Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swedglish Update Deluxe - Torture Division, Synebrychoff


GRADE: 9/10

The three incredibly sexy members of Torture Division have been dominating the death metal scene for the past five years. If, for whatever reason, you've failed to listen to the band by now, you have few excuses - they release all of their songs for free, downloadable from their website. How often do bands do that and survive for five years? Hint: Never. So the fact that these guys have continued to release quality death metal for this long is outstanding in itself. When you hear just how good it is, you'll be hard-pressed not to buy a plane ticket to Sweden so you can personally hand-deliver the band your first-born child, your credit card, your clothes, and your motorcycle.

The band (to this point) has released their songs a few at a time, typically three sets of three per "album". "Satan, Sprit och Våld" (which I'm pretty sure translates to "Pastrami, Taxis and Coldbeer") is the second demo of the current set (the third set, if my count is right). If that makes no sense or is wrong, tough shit, I write the goddamn reviews around here. Personally I find this approach to be genius, as it gives the listener plenty of time to get intimate with the songs, cuddle with them, learn about their feelings, and just really get to know them overall. Right before you take the plunge, get down on one knee, and profess your undying love to the demo, ready to take on its last name, another demo comes along and makes you completely forget about the original. Until that awkward moment when it randomly shows up on shuffle uninvited and asks for an explanation of where the hell you've been and why you never called, of course.

Anyhoochie, this demo immediately strikes me as different than the ones before. It's not better or worse than the other fantastic songs previously released by the band, I just appreciate them in a different way. Whereas before you could certainly count on the tracks to be blistering, fantastic displays of what death metal truly should be, this demo loads down on something that really accentuates and brings out the robustness of the band - groooooove (as previously seen on albums such as "Groovy Train 2: Electric Groovaloo"). Don't worry, your favorite death metal band hasn't gone soft, they've just incorporated some new elements into the songs. Think of it like a chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone, except the vanilla is death metal, the chocolate is groove, and the cone is an anus. Made of metal.

The first track, "Cirkelstryk", opens up at a slower pace than the intense explosion you may have become accustomed to with previous Torture Division tracks, then quickly shifts pace to the band you know and love. It's a great track to open off the album and keeps pace with the high standard these guys have set for themselves. You may detect hints of the groove I spoke of here and then, but nothing too prevalent. Once the track ends, though, you're in for a real treat. The next track, "Otukt", is by far the highlight of the demo, and stands out as one of my favorite TD tracks ever. Seriously, if you don't headbang from beginning to end through this track, you hate metal, Sweden, beer, sex, babies, and sexy beer-drinking Swedish metal babies. If you can only download one track from this demo (which would be retarded, since they're all free), get "Otukt". You will find a way to print out an mp3 just so you can make love to paper the song is printed on (painfully). This song is where most of the groove I speak of on this demo lies. Everything about this track is just about perfect, from J's always-stellar growls, to K's guitar playing (seriously, is this guy is the death metal riff fucking master or what), and Golden T's amazing drumming (he transitions from a groovy backbeat to a tight, punishing blastbeat more smoothly than the smoothest of man-dongs). Ending the demo is "Satan, Sprit och Våld", which continues to deliver more of the TD you know and love. It's hard to describe as vividly as "Otukt" since I pretty much used my allotment of similes, adjectives and metaphors on that song, and I'm always still riding its high going into the final track, but it's no less awesome than even the worst TD track (which is still better than 95% of death metal currently out).

If my words have not been enough to convince you to go download these three completely free tracks, then go buy some Justin Bieber and Adele CDs, now. Otherwise, head over to their website and check them out. Then, after thanking me for informing you about the best band you've ever heard, donate some money to them so that they can continue to put out more music like this. The end.


Going with the Swedish theme, I tried to get a beer from Sweden to sample for this review. Unfortunately, Swedish beers are hard to come by around here. So, we're going to make this a Scandinavian theme, because fuck you. The lone beer I was able to find among Norway, Sweden and Finland was a Finnish beer called Synebrychoff Porter. I asked someone I know in Finland about this beer and he had never heard of it, so obviously I'm off to a fantastic start.

The beer itself ended up being pretty good. It's a little stronger than your standard porter (the standard porter around here, anyway), and I could see a few of these putting me on my ass (especially with my tolerance being miniscule after my recent run-in with bodily organ removal). It's got a strong start and an even stronger finish, with coffee/dark roasted undertones at the end. It's probably not a beer you'd start the day off with, but more of a mid-to-end range beer, something to build up to and cap off the night with. I'd rate the beer higher than the Sierra porter I had a few reviews ago, but I don't have any food to pair it with to make the orgasmic explosion in my mouth like that one did, so I'll give it a 7/10.

Overall, another positive experience with all things Scandinavian. Someone work on moving everyone and everything from there to here so get some more street cred. Thanks.

- Hops

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not Quite Dead

Just in case you were wondering, we're not quite dead yet. A small update to thank our friend Derek over at Rickety Old Shack for throwing together a oh-so-sweet logo for us. Look for our review of Torture Division's new 3-song demo very soon!

- Hops

Friday, February 17, 2012

Big Ol' Jewish Update

Since Hops started things off with a bang, I—your humble Mosh—figure I couldn’t let the bang die just yet. You’ve already been given a treat with a multi-review, so how ‘bout another?  Only, I don’t want to overload your brew sensibilities, so how about a nice local (to Israel) brew, and then a double dose o’ metal? Sounds good? Yea—no? GTFO, you know you want it.


So, this review is going to be broken into two parts: the draft and the bottle.  By the end, it’s clear why (and why would you argue with me anyway?)


Goldstar is the local beer here in Israel. Every bar seems to have it, and everyone seems to drink it. Labeled as “Our Original Taste…”, Goldstar makes me think that Israel might have something going on. Goldstar is a dark lager. There is a slightly dry sharpness to it, and the bitterness present in a lot of lagers is not found in Goldstar. It’s not a very full-bodied beer, neither does it taste like it is watered down in any way. This mildness, tempered with its sharp, dry nature allows for an easier consumption of multiple pints (myself, my boss, and one of my co-workers knocked out four or five pints in one sitting once we arrived in Israel). Also of note:  this is a good barbeque beer. Believe it or not, there are quite a few American styled grills in Israel, and the perfect companion to some killer wings or a behemoth burger is definitely Goldstar.

But, wait!  There’s more!

Bottle - 6

What the hell?? Who gave me Budweiser (if that offends you, then you need to pay really close attention to everything we say…ever)? Goldstar—when poured from a bottle—while retaining its body and smooth (maybe) consistency, gains a bitterness. This bitterness, coupled with the sharpness, make it very uneasy drinking for a picky beer drinker. And that, honestly, ruins it. The bottle gives it a cheap domestic Americana taste, and it doesn’t pair well with anything. Give me back my draft!!

**I spoke to the clerk at the music store (see below review) and he says that the above is pretty much how Israel feels about Goldstar. It is a great beer; better draft than from the bottle. And, I quote, “In Israel, we sit around and complain about how bad everything is, but Goldstar is great:  no complaining!”

Okay, so in keeping with the Israeli theme, here’s a good band to check out while you’re consuming that Goldstar:  Orphaned Land. For those of you that don’t know who Orphaned Land are, they are a progressive metal band out of Israel (uh, duh…sorry). Orphaned Land are progressive metal with death elements (vocals and some—but not much—music) and a lot of Middle Eastern musical elements interwoven. Their albums are usually concept albums, revolving around usually Jewish and Muslim themes. Today, we’re going to take a look at two of their albums—their most recent, "The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR" and "Mabool:  The Story of the Three Sons of Seven".  Holy hell, that was a mouthful!


"Mabool:  The Story of the Three Sons of Seven" - 8.5

Ok, so these guys seem a bit pretentious at first, but once you get past the long-winded title, there’s some real meat to this. “Mabool” is a very tight progressive album. Its longest song clocks in at around 9:20, so there’s no listing to be found within the confines of this album. Even though there never seems to be a lot going on, what we have throughout this album are some very tight riffs as well as hook-laden songs. These songs are very structurally diverse:  the story of the flood is woven together with two sets of distinct vocals (powerful and predominant clean vocals offset by pissed-off-God-like vocal growling) and an interesting use of keyboards (at times very much background melodies, other times the driving force of the songs). At times, “Mabool” comes off feeling like an early Dream Theater album, at other times it drifts into the “What if Max Cavelera and Mikael Åkerfeldt had an Israeli love child?” territory. Like any good cultural album, this one makes good use of Middle Eastern rhythms, and a female singing in the native tongue. All of this lends to the depth of the Mabool album.  My only complaint is that the death vocals could be a little more frequent (God is pissed at this point in time, after all).
*Standout Tracks:  A Call to Awake, The Kiss of Babylon

"The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR" - 8

So, for the second round, we have …ORwarriOR. Yes, just because they didn’t want to be any less pretentious with their title this time around.  Once again, we have a tight progressive metal concept album, this time telling the story of God’s chosen warrior. We still have a good use of riffs and hooks, but this time around there is more of a precise feel of the rhythm in the times changes, and song shifts. It is slightly reminiscent of Opeth. The middle eastern elements shine through more in the melodies and instrumentals on this album. Even though it starts to lose focus a little past the middle mark, Orphaned Land manage to bring themselves back for an explosive finish.  Oh, did I say that Mabool didn’t use the growls enough? Well, …ORwarrOR fixes that. The vocal balance is actually nicely perched in the middle of the scale. There is a definite balance vocally on the album. For a nice bonus, the tour edition that I picked up out here comes with a bonus disc with one new song, two demos, and two instrumental workings.
*Standout Tracks:  Operation: Uprising, From Broken Vessels

****A big thank you goes to Arye, at The Eighth Note (Hatav Hasmini).  He found the Orphaned Land cd’s for me and gave me his insight on Goldstar.  So, I’d like to leave you with another of Arye’s quotes:  “It’s easy to be despot in small country.”  So true, Arye, so true.  Remember folks, keep your despotism small, and you’ll easily conquer your own little world.

- Mosh

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Sorry for the delay in the latest posts. I was nearly called to Valhalla to join my metal brethren earlier this week. I have survived and am well on my way to recovery. Look forward to our next update this weekend!

- Hops

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Quick update: we've changed the blog to allow unregistered users to comment on posts. Feel free to let us know how you feel while safely hidden in the anonymity of the Internet!

- Hops

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mechanization - Kenosis / Sierra Nevada MASHUP

What complements metal more than beer? Nothing, that's what. For an indefinite amount of time, at intervals of whenever-the-fuck-we-feel-like, we will be bringing you EXCLUSIVE reviews of the HOTTEST metal albums and beers to ever hit the scene (citation needed). Our first one is a doozy - the kinda-recent album by our friends in Mechanization, "Kenosis", and beers from their home state's popular-ish brewery, Sierra Nevada. Spoiler alert: they're both good.


GRADE: 8.5 / 10 (we know this is all you care about so it's first)

Metal these days comes in numerous mediums, styles, directions and flavors (mint chocolate chip being my favorite, naturally). In the process of innovating and adapting to the changing scene, many bands have lost sight of what makes metal appealing to many listeners in the first place - catchy, punishing riffs that keep you coming back for more (like me at an open bar), vocals that accentuate the music rather than dominate it, thunderous drum beats to add extra punishment to the riffs rather than deviate from them, and placing a bass guitar somewhere near the recording studio just in case the bassist breaks out of his cage and whines about "not being included". Occasionally, a band will come along that executes these elements to perfection without sounding like a clone of the bands that previously patented them. Mechanization is such a band.

Comprised of Ter(ror)ence and HMT (which I believe stands for Heavy Metal Tricycle), "Kenosis" is the second album from the San Diegans. While their previous effort, "Holon", was proclaimed an "experimental" album by the band, "Kenosis" experiments with but a single topic: bringing the fucking metal. You can bet your ass that this album accomplishes just that, while following the scientific method to a mothafuckin capital T (which, coincidentally, also stands for Tricycle). Now, if you've come to get a side by side comparison of this album with "Holon", joke's on you. To be perfectly honest, I purchased both of the albums at the same time, so I'm not any more familiar with one than the other. What I can tell you is that from front to back, "Kenosis" is relentless. If your diet is comprised mostly of riffs, you're in luck, because herein lie some of the tastiest riffs compiled onto a single disc. HMT rarely takes a break from rocking your face off, but when he does, it's to rock your face off. El Terroro brings the pain in the vocal department with a unique delivery that at times reminds me of Dethklok's Nathan Explosion (this is a compliment). While it is an overall change from the prevalent vocal delivery on "Holon", it's a welcome change that adds another layer of brutality to the album.

The most talented musician in the band, however, is the drummer. By far. He pounds the skins like no other I've heard. The drumbeats are performed so consistently, flawlessly and tight, it's like he's a goddamn machine. You won't find a better drummer anywhere else.

…I kid, I kid. It IS a machine! I must admit, though, that if you didn't know that going into your first album listen you wouldn't be able to tell unless you have cyborg ears. The guys have obviously gone through pains to ensure that the drums sound authentic and their efforts definitely pay off here.  They complement the style and songs just about perfectly.

The band's egos certainly inflated by now, I must deflate them ever so slightly. If there is a complaint I must make about the album, samples are used a smidge too much over the album. Now, considering the driving force behind the band is to show that they can deliver the goods without the pretentiousness that seems to come along with metal bands, this overuse could be a biting criticism of scene tendencies, as I know those guys have a pretty fantastic sense of humor… but just in case it's serious, maybe tone it down a bit next album? The content of the samples absolutely contribute to the tone and of the album, but less samples means more room for METAL, and that's what gets the people going, right?

Otherwise, if you consider yourself a metal fan at all, you will appreciate the effort of these two metal scholars to deliver punishing music unladen by unnecessary packaging. I dare you to try and keep your head from banging during this record. It's physically impossible. I made a futile attempt at it, and now doctors say my neck will never again be not quite-so-disintegrated. Sum that all up with the always-pristine production by some dude named Dan Swano (I hear he's been in a couple of bands) (fuck you umlaut, you take too much effort to type), and you've got your new favorite album written by two guys and a drum machine from San Diego (sounds like the new fall sitcom). Grab this record and a frosty brew and enjoy your newfound metal knowledge.


Paired with this lovely record is products of a brewery also inherent to the state of California - Sierra Nevada. Now normally we will only be reviewing a single beer, but fuck it, this is our inaugural post, and we are going to set the bar high. I had the opportunity to attend a beer tasting/dinner at BJ's Brewhouse featuring seven Sierra Nevada brews and what follows is a review of said experience. While food was involved and will be briefly mentioned, beer is the main attraction here, and it's all the food you really need. Ratings correspond to the beer and how likely I would be found snuggling with it.

The first beer was the Kellerweis Hefeweizen. If you're aware that no, "Bud Light" is not a style of beer, and moreover, it's not the only one, then you probably either love or hate this beer just by knowing what it is named. In my experience I've found that many people have a love/hate relationship with Hefeweizens. The coordinator of the event hit us with knowledge about why Sierra's is different than most Hefes and things like that, but I'm not going to pretend to be a beer expert. I just know that as far as Hefes go, I thought this one was okay. I got Blue Moon vibes from it. Paired with the calimari, it helped to cool down the spiciness, but neither flavor really enhanced the other. It was an okay start to the night. 4/10

Next, we were treated to the old Sierra mainstay - Pale Ale. Most people are probably familiar with this one, and it didn't disappoint that night (does it ever?). The beer was paired with a flatbread pizza.  The pizza by itself was delicious. When paired with the beer, it was heaven (or hell, or purgatory, depending on whom to choose to worship / not worship). This was my first experience with a planned pairing of food with beer and it was glorious. This particular pairing truly showed me how the flavors can enhance each other, and that yes, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the Most Delicious Beer Ever Created While Some Guy Was Also Eating Pizza. 7/10

Third, we were treated to my most anticipated beer of the night, Torpedo Extra IPA. I am an IPA fanatic and I have had this beer before many times, but I highly looked forward to have its flavor enhanced with food. Combined with BJ's Kung Pao Chicken, sadly the flavors did not enhance each other. While the IPA did reduce the kick of the dish, the chicken dulled the happiness of the beer, and for me, a hops slave, this was simply unacceptable. Long live hops! 8/10

After the Torpedo, we were treated to a palate cleanser before the primary course. This was the Ruthless Rye IPA. I was skeptical when reading the description because there were fewer IBUs (Idon'trememberwhat"I"stoodfor Bitterness Units) and lower alcohol content in this than in Torpedo, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The hops were milder and the beer was smoother, but it achieved the intended effect and washed away the pain of the Kung Pao Chicken. Touche', Rye. We were also (according to the event coordinator) some of the first people in the state to get to try this beer, so INYOFACE! 6/10

For the main course, Sierra Nevada Porter was served along with a Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich. Around this time is when the wimps at the tasting started falling out. For the next three beers, and increasing number of half or mostly full glasses adorned the family-style table, wounded soldiers in a battle with chumps who couldn't handle real beer. The porter was, well, a porter - thick and dark, just like I like my men. However, a surprise lurked around the corner, like a girl from that one night stand you had three weeks ago holding a pregnancy test. When combined with the sandwich, the beer FUCKING TURNED INTO OPTIMUS PRIME WITH GUNS AND SHIT. Okay, it wasn't that cool, but the flavor did completely change directions. I thought that the Pale Ale combination was fantastic, but this one was by far the highlight of the night. The beer flavors exploded while reducing the initial hit of thickness and nuttiness. Just incredible. 9/10

Our second and final palate cleanser was the beast, Bigfoot Barleywine Ale. At a whopping 99 IBUs and 9.6% ABV, this beer would devour you with a smile on its face were your not fully prepared for it. It spread like wildfire through your mouth the moment it hit your lips. Sierra's version is much hoppier than your typical barleywine (most Sierra Nevada beers are) and this one I found absolutely delectable. I had never given the Bigfoot a shot but I am completely sold on it now. 9/10

Last, but not least, was dessert. We were treated to the Ovila Quad, which apparently was developed closely with one of the Trappist monasteries still in existence, Paired with it was a baked beignet. This was the second best pairing of the night. Alone, the beer reminded me of Xingu, being very dark in color but smooth in taste. The strawberries with the beignet made the sweet aftertaste of the Ovila extraordinary. Great way to finish off the night. 8/10

Overall I was very pleased with the event and was very happy to have tried so many Sierra brews (four of the seven beers we tried, I had not had before). This is a hell of a way to get introduced to new beers, so if you have any events like these around, I encourage you to attend. You will not be disappointed. Unless you worship Milwaukee's Best.

We hope you all enjoyed our first metal and beer review and look forward to hopefully introducing you all to new dominating facets of the industries in the future. Comment below with your thoughts, hatred, tl;dr's, and other certainly-insightful posts. Raise your horns and glasses in salute and long live beer and metal.

- Hops