Sunday, 30 April 2017

Body Count "Bloodlust" (2017)

It felt like such a huge privileged to catch Body Count a couple years back at Download Festival. As their performance came to a close the legendary Ice-T and his Hardcore Metal group stood on stage with the realization this could well be there last live show in the UK. I took this as a sending off, that in his 50s maybe this was it for the group, so it came as a huge shock to hear they had released their sixth record, one that could easily be considered among their best. Very relevant, politically charged with nothing held back, "Bloodlust" is a raw and blunt record with a lot of bite.

Ive always loved how the group found a connection between Metal and themes of street violence, most commonly heard in Hip Hop music. Bringing his life experiences and knowledge of the streets, Ice-T has no remorse performing from the perspective of societies most brutal and unforgiving characters, taking it to vivid extremes as he walks us through the thoughts and actions of a character like Jeffery Dahmer on "Here I Go Again", the track dressed with torturous screams in the chorus to bring the atmosphere to life. His unfiltered views might be a lot to handle but on "No Live Matter" I think he nails the mark, making a bold statement that racism is a distraction in a system that targets its most vulnerable, often pitting them against one another. There is a lot of violence, crime and bluntness in his words that may not be for everyone, his performance though as commanding and ripe with anger as ever.

On the instrumental side we have a crisp, rounded production with lean guitars capable of delivering the brutality without excessive distortion. The performance and instrumentation is tight, a hybrid of Groove, Thrash and Hardcore that's capable of stretching itself in several directions for pummeling aggression on "Walk With Me..." and slower, moody tracks like "God, Please Believe Me". It makes for a solid record that offers a lot as it goes through its motions. Its biggest strength in my mind are the Grooves, its loaded with tight, momentous riffs that rock heavy in their metallic tone from start to end, with a fair amount of spicy lead guitar thrown in to.

Its not a record that dazzles but Body Count are in-sync and on point here, giving us a helping dose of exactly what we want. If it has a weak point, the middle of the records cover of "Raining Blood" doesn't quite suit Ice-T's vocal tone, however the instrumental is rock solid. It starts of with a statement of the band hailing their big influences, Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies & Slayer, before diving into the legendary song. Its been a very enjoyable few days binging this record! No doubt its one ill enjoy again and again.

Favorite Tracks: No Lives Matter, Bloodlust, Black Hoodie
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Joey Badass "All-Amerikkkan Bada$$" (2017)

One of Hip Hop's young up and coming rappers is politically charged, Brooklyn based, Joey Bada$$ who made his name with a 90s inspired debut "B4.Da.$$" at the age of 19 back in 2015. Now a little older he putts a firm foot forward aiming to make a bold, relevant fiery statement while modernizing his sound, distancing himself from a strictly retroactive approach. A solid production and a daring album title, with the tipple k, sets the stage for a comparable likeness to America's most wanted, Ice Cube. The question is does it live up to ambitious persona?

In short, it does, much like a young O'Shea Jackson, Joey gets real and radical in a wild way, inciting acts of genocide by the American government against his color, race and his people. As a listener with an older head, it is easy to sympathize and understand his perspective however the complex reality of influences from social, economic and political systems feel glossed over in the raps as Joey pursues a much more simplistic and radical world view, with a lot of thoughtful commentary too. He also provides little answers or solutions and so the record takes on a rather nihilistic and self defeatist vibe which I think speaks volumes as a reflection held on the attitudes and feelings of the most unheard and underrepresented in society.

Diving into the lyrics is a journey of its own but Joey's flow is dynamic and varied enough to carry the record through its motions, switching gears from easy going spoken raps to hyped, pacey delivery with some dialectic inflections too. Taking a step back from the words, the record starts with a rather summery, fun group of tracks, promoting positive vibes with very welcoming hooks and choruses despite the heavy topics. It culminates with the uplifting "Devastated" a banging Trap influenced poppy track with catchy lyrics and a lick of auto-tune which sounds great being used subtly.

The second half takes on a leaner, slick, dark and diverse sound as Joey brings in guests on each the tracks with hard hitting instrumentals and the weight of heightened aggression. Joey takes the last track on his own, delivering an alarmingly paranoid and despairing message to end the record on a very vivid note. For all its components the record doesn't quiet solidify in my mind, the topics often misaligned with the instrumental vibes despite both being quality. Its a record that has a very loud and bold statement when the instrumentals are moody and charming. Thinking back to "Amerikkka's Most Wanted", the anger, ferocity and energy of Cube's raps where right in-sync with the bomb squads explosive beats.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 24 April 2017

Justice "Woman" (2016)

Drenched in the glossy ooze of indulgent synths, illuminated by soft swooning vocals, "Woman" takes us on a retroactive trip through the Disco dance floors of old with an infatuated re-imagining of that era. French House duo Justice probably can't get by without mention of another French House duo, Daft Punk, who's influence can be heard boldly on the noisy crunching club tune "Chorus". Daft Punk are known for their inspirational roots in Disco & Funk music but in their long absences this pair fill the void with no imitation craft. Similar in stature and matching in talent, Justice go down the smooth and swooning path with a bright and colorful set of instruments, electronics and strings  cruising over tight, rock steady softly thudding Dance beats.

With a backbone for the dance floor these songs play out with events, transformations and lucid progressions that may pass you by given their seamless chemistry. With a keen ear for strings many repetitions are brought to life with cinematic strings rumbling in with melodies like a lead guitar. The many layers of instruments interchange their focus to convert what could be simplistic, repetitive dance tunes into woven tapestries of symphonic dance night groove as one instrument takes the lead over from the next and the music continuously unravels before us in electronic wonder. The album has strength in variety and consistency tone, it flows like a river while taking us many places, some with hints of astral vibes as if gazing to the stars above.

 With little to flaw one can only marvel at the balance of elements here. Bright, modern production breaths life into old sounds and ideas. Its romantic, elegant and nostalgic, the duos singing, velvety high pitched harmonies, are sublime. On the song "Randy" they sound very much like the vocal style of Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. This record grew slow on me, which I find rather strange in reflection. With each familiarity the bigger picture became clearer I guess and I get the sense it will continue to grow on me with time. "Woman" is a very sturdy record, I can only sing its praises.

Favorite Tracks: Chorus, Randy, Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 21 April 2017

Kendrick Lamar "DAMN." (2017)

In his creative prime and swiftly moving forward from his instant classic "To Pimp A Butterfly", Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar hits us with a perhaps unexpected stark visual style, a picture of the rapper with a simple font in that brightest red shade. No conceptual art, polish or touch ups, just the the word damn. It would stick with me as the record opens, gospel singing and sorrowful string sections lead us to a sudden twist as a man is shot trying to help an elderly lady find her glasses. That and Kendrick going of on one at the end of "DNA.", the bass drops and Kendrick raps like fire, it had me literally thinking "Damnnnn". They would not be the only impressive moments of surprise and astonishment. There is a lot of creativity to be found here.

With the bar set so high, Kendrick does a fantastic job of moving forward, forging a new set of instrumentals to conjure a different tone. Far more electronics and lots of vocal manipulation fill the background of tracks between tight drum patterns and slamming sub kicking bass lines. Occasionally organic instrumentation comes into the fold however everything feels tinged in manipulation, acoustic guitars soaked in flange or beats cut together with reversed samples which seem to increase with frequency as the record draws on. "FEAR." has him rapping in reverse and the closing track "DUCKWORTH." reverses many vocal parts and beats like a tape playing backwards and speeding up. It ends up ending the record where it started off.

Instrumentally there's a lot of hands on deck, it plays through well but can sway in different directions, from dark futurist bangers, to old school beats like "FEAR." and a couple of pop tunes too. Although it offer a fair amount in places, its Kendrick who lights the tracks up with his flow and sharp lyricism, playing both direct conventional narratives and more artistic flavors too even throwing in a tribute to Juvenile's classic "Ha" where each sentence paints a scenario and asks a question with the simplistic ha? statement. He comes up with his own statement led rap with the iconic "I beat your ass" rap, painting a rather sorrowful tale of abuse in a broken home. Lyrically hes got relevant and smart introspections on his fame, role in his community, self perception and where things are heading and usually they unravel best in the faster of his flows.

 There is much food for thought but not everything is about thought provoking, which leads me to the weaker side of the record. For the moments he strikes gold there are equally some rather tame or uninteresting tracks, for me "HUMBLE." was a stinker. A couple of pop tracks, "LOVE." & "LOYALTY." don't raise the eyebrow much either. Its all preference and taste but I feel that Kendrick has put a firm foot forward and compartmentalized his current situation it a set of songs covering it from different angles. Which in turn means not everything follows the same path or relevance.

"XXX." is possibly my favorite track, moving through three phases we get very contrasting flows and instrumentals that gel together almsot seamlessly despite going from a raunchy cranking beat laden with police sirens to a smooth Jazz Hop instrumental with vocals from Bono. Its the shining example of what this album might have been but with its different aspects its as if the spell cast on the opening tracks gets chopped and churned on its way to the finishing line, spewing out many amazing moments between some relative mediocrity. I cast my mind back to how it took me sometime to really get into "To Pimp A Butterfly". I hope I'm late to the game again but right now it feels like Kendricks genius shines bright while a few clouds pass by.

Favorite Tracks: DNA., FEEL., PRIDE., XXX., FEAR., DUCKWORTH.
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Milk Teeth "Sad Sack" (2015)

Fresh faced and full of youth, Bristol based rockers Milk Teeth capture that early 90s Grunge scene energy with a refreshing measure of emotional substance and riveting aesthetics that you can sink your teeth into, excuse the pun. Released nine months earlier than their debut full length "Vile Child", Milk Teeth's second EP is probably my favorite so far. With just half the tracks we get six killer songs of distortion driven angsty introspection that doesn't let up with any solely acoustic songs. As a short record it flows perfectly and much that's to be said about the band and their aesthetic Ive said before. Id be repeating myself, as any song on "Sad Sack" could be switched seamlessly into "Vile Child".

Each song has something that makes it tick, gives it an edge. The record winds down with the atmospheric, moody "Trampoline" which indulges itself in Ethereal reverb soaked acoustic chords before exploding into an extravagant riff with complimenting lead guitar amplifying the feels. "Vitamins" kicks it off with lively, pumping drums beats and feedback driven guitar noise between the crunchy riffs. "Melon Blade" tweaks the effects pedals to give the guitars an insular tonal sound that illuminates between the "crooked spoon" lyrics. Because the band tweak their distortions track to track, loading each one with all sorts of subtle, sometimes obvious noises and manipulations of sound, the songs become rampant with energy and there character is magnified as the riffs are brought to life with more than just a chord arrangement. That's there charm and on this EP its loaded from start to end.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Vektor "Outer Isolation" (2011)

American celestial thrashers Vektor really impressed me with their third full length "Terminal Redux" last year. Dense, tight, technical Thrash Metal with a fulfilling sense theme left a lasting impression. Turning the clocks back five years to their sophomore release its as if a day never passed between the two. "Outer Isolation" is another hair bending feet of intricate guitar thrashing glossed in its tonal aesthetic and dazzled with the emergence of timely melodies in between the rhythm guitar onslaught.

The band members are clearly exceptionally talented. Flashy guitar solos loaded with sweep picking, tapping and hammering are an obvious display but even the rhythm guitar makes its mark with lightning paced riffs, blistering tremolo picking and plenty of finger tangling shifts and shuffles turning straightforward sections into a constant delight of perplexity. For all its intense dexterity they make every riff count, not a dull moment or over extended idea here, they write fantastic music.

Behind the roaring guitars the drummer holds down a tight tempo, unfortunately a lot of his creativity is out shun by the dizzying guitars. The same could be said of the bass guitar which has a few moments to peak its head out from beneath, its quite audible with a bright tone but generally does a lot of mirroring. The vocals here are far more tolerable, probably because I am now accustom to them. David DiSanto has a shrill, high pitched scream with a texture I'm not to fond of. I would prefer a different voice but one can still appreciate what he bring to their sound.

The song structure and progression here is as impressive as the whirling array of notes flying your way. Every track unfolds with a continual sense of direction and adventure, they could go anywhere and as you get to know the songs all the pieces fall into place. "Outer Isolation" is a shade better than its successor with impressive melodic sections, a wild ride of ever shifting metallic onslaught and mesmerizing guitar work. Its not quite my cup of tea though, the vocals and tonal aesthetic not quite to my taste but I can certainly appreciate how someone might see this record as a Thrash masterpiece.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 14 April 2017

Mastodon "Emperor Of Sand" (2017)

The behemoths of Sludge Metal, Mastodon, have become quite the reputable group over time, climbing festival bills and delivering record after record. I myself have barely checked in with the band since their classic breakthrough record "Leviathan" and I can't help but feel I'm enjoying this record more than the average fan would. Kicking off with "Sultan's Curse" the opening riff sounds as natural as Mastodon get, immediately identifiable with Brent Hinds verile voice. It doesn't take long for the record to set its desert sweltering, sun soaked tone. The warm undercurrent of broad baselines swell, heated under colorful, tonal guitar distortions that rock and groove, swaying back and forth in there own narrative. A constant switch and swerving of melodic inflections and pumping grooves come to light when the vocals illuminate there direction with earthly, raw yet harmonic singing that's got a rough authenticity and genuine softness too. Its a chemistry that works without force.

The record is always lively, not a dull moments passes as each rolling riff delivers melody and hardness. From crunchy grooves to expansive chords, guitar solos and interludes the adventure is sweet for all fifty minutes. On some tracks the whirling of soft organs can be heard in the backdrop, like mirages in the baking sun. If not for these its mostly a straight forward setting of guitar, drums and vocals, the themes and ideas emerge from the song writing but on "Clandestiny" the song pulls back to a Progressive Rock setting and busts in with vibrant electronic leads, very reminiscent of the tone used by "Contact". A robotic voice mutters as it comes to a climax and for a moment the record is transformed to a different setting. It works but is a rather isolated event in a very consistent record.

It's criminal that I haven't given more time to this band, I believe there strengths as song writers holds this record up however It doesn't have quite the immediate intensity of songs like "Blood And Thunder". This newest record "Emperor Of Sand" is more of a theme, a place, setting, a storey that the band really own. Listening to it alone makes the room temperature a little hotter. I really do like this temperate sun soaked breed of Metal they have put together here.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Steambreather, Roots Remain, Word To The Wise, Jaguar God

Thursday, 13 April 2017

DMX "It's Dark And Hell Is Hot" (1998)

After starting with DMX's sophomore record "Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood" we rewind to his debut released earlier the same year. Its widely regarded as his best, a commonality for Hip Hop debuts. Hearing X's wild and ferocious flow for the first time would certainly give listeners a strong attachment to this record but Its the records production and beats that give it more juice, not to mention the banging "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" kicking off the album and X's debut track "Get At Me Dog" beefing up the track listing with two of his best. They both showcase two sides to this record caught between the early and late 90s sounds, some sampling oriented beats and a lot of programmed instrumentals.

The album really comes into its own with "X Is Coming", a dark and harrowing song where X says some very sketchy things in the name of blowing up his persona and extremities of his rap style. It introduces slick drum arrangements with mafioso string sections, creating an air of powerful, menacing criminality. The following "Damien" introduces a character who features on the following record. Its a narration between X and his thoughts, or better yet the evil voice in his mind that leads him to bad places and situations. He gives Damien his own voice, a hazel, high pitched inflection that has the tone for malicious intent and we follow the two talking back and forth in conversation.

Between his vibrant WHAT!s, alarming barks and menacing growls, X's flow is energetic and easy to follow. The words roll effortless and come at a hyped pace. He's more impressive with the energy he gives and the knack for fiery hooks than his lyrical word play. A notable trait is to change the tone of his voice when shifting back and forth in the narrative. His story telling is fluid, blunt and raw, sound effects of screams and sirens painting a hellish criminal vision on the cinematic "ATF".

Hes no wordsmith but its the unleashed, unfiltered character that really sells it and with the nefarious instrumentals the elements feel in the right place on this record although its production is a little mixed in the beginning. There's a cover of Phill Collins' "In The Air Tonight" which is a very memorable re-imagining of Phill's timeless hit. As great as this record is, I do feel like X could deliver a little more, hes got such a great style but his lyrics fall flat when unfocused and drifting into foul mouthed, violent braggadocio. Either way I loved this record, I'm sure it will grow on me more with time.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Songs: Ruff Ryders' Anthem, Get At Me Dog, X Is Coming, "Damien", Stop Being Greedy, ATF, For My Dogs, I Can Feel It

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Can't Swim "Fail You Again" (2017)

 Picking something a little out of my field, New Jersey based Can't Swim's debut record has been just the right measure of styles for me to get behind. Alternative, Punk Rock with tinges of Emo, Grunge and Hardcore, the band is steadily rooted in scenes I'm less accustomed with yet its no stretch to understand this is great songwriting. Intelligent and expressive the band convey their message with no reliance in cheap tricks or tropes. Its an open, honest book on relationships and life's challenges that comes with a sense of working it out through the music, emotional, colorful and ripe.

The vocalist makes quite a mark with a strong, sung shout that strains and stretches, often with conviction and ferocity. At times he really pushes his range, putting an odd unhinged, off note charm into the mix that may turn off some. Its a great voice for a surprisingly rich and absorbing aesthetic, married to thoughtful compositions that do their part to flesh out what could be simplistic. The result, indulging songs, easy to get to grips with that have a lot of depth. On the surface one can appreciate the drummers creativity, shaking up the patterns on each repetition and steering the momentum of the music with fantastic fills and rhythms.

Digging deeper, the guitars flex between gentle and aggressive in easy harmony, layered with tones and coming at different measures of intensity, the variations from song to song keep the glass full from start to end. Edged out distortions and overdriven acoustics push back and forth as these songs rise and calm, forever unfolding. The band can go from big grooves to soft swooning melodics effortlessly, Its great song writing and they can load in great sing along hooks that give them a smart pop edge in some regards. I couldn't pick a favorite track, its as if no songs have a weak spot, not often you get a record that delivers from start to end, the constant shifting in tone really wets the water for the river to flow, creative, fun, meaningful record executed brilliantly.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 7 April 2017

Palms "Palms" (2013)

Labeled as a "super group", Palms consists of three members from the Post-Metal band Isis and vocalist Chino Moreno of Deftones. The two forces come together effortlessly as the group indulge in atmospheric, awe-inspiring Post-Metal with electronics and Ethereal styles, graced by the man who's voice has given such distinction to his main ambition. Its the only release from the group so far, a six track record that I really enjoyed a few years back and given their silence since I decided to dig it out for another listen.

Palms is effortless, easy on the ears, gorgeous and serine. Gleaming guitar tones echo out through lofty luscious reverbs, as if soaking in the gaze of the sun. In true Post-Metal style the band transition between golden acoustic tones and hazy, mesmerizing distortions as the rattle of chords drift and glide over one another in grandiose splendor. Much like the records cover there is the bright warmth of sunlight in the bands sound, yet the skies are overcast and this is very reflective of the sound which feels as if something beautiful is burgeoning from a smothering, gloomy setting.

Chino's charming voice focus's on his softer side, often with subtle light echos transforming the dimension of his voice, with it he fits sweetly into the soundscape. Low, deep thudding baselines and tight shuffling drum patterns mold the backbone for the guitars to cast their light across the stage. Its scenic music, warm moments pass us by, beautiful emotions resolve with a streak of sorrow, illuminating itself with the craft and vision the band members give to it.

A couple of tracks feel as if they could slip into a Deftones record, not to any fault. The electronics bring drum kits and special effects into the fold but only a keen ear would notice when they crop up as the bands sound feels so effortless and organic were acoustic and electronic forces are both at work in different measures. There's nothing to falter here and I haven't grown old of it over the years, its got its Ethereal moments too, reminding me of favorite records by groups like Autumn's Grey Solace, Lycia and Love Spirals Downwards. It certainly fits a similar mood however with a bolder metallic overtone.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

DMX "Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood" (1998)

I don't know why DMX never sparked my interest before. From 98 to 03 the New York rapper killed it with a string of five records debuting at number one, making him the fifth highest selling Hip Hop artist of all time, of course commercial success doesn't equate to taste. Once again it was youtube suggesting a performance of his at Woodstock 99 that drew me in. Its one of my favorite festivals and I had no idea he performed there. I was blown away by his stage persona, owning every word, flowing and spitting with that wild hype he has on the track. It might be one of the best rap performance out there, rocking a crowd of four hundred thousand without a backup crew, just him and his DJ. I wanted to start at the beginning but a while into this record I realized it was the second of the two he dropped in 98.

"Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood" is a typical industry record of the era, a loaded compact disc with tracks and skits filling the seventy minutes without an over arching concept. Swizz Beats, who made his name with DMX, handles a lot of the production with tight programed percussion and MIDI instruments arrangements. They leave a lot of space for X to flow, just a couple of additional strings and keys looping short melodies over tight thumping bass lines and grooving drum patterns. Its not to crowded, yet packs a punch in the better tracks.

DMX strikes me as a logic step forward from the likes of Tupac in terms of mainstream appeal. He has that crisp, fluid, coherent delivery making for easy following. His tone a little deeper, lyrics nastier and of course brimming with anger and energy that spills out in his legendary wild barks and "what?" background shouts. He even growls like a dog too, its a remarkable, confident burst of energy that sparks up the tracks. With a distinct style X doesn't drop the smartest set of rhymes but with a reasonable vocabulary he has the craft to story tell and walk you through his thoughts, an internal dialog or scenario like a pro. His style elevates on tracks like "Slipin'" where gang life and violence take a backseat to emotions and introspection.

There's a fair bit of mediocrity in the track listing, a few features mix things up, The LOX sound great on these tracks and Marilyn Manson gives a chorus to the dark and gloomy "The Omen". On occasions things gel better and produce banging tracks like the opening "Bring Your Whole Crew", thanks to a wicked hook from "P. Killer". X's personality is loud, pronounced and in your face, he spits like fire and in fairness its a big draw for this record which he carry's a long way. I don't expect this one to hold up as I get used to his discography however it has been a really fun introduction to one of Hip Hops biggest names.

Favorite Tracks: Bring Your Whole Crew, Keep Your Shit The Hardest, Slippin', Flesh Of My Flesh Blood Of My Blood
Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Milk Teeth "Vile Child" (2016)

Thanks to Youtubes wonderful auto play feature, my recent discovery of revivalist Puppy led me to another group, English four piece Grunge rockers, Milk Teeth. In similar spirit they capture the essence of that 90s sound, once again without stepping on toes. Most comparatively Nirvana may spring to mind in their more energetic songs but they stand on their own two feet with twelve tracks of angsty, emotional, introspective music that drifts between anger and melancholy with the craft for direct, moshable rock out songs and breaks for atmospheric numbers too.

The groups guitar tones are dynamite, a very inviting fuzz of overdrive with a tinge from various effects pedals, filling the airwaves with the warm buzzing of noisy power chord shredding. With slightly dissonant leads they cascade through wall of sound in the moments they break away with moving harmonizations. American singer Blomfield, presumably by accent, captures that youthful young adult mind with lyrics revolving around the internal struggle of thought and the need to fill the hole in ones head, her voice, soft, sincere and with a bite when the agression kicks in. On a couple other songs another band member takes up vocal duty with strained, thin shouts and screams, off note and seemingly awful they somehow work wonders with the energy of the music and despite there rough, abrasiveness are quite the spark where they turn up. Its a raw honesty that makes it work.

Kicking off with their most upfront songs the later half of the record tones down the aggression for more acoustic chords a Post-Rock like sections, giving ear to the raw chunky bass guitar rattling away below. The drums too are lively and energetic but didn't do too much to grab my attention, a sign to me they are doing just the right thing in each moment. The four a fantastic chemistry together, their aesthetic compensates simplistic song structures and the guitar leads continually climax the songs when they breakaway. I can't get enough of this record right now. Luckily they have a couple of EPs in the back catalog.

Favorite Songs: Brickwork, Burger Drop, Brain Food, Cut You Up
Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Napalm Death "The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code" (2005)

It not the first time we've talked the legendary Napalm Death and it wont be the last! Hoping around through their discography we arrive at the bands eleventh full length and the first of three successive records that have received significant critical praise. Somehow the band continuously reinvent their frenetic, invigorating sound over and over and without loosing the intensity or excitement these octane riff fests bring. "The Code" is a moment where their sound comes full circle, feeling closer to their original Grindcore chaos without the tropes of Groove and Death Metal becoming a stylistic determinant in the wake of guitar led violence.

Riff eccentric and structured as such the album rolls through the motions in a constant state of alert as riff after riff perpetuates a dizzying unleashing of ferocious anger directed at the path of the listener. Its on a war path and your standing in the way, the drums bearing down around the rhythm guitar with a consistent battering on the snare and blast beats thunder between high tempo grooves. There is little break from this formula, a very occasional tempo slowing and winding down of the thrashing lets you come to the surface for the occasional gasp of air.

Vocalist Barney is right on the mark with the voice of fury and frustration, leading the charge with savage barks, shouts and growls. On the records opener he utilizes a memorable bellowing ewww scream that gets me every time, wish he'd pulled that card a few more time as it has a true distinction to it. A couple of guest vocals add some spice, Jello Biaffra of Dead Kennedys and Lard makes a decorative feature but its Barney who takes the work load.

The records mix and tone is fantastic, getting an apatite amount of clarity from each of the instruments, finding the right spaces for them to collide, keeping the overwhelming wall of sound in just the right measure for it to retain its edge. Like most Napalm records it comes down to another riff fest of sliding power chords and evil tremolo picking. In this case all the stars align for perhaps their most consistent if not a personal favorite. The closer "Morale" showcases the bands musical talent with a slower, atmospheric track and Barney's archaic chanting leaves one wondering why they don't do more of this, they can certainly pull of more than the deathgrind they have become masters of.

Favorite Tracks: Silence Is Deafening, The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code, The Great And The Good, Pledge Yourself To You, Losers, Morale
Rating: 8/10