War From A Harlots Mouth - "MMX"
"MMX" is the third full length release from German technical metalcore band War from a Harlots Mouth. WFAHM has had a very eclectic batch of releases in the past, having their last 2 records released by German Lifeforce records. Their first major full length release, "Transmetropolitan", was a pleasant surprise for me with their spazzy, technicality and jarring rhythms. Their second release, "In Shoals", never stuck at all. Maybe it was the lack of catchy riffs? Maybe it was the lackluster song structures? Whatever it was about that album, it was extremely subpar.
Which now brings us to the wfahm of today, with their release of “MMX” (the albums meaning is essentially the year it was released, 2010, in roman numerals). Let me start off by saying WFAHM are obvious trend followers. Each release has blatant homage to current bands and genres that seem to be the new “thing” in metal at the time. “Transmetropolitan” had obvious See You Next Tuesday and August Burns Red influences and “In Shoals” seemed to wear its Through the Eyes of the Dead and Ion Dissonance influence on its sleeves like a brand new tattoo some 18 year old scene chick just got. “MMX” does the same once again, which is surprisingly following the wfahm trend of following trends. Double trends!
"MMX" has the band upgrading to 8 stringed guitars which has been a popular trends as of late, with bands like periphery and animals as leaders leading the pack in the "djent" revolution. There is prevalent use of said 8th string on here, fueling a lot of breakdowns. They have lots of off kilter rhythms that make the tracks interesting sometimes but nothing you will write home about. Meshuggah were doing the rhythms these guys were doing years ago. One interesting technique WFAHM pull out of their back pocket for this CD is sections with really fast, steady blast beats with harmonizing guitars that give an almost black metal feel. Pristine production makes it hard for me to hear what a lot of the guitars are actually doing note for note, but you feel what they are doing, which is almost cooler then hearing it.
Overall, “MMX” is a solid album. They may be jumping trends, sticking to the mold, or not progressing themselves to solidify a sound of their own, but the talent is there. They have interesting song structures. They play very tightly. It’s ok. I’ll wait for their next release to see if they take their game to a better, more progressive level.
“To Age And Obsolete”
Thomas Giles - "Pulse"
Between The Buried And Me’s frontman Tommy Rogers is no stranger to the solo record scene. Back in 2004, Victory Records decided they’d release Tommy’s electronic side project under the moniker “Giles”. I gave the record a few spins back in the day and I won’t lie, it was pretty decent for what it was. It had plenty of catchy tracks and most of it was pretty well written. This, however, is pretty uninspired and really falls flat on it’s face. By the time it redeems itself, it’s lost any chance to reel you in.
6 years after Tommy’s first release, “Pulse” (under his new super astute sounding alter ego, Thomas Giles) is a mashup of everything you’d come to expect from BTBAM’s frontman. It’s half electronic laden, half acoustic tinged. It’s bad drumming. It’s very good vocal work. It’s boring. Tommy fails to really find a middle ground on this record, instead opting for picking some of his favorite bands and ripping them relentlessly. Riffs inspired by Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Counting Crows, The Beatles, and even his own band Between The Buried And Me pollute this record. Some rips are subtle and well-written, others aren’t. The record also jumps around a lot and you’ll probably get lost in transition.
It’s not without its highlights, however. The middle of the record finally has a bright spot in the song “Hamilton Anxiety Scale”, which is pretty fusion jazzy at parts and also features a chorus that sounds like everyone from BTBAM helped out on it. The only other great song is the final song, “Hypoxia” which finally comes to an epic chorus, something the final bits of the album built you up to but let you down in their finals moments. With two of the best tracks coming at the middle and end of the record, there really isn’t any reason to suffer through the mediocre middle ground. There are some decent songs, “Scared” and “Armchair Travel” are really good but sound too much like The Beatles. “Suspend The Death Watch” is another decent song that hypes you up for an epic ending like “Hypoxia”, but instead goes another, more boring route which is a real shame and a missed opportunity.
"Pulse" is a record which suffers from a severe case of identity crisis. Tommy Rogers really does deserve a lot of credit for writing this record however, which is mostly decent but only great at a few parts. Playing all the instruments on your album is a pretty daunting task, and Rogers succeeds at it despite very mediocre drum playing and some songwriting fails. It is now clear that Rogers songwriting job in Between The Buried And Me is probably a little more secondary than that of Waggoner, Briggs, Waring, and Richardson. This album reassures that the whole certainly is greater than the sum of its parts.