Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Broken Hope "Omen of Disease" (2013 album review) + BONUS live reviews

I just listened to the new Broken Hope album today, and YES it is killer! It certainly lived up to the hype for me. The songs are short and brutal with the classic mash up of chunky slow grooves and rapid-fire leads with blistering solos. The new line-up really works well together.

Let me say that I have been a Broken Hope fan since the early 2000's so I was super pumped when they announced a reunion tour, though I was skeptical of how they would sound without their original singer, who tragically died many years ago. The live show delivered, both in support of Obituary and at MDF 2013. Thankfully, these performances seem to have brought a whole bunch of new fans to the band. If you like stuff from the early 2nd wave of American Death Metal, such as Immolation, old Cannibal Corpse, old Suffocation, etc then you NEED to check out Broken Hope.

I haven't yet decided where the new album falls in relation to the other releases, one listen isn't enough. I will say that "Swamped In Gore" and "Bowels of Repugnance" are quite hard to top for me so this album will probably fall somewhere after them. Don't let that discourage you from listening to the new album though, it truly is brutal and has some disgusting lyrics (as always) which might be some of their best!

As for the above show, I saw the tour at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan, at great venue with sloping floor so General Admission people can see pretty much anywhere. There are also seats for those who want them. Obituary DEMOLISHED live, they played a long, long set and the crowd rewarded them by going appropriately bananas. Decrepit Birth was a little to 'technical' with way too many blast beats for me (meaning that the notes to brutality ratio was unbalanced in favor of the notes), Jungle Rot was great and had a solid set (as always, I've seen them at least 3x) though their sound was not as good this show (I blame the sound guy). Encrust was interesting, sounding like Death Metal and Crust as their name implies but not combining and of the best elements of either to me so they also fell short of amazing me. I will say all the bands put on an energetic show, I just didn't get into Decrepit Birth or Encrust.

*Review and photo copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Monday, October 7, 2013


I found myself in a secluded village during my life's journey, pondering the progression of my life and lamenting over its state of perceived futility and fragility. An old man in the town in which I was staying told me an interesting tale. He told me that there was a mighty drake that soared through the skies on certain evenings and that he was indescribably beautiful and old. Furthermore, if one were able to kill the drake, that person would inherit the drake's immortality.
As I had been of late much concerned with my own mortality and age, I decided to await the drake on the appointed nights with a magical weapon in hand. This spear had been forged by the local armorsmith, a man of legendary weaponry, and blessed by a powerful local shaman. Eager to have the matter of my trial against the drake over as quickly as possible, I paid these local experts to prepare these items for me. Wealth I had, eternity I did not.
After some nights of failure to spot the drake, waiting impatiently on sparse wind-bitten steppes, I finally caught sight of my prey. He was indeed beyond any words I know and likely beyond any that exist in the tongues of man. Nonetheless, I can say that he gracefully wound across the whole sky, back and forth, too quick to fully interpret his moves yet too slow to be unawed at their magnificence. He cast color about in all directions, lingering longest where he had last wound and coiled his titan form across the welkin.
He suddenly yet purposefully turned back towards me as though he was aware of his challenger but wished to display his grandeur before approaching in his regal fashion. This all after he wound ahead for what appeared many miles, though speed and distance were hard to judge, owing to his massive size and aforementioned timeless motions.
Picking up speed, he appeared to instantaneously grow many sizes larger, though I quickly realized this was because he was charging at me. As his tremendous bulk struck the ground I managed to leap and perchance land upon his body, clining barely with my extremities. Though the force with which he seemed to strike the ground was shattering, if he left any marks upon that virgin though spartan land, I did not see them and could not find any later. It was as though his force was concentrated only upon me and my mission, that we existed in a realm beyond that around us.
I managed to find projections and undulations to grip and maneuver about his body, though the wind as we rushed over the landscape was fierce and though his light was blinding against the ever-dark backdrop of the clear night sky. Once I had adequate purchase, I looked about for a weak spot from which the drake might be dispatched. I was raised my magical weapon as I looked, ready to attack at a moment's notice.
Then I lowered my weapon as my actions and their consequences seeped into my head like a gentle breeze against a fog bank. I could not bring myself to injure this creature, though it was quite doubtful I could at all, even marring his hide to claim some victory over his might would be fleeting. This besides, neither satisfaction, however great, nor life, however long, could compare with the pleasure of knowing such a beautiful creature existed untainted and untamed. I might live forever, but the drake's beauty would be lost forever to people the world over. I could not be so selfish nor could I feel fufilled were I to injure the drake.
He seemed to sense this change and wrapped me in light and warmth til I was blinded. It was as though I floated in a cloud on the sun. Then I saw a dark opening in the light and approached it, knowing intuitively that it led to the reality I had left when I first began battle with the drake. Though it was most comforting here, I realized that I must leave this place. Though it was serene it was also void of all other things. I needed to bring the lesson of the drake to the peoples of the world, something I could not do from deep in its bowels. I hesitated for only a moment to draw a deep breath, then I plunged into the darkness of the surrounding night.
I emerged upon a high hilltop near where my evening began, weapon alongside me. I looked up in time to see the drake sailing over a nearby mountain range. Though I cannot be sure if it was the wind in my ears, I fancy I heard some roar of acknowledgement from the drake as he departed. I made my way back to town feeling like a man reborn.
The next day I encountered the old man who had told me about the drake. He had a large smile and held up his hand to silence me before I had opportunity to tell my tale. He said, "Tell others what you have learned and live by it yourself. For no man can live forever in seclusion nor should he live to steal beauty. Beauty will come to him in its own time and a man's life is his own eternity for the universe is made only of his own perceptions and thus is born and dies with him." I then thought I heard a faint stirring of the wind like the voice of the drake and turned to look. Seeing nothing I turned back to the old man who had vanished. I returned to my life and home and lived happily by these lessons and the many that followed in their wake.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, October 4, 2013

ICELAND Trip, Day 1

"We're in... Iceland!" Very much unlike Wayne & Garth's not so excellent adventure in Delaware, I am super-excited to be in Iceland for the next few days. Though there was way too many last minute issues because yours truly can't plan a trip to save his life, I arrived in Iceland today with my beautiful partner to celebrate one year of marriage. On that note, perhaps I should post some photos of it someday. I dressed as a viking and cut a viking head-shaped cake with a sword, not to mention that we had a libation with a drinking horn.

We landed in Reykjavik at what amounted to about 2 AM our time, 6 AM local time and rode from Keflavik airport on a shuttle bus to downtown Reykjavik and our hotel. This in itself was somewhat confusing as their is a domestic airport right in downtown Reykjavik as well so if you ever travel here, be sure to check your airports!

Once checked in, we ate and crashed hard for a few hours. Thankfully 100 ISK go for roughly $0.82 USD currently so it didn't hurt THAT much to pay a ridiculous amount for hotel food. After our power nap, we headed downtown to shop and eat. Apart from some souvenirs for friends and family, I bought some excellent socks with a helm-of-awe and a viking head on them as well as a statue of the Icelandic female Krampus for myself. The statue is an old hag troll with goat's hooves, horns, and a bag of naughty children dragging behind. And right around Yule time too, perfect! Gruess Von Krampus! You KNOW that will be on display year-round at home!

All the staff at the hotel and at the shops downtown as well as all the citizens and fellow travelers we have met have been incredibly friendly and helpful, not to mention the air quality and view are markedly improved from our home near Manhattan. The water is crystal clear and the purest I've ever had anywhere. For dinner tonight we ate at Cafe Loki (how awesome?!). I ordered what was basically a traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner: lamb (smoked and both in texture and flavor indescribably blissful), boiled potatoes in cream sauce, red boiled cabbage, and peas. I washed it down with more water and birch tea. Yum!!

As of now, we are considering going out to try and spot the Northern Lights over Reykjavik tonight, but if not our next two nights are in Akureyri specifically for them so it's not necessary. Expect many more posts with pictures to follow as available. I guarantee a review of Icelandic lamb hot dogs, so be prepared!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

This is right outside our hotel!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

 This church was pretty beautiful. Though I am an atheist, I can appreciate the art of many religions, not to mention many cultures in general. I really liked how this place managed to be so spartan but so pretty. I also especially liked that the organ had some horizontally projecting tubes. Unfortunately, I was not treated to any dirges issuing from it...

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

 Dinner, day 1!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
 Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

Leif Eriksson statue! Yes, I am stoked to be there.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013, unless otherwise noted*