Viewing entries in
Industrial Metal

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (Album Review)

Comment

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (Album Review)

When I saw Slipknot perform Unsainted, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t connect with the song as I hoped I would and Taylor’s new mask made me question the direction Slipknot was taking. Thankfully, I don’t have to look at #8 when listening to We Are Not Your Kind and therefore Unsainted and the entire album is simply stunning.

Yes, that mask. It’s the worst in Slipknot history, making me think of Meat Loaf and what he’d look like if his face melted from too much cosmetic surgery. It shouldn’t taint the music, but unfortunately, it does when you see them perform live. It will be interesting to see if Taylor keeps dawning the same mask on tour, or if he makes minor adjustments to it as I don’t think it will appeal to many fans; what do you think about the mask, dear reader? 

After two decades since their eponymous debut, Slipknot has largely become part of the social consciousness and it is difficult for me to recall a time when the band weren’t part of the music scene. Perhaps I’m just getting old, but it is amazing to think We Are Not Your Kind is only their sixth studio release as it feels as though they’ve been around forever. Nevertheless, I’m thoroughly enjoying this release and can say without a doubt that it is amongst their very best work and is one of the greatest albums of 2019. 

Insert Coin is a killer tune to introduce the album and flows magically into Unsainted. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t have asked for a better, slow-burn, introduction. I love it!

Unsainted is EPIC! The choral introduction merged with the musicality and Taylor’s vocal is something very special indeed as it builds up to the tempo we’re used to hearing from Slipknot, then downshifts as the chorus kicks in. Brilliant! 

I hope you’ve already pumped that volume to 11, for this is not one album you want to play at low levels. The Apple Music stream sounds excellent, but I dare say the vinyl release would trump it. That is certainly the version I hope to pick up, sooner rather than later. 

Birth Of The Cruel has a seriously good rhythm and Taylor’s firing lyrical delivery is right on par with what we’ve come to expect from Slipknot over the years. Taylor is a vocal maestro and while I could listen to Slipknot’s musicality for countless hours, it is Taylor that makes it worthwhile for me and it shows in Birth Of The Cruel. This will be one killer song for them to perform live. 

Dead Because Of Death is an interesting interlude that refreshes the pallet in preparation for Nero Forte. I thoroughly enjoy it, but I can’t help but wonder what an expansion of this song would have sounded like. Nevertheless, I love it!

Nero Forte has a killer guitar riff and rhythm that is Slipknot 101 with a vocal growl that only Taylor can deliver with absolute precision. Nero Forte is going to be mosh pit gold. 

Critical Darling, as with many of the songs on We Are Not Your Kind, has an incredible introduction that draws you in from the very first note. Critical Darling is a great tune, but the chorus is a little weak, from a musical perspective, in my opinion. In many ways, when I listen to Critical Darling, it sounds as though it would have fit perfectly on All Hope Is Gone. That isn’t a criticism for I adore their 2008 release, but just a noticeable correlation. The final minute is also intriguing as it sounds like it’s the start of a new song, or another interlude, but it isn’t. I’d love to know what the thought process was with regards to the outro on Critical Darling. That said, it does flow beautifully into A Liar’s Funeral.

A Liar’s Funeral is incredible! The slow and bright tempo, mixed with the demonic, is a perfect mix and Taylor absolutely nails the vocal in both styles. Without a doubt, A Liar’s Funeral is one of the best songs on the album and one of the best in Slipknot’s extensive catalogue. While I’m not sure if A Liar’s Funeral has the potential to be a fan favourite, when played live, I adore the studio recording. 

Red Flag is old school Slipknot! What’s not to like?

What’s Next has a terrible xylophone-styled interlude that admittedly introduces Spiders well, but is largely superfluous to the album, other than being an indicator of shifting gears. 

Spiders is a great song with a great rhythm but I’m not convinced by the Horror-movie styled backing. It works, but I can’t help but think that after repeat listens that I may grow tired of it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Nevertheless, Spiders is thoroughly enjoyable but a remix wouldn’t go astray. 

Orphan is a great song, but it takes a little too long to get into the core of the song in my opinion. I also wish the chorus was more pronounced as it is incredible. I could, honestly, listen to the chorus of Orphan on repeat indefinitely. 

My Pain is, interesting! Even after multiple listens, I’m not sure it fits the album too well. That said, as a song on its own, the layers of musicality are intense and the soundstage will compel and envelop you. My Pain is a song that you’re going to have to listen to multiple times to really connect with it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it allows for greater appreciation of the song and album, but I’d love to know what the thought process was in the studio when it came to not only recording My Pain but including it on We Are Not Your Kind.

Not Long For This World is a stellar track. The slow-burn intro once again compels me and the rhythmic undertone ticks all the boxes. However, as much as I enjoy it, it needs a little less treble and a little more bass. It doesn’t sound flat and from the sounds of it, the style is intentional, but I really do like Slipknot’s music when the rhythm reaches into your soul and takes you on a visceral journey where you feel the music rather than hear it. Not Long For This World just misses the mark when it comes to the complete sensory experience that I associate with Slipknot; yet the outro gets the low end pumping as it merges into Solway Firth. 

Solway Firth is a killer closing track that will compel you to listen to the album again and stay within Slipknot’s catalogue. 

Overall, We Are Not Your Kind is an incredible release. As an album, it is a cohesive experience that you would be advised to sit and listen to from start to finish. I’d also say that We Are Not Your Kind is one of Slipknot’s most accessible albums as it will appeal to hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Slipknot, like a good bottle of wine, gets better and better; the future looks good for us maggots!

We Are Not Your Kind is available on Vinyl, CD, and the iTunes Store.  

Click here to read other Slipknot reviews by Subjective Sounds.

Comment

Rob Zombie – Zombie Live (Album Review)

Comment

Rob Zombie – Zombie Live (Album Review)

Rob Zombie is one of those unique enigmas of the music industry that one can’t help but gravitate towards. His legacy and influence is legendary and while he still classes Alice Cooper amongst his idols, Zombie is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with and has arguably matched the success and influence of his idol, if not superseded it. As a serious Cooper fan, I’m glad to see the torch has been passed to the younger shock rocker, but one does have to wonder who will come after Zombie for they broke the mould when they made this monster of rock.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Zombie’s work since I first heard White Zombie’s More Human Than Human on an episode of the television series Millennium. From that moment on, I was hooked and if Zombie released it, I tried desperately to purchase it if the budget allowed for the expense. Yes, like all good record collections, there are a couple of significant holes in my Zombie-based library, but if I had everything, then there’d be nothing left to look forward to. Trust me, the unfulfilled feeling in this regard is real. I have every AC/DC album in my collection and I feel ambivalent towards it. I want more, yet there is nothing more to get. Rule 1 of music collecting is to always ensure you pass on a release that you know you’ll regret not picking up at a later date. That way, you’ll forevermore search for a copy, or hope for a reissue, and that keeps you going as you explore and expand your collection. Perhaps my greatest regret was not picking up a copy of White Zombie’s Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Well, I wasn’t going to make that mistake again, as the aforementioned album is now impossible to get on the Australian market for a reasonable price, so I subsequently picked up the incredible It Came From N.Y.C vinyl boxset upon release. Yes, I know Zombie himself had nothing to do with that release and similarly the former White Zombie band members had nothing to do with Let Sleeping Corpses Lie but for this Zombie fan, it was always going to be a value-added proposition that includes a beautifully presented hardcover book with a detailed look at the band from inception to Zombie’s ultimate decision to go solo. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll eventually pick up a copy of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, but it is fun to pass on copies when they come up. It becomes a talking point and I absolutely love obtaining that hidden gem as much as I enjoy leaving it on the record store shelf for another fan to purchase and add to their own collection.

The same excitement also occurs when I decide if I should pick up the CD or Vinyl release. Generally, in Australia, CD prices are at an all-time low and are always more affordable than the vinyl counterpart. The only problem with that is that as much as I adore the CD format, the mastering is often hit and miss. Not in this case, however, as Zombie Live, while mastered a little on the hotter side, is full of dynamic range and provides a real sense of the concert experience one could expect from a Zombie performance. It is, quite frankly, one of the best recorded, mixed, and mastered live CD’s I’ve ever heard. Thank you Scott Humphrey!; a man as pivotal to Zombie’s success as Bob Ezrin is to Alice Cooper. Of course, Zombie Live would be the last album Humphrey would work on with Zombie and it’s such a shame because their collaboration was off-the-charts good. As usual, I digress, but Humphrey knew how to get the very best out of Zombie and while Zombie continues to amaze, his early-era solo releases still outperform his more recent output in my opinion.

So, we have established that the mastering is perfect on the CD release and quite frankly there isn’t a single element that I would change as it simply sounds right. However, in 2018, Zombie Live was reissued on vinyl, for the first time as the vinyl resurgence wasn’t even a blip on the radar at the time of release in 2007. We were still, inserting CDs into computers, ripping them to our iPods, and accessing bonus material via the connection between the CD and the associated artist website. We’ve certainly come a long way since then and purchasing the vinyl edition would at least remove that ungodly black box of text from the exquisite album artwork. My concern, however, is what if the pressing sucks? The CD sounds right, as I mentioned earlier, and vinyl certainly has it’s own unique sound signature that is neither better or worse than the digital edition, it’s just different. Now, I have plenty of Zombie’s albums on vinyl and his Spookshow International Live is a personal favourite, that while presented on a spectacular picture disc, sounds absolutely incredible; hence it shouldn’t really be an issue but vinyl pressings are as hit and miss as CD masterings. Logic says I should be happy with the CD release, and perhaps I am, but I will always wonder if I should have picked up the vinyl edition. Of course, if I did, I would gift the CD to my son as I no longer collect and hoard both a CD and vinyl copy. It’s excessive and I found that I wasn’t enjoying an album because I got into the bad habit of comparing the CD to the vinyl release upon each play – quite frankly a futile process! 

All that said, I am thoroughly happy with the CD release and while some vinyl releases come with extensive liner notes, many don’t and if there is one thing that I’ve always appreciated about Zombie’s CD releases, it is the attention to detail and providing the music lover with a full-featured booklet to go along with the purchase. Not bad considering Zombie openly acknowledges the end of the album and the fact that no one buys them anymore. Well, Rob, I still purchase them and I thank you for keeping the album format alive, even though it goes against your personal beliefs.

Of course, I know how easy it is to simply listen to music via streaming services, but you should seriously consider picking up, at least, the CD release of Zombie Live as it offers enough additional content to appease any Zombie fan. Okay, so much of the booklet is photographs from various live performances, but they are killer shots that you likely wouldn’t find elsewhere. Unfortunately, while this live recording is Mastered for iTunes, no digital booklet is included with the iTunes purchase. As disappointing as that is, we’re here for the music, so let’s take a look at the 18 thunderous songs that make up Zombie Live.

Sawdust In The Blood, from Educated Horses, offers the perfect backdrop to launch this live performance. A killer instrumental!

American Witch flows seamlessly from Sawdust In The Blood and remains my favourite song from the Educated Horses era. It’s a little heavier than some of Zombie’s other groove-based metal songs, but I love it! Interestingly, given this was the live album that came after Educated Horses, it is somewhat surprising that Foxy Foxy didn’t make an appearance. Nevertheless, American Witch is perfectly suited to the live lineup and the attitude of the performance.

Demon Speeding has a near-symphonic sound signature that reminds me of Metallica’s astonishingly good S&M recording with the San Francisco Symphony. Subsequently, I love it, but I have always loved this song and I may have, in my younger and wilder years, used this song as the soundtrack for a little street racing.

Living Dead Girl is a song I have mixed emotions about. I’m not a fan of the studio recording, nor did I like the music video, but I absolutely love this live rendition as it adds the attitude that I feel the original recording was missing.

More Human Than Human is one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded and this live version is nothing short of pure perfection. Zombie doesn’t get much better than this!

Dead Girl Superstar has never been a favourite of mine, and I consider it to be one of the weakest songs on The Sinister Urge, but I can’t deny just how well it works live. I actually enjoy it within this context.

House Of 1000 Corpses is a personal favourite. The film is already a cult classic and this song has such an addictive mellow groove that it’s hypnotic, drawing you into the crazy psychotic mind of Rob Zombie. What’s not to like?

Let It All Bleed Out is thrash metal meets groove metal with a touch of blues rock and roll. What can I say, it works! Although, I have to admit that it took me a number of listens to fully appreciate the song when I first heard it. Actually, Educated Horses, the album from which Let It All Bleed Out comes from, was so different to Zombie’s previous works that at first, I detested the album. Thankfully it grew on me and it is now one of my favourite Zombie releases. I guess that just goes to prove that one should never be too quick to judge as music can be an acquired taste that needs to develop over time.

Creature Of The Wheel is a killer White Zombie track and is performed flawlessly.

Demonoid Phenomenon is full of energy and attitude and is a sensational live rendition of the Hellbilly Deluxe classic.

Super-Charger Heaven is another song that is sensational live. Some songs just suit live performances; it certainly seems as though Zombie has more than his fair share of songs that fall into that category.

Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy) is an absolute favourite of mine. That said, The Sinister Urge has always been, and likely always will be, my favourite Rob Zombie album as it was a revolutionary shift in his style that linked him to his White Zombie origins but also put him on a new path of exploration as an artist.

Black Sunshine flows seamlessly from Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy), further validating my previous statement about being similar, but revolutionary. It’s a great song and is incredible when played live.

Superbeast is a killer rock and roll tune. I’ll never forget first hearing it while watching the film, End Of Days. If memory serves me well, the music video was also an added DVD special feature. It blew my mind then and still does to this day. This live version is yet another flawless performance on a live album that goes above and beyond all expectations.

The Devil’s Rejects has an incredible twang and is an awesome song that gets about as close to a ballad as Zombie is ever going to get. It’s also surprisingly well-suited for this live performance and doesn’t feel at all out-of-place.

Lords Of Salem isn’t bad, but it isn’t one of my favourite Zombie songs and I’m not entirely sure it is suited to a live performance, despite the obvious approval from the crowd. Hopefully, the cheering wasn’t added in post-production.

Thunder Kiss ‘65 has one of the most recognisable riffs in the history of rock and roll, but I have a love/hate relationship with the song. The rhythm is fantastic and the verses work well, with plenty of groove, but the chorus drives me absolutely mental. Thankfully John 5 gives a masterful solo at the end of the song. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I love John 5’s solo work as well. He’s a master musician if there ever was one and while he receives significant recognition, he is under-appreciated outside the Zombie camp.

Dragula is the perfect song to close the live performance on. It’s one of Zombie’s greatest and I never tire of turning the volume up when this song comes on. Without a doubt, it encourages me to listen to Zombie Live again and stay within Zombie’s extensive catalogue of music.

Overall, Zombie Live is a masterpiece and as polished as Zombie’s studio recordings are, this live recording maintains and amplifies his overall addictive groove and attitude, thereby taking some of Zombie’s greatest hits to another level. Honestly, it isn’t often that live performances can match or exceed their studio counterparts, but this one does.

Without a doubt, this is one album you must own. Call it a Greatest Hits, if you will, it is simply that good and is available to own on Vinyl, CD, and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

Comment

Device – Self-Titled (Album Review)

Comment

Device – Self-Titled (Album Review)

David Draiman is a man with few peers and with such a unique vocal presentation it can be difficult to separate the man from Disturbed; a band that would catapult him to international fame. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your philosophical bent, Disturbed entered a hiatus between 2011 and 2015, resulting in a series of side projects by the various band members. Bassist, John Moyer, would join Adrenaline Mob and form Art Of Anarchy, while Dan Donegan and Mike Wengren formed Fight Or Flight. Draiman, of course, went on to form Device with former Filter guitarist, Geno Lenardo. Device, while not completely dissimilar to Disturbed, in part due to Draiman’s unique vocal presentation, does have a greater electro-industrial sound than Disturbed that fans will undoubtedly adore.

You Think You Know is a hard-hitting start to the album and in some ways is reminiscent of Disturbed’s Believe era. Despite that, You Think You Know sounds fresh and unencumbered by the link to Disturbed. The rhythm elements are fantastic, but the drums are sadly a little flat, especially in the high-hat region. This is due, in part, to the over-compressed nature of the album whereby the dynamic range is brick-walled rather badly. When you listen to this song, and much of this Self-Titled album, it becomes apparent that the music is screaming to be heard with more separation and depth. Yes, the highly compressed nature of this style of music is somewhat of a trademark, but I feel it was taken a few steps too far and could have been dialled back a little to allow a greater sense of scope, rather than the wall of sound that is currently present. Nevertheless, I love You Think You Know and believe it is the perfect song to commence the album with.

Penance is stadium worthy as that rhythm will get you moving. Perhaps the only questionable aspect is the tempo. The chorus and overall musicality are perfectly timed, but I do wonder how Penance would have sounded if the vocal delivery was sped up a little.

Vilify is a great song, but the electro-industrial elements are a bit too in your face and sound as if they were added as an afterthought. Yes, I understand this is the style Device was aiming for, it just feels as though there are two songs here, instead of one coherent one.

Close My Eyes Forever (feat. Lzzy Hale) is amazing! I love it and could listen to it indefinitely. This is most certainly a song for my lost on a deserted island playlist. Lzzy Hale is one of the greatest rock/metal vocalists in the world today and the duet with Draiman has a sense of purity that could only have been made in heaven. As much as I love the Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford original, this edition takes the song to a new level while simultaneously paying homage to the original.

Out Of Line (feat. Serj Tankian & Terry “Geezer” Butler) is a raw and riff-driven song full of attitude. Seriously, turn this song up to 11, you’ll thank me later.

Hunted started out promising, but I don’t like Draiman’s lyrical presentation on this song. Subsequently, I’ve got to call Hunted a B-Side.

Opinion (feat. Tom Morello) is a great left-of-the-centre song. The rhythm is disjointed, but that is where the magic happens proving that order and chaos can coexist.

War Of Lies is a solid track, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Haze (feat. M. Shadows) is enjoyable and while there are moments of brilliance, I don’t feel Shadows is presented as prominently as he should have been on this track as his input sounds a little lost in the mix. A shame considering just how exceptional he is as a vocalist. In all honesty, if you didn’t know Shadows contributed to this track, you’d be forgiven in missing his addition as there is very little sign of the vocal prowess the Avenged Sevenfold frontman is known for.

Through It All (feat. Glenn Hughes) is a sensational closing track that encourages me, like all good closing songs should, to listen to the album again.

While there are no major disappointments on this album, it is frustrating that this self-titled release was never issued on vinyl. The cover art alone demands a larger canvas and the greater dynamic range, provided by the vinyl mastering process, would be a welcome addition. Similarly, it frustrates me that the edition available to Australian audiences, via digital downloads, streaming, and CD, are limited to 10 songs. There are, however, three additional songs that have been made available on various editions of the album. A Deluxe Edition that includes a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Wish and A Part Of Me. The Best Buy Exclusive also includes the track titled Recover. Are these additional songs any good? Well, I have reluctantly taken to YouTube to check out the tracks, despite the poor audio quality, and one can understand why they weren’t included on the core album. That doesn’t change the fact that in the era of streaming, these songs should easily, and legally, be available to fans the world over.

Overall, Device’s Self-Titled album is exceptional and while Draiman has stated that there is no intention to release more music under this moniker, I hope he reconsiders this position as this work complements his work with Disturbed in much the same way that Corey Taylor’s Stone Sour complements Slipknot.

Device’s Self-Titled album is available to own on CD and iTunes.

Comment

Motionless In White - Graveyard Shift (Album Review)

Comment

Motionless In White - Graveyard Shift (Album Review)

If memory serves me well, the last heavy metal album review on Subjective Sounds was Sepultura’s incredible Machine Messiah. Yes, it has been far too long my fellow Metalheads! Interestingly, just as I was largely unaware of Sepultura, at the time of the review, I similarly know very little about Motionless In White.

While one should never judge an album by its cover, the artwork for Graveyard Shift is AMAZING! Without even playing the first song, I knew it would be a hard hitter. However, I wasn’t prepared for the sonic perfection that was to captivate me for the entire length of the album.

Another reason why I decided to give this album a listen was that Korn's Jonathan Davis features on the song Necessary Evil. Davis is a musical genius and doesn’t associate himself with average or substandard musical endeavours. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Rats immediately sets the tone for the entire album. I knew within seconds that I was going to love this album, although my family were questioning my sanity as I kept turning the volume up to ear bleeding levels. Rats is one of the best songs to start any metal album on and the mastering, as I will detail later, is amongst the best I have ever heard in the heavy metal genre.

Queen For Queen continues the intense beat and rhythm with a song that has elements of Linkin Park, albeit it with a much heavier and demonic sound.

Necessary Evil (featuring Jonathon Davis) is a masterpiece that every Korn fan will adore.

Soft is the wrong name for this song as it is hardcore, especially from a vocal perspective. The guttural death growl vocal shifts in and out throughout the song. Overall, it reminds me of a mix between Slipknot and Sixx: A.M. You should simply turn this song up and get the headbanging started.

Untouchable is sonic perfection. I absolutely love the industrial metal style. It has an incredible rhythm and while some may think it isn't hard-hitting enough, following Soft, I absolutely love the melody-infused sound. An exceptional song!

Not My Type: Dead As Fuck 2 will see you unable to control your body as it convulses to the beat. I absolutely love this song and is that a little Sheri Moon Zombie laugh I hear? If you're not pissing off your neighbours yet, you're missing out on the entire experience and you need to turn that volume knob to the right!

The Ladder is the first song on the album that I'm not connecting with. There is too much thrash in the guttural vocal for my liking.

Voices is incredible! Yes, it is inspired by the original Linkin Park sound, but Voices is exceptional and is so much more than a Linkin Park imitation.

LOUD (Fuck It) is awesome! It is a fun song that reminds me of Limp Bizkit.

570 returns the album to the guttural vocal, hard hitting, fast riffing sound that we have heard throughout much of the album. Vocally, it is a little more relaxed than The Ladder and subsequently, I really enjoy the song and overall rhythm.

Hourglass has an incredible vibe that returns my thoughts to the musicality experienced in Necessary Evil.

Eternally Yours, as the final track, ensures that I am compelled to listen to the album again and check out the rest of Motionless In White's catalogue. Eternally Yours is no B-side. Quite frankly, there isn't a bad song on the album. Despite not connecting with The Ladder, it does fit the album and style of the band. I have no doubt many of you will enjoy it.

Graveyard Shift is an incredible achievement from a sonic perspective. There is no lack of dynamics and brickwalling is not apparent at any volume level. It is recorded, mixed, and mastered with nothing less than pure perfection.

For this review, I listened to the 24/88.2 kHz TIDAL Masters/MQA edition of the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi. I also listened to the standard TIDAL Hi-Fi 16/44.1 kHz edition and while it is the same mastering, the bass, soundstage, and overall sonic signature is noticeably more accurate with the TIDAL Masters/MQA edition. That said, I wouldn't be disappointed if I only had access to the TIDAL Hi-Fi 16/44.1 kHz edition.

Graveyard Shift is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes). Unfortunately, even with that stunning album artwork, the album is not yet available on vinyl. For those who prefer streaming, Graveyard Shift is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Comment