Tag Archive: Music Reviews


It’s been well over ten years since Primus fans have been treated to a proper release from the oddball trio. 2011 will mark the return of Primus to the studio for their first full length album since 1999’s Antipop, and in-between the previous and now the members of Primus have been busy, especially Les Claypool. He went on to work with various side projects such as Oysterhead(with Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland of The Police) and The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, and released a number of solo albums all along with going on a few tours with Primus. One can really tell Les was enjoying what he was doing, because it really rubs off on Green Naugahyde.

After giving Green Naugahyde a good amount of spins, I find it to be a progression of Les Claypool’s sound than a natural progression of Primus. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for those that enjoy his solo and side project work, but for those that may not have kept up with a few of his other work may find this album slightly jarring. Some may argue that his solo work sounds like Primus, but to me in his other work there was more of an “open” sound, which is very present on this album, meaning that the sounds on the older Primus albums felt mixed together where as here and his solo stuff everything feels more separated(if you can follow my logic here, bravo!!). Everything is in time and each part works well with its counterpart, but there is a “hollow” feel. That open feel worked well with his side and solo projects as it functioned to show off each member very individually, here in Primus I want to hear Primus the band, not really the individual members. So on that end, I was left a little dry.

All the members perform excellently, Les doing what he’s know for and being a madman on the bass with his unique playing and vocal style, Larry LaLonde gives quirky guitar lines and blues licks, mood setting sounds, and reggae touched rhythms, and Jay Lane, well, he steals the show.

Before I get into commending Jay Lane, a couple lines of background. Jay Lane was an original member of Primus at the start of their inception in the 80’s. He left the band right before they went to record their first studio album but remained a good friend and collaborator with Les Claypool participating as a core member of Sausage and many of Les’ recent solo projects. When Tim Alexander left the band Jay stepped in to fill his shoes immediately. The relationship between a drummer and bassist is almost as tightly knit as a husband and wife, of all the members in a band those two are the ones really working off each other, and when you have such a talented and eclectic bassist such as Claypool, you need a drummer who can compliment him perfectly. Jay Lane compliments Les to a T, and to a degree steals the show from one of the main draws of listening to Primus(Les). He pulls off tweaked out jazz beats and tons of oddball patterns that you may never hear outside of a Claypool/Primus record. I found myself tailing off and really getting focused on some of the really cool beats he does, which in part would never have worked with any other bassist.

The songs on this record are kind of hit or miss. There’s some really great tracks and a handful that were just ok(about 75% great tracks). While some of the great songs sound like they belong right at home on a Primus record such as “Last Salmon Man”, “Jilly’s on Smack”, “Lee Van Cleef”(my personal favorite off the album) and “Eyes of a Squirrel”, some feel like they were to belong on a Claypool solo album such as “Eternal Consumption Engine”, “Hennepin Crawler”and “Tragedy’s A’ Comin”. A couple of songs just seem to be there as filler and really don’t add much to the record as a whole and come off as slightly boring to listen to(“Green Ranger” “Extinction Burst”). But in the end, the great really outweighs the bad.

My other main gripe with this album is lyrical. Often Les has been very topical in Primus and with his music, but almost always tackled the subjects with his quirky wit. Here his lyrics are oft at times less than wit-full and while he has written some dark and depressing lyrics before, here they come off as just sad. For example on “Eternal Consumption Engine” the lyrics come of as a straight up bash of American lifestyle and while the song has a catchy beat and cool music, the witless lyrics really drag the song down(and personally I lean towards his view on the subject, so it’s not a matter of topical disagreement). And there’s “Jilly’s on Smack”, again some great catchy music, but his lyrics, instead of coming off as a “Zappa-styled” story come off as just sad as he sings about a heroin addict that’s “not coming back for the holidays”, and they kind of hurt the song as a whole(which does have a really awesome jam about halfway through which saves it). On the flip-side he does also write some great lyrics on Green Naugahyde often too, as heard in “Eyes of the Squirrel”, “Moron T.V”(more on T.V…see what he did there, lol), and “Lee Van Cleef”(my personal favorite track on the album).

There’s enough great stuff on Green Naugahyde to warrant me to recommend checking it out, especially if you’re a long time Primus/Claypool fan such as myself or want to hear some superb drumming. I wouldn’t say that this is the best collection of songs that Primus has put out, but it does deserve a place among every fans collection. For all it’s short comings it’s still a fun listen, even if you will find yourself skipping a track here and there. Let’s hope that Primus’ next venture into the studio will be more of a Primus affair instead leaning toward a Claypool affair. PRIMUS SUCKS!!!!

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Take a look at the picture of the album cover artwork over to the left there. That picture pretty much sums up what to expect from Marrow of the Spirit by Agalloch. It’s dark, wintery, foreboding, and overflowing with a viscous atmosphere. As you immerse yourself in this album you will take a harrowing walk through the haunted forest that Agalloch has grown and when you finally escape its chilling grasp it will stick with you for a long time to come as you constantly cough up chunks of that viscid air that you were inhaling throughout your journey, and it couldn’t be a more rewarding experience.

The style of music Agalloch creates is a strange beast to describe. It’s soul is rooted from black metal(raspy vocals, tremolo picking) but past where their roots are their sounds branches out into something rather unique as they incorporate various vocal and instrument styles and textured song building akin to prog and post-metal bands(think Isis). All the songs on Marrow of the Spirit have a very earthen sound to them and the lo-fi production really hammers home the organic feel to this record. That organic, earthen feel is what really makes this band, and record, something special.

As you start up the album the sounds of a babbling brook come into focus along the chirping of various birds in the trees which then gets layered by the somber music of a cello brandishing its lost soul. Then the album just bursts and smacks you into confusion with the heaviest and fastest section on the whole record and then evens itself out and gives you an opportunity to regain your focus and from there they let you loose to get lost and explore the dusky winter forest and its various moods and textures. Throughout your journey you will stumble upon a darkened lake that is known as “Black Lake Niðstång”, and here you will, at the same time, meet true beauty and terror and you will not be able to pull yourself away from its dark and beguiling sorcery. Some time after this encounter you will find you way out of the entrapment of the woods, but not unscathed, and the haunted woods will beckon for you to return to discover all they have to show you, and you will oblige…

Like spring and summer flaunts its charm, so does autumn and winter. The color of the fall leaves, the taste of the fresh, cool air, the way snow reflects the moonlight to brighten you path, the proud yet barren trees, those seasons have their own captivating spells and Agalloch really knows how to capture them musically like none other that I’ve heard. While they may focus on the dark sides of the spectrum the light often shines through and makes Marrow of the Spirit a truly breathtaking spectacle to behold.

And bonus points for the artistic designer on the album packaging. There is some wonderful photography and I loved how the band logo and song titles were placed on with the raised clear ink(can’t be seen in any scan, but it’s there and it’s pretty damn cool). I hope this trend of excellent album packaging continues.

If one wants a gimmick to work there are really only two ways to go about making it succeed. The first is to take the Amon Amarth approach and be completely serious about it, the other, and more difficult way is to do the complete opposite of that and not take the gimmick entirely serious and just have fun with it. Scottish Pirate Metal outfit Alestorm‘s latest album there is a song about pirates traveling back into time to battle vikings and steal their gold and a song called “Midget Saw”. I think it’s pretty obvious where these metal buccaneers hoisted their anchor. Continue reading

These days it seems that New Jersey is nothing but a place filled with crooked politicians, overly tanned douchebags, and high taxes. While all that may be true, there is also great things coming out of my place of origin from delicious submarine sandwiches to the real Jersey Shore areas such as Pt. Pleasant, Cape May, and Asbury Park. One of the best things that is coming out of NJ right now is music, namely progressive metal powerhouse Symphony X. Having just released their 8th full length studio album Iconoclast, these Jersey boys have struck gold yet again and delivered a beast of an album. Continue reading

Now this is how you go out in style. Rhapsody(of Fire)‘s new release From Chaos to Eternity brings the Dark Secret Saga to a close and also marks the their exit from the fantasy world of Rhapsody(there will still be tours and concerts under the Rhapsody moniker, and maybe other Rhapsody albums, but none taking place in the world they have created). It will be sad to see the Rhapsody saga come to a close, but they couldn’t have ended it on a higher note. Over the years Rhapsody have captivated their listeners with their unique brand of neo-classical power metal and their world of dragons, elves, demons, angels, wizards, and dark geometry. Continue reading

Guitar virtuoso Buckethead’s musical style is just as eclectic as his fashion sense.  He creates avant-garde compositions deeply rooted in funk, rock, metal, jazz, and pop.  In 2005 he teamed up with a full cast of musicians and songwriters and created the album Enter the Chicken.  To say this album is diverse is an understatement.  He explores musical styles ranging from trance to hip-hop to metal to full on shredding.  Everyone who listens to this album is sure to find a song or three that they will enjoy. Continue reading

Every once in a while an album comes along blows the top off the music world.  One of those rare occurrences would be Ghost Reveries by Opeth.  Not only does this album brutalize the listeners auditory sense with its harsh metal passages, it also haunts the listeners soul with its harrowing, elegant, and refined mellow and acoustic passages.  It’s not just an album that relies on the gimmick of changing pace up and down, softer and faster to show a contrast, every movement within this record has its place and every change, sound, word, growl, beat, and note feels perfectly placed, natural, and organic.  Every single sound fits perfectly into place and every sound works with its surrounding dins and tones faultlessly and in the end creates a listening experience like no other. Continue reading

When I think of film score composers three names immediately pop into my head, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, and Danny Elfman.  What is it about these three composers that strike me so hard?  It’s the fact that beyond adding great mood and atmosphere to a film their works can be taken away from their respective films and be highly enjoyable on their own. Continue reading

At the time of writing this post my music collection now consists of 1098 albums going across 416 different bands and artists and if I were to play it all the way through it would run non stop for 40 days, 11 hours, and 46 minutes.  Within my collection of music there is many styles and genres of music mainly grounded in metal, rock, classic rock, and alternative music with many oddities strewn throughout.

Given I have put a lot of time, passion, and money amassing a music collection of this size I would like to get the most out of it so what I am going to start doing is 3-4 times a week let my music program select an album at random.  I will give the selected album a good listen and then let you all know my thoughts on it.  For me this will allow me to listen to some classics that I may not have heard in a long time and also allow me to rediscover some albums I have neglected.  I hope that you all enjoy this little project and if you have any album requests let me know, if it’s in my library, I will happily review it.

Peace, Love, and Metal

Hitting a huge milestone in their career Amorphis have just entered the double digits by releasing their tenth studio album, The Beginning of Times, an honor that not many metal bands get to experience. Over their illustrious career the vast majority of those albums have been rock solid, top notch listens, especially with their last trio of albums(Eclipse, Silent Waters, and the mind blowing Skyforger). The Beginning of Times shows experimenting with their sound and style once again while keeping the integrity of their ever evolving musical style and continuing with the theme of using characters from the Finnish epic the Kalevala for lyrical inspiration. This time around they add a heavy 70’s prog rock vibe to their music with great influence from bands such as Yes and Jethro Tull. Continue reading