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Mass Murder Phenomena – Necrotrophic

Mass Murder Phenomena - Necrotrophic CD cover

Belched out of the same pit that spawned such blackened metal as God Dethroned comes Cleveland’s Mass Murder Phenomena, with five brutal tracks on Necrotrophic.

“Belligerent (By Your Hands)” is an apt title for the opening track, which starts off the disc like a punch to the face. No intros or grand orchestral movements for these great, this is straight-forward aggression laid out through screeching vocals, blistering riffs and an almost painful low end.

“Unholy Rapture” slows things down and is a slow and steady, doom-drenched track that bleeds into the Slayer-esque “Descent”. Both are awesome in their grim, brooding atmosphere and show a lot of maturity from a band that has only been together since 2010.

“Pile the Dead” picks up the pace before slamming its way into “The White Light” – both of which are more straight-up thrash.

At the end of the day, these guys are probably thrash, but that just seems dismissive. Hell yeah, they channel the likes of Slayer and Testament at times, but there’s more going on here. Like a parasite, Mass Murder Phenomena feeds off the best of the thrash, death and black metal and gives forth something all their own, something Necrotrophic.

-Late

Necrotrophic

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Love and Death- Chemicals EP

LandDLove And Death is the band brought together by former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. The band recently debuted their first offering, Chemicals EP. For what it is, it’s not bad. On the surface, you have only five songs, two of which are remixes of the first and third tracks on the EP, respectively.

The first track, “Paralyzed”, sounds like a really good Korn song, back when the band was actually fun to listen to, minus Jon Davis on vocals. The whole creepy vibe, the pounding wall of guitar thrown at you, a real nice tune overall.

The second track is where it gets interesting. Love And Death cover Devo’s “Whip It”, and it’s different if nothing else. If you had never heard the original version of the song, you would not know that this is a cover of it. Slower, moody to start, loud, screaming and powerful the rest of the way. I actually liked it somewhat, but can see where Devo fans and others may disagree with me. It’s a love it or hate it song for sure.

“Chemicals”, the third song, has that same Korn vibe all through it. At times, you swear you hear Jon Davis from Korn in his vintage low voiced, nearly whispering singing happening. Again, it sounds like a really good Korn song.

In the end, Chemicals isn’t bad, but it lacks any type of originality. It’s hard to pinpoint. I want to give Welch credit, but if you leave a band as big as Korn was, wouldn’t you try to make something that doesn’t sound EXACTLY like your old band? Whatever, it’s his band, not mine, so I guess he can do whatever he wants. Two songs that sound just like your old band, and a cover that purists will cringe at wouldn’t have been my first choice at offering the world music from my new band.

Matt White

Burn Blue Sky – Celebrate The Decline

Burn Blue Sky - Celebrate The Decline CD cover

The first thing you’re going to think of when listening to Burn Blue Sky’s Celebrate the Decline is the band Clutch. While tracks like “Cigarettes and Friends Long Dead” certainly won’t do much to dissuade you of that thought, it doesn’t take long to realize that there’s more going on here than just a Clutch ripoff band.

The disc opens with “Neo Cortez”, a brooding beast – heavy on the low end that calls to mind the glory days of Black Sabbath – before kicking into the nitro-laced groove of “All Fade Away”, which rings with more of an updated Monster Magnet vibe. The rest of the disc plays with the bounds of that blues rock sound. “The City Streets” slows things down with the standout “Burning Blue” and borderline power ballad “(Life in) Quarantine” following suit.

Despite the heavy, thick blues sound that dominates the disc, “Heathen” may be the strongest track, standing by itself, equally poignant, pissed-off and pummeling.

Although their influences are unmistakable and there’s no denying that there are some derivative tracks, Burn Blue Sky does enough with the sounds to make each one uniquely their own, just as each track stands as uniquely ITS own, making this whole disc something to really be celebrated.

-Late

Celebrate The Decline

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

The Darker Shore – The Mechaphysik

The Darker Shore - The Mechaphysik CD cover

The Darker Shore break onto the scene with their debut CD, The Mechaphysik, a nine track journey through the many faces of this Cleveland quartet and their music. There are some missteps along the way, but it’s hard to fault somebody for the occasional awkward transition or out of place lull or breakdown here or there when they set their sights so high.

“The Darker Shore” is more than just a titular track for the band – it does a great job of setting up the disc by letting the listener know exactly what The Darker Shore has in store for them. At times gothic and brooding and at others fast-paced and thrashy, the track is a strange mix of A Perfect Circle, Dillinger Escape Plan and classic Black Sabbath. This is a track that needs to be savored over and over again.

“Divider” is straighter and plays with more of an 80s metal vibe. It also shows that the guys are willing to write songs with a point, painting a fairly bleak view of society and those of us who make it what it is. “EGR” is thrashier, but then changes things up by pouring on a heavy low end that levels things out and makes the whole track brood. “Wee Wah” is a similar mix of light and dark, opening with a chilling electronic symphony before launching into a mostly straight rocker. Along the way, this is a track that sometimes gets bogged down in its own hubris – it tries to do too much.

They pick up the pace with “My Mechanical Brain”, which develops a groove vibe that remains understated through the bulk of the disc, but always seems to lurk in the shadows.

“Dirt Harvest” builds on the band’s penchant for heavy bass riffs and is a sludgy, heavy-handed beast of a track. While the heavy, low end approach pervades the entire disc, it’s most noticeable here and on tracks like “Ne Plus Ultra?” and the haunting “Dragging A Body”. “Dark House” is downright dreary and fits in here as well, but somewhat comes up a bit flat. A chilling, quasi-psychedelic number that is equal parts Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, it always seems that something is about to happen as the track trudges along. As moody as it is, it could be a great lead-in to something even bigger and better.

On the whole, these guys live up to their name, there is a definite darkness to this album. The guys in The Darker Shore enjoy what they do, but they take it damn seriously and with this disc, they demand that same respect. So journey alongside The Mechaphysik over the horizon and to the darker shore.

-Late

The Mechaphysik

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Jeffrey Nothing – The New Psychodalia

Jeffrey Nothing - The New Psychodalia CD cover

Taking the easy path would have been a cinch for Jeffrey Nothing on his solo debut. He and producer Skinny have enjoyed over twenty years of success working together, and they could’ve just rehashed previous success over and again to fill this disc. Luckily for us there are some ballsy chances taken in this collection to keep things fresh.

Sure, we still get our fill of pounding drums and guitars shredding over minor chord keyboards, but The New Psychodalia will never be mistaken for a generic nu-metal album.

“Goodbye” blends Classic Cleveland rock with modern rock seamlessly, allowing Jeffrey to belt out a catchy refrain. “Sin ‘O Cism” is a quick, thrashy song, which questions both government and its people, and recalls Jeffrey’s time with the band Hatrix. Opening track “Dear Departed” offers several catchy vocal patterns and riffs that open the album with a roar.

I won’t claim to understand everything Jeffrey is trying to say, nor will I tell you I enjoy it all. “Enough” is a funky-rock track which reminded me of early Kid Rock though I felt Jeffrey was shooting to showcase influences from an earlier decade. “Devil” features lyrics seemingly based on a certain prank call every ‘shroomhead fan is familiar with over a simple dance beat and comes off as almost lighthearted. The song sticks out like a sore thumb in this collection.

After decades of hearing Jeffrey sing over Skinny’s songs I did wonder what it would be like to hear him branch out, but then comes “Wormwood”, a Pink Floyd and possibly Absinthe-induced track that is theatrical, creepy, and beautiful all at once. This review would’ve been done a week ago if I could’ve stopped pressing repeat on this tune.

“Mnemerator” is a song dominated by a playful piano-line and features spoken word vocals by Skinny. No offense, but dude, Jeffrey Hatrix is in the studio and this track is sort of wasted without him. “Darkseed” is perfect for a horror film, but it is filler here.

As the curtain closes I feel the album is solid, though I hope on the next go-round, Jeffrey and the rest of the band let go of the reins and let go of their self-editing. Take some bigger chances and don’t worry if us old codgers say negative things. Jeffrey’s vocals shine throughout this collection and showcase his still-growing talents.

 

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