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Deth Red Sabaoth (Evilive/The End)
It's been six years since the last Danzig platter, Glenn seemingly getting more non-plussed with rock as age wears him on. But here he is, building on the legacy of the last couple hugely under-rated leering rockers and even more deliberately, so he claims, going for more of a '70s/analog vibe. Fact is, yes, the production is crushing traditional metal in the making and mixing, dry on the drums, huge and midrange-bold of guitar. But there's nothing '70s about Deth Red Sabaoth, nor should there be - this is more like II meets III meets IV, namely some taught Rubin-esque rock ('The Revengeful'), then massive heavy doom metal but also some of Glenn's engaging sparseness (see 'On A Wicked Night' and 'Deth Red Moon'), which goes well with his captivating voice. Guitars are handled by Tommy Victor, who seems to understand Glenn's requirements so well, even laying down a Cramps vibe for 'Ju Ju Bone', which features Glenn up close and intimate, one of a few places he plays creatively with the mic-ing (or mixing?) of the vocals. In striving to capture a non-flash atmosphere however, much of this album sacrifices energy and impetus for atmosphere - commendable, but kind of a drag by the laborious back third.
CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED
Charred Walls Of The Damned (Metal Blade)
Complicated semi-supergroup status to this one, given that Death/Iced Earth drummer Richard Christy writes al the music and lyrics, along with contributions from Jason Suecof, who also guitared and produced (and power-washes a charred wall of the damned on the bonus making of DVD - I had no idea Jason was wheelchair-bound). On killer power vocals is Ripper Owens, on bass, Steve DiGiorgio, and on the damn CD, a thrilling, epic, gritty, complicated power metal that is as intriguing as it is hard to pigeonhole. Part of the smokescreen is the name of the band and the death metal packaging, but yeah, Iced Earth is a touchstone, as is melodic black metal (Borknagar, some Cradle, some Dimmu), as is the original, arcane, forgotten definition of power metal, the American one of the mid '80s for band that were heavier than hair and more hooky than thrash. Hell, I even hear Manowar in this (see 'Blood On Wood') and always hear interesting passage upon passage, one more dramatically fist-pumped and "true" metal than the last thunder-stolen Riot down Manilla Road. And written by a drummer, there is lots of percussive technicality, Richard's main bag being double bass at half speed. Nice touch with the making of DVD, because you get to know and like the guys (and their dog and duck), hang in their mancave (Slagel's condo, perhaps?) and the studio, and watch Brian bring out his good wine as a class touch against the bewildering variety of intoxicants the guys drink from morning 'til night. A little Maiden-clacky on the production methinks, but it's a deliberate choice made, I'm sure, to underscore al the note-dense precision of these smart, traditional metal songs with even smarter twists of hybridization.
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