For Those About Squawk: Waldo Pecks on Fear Factory, Withered and Helloween

What’s up, guys? It’s your old boy Waldo here to spout off about some upcoming releases here. But first, a beak’s up that there is also a low-ticket alert for this September’s Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest in Philadelphia. Don’t blow it.

Now, on to business.

Super troubled by inner turmoil, Fear Factory are back with Aggression Continuum. First thing to note is how good now ex-vocalist Burton C Bell sounds here—pissed off and angry, like he knew he was going to get kicked out, or left, or whatever. Everything FF is known for is here, clean down-tuned riffs, tight-ass songs and production and the electronics blend seamlessly. What Isn’t really rocking me too much here, is the kinda “simpleness” of the riffage. It’s not bad, but there seems to be a really lack of anything super brutal, and maybe it’s because I miss the Demanufacture era, but almost all of this comes across as nu-metal or a Static X sorta jam. This is a tough one, as most are happy they are releasing new music (or is that nu music?) but aside from the production, this just kinda leaves me flat. 5 Fucking Pecks

Georgia blackened, uh, whateversters Withered are releasing Verloren on Season of Mist. Mainman Mike Thompson said this: “We want to compound new elements into every album, and we’re definitely a band for metal nerds. Our audience seems to be the old-schoolers who are absorbed by this stuff every day and jaded folks of a certain age. Industry types and peers tend to get it, but that’s about it.” This sums it up VERY nicely. There’s a lot going on here, especially vocally, there are screams, wails, gruff and clean vocals throughout, which really mixes things up a bit here. Sonically, meaning production wise, this birdbrain feels like there’s a big reference to Neurosis’s Times of Grace, which is a good thing. If you want brutal, dark and dissonant, this is your jam. 8 Fucking Pecks.

I love Helloween, well the old Helloween that is, and well… that line up is here, featured on the self-titled Helloween. Always one foot FIRMLY planted in the Iron Maiden camp, this marks the return of both Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. So, don’t get too excited. This is good, this is cool, but to call this a return to form is a little out of touch. This has a lot of the hallmarks of the classic Keeper of the Seven Keys Parts I and II, but it also sounds much like a band that’s almost 40 years into their career. Soaring vocals and creepy subject matters abound here, but the one thing that really stands out are the solos! My god, that’s some ripping shit. The real rub is the songs are a little long, and, man, I wish they had a little more life. Seems like “one click too slow” is the general nature of the tracks here. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad record (if you want that check out 1993’s Chameleon), but this was not the return to form this fan was expecting. 6 Fucking Pecks.

Until next time… Waldo out!