Various Artists – Robotic Empire Sampler #1

Various Artists
Robotic Empire Sampler #1

“A Sampler?” I said to my friend, drunkenly. “How the hell do I review a sampler?” “Well, you moron,” he said, “you just sort of talk about what acts on the sampler represent something interesting, and which ones you don’t like, and why.” “Oh yeah,” I said, and, once I sobered up, I sat down to write the review. With 27 songs, and nearly as many acts, it’s going to be impossible for someone as lazy as I to describe them all, but here’s a few highlights:
Pig Destroyer, “Task Master” and “Purity Undone” – Pig Destroyer show that they are really on top of their game with these under-a-minute hurricanes. Furious vocals, lightning fast beats, and a very cool set of riffs. It amazes me how much power this band can squeeze into a tight space.
Neil Perry, “Looking Back at the Way You Want it to be in the Future” and “Wait, Did He Get Enough Yet?” – I haven’t heard of this band before, but after hearing these two vastly different tracks, I’m sure going to seek out more. The first is a raging slab of metalcore, all screamed vocals and tension. The latter is a live jam, mellow, demonstrating musicianship without being showy. They have, however broken up – but do plan to release a double CD of their discography.
Hassan I Sabbah, “Not So in Tune with Shells” – These guys pack more ideas into a one minute song than some bands do onto an entire record. Supersonic tempo changes, really inspiring guitar work, and an almost Mastodon-like sense of progression are on display here.
A Life Once Lost, “Our Second Home” – Throat shredding vocals, combined with military precision, they reminded me a bit of Lamb of God. Good, straightforward metal. And, sometimes, good, straightforward metal is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Pageninetynine, “Your Face is a Rape Scene” and “More Complicated Than a Sci Fi Flick” – I’m a sucker for a good, hard driving riff, and these guys inject a sense of groove into the music which had me nodding my head like an idiot by the end. That’s a really good thing, trust me. And, much like Neil Perry, they’re also calling it quits. Find something by this band while you can.
The Ultimate Warriors, “Kids Need Clues” – What can you say about a 13-second song? Not much I suppose, but for some reason I was chuckling at the end of it, so it gets a mention. With a name like “The Ultimate Warriors,” I’d imagine they don’t take themselves too seriously.
A Day’s Refrain, “Forces of Habit” – Good, old fashioned grindcore inna Discordance Axis style (ok, not quite as, um, abusive as DA); it’s nice to hear someone can still work this style without sounding like a set of liches.
And a few lowlights: Benumb, “Path of the Righteous” – This band is fairly well respected in grind/extreme circles, and I cannot figure out why. The vocalist sounds as if he’s constipated, the production sounds like it was recorded with a condenser mic in an air raid shelter, which renders the music a big, tinny blur. I’ve heard live shows by these guys are amazing, but I’ve never heard a recording by them which inspires at all. This is no exception.
Hot Cross, “Untitled” – Like the Dillenger Escape Plan, without the focus. The vocalist isn’t up to the task, sounding like he’s in danger of running out of breath, and the solo in the middle is just dull.
Superstitions of the Sky, “Tonight” and “Things Said in Passing” – These tracks sums up what’s wrong with emo (and no, I don’t think all emo is bad); however, repackaging a crappy 80s powerballad, making it acoustic-based, and layering it with a vocalist who sounds as if someone has stolen his lollypop is just laughable.
There are a number of other bands here, some good, some bad, all worth taking the time to listen to at least once. Robotic Empire is a pretty cool little label, all things said and one, releasing mostly EPs and 7″ records, some from more established bands (Opeth), and a number from a few bands I have absolutely never heard of. They also do limited distribution of a few frighteningly obscure bands/labels material (and at nice low prices). After wading through the sampler, and checking out their website, I’ve come to the conclusion that Robotic Empire are a label worth spending some time with.