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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Albums I Had Recently Heard

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Kyuss - Blues For The Red Sun:
Finally picked up the full album.
This band is, for me, a marking stone. That said, the actual stone that made the mark was their amazing Welcome To Sky Valley (originally being a self-titled, and earning the new name due to the album cover).
After hearing this album, I am glad that I started with Sky Valley. Blues For The Red Sun is nowhere near as powerful as Sky Valley.
However, it's also far from being bad. The immortal Thumb and Green Machine are fantastic examples of Kyuss' material that was written with only 2 then-active chemicals, as opposed to the usual 12. The late appearing Allen's Wrench is also a nice surprise, although oddly placed in the album.
The rest of the album is, almost completely, the usual Kyuss audio trips. As usual, they are done with much excitement, vitality, and drugs. Lots of drugs.
Tom Waits - Franks Wild Years:
Tom Waits grew on me fairly quickly, and very strongly, up to the point that I was under the impression that this guy can't do something bad. He can do something less inspired, or more confused, but never to the point that its just bad (as opposed to one, Frank Zappa, who sometimes got a bit lost in himself). This guy is the most talented musician ever, I said, and you'll need a pep talk directly from god to have any hope of ever rising above him.
Then I heard Franks Wild Years.
Being the last part of a trilogy that contains my favorite Waits record, Rain Dogs, as well as it being one of my favorite records of all time, I was very interested to see what happened to Frank in the aforementioned Wild Years.
Typically of Waits, the concept is almost completely lost in metaphors and obscure references. Not that lyrical coherency is Waits' strong point, at least not stories that last more than a verse.
The music though, is what is important, obviously. The fantastic Marc Ribot is playing guitar on this album too, but is almost completely robbed of his spotlight given to him on Rain Dogs. His broken, flamboyant, dissonant, yet all very melodic style is hardly given the proper attention it deserves.
The rest of the music is more often than not a collection of what could be best described as Frank Sinatra after a heroin-induced stroke trying to conquer the Hollywood Bowl. In true Tom Waits fashion, it all sounds very sinister, like there's something much bigger than the apparent, like there's some monster hiding beneath whatever crooked smile Frank has, but the music itself is less compatible than Waits' almost patented blend of cabaret, jazz, blues, avant-garde and theater scores.
It's a difficult album. Some songs (the shrielling I'll Be Gone, and southern-sounding opener Hang On St. Christoper) sound so natural, while most of the rest of the album sounds forced, confused, and still suffering from said heroin-induced stroke.
Cathedral - Caravan Beyond Redemption:
Everybody knows Cathedral, led by the unmistakenably charismatic Lee Dorrian. Kooky, goofy, cynical, and alternatively optimistic or pessimistic, depending on the song, this band are somewhat of a forgotten gem.
They aren't really doom metal anymore, not really heavy metal, not really stoner metal, not really prog metal. They are stuck somewhere in the middle of all of these categories on this album, blending in mostly the good of every genre.
It all blends fairly well in the first half. The monsterous The Unnatural World is, for lack a better term, monolithic, with less serious songs like Voodoo Fire and the brilliantly named Satanikus Robotikus are humorous without being obnoxious, and are still very solid songs.
The second half of the album is a bit less tight, but does not deteriorate to tedious repetition and filler (ahem, Gojira, even bigger ahem, Mehshuggah). Here too, even the songs that are obviously humorous are still well written, and aren't blatant "JOKE SONG!! HAHAHAHA!!!" type songs.
All in all, it's a good album. It's far from being the monsterously inspired Caravan Bizarre, but it's a very solid album.
And for some less important albums (as far as I'm concerned):
Dozer - Through The Eyes Of Heathens: Very good blend of the metal and rock sides of the stoner equation. Solid songwriting, often anthemic choruses, and generally a well-written album. 8/10.
Witchfinder General - Death Penalty: Sabbath-worship ahoy! Unlike Sabbath though, the music is uninspiring, confused, and messy. Vocals piss me off, too. 3/10.
Grand Magus - Wolf's Return: It's got Kingslayer on it, and some other songs that I did not listen to, because I kept Kingslayer on repeat. 7/10, will probably raise the score after I will stop listening only to Kingslayer.
Fair To Midland - Fables Of A Mayfly: First song is good, the rest isn't. Confused, overly artsy, but good instrumentation. 4/10.
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