Review by Jack on September 4, 2002.
The latest sampler from metal juggernaught label, Earache Records is upon us and by all accounts is a perfect introduction to a large selection of what current records the roster of Earache and sub-label Elitist Records is putting out around the metal world.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘Monticello’: Turning a few heads with their successful combination of metal/punk/rock influences over a hardcore base. It will be interesting in a few years to see what these guys are putting out.
Mortiis – ‘Parasite God’: Mortiis put out possibly his most controversial album in “The Smell of Rain” last year; some loved it, some hated it, but regardless of your stance it is an awfully hard to disregard the talent of Mortiis and his dance/darkwave/80s noodlings.
Autonomy – ‘Was It Worth It?’: In my opinion ‘Was It Worth It?’ is one of the weaker tracks from “Sonic Excess” and doesn’t do a lot of credit to the Earache/Elitist roster. These guys remind of the Beastie Boys in a lot of aspects and this is not such a good thing...
Diecast – ‘Singled Out’: This was my first initiation to the world of Diecast and ‘Singled Out’ was quite a pleasant introduction. Combining the worlds of brutal drumming, melodic/hardcore vocal attacks and hard riffing, Diecast may be an outfit to check out.
Linea 77 – ‘Potato Music Machine’: With an absolute stinker of a song title, Linea 77 bring back the old phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ straight to the forefront of my mind when I gazed at the track list of “Sonic Excess”. Not a bad song in all regards though, perhaps they could up the tempo a little...
The Haunted – ‘Bury Your Dead’: Old favorites in the melodic death scene, and with a track like ‘Bury Your Dead’, it ain’t so hard to see why The Haunted remain at the top of the melodic death scene.
December – ‘Waiting For Rain’: Angry, furious and rampageous are three adjectives I could use to describe the frenzied metal of December, don’t be fooled by the gentle song title, these guys are ready to rumble.
Decapitated – ‘Spheres Of Madness’: Probably the strongest track of the 16 songs of “Sonic Excess”. Death metal doesn’t get much stronger in my opinion. Featuring members of Lux Occulta and some very smart songwriting, I don’t think you can go too wrong with Decapitated.
December Wolves – ‘Porn Again Christian’: My problem with ‘Porn Again Christian’ is that December Wolves have arranged the song in such a way that it has very little room to breathe and suffocates the listener by a full on assault of noise, not music.
Rabies Caste – ‘Got It From Blake’: A deep sludgy sound accompanies ‘Got It From Blake’ and it is clear Rabies Caste are pretty clued into writing intelligent songs. This is pretty interesting material with a good atmosphere.
Usurper – ‘Warriors Of Iron And Rust’: Heavy metal with some interesting riffs and above all generally catchy elements. Almost bordering on power metal structures in some respects, but still retains a harsh edge that most power metal does not have.
Insision – ‘My Fear’: Blasting death grind metal that emanates a very healthy glow from ‘My Fear’, Insision seem to have a knack (for ‘My Fear’ at least) to give the death metal genre a bit of spice.
Rakoth – ‘Fear (Wasn’t In The Design)’: Following Insision, Rakoth make a departure into left feel with their brand of medieval, Blind Guardian clean vocals black metal. Very Celtic/very mid 1400s atmosphere, but very cheerful. Inspired me to dance a highland jig. Definitely worth a gaze.
Without Face – ‘I And I’: Certainly the most oddball creation on “Sonic Excess”. Very folk in a lot of senses, but also very spacey and progressive. To be honest I am unsure as to my disposition towards Without Face. I am certain Without Face is a band that needs many weeks, and possibly months worth of consumption to really appreciate.
Ephel Duath – 'The Embossed': I admit I wasn’t a big fan of Ephel Duath’s overtly symphonic black metal album in “Rephormula”. ‘The Embossed’ certainly is not a bad track and nor is the rest of the album, but I think Ephel Duath over-include too many outside samples on their songs.
The Bezerker – ‘Pain’: ‘Pain’ is like stepping into a time machine and stepping back to the day of early Fear Factory circa “Soul of a New Machine”, except that The Bezerker raise the tempo a few notches.
Presenting so many new bands, and some older well-known outfits “Sonic Excess” really is a ticket to some of the best contemporary metal talent out there.
Bottom Line: With such an apt title for this compilation album, how could I possibly not recommend this album? One has to only look at the sheer conglomeration of Earache/Elitist Records and it should become apparent that this is one sample album worth a look. “Sonic Excess”; remember the name and track it down.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.1 out of 10