LotFP Compilation-Tape Review

April 25th, 2000

Compilation produced by Jim Raggi at Lamentations of the Flame Princess

First, Jim did a very nice job putting together these two tapes, I’m sure it was pretty challenging to find stuff that would be interesting to everyone, knowing that his audience knows quite a bit about metal. He was also nice enough to include LotFP #5, and as usual the interviews are the highlight, and I think the reviews should just be scrapped. 🙂

Anyway, some statistics to start out with. If I counted correctly, there are 31 songs on these two tapes. Here’s some broken-down information about where all the songs fit in for me:

I own the actual song on the tape: 11
I own something by the band but not the song on the tape: 6
I’ve heard something from the band before, but don’t own it: 2
Bands and songs that were totally new to me: 12

Ok, I’ve gone through these tapes three times now, so I figure that’s good enough for me to throw out my thoughts. After the first couple songs the first time through, I thought it would be interesting to abandon the nicely provided notes so that I’d be listening to each song without any preconceived notions. That made things kinda interesting.

Oh, also, I know Jim is going to whine and moan about this, but I don’t really give a crap about lyrics. Well, I do, if I have time to read them, and yes, they can definitely add or subtract from my opinion of the band, but that’s only after I’ve formed the majority of my opinion off the music alone. So maybe I’ll read these lyrics sometime, but I just haven’t had the chance yet.

Ebony Lake
‘Author of the Burning Flock’
from Upon the Eve of the Grimly Inventive

Hmm, some kind of grindcore-ish stuff, but with cool keyboards and other stuff. Whoa, it stopped. Now it’s horror-film music. Well, apparently this is one of those bands that is all over the place. I can dig that. Although I could do without the grindcore side. Interesting. It’s going to be hard for me to keep this band separate from Ebony Tears and Lake of Tears.

Kari Rueslatten
‘The Homecoming Song’
from her demo

I’ve heard this CD a couple times before, and like then, yeah, this chick has a nice voice, but it doesn’t really do that much for me. I guess I might be interested in hearing actual Third and the Mortal stuff, because I’m guessing that has a little more “music” to it than this does. The keyboards are pretty cheesy, but I guess it could be nice when I’m in the right mood. I don’t think I’ll ever have a huge boner over this chick like some people do though (and yes, I know what she looks like).

from Spellbound

From reading the song list earlier, I thought this was Cathedral. So when it came on, I was like, “huh, I never expected Cathedral to be so poppy like this,” and figured they were probably just being goofy. Well, it’s obviously not Cathedral. Anyway, there’s nothing bad about it, it has nice little melodies that make my head bob happily from side to side, it just isn’t really up my alley. At least now I know what “AOR” sounds like. Sounds like 70’s prog-rock to me (which I’m not a huge fan of either), except a little more poppy. There’s almost a “country” feel on this track. This has nothing to do with what I think of as “metal”.

from Sounds of Decay

Ok, so NOW came the Cathedral song. Hmm, Katatonia must have really ripped off Cathedral. Oh, wait, this IS Katatonia! I own Brave Murder Day, and it’s ok, but not one of my favorites. I really love October Tide’s Grey Dawn though, and I think this song sounds a lot more like that album, so it’s pretty cool. For you non-goat slingers, the interesting thing to note about this song is that it’s the same guy singing here as is singing on the Opeth song later on (right, Jim?) Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that!

‘Voyage of the Homeless Sapien’
from Statik Majik

Finally, the REAL Cathedral! And boy, is it pretty bad! It’s slow, slow, slow, boring, boring, boring. It’s obvious no one in the band has any sense of melody, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t doing it on purpose. Terrible vocals, and for 20 minutes the song just goes nowhere. Occasionally they try something interesting, but it seems to never work out. It’s not really heavy at all, I get zero emotions off of it, it has no groove, no melodies, no technical skill. I just can’t grasp the point. God, this makes me feel so bad for Jim. If he loves this, imagine the things that he heard at this time that he DIDN’T like!

‘The Suffering Has Only Begun’
from their s/t demo

Badass goth-y intro, and then a quick dive into black-vocalled death-ish metal. Decent, not terribly melodic riffs. Cool use of clean vocals, kind of like Darkane. Nice grooves and breaks. Pretty interesting for a demo band, but not quite at the level where it’s driving me crazy. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them though.

‘Still in the Dark’
from I

Ahh, Swano! I love “The Closing Chronicles”, so “I” is a much-anticipated album for me. And from this track it sounds like it won’t be a disappointment. Probably one of the most “metal” tracks I’ve heard from Nightingale, very nice and upbeat, much moreso than most of the dark and atmospheric “The Closing Chronicles”, yet still a step below the over-the-top “hit single” of that album, “Steal the Moon”.

‘Evocation of Vovin’
from Lepaca Kliffoth

I’ve had this album for a long time, so I’m quite familiar with this song. “Theli” is still my favorite Therion album, but I’m pretty sure this is my favorite Therion song of all-time (ok, “Siren of the Woods” might have it beaten). I simply love the guitar leads. It’s not a terribly long song, but it has lots of different little sections, and any fan of “Theli” will easily see the connection. And I love the little fake ending before they do the super-sugary real ending.

‘Of Nails and Sinners’
from La Masquerade Infernale

One of the best albums ever made, I did a review of this at PM a long time ago comparing it to Dream Theater’s “Awake”, and I still think it has a hell of a lot of similarities. Listen to the drumming, the keyboards, the bass. Sure, the vocals are quite a bit different than LaBrie, but they’re fantastic (and perfectly clean!) The music is complex, dark, melodic, atmospheric, twisted, and perfectly executed. What more could you want?

‘Iron Maiden’
from Maiden America

Whoa, the mix of distorted and acoustic guitars at the beginning made me think this band sounded totally like some other band I know. Then the singing started, and I was like “oh yeah, it’s Sculptured”. The beginning is very unlike the original song, but then it’s very much like it when they hit the chorus. It’s quite amazing, because the song sounds exactly like Maiden and no one else, but it also sounds exactly like Sculptured and no one else. A mark of a great cover, if you ask me. Fantastic trumpet-led jazz breakdown in the middle. Great mix of clean and death vocals. Probably one of the best Maiden covers I’ve ever heard.

‘Solar Flight’
from Maiden America

When this started, I almost thought it sounded like more Sculptured, but it quickly got too fast to be Sculptured. Pretty cool power metal, and there’s not much of this style of music that impresses me all that much these days. I had a fear that I’d find Tim Aymar really annoying, and that kept me from getting Control Denied for a while, but like on that album, he sounds pretty cool here as well.

Cea Serin
‘Holy Mother’
from Chiaroscuro

Whoa, is this Godgory? No, it’s not, but the intro is very similar. Very similar tight tight-as-fuck riffing style and drumming. As I love Godgory, this is very good. The more aggressive parts make it un-Godgory-like, but that’s not a bad thing at all, as they kick a ton of ass. Excellent vocals both on clean and growled side. Cool vocal melodies. Damn, and top-notch instrumental sections, great guitars, keyboards, unique song structure. Of course the production isn’t the world’s greatest, but I’m not LarryD, so that doesn’t really bother me. Ah, I see that it’s Cea Serin. I’ve listened to some clips before, but never thought too much beyond that. I think this is something I need to check out. This is the big winner of the two tapes for me.

‘Seventh Aeon’
from The Earth Gods

Nice intro. Hmm, when the band kicks in, it sounds a fair bit like Crematory or one of those other heavy-death-pop-goth bands. Cool death vocals, but beyond that there’s nothing that really grabs me about it besides the nice guitar solo. It’s decent, but no better than other bands like this that I don’t really care about. A few years ago it would have been really something. Well, interesting, of the two Atlanta bands, I expected to like Lilitu more than Abwhore, but it turns out it’s the opposite.

Brutal Truth
‘Wish You Were Here’
from some sampler somewhere…

Hmm, some nice laid-back rock music. Oh, now they’re singing Pink Floyd, that explains it. Weird vocals though, so I’m guessing it’s a cover. Whoa, the Tasmainian Devil apparently broke into the recording studio, everything is going completely nuts. Obviously not something intended to be “serious music”. Would probably be pretty cool if the “nuts” section went on for about 20 seconds instead of the eternity that it drags for. Good humor, terrible timing.

Iron Maiden
‘The Clansman’
from an OAN boot

Ah, good ol’ Iron Maiden. I probably like the last two Maiden albums more than just about anyone (except maybe Sumeet), they’re my two favorite Maiden albums. But I’ve never liked this song quite as much as everyone else seemed to. It’s definitely cool, but I prefer most of the other songs on Virtual XI over this. When I saw them live with Bruce, I didn’t think that Bruce did nearly as good of a job as Blaze did on the Blaze material, and this song doesn’t change my belief at all. Bruce just doesn’t have
that low-end power that Blaze does. Still, a really cool song with nice crowd participation. It reminds me that I’m gonna go fucking nuts when I see Maiden at Gods of Metal in Italy! 🙂

Napalm Death
from Peel Sessions

Ah, good, grindcore, my favorite. The only way music like this can really interest me is if it’s all technical and crazy like Cryptopsy or something. And, well, this isn’t. At least like most shitty grindcore, it’s over almost before you know it. Poor Jim, not knowing that there was metal out there to listen to in the mid-90’s that was actually good!

‘some Norwegian word’
from Kveldssanger

The second track with Garm singing, the man is a freakin’ genius. This is another album I’ve had for a long time, and what a badass piece of non-metal it is. Relaxed, atmospheric, and dark as fuck. Pure acoustic beauty.

Paradise Lost
‘As I Die’
from Shades of God

Heheh, when this one started, I thought it was Misanthrope. That’s because the only Paradise Lost I own is their “Reflections” compilation, and the Holy Records tribute album. Actually it’s Argile that does this song on that tribute, but they’re very Misanthrope-related. Sadly, I smashed that CD in my car when lowering the convertible top. 🙁 Any Paradise Lost fan should seek it out though, it’s a great tribute CD, and a great introduction to Holy Records bands. I think I prefer Draconian Times or One Second-era PL to this slightly more doom-oriented style, but this song is ok.

Paul Chain
‘Living Today’
from Alkahest

Maybe it’s just because I have Holy Records on the brain, but this sounds a hell of a lot like Serenity, one of the only Holy Records bands that I have no interest in. It’s mainly the vocals, and the going-nowhere-in-particular doomy riffs. There’s music that I can just ignore, but this seems like it’s actively trying to bore me. The “lyrics” are a pain in the ass too.

from Sagovindars Boning

I have both Otyg albums and all the Vintersorg releases, and I think I prefer the Vintersorg as a whole. Otyg is cool from time to time, but it’s never blown me away or anything. I’m sure some people looking for cool folk stuff would love it. I think my favorite Otyg song is their Holy Diver cover. I guess I’d like to hear an Otyg song sung in English, and see if that made me think it was better or worse.

‘MC Hammersmashed Face’
from the Jesus Fuck demo

Ok, um, this is shitty, with a production to match! That’s about all I can say about it. Sounds like something from a Milwaukee Metalfest compilation CD. Completely forgettable. Ah, I see, Narcolepsy, MC Hammersmashed Face, Jesus Fuck. I guess this was our little taste to learn what it’s like being a ‘zine writer. Ah, I see, it’s a rap medley, that’s why it sounded a little familiar. Cool idea, still sounds like shit though. VIP in full effect!

Benighted Leams
‘Wood Nymph of Summer Twilight’
from Caliginous Romantic Myth

This is extremely fucked up. I recognize the song, but the crazy distant echoing vocals totally throw it into another dimension. It’s almost sounding like “Kill the Wabbit!” Whoa, now it’s going completely nuts. Oh, I see, this is Benighted Leams, one of the gayest band names ever. Hmm, now I have to try and figure out what song I thought they were covering (any ideas?). A nice mix between relaxed, clean-vocalled sections and harsh black metal. Somewhat interesting, I may have to investigate further.

Orphaned Land
‘Thee by the Father I Pray’
from El Norra Alila

Ah yes, another track from one of the best albums ever made. And this is also the track that I use to show people how cool Orphaned Land is. Not that the other tracks don’t measure up to it, but it’s a pretty good compression of the whole album into one song. Fantastic oriental instrumentation, rhythms and melodies. Plus some very good metal. I’m constantly on a search for more bands like this.

‘To Bid You Farewell’
from Morningrise

Excellent, continuing on with songs from some of the best albums ever made. And no, I don’t say that about everything, Jim and I just happen to have pretty similar tastes. Morningrise has been my favorite album for a few years now. This song isn’t exactly representative of the entire album (except in the undeniable quality level), but if this song doesn’t touch you, well, that’s weird. I can’t imagine anyone listening to this song and not immediately running out and buying the album. Listening to this dub through a somewhat crappy tape player is kind of interesting too, it adds an extra “dustiness” to it, which is kinda cool. It would be cool to hear this song on vinyl.

Ebony Tears
from Tortura Insomniae

Nice transition continuing on the acoustics. Yet another CD that I own an love. I think this is one of the best (and most unknown) “melodic death metal” CDs. It has every one of the “cliches” of this style that bands use to set themselves apart from the crowd: acoustic guitars, female vocals, clean male vocals, and violin. But they’re all done so well and so uniquely that they don’t sound cliched at all, which I think is sorta what Jim was getting at when including this track. Very aggressive and very melodic at the same time. They even get pretty proggy at times on this album too. Their second album is totally different and far less original, but still pretty kickass.

‘Weeper on the Shore’
from Elegy

Hot damn, this guy is finishing up this tape strong! Another song started with acoustics, and another song from one of my favorite albums. I don’t really know what this means, but if I was forced to choose one album that defines metal in the 90’s, this would be it. It’s the old combined with the new, on multiple levels. God, what great melodies, and the fantastically simple bass. And the roars, dammit, the roars, they’re so beautiful!

‘Dawn of the End’
from Olden Domain

Hmm, when this one started, I thought “It sounds a little familiar, it’s some sort of melodic black/deathish band, but nothing terribly interesting.” Then it hit me that it was Borknagar. This song is very strange, because the first half is pretty generic, and probably one of the least interesting parts of this album, but the second half is about the 2 coolest minutes of music ever created. It gives me chills, it’s just pure atmosphere. I was pretty happy they did this song when I saw them. Oh, and guess who’s singing here? That’s right, it’s Garm, it’s his third track on this thing. I think that should tell you something about how much ass he kicks.

from Design 19

I’ve heard this album before, and it’s pretty cool groovy-gothy-dancy-sorta-metal stuff. I think I remember hearing songs that sounded a little better than this one before. The fact that Jim likes this (I’m assuming), but hates the Kovenant shows that he’s quite a clown!

‘In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated’
from the Kevin’s Telescope single

I own 4 Gathering albums, but haven’t been crazy enough to get a single. This is a pretty decent track, nice and heavy and doomy. Anneke is actually sounding a bit like Kari Rueslatten instead of her usual self (or maybe like the DCD chick, but I wouldn’t really know). Too bad I can’t listen to DCD without thinking that they ripped of Tiamat (yeah, I know it was the other way around).

Arch Enemy
‘Cosmic Retribution’
from Black Earth

This is the one Arch Enemy album I don’t have because I’m not a lucky bastard who finds it for $4 like Ralf Walter, and I’m not quite willing to pay $1/minute for it. Anyway, “Burning Bridges” was right at the top of my list from last year, and this definitely kicks ass. Melodic death metal done both deathy and melodic like no one else. Of course the vocals are still pretty lame at this point, and it’s not as sharp as BB, but that doesn’t hurt it too much. The classical guitar stuff is a surprise, they haven’t had any of that on their subsequent releases.

‘Heavy Metal is the Law’
from Walls of Jericho

Helloween was the second band I ever got into (after Queensryche). I remember thinking that Kai Hansen must be the worst vocalist ever born. Hmm, does that mean tastes can change over time? Whaddaya know! Anyway, this is one of Helloween’s best albums (no, actually all their albums are really great), and this is one of my favorite songs off it. Great speed, great melodies, and damn, that’s some kickass bass playing. Of course the fake crowd just tops it off. I’m sure Jim takes these lyrics to heart, but to me they’re just really silly. “Heavy!” “HEAVY!!!” “Met-uhl!” “MET-UHL!!!”

Ok, that’s it! It was a cool little exercise, and although it kind of confirmed that I’m already pretty aware of everything out there that I might be interested in, there are a couple things I can keep an eye out for now.

So thanks Jim!