16 May 2013

Korn - The Path To Totality

Korn have always tried to be different.  From the beginning of their careers they have always done something on most albums that is a little different.  On their first album they did a song about nursery albums which had a bag pipe opening, they brought hip-hop back to the metal table with Follow The Leader and joined in on the synth pop back during their untouchable period.  So when they said they would do an album with a dubstep tone, it was not a real surprise to your blogger.  It pissed a lot of people off, some people where disgusted that the band would go down this direction. However, they have always been fame whores.  They are just like David Bowie - following whatever is the current trend and making it their own.  With only three of the original members left due to one reason or another, is this really a Korn record or is it just a pile of shite (or both).......

Now musically this is a lot different to what has in some ways, there is more groove here (and not in a groove metal way). The beats and programming is a fascinating and of a very good quality.  The producers for this album include - Skrillex, Feed Me, Kill the Noise, Noisia, Datsik, 12th Planet, Downlink, Flinch, Excision, Jim Monti and J Devil - with the whole production job being over seen by singer Jonathon Davies. Some of these tracks have such a sonic kick it is almost a positive statement for dubstep which is often looked down up.  When the music sounds this good, I can see why a lot of people love it and what attracted Korn to work with these guys.

But there is a massive problem with this album - it is Jonathan Davies himself.  The man has been writing the same self hating lyrics for as long as Korn have been going. Yes, he has had a shitty childhood - lots of people have been through the shit and I do hope he gets help or has gotten help - but some of his demons that he talks about are of his own making and the self pitting lyrics are just a step too far. The reason why Korn have never truly took over the world is that whilst they are ever changing, they have not grown - and this bring the whole album which could have been such a truly diverse album if they had have truly went out of their comfort zone; but instead they just made something that I view as a disappointment.  I really love the music, but the lyrics are just high school awful.  If they keep this direction going I hope they get some better lyrics as the performance is still really good. So frustrating, so very bloody frustrating.

2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

You can purchase the album here

You can visit the Korn website here

You can listen to the album here on Spotify

Monty Python - Monty Python Sings

"Once in a lifetime, there comes a music album that changes the WHOLE history of music albums. A feature so stunning in its effect, so vast in its impact that it profoundly affects the lives of ALL who listen to it."

Ok, I admit I borrowed that punchline from a film trailer, (the Holy Grail if you want to be so nerdish about it) as well as swapped one or two words over, though I'm desperately trying to avoid paraphrasing their work. But I always maintained that I would always do a comedy album and they don't come as high and mightily as The Pythons. Unlike the majority of their previous records, which basically are live recordings or re-working of their sketches, Monty Python Sings is an album where all six members show off their choral talents, so for the listener who's relatively new to this 40 year old genre of surreality and zaniness, this is only a snapshot of what the Pythons wrote.

Their most famous numbers are here, The Lumberjack Song, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and The Penis Song (Not The Noel Coward Song), basically from their sketches and from the four movies. However, they also include a few lesser known but well versed tracks, like the Chapman sung Medical Love Song, where he bemoans his genitalia ("I've left my body to science, but I'm afraid they've turned it down") and Oliver Cromwell, basically a Cleese sung biography of the Lord Protector of England accompanied by a Frederic Chopin piano concerto. Noteworthy but very brief also are a few other gems like Accountancy Shanty ("It's all tax deductable, we're fairly incorruptible"), Jones' rather gradually annoying I'm So Worried and the Gilliam solo I've Got Two Legs before he's shot dead.

Galaxy Song (by Eric Idle) has an air of true philosophy about it while Knights Of The Round Table never ceases to fix me a huge grin no matter how many times I've listened to it. This is an album that you just can't take seriously whatever mood you're in, and if you do, then sucks be to you and paints you as a misery guts who should do well forging a career shovelling gruel and mud. It sets out to be how The Pythons want it - brief, epic and just downright silly without too much spam in it. Ni!

7 out of 10. This is good and well worth a listen. (Cheque's on the way Mr Idle)

You can buy the album here

You can listen to Monty Python Sings here on Spotify

You can follow the Pythons' activities on their official website here (Spam!)

Lamb of God - Ashes Of The Wake

It is says that there this no bad news - the person who said that is obviously an idiot.  Lamb of God are probably now more famous for the death of a fan than their own music, due to lead singer Randy Blythe being arrested, put on trial and then acquitted for the death of a fan who staged dived at a Lamb of God gig in Prague, Czech Republic. This album was released in 2004 and is the bands fourth album in total. When this came out, the band toured the world on 7 separate legs. One of them came to Newcastle and I went with my mate as he was interested in Throwdown - one of the support bands.  When I saw Lamb of God I have to admit I was slightly terrified. Not because it was my first gig, I had been to many shows at that point, it was just the no-nonsense presence of the band and they just sounded so loud and crazy on stage.  It was a fantastic gig and I really enjoyed it.  So what was the album like that they released around the time?

First thing I want to say about this is that even with a digital make over, the production job by Machine & Lamb of God is really, really poor compared to what I saw in a live gig in a local hall which is not famed for its acoustic qualities. To be honest, it was such a letdown at the time I have actively avoid the band - it was that poor. With the digital effect it is slightly better, but it is not exactly what I was hope for from the band.  They were this aggressive punishing beast on stage, on the record they sound like an old battle scared solider who knows how to get the job done.  It is slow and calculating, well played (that is something I have never denied of this band) - but it just seems to be a lot of break down moments that you tend to get in groove metal without any of the actual groove going on.

Out of the 11 tracks on here, I can honestly say that there is not one song that does anything more than sound well play  , yet a little under cooked for these ears.  Maybe it is me; maybe this was where I got off the merry-go-around of chasing every metal band that was going. It is just always been one of those albums that I owe which just makes me feel so disappointed on many level.  The best tracks for me are "Remorse Is For The Dead" & "Now You've Got Something To Die For" and that is at a push.  My view on the album has not improved with age, and I feel from now on I will keep on avoiding the band, even if I have nothing but respect for the way that the singer has handled himself over the two years and the way the band have supported him.  If this is for you, I hope you enjoy it. I will be elsewhere.

5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better

You can purchase from here

You can visit the band's website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

14 May 2013

Orbital - The Altogether

A man cannot live with guitars alone - well unless you are Jerm, but to his credited his does have a love of Public Enemy.  Orbital are a British dance duo from Sevenoaks in England, and consist of brothers Phil & Paul Hartnoll. Originally formed in 1989 they made albums until 2004 when they retired, but just like an old wrestler they came back in 2009.  They took their name from the M25 which was essential to the early rave scene which gave birth to the band.  I have not started at the beginning of their career; however I have started with the 6th album 'The Altogether'.  This band is responsible for a lot of people’s favourite Glastonbury festival moments and has always been on my list of 'People I need to buy more music of'.  I know I have listened to this album at one of my friend’s places, but what is it like in the cold light of day with the lights on....

Now I will go on record and say that this is not the best place to start with Orbital, which I will explain as I go along. Overall, the album is just a shade too long, yet the most interesting songs are at the later end of the album.  I have had this album on all night and day, and the more I listen to it, the more I can see a band who were trying to keep on doing what they did, but started looking over their shoulder slightly. At that point in 2001, they had been at the top of their game; they had made soundtracks, given award winning performances at festivals and were on everyone's most wanted list.  But from the top, you either level out or head down.  This album is just not as good some of the other work to be honest.

However, is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination - It is has some beautiful moments, such as "Meltdown", "Waving Not Drowning" (the most cheerful song I have heard in a long time) & "Doctor?" (a reworking of the Dr Who theme) - and the rest of the tracks are not a bad bunch. This album samples Ian Dury, Tool, The Trash men and even David Gray (the brother in law to the Hartnoll's) appears on the track "Illuminate" (it is a nice track). But I think that is what the problem is with this album.  It is just nice; it is not an album of men with fire in their bellies anymore.  The laurels have been rested on, and no matter how good the music is - once you are not fighting to make the music, it shows in the delivery.  This was their last album before their first break - it is worth listening to and pleasant enough, but not one of their most essential of records.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase from here

You can visit the Orbital website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Nirvana - Nevermind

Back in 1990, no-one outside of an elite few knew that Nirvana existed. They were just a punk band form Aberdeen, Washington, USA who were making some records that sold ok.  Their first UK show, actually their first show outside of America was in Newcastle upon Tyne, supporting Tad at a venue called The Riverside. I knew someone who was at the show, who said that they were 'shite and nothing special'. So what happened between then and 'Nevermind'. This was the first Nirvana record to feature Mr David Grohl, an act which Krist Novoselic says made everything fall together for Nirvana. Reviewing this album is like going back to an album that I played many times in my youth; this is the land mark record of my generation. So how has it aged, is it now an old vintage to savour or is it like a bargain bin can of bitter and a little dinted.

Ok, I will go with the negatives first - I can no longer listen to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" without hitting the fast forward button. I have total over familiarity with that track; it has been played so many times that my mind has no room left for another listen to the song. I would lose the ability to process numbers if I hear it again and I need that to pay for food.  Also, which "Polly" might be most people favourite acoustic track of 1991, I have never liked it in any format. It is an acoustic douche bag of a song and way always the point which I used to change to side two of the album.  I will also like to say whilst "Come As You Are" or the reworking of Killing Joke's "Eighties" as Mr Chaney will like to say is a weird song that does nothing much for me. It is not bad, just not very good either.

Now this record has a very slick and smooth production for what is essentially a dirty punk album (grunge was not even a style when this was recorded). Butch Vig has made the noise kid look slightly tidy, but underneath the Vanier of gloss, the black heart of a junkie punk still lingers.  I still adore "Drain You" "On A Plain", "Lounge Act" (I was so glad this was not a single, it still feels like a secret track) and "Territorial Pissing". Actually, everything on what would have been the 'B' Side of the album. It is just darker and almost the slightly better brought up cousin of the vastly superior album 'In Utero'. Also, I still think of this as an album in two halves - it still feels like it has a natural 'A' side and a natural 'B' side. This is not a bad thing, just seems strange in this age of CD's and just one natural record. Also I still love secret track "Endless Nameless" which was a jam out track from an out take of "Lithium". Everything on the 'B' side was just better.

So this album has a natural two face personality - you have the singles which everyone loves, and I still don't mind "Lithium" or "In Bloom" myself, but you also have the parts which are less famous on this album.  I mean, being less famous on one of the biggest selling albums in history is like being 10 richest person in the world - you’re still going to be rich.  I really am not one for total nostalgia in some way, and this album is not the life affirming record that it once was. I guess I am over familiar with the main hits, yet the last seven tracks make this record for me. They show that there was more to this band then the bright lights.  According to urban myth Kurt Cobain wanted to destroy every copy of this record and start again. But how do you destroy a few million copies of a record. It is sighted as changing a generation, which it may have done. Doesn't mean it is the best album ever that is down to the perception of the listener - and this listener is marking from his heart.....

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase the album from here

You can visit the Nirvana website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

13 May 2013

Skrillex - Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites EP

So this is the first of the new EP reviews. Is there any reason I have decided to start with something that is now two years old? Well, when I was out the other week I was talking to one of my friends who got very offended that I had never listened to Skrillex and demanded and make amends for this.  This is coming from the same man who loves Scooter, Burzum and Whitehouse.  Skrillex is a producer from America who mostly remixes and produces records for other people.  This is a Grammy award winning album and the title is homage to the David Bowie album 'Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps). This guy has worked with artists as diverse as Lady Gaga and Korn.  So, is this stuff any good or is it all hype over actual context.

Now I must admit I wanted to hate this - not because of the artist and how he looks, or the fact he has worked with Lady Gaga. It was just to annoy my friend. He is a sensitive old hector and winding him up is fun.  This ep has a couple of amazing songs - "All I Ask Of You" (featuring Penny)" is a wonderful track which could have easily been made in Europe. It is so Euro influence that it might as well just have a picture of Mr Skrillex in Paris eating an Italian pasta dish and drinking some German beer. The title track so also a lovely little number, starting with a subtle fade opening and some great moments. Yes it has those big dubstep cyber attack noises, but that is part of the charm here.

However, there is little here that is keeping my interest out of the remaining 4 original tracks and 5 remixes! Yes it is interesting, and sort of ok, but I was not thinking whilst I listened to this that I was listening to the future. I was thinking of earlier house music from the 90's and 00's - apart from the slight dubstep styling there was nothing here that has not been done before and in a more effective way.  I am sure if I ever head out into a club and it is play that it will make more sense. Actually, some of it does make sense without the club, but outside of that environment it is feels a little lost - plus what ep needs 5 remix tracks that do not improve on the original tracks one iota? Oh well, let’s see what else Mr Skrillex can bring to the table.....

3 out of five - Decent, getting there

You can purchase from here

You can visit the Skrillex website here
You can listen to the EP here on Spotify here

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