One exception to the SxS rule has been made. It's for the new album from Diablo Swing Orchestra. If you heard it, you'd understand.
Ne Obliviscaris - Portal Of I (2012) - There are few albums like this, that will truly leave a lasting mark on the listener. Ne Obliviscaris is in one word, brilliance. Musically and artistically the band has achieved a mixture of black, death and folk metal that is unparalleled in any sense of the word. I've not yet heard a band who could even come close to topping something like this. At least, musically.
All of the songs on this disc are very long, and even the 5:53 "Of The Leper Butterflies" doesn't sound any shorter than the others. These songs all have incredible amounts of structure - be that prog, technicality, atmosphere, or vocal layering. The male clean vocalist (who some of you might feel sounds too feminine, like the vocalist of Cynic) melds perfectly with the growler and screamer who also manage to work together nicely. There are never parts in which it sounds like a battle between vocalists.
Occasional acoustic and folk breaks adorn the album, sometimes taking away from the heaviness, but opening the listener's mind up to what could be considered good musicianship in non-metal terms. But some people might wonder why the drums have stopped and the harsh vocals ceased.
I on the other hand, think that this is just what the world needed. This band excels heavily at playing their folk instruments, and sometimes you really just wind up enjoying the folk portions of the disc. Banjos, violins, flutes and several other elements join in to make this experience even more enjoyable and unique.
Now don't get me wrong, there's definite metal here. The drums blast and show dynamic precision, and the guitars play the best riffs this side of Enslaved, Cynic and Opeth. Your goddamned mind will be blown right out of your skull. I almost cried because some of these sections are so fucking beautiful. If you are looking for the next Opeth, Enslaved, or Gojira - they're right fucking here, folks. Please, for the love of God - support these guys. I don't even know where the fuck they're from, but from the amazing opener "Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract 12:00" to the closer "Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise 10:42" , there is so much of a buffet to feast on here.
Again, the foreign clean vocals are a little nasally and sometimes soar a little higher than we might like them. But most of you will get too lost in the fucking riffs, progression and structure to care. This is most definitely going to be on my list for year's best, if it doesn't fucking top it. A guy posted this up and said "AOTY for sure!" and I didn't believe it until I actually gave it a listen. Some of you might even feel the need to listen to this disc throughout the day, might even get up one morning and say, "Man, I need to listen to Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract again." Trust me, I've already listened to it three and four and five and six times. I think I'm just going to wear this disc out, and you should too, because it's definitely one of the best gifts to metal music that we'll get all year.
Highlights: Each and every fucking song on this masterpiece is worth hearing once, and then more than once. (7 Tracks, 71:00)
Dragonforce - The Power Within (2012 Special Edition) - Dragonforce needs no real introduction, as they've splattered their name all over the world through Guitar Hero. But the band to me always seemed just a little obnoxious. Whether it's their overblown guitar theatrics and equally overblown vocalist; or their ridiculous stage antics, the band has made a name for themselves for all the wrong reasons. Sure, they acquired legions of fans; but they don't really bring the glory to power metal that bands like Iced Earth, Hammerfall, Edguy, Helloween, and several other power metal bands have done. Instead, all we've gotten is a ridiculously extreme form of power metal with blast beats and mediocrity.
Yet there is hope for the band after all. After the minimal success of their last album, (which I'm not even sure if I listened to in full to tell you the truth) the band decided that it was time for a little bit of a change. First of all, it sounds like they've either hired a new vocalist, and this approach has helped the band tremendously. I got so sick of these over the top pipes soaring all over the place in an almost caricature type fashion, not giving any real credit to Mr. Rob Halford. It sounded like more of a joke than a band, to be honest.
Of course, this IS still Dragonforce. The drums still blaze and the guitars still chug like a speeding locomotive. But the vocals are so much more bearable and I'm thankful for that. So thankful. I put reviewing this one off for as long as I could, and lo and behold; I actually like it. There are actually some memorable melodies on this disc at times, and you can tell that the band is trying to really lighten up the theatrics.
The new vocalist definitely has great skill and he can soar just as well as the other guy could, but he's not all over the goddamned place. In a genre where the lyrics and choruses are very important; he does not fail to impress. It's as good a decision as Iced Earth's decision to snag the guy from Into Eternity. The band really tries to show their skills with slower tempos on tracks like "Cry Thunder 5:17" and "Seasons 5:05."
The songs are also much shorter, and this means that the band no longer feels that they need to have 8 or 9 minute show off songs. Though this might not mean much to you, let it be known that I've always been a huge fan of power metal and listen to more heavy/power metal on my spare time than anything else that I review. The fact that I've even acknowledged this album as good, should be saying something.
But also let it be known that even though I've said that this is a great album; it's not an awesome one. There are some great songs on this disc, like "Last Man Stands 5:12" and the others I've mentioned, but the band still doesn't do much to really innovate themselves. Musically, it's more of the same, but much tamer and structured like traditional power metal. Fans should certainly like the disc, as it's filled with the same frills as all of their releases and I found myself definitely getting into some of the solo sections; but actually enjoying the vocals was a first. I cannot even tell you how much I despised the band's previous singer and this new guy really brought some majesty to the joke that was for so many years, Dragonforce.
If you guys keep heading in this direction, you're going to give us old power metalheads something else to be thankful for in the genre.
Seasons (Acoustic) - This is a great acoustic version of Seasons. We needed it. Gives the band more sensibility.
Cry Thunder (Live Bonus Track) - Great live version of the track, recording is fine and I noticed no problems.
Heart Of The Storm (Alternative Version Bonus Track) - I don't honestly hear anything different in this one, but if you do - then, kudos to you. The song is still good, regardless.
Avant La Tempete (Instrumental) - Just a soft acoustic instrumental, only 2:01 in length. This is what you call an outro and is not a real bonus track.
Highlights: Everything was for the most part enjoyable, but I feel that each person will have their own hits and misses with this album. As for me, everything but the instrumental was good. (13 Tracks, 62:00)
Shadows Fall - Fire From The Sky (2012) - Another game changer this year, the new Shadows Fall. Sure, it's not completely new territory for the band, but at least they've done something right. According to Revolver, this band will now remind you of Metallica with each and every song, yet I didn't hear that. I heard that style influenced in their music of course; but not that band. So I wasn't at all really reminded of Metallica.
The songs on this disc feature a hell of a lot of progression this time around, there's much more structure than the band has ever had, I do believe. Of course, the vocals are still a mix of thrash, scream and hints of a death metal growl - but you've still got your melodic clean vocal choruses. As for the music itself, it's still the core-influenced version of thrash that you've heard before; but there are some great moments in the drumming and in the riffs (like the solos.) But you can still expect some breakdowns here and there.
Yes, it's still corporate thrash, but at least it's better that what I thought I was going to hear. This is most definitely one of the best Shadows Fall discs that I've heard from the band in years. This is a re-peak if I'd ever heard one, and the only way this is going to be topped is by going into the death metal of the band's early days. But the band went too heavy with the last one and fucked up because there wasn't really any structure to behold.
People who hate Shadows Fall won't really find much here to admonish, but it's definitely better then their last couple of drops in the bucket. If nothing else, these songs have interesting beginnings and they really show off some of the skills that some people weren't even sure the band had. But this means that the band will not be able to slack off anymore after this one, or quit altogether.
To be truthful, this is a great swansong for these guys. Shadows Fall, you really don't need 20 albums, do you?
Highlights: The Unknown, Divide and Conquer, Weight Of The World, Fire From The Sky, Blind Faith, The Wasteland (10 Tracks, 41:00)
Celldweller - Wish Upon A Black Star (2012) - Celldweller's not really metal, and have more in common with early Linkin Park then anything else. But this album sees the band, (or the man I should say - since Klayton does everything from instruments to programming) venturing into more territories than the previous albums, of which have been very few. This album was actually released in parts that started appearing in 2010, and I only have 3 of them. The parts contained several remix tracks and long audio commentaries by Klayton. But good luck getting through them, though. He talks about everything from recording equipment to various unrelated bullshit. The only real treat to these besides the music, was the artwork included in the booklets - in which he was trying to promote new and undiscovered talent in the art world.
For those of you who are familiar with Criss Angel, most of the music that was used (even on his own album) was from Celldweller. So immediately, you know what to expect with this music. But you probably haven't heard Klayton's vocals either. They range from a radio friendly clean tone (and he's got great vocal harmony) to a radio friendly scream. Yes, it's very commercial - but no studios or labels had a part in it. I'm not even sure if he's selling it, but I would think so.
The album has 17 tracks, and the disc in this deluxe edition extends to 74:00. But to be honest, there is little here that I found to be uninspired. The two years that it took to craft this thing seemed to be worth it after all, yet I feel that I've spoiled the surprise by listening to the first three parts of this album.
The disc is more or less, electronic hard rock; but it is done well. The electronic effects on this album are on par with some of the best electronic bands that I've heard. The opener "It Makes No Difference Who We Are 3:02" is a wonderfully catchy track that goes right into the second track, "Blackstar 4:07" which has a little bit more energy to it.
As I said, most of the music here does feature guitar riffs accompanied along with electronics and synthesized drums. Everything is technically synthesized, (probably even Klayton's guitar) and there's nothing organic about this one. It's not actually a metal disc, as I've said - but there are slight elements of metal to be found within it. Of course, you can probably chalk those up into hard rock.
Thankfully, things don't encroach too much on dub-step, and even when they do; it's more based on pre-dub-step. Because dub-step didn't really get known until about 2011and this disc was in production around 2010.
There are certainly heavy tracks here, like "The Lucky One 6:46", "I Can't Wait 5:24", "Eon 6:22" , "The Best It's Gonna Get 5:20", "The Birthright 5:20", "Tainted 4:32", and the last half of "Against The Tide 5:49." But don't expect anything brutal, because it's not. Yet there's definitely some angst on this one.
I have no idea what the concept of the disc is, and there really might not be one. Furthermore, I have no idea what in the hell Klayton is referring to with these songs, I'd guess he's a big believer in aliens. I don't know. Whatever the case, this disc turned out good and it was worth the wait. Many of these songs are really catchy and have more electronic uniqueness than the new Linkin Park album ever will, and it's also much heavier than that record will be (which isn't very heavy, but we knew that. I won't even be reviewing that disc.)
You can tell that Klayton really worked his ass off on this disc, and it shows. Some of the songs on this one really didn't catch me when I heard them in parts, but as a full album they have more merit. Also, some of the versions in the parts seem to have been amended and changed. "The Lucky One 6:46" for example, is now the longest track on the disc. It sounded weak in the beginning, but definitely got a lot more interesting in the latter portion.
If you don't like electronics or hard rock, you should skip this one. But if you do, I found it to be pretty decent. I don't think you could go wrong with this, unless you really hate electronics and hard rock music. Not a metal album, but good nonetheless.
Highlights: I enjoyed most of the tracks, but if you're looking for metal, you'll not find it here. (17 Tracks, 74:00)
Metal Disc: N/A / 5
Electronic Rock Disc: 5/5
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata (2012) - I'm not going to lie. I've never been a fan of Diablo Swing Orchestra. I always thought the band was unique, but not for me. But I grabbed this one because I had the rest of them, and I really have to say that I'm amazed. Why? Because it's not the same old thing. Listen to Butcher's Ballroom or Sing Along Songs... and you'll see that there's not really much difference in the two discs. Despite being Avant-garde, they still have the same style and that was getting old. This band could and did, do much more this time around. There really is so much going on in this album that it would be unfair to you, if I didn't explain the differences in each song.
First of all, there's the introduction of straight New Orleans style Jazz music into the mix. I'm talking the sexiest sax I've heard since Ihsahn's After. You're gonna hear a lot of that in the band's single and album opener, "Voodoo Mon Amour 4:39." Then you've got your tropical styling on "Guerilla Laments 5:03." I'm sorry folks, but the samba in this one really makes me want to dance. "Kevlar Sweethearts 4:32" has an Irish folk influence, But it also goes into a bit of a fiesta, and shortly after gets to thrashing.
After a short instrumental, a really odd kiddie style song that has some little chipmunks or something singing on it takes place. It's called, "Black Box Messiah 3:02" and whether you love it or hate it, you'll probably never forget it. The letters W, T, and F will quickly float above your head.
While you're pondering that, "Exit Strategy Of A Wrecking Ball 6:11" comes in with a surprisingly heavy progressive metal stance, almost like something Opeth would do. The clean vocals paired with the Mexican instruments really bring this out. It goes into opera, and then back to prog metal, and visa-versa. A scream is uttered, then comes heaviness paired with Mexican instruments again. "Aurora 5:13" takes us to a completely different realm, where nothing but the sounds of classic opera can be heard. Yes, this is purely opera and a short Arabian instrumental; so skip it if you'd like.
"Mass Rapture 6:11" goes full on with the Arabic music and chanting. There's definitely metal here though, so you can bang your head, kinda. "Honey Trap Aftermath 4:22" adds a little more jazz back into the metal, but there are still those Mexican instruments to add extra flavor. The male vocal touch is lacking but the chorus is strong. "Of Kali Ma Calibre 4:31" starts out with a very Psycho-esque vibe, but it also contains Mexican instruments despite the horror influence you were getting here. It makes you think you're running from a Mexican killer in a giant sombrero mask. Then it goes completely opera. Yep, because that's just what DSO like to do. Then it starts to thrash through the chorus almost reminding me of some of the stuff Tarja was doing on Nightwish's Once. Believe it or not, we've got a section with some machinegun double-bass too. Then you've got a royal court march accompanied by traditional opera. Until things start to thrash again. Wow. This is a hell of a song.
To close out the disc, we've got the 8:30 minute epic, "Justice For Saint Mary." After a long male vocal section which is for the most part very light and somber, the 6:42 mark goes into thrash. Despite the fact that the orchestra is still playing. Then things go dub-step... yep, not kidding. But I won't hold this against them. The disc literally dub-steps out. Didn't see that coming.
The music is literally just as I've described it. It's the very meaning of the word Avant-garde. This is defined as:
1. artistically new: artistically innovative, experimental, or unconventional
2. of avant-garde artists: belonging to the group of writers, artists, filmmakers, or musicians whose work is innovative, experimental, or unconventional
It's not avant-black or avant-death, it's just literally and in the truest sense; Avant-garde metal. It's got everything you could ask for in terms of musical exploration, and the fusion of these styles is beyond what I've heard from any band in the metal genre thus far. I'm surprised it all worked cohesively, to be honest. This band is brimming with genius, despite the fact that the male vocalist doesn't appear to hold the slack as much as the female counterparts (of which there is definitely more than one, unless they used a hefty echo effect.)
Even if you hate this kind of stuff, give this one a listen. I didn't say to buy it, I just said to stream it or whatever. If you do like it though, please buy it and support real musical talent, because that's something which is really dying out these days, especially in the realms of popular music.
Highlights: It's a veritable fiesta of a disc. Everyone will have their own highlights, because everyone's palette is different. This album will reach out to you non-metal tastes, but is that really such a bad thing? (11 Tracks, 53:00)
4/5 (7.0) (Technically, the performance here is legendary and probably won't be one-upped by the band. I see this impossible to top, and I see many metal fans (and non metal fans) embracing this and remembering this one for years to come. But some of the songs I feel are lacking in other departments (male vocals) and there are some other slight issues on the disc ( a few songs I didn't care for as much) that prevent it from getting a 777 rating. But as for innovativeness, it's definitely legendary.)
Brendan Small's Galaktikon (2012) - Brenden Small's first solo album is far removed from the death metal of his well-known band, Dethklok. But that doesn't mean that this progressive metal isn't worth listening to. It's got a ton of melody, and reminds me at times of a Devin Townsend emulation. The Deathklok riffs and chugs still exist in some areas, but Brenden's clean vocal approach changes things greatly.
I'll be honest, he's not the best clean vocalist I've ever heard, but there are far worse. He does manage to hit the mark in a few songs like "Beastblade 4:46" and closer, "On My Way 5:25." Honestly, if he can mix this clean approach with his death metal approach, he might have something noteworthy to give to the metal scene. But I honestly have no idea who this space epic was made for. Songs like the opener "Triton 4:02" are decent enough, but sound a little rough on the vocals. If not for the music, some of these tracks would be horrendous.
Sadly, instrumental "Dangertits 4:31" has no vocals, and I'm sure he could have thought of something. It's a space epic, why not some lyrics about a big busted bounty hunter? Do I have to think of everything? I could write that song in my sleep and send it to him. But this instrumental track is probably one of the best things that metalheads are going to get here. The melodies are especially beautiful, and should at least put some inkling into your head that Small can really play the guitar and hasn't just been fucking around for years.
The second Dethklok album (The Dethalbum II 2009) tried to verge into real metal, and it would have - had Small been able to growl. This album is trying to verge into mainstream progressive power/thrash, and it might have also been successful - had Small been able to sing. Honestly, this guy just needs to stick to guitar.
But this isn't a bad disc, and I'm sure there's a couple songs on here that you won't hate. But then again, I'm sure that there's a couple songs on here that you will definitely have to skip. I still think there's a little too much comedy in the lyrics too, and this stuff is gonna get old fast. Not sure whether this is comedy or serious music anymore, and that's a bad sign.
Highlights: Prophecy Of The Lazer Witch, Beastblade, Truth Orb And The Kill Pool, Arena War Of The Immortal Masters, Dangertits, On My Way
(9 Tracks, 41:00)
Job For A Cowboy - Demonocracy (2012) - Here's another album that I wasn't really anticipating. This band seems to do the same bland technical death metal over and over and over again. There are bands like Mencea and Quo Vadis from back in the day, that kill this boring crap.
But honestly, this disc isn't that bad. There are some people who don't like it, but damn it; at least they're playing some fucking solos this time around. The dual vocalist approach I don't like, because the screamer sucks and doesn't belong in the band. Or at least on the mic. Can I tell this guy that he sucks?
Of course, there are very little changes in tempo, other than a couple of songs. The biggest surprise on the disc though is the slow closer, "Tarnished Gluttony 5:47" showing that this dog can do more than just the same old trick over and over and over again. I actually give a shit about this song and recommend it, because it doesn't sound like the others, and truth be told - it's not that bad.
If you don't like this album, let's just face it - it's because you've grown tired of this band. Sure, they've added some killer solos, a shrieking dude and a little more attention to musicianship on this record; some may even say that it's their most accomplished to date - but that doesn't mean that it's still kind of the same old show.
But once again, I'm going to give the band their proper respect for a fantastic closer. Didn't think they had it in them. If you're sick of the band's technical death side, check out their brooding melodic death metal side.
Please make an album like this guys, I'm fucking begging you.
Highlights: Children Of Deceit, Tongueless and Bound, The Manipulation Stream, The Deity Misconception, Tarnished Gluttony (39:00)
Pelican - Ataraxia/Taraxis (2012) - This 18:00 of music is nothing really more than a glorified single, it's not even the 30:00 that we'd expect from a proper EP. But what's more is that you only get three tracks on this four track album, because Ataraxia itself is just a 3:21 intro piece.
"Lathe Biosas 4:46" is a good high energy post metal piece, but it's nothing that can really stand on it's own. The same can be said for the slow post metal of "Parasite Colony 4:41" Yes, it's supposed to be sad and dreary, but still a little rockin' in areas. We get it.
As for the closer, Taraxis - it's just an acoustic atmospheric piece with some maracas. Yes, it's a dreamscape sort of thing (with a heavy end) - but I'd have rather all of this been put on a full album and not an 18:00 crash grab for an over-pretentious band.
Honestly, if this thing's cheap - that's the only reason that I would tell you to buy it. Sometimes bands just need your money, so they release little bullshit collections of three or four songs and try to get it from you. Melechesh is doing this also this year, with "Mystics Of The Pillar Pt. II." There's about four songs on that one as well.
This is the kind of crap I could do without. I support good EP's, and good LP's. I don't support bullshit like this, unless it's free. The disc sounds just as good as anything else that you'd hear from the band, and if you've already got some of their albums, then you really don't need this. I guess if it supports a good cause, then I would tell you to throw money at it. But I haven't heard of any good causes being supported from this album yet.
Highlights: Lathe Boiosas, Parasite Colony, Taraxis (4 Tracks, 18:00)
Septekh - The Seth Avalanche (PR2012) - Now here are some guys that have the right idea when releasing a short EP. This Swedish death/thrash n' roll band gives me 22:00 of songs that I actually give a fuck about. From the starting riff of "Fuckslut From Hell 2:49" all of the way to the last thrashy chord of "The Seth Avalanche 5:45", I'm hearing a band with plenty of ferocity, especially from their frontman, Nils Meseke. But that's a good thing, because I want a death/thrash band that just lets loose and doesn't give a fuck. This band was conceived out of 100% malice, and with songs like the single, "Shoot Them All 3:58" you can tell that. The band plays portions of thrash, rock, death and black metal; and would make any fan of these genres proud.
David Wikström plays some great thrash riffs with a little prog and technicality, as well as some definite rock melodies, which add even more to the package. His solos also kill in each and every song. This is the way that death n' roll should sound and I'm expecting a lot of promise from these guys. Once again, the frontman is a beast - his mix of growls, shrieks and screams really define this album, and make me care about this band. When this guy screams "blunt force to the head!" I'm gonna fucking run, because he's serious about bashing my skull repeatedly. This is 100% a man pissed off, and if you're pissed too, then you'll feel it even more. Great after a tough day at work.
The drummer Staffan Persson also does a great job, mixing thrash drumming with black and death metal double bass. He's also quick to change the tempo - which keeps shit fresh. This can go from thrash to black to death, all because of the drummer's skills. If you guys need more proof of how kick-ass these guys are, let the music speak for them.
OFFICIAL VIDEO (“Shoot Them All”)
If this doesn't get you interested, nothing will. I'm gonna watch these fuckers like a hawk. These guys could be the fucking saviors of death/thrash.
Highlights: All 6 tracks, all 22:00. These guys are insane. if you don't like this shit, what the fuck are you doing here? (6 Tracks, 22:00)
777 (10) (Yeah, it's that fucking good.)
Erevos - Descensus Ad Inferos (PR2012) - I should've had this shit reviewed months ago, and sometimes there are so many new releases out there that I don't have a chance to review the PR. So these guys fell to the wayside. But that doesn't mean that they're a bad band. These guys are from Greece, the home of great bands like Rotting Christ, and they carry that spirit along with them. Though the band's photos look a little funny, (they're all wearing motorcycle jackets and the guy in the center looks like he's never taken a photo before in his life, but I've been there before when I was shooting for Unholy Sacrifice) there is some serious black metal to be found here.
Growler (yes, that's his name) plays the bass and does the vocals for the band, while Tisifoni plays the keyboards and gives things a gothic feel. Pias and Abraxas are the axemen, and they put themselves to use. There's not just one guy playing guitar and the other guy smoking a cigarette or something. Tek is the drummer, and he really blasts the fuck out of the kit at times. This, just in case you were wondering - is a good thing.
The disc was mastered by Dan Swano, who also mastered that Revel In Flesh disc That I thought was killer. The mastering definitely helps the sound of the disc, and makes it sound well produced, yet still raw - which is how we want black metal to sound.
The guitarists really kill with solos, and the band is also quick to change up tempos and not make everything sound too much of the same for too long. Hell, Tisifoni doesn't even sit there and go crazy with the piano keys like some bands will. There's a lot of straight black metal songs here that you'll actually be proud of. They're also not afraid to just jam out and thrash around a bit. This is a band that really seems to enjoy making the music they're making, and they do it without barriers. There's even some death metal sections, but that's just fucking fine with me.
Growler's vocals are just the way that they need to be with this type of band, scowls and growls. He's showing great emotion with the vocals and it's not just some guy screaming incoherently. I'm gonna tell you something, Erevos really brought Rotting Christ's style with them, you can tell that - but they made it their own. They brought it back to basics too, this isn't full of strange orchestrations, but does have it's share of atmospheric effects. It is still black metal after all.
I truthfully don't see how any black metal fan couldn't get into this disc. This is great black metal from Greece, and I feel bad that I didn't review it sooner. Yes, it's not exactly perfect - but this is their first fucking album, so cut them a little slack. This is a hell of a debut, and it's memorable. If you're looking for good black metal, I've got one for you to check out definitely.
Go throw these guys a few bucks and help out a suffering economy. You'll get some great black metal for your troubles.
Highlights: Adou Katavasis, Kires, Those Who Decide About Fate, Under The Wings Of Thanatos, Possessed By The Moon (Of The Underworld), Erinyes, Kerveros, Grotesque Blasphemy (Slaughter Pt.1) (10 Tracks, 40:00)
Coffin Texts - Tomb Of Infinite Ritual (PR2012) - Coffin Texts might look like Nile, and their songs might even appear to be like Nile, but here's the thing... They aren't Nile. They don't even resemble them. First of all, they play death metal with a scowler and growler as a backup, which changes things already on the vocal perspective. There's even some breaks in the brutality, like Nile rarely ever showed. Of course, there's also some technicality here and there, as well as some atmospheres and effects, like the voice of the Gods used in "Divination 8:01." This really adds to the concept of the band.
Notice I also said "death metal", not "brutal death metal." I mean what I say, folks. This has bits of brutality, but it doesn't stick to the same formula that you'd expect from Nile. You can make Egyptian death metal and not be Nile, it is possible. The band does now how to turn their tempo off, and their drummer does rest a little on the kit.
But even if you want to make the assumption that these guys are trying to copy Nile, at least they are putting their own spin on it, like Katana does with Iron Maiden. (A review for Katana is coming soon!) At 36:00 of music, this is pretty much an EP, but at least it's a good one. Closing the album with a bit of shredding wasn't a bad idea either.
Regardless of whether or not this an EP or LP, we still get six songs of considerable length and there is just enough of this death metal meal to fill you up. I'd recommend this fans of Nile, but death metal fans everywhere should find something on this disc to like. You might even play it repeatedly, and I'm sure that's just fine with the band.
Three guys made this disc and they worked their asses off on it. Go and support them if you like it. Definitely some solid death metal for 2012.
Highlights: Everything but the intro was solid. (7 Tracks, 36:00)
Enthrallment - People From The Lands Of Vit (PR2012) - If you like Cannibal Corpse or Suffocation, then you'll certainly like the gore filled death metal of Enthrallment. These Bulgarians know how to deliver the goods, and they do so in ways that you've probably already heard before, but more than likely wouldn't mind hearing again; depending on how you like your metal.
Sure, the majority of this album is filled with short songs of the same tempo throughout, but it's not like you're worried about it. The solos are also quite short here, nothing really to deliver. The best part about this band seems to be their drummer and their vocalist. I really don't hear any interesting riffs on this disc either, except in maybe a few places.
There is also an effects track that I just don't care for. It's called "Punishment For Baneful 2:46" and it just doesn't need to be there at all. They should have just put another death metal track on there, because the last thing that any death head wants, is to have to fucking skip some bullshit effects track that's right in the way of his metal. I'd be pissed too.
This album is based on a journey through hell, and it certainly sounds like it. But it also sounds like the same hell with the fire and torture and pain and flames, that we've all heard before. But for you hardcore death metal fans that just have to hear everything, whether it's reconstituted Corpse riffs or not. The vocals are also set to gravel only, so you won't hear any shrieks or scowls, or anything that might make things more interesting. They tell me that this is supposed to be technical, but I'm not hearing it.
But some of you won't care either. If you like the music, support the band. But I'm not a big fan, myself. I've heard it all before.
Highlights: Chronicle Of Sorrow, Walking Through The Thorns, Unholy Diviners (10 Tracks, 31:00)
Never To Arise - Hacked To Perfection (PR2012) - Now here's a band that interested me. Never To Arise plays an odd sort of technical/progressive brutal death metal that I enjoyed heavily. I could liken it to Paths Of Possession. What's even more interesting about this incredible mixture, it that it's done by only two men from Florida, Gordon Denhart and Michael Kilborn. The info tells me that the band "combines musicality with brutality, catchy riffs, hard hitting rhythms, violent lyrics and quality guitar work."
It's on par with every statement. I had no fucking idea that this was going to be even half as good as it was. The leads are fucking amazing, and sometimes they just go into melodies that don't even have a thing to do with death metal at all. The solo work is great, the drumming is powerful, yet subtle in technical skill, and the whole thing still manages to resemble classic "Blood And Guts" death metal.
You want to hear some unconventional riffing and gravelly vocals in the background? Yeah, you're gonna get it here. "Hyperbaric Torture Chamber 4:54" starts out on a melodic lead that you don't even expect - but as soon as that song's finished, you know for sure that you heard a great death metal track.
What about the odd riff in "Sloppy Surgery 5:31?" What, you don't think it belongs? Why the fuck not? Also check out "Mutilation Supreme 6:04." Not only does it start out on an interesting note, the leads for the track are definitely worth hearing. These tracks are definitely death metal in every sense of the word, they just bring a new twist on an old genre - which is something we need to be doing in 2012, I think. Considering death metal's been out since the 90's and possibly even earlier than that.
Never To Arise will give you what you're looking for, if you too enjoyed the fuck out of the new Six Feet Under album. But guess what? Some of the shit on here is even better than some of the shit on that disc. So you definitely need to go pick this up and support these dudes for doing death metal differently.
Highlights: All of them. Take your fucking pick. (10 Tracks, 49:00)
Meatshank - Scavengers (PR2012) - Meatshank, a new thrash band that uses a logo made of meat, (no joke) has the right idea, but sounds a little wet behind the ears. The truth is, that anyone can do thrash these days; and these guys are just another thrash band. Sure, they've got their ballady stuff like "Sweet Release 3:27" but damn it, you can hear way too much of their influences in their music.
Sometimes the vocalist decides to go into a more demonic sort of tone, but it doesn't really help the band that much.
The band does try to do something different on Symbiotic Annihilation 3:44" that reminds me of melodic death metal, but the vocalist doesn't have his gears right and he's just off in a few sections. He switches between a sort of scowl and annoying scream that might get on your nerves after awhile. You might even make fun of it.
Yes, these guys worked hard on this album, and I'll respect that. But they've done little to innovate with this disc. I guess the only song that I felt really had some merit was the album closer, "Hell Road 5:04." There are some good progressions at times, and some of the solos are worth checking out, sometimes some of the riffs - but other than that, there's not really much here that we haven't already heard.
I definitely support any band out there trying to make out there in the world of metal, and these three guys have the right idea; they even have a handful of decent songs here - but there are certainly better bands that you could be listening to.
Highlights: Sweet Release, Symbiotic Annihilation, Hell Road (8 Tracks, 26:00)
Horseback - The Invisible Mountain (2009) - Yeah, I know. Horseback already released a new album this year. But I want to soak in this one first. These experimental sludge/black metallers definitely rubbed me the right fucking way with this disc. I would've never thought that black metal could be done in such a soft way, almost in blasphemy to the bands that believe it should be raw and loud.
Well, it's not bad to have a change once in a while, and Horseback gives us that. There's a lot of slow post metal influence on the opener, "Invokation 6:44" and that continues right through "Tyrant Symmetry 7:13." Sludge starts to form on the title track, but really only the melodies change and the music still remains at the same lighthearted tempo. This is about the most harmless black metal that you could ever play. You could sleep to this, and I am not even lying about that.
But that doesn't mean that it's not good. No, this is great metal that you can play when you need a good, but still very dark atmosphere. The scowls are definitely here, but there's no blast beats or even familiar black metal riffing. It's just soft post metal with black metal vocals and melody, really.
But if that isn't enough for you, you have the monumental album atmospheric piece, "Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing 16:34." Yeah, this is something that you can close your eyes and meditate to, or even leave your body if you want. It's that kind of album, and I'm sure that the band wrote it to be that way. Horseback doesn't seem to be your typical bullet-belt wearing, motorcycle jacket dawning, face painted black metal band. This band seems to promote peace and the wonders of the universe, it's about tranquility - not hostility.
Some people might not even call it black metal. I could see that being fine, because it's really only black metal on the vocal approach. Other than that, it's just Sludge/Experimental/Post-Rock with scowls. You know, except for that last track where you're supposed to sit in a room and meditate, I guess.
If you're looking for something soft and relaxing, but still kind of dark but in a good way; (all of that just didn't seem to make sense, but it does within the context) then go grab this album. Go get their new one too, it's probably in the same vein. Nothing wrong with a little trippy black metal/post rock/sludge and astral projection music all in one album. Somebody should've thought of this sooner.
Highlights: All four tracks are worth listening to, especially the closer. (4 Tracks, 38:00)