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Metal Is In Bloom: Summer Columnus Metallicus
Toby Cook , July 8th, 2010 09:21

Someone may have pissed on his leg, but nothing can stop Toby Cook writing about metal. Here, he gives his opinions on releases from the Deftones and UFOMammut amongst others

Summer. For anyone with even so much as a passing interest in music, it can only mean one thing: Rain and festivals... well, two things! Or: rain, festivals, alcohol poisoning (etc, etc, hardy-bloody-ha-ha!).

Nauseatingly overused Monty Python references aside, for many of us the start of summer, and the festivals it brings with it, is one of few causes for genuine excitement and anticipation in an otherwise insipidly predictable year. And so it should be. This year already, Donington's Download festival kicked off the season in truly triumphant fashion (ignoring the torrential rain on the Sunday, and the moron who though he'd piss on me during Rage Against The Machine) with coffin dodgers AC/DC and Aerosmith proving more than tough acts to follow for Sonisphere's chargers and Glasto headliners Gorillaz. Not to mention the multitude of acts appearing at Q-friendly festivals happening around the country for people who drive Vectra's and shop at Next.

Of course, most years there is not a World Cup drowning out the festival static. Now, whilst I've attempted to follow it as attentively as possible, I can't be the only one who gets fucked off that if I so much as buy a pint of milk, frozen chicken or prophylactic, it's got bloody footballs on it! In fact, thus far the only Google search I've found that doesn't mention football is 'Zombie porn'.

So, here's to summer; mud, music, piss and the sexually active un-dead!

Deftones Diamond Eyes Reprise

For all of us, I'm sure, there are certain albums that epitomise summer; albums rarely aired throughout the year save for a few brief weeks around mid July. For me at the top of that pile is the Deftones '95 debut LP, Adrenaline, an album that, despite its unquestionable heaviness, sparks nothing more than the desire to sit on your porch enjoying the sunshine with a joint the size of a table leg.

In the 15 years since Adrenaline, the Deftones have never quite captured that same formula and despite the majority of their later output deftly distancing them from the feculence of the nu-metal scene of which they were never truly a part of (notably the astonishing White Pony), it has to be said that 2006's Saturday Night Wrist was largely a pile of shit. Given this, the aborted Eros sessions, bassist Chi Cheng's car accident and subsequent coma (which the band discuss at length here) , hopes were not high for Diamond Eyes. Indeed, when I first heard the album in its entirety at a play-back back in April, I was decidedly non-plussed by the whole affair (I and several other scribes in attendance even lost track of what track number we were listening to at one point!).

What changed, I don't know, but repeated listens reveal Diamond Eyes to be not-too-far short of being the album of the Deftones' career. At times joyous pop-masquerading-as-metal ('Sex Tape'), at others disgorging off-beat brutalism ('CMND/CTRL') and, just once, almost capturing the chilled-out yet uneasy vibes of Adrenaline on the sludged-up main riff of 'You've Seen The Butcher'.

Album of the year? I don't know, but it's better than getting piss on your leg!

Soulfly Omen Roadrunner

Much like the Deftones, Max Cavalera too has spent the better part of the last decade striving to distance himself from the rotting carcass of the nu-metal scene that he arguably helped give birth to (with Sepultura's magnum opus, Roots). Say what you like though, if you ignore your thrash roots and enlist the services of Slipknots Cory Taylor, a host of anonymous rappers and, worst of all, Fred Durst you're going to get labelled nu-metal Max, deal with it!

For whatever reason, since Soulfly's sophomore LP, Primitive, Cavalera has continually released albums that have gradually stripped away the world music and tribal influences (not to mention the fat-headed red-capped twats) in what appears to be an effort to recapture the classic thrash sound of Sepultura circa Arise; with Omen, he might just have cracked it. Whilst not strictly an out-and-out thrash album – there's still plenty of down tuned 'I-only-have-the-four-bottom-strings-on-my-guitar' shtick – but fuck me is there some aggression... and some proper bloody solos at last! Right from 'Bloodbath & Beyond' Omen is like being smashed in the face with a bottle of sulphuric acid in the middle of a mine field whilst Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato (who makes that vein in his head throb on 'Rise Of The Fallen') set's you on fire. (The tabla's are out on 'Soulfly VII' though; you have been warned!)

UFOMammut Eve Supernatural Cat records

Italy's best-kept, worst-kept secret, the criminally underappreciated UFOMammut, reach album number five with Eve, a single piece separated into five distinct movements and dedicated to the first woman to ever walk the Earth. Stylistically there's little departure from the formula shown on 2008's Idolum. Which means they essentially continue to sound like what Hawkwind playing Barrett era Pink Floyd (but with more riffs) sounds like in the head of a man that's been kicked in the face by a horse. If you buy anything off this list, buy this!

Ramesses Take The Curse Ritual Productions

Maybe it's down to the fact that Ramesses are two thirds of the old Electric Wizard line up, but there's something about the noises they make that just makes you want to grow a beard, cover your face with your hair and lift your claw sky-wards groaning: "UUUUUURRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHAAAAAA!!!" Oh, wait, I know what it is, it's down to the sheer weight of their often seemingly free-form, skull crushing doom/sludge; so heavy is Take The Curse in parts that you can almost feel your soul being squeezed out through your eyes. The superb cover art – courtesy of Jake and Dinos Chapman – might have something to do with it too.

Enforcer Diamonds Earache

A few years back I was at a party in a friend's kitchen. After several hours of indulgence, and an admittedly irresponsible cocktail of various chemicals, the numbers had thinned considerably (down to just myself, my two friends, two bar maids from my friends pub and their mate). After dancing until we were sweating fire, it seemed like a good idea to get naked... sort of. Half of us ended up in no more than the girls' undergarments – them spiralling wildly about in our boxers – until sometime after most people are at work we were politely asked to leave. What the fuck does this have to do with Enforcer? Everything. Part of the ever burgeoning new wave of trad' scene, the kind of retro metal peddled by Sweden's Enforcer is exactly the sort of joyously liberated metal that you shouldn't indulge in, and if you do, you certainly shouldn't tell your mates about it. But you do, because it's fucking brilliant and the most fun you can have with yours or anyone else's clothes on... or off!

Refused The Shape Of Punk To Come (Reissue) Epitaph

There's something decidedly un-punk about reissuing your old albums as 'special edition packages', especially when, if rumours are to be believed, it appears to be no more than a clumsy marketing ploy in order to spike interest ahead of what may or may not be a reformation which may or may not include new material. Frankly, I'd have expected better of Refused. That said, c'mon, it's fucking Refused; pretty much every track is a classic on this - possibly the best hardcore album of all time - and if you don't already own it (what do you mean you don't? What the fuck is wrong with you!?), now is your chance to pick up a shiny new copy with a bonus live disc.

Grand Magus Hammer Of The North Roadrunner

Just to get this out of the way first: If you don't like Grand Magus, you fail at metal. And I don't like you. There, now that we're all friends again; Hammer Of The North marks GM's first release on Roadrunner, and frankly it's a stunner. Still mining from the Black Sabbath pit of riffs, but now tempered with more melodic overtones, main-man JB's voice sounds less strained with every bullock-constricting cry and there's a punch to the production that'll send you clear across the room if you play it loud enough, which you should.

HAG HAG Noisestar

Firstly, an admission: This was actually released sometime in April, yet is far too good to leave out. For shame on us (me), what an unorganised bunch of bastards we are (I am). HAG actually share their name with an all female rock combo from Illinois, although unfortunately they look like those withered old bints you see clutching cans of K cider in the underpasses by the Elephant and Castle tube station, so enough about them. From the same stable as South London based Part Chimp, multinational three piece HAG pull parts of Cows, Harvey Milk and, tellingly, the Melvins, into a soup of primal pummelling's whose deceptively gritty production adds an uncomfortably sinister texture.

Darkthrone Circle The Wagons Peaceville Records

"But muuuuuuum! Why won't Darkthrone release any black metal albums any moooore!? I don't like crust punk or NWOBHM... I like Transylvanian Hunger!.... Whaaaaa!!!" Oh fuck off you whinging shits! Look, this is where Darkthrone are going now and it turns out that, after a few false starts, they're pretty bloody good at it; simply great riffs and a forest full of aggression. Plus, if you're a socially inept weirdo like myself, you'll blow a black load over the extensive liner notes (detailing lyrics and how each song was recorded), Fenriz's list of albums you should buy, the painfully detailed artwork and the pictures of men being men in woods! (actually, maybe not that last one!)

Dir En Grey UROBOROS – With The Proof In The Name Of Living (Live At Nippon Budokan) DVD Okami/Gan-Shin Records

The biggest band you've never heard of (or have heard of and just plain don't like, whatever), Japan's Dir En Grey are afforded a level of fame in their homeland that lies within the range of pretty-bloody-popular. Subsequently, on their brief sojourns to Europe we never really get to experience the full spectacle of their immense live show. If you're just discovering Dir En Grey, this might be step too far (they do after all look like they're dressed in stuff they found in John Galliano's bin) but if you're already a fan it's well worth it.

Right, I'm off to once again try and get the mud and urine out of my shoes.