Karras – The Band That Needs to Tour America.

KarrasWhat if Hatebreed had 3 smoking hot chicks playing all the instruments while one LUCKY SON-OF-A-BITCH growled the words? Gentlemen, I give you Karras.

Never heard of ’em? Me neither until I found their Myspace page completely by accident. Yeah yeah, they’re all the way over in Berlin – so I’m saving for airfare starting tomorrow.

Am I falling for their blatant attempt to use sexuality to sell their music – YES I AM!  Listen to the songs, watch the videos. You’ll see what I mean. It’s fairly standard screamcore but what eyecandy! Guitarist Ela wears thongs underneath her camo pants, while sporting that pouty “I won’t hurt you too badly” look in every pic. Corinna looks a bit more exotic and seems tall – climbing gear anyone? And Sabine looks like more of a girl-next-door type but also appears craziest of the three in the live pics. She’s a drummer, doesn’t ‘crazy’ pretty much come with the territory?

Ladies – you need to tour the States, and you need to tour Ohio. I have a living room. The wife will understand. So will the kids.

And if not, I’m out on the street and I’ll roadie for you guys. Sponge baths anyone (Gals only – sorry Devrim!).  Anyhow, that address again if you missed the link above is http://www.myspace.com/karrasberlin.

Darth Metal

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What happens if you get a band that mixes Death Metal with a rabid love of Star Wars?  You get Anchorhead, of course!  Self-proclaimed purveyors of ‘Darth Metal’, this British ensemble (not to be confused with the Minnesota band of the same name, eh) sport Star Wars helmets while playing crunchy compositions clearly inspired by the George Lucas movies, and strangely the John Williams scores as well. 

With songs like ‘Return of the Shredi’, ‘Shredisode V Teaser’ and a nifty cover of the ‘Imperial March’ on their Myspace page, you get an idea of what these guys are about.  It’s kinda like ‘When Fanboys Go Bad’.  It is decently played metal, and probably fun to see live (lightsaber duels perhaps?), just not sure how more than an hour of this stuff would feel. 

Go check’em out before Lucasfilms sues them into oblivion at this LOCATION

Music Review: Obituary – Xecutioner’s Return [Candlelight]

Obituary is one of my all-time favorite bands.  Period.  I consider then one of THE definitive Death Metal acts, alongside Cannibal Corpse, Death, Six Feet Under and perhaps Deicide.  That being said, I was excited when the group reunited with the ‘classic’ lineup of vocalist John Tardy, guitarists Allen West & Trevor Peres, bassist Frank Watkins and drummer Donald Tardy to release ‘Frozen in Time’ back in 2005.  Upon hearing the album however, I have to confess as being a tad disappointed.  It’s a good album, don’t get me wrong, but I was hoping for something that rivalled ‘Cause of Death’ [1990] – in my opinion, the best album they ever did.  Nothing on ‘Frozen in Time’ stood out as strongly, their sound not quite as heavy as on the earlier releases and the melodies not as memorable.  Still, it was good to have new material and to know that one of my fav’s was again producing new music & touring.

Now 2 years later, we have ‘Xecutioner’s Return’ – a title with a deliberate homage to the band’s original name ‘Xecutioner’ before they changed it back in the late 80’s.  I took this as a good sign.  If they were acknowledging their roots, perhaps they were looking to return even more fully to the down-tuned guitar crunch I’d come to love.  I began to have hope.

Then I read about the trouble that Allen West had found himself in – once again being arrested for DUI, only this time the judge throwing the book at him and sentencing him to prison.   Unable to fulfill his recording and touring duties, the band temporarily replaced West with veteran axe-melter Ralph Santolla, who had just finished a brief stint with fellow Florida Death Metallers – Deicide.

And thus ‘Xecutioner’s Return’ was recorded.  Lo and behold, the Reverend saw (or heard rather) it was good.  The mind numbingly heavy minor chords were back!  Guitar solos, I mean REAL finger mincing, ear bleeding solos, were back!  Obituary WAS back!!  Hallelujah!!

Yes sports fans, this is a laudable effort indeed.  Living up to their old claim as being the ‘heaviest band in the world’, the boys have really laid down some sludge on this one, and it does my old heart good to hear it.   The slower, doomier progressions that were lacking in ‘Frozen in Time’ have returned, and the guitar solos are more elaborate & forceful – reminiscent of their early work.  Tempos vary, as is typical for these guys, between dirge-like slow to mid-range and headbangable.  Nothing super fast, which is my personal preference anyhow.  My favorite songs are probably the driving ‘Evil Ways’ (which is one of the most oldschool of the bunch), ‘Bloodshot’ and the oppressive ‘Contrast the Dead’.

Vocally, John Tardy has lost nothing of his raw-throated sound over the years – how, I cannot imagine as he is legendary for not using effects.   Compare his sound on this release to ‘Slowly We Rot’ [1989] and you’ll hear little difference – amazing.  Lyrically, Obituary song’s are always violent & brutal yet constructed with obscure phrasing and unusual emphasis such that understanding exactly the ‘theme’ of a song can be difficult.  This tracklist is no exception with songs like ‘Contrast the Dead’ and ‘Lies’, whose meanings remain submerged in their own murkiness & gloom.  The only real difference I noticed was a more flagrant anti-religious slant than usual, songs such as ‘Face Your God’ and ‘Second Chance’ seemingly venting in a darker, even Satanic vein, which I think would have been better left with their Black Metal brethren.

So honestly, it’s a great disc and bodes well for the future of this pioneering band, hopefully even moreso when West returns.  And here’s the sticky part.  ‘Cause of Death’ was also recorded while West was not in the band, lead fretburning being provided by the nomadic genius James Murphy (who’s been in too many bands to mention here).  I’m not picking on West, in fact I’ve met the man and he was as geniune and fan-friendly as everyone else in Obituary.  But it seems to me that West’s demons have been holding him back, and I’m not gonna pull punches and say differently.  His guitar work is adequate, but not nearly as aggressive or technically sharp as I believe he’s capable, or that he exemplified in the early days.

My hope is upon his release, he’ll return to his place on stage with his bandmates and channel his torment and rage back into the music where it belongs.  So they can collectively reign as Death Metal’s kings once more.

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