Dienstag, 28. Februar 2017

rings of saturn - lugal ki en

the tunes from "lugal ki en" were the first from rings of saturn i enjoyed all aspects of. the production, the aesthetics and, of course, the music itself. i listened to a youtube stream of the record and it quickly became clear that i wanted their stuff on vinyl. as i already said in my last post, i was happy to find a german distro, hhv.de namely, to have a copy in stock. i ordered immediately which seems like to have been the right decision. apparantly hhv had only one copy left as they have sold out on it by now.
the first thing that struck me when i opened the package and pulled the record out was the insane artwork by mark cooper/mind rape art. it is so colourful and rich in detail that i can't get my eyes off of it. it matches the band's weird alien metal concept right to the point. somehow rings of saturn bring a certain depth into their lyrical theme so their stuff is still clearly self-ironic but never cheesy. the second thing that caught my interest was the album title.
wikipedia told me the following: "lugal ki en" translates from ancient sumerian cuneiform and means "king of the earthlings, lord of the cosmic world". i have no clue if that is true but if so, it is pretty damn cool. when you look at the title on the front, you can see the sumerian cuneiform behind the letters of "lugal ki en". musically this is modern tech death metal at its best. fast, crushing, melodic and with loads of quirky ideas that makes them really unique. check it out.
when i ordered i didn't know what colour my copy would be on. i hoped for the latest re-press on orange/purple merge with splatter. as you can see i got something different. it happened to be a first press on opaque purple vinyl. it may not look as extravagant as the other colour-ways but i still like it and the current international shipping rates definitely keep me from ordering a different colour from overseas. 400 copies made in gatefold sleeve with insert. unique leader records. 2014.

Samstag, 25. Februar 2017

rings of saturn - embryonic anomaly

i am still on this tech/prog death metal trip and it seems i will ride this wave some more time, because there is no sign of slowing down. unique leader records from the states provided me with some great bands and their releases as of lately. fallujah, invoking the abstract or the zenith passage to name them. so i checked the label's roster and found a few bands that were nothing for me and one that i struggled with. talk is of the guys that called themselves rings of saturn. i checked them out on the tube. their first album first. what i heard was a badly produced deathcore record with some tech elements and solos that reminded me of some musical themes from video games on my nintendo entertainment system console from back in the day. it didn't really caught my interest.
i didn't stop here though. i listened to "lugal ki en", the band's latest and third full length, as well and listened to a band with matured song writing and a way better production. still they had those weird elements in their music but that only added to their unique sound. that spark lit the fire of my curiosity. the hunt was on and i found some rings of saturn vinyl from a german distro. i bought unique leader records from hhv.de in the past and also found two records of my desired band to be in stock, one of them being the debut record "embryonic anomaly". i thought: "why the hell not?", and added it to the cart. in such cases i love to get the whole discography of a band on vinyl and even though it didn't blow me away at first sight, it still could grow on me, right?
the records arrived superbly packed and in no time and when i dropped the needle on "embryonic anomaly" for the first time, i was surprised to find the album had been remastered for this vinyl release and sounds so much better now. what can i say, the guys got me hooked with their fast tech death assaults, the ever present breakdowns and these freaky melodies and nes solos. a little bit over the top at times but a more than solid debut. astonishing that the band member's age ranged from sixteen to eighteen at time the album was recorded. self-released in 2010, re-released by unique leader in 2011 and pressed to vinyl for the first time in 2014. love this bright semi-translucent orange vinyl called "orange comet". unique leader records. 2014.

Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2017

animals as leaders - the madness of many

the animals are let loose with their fourth full length called "the madness of many". the album was actually  released in november of the bygone year 2016 on cd. the demand for vinyl exploded in the last two years and so the few pressing plants all over the world with machines build in the seventies or earlier can't keep up with usual release deadlines anymore. pre-order processes for vinyl records get more and more lengthy which does not really pose a problem to me, though. in this case it took three more months for the vinyl to be finally shipped.
after two more weeks of waiting for it to arrive i now hold the final product in hands. i listened to the album a few times by now and am still divided, yes even torn as to what to think about "the madness of many". let's make a little pro and con discussion here. a contra and probably the biggest one of them all to me is the lack of heaviness. it's not like i need beefy riffs all the time but a good dosage of them here and there deliver just the right punch to the face to keep the mix crisp. the second con is the choice in tracklist. three calm songs in a row at the end makes me lose interest and gives them the charm of lift background music.
the pro side shines with an increase in rhythm. as i don't know "the joy of motion" from 2014 i can only draw comparisons to the first two albums and the three-piece around tosin abasi lowered the melodic part in favour of more rhythm based arrangements. i think this is pretty cool because the guys can really emphasize their technical skills without getting lost in sheer finger exercises. another pro is the diversity. the band isn't considered a litte prog/tech legend for nothing. "the madness of many" is a big firework of ideas and love for details. all in all the pro side outweighs the con side and i think the album will grow on me in time.
the price for the coolest song title definitely goes to "backpfeifengesicht". it's a german compound noun which means roughly translated knuckle sandwich face. it is more of an mild insult which can be used for friends to tease. funny to see such a strange song title chosen by an american band. the artwork is quite cool too. reminds me a bit of jim carrey leaving his artificial world in the movie "the truman show". the splatter pattern differs a bit from record to record. although i like the heavy splattered record better, i think it is a nice idea to make them look different. whereas i doubt this was actually intended. u.s. pressing ordered from the label out of 480 copies. sumerian records. 2017.

Samstag, 18. Februar 2017

death - spiritual healing

back in business with some classic death vinyl. since this month was pretty low on new records, i was very delighted to stumble upon a coloured version of death's third full length entitled "spiritual healing" released in 1990. it was listed as "spiritual cleaning" and so i found the auction by a coincidence. it was one of that back on black re-pressings from 2007 on nice clear with red splatters vinyl. i missed one of those last year and was now determined to get my greedy hands on that copy.
that mistake in the description didn't hold others from recognising this auction and a few hours before its end the record was already at twenty-five bucks. my maximum bid was thirty-five and in the end i got it for thirty-three. not exactly a steal but ok for me as discogs copies start at thirty-eight excluding shipping. furthermore i was really excited to hear some new tunes on my turntable. i only listened a handful of times to "spiritual healing" but i love it already. one can definitely hear the evolution from "leprosy" to this one here.
the song writing on "spiritual healing" is one level above its predecessor, letting already shine through the technical monster which would become of death. especially the lovely melodic leads on the title track or the final song "killing spree" and all throughout the album could have been from "the sound of perseverance" as well. the lyrics are also remarkable. schuldiner dealt with topics like psychological mechanisms of self-protection (defensive personalities), wars in the name of religion (spiritual healing) or positivity from within one's self (within the mind). quite a change from the gore lyrics and unusal for death metal at the time.
the artwork is the last corner stone of the greatness that is "spiritual healing". ed repka outdone himself with this one. i love the evil and blinded looks on the faces of the believers. the reverend has a funny neck-tie with dollar sign buckle. looking closely the quality of the front and back cover pictures are a bit blurry, especially the death logo on the front. a shame back on black didn't go the extra mile here. the inside of the gatefold has a little band biography with some interesting facts in it to make up for the grainy cover. all in all a cool re-press which i am happy to call my own. 500 copies made, i believe. back on black. 2007.

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2017

animals as leaders - s/t

boy, february is going to be a weak month for new additions to my vinyl collection. we will see if i even get to the five-posts-mark this month. their simply isn't much new stuff to get and since last year i find it more and more difficult to obtain used stuff, mostly because the titles i am still missing are usually rare bits. that builds the bridge to today's topic: rare bits, also known as animals as leader's debut record. since i stumbled upon this band accidentally last year, i wanted more of them. i pre-ordered their new record "the madness of many" and am still waiting on it to be shipped, the third record "the joy of motion" is a pain in the ass to obtain and so i concentrated on the self-titled debut.
i searched all my known sources and was pretty close to buy a coloured first press from a guy from deadformat.net. oh yeah, one of that lovely green/orange merge copies. he agreed with my price but unfortunately was one of that u.s. shipping only dudes. so after he found out that oversea shipping was required he backed off. then there were a few sketchy ebay auctions but they all seemed to be black vinyl and i didn't want to take the pricey gamble. two weeks ago i got a discogs notification for a black friday rsd pressing from 2015.
this version comes in a gatefold sleeve with 3-d image and glasses and on clear red and blue vinyl. the colour-way wasn't my favourite but i learned not to be picky when it's about animals as leaders colour vinyl. good price, i bought it. somewhere along the ordering process the seller told me it was actually two clear blue records asking me if i still wanted it. i checked back. whereas the rsd version is limited to 1.000 copies, this one was out of only 250 copies. the downside was this version comes in a slip sleeve without the 3-d imagery. ah well, as i said, i learned not to be picky and so i took it. musically it is a masterpiece, plain and simple. harmonies, heavy riffing, technical diversity, emotions of every possible sort - all without a single spoken or sung word. 250 copies made exclusive to u.s. independent stores. prosthetic records. 2009/2014

Mittwoch, 1. Februar 2017

kreator - gods of violence

kreator is back with a new record. it took the boys five years to release a follow-up to "phantom antichrist". man. is that five years already? i remember the pre-orders going live at nuclear blast and although i got a copy of "phantom antichrist" only two years ago, it doesn't feel like five years. where did the time go? anyway, now they are back with "gods of violence" and to me, it was worth the wait.
they proceeded the new direction they started with on "phantom". "gods of violence" feels more epic. more melody driven, with broader arrangements and a heavier lean on classic heavy metal and power metal. now that i know the three records from the first decade of the 21st century, i have to say that i like the thrashier records better but no way one can call "gods of violence" a watered down cuddle record. still loads of fast heaviness just expanded with the new elements.
when the pre-orders for the "gods of violence" went up there were numerous vinyl versions on offer. as the bi-coloured version included a black part and i think that this is a bit lame and the box-sets were too pricey, at least for a band which is not one of my absolute favourites, i settled with the splatter edition. i think it matches the chaotic, apocalyptic collage, which serves as the front cover, quite good.
thank god that nuclear blast returned to 180gr vinyl for their releases. hopefully this won't change in the future. the splatter pattern is quite odd. the splatter is very thin, like water colours and the clear has a weird teal tinge. not a bad thing though. the gatefold comes on standard quality with an inner picture of the band that has way more class than the pics from the recent steamhammer re-pressings, black dust sleeves and two lyric sheets. very nice all around. 500 copies made. nuclear blast. 2017.