again. I would have to say that it is a bold move to copyright the term "Slamming Gore Groove," if it is in fact copyrighted. However, after listening to the album, it seems like it is a last ditch effort to look like they are unique on paper. They are trying too hard to sound tough. This is apparent from the album title alone, and could be compared to the authoritative identity that Eric Cartman from South Park created for himself. A child stating, "I am above the law," or "Respect my authority!" is comical. There are ways of letting people know you are tough besides simply declaring it.
That brings us to the lyrical aspect of the album. From what is available to read, this member of the musical audience is not impressed. The lyrical themes are of rape, gore, and violence. From a female metal fan's perspective, songs about rape don't make you sound powerful, they make you sound pathetic. The lyrics in "Beyond Cops," from Beyond Cops. Beyond God are simplistic, and seem juvenile and forced. To me, the words are important, especially in the metal genres. The majority of the time, they are masked by the delivery, so listeners have to take that extra step's worth of interest in the band to look them up and read. One hopes to be amazed with eloquent poetics or impressed by intelligence. Instead, with the lyrics for "Beyond Cops," one must solely be satisfied with the fact that the extra step of effort was made at all.
With that being said, it was not all that bad. Every song on the album is at least more interesting than "Chased Through the Woods by a Rapist," which seems to be the most popular of the previously released songs. The vocals are diverse. Pig vocals alternated with deep, guttural growls keep it interesting. There is an impressive stretch of time with one prolonged roar, making the song worthy of the title "Waking the Cadaver." At times the vocals sound like someone removed the catalytic converter from a monster truck! They also emulate a dog's bark and an elongated belch in "Suffering Upon Revenge." Actually, "Suffering Upon Revenge," is the most noteworthy song, in my opinion. Towards the end of the song, the drums start producing an ultra-fast blast beat, and then there is a fluttery guitar melody unexpectedly added into the mix! Short-lived, but exciting!
Waking the Cadaver is formerly known as Death to Honor and is from Shore Points, New Jersey. They have just started walking the path of their musical careers, and have a long way to go. Beyond Cops. Beyond God. is not as bad as some would lead you to believe, but it is definitely not quite ready to be described as "good." They can play their instruments, it is just not that interesting. There is always potential and the hope for creating a better sound. Finally, I give my compliments to the band for not giving up despite receiving some brutally harsh reviews for their debut.