Micro Reviews Of Shining, Dew Scented And George Strait

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The line between jazz and metal isn’t as definitive as fans of either genre are likely to admit, and over the course of two long-players, Norway’s Shining has smudged that line even further: coupling punishing metal textures with jazz time signatures and melodic exploitations with the subtlety of a commercial arc-welder. Think Cows-meets-Fantomas and you’ll have a pretty good idea what’s in store for you on One One One, the follow-up to the widely acclaimed (and aptly titled) Blackjazz. This is music that requires attentive, multiple listens to fully appreciate. For those willing to commit to exploring the darkest reaches of challenging music, the payoff is mammoth. The guitar work alone is worth the price of admission, and while "pummeling" is oft used to describe metal rhythm sections, it’s never been applied as accurately as it is here. If Opeth is the thinking man’s black-metal King Crimson, the same can certainly be said for Shining—only the thinking is significantly darker and the execution leans more toward Belew than Fripp. (Michael Henningsen)

Dew Scented Insurgent (Prosthetic)

Hell hath no fury like a death metal band reformed. Twenty years on, German thrash/death purveyors Dew Scented unleash more than the beast on their umpteenth studio LP. Of these 19 tracks, six are live, including a couple of rare covers. Insurgent also marks an almost brand-new lineup, coalesced around founder-frontman Leif Jensen reunited with guitarist Marvin Vriesde and a bunch of newbies to usher DS into its third decade. New blood translates into raw ferocity unmatched by many bands years their junior. Where 2010’s Invocation was a statement like, "We’re still here, rocking the shit out of our laurels," their latest is a gauntlet placed not-so-gently at the feet of every up-and-coming NWOTM (New Wave of Thrash Metal) band that thinks being old and German is a cheap pub joke. There are no jokes here: Insurgent is the real thing, well over 70 minutes of pure, tight-ass chaos. The band continues to live up to their hard-earned reputation as one of the most determined and deadly thrash metal acts in recent history with one of the finest metal releases of 2013. (Michael Henningsen)

George Strait Love Is Everything (MCA Nashville)

So you like modern country music, huh? A lot of people do, and I think part of the reason is there’s a very specific formula that’s been in the works within country music as the decades go by. George Strait is a master of this formula. He’s George-fucking-Strait, man. His latest release, Love Is Everything, capitalizes on the aforementioned formula. For a country album to be successful, it has to have a few things working for it. The first is a love song—see the title track. It also has to have a “party” song, as only country musicians can do them (ie. drinking in a honky-tonk while two-stepping to a rickety jukebox)—see “The Night Is Young.” It also needs a sad song—see “Blue Melodies.” With these three tracks, Strait has concocted a successful country album, and we shouldn’t expect anything different. (Mark Lopez)

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