Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Never Realized How Much a Mastodon Resembles a Wooly Mammoth

So what's the big metal news of late? Oh yeah, Mastodon's new album dropped yesterday. I don't feel like typing up a review so I will give you a quick rundown. It's awesome. It is much less metal, and way more prog than they have ever been. The vocals are all clean and there are organy style keyboards. If you are one of those folks who want Remission Part 2, well sorry. If you like the song off Leviathan called Hearts Alive (my personal favorite Mastodon track) then you will love it. Big, epic, prog-rock with metal flourishes. But it still sounds distinctly like Mastodon.

While listening to it today I noticed something. There are multiple songs where they have parts that sound almost identical to other songs by other bands. I am not accusing them of plagarism, but there are a good number of ripped off parts. I think most of these were accidental or subliminal, but many devotees of heavy music will catch them.

1. In song 3, Quintessence, there is a vocal melody that is exactly like a song from an old Baltimore post-punk band called Onespot Fringehead. This vocal melody is very unique, so to hear the same note progression really made me take notice. The chance that this was intentional is probably zero, as maybe 100 people can still remember old songs by Onespot Fringehead.

2. In song 4, The Czar, there are background vocals that go "Ahhhhhhh.......Ahhhhhhhh". The tone and duration sound identical to some vocals off a song on the Rated R album by Queens of the Stone Age.

3. Song 5, Ghost of Karelia, has two dopplegangers. The first is a guitar part that is almost identical to a Tool song of off Lateralus (I think- it could be another album). Anyhow, if you like Tool you will notice this. The second is a vocal melody that comes straight from a song by dancey, punk band Death From Above 1978. Again, probably way coincidental.

4. Song 6, Crack the Skye, has some splaining to do. The verses are exactly like the verses of a Neurosis song off their Times of Grace album. This one can't be overlooked. The Mastodon boys are devoted Neurosis fans (I mean, really, who isn't?) and I have heard them espouse their love for this record on TV. They might as well fess up. Neurosis won't mind and will probably be flattered, as I think they are friends.

Anyhow, I'm not pointing this out to disgrace Mastodon or to disparage their new record. I love it, I think it is rad as shit. I just have never heard anything on a Mastodon record in the past that I had heard before from other bands and it threw me for a loop.

Am I nuts or has anyone else noticed these similarities?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Aura Noir- Hades Rise

So I picked this up because they are playing at the Maryland Deathfest 2009 (see you there) and am trying to familiarize myself with as many bands as I can before I go. I knew nothing about them or what they sounded like. Holy shit, these dudes are awesome. I don't know how to describe it, but to say it is sorta thrash, but not uber technical in the Metallica or Testament kinda way. It is kinda like European bands from back in the day like Kreator. But it mostly reminds of what I can only call "proto-death". This is a term I use for bands like Venom and Hellhammer who helped to mold this entire genre. When I call Aura Noir "proto-death", I guess I mean they sound old-school. Back when thrash and early death metal were kinda the same. They have killer heavy hooks and sound grimey and filthy. And a lot of fun. This is a headbanging treasure trove. This is just plain metal: rockin', kinda evil with a distinct black metal bent, and catchy as all hell. The vocals are reminiscent of Lemmy. And the guitar tone is excellent. The album sounds great. This a great beer drinking, horns throwing, rock and roll experience. I can't recommend it enough.

After getting my mind blown by this album, I did some research on the band. Turns out that the guitarist is Blasphemer from Mayhem, whose guitar work I find very unique and interesting. Then I find out the drummer used to be in Enslaved. Then I find out that Fenriz from Darkthrone contributed vocals on one of their older records. No wonder this is amazing. This is like the Traveling Wilburys of black metal. Wow.