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Old 06-05-2022, 09:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
Born to be mild
Trollheart's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Posts: 25,548
Default From the ashes: The return of The Meat Grinder!

What do you mean, what the fuck am I talking about? Yeah, this is the metal sub forum: fuck doesn't get censored, pal. Well, this used to run in my old, original and first journal, and as, like a vulture picking over the remains of a tasty corpse, I sort through its steaming entrails, I came across it and thought, you know, why the fuck not?

So here it is.

The thing about The Meat Grinder isn't the music: more often than not, I totally failed to find anything, or anything decent, in my many searches. What people apparently did like about it was my increasing frustration as my temper boiled over with yet another fruitless search coming to an end. Here, have a butcher's. At least you may get a laugh out of it.

(Note: this originally kicked off in 2012, before I had become a little more, ah, familiar, with certain types and genres of the more extreme metal, so bear with me, as some of the stuff I say in these articles don't hold true no more).

Original post date: September 10 2012

Welcome.... to the Meat Grinder! Bwahh ha hah hah!

I realised yesterday that one of the sites I use for research, Encyclopaedia Metallum, allows you to search for metal bands in various ways - by genre, by title, by country, by A-Z - but they also have something I never noticed before, which is “Random band”. Interesting, he thought, and so the idea for a new section was formed. Now, I have absolutely no doubt that a large percentage of these bands will not be to my liking, as there are a lot of sub-genres of metal I don't particularly get on well with, and everyone by now is familiar with my dislike of “death vocals”, so I know I will regret this in some ways, but here it is anyway.

The kinds of metal I hate? Well, let's see: if it's SO LOUD YOUR EARS BLEED, way too fast for anything to be discerned amid a mad cacophony of screeching and banging, if it has death vocals, if it's depressingly doomy, or if it's Venom. That mostly covers it. Doesn't leave much, you say? I beg to differ: there are hundreds of bands I enjoy, from Maiden and Helloween to Saxon and Scorpions, and from Saratoga to Cain's Dinasty. But I prefer to be able to hear and make out my music, and rather a lot of the more extreme metal tends not to allow this. Now, that being said, I'm also a fan - not a big fan, only have two of their albums, but still a fan - of one of the loudest bands on the planet. But Motorhead I consider to be really in a class of their own. However, here, anything goes (shudder)!

So, in the Meat Grinder I will randomly select a metal band, and regardless of what their style is I will attempt to review one of their albums, give a little background to them, and advise you of my opinion of them. This review will not be objective, but will depend entirely on how much enjoyment, or lack of, I got from the album/band. So death vocals, screaming, music too fast or indecipherably loud, or anything else I don't like will earn the band a low rating, even if they're highly thought of. So watch out if you come up, Slipknot or Dimmu Borgir! My opinion is of course only my opinion, but here in my journal that means it's law, so feel free to debate with me, but basically if I don't like it it's getting trashed.

That's not to say in any way that I reject or ignore the following a band has: if millions like them, great. But if I don't, then they won't do well here. Each album will be rated with my patented cleaver rating, which is very complicated and hard to understand, but I'll try and explain it here. Hmm, let's see. Okay. The less cleavers, the more I hate the band and/or album. So an album I hate utterly will have a rating of one or two cleavers, whereas a band I love will get the maximum five. Okay, so it's not that complicated or hard to understand. Cookies? Huh? Oh yeah: just like the Cookie ratings in “Bitesize”. Though you probably wouldn't want to try biting into a cleaver.

Anyway, deep breath and away we go. And the first band to stagger into the Meat Grinder and come under my unforgiving and critical microscope is...

Oh dear. I read the description on EM and my heart sinks. “Extreme, blackened thrash” - and with a vocalist who goes by the name of Doomy G. Blackthrash (sounds like something out of “The Simpsons”!) my expectations just about hit the floor. But hey, this is what this section is all about, trying new things and not shying away from bands that would normally have me reaching for my Marillion collection to help me calm down. This will, I'm sure, be a painful ordeal, but really, if I ignored these guys and tried to get someone more in the vein of Hammerfall or Balance of Power then I'd just be making a mockery of the whole section, and denying its raison d'etre.

So, it's a baptism of fire ye want now, is it? Fair enough. Hold my jacket, I'm going in!

Hailing from East Lansing, Michigan, whose most famous landmark apparently is the Michigan State University, pictured, Sauron take their name of course from the “bad guy” in JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Can we then hope for lyrics with a fantasy/sword-and-sorcery bent? Can we, not to be smart, expect lyrics we can hear and understand? Who knows, but looking at the beautiful grounds of MSU I can't help but feel that guys like Sauron would be turned away from its gates, perhaps chased away by nasty snarling dogs and cops with tasers. Yeah, they don't look the university type really. They seem to be most closely linked with the thrash metal bands so prevalent in Europe, particularly Germany.

So, some details then. Below is a sketchy profile of the band, mostly gleaned from my friends at Encyclopaedia Metallum - okay, completely thanks to them! In the following, the term “Born” will always refer to the setting up of the band, no matter how long after that it took for them to release any material. Should the band be broken up, split, reformed into another band or otherwise not currently active under this name, I will also include a “Died” year. This does not of course necessarily mean they're no longer around, just not in this format. An “F” after a band member indicates they founded or helped found the band. As this is a totally random selection, it may become difficult, even impossible to find albums from the bands chosen, in which case I will have to judge them based on what I can find in terms of singles, liver performances, samples of tracks, YouTubes and so on. Where possible though I will always endeavour to feature an album or EP.

Band name: Sauron
Nationality: USA (Michigan)
Subgenre: Black/death metal (god save me!)
Born: 2000
Status: Active
Albums: Thrash Assault (2004); Satanic Assassins (2008)
Live albums: None
Collections/Anthologies/Boxsets: None
Lineup: Doomy G. Blackthrash (Bass, vocals) F
Victor “Lore Lord” Ruiz (Guitar) F
Mike “Skinthrasher” Hudson (Drums)

In the case of our first random band, Sauron, it would appear that they only have two albums, so which to choose? Well, their most recent is called Satanic Assassins, so no prizes for guessing what that's likely to sound like! Mind you, the other is called Thrash Assault, so not really a lot to choose from. Yeah, maybe you're right: maybe I am doing them a disservice, prejudging them based on name, image, style ... but I somehow doubt they're going to be performing any classical violin pieces or have written any acoustic ballads. No, I'd be willing to stake a month's pay on that. If I got paid. Which I don't. But anyway...

If there's any blessing to be had (prejudge, prejudge!) here, it's that the albums, both of them, have only seven tracks each. No long songs, and not much to choose between them that I can see. For no other reason than that it's their latest offering, I've decided to go with Satanic Assassins, though word has it that they're in the studio at the moment, hard at work on Mordor: A Metal Symphony in Four Movements.... sorry, sorry, slipped into an alternate dimension there just for a moment. Whoa! That was weird! Okay. Likely the only movements these guys are going to be involved in are those of a bowel nature. I know, it's a shit joke, but entirely, I think you'll agree, worthy of me.

Anyway, this is the current offering from Sauron, and although it was released in 2008 there doesn't seem to be anything else forthcoming as yet. Their previous effort, and debut, was out in 2004 though, so that's four years between albums. Could be another one due! Looking over the track list I'm again not given to any real hope that this might turn out to be something other than what I'm expecting/dreading: “Lords of Slaughter and Warfare.” “Angel Hunter”. “Thrash Metal Nightmare”. Yup, you can't beat the classics! Okay then, let's just inch the amp down a few notches, make sure the cat is out, the neighbour's kids are not trying to sleep, reach tentatively forward like someone preparing to plunge their hand into the fire and ....

Satanic Assassins - Sauron - 2008 (Witches Brew)

Well, my fears appear not to be totally groundless, in fact the sort of sledgehammer guitar and what comes across to me as aimless thrashing behind the drumkit is bad enough, and serves to epitomise everything I hate about the more extreme types of metal, but those damnable death vocals are all over the place, and I find it hard to concentrate on the lyrics much less understand them. A word used by another journal writer here - can't remember who - tuneage, seems pretty much absent, and it's, to me, a race between guitarist and drummer to see who can finish first, while Mister Blackthrash roars away, seemingly oblivious to the guys behind him as the lovingly-titled “Poser Holocaust” trundles along, opening the album. I guess Sauron would consider me one of the posers they - presumably - sing about, as I really hate this sort of music, but to be fair there is a very decent guitar solo from “Lore Lord” in the last minute or so, though it's really more like a word suddenly recognised among a garble of foreign language that just for a moment gives you the impression you might be able to understand what's going on, then everything again descends into chaos.

Yeah, not a fan of this at all - big surprise! Next up is that sensitive ditty I mentioned earlier, and “Lords of Slaughter and Warfare” makes Motorhead seem slow and sedate by comparison. Speed metal this certainly is, thrash too, but again I find it hard to make any lyrics out through the guttural vocals, which kind of destroys any chance I might have to judge this in any way fairly. That would be bad enough, but there's nothing much for me to say about the guitar other than that it's superfast, and the drums can only be described as an assault, so it's tough to take any real musical criticism from either, although as I write once again Victor Ruiz proves he can play when he wants to, and unleashes quite a fine solo, but it's quickly subsumed a second time into the wall of sound that passes for his usual axework, and while many of you will no doubt love this and headbang away to it, it's not my cup of venom, not at all.

And so it goes. “Storm of Ashes” hacks its way blindly into the title track - on which Blackthrash subjects me not only to his harsh deep vocal but also throws a few higher-register screams in there just to unnerve me further - and on into “Possession”, complete with opening and suitably diabolical laugh, and I just wait for the album to come to an end. Yeah, it's not very open-minded of me, but hey, this isn't “Stranger in a Strange Land”*: I'm not trying to understand, evaluate and even change my opinion of certain music genres or sub-genres. I've gone into this with my eyes (though perhaps not my ears) wide open, knowing there is a good chance that a large percentage of the bands here will not appeal to me, that I may hate many, and it may be a while before, if ever, I hit upon either one I like or one I know, or have heard of. But hey, it's a bit of fun, though try telling that to my poor ears! If you know/like this band, or any of the no doubt future objects of my derision or negative criticism, don't take offence, as I have explained already that my tastes in metal run to a certain type: music you can make out, that has melody, that doesn't make you want to run screaming for the exits, that displays what I consider a modicum of talent and ability. So I'm only judging these bands within those criteria. My criteria. I'm sure Sauron have legions of fans: I'm just not someone who could or would count myself as one of them.

All right, to be totally fair and equitable, “Angel Hunter” changes the format slightly, with a more grindy, almost slower track which can't be really called a cruncher, as every track here crunches you up and spits you out, but it is, I don't know, not as breakneck fast as the rest of the album, though it does up the speed near the end, and we finish on the aply-titled (for me, at any rate!) “Thrash Metal Nightmare”, which is, well, fast noisy and very hard to understand. Kind of sums up the band really.

So, not going to become a Sauron fan anytime soon, or ever listen to one of their songs again: just not my thing. I'd like to say that for what they do they do it well, but I really can't. I don't know. Thrash metal and speed metal is not my thing, and I have no real yardstick to judge this against (and if I had these guys would probably only beat me with it anyway!) so I don't know if it's good thrash/black/death/speed metal or bad. I just know I don't like it, hence the rating below. Not exactly a stellar beginning, but then, as someone once remarked, that's the nature of randomness. Perhaps I'll have better luck next time.


1. Poser Holocaust
2. Lords of Slaughter and Warfare
3. Storm of Ashes
4. Satanic Assassins
5. Possession
6. Angel Hunter
7. Thrash Metal Nightmare

Rating: One cleaver

* Stranger in a Strange Land was a section in my original journal in which I investigated a music genre I was not familiar with. I only did the one. It was on boybands. it did not go well, hence the experiment not being repeated.
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