Record Swap: Masterlord vs. Lacertilian

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Greetings and welcome back to Record Swap. In today’s match-up, I paired the Toilet’s grumpy uncle in residence Masterlord with the coldblooded malandro-slaying reptile from down under. Will the two find common ground in the hallowed halls of metal Valhalla, or will they both press detonate on their silo switches and mutually assure destruction? Find out below! The rules are simple. No research. No foreknowledge. No mercy. — W.

Lacertilian’s Assignment: Night Conquers Day – Rebellion Is the Art of Survival (1999)

reb

In my book, Rebellion Is the Art of Survival is tied up with Black Funeral‘s Vampyr – Throne of the Beast for best U.S. black metal album, and it’s even more overlooked. The blasting second-wave furor, masterful riffs, stomping viking-era Bathory influence (complete with the occasional take on Quorthon’s beautifully strained vocal melodies), perfect application of haunting synth, and nods to extreme metal’s roots in thrash and traditional come together in all the right ways for me. It’s one of the few albums that I fully forgive for having such a ridiculously long runtime. Scouring the internet for similar enthusiasm has yielded me very few results, so I decided to see what our lizard pal Lacertilian (and by extension, all of you) think of one of my long-time favorites. — Masterlord

The speed at which Masterlord selected an album to task me with blindly reviewing seemed foreboding. Within an instant, he had chosen Night Conquers Day’s Rebellion Is The Art Of Survival, and the only way I could quell the slight apprehension was to open a beer and stab play.

The combination of the artwork and the somewhat theatrical build-up introduction that greeted me were unexpected, and if the following riff wasn’t the calm and composed loop that it is, the amalgam could easily seem comical. Just as I settled into its serene breeze things, turned squally and blew right through me. Coupled with the near-immediate introduction of the vocals I had to take stock. I looked down to see this album goes for over 72 minutes! Didn’t CDs only fit 74 minutes of music back then? I had to check if the fridge had more beers for this one.

Whilst soaking in the first few tracks I began to contemplate as to whether this was a European or US release; some staccato guitar stabs and a couple of brief chromatic bar-diving solos out of nowhere that would make Kerry King proud (7:00 & 7:20) all but answered that question for me. Speaking of the guitars, I found the guitar sound throughout this album to be hit and miss. The rhythm tone is great for the most part, but the leads do sound thin in comparison, with some solos reminiscent of the type of tone made by cheap Digitech multi-effects pedals in bedrooms (not that I’d know anything about that, I swear). In my mind, this blemish wouldn’t be as noticeable if the guitarists didn’t utilise the variety of effects that they do attempt. They clearly know what to do and when to do it, which is a commendable facet that few possess, but the actual result lets them down somewhat.

The tracks are prudently structured, and while most of them seem to clock in at over 10 minutes, the majority don’t feel like a drag to get through. It was not easy for me to differentiate between individual tracks, and I’m not sure if this is a function of the amount of time I have spent with the album (less than 2 weeks) or whether the album is just that kind of affair, with deliberately intertwined melodic themes echoing throughout. The great depth of this album leads me to lean towards the latter.

There are some ripping sections of double-bass and blasting in patches, particularly around the 21:50 mark. During the course of the album the guitars manage to create melodic layers that line up nicely with the overarching backing keyboard tracks. However, as well composed as the riffage is, it is let down somewhat by the culmination of several minor aspects of recording/production. For one, there are sharp jolts between the cleans and distorted riffs which when coupled with the hard panning they have gone for result in a jarring effect, which to me, doesn’t suit the style of the rest of the album. Another factor letting the overall result down are the fills; these riffs deserve better. Great riffs need solid turnarounds, and I found the bulk of these fills to be quite generic.

The lengthy nature of the album is somewhat alleviated by the middle section, which actually contains some of the stronger material found. This midsection is oftentimes the area where one feels the drag of duration setting in, but I feel this album picks up a bit here. I’m fairly sure I’ve heard the Masterlord himself decry several albums, even quality ones, for outstaying their welcome after some 40 minutes; over 70 minutes is surely an affront to this unwritten decree.

The vocalist offers up a few different styles which is always a good thing; about half of these work for me. There are moments of King Diamond-esque testicle constriction and another recurring voice which reminds me of Nelson Muntz from the Simpsons doing his best black metal impression. The lyrical matter appears to deal with his dislike of religion, and I found myself questioning whether this was written from the perspective of a life-loving day dweller or the Nightman himself.

dayman

This album will surely please some of the readers more than I, and while I did enjoy experiencing something a bit out of my comfort zone, I don’t know how much I’ll be revisiting in the future. I would, however, be greatly interested if there ever were to be a re-recording of this album with some of the aforementioned quirks and misgivings ironed-out. – Lacertilian


Masterlord’s Assignment: Psyopus – Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (2007)

1000x1000

After 20 minutes of going through albums which I thought Masterlord would enjoy, trying to find one he hadn’t heard, I gave up. He has heard everything! “Time to go for something weird,” I thought. Flashbacks to the mid- 2000s when I was expanding my mind at uni (in more ways than one!) brought the answer. Along with my steady diet of old classics were the fresh and strange sounds of bands such as The Red Chord, Meshuggah and Behold… The Arctopus. As bizarre and inconceivable as Colin Marston’s Behold… The Arctopus felt to me, the first time I heard Psyopus’ Our Puzzling Encounters Considered completely destroyed any notion I had of the boundaries of what could constitute music. Why would anyone who has mastered their instrument make something so unsettling and incongruous? Psyopus ask more questions than they answer and I liked the challenge of the puzzle. – Lacertilian

Look, “mathcore” is a combination of two words for which I harbor a deep, near-unlimited hatred. To me, the only conceivable mergers that might even approximate it in pure reprehensibility and horror would be spiders that swim around in the ocean, a tall bridge over water that is also a mean clown, and needles made of rejection. That said, this might be slightly biased. Since I’m reviewing blind, am not allowed to research, and possess nothing beyond a cursory knowledge of this style, I really have no way of telling how influential of an album I’m bad-mouthing here, but I’ll take my chances. Also I don’t care. It took me 20 seconds to be 99% sure I was going to hate this, then 13 more for the introduction of the vocals to bump it up to a curmudgeonly 100.

Let me get this out of the way first — this band is not unworthy of praise. It’s clear to me as a man with no talents that the members of this band are very, very skilled. I’m sure they’ve logged buttloads of hours practicing tirelessly to get to the point where they can play the shit that they play, and it is quite impressive. Now, how have they put these dandy skills of theirs to use in Our Puzzling Encounters Considered? Apparently by sitting in a circle together, strong-willed and single-minded in their pursuit of creating an album with the express purpose of irritating me specifically, on a deep and knowing personal level. I can’t shake the feeling that they did this just to hurt me. I have no other explanation. They know my name and probably have a dartboard in their practice space with my stupid face on it.

I should make something clear. Discord is not the issue here. Nor is jarring song structure or general freneticism. I enjoy all these things on occasion, but they — like pretty much anything — need to be used in ways that work. The haphazard shit-cramming of short wank-off passages  all designed to yell LISTEN TO HOW WEIRD WE ARE. AREN’T WE JUST SO WEIRD? COOL, HUH? THANKS FOR NOTICING for over half an hour is not a way that works for me. You could cut this album into 30-second chunks and rearrange them in any order to identical effect; an effect which I find profoundly annoying.

I know what you’re maybe thinking: I’m an idiot because that’s sorta the point of mathcore. To this I respond with two points. 1) Maybe that’s why this genre is fucking ocean spiders in the first place. 2) Mathcore with more credible songwriting does seem to exist. I’m not a man who personally enjoys The Dillinger Escape Plan, but times like these call for some desperate-ass measures, and I would promptly recommend them over this to anyone who still possesses the astonishing desire to sit through mathcore after refusing my initial suggestion to kick a chair out from under themselves instead.

Lacertilian recently confessed that, while it may have been a staple for him years ago, he was unable to sit through Our Puzzling Encounters Considered‘s entirety after assigning it to me. Let that, and the following image of my forever-soiled Youtube recommendations, be a warning to you.

WHY

Take what I say with a grain of salt. My opinions regularly suck and me reviewing mathcore is akin to W. reviewing a batch of El Monterey microwave chimichangas with still-sorta-frozen centers. You might really like it, though. Give it a shot. Have ibuprofen at the ready. – Masterlord

______________

There you have it. The Masterlord and the Lizard have struck each other down in glorious battle. May they both be carried away to join Odin’s legions. Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at toiletovhellwhiff@gmail.com.

 

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  • Pagliacci is Kvlt

    This was an awesome idea. More of this.

  • Bitter (Tyree) Debra
    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      I didn’t like it either.

      • Ted ‘Toth’ Nü-Djent ™

        “Needs moar 70’s prog influence” – Kevin Nash & Friends

    • Musicianship is good but the songs sound like one big clusterfuck.

      • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

        “Look what I can do core”

        Flush.

        • Void Dweller

          Holy shit, listening now. Just stupid.

        • The Fish Boz

          We talked exactly about this the other day.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          #icantconcentrateonanythingformorethanasecondcore

          • It sounds similar to Calculating Infinity to me. I kinda dig it.

        • KJM

          There is no blues in this music, no venom. Bland.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Boom!

  • Bozamole Jim

    Huh. I actually like Masterlord’s pick a lot more than I expected. Guys…. I think I’m getting kvlt n krieg n BDSM n shit. Great reviews, both of you fine fellows! I love this feature.

    • Bozamole Jim

      Ah, I see what the Time Travelling Lizard means about the bedroom guitar effects. Still really digging it, though.

      • Parts of the album sound like real shit. Doesn’t bother me much, though.

        • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

          Hail shit.

        • Bozamole Jim

          It’s a bit jarring, but not so much that I’ve turned off the album. And it feels pretty infrequent.

        • Suck Me While I Poo

          Yeah, there are some parts where they seem to really lose their focus (and forget to tune their guitars), especially on the vocals.

    • “Kvlt n krieg n Bondage Suicidal Merol n shit”.

  • RustyShackleford

    Wow, this was awesome. Did I miss the previous Record Swap(s)? Great writing both of y’all. Stoked for more. FIGHT TO DA DEATH! Yep!

  • I was not expecting the two of you to trash each other but I appreciate that you guys were honest and didn’t sugar coat the reviews. It was entertaining and that’s what matters most as long as there are no hurt feelings.

    • Lacertilinger

      I didn’t exactly trash his offering. I listened to it at least 10 times over two weeks and enjoyed it for the most part. I had to be critical of some aspects though.
      I tell you what though, finding an album for @masterlordsteeldragon:disqus to review was difficult for me because the dude has heard most of what I would consider to be in his wheelhouse, had to go for something ugly and avant-garde to find something he could do blind.
      Edit: There were definitely no hard feelings on either side, I had a good laugh at his description of Psyopus. It is pretty spot-on.

  • DCLXVI

    I can’t wait for the Janitor Jim / Edwar-damus Record Swap

    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      I’d love that. I wouldn’t know what to pick though.

    • i’d like to see someone swap with Mr. Bojangles

  • RJA

    Rebellion is the Art of Survival is pretty good. I guess black metal on the surface, especially the vocals – but you can definitely hear nods to all kinds of other genres.
    Hadn’t heard this before and is making for an interesting morning listen. Thanks.

  • DCLXVI

    one of these was entirely listenable and the other was not. You guy take a guess

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Totally agree. I can listen to Lacertilian all day.

      • Lacertilinger

        I can ramble..

    • Suck Me While I Poo

      Agreed. Psyopus =

      http://i.imgur.com/m94aH.gif

  • Those shirts on the other page are dope as hell, guys!

    Just snagged me one!

    GL

    • some mornings just aren’t the same without you

      • it is nice working offsite everyday…. but it cuts into my available time here when I do come back to the office

  • Void Dweller

    Fuck yeah, Black Funeral.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    To each their own, but Psyopus is unlistenable.

    • Void Dweller

      It really, really is.

    • Bitter (Tyree) Debra
      • JamesGrimm

        This is great.

        • Bozamole Jim

          It’s pretty wild. The drummer is going fucking hard.

      • Void Dweller

        Too much of this…..

        • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

          Accurate.

        • Maik Bozinton™

          Clean spaghetti?
          (I didn’t get it)

        • Suck Me While I Poo

          As Yngwie hears ‘sweeps’ and ‘noodling’ and appears in a cloud of smoke:

          http://thetoneking.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TMS_102_pt1.jpg

          • Void Dweller

            I DO like Yngwie. Tasteful shredding.

          • Suck Me While I Poo

            Not past ‘Rising Force’. After that, it’s a weedly deedly wank fest.

          • Void Dweller

            That’s debatable as the two albums after were decent.

  • The Fish Boz

    I wouldn’t know what to assign the Master & Lord with. I feel like trying to one-up him with some weird Brazilian black metal band would fail miserably.

  • JamesGrimm
  • Psyopus: Headache/10.

    The Masterlord pick have some great moments, but I agree with Lizard about the production and sounds effects. I think it lacks that “exact” atmosphere that other black merol bands have. Or maybe I am biased (look what I did, W. 😉 that I was listening Ulver in the morning, and the low production was backed up by good guitar/bass/drums tones.

    I didn’t even bothered to play the second song of Psyopus, it was so weirdly constructed and it was so lousy that I have to close the tab. Sorry Lizard.

    Good round, guys.

    Note: Lacertillian, you’re in debt with me and you have to ship a box of this to Venezuela 😉

    http://uae1.com/image/5522c43fdae89.jpg

    • noone seems to like Psyopus, but the feature wouldn’t be that much fun if everyone loved both picks!

      • It was too much for me. Sorry! 🙁

        • you have nothing for which to apologize! i can’t say i enjoy that Night Conquers Day anymore than i do Psyopus

      • RJA

        I agree – odds are if everyone loved both picks than it would already be something familiar.

      • Lacertilinger

        Taking people out of their comfort zone is something I don’t do often enough.

    • Lacertilinger

      Don’t have to apologise Link, they aren’t a cherished band I hold dear to my heart. I couldn’t even get the whole way through upon revisiting for the swap, a fact noted in Masterlord’s review.
      I do still enjoy Imogenis Puzzle though.

  • Hotdog Clifford

    All right I’m gonna say it… I kind of like Psyopus.

    • i’m digging what i’m hearing thus far! also dig the Behold… The Arctopus influence

      • Hotdog Clifford

        I think I am enjoying Psyopus more than I did Behold… The Arctopus. Probably because it has vocals or maybe my musical taste has evolved since I last listened to them.

  • KJM

    I lasted a full 2 minutes with Night Conquers Day as opposed to only 35 seconds with Psyopus.

    • Lacertilinger

      Give Night Conquers Day a chance and you’ll be rewarded with some great melodies.

      • KJM

        I have little to no ear for Black or Death Metal.

  • EsusMoose
    • Lacertilinger

      I didn’t know about the overlaying of the three (or just parts 1 & 3) Imogenis Puzzle across the albums till I was looking for something to give MSD for the swap.
      Makes me wonder if it was all planned or retro-fitted.
      Crazy.

      • EsusMoose

        I didn’t know about till 10 minutes before posting that comment, sounds cool as hell though

  • Suck Me While I Poo

    I actually quite like this Night Conquers Day stuff! Reminds me a bit of Summoning and Wintersun.
    Psyopus not quite so much. Never could get into their brand of LookieAtHowManyWeedlyDeedliesICanDoInOneMinuteCore.

  • Waynecro

    I really like this feature (I’m still listening to Eidola because of the last one). I used to listen to that Psyopus CD from time to time. “Whore Meets Liar” is a pretty catchy song. The screaming match between the male singer and female singer reminds me of the occasional domestic disturbances that used to erupt seemingly out of nowhere when I was growing up in suburbia. One day the neighbors are just fine; the next, the dude is drunk and doing donuts on his front lawn at 2:00 a.m. while his wife throws all his football collectibles into the street.

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      New here? Welcome!

      • Waynecro

        Thanks for the kind welcome. I’m actually a long-time reader (happy birthday to ToH, by the way). I just suck at posting comments.

  • IronLawnmower

    *sees night conquers day album art in youtube video*

    Well I’ve found my new desktop background

  • IronLawnmower

    Listening to Psyopus now. What in the granddaddy fuck am I listening to. This is fucking nonsense.

    • Lacertilinger

      It makes sense to someone though, they are able to repeat it.

  • CT-12

    I liked both of these albums, and I really like this column! Can’t wait for the next one!

  • Dan Wolfson

    Psyopus fucking rules