Monday, June 27, 2011

New Band: KONG!

Wow, this band is a punch in the face. I've been listening to a lot of classic and alternative rock lately and switching to something this heavy and crushing was a bit of a surprise. KONG! is a group hailing from North Carolina which seems to want to bring the balls back to underground metal.

As far as I can tell, Mind Eraser is KONG!'s debut EP - I say as far as I can tell because there are at least another half-a-dozen bands out there with that name - and it's an amazing start. While the other reviews I saw qualify the band within the hardcore bracket of music, I'm leaning to more of a New Wave of American Heavy Metal feel. There is some shouting, but it's more guttural then true screams that would go with hardcore. The music itself is more metal then punk, which would move it to metalcore I believe (I think I'm getting this right, I am not a fan of anything -core titled usually), but I still don't see it. The songs are too varied, too filled with ups and downs. Mind Eraser, while filled with energetic music, is not overwhelming with the sound or frantic as much hardcore acts I have heard. They are much more groove-oriented then punk.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Yes, I am still here, and I have every intention of coming back.

First, now that I've had a break, I'm going to try and get at least sort of caught up with all of the albums I've been sent by The Ripple Effect (great site, check them out if you haven't already) and the random band submissions. I know I'll never get 100% caught up because more are coming in every day, but I'm going to at least make an attempt at the mounting pile I have in front of me. I leave for vacation in a few days, but I should be able to get at least a handful done before then.

I've started getting the writing itch, which is good, it's what I want. A return of the want to write would be grande for me at this point.

Secondly, while I don't think I'll ever bring The Guide back to it's former glory, I am working with a group of musically-minded individuals on a new project of sorts. This one will be more varied in musical scope, with all forms of rock accepted. I'll keep doing my metal thing, and I have one or two more partners in this project that also enjoy them some heavy, so there will be something there for you all to enjoy. It will just be mixed in with more accessible music for the masses. Fear not, I will keep up both sites to the best of my ability, with each getting unique articles from yours truly (but also a lot of crossover). We are looking at an end of July start-up for that one, so when I get it all up and running I'll make sure to inform all of you to that.

Thank you to all of you for your patience and understanding, I have gotten a few comments and emails and that feels great; makes me feel like I'm making a difference in some way. Gotta throw a shout-out to That Devil Music and Captain Beyond Zen for their help as well, some more great sites to read while you're waiting for me to get off my lazy ass.


Monday, June 20, 2011


As I'm sure some of you noticed, I did not post anything today. I wrestled with it all morning, I certainly had the time, but not the drive. With that, I have to put The Klepto's Guide To Awesome Music on temporary hiatus, at least compared with how it is currently handled.

I do not do this lightly, but as of late The Guide has become homework, which is not what I want at all. I used to look forward to listening to brand new and obscure albums, writing about what I heard, and generally spreading the good word. I used to be able to bang out half a dozen articles in a full day, key word - used to. Currently, I am writing articles hours before they post, that and a full work load is running me ragged. I have to change something and The Guide is the easiest.

I'm not going away totally, I'll still post time to time; bringing this website back to what it was for the first year or two, I post when I feel strongly about and album or act, not because I feel I have too. I think that my articles have been watered down and pretty shitty overall recently. I have been self-imposing deadlines that require quantity over quality, going back to writing whenever I feel like it will hopefully bring back some of the quality that I think The Guide has been lacking.

Also, I am talking with a couple of friends (once again) about writing here part time. This group actually seems into it, so if we can figure something out, something substantial and meaningful, then I will bring back the daily posts. But for now, for at least the week (and another because I am going on vacation for 8 days), I am effectively putting this blog on hold, focusing on other things, listening to music I actually want to listen to, not bands that I feel I have to listen to.

If you want to keep submitting albums, I am a whore for new music, so I will keep taking them. Also if you would like to be brought in on the new and improved Guide, whenever I get around to restarting it, please drop me a line, more the merrier.

For now, I bid you all adieu (that's French for goodbye).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

EP Shakedown: Bandito - I & II

For this week's 'EP Shakedown' I'm going to double up with a pair of EPs released by Bandito, aptly titled Bandito I and Bandito II (or just I and II but I like having the name there). You can download their most recent EP from their website, or get their entire discography (these two EPs and a single) from their BandCamp page. So snag some free music, give it a listen and read on.

Bandito treads between a couple different sounds within the stoner genre. Their first EP opens with "For No One" which is close to the harshness of Hermano or the raw sound of Kyuss' early works (wow a stoner band that sounds like Kyuss). The following song, "Trent Boyett," is something much more groove oriented. I do have to laugh because "Trent Boyett" seems like an obvious homage to a South Park episode, I'm not 100% but it seems to be about a child always in trouble, which sums up the episode pretty well. The other two songs of the album are in a more sludgy realm, being more down-tuned and rough-vocaled (but not too growly). "Killing Black" and "Cubic Cycle" are both decent, but I definitely like their more groove/funk songs more.

Video: The Tossers - "Good Mornin' Da"

I was jamming out to The Valley of The Shadow of Death today and thought that "Good Mornin' Da" would make a great addition to my weekly video section. I really love The Tossers' style of Celtic punk; incorporating some slower melodies and blues. Not so much on this song, but on several others. I'd suggest checking them out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Yes - The Yes Album

The Yes Album is a disc that I grew up with; my mother had this one and Yes' greatest hits sense I was a wee babe. Needless to say I could describe this album in vivid detail without actually listening to it again, but why deprive myself of the experience? It has been a while.

Looking at the tracklist before actually beginning listening I immediately recognize family favorites, "Yours Is No Disgrace," "Starship Trooper," and "I've Seen All Good People." Each of these I can sing along with and could probably manage the majority of the song without any music accompaniment. With those three alone (of six), I know I will enjoy this album as a whole. However, as I listen through it, I'm reminded of how great this album truly is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Album: Black Stone Cherry - Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

I'm a tad apprehensive listening to Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Black Stone Cherry's latest album; their debut was amazing, completely top-notch southern stoner metal. It was full of creative songs, powerful is story and vocals, with some amazing instruments to match. The followup, Folklore And Superstition, was a dull, alternative rock with a touch of southern twang release. All the originality of their was gone, and we were left with an empty shell of, what I assume to be, an attempt at being accepted by the majority of the populous. So I am both excited and dismissal of Black Stone Cherry's newest release, hoping that it is a reminder of their origin, not their evolution.

This new incarnation of Black Stone Cherry's sound seems a bit of a pairing of the previous two mentions. It is a little more rough and tumble, and there by a little more metal, but in the same token, it is still filled with obvious song hooks and melodies. The music is entertaining, but nothing is really outstanding or challenging to the listener. There are enjoyable songs, but nothing that made me go "wow, that was cool," or anything that makes me want to show off a song to my friends. It's satisfying but not filling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Play It Again: Arbouretum - The Gathering

I touched on Arbouretum a bit at the beginning of May, and having just listened to The Gathering again, I think they deserve another mention. I'd been listening to their cover of The Highwaymen ("The Highwayman") a lot recently, and I really enjoy it. The really laid back and spacey style is really well conveyed. It made me want to listen to their album as a whole over again, so that's what I did.

There is just something about David Heumann's voice (he's the singer, by the way) that really makes this record what it is. His cool, melodic-yet-monotone style just washes over you like a gentle silk sheet. I think he truly makes The Gathering an enjoyable record. Sure, they could have gotten another singer who may have been just as good, the music just as listenable, but with Heumann they have something special. I don't think this album sung any other way would be nearly as listenable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Album: Across Tundras - Sage

Another day, I'm still tired, but not nearly as much as yesterday and so I feel I can take on a bigger project then a four-song EP.

Across Tundras is a band that I'm relatively new to; I've heard Old World Wanderer, their 2010 release, but other then that, not much. I do know they are a stoner/doom band, and I seem to recall enjoying what I heard, so I'm listening to Sage with almost virgin ears. We should all be so lucky.

Sage has one thing going for it, the songs seem to last forever. This is both a blessing and a curse; for the good songs it is amazing, some songs have a good section within, but it is drowned out by the endlessness of the song. I'd say there were no average or so-so songs, but this seemingly-infinite style tends to get a bit boring. Again, the songs that are good - good all the way through - are amazing, the chugging rhythm of "Buried Arrows," for example, is amazing, and when the tempo picks up and the southern-style of music kicks in, it turns even more so.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Album: Forged In Flame - Forged In Flame (EP)

I am so tired and a little hung over. I have just come back home from a weekend at a wedding down in South Florida (four hours from my home). A long weekend of partying, drinking, making fun of friends and trashing hotel rooms. Needless to say I'm pretty beat and although I had enough articles to last me through the weekend, it is once again Monday and my foresight has fallen a bit short... again. So before I pass out (it's Sunday night as I'm writing this), I'm going to listen to Forged In Flame's debut EP.

I have had only a taste of what Forged In Flame has to offer, from the Soda Shop Comp, almost a month ago, so I was ready for some more stoner groove metal to wash over my soul. For that purpose alone, this was a great EP to choose.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Video: Tyr "Hold The Heathen Hammer High"

In response to Tyr's latest release, The Lay of Thrym, I have been working my way through their past five albums. I'm really looking forward to their newest album, but this run-through just reminds me of how much I enjoy this band. All of their albums are of a certain amazing quality - aside from Land that is, but most of the album isn't in English so it's not fair for me to really judge - which was culminated by 2009's By The Light Of The Northern Star, my favorite yet. If this year's can get anywhere close to that masterpiece, I'll be amazed and overjoyed.

With that in mind, here is the video for one of my favorite songs off of By The Light Of The Northern Star, "Hold The Heathen Hammer High." Along with "By The Sword In My Hand" this song is filled with amazing imagery and, of course, musicianship.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

EP Shakedown: Manhammer - Above The New Frontier

Manhammer is a hard band to get a hold of. It was damn near impossible for me to find any real information on this group, with only YouTube and porn sites popping up with most of my searches. I ended up having to turn to the SludgeSwamp, as they had at least a link to the band's MySpace. I also found another band called ManHammer, and a 'Future Site For Manhammer,' so maybe I did find them after all. I think the first focus of this band should be to raise themselves up from the dirge that a search of Manhammer pulls up. Your web identity is everything, and if people can't find you you're losing some potential fans.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Acid Rain - Shallow Paradise

Acid Rain took a while to find on the web, as both Metal Archives and ProgArchives list at least three other bands of the same name, all within the progressive vein. I guess naming oneself after a Liquid Tension Experiment song (which is a bad ass song if you haven't heard it) tends to mean that progressive music is your forte. Hell I got the message, the only reason I picked up this album was because of the obvious throwback-name and the interesting album artwork. Yes, I am one of those people that judges a book by it's cover, it's worked pretty well for me so far.

I didn't know truly what to expect from Shallow Paradise, and there is scant within the internet, so I turned to a review off of ProgArchives about their other album, The Descending Line. In a nutshell, the review calls Acid Rain musically a Dream Theater homage - used as a positive description - but that the vocals lack behind the rest. This set the stage for my listening adventure, and while reading someone else's opinion may taint my own, I just look at is as a launching-off point for my own review. After all, how many people can truly claim that they've never read a review before listening to an album? We use other's to meld our own views, it's the way of life.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Retrospective: Tyr

With Tyr releasing their sixth album, The Lay of Thrym (review upcoming), I thought it prudent to go through their entire discography. While I was doing so, why not write about it all? Thus a Retrospective was born.

Tyr was my first true introduction to the world of folk metal, way back in 2005. My then-recent discovery of brought about a ton of new bands and genres, with this mystical world of folk vying for my attention along with stoner, power and progressive metals. For the longest time, the only album I had by the group was their debut, being unable to find Eric The Red and later Ragnarok. I didn't truly start listening to more then that first album until around 2007 or 2008, when their material became more accessible, so I guess you could say I'm a bit of a late joiner of the band's fandom. I don't think it really matters because now I am a staunch believer of their sound, I loved their 2009 release, I look forward to this 2011 one, and they play a bitching live show, even at a shitty venue.

How Far To Asgaard - 2002
Their first album and my first taste of the group, How Far To Asgaard is an amazing debut from this act. It's one of their more solid release, but I feel this is because all of the songs sound very similar to each other, at least musically. "Hail To The Hammer" and the title track are the far-and-above winners of the album, but pretty much every song carried merit in some degree. Even their non-English song, "Ormurin Langi," is catchy. I found myself humming along and attempting to sing a few lines, this might be because I've heard it so much, or it could be because it is a song that transcends language barriers. Either way I like it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bands I Love: Clutch

I've made no secret on The Guide that Clutch is one of my favorite (if not number one) bands out there right now, and I've already dedicated two articled to their discography (Part 1 & Part 2), so this one is going to be a little different. For this edition of 'Bands I Love' I'm going into the evolution of enjoyment that I (and I'd assume other fans) get when I re-listen to their albums; of the changing of taste and favorite songs.

For this example I'm going to spend all of my time dissecting probably one of their best albums, Blast Tyrant, released dead center with their funk-stoner phase, way back in 2004. Initially the songs that jumped out at me were: "Mercury," "Mob Goes Wild," "Cypress Grove," and "Worm Drink," each for their simple and catchy lyrics and really head-bobbing melodies. These tracks were easy to get into and at the time that I was first giving the record a spin, I was still new to the band, with only Robot Hive/Exodus under my belt. These songs were a great and simple entry into Blast Tyrant. While I enjoyed the album as a whole, these were the songs that I spent most of my time with, and these are the group that most often landed in mix CDs for friends or for my car.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Album: Flogging Molly - Speed of Darkness

As I mentioned on this past week's Video, I don't know how I missed the release of Speed of Darkness. Hell, I didn't even know it was recorded and being released! I love Flogging Molly, and so the usual level of excitement that creeps up as I hear updates of a new album, over the months prior, finally culminating with me getting my hands on the actual music itself... never happened. I've had to jam all of that raw emotion, lust, and excitement into one short week; I am exhausted. But the excitement is carrying me on, onto this 2011 release from one of my favorite bands - and also one of the few modern bands that I've listened too for almost a decade, I realized this week.

The album opens with the title track which hits you like a bang, a true Flogging Molly experience. Ten seconds (after the intro) and I knew exactly what I was getting into - and I love it! This sounds like a vintage track from the group, something that could have been released within any previous album of their fourteen-year-plus recording career and not seem out of place. This is a great beginning, because you never know if a new release by a band you love will live up to the expectations that you have. Will the new album be the same style, and with that, too much of the same, or not enough of a change? With this opener, I am less worried.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Band: Crescent Shield

Crescent Shield is a traditional heavy/power metal band whose latest album, The Stars of Never Seen, caught up some pretty decent reviews. The album is a little older, coming out in 2009, but it's new to me and I've been in the mood for something a little different then the usual stoner/doom/prog mix I've been on lately. So I'm taking a chance on a wholly new band, based off other bloggers' reviews; ain't the internet grand?

My fist impression of The Stars of Never Seen is something of a mix between the epic doom style of Candlemass - especially within the vocals - and the more varied traditional metal of Holy Martyr. Actually the Holy Martyr comparison is the most straight-forward that I can think of; both of their styles could be called epic metal (or folk metal without the folk, as I said on my article about Holy Martyr). They both use traditional themes and sounds of heavy metal (although a little more on the war and sorcery side, like power metal) but add a very flexible vocalist(s) that gives the songs a bit of that 'epic' feel. Once again, it's a hard sound to describe, but it works amazingly for Crescent Shield.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Video: Flogging Molly "Don't Shut 'Em Down"

Just found out that Flogging Molly have released a new album last week - I don't know how I missed it for so long. I haven't had a chance to listen to Speed of Darkness yet, but this is the first single and accompanying video; "Don't Shut 'Em Down." Float, their last release, was pretty bad-ass, so I'm looking forward to this album quite a bit.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

EP Shakedown: Big Jesus - Big Jesus

Ok, I'm not feeling too hot, so short and sweet are what's in store.

Big Jesus is a stoner/alternative/post-grunge act from Las Vegas, of all places. Their debut EP (follow the link for the free download) is a combination of rock n' roll stoner and the post-grunge style that made Alice In Chains famous. The opener, "Ribs," is a nice bout of the former, while keeping in a down-tuned and darker feel. And actually the second track, "Hairteeth," could easily have been found on an Alice In Chains album, or as a tribute at the very least. It sounds straight from the 90s and that is nothing if not a good thing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: The Devin Townsend Project - Deconstruction/Ghost

A couple of months ago I featured The Devin Townsend Project's latest (at the time) releases, Ki and Addicted, with an article, now I continue (and finish) the cycle, with the upcoming pair of releases from the madman that is Devin Townsend, with Deconstruction and Ghost. The first two releases were a clever mix of ambient and heavy/extreme metal, with Ki being more on the ambient side of things while Addicted brought elements of industrial music. That first pair was plenty for any other band, but Townsend seems fixated on going above and beyond (Deconstruction and Ghost haven't even been released yet and he's already announced the name of his next record). I'm covering them as a pair because they are being released in that fashion; while they aren't directly linked, the project seems to follow a sweeping style-arc which flows together rather well. If he (Townsend) had released all four at one I'd probably put the entire project into a 'Weekly Dose of Prog.'

While Ki and Addicted seemed more stylistically split, Deconstruction is a more even mix of the metal and ambient music that The Devin Townsend Project is known for. It's also far more eclectic, with the album opening with "Praise The Lowered," a very ambient song, then "Stand," a ten-minute progressive song, light on the ambient but heavy in pretty much everything else, followed immediately by "Juular" which sounds something more like Strapping Young Lad (Townsend's previous band/project) would release, coming across borderline thrash/NWOAHM with bits of lighter vocals (but still heavy instruments, especially the percussion) thrown here or there for effect. Although it sounds weird, it actually works really great, bringing Deconstruction a much more memorable feel then the previous pair of releases. My one complaint of the album, however, are the longer tracks. It seems that the songs that cross the ten-minute marker just can't pull it together well enough to warrant that amount of time. "Planet of The Apes," "The Mighty Masturbator," and  "Deconstruction" are the main examples of this ("Stand" keeps it together pretty well, plus it's just under ten), with certain parts that work very well - namely the beginnings - but they just lose focus, or change styles too much, or have to much out there stuff (spoken word and whatnot - "Deconstruction" anyone?) to be as enjoyable as the rest of the album. Other then that, the album is almost priceless.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Album: Argus - Boldly Stride The Doomed

I have been looking to this album sense I first heard of it in February, as I really enjoyed Argus' debut album from two years ago. I discovered the band on a whim and was very surprised with what I heard, so much so that I've listened to their self-titled several times sense then. Boldly Stride The Doomed, their sophomore follow-up, has some high expectations to get over, but I'm sure with gentlemen of this caliber at the helm, it will all be just fine.

In my replay of their debut I told you my definition of Argus' sound being power doom metal, well Boldly Stride The Doomed does nothing but strengthen that description. The album opens with "A Curse On The World" which is something like rock 'n doom, with a swinging melody and powerful vocals. It sounds sort of like an 80s hair metal band belting out their rendition of doom; catchy but still amazingly heavy. It sounds very similar to the first song off their debut, "Devils, Devils," but that is nothing but a complement, as that was my favorite song from the disc.

Everything I Didn't Review In May

Really, there isn't much to write about this month. While I did get decent album numbers, most of what I listened to was older discographies, or debut albums from acts that are now releasing their sophomore discs. Everything else, that is actually new to me, has received a review, so there isn't a case to add the albums here.

With my new computer, it's been a semi-battle to get back in the swing of things, and so finally I'm getting out ahead of the overwhelming number of albums, songs, and artists that I have. Each month will be a little more new, and a little less old, until I'm back to my usual flow of about 2/3 new and 1/3 old. This is my long-term goal and I hope you stick around for the journey with me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EP Shakedown: Major Kong - Orogenesis

Ok, my computer is back up and running smoothly, turns out it wasn't a big deal really. So this is the 'EP Shakedown' that I had all set up for Saturday that was never posted. Luckily I had the articles for Sunday and Tuesday already set to go, so you all had something to tide you over. I'll get back on schedule tomorrow with the daily postings.

Major Kong comes highly recommended by several sources as some great sludge metal. This is down and dirty instrumental doom metal, I can't really call it sludge, because to me sludge is all in the vocals, but I feel I'm just splitting hairs there. The songs (four of them) are long and drawn-out, seeming to go on forever.

Orogenesis (available for free download), the debut EP from the guys of Fifty Foot Woman, is for anyone who loves some dark doom. If you're looking for complex rhythms or styles, you need to be listening to something else. The songs are droning and fairly predictable, but at the same time, they will melt your face (which would be a sweet album name).

Albums Listened To In May (85)

Still working with that new computer (and the loss of all my info), the following crash, and starting a new job, it's a surprise I got anything done this month, let alone listen to 85 albums. I spent most of the month re-listening to discographies of bands that I love; 3, Argus, Black Spiders, Clutch, The Decemberists, The Grand Astoria, Led Zeppelin, Lo-Pan, Meat Loaf, Rainbow, Red Fang, and Whores of Tijuana. Several of these deserved - and received - a write up. As such there won't be much of an article for tomorrow's 'Everything I Didn't Review,' but that also means I am running at full tilt here. I hope you all enjoy what I do.