Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fear Factory - "Mechanize" CD

The heralded reunion of vocalist/conceptualist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares shows the band with a renewed sense of urgency and power, and sounds every bit as incendiary as their early industrial-metal works from the 90's. With producer and keyboardist Rhys Fulber (of Front Line Assembly) also returning, the title track is an extremely tight screamer that brilliantly showcases all of Fear Factory's trademarks -- Bell's gutteral-to-melodic singing voice, downtuned surgical-steel guitars, inhuman drumming (thanks to Dethklok/Strapping Young Lad drum-deity Gene Hoglan), and deeply cinematic electronic effects for mood. The tempo is unrelenting on "Industrial Discipline", which could be an out-take from the band's classic 1995 album "Demanufacture". It's a maelstrom of entangled metal wires and diodes punctuating the eerie yet hard-hitting instrumental "Metallic Division", too. And "Final Exit" is an epic 8-minute closer, with regal melodic breakdowns that give way to blindingly potent thrash around the edges. Killer stuff. My theory as to Fear Factory's staying power is that so many metal bands are afraid to stray too far from the genre, whereas these guys have taken bits of everything from indie noise/rock to electronica and techno, gene-spliced it to raging industrial death metal, and in effect, helped to create a new sound. It's nice to have them back. This is a grand return to form. (Candlelight Records USA)

Fear Factory site

Fear Factoryspace

Burton's Ascension Of The Watcherspace

Fear Factory - Fear Campaign
Video Codes at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aldaaron - "Nous reviendrons Immortels" CD

With a shrieking madman in vocalist Ioldar (think Alan Dubin's strained wails from his days in grindcore progenitors O.L.D.), this French group's propulsive debut combines inspirations from black metal (the most evident) to heavy grind and classic metal, sometimes within individual tracks. "En route vers la bataille" ("On The Way Towards The Battle"), for example, brings almost 8 minutes of fluctuating tempos and styles, from an acoustic, medieval, even pagan vibe to heavy, blurry, and frenetic black metal with Cookie-Monster vocals. "Nirnaeth Arnoediad partie 1 & 2" bring forth interludes of mournful gothic strings to further evoke a mood of isolation and despair. "Royaume" has a cool mid-tempo thrash chug-a-lug that proves successful, as well. It's a good mix, full of clear instrumentation and wide high and low frequencies. Aldaaron have a diverse sound that opens them up to more than most of their peers, and I can see them diverging even more from their well-trodden path on future releases. As is, "Nous reviendrons Immortels" is a strong effort from a band who are well on their way to making a name for themselves. (Paragon Records)

Aldaaron site


March Of The Beer 2010

Ah, the time is at last here again for the month's beer tastings. Findings below. Be sure to support your local craft brewers (local is always fresher), and give a small brewer a try...relying solely on corporate beer is only allowing yourself to be boxed in and marketed to. Be individual, stand out, and drink indie beer!

To start with, I adore blueberries. Fresh, ripe, and real blueberries, that is. Nonetheless, this Nehi grape-colored debacle may say it contains "natural flavors and colors", but beer it is not. And I question the "blueberry" content as well. Maybe the 8% ABV is meant to obscure the fact that this one commits abominable and atrocious acts on the tastebuds? It tastes like an alcoholic grape soda, with no discernable hint of hops, just a weird, artificial fruity flavor that lingers like a Wild Irish Rose version of beer. Ugh. Avoid.

SCHLAFLY No.15 ALE (St. Louis, MO) - 4.5
This nice amber wheat ale brings a frothy appearance and a fragrant spice aroma - delectable! The first impression is a well-balanced maltiness, with a hint of citrusy spice. Compares (very) favorably to it's mainstream counterpart, Blue Moon, and in fact, a source close to me (who happens to enjoy Blue Moon) rated this one better. I do, too. A wonderful beer -- not flashy or showy, just eminently enjoyable and steady. Pick of the month.

A nice, sweet, and floral aroma immediately permeates the air around this one. Certainly a promising opening! Tastewise, it's a smooth and hoppy character with a well-balanced malty presence that counteracts the more acidic and bitter elements that other pale ales exhibit. A standout, and a fine example of the style. Highly enjoyable.

A nicely clouded golden ale, this seasonal macro features a balanced blend of Northwest hops and sweet malts. It's an appealing combination with hints of citrus and caramel notes, and not as bitter or biting as the name suggests. Hop Hound is easygoing, and not too complex, but more than drinkable. A nice starting point for the inexperienced beer drinker.