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.