AA Reviews: 2014 – Lee Bannon, Worthless, Krieg

Some quick hits for you on this cool Wednesday evening. All ratings based on the Rate Your Music 1-5 star scale. Check my RYM profile for more reviews!

Lee Bannon – Alternate / Endings

Lee Bannon - Alternate / Endings

Genre: Drum and Bass // Tracks: 11 // Rating: 4.0

Resources: Bandcamp // Discogs // Soundcloud // Twitter

It never hurts to bust out the Amens and get down the jungle/old school drum and bass way. Each of these tunes carry a moody atmosphere and pack quite a punch. From the very beginnings of Resorectah, you know you’re getting quality tunes done the proper way. Prime / Decent and Perfect / Division are perfect examples of what I enjoy out of this style of music.

Not much to harp on when the music is this well-made and it’s a style not too many people push nowadays, and with LB you get his personal flair to it. Well done.

Worthless – Beaten by Life

Genre: Death Metal // Tracks: 7 // Rating: 3.5

Resources: Bandcamp, Facebook, Metal Archives, Soundcloud

You’d expect an aquatic mud bomb of Finnish riffing. Instead, we’re treated with a nice slab of Swedish-influenced, punk-infused stomper filled with dirty riffs and occasional dips into doomy waters. For a demo, the production is crisp and clean, though maybe a little colorless. For those looking for something to reinvent the wheel, one listen to bangers like Personal Eclipse or the powerful closer Derelict will put all that notion to bed.

Enjoy the pounding drums and thick riffs. When done effectively, a band like Worthless earns its place amongst the wave of retro-death metal acts. It’s a fun romp that may earn a higher score from me in the future.

Krieg – Isolation / Transmission 7″

Genre: Black Metal/Post-Punk // Tracks: 2 // Rating: 4.5

Resources: Bandcamp // Facebook // Metal Archives

Krieg has been a force in the United States’ fertile black metal scene. For close to 20 years, Neil Jameson has delivered cut after cut of ultra-personal black metal. It’s the type of band and music that wears its emotions and influences on its sleeves, no bullshit and no compromises here.

It’s these traits that make this 7″ such a fine piece of work by him. Walk With Them Unnoticed rides a fantastic atmospheric tremolo riff backed by a drum beat that wouldn’t be out of place on a Joy Division record (heck, the record’s title is taken from two of Neil’s favorite JD songs). Add in Devil Pig’s trademark snarl, and the whole thing becomes a 10 minute exercise in bleak, neurotic music. Perfect for those nights of contemplation, or a sunny day that needs a little bit of darkness to balance it out. Very impressive.

When I think about blending black metal with genres like post-punk and shoegaze, I picture songs like these two. I’d be thrilled with an album from Krieg done in this style. If you missed out on the vinyl 7″ during Record Store Day, you can check the songs out on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Follow me @Delibirdation

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AA Reviews: Arsis – A Celebration of Guilt

A Celebration of Guilt Cover Art

Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Country: United States

Tracks: 11

Rating: 3.5

Resources: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Metal Archives

In my never-ending search for the best material the entire death metal genre has to offer, Arsis has become an interesting case study. As many reviewers have said before me, this record held so much promise and potential. Think of this record as that Top 5 draft pick in sports. A Celebration of Guilt was the can’t-miss prospect that would lead melodic death metal to new heights.

In some ways, it did that. Having lived through the considerable hype Arsis received, I understand exactly what it brought to the table. It became more common to splice together technical, yet melodic and catchy riffs together. Along with technical death metal bands like Necrophagist and Spawn of Possession, they were to lead the way. Unfortunately, it became an arms race to see who could out weedle the rest. You can hear it in this album at times as well, the middle of the record hits a monotonous patch before recovering with the excellent Dust and Guilt. When it came together, you got something amazing like the classic The Face of My Innocence.

That is the main problem with this record, and with Arsis in general. Consistency and fluidity aren’t exactly strengths for this band. Maddening Disdain is exactly that, as it outright kills any momentum gained from such a beast opening tune, and the underrated Seven Whispers Fell Silent can’t exactly recover what was lost. Riffs and sweeps fly all over the place, but it always feels like there’s a big part missing from all of this. There is: the bass presence is almost non-existent. A band like StarGazer learned how to include and spotlight the bass amongst their technical wizardry, but on this record, Arsis had yet to find a perfect balance. It also does work to its favor, because the spotlight remains firmly on the cavalcade of riffs. This helps the listener find their favorites easily, but it’s almost a hollow victory.

Michael Van Dyne needs to be praised for his work on the drums, the one constant on ACOG. From the very start, you can feel this man’s presence in the pocket, a rarity in today’s death metal game. Triggered or not, the drumming is tight and serves as the backbone to the fretboard acrobatics. The extra flourishes he adds throughout the album help add the color and texture that the bass lines fail to do. If James Malone were to tell me he was inspired by Metallica’s …And Justice for All, it would be the least surprising thing I’d ever hear. That’s not to say it is a bad thing, I love that record, muted bass and all. You can’t say no to some Harvester of Sorrow.

It’s almost a shame to write this review, as you don’t like seeing such promise fall by the wayside. They went from being featured on television to a forgotten also-ran that’s still plugging away. Maybe it is for the best, since James Malone’s health issues almost derailed his career. That’s the last thing you want. He delivered an impressive rookie season, something most can only dream of. This may be a 5 star record for you, and I can understand why. For me, it is difficult to separate what was with what could have been, but I can still love and appreciate what was given to us.

And yeah, I mainly only listen to Face, Seven Whispers, and Dust. Those songs kill.

Follow me @Delibirdation

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Max Scherzer is Pretty Good

Max Scherzer's 7 innings silenced the Angels.

Max Scherzer’s 7 innings silenced the Angels. (Getty/Leon Halip)

Understatement of the year or what?

Seven strong innings, with only one earned run on 3 hits. J.B. Shuck led the game off with a home run, but after the 3rd inning the Angel bats went silent. Albert Pujols connected on a Vernon Wells Special in the top of the 9th, but nothing else could be done. Detroit’s bats came alive against C.J. Wilson early, taking advantage of command issues that sometimes plague the left hander. Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez went deep, essentially putting the game out of reach. The Tigers needed to steady the ship after last night’s onslaught, and they did just that.

Fun Fact 1 - With today’s loss, Los Angeles has not been able to climb past the .500 mark since the first game of the 2013 season, a 3-1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day. Not really fun, actually.

Fun Fact 2 - Mike Trout struck out 4 times in a game for the first time in his career. Wear that Golden Sombrero proudly boy fish.

The series wraps up tomorrow morning, a 10:05 AM Pacific start on Fox Sports West and KLAA 830. Hector Santiago will look to build on his own 7 inning, 1 run start against the Oakland A’s. Detroit counters with Rick Porcello, who must be happy he isn’t pitching in Anaheim. The last time the Halos faced Porcello, they dropped a 9-spot on him in the first inning, an 11 batter blitzkrieg that ended on a Mike Trout grand slam to deep center field. I wouldn’t mind a repeat!

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Tamed Kittens

Kendrick and Pujols were the catalysts for Los Angeles' 11-6 victory

Kendrick (right) and Pujols were the catalysts in Los Angeles’ 11-6 win. (AP/Calos Osorio)

Ever since the Carlos Guillen Game, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have owned the Detroit Tigers. In the past nine meetings, the Halos are a perfect 9-0.

Now make it 10-0.

The offense showed its true potential tonight. Howie Kendrick came into the game with a ghastly .281 slugging percentage and promptly hit 2 home runs to the opposite field. Mike Trout laced two well-struck doubles and chipped in 3 RBI. Ian Stewart, replacing a sore David Freese at 3B, was a homer shy of the cycle. Albert Pujols took another step toward the magic 500 HR mark with a 3-run blast that capped off the Angels’ 11 run, 10 extra-base hit barrage. The lead was too large for an Angel bullpen sabotage, though Josh Wall tried very hard to do so (no outs recorded, 5 earned runs). Thanks to two excellent plays by backup infielder John McDonald,  Detroit could do no more.

With two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera struggling to find his groove, other players not performing up to usual standards, and Justin Verlander not pitching this series, the Halos have an excellent shot at continuing their dominance over Detroit. A series sweep would go a long way toward establishing themselves in this big-time road trip that will stop in Washington D.C. and the Bronx. So far, it’s helped Jered Weaver re-establish himself as the ace of the Angels’ pitching staff with a 6 inning, 1 run performance that may point to better things in the future for both he and the club. Detroit has been one of the top teams in the AL the past few seasons, so to win and win big is an accomplishment.

The next two games have the ungodly 10:05 AM Pacific start. Sucks for people like me that like to stay up all night, but you know I’ll be watching. The Halo Shines Tonight.

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AA Review: Eismalsott’s Weißblendung EP

Genre: Black Metal

Year: 2014

Country: Germany

Tracks: 3

Rating: 4.0

Resources: Bandcamp, Metal Archives, Facebook

AA Reviews is a new series of music reviews written for this blog or other websites. I will be using the 0-5 star rating system favored by Rate Your Music. This review originally written for my Rate Your Music account.

This was a nice surprise for me. Eismalsott was recommended to me by a friend who didn’t enjoy the traditional Darkthrone/Norsecore styles most black metal bands adhere to. The Best Before: Spring EP and early demo showed that Eismalsott could add weird and psychedelic flourishes to their atmospheric black metal, and have them make sense within the context of the music. It never overpowered the music nor was it the main focus.

I thought they had dropped off the face of the earth until I discovered this EP. It’s as if they never left. The little flourishes add an extra dimension to the excellent guitar work, as evidenced by Zweifell and the piano bit that adds a nice twinkle to the great atmosphere. A mash of ethereal sounding tremolo riffs, jagged and stuttering sections, and thrash-influenced riffwork all work well together to create an easy-flowing, intelligent 20 minute journey. The term progressive fits this band perfectly, as everything works together as it should. It all comes together on the closer Weißblendung | Titus Oates, an excellent 8 minute tune with an awesome stuttering riff they ride to perfection.

Fans of the more melodic side of German black metal like Nagelfar, Verdunkeln, and early Empyrium will feel right at home. Because of its length, the tight songwriting, and the overall quality of the recording and performance, I went ahead and gave it a 4.0. I can see this being one of my favorite releases this year, and maybe it will be in your lists too. At 20 minutes, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to give it a look and see if it interests you. The benefit of releasing an EP. Check it out.

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John Jaso is a .415 hitter at Angel Stadium

Everyone should have seen the go-ahead homer coming.


But we didn’t. We got buttercup’d again.

Lefty A-Rod sucks.

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Computer Problems

I didn’t give up because of Just Another Slow April or anything like that. I’ve been watching all the games.

Now that my problems are fixed, I’ll be updating regularly. Los Angeles starts a three-game set against the New York Baseball Mets, the Angels’ first interleague series of the season. 7:05 PM start as always.

BTW Hambone, you’re a big idiot for sliding into first base. I’m expecting a full Vernon Wells when he comes back, not because Josh Hamilton is done as a player, but because THAT’S HOW IT WORKS WHEN YOU FOLLOW THE ANGELS.

It’s a hard knock life. For us.

Mike Trout Gets Paid – Angels Win and Set Opening Day Roster

The past 24 hours have been incredible for the Los Angeles Angels. As a lifelong fan, I am excited for our future, no matter what the reality could be.

Mike Trout celebrating with fans during his press conference.

Mike Trout celebrating with fans during his press conference. Photo courtesy of @MLB on Twitter.

A day after Miguel Cabrera received an extension that made him the highest paid player regardless of sport or location, Mike Trout and the Angels agreed to a 6-year extension worth $144.5 million. If you’re not an Angels fan, but have friends who are, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about this 22-year old baseball player. Please realize, Michael Nelson Trout is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Anaheim has never been the home of a player of Mike Trout’s caliber. In just 2+ seasons as a professional, Mike Trout has placed his name amongst some of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Ruth. Gehrig. Mays. Bonds. Pujols. He is among their number due to two of the most amazing seasons I have ever seen, and really, ANYONE. I’ve witnessed Pujols and Alex Rodriguez and both Human Barry and Super Barry. I saw the Japanese legend, Ichiro Suzuki, break one of the holy records, George Sisler’s 257 hits in a season. I’ve witnessed Peyton Manning’s 49 and 55 TD, Tom Brady’s 50, and our guy Drew Brees put up four 5,000 yard passing seasons. I’ve seen Jamal Lewis and Adrian Peterson set the single-game rushing record. I’m a witness to LeBron James’s mastery, and saw Michael Jordan win rings 4-6 with those excellent Chicago Bulls teams. Tiger Woods’s incredible decade of golf. The dominance of Roger Federer and the Williams sisters. Mike Trout compares to ALL OF THEM. I believe everyone, sports fans or not, should see this man at least once. His greatness is inspiring to me. It makes me feel like I can maximize my talents and be great in my own right. It’s a pleasure to watch Mike Trout every day. Even the little things turn amazing when he does them, he has ability unlike anything I’ve seen in my 26 years.

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Fantasy Baseball Draft – Aybar Hates the Bees

Earlier tonight, I put together this team using the 8th and 3rd picks in snake format. Here’s what my team looks like:

Aybar Hates the Bees

Aybar Hates the Bees GIF

Look at him. He hates them so much!

C Yadier Molina, StL

1B Brandon Belt, SF

2B Howie Kendrick, LAA

3B Adrian Beltre, Tex

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Col

2B/SS Everth Cabrera, SD

1B/3B Josh Donaldson, Oak

OF Yasiel Puig, LAD

OF Starling Marte, Pit

OF Matt Holliday, StL

OF Brett Gardner, NYY

UTIL Kole Calhoun, LAA

B1 Norichika Aoki, KC

B2 Nick Swisher, Cle

B3 Anthony Rendon, Wsh

P Felix Hernandez, Sea

P Homer Bailey, Cin

P Gerrit Cole, Pit

P Jered Weaver, LAA

P Julio Teheran, Atl

P Michael Wacha, StL

P Addison Reed, Ari

P Ernesto Frieri, LAA

P Joakim Soria, Tex

B1 Rex Brothers, Col

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