December 29, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16

Another upset week in the NFL, for which there may be ramifications for a couple teams.

Really, the big story in Week 16 is that the Panthers are no longer undefeated. The rest of the teams that are either jockeying for a playoff position or seeding don't have the kind of juice behind them that Carolina did, because they weren't on the verge of doing something historic.

And to that end, I have to say that Carolina's effort against Atlanta was not very good.  Credit Atlanta if you like or point to the fact that it was a division game on the road; Carolina beat down Atlanta the last time they played and this time should have been the same thing.  It wasn't, and that diminishes this NFL season.

We likely won't remember it much longer than it takes to get to the Super Bowl. And after the Super Bowl, especially if Carolina either doesn't win or fails to make it that far, we probably won't think about the undefeated season that could have been.  I'm sure I won't.

Since it was a week with more upsets than usual, my picks suffered.  The last few weeks haven't been all that kind anyway, but this week required a late comeback by Denver (in OT, no less) to get me to 9-7 straight up.  I'm still toiling in mediocrity, in other words.

Here are the Rankings for Week 16:

December 26, 2015

Bleach 657 - God of Thunder 2

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and sibling rivalry after the cut.

December 23, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

Fifteen weeks in, and I think we've got an idea who's good.

There were some bumps in the road to be sure.  But now that the midseason slumps have gone away, the elite teams have separated themselves and now the arguments about contenders will rage.

I guess most people were talking about Carolina vs. the Giants the last two days.  It was a good game, although closer than expected.  Cam Newton locked it up late with a drive for the game-winning field goal; I'm still not a fan of field goals when it's winning time, but the way he played was clearly MVP-level.

And if they finish undefeated, he's the guy.  Hell, he might get it even if they don't finish undefeated, that's how well he's played.

The picks were a little better, at 10-6 straight up.  Had no idea Indy would lose at home to the Texans (an embarrassing loss if there ever was one) or that New Orleans would fail to show up again.

Here are the Rankings for Week 15:

December 17, 2015

Bleach 656 - God of Thunder

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and black cats after the cut.

December 15, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

It's possible that I assumed good health would carry through for the majority of the players in my top ten.  An injury to a QB this late can really derail a team, though.

It was thus a week of fluctuation as all but two teams were on the move.

That uncertainty was reflected in my rather terrible picks.  I went 7-9 straight up and picked worse than a barrel of monkeys trying to write Shakespeare.

A number of teams let me down, not least of which were Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Miami.  I'm not sure why I thought any of them would win, looking back on it now.

Then again, could anyone have predicted Jacksonville putting up 50 in a single game?

Here are the Rankings for Week 14:

December 10, 2015

Bleach 655 - The Miracle

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and abnormal growth rates after the cut.

December 8, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 13

Has the playoff picture gotten any clearer?

I think we're fairly certain who the good teams are at the conclusion of Week 13.  The two teams at the top of the NFC North are just behind and are basically week-to-week in terms of which is better.  Last week it was definitely Minnesota; this week it's definitely Green Bay.  Next week, who knows?  Maybe Chicago will outplay both of them.

My picks were a bit better, but still not where I'd like them to be.  I was 10-6 thanks to going with Detroit and Chicago, among other teams that just got beat outright.

It's probably safe to say that five of the eight divisions are sewn up.  The AFC South should go right down to the wire, along with the aforementioned NFC North and the moribund NFC East.

How bad is that NFC East, you ask?  Well, the AFC South looks pretty good in comparison.

If that isn't a damning statement, I don't know what is.

Here are the Rankings for Week 13:

December 3, 2015

Bleach 654 - Deadman Standing

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and transitions (what a twist!) after the cut.

December 1, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 12

Thanksgiving threw a wrinkle into the patterns I thought were developing over the 2015 season.

And for whatever reason, I think that successful teams will continue to be successful, generally speaking, as the year goes on.  However, that didn't quite turn out to be the case for a few teams.

The most notable game was Sunday night's Denver/New England matchup that saw the Pats fall out of the #1 spot for the first time in what seems like a year. That leaves one undefeated team, and I think you know who's #1 now.

That said, there still aren't a lot of "good" teams in the league.  Yes, there are more teams with winning records at the moment, but a lot of them are 6-5 and that's not what I would consider to be "good".

My picks were fairly abysmal, which seems to be the usual in this stretch. I had to bet on Baltimore (and thus, that blocked FG that turned into a touchdown) just to get to 8-8.  Monkeys on typewriters...yeesh.

Here are the Rankings for Week 12:

November 27, 2015

Bleach 653 - The Theatre Suicide Scene 7

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and more deicide after the cut.

November 24, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

Another interesting week in the NFL as some teams that looked down and out got right and others continued to swoon.

The relative unpredictability (meaning, good teams that fell on their faces) meant that it was a hard week to pick and my picks stunk.  I batted .500 this week, which is not especially great straight up.  I banked on teams like Chicago and Minnesota winning (oops), as well as Philadelphia and the Jets.  So there was plenty of disappointment to go around.

Still, I'm thankful for football, even when it infuriates me.  And Red Zone.

And the internet.

Here are the Rankings for Week 11:

November 19, 2015

Bleach 652 - The Theatre Suicide Scene 6

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and mass confusion after the cut.

November 17, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 10

Week 10 of this NFL season was punctuated by stunning upsets of teams that previously looked pretty damn good.  What's particularly galling is that the teams who won were hardly what we might call "high-caliber".  Green Bay and Cincinnati in particular dropped the ball in hilarious fashion and survival pools suffered as a result.

My picks for the week, as could be expected, were a disaster.  6-8 total, with galling losses all over.  I'm not adept at calling the upset, apparently, because other than getting Chicago and Washington right, I floundered.

Also, thanks to Cincinnati's loss there are only two undefeated teams left.

Here are the Rankings for Week 10:

November 12, 2015

Bleach 650 & 651 - The Theatre Suicide Scene 4 & Scene 5

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Let's talk about the one from last week too, shall we?

Spoilers and the ol' bait-and-switch after the cut.

November 10, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 9

Not even here were the top five set in stone.  And now that every team has played eight games, I think we have a better idea who is for real and who isn't.

As always, these Rankings are descriptive rather than predictive.  I waited until each team had played half their schedule for a reason, after all.  And I still qualify that we actually know nothing until the season is over.  True, we have ideas and we can pick the results with a fair amount of sophistication and accuracy (emphasis on "fair" amount, for sure).

But what do we really know until the playoffs come around?  And even then, performance in the playoffs is what we all focus on.  That is the nature of professional sports.

As far as the picks go, I got waylaid in the late afternoon window by a couple of good teams who lost to significantly worse ones.  Denver and Atlanta were not quite ready to play; they did well enough to avoid blowouts, but that's about as charitable as I'll get.

Here are the Rankings for Week 9:

November 3, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 8

I was on-board with the NFL becoming a passing league.  But over the last couple of seasons, it hasn't really been borne out, as coaches continue to do their jobs in an overly conservative manner, running the ball is still the way to go, and defense hasn't entirely been legislated out of the game as some might want you to believe.

I put most of the blame on the Seattle Seahawks for winning the Super Bowl a couple seasons ago.  Had Denver won, I think we would be seeing a full-fledged passing league.

Since New England won after last season, I don't see much of a change. They're still the only team that plays confidently and matches their style to the opponent on the other side of the field.  Could that have something to do with their coach?  Most likely.  Belichick has four Super Bowl's to his credit, the best QB in the league, and a bag full of onions.  Yes, onions.

Speaking of the best QB in the league, most want to see that title given to Aaron Rodgers.  I think he proved that he isn't when he wilted against Denver's defense Sunday night.  We'll see how Brady does in a few weeks, but as of right now he's the best and the other top teams don't really have a guy that's in his league currently.  I mean, would you take Cam Newton or Andy Dalton over Brady?  How about Peyton Manning?

My picks were a little better than usual, but I still could have done more.  I was 10-4 straight up; picking Tennessee, the Giants, and Green Bay doomed me to a worse week than I could have had.  I didn't see Atlanta losing to Tampa Bay; that one was a surprise.

Here are the Rankings for Week 8:

October 29, 2015

Bleach 649 - The Theatre Suicide Scene 3

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and weirder spirits after the cut.

October 27, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7

How many good teams are there after seven weeks?  I'm going to go with nine.

Is that problematic when I do a top ten every week?  Yeah, but somehow I manage.  And this week, I have both teams that ostensibly play in NY (though it's actually New Jersey) in at the bottom.

No sign of Buffalo, but hey, that's what they get for losing to Jacksonville, because no matter where the game is played, you can't lose to Jacksonville and still be taken seriously.

I went 9-5 straight up in Week 7, thanks to somewhat explicable losses by Indy and Pittsburgh, the aforementioned trip to London for Buffalo, and San Diego being one of the worst teams in the league despite having the "perpetually underrated" Philip Rivers.

Here are the Rankings for Week 7:

October 22, 2015

Bleach 648 - The Theatre Suicide Scene 2

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and the "abyss of despair" after the cut.

October 20, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 6

Beyond the top 5, it's a bit difficult to know who's good through six weeks.

I always figure that by the quarter pole, teams will have themselves figured out or be closer to that point than they usually are.  I guess I'm a bit too optimistic in that sense.

My picks suffered a bit as I went 8-6 straight up.  I had a feeling about New Orleans but didn't pull the trigger.  I also got burned by the Jaguars not stepping up at home against a beatable opponent and the Steelers showing that they really can overcome the loss of Roethlisberger, even if it takes a third-string kid to do so.

Also of note, especially where I'm concerned, only one undefeated team (Atlanta) fell in Week 6.  But as the other five teams remain undefeated, it's bluntly obvious who is up there and who isn't.

Here are the Rankings for Week 6:

October 15, 2015

Bleach 647 - The Theatre Suicide

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut, as usual.

October 13, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

Oddly, Week 5 was one of the few where very little change took place in my top ten.  I don't expect it to happen again quite like it did, either.

As far as the picks go, I was 10-4 (straight up, per usual).  I honestly didn't mind getting last night's game wrong; even though I took San Diego I really wanted to see Pittsburgh win.  Once Roethlisberger comes back, I think they have a stronger team all around.

The bye weeks have helped the Rankings stay relatively stable from last week to this week.  Another odd factoid is that after last year when no teams were 4-0, six teams have reached that mark.  As my long-time readers know, I like undefeated teams and prize them above all others.

And there just may be more good teams in the NFL this year than in the last three to five.  Maybe.

Here are the Rankings for Week 5:

October 7, 2015

Bleach 646 - The Second Eye

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and macho BS after the cut.

October 6, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

Already 1/4 of the way through the 2015 NFL season.  Can you believe it?  It seems like just yesterday that New England and Pittsburgh were squaring off on a Thursday night.

I'm not sure we know a hell of a lot just yet.  Five teams are 4-0 (with the aforementioned Pats 3-0), but other than Green Bay and Denver there will be questions lingering for most of the remainder of the season.

I went 10-5 picking the games straight up.  Kinda got bit by road teams again (really, I'll never learn), but all in all it wasn't that bad.  Unexpected results like Buffalo going belly up to the Giants continue to confound me.  I would have never picked the Giants to win that game.

Injuries have dictated a lot of what's gone on in the first quarter.  Hopefully the next three quarters don't result in more quarterbacks going out.

Here are the Rankings for Week 4:

October 1, 2015

Bleach 645 - Don't Chase a Shadow

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and other mysteries after the cut.

September 29, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

An interesting week with what appeared to be course corrections after the nigh-disastrous Week 2.

The number of undefeated teams is dwindling, as usual.  Parity is here to stay.

Still, that's not to say there are no great teams.  In fact, I doubt you could go wrong with anyone in my top 5.  Peyton Manning appears to have taken control of the offense again in Denver, and while not everything is clicking just yet, the defense is strong enough to mask inefficiency.  Arizona, Green Bay, and New England are hotter than Rio in the summer too.

Of course, you can't have great teams without some truly dreadful teams at the bottom.  There are some 0-3 teams worthy of being scoffed at, but even a 1-2 team like the Dolphins is getting increased scrutiny thanks to showing up small against a division rival.

My picks were undone this week by home teams, surprisingly enough.  Three of my five misses were the result of home teams not taking care of business.  I'm still chasing the elusive 16-0, although with Week 4 coming up, the byes begin.

Here are the Rankings for Week 3:

September 24, 2015

Bleach 644 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 7

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and spooky containers after the cut.

September 22, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

Many teams had a rough go of it in Week 2.  A number of QB's went down, results were downright foolish (and difficult to predict), and a mere nine teams stand at 2-0.

After starting strong with a 12-4 Week 1, I plummeted to 9-7.  Obviously, I didn't learn anything from last week, as I went too heavy on road teams to my detriment.  Five of my seven losses were road teams that should have been able to handle the pressure, but didn't.

There are also nine 0-2 teams that look pretty bad.  Of that group, I think Indianapolis to make a run of sorts.  That is to say, I think they'll win their division, but as of now they certainly do not look like a "contender".

Here are the Rankings for Week 2:

September 16, 2015

Bleach 643 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 6

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and "excessive regeneration" after the cut.

September 15, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

The first week of the NFL season is complete.  Thanks to the proliferation of Thursday night games throughout the season, there isn't a whole lot of time to process what went on before the next week begins.

I'm not a fan of Thursday games, personally, and this week's entry will undoubtedly be a "defensive" struggle that is unpleasant to watch.

Could this Thursday's Broncos/Chiefs match-up be worse than last night's Vikings/49ers debacle?  Who's possible.

At any rate, I pick all the games straight up, but thanks to going a little overboard on road teams, I went 12-4.  A solid start, but it definitely could have been better.

Here are the Rankings for Week 1, with the usual caveat that they are descriptive rather than prescriptive in effect:

September 10, 2015

Bleach 642 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 5

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and odd flashbacks after the cut.

September 3, 2015

Bleach 641 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 4

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and frayed ends of sanity after the cut.

August 27, 2015

Bleach 640 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 3

Another week, another Bleach chapter, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and names that might be more real than other names after the cut.

August 20, 2015

Bleach 639 - Baby, Hold Your Hand 2

After a week off, there's a new Bleach chapter.

Spoilers, the sublime, and the ridiculous after the cut.

August 6, 2015

Bleach 638 - Boiling Malice & Total Comedy

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and moonwalking after the cut.

July 30, 2015

Bleach 637 - Baby, Hold Your Hand

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and sarcastic applause after the cut.

July 23, 2015

Bleach 636 - Sensitive Monster

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and inflatable heads after the cut.

July 15, 2015

Bleach 635 - Hooded Enigma

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and a shaky camera after the cut.

Rellik - Spiraling Infinite Chaos (2015)

First things first: listen to Spiraling Infinite Chaos at Bandcamp.

Musically, 2015 started slowly for me.  I was dealing with a lack of interest in the genre and while I suppose I have recovered my enthusiasm to a certain degree, I can't shake the feeling that years past are truly past and we won't see a reprise of their greatness.

Spiraling Infinite Chaos was one of the first new records I heard after starting to come out of my malaise.

To be kind, the record kicked me out of that mode and got me pretty excited.

I can't say that every other record (or most records, for that matter) will get this kind of reaction out of me in 2015.  But I do know that getting kicked in the pants is incredibly helpful and part of the reason I'm writing this review to begin with.

Rellik is nominally a thrash band, though the harsh vocals and technical drumming belie influences from other sub-genres.

On the whole, I would say that six of the eight tracks on here are awesome and would constitute mandatory listening for anyone who wants to hear the best metal of 2015.

Obviously, that means that two tracks aren't quite up to snuff.  In my opinion, those would be "Nothing but the Faith That Failed You" and closer "The Descent".  "Nothing..." fails the listener in that, instead of being a tight, to the point ass-kicker like...the rest of the album, it meanders and can't really decide how it wants to dissect the listener.  So while it's not terrible, per se, it's not on the same level as the other tracks.

"The Descent" is an instrumental outro.  Yawn.

Okay, okay, not every band is going to write an instrumental as awesome as "La Villa Strangiato".  Point taken.

Still, if you're going to close the record with an instrumental, it should probably be more interesting than "The Descent".  Either that, or change the sequence so that the excellent title track closes instead.

That leads me to a thought that I pondered recently on Twitter.  I was trying to think of what I would call a "perfect" record, and failing that, how many "mulligans" I would accept on a "great" record.

In the case of Spiraling Infinite Chaos, even with two mulligans (the aforementioned tracks that aren't up to par), it's still great.  It's undeniably great.

It's going right up to the line, though; if there was another song that wasn't up to snuff, I'd have to dock points and call it "good" rather than "great".

Thankfully, Spiraling Infinite Chaos has enough ass-kicking tracks and staying power that it should remain among my top records of 2015 when all is said and done.

July 13, 2015

Bosse-de-Nage - All Fours (2015)

First things first: listen to All Fours at Bandcamp.

Bosse-de-Nage is an enigmatic four piece from the Bay Area.  Their first two albums were by-the-book black metal with an emphasis on expressing the qualities embodied in the second-wave.

And then...something strange happened.

The band's sound opened up considerably on III, released on Profound Lore back in 2012.  Specifically, the drummer was given free reign to utterly destroy his kit on practically every track.

That sense of freedom is utterly palpable.  It improved the music tremendously.

After a break to rest and come up with new ideas (one would assume, at least), Bosse-de-Nage has returned with All Fours.  Unlike most other bands, they continue to evolve and improve.

All Fours continues the band's penchant of mixing black metal and hardcore, which usually presents itself as tremolo riffs underpinned by drumming that utilizes the entire kit and has a ton of energy to drive the songs forward. The presentation is often relentless and can be overwhelming.

But the band is not without subtlety.  "Washerwoman" is an example of how they can work in a slow build, only to release the tension in convulsive bursts.

It doesn't hurt that the lyrics written for the album are by turns funny and overtly sexual.  The aforementioned track describes a woman breaking and entering (via a window, no less) a building where a party or gathering of some sort is taking place; the woman will not rest until she's "washed every penis in this room".  Sounds like a joke?  No, that's the actual line.

They are intelligently written and have a certain flair if you can overlook a certain amount of crass honesty.

Overall, a very good record that I expect will be among the best of 2015.

July 9, 2015

Bleach 634 - Friend 4

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and fire after the cut.

July 8, 2015

High on Fire - Luminiferous (2015)

Dealing with change can be rough.

It's not just a problem that reveals itself in the music I listen to, either.

Another realization I had recently was that it's been 10 years since High on Fire's magnum opus, Blessed Black Wings.  A lot of things change in that amount of time and it's possible that the ability to produce a classic like that or its direct follow-up may no longer be accessible by the three musicians currently in the band.

Even if that's the case, I still believed that they could do better than previous album De Vermis Mysteriis...and it seems that I've been proven right.

Kurt Ballou (Converge) returns as producer.  So right off the bat, we know the record will sound good.

The change I referred to at the top has to do with vocals.  While I would never call Matt Pike one of my favorite vocalists (he lacks the natural range and charisma of Cornell, Keenan, Dio, etc.), I did appreciate his gruffness and utter lack of pretense.

With Luminiferous (a mouthful of a title even though it's a mere single word), Pike has taken on the task of making his vocals more melodic and thus more memorable.

I can say that without a doubt he has succeeded.  But this is a double-edged sword, for while the vocals are indeed memorable (on more than one occasion), the riffs aren't quite up to par.

Still, the album as a whole is more listenable than the previous and the guitar playing isn't deficient by any means.  Maybe it will take more listens to unlock the sweetness at the center of these new creations.

I just can't help but wonder if introducing melodic vocals (and undertaking a track like "The Cave", which I loathe unreservedly) is merely the first step in creating a "kinder, gentler" High on Fire.

I suppose the answer to the above will have to wait.  For now, we have a solid album to enjoy and contemplate.

July 6, 2015

Giant Squid - Minoans (2014)

First things first: listen to Minoans at Bandcamp.

Minoans presents an indirect challenge to me and listeners of my ilk.

The band's last release, the Cenotes EP, was short and to the point.  It contained five tracks that hewed closer to the traditional metal confines; though they were melodic, they were heavy and were built on a strong foundation of guitar riffs.

Much like previous LP The Ichthyologist, the sound of Minoans is fuller, more filled out than that of the EP.  There are more eclectic influences present that shape the construction of the songs.  There are directions taken that were ignored on Cenotes.

Also, producer Matt Bayles has been switched out for Tim Green (whose credits include a personal favorite, Christian Mistress' Possession).

There are new members to take note of, as well.  Andrew Southard (previously a guest on first LP Metridium Fields) plays keyboards and adds vocals, while the drumming chair continues to rotate; this time, Grayceon drummer Zack Farwell takes a turn.

The challenge I mentioned above lies in the vast gulf that separates Minoans from Cenotes.  Aside from "Mycenaeans", there are few riffs to be found.  More to the point, Aaron Gregory's guitar isn't what drives these songs.  Through the first half of the album, we are treated to a display of atmosphere.  "Sixty Foot Waves" and "Mycenaeans" throw the listener for a bit of a loop as they are among the heavier tracks and the ones that most rely on guitar.

"The Pearl and the Parthenon" is gentle; it's almost a pop song.  Closer "Phaistos Disc" brings back the aggression, but lacks a standout riff that would make it as successful as "Mycenaeans".

It's taken me a while to reconcile the challenge that the record lays down. Given the difference in producers (which does result in a noticeably more dense soundscape this time) and the change of direction in the songwriting, I had a great deal of trouble in parsing out whether or not this is a good record.

Based on the things I usually like to listen to and review, since Minoans bears little similiarity to them, it would not be a "great" album.  So what I've tried to do when listening to the album over the last week is to remove myself from the equation and try to engage the album on its own terms: to appreciate the eclecticism provided by Gregory et al in the songwriting and playing.

Minoans is a well-executed album.  I think most people would enjoy it.

If that is what makes a great album, then Giant Squid have another winner on their hands.

And for my own personal enjoyment, I hope for more riffs on the next one.

July 2, 2015

Bleach 633 - Friend 3

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and an early end to flashbacks after the cut.

June 25, 2015

Bleach 632 - Friend 2

Another chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and random convenience after the cut.

June 18, 2015

Bleach 631 - Friend

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and strange friendships after the cut.

June 11, 2015

Bleach 630 - The Twinned Twilight

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and somewhat random encounters after the cut.

June 8, 2015

Tribulation - The Children of the Night (2015)

In 2013 Tribulation released The Formulas of Death.  I reviewed it here on the blog; it has been my most-read entry over the entire time the blog has been active.  So when I got around to listening to new music in 2015 and saw that Tribulation had released a new album, I knew that I would have to review it.

The Formulas of Death presented a hybrid of black and death metal that looked toward the future, taking (or at least attempting) a bold step forward.  My feelings remain neutral, for the most part.  I can certainly appreciate the effort they put into the record and how it goes about its business effortlessly.

Tribulation signed to Century Media for the release of The Children of the Night. That leads me to wonder something that may well be unknowable: did the band sell this record to the label, or was this change in direction mandated by the label and agreed to by the band?

However it was manifested, there can be no doubt that this record is much different from the previous.  Whereas The Formulas of Death was built on a foundation of metal that then branched off past the outer bounds of the genre (and its death/black sub-genres), The Children of the Night is rather unapologetically a rock album dressed up with harsh vocals and a semblance of heaviness to mask its true intentions.

I would not classify this as a metal album.  In itself, that fact does not make The Children of the Night bad or not worth a listen.

Still, I cannot fathom why the band would change so much when it appeared they were on a fruitful creative path.  What they accomplished in the past was enough to get them signed to one of the larger metal labels out there.

I find myself unimpressed with the material on The Children of the Night and as a consequence, my enthusiasm for future releases by the band has ebbed considerably.

June 4, 2015

Bleach 629 - Gate of the Sun

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and perpetual waiting after the cut.

May 28, 2015

Bleach 628 - New World Orders

A new chapter of Bleach is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and a small amount of satisfaction after the cut.

May 21, 2015

Bleach 627 - The Creation

There's another Bleach chapter out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers and general disappointment after the cut.

May 14, 2015

Bleach 626 - The Holy Newborn

There's a new Bleach chapter out.  Might as well talk about it, right?

Spoilers after the cut.

May 7, 2015

Bleach 625 - Living Jaguar

Oh, hey, there's another Bleach chapter?  There sure is, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut, as usual.

April 23, 2015

Bleach 624 - The Fang

After a week away, Bleach is back.  Let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

April 9, 2015

Bleach 623 - Against the Judgment

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

April 2, 2015

Bleach 622 - The Agony

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

March 26, 2015

Bleach 621 - The Dark Curtain

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

March 19, 2015

Bleach 620 - Where Do You Stand

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

March 12, 2015

Bleach 619 - The Betrayer

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

March 5, 2015

Bleach 618 - The Dark Arm

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

February 26, 2015

Bleach 617 - Return of the God

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's discuss it.

Spoilers and an unusual amount of action after the cut.

February 19, 2015

Bleach 616 - Mimihagi-sama

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Fundamental changes and spoilers galore after the cut.

February 12, 2015

Bleach 615 - All Is Lost

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut.

February 5, 2015

Bleach 614 - Kill the King

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it.

Spoilers after the cut, as usual.

January 29, 2015

Bleach 613 - The Ordinary Peace

Another Bleach chapter is out, so let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

January 22, 2015

Bleach 612 - Dirty

First Bleach chapter of 2015!  Let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

January 1, 2015

Best Metal Albums of 2014

Greetings.  Once again, we've reached the end of the year/the beginning of a new year and that means it's time for me to lay out my Best of 2014 in metal.

I have to say, in my usual (overly, perhaps) honest and candid way, that I could literally copy-and-paste the opening of my Best of 2013 list here. Other than the date, nothing has changed!

The same criteria apply that I laid out last year: riffs and enjoyment.  Albums that don't have quality riffs were shoved aside.  That's all I'm going to say about it, though I'm sure that some will question my choices on an individual basis.

Now, let's get down to business, starting with my "Just Missed".  No honorable mentions in 2014; it wasn't a good enough year for that.

Best Metal EP's of 2014

Here are five EP's that I enjoyed in 2014.  The list of LP's will be up later on.

The King Is Blind - The Deficiencies of Man
-Some heavy riff-oriented death metal.  Had it been a full-length, it'd be on my other list, most likely.

Myopic - Beyond the Mirror's Edge
-A release that has stuck with me for a while thanks to an indelible riff in "Iron Towers" and a closer that is a tour de force.

Owl - Into the Absolute
-The band's evolution continues with industrial textures and a bit of melody. They also put out a second EP entitled The Last Walk which goes even further out into weirdness.

Void Ritual - Holodomor
-One of the better black metal releases I've heard, short- or long-form.  The fact that it was put together by one guy in the desert makes it even more impressive.

Yellow Eyes - The Desert Mourns
-A USBM band that continues to make strides.