Children of Bodom
Halo of Blood
Finnish band Children of Bodom are oft-described as “melodic death metal,” which one can only assume means that, amid the shrieks and hyper-speed fretwork, there is some semblance of a tune. To be fair, Children of Bodom has found an ideal balance between primal aggression and a set of songs that even the death metal layman could potentially find joy in. Quite who Bodom is, we don’t know, but he or she must be very proud of the offspring. Singer and guitarist Alexi Laiho has a relatively high-pitched voice, borderline black metal, that allows the songs a little more breathing space than that offered by the guttural grunts of, say, George Fisher of Cannibal Corpse. As a result, songs like “Scream for Silence” and “Transference” almost swing along with a rock ’n’ roll swagger, albeit with the epic majesty of power metal. —Brett Callwood
Ty Segall’s Fuzz
Live In San Francisco
Thee Oh Sees
Singles Vol. 3
A pair of San Fran fuzz-rock outfits could be the ideal holiday gift for that psych-rock fanatic in your social circle. Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, the two most exciting and outrageously energetic outfits in the field of fuzzy distortion, are both at their best in the live setting. Segall’s new band, Fuzz (appropriately enough), puts on a clinic in its hometown, from shredding up the sludgy solos of ’70s arena rock to the spasmodic speeds of punk tempos. Thee Oh Sees closes out its third singles volume with two live recordings, blurring through bladed riffs and wavy hooks under distortion-clouding vocals throatily shouted with infectious enthusiasm; Vol. 3 closes with a relentless 10-minute guitar-storm. It’s rewarding to regard each in the freer live incarnation, going beyond buzzed-out punk-ish punchers and showing the band’s ability to attain headier feats, though still with lots of fuzz. —Jeff Milo
Rainbow Beast & the Rock Band Land Rockers
Tales From the Monstrosity Scrolls
Rock Band Land
This is weird. Take a San Francisco rock band, Rainbow Beast, and team it up with a choir of enthusiastic elementary school kids. Create a bunch of songs that feature kids but aren’t for kids. The cover art features the adult musicians being pelted with paint by the kids. Sounds godawful, right? And yet, somehow, the results are surprisingly listenable. Opening song “Happy Clouds” sets the tone; it’s like Arcade Fire if that Canadian band quit taking itself so seriously and began singing about dangerous weather, plus things like polar bears and giant shrimp. “Remblin Race” is a warning to teachers and parents who push their children too hard to compete (and win) in sporting events. “I don’t need your medals,” sings a child. This isn’t your typical kid’s song fare; real thought has gone into this record. The songs are so catchy and strong that adults can happily listen to them by themselves too. Parents, rejoice.
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