Tuesday, May 15, 2012


(Yeah, there's a new format.)


Six Feet Under - Undead (2012) - First of all, don't be surprised if Six Feet Under's new album sounds just a little... different. It's certainly still death metal, but it seems to be focused less on the old school sound and has decided to embrace the trend of technicality. Now if Chris Barnes and technicality might sound like a long shot for you, then get this - this album even has some moments of melodic prog metal, "Blood On My Hands 3:37." This is no joke ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn't even believe it myself.

Despite being too loud in the mix, Barnes is still able to keep up with the technicality and constant structure changes on the album. This album is still very much Six Feet Under, and you'll still hear familiar death metal riffs, but with more effort than on some of the band's previous releases. The disc doesn't have any monumental epics, and I wouldn't have imagined it to. But what is on this disc is an old dog with new tricks.

I haven't quite heard a band yet who's mixed technicality with classic death metal in the way that the band does here. It really doesn't matter what song you listen to, it's bloodcurdling, even if it sounds a little more "pretty" than some of the band's other works. Sometimes there's even a play around with djent, like "Missing Victims 3:57" but Meshuggah should be fucking flattered that a legend like Barnes who pretty much coined the goddamned genre, actually took some influence from their sound.

The disc only clocks in at a mere 40:00, but it's certainly one of the better death metal albums that I've heard this year. Granted we've had a lot of good metal this year, but this is just another disc to add to that list. If you don't care for technical death metal and expect another straight forward death release, I still recommend that you give this album a try, because it still sounds like traditional death metal, just done a little differently and it might be a little more accessible to fans of the classic style who can't really get into the technicality and time signatures that the modern metal scene has turned into.

Six Feet Under is back with a new edge and a new vengeance. If you're looking for music to play while hacking up your neighbor with a freshly sharpened meat cleaver, then I think that these guys have certainly provided the soundtrack for just that. Yes, it's just as you remember... with a tad more evolution.

Highlights: Every song really has it's own style and tempo and that sort of makes them all a highlight. (Imagine that?) (12 Tracks, 40:00)

666 (9.0)


Cradle Of Filth - Midnight In The Labyrinth (2012 2 Disc Set) - Cradle Of Filth have released yet another album, but don't be surprised that it's not actually a metal album. Instead, the band... Well, I really can't say the band - but an album has been released from Cradle Of Filth that is something altogether different. It also technically can't be classified as metal, or even rock music.

At first, I thought that this album was a collection of re-recorded classics backed by orchestral music, and got real excited; but I now have realized that this album is an orchestral album with narrations by Dani Filth and Sarah Jezebel Deva. Basically, this means that these songs sound the same as always, except that they are being done in an orchestral and synth-laden atmosphere. This album is all about atmosphere and has been well accepted by fans. I've not read one bad comment about it since it leaked.

I'll also say that this really should have come out around Halloween, as it's going to serve as one of the best Halloween soundtracks and soundscapes of all time. Cradle have actually given something to mankind this time, not just black / gothic metal that will be received by metal fans. This is an album that people who don't even listen to metal will buy. Even if you hate Cradle, you won't hate this. I can honestly see people saying "This is the only Cradle album I ever liked" many years from now.

It's done so well and so beautifully dark, that you'll want to play it several times over. Dani's vocals actually work well as narrations (no screams, more like dark whispery croons that work very well and the occasional voice changer that makes him sound like a demon or a cenobite) but if you don't want them, there's a second disc included that includes all nine of the tracks (minus Goetia which has no vocals anyway) in pure instrumental fashion.

This album I believe is the very core of the ideal of the Gothic romance. When I say that, I do not mean hot topic tattooed goths, I mean dark and majestic gothic atmospheres, and classical renditions. I should also recommend this to fans of classical music, because it is all done so well and beautifully, that you'll certainly enjoy what you're hearing. Personally, these songs echo the Cradle I remember, I they bring back memories even in these renditions.

It does sound like the score to some great gothic film of which I've never seen, but surely want to. I recommend listening to either of these discs while reading great horror novel, or for just getting into the mood for some dark, gothic, romantic and mystical sex. You know, candlelight, moonlight - very romantic sort of thing. It also may serve well as background music for a meal, and a couple might walk out to one of these tracks on their wedding day, or this could played at the reception. Someone's going to find a use for these tracks, surely.

I honestly don't think there's much else I can say. This is absolutely in the realm of legend, and represents the band's atmospheres perfectly. A metal release for the band is still slated for October 31st, and if they stick to the style of these old classics, then there is a possibility that a worthwhile disc could be released.

One more thing must be said about this disc, and it's something that makes it special. It contains a 13:06 track called "Goetia (Invoking The Unclean.)" This is in remembrance to the band's "lost" recording. They literally can't find it, and I believe the material got destroyed long ago. However, this odd piece (that would be a little frightening to hear in the dark) certainly must capture the tone of what that album would've been. I have no idea what's being said, but I hope to hell (and hell it would be) that Dani is not reading from the Goetia on this album and invoking God knows what into my home. I've got a copy of it myself, but I don't just read shit out of there. Never know what's coming back, you know? Eh, for the most part it just sounds like a ton of effects after he gets done speaking whatever the hell that is that he said. But he says some more things, and then at the end it sounds like a thick iron door closing. That ends out the album as well.

If you're curious of the track list, just go look it up. It's all material from the first four albums, so that should be reassuring enough to you, I'd think.

Highlights: Both Discs (Disc 1 W/Narration 78:00 10 Tracks, Disc 2 Orchestra Only 64:00 9 Tracks - Both discs together are 2.3 hours)

777 (10)


Allegaeon - Formshifter (2012) - I knew that just from the start, this band was really going to add something worthwhile to the metal genre. They certainly haven't proved me wrong yet, especially with this, their sophomore album. Now one might think that one-upping the band's brilliant debut would be difficult; but Allegaeon has proved that they are not only able to re-create the greatness of Fragments Of Form And Function; they were also able to improve upon it.

Now with a little bit of flamenco, "Iconic Images 7:00" and acoustics in sections, the album really seems to have far more musical structure. Granted, the band always loved to create atmospheres with their instruments; that's a given - but this time, the effort that they've put forth is even beyond that of their last album, which alone had some staggering instrumental sections.

Solos? There's more than just a few simple solos on this disc. This is fine-crafted musicianship that you've just not going to be able to find anywhere else. I'm quite sure of that, because I have not heard metal the way that these guys do metal. Sure, it's technical progressive melodeath, but when you really sit down and listen to it, there's so much more form and function then you ever would have realized.

The band really knows how to play technical death metal, and they showcase it well throughout each and every song on the disc. Sometimes that means softer portions of music, and sometimes that means verging into non-metal territory. If anyone would like to recall the last Decapitated disc, it has portions which were also not quite metal, yet they helped to further evolve the sound of technical death metal. Some might say the genre is beginning to be overplayed and in a rut, but Allegaeon prove this to be different.

Every melody on the disc shines, the vocals are still as brutal as ever, and the drums still sound as frantic as they always have. As such, I couldn't find one bad song on the disc. Even though I found a few stinkers on the new Mencea, Allegaeon still have managed to put out a disc that's not only fucking brutal, but fucking beautifully hand-crafted, riff by riff. Fans of tech-death, meet your new Gods.

While it's not something entirely out of the box and different; it does improve on an already great debut and gives aspiring guitarists something else to strive for. Definitely one of the best albums of the year. These guys show no signs of getting sluggish. It'll only get better from here. At least, I hope.

Highlights: The Entire Disc (10 Tracks, 52:00)

666 (9.0.)



Moonspell - Alpha Noir/Omega White (2 Disc 2012) - Since Moonspell couldn't decide if they wanted to do another death metal album or actually put out a disc of gothic metal comparable to Sin Pecado/Butterfly Effect/Darkness and Hope, the band decided to do both. Unfortunately, the effort seems wasted. But that's not to say that a few tracks shine underneath this pile of rust.

First of all, let's blow the band's marketing scheme out of the fucking water. Moonspell are not Dream Theater or Ayreon. They did not release two 60-80 minute discs of material like most people would have thought. In fact, the total length of both discs is only 78 minutes, and that could have easily fit on one single disc. But I guess the band thought that it was not a wise idea to mix these two together, since death metal songs that include goth metal songs might alienate some fans.

To start with the first disc, the death metal of Alpha Noir; I only have to say one thing - Guys, this is mostly trash. "Axis Mundi 4:56" is a decent opener, but it's nothing we haven't heard on the past albums. The second song is that single "Licknthrope 3:49" which is a fucking joke, and so are most of the songs on this disc. "En Nome Do Medo 4:27" however has merit, and the band's current guitarist helps songs like it, "Love Is Blasphemy 4:31", "Grandstand 4:53", and the eerie instrumental "Sine Missione 4:57" also seem to be worth a fuck. But even then, most of these songs just don't sound all that great. Maybe Fernando's just getting old. The vocals just aren't that strong here, and despite various death and black metal influence and good melodies/solos - I feel that his vocal performance kills the music, entirely.

Fortunately, the two disc set is not a total wash. As for Omega White, fans of the band's goth metal will fucking rejoice. I did. I didn't think they had anything like this still in them. I remember great melodies from songs like "Ghostsong" and Fernando's gothic croon on albums like Darkness and Hope and my personal favorite disc; The Antidote. The opener "WhiteOmega 4:21" has an absolutely fucking beautiful lead riff. I could listen to a performance like that all day. The vocals and chorus there are also absolutely perfect. This must have been a b-side from Darkness and Hope. But the greatness continues with "Fireseason 4:29" which has a more acoustic/goth metal flare to it. Fernando sings on this one and it works. Reminds me of Sin/Pecado and I loved that one.

But we're not done yet. "Herodisiac 4:46" with it's violin influence and traditional gothic metal affair is just the sort of metal I've been waiting to hear from these guys. There's a female vocal duet with Fernando on the chorus that really makes it stick. "Incantatrix 4:40" also has that same feel, as if this is something the band should've been doing for years. "A Greater Darkness 7:24" closes out the disc with an infectious chorus and some beautiful melodies.

It's hard for me to call this a bad album, because some of these songs are the best that the band has recorded in several years. Truthfully, I wouldn't care if they ever released another album. People seem to have a displeasure towards the band, but I've always found them to be a great act. All that I've noticed, is that the death metal is wearing thin, and it's time to go more for the goth metal fans on Napalm. Which was a great label to put the goth touches back on. They'll probably get some fans for this effort.

If this is on I-Tunes, just get the tracks that you'll like, not the whole thing. Some of these songs are just uninspired. It's like the band was trying to chase a muse who kept running away.

Highlights: AN: En Nome Do Medo, Love Is Blasphemy OW: WhiteOmega, Fire Season, Herodisiac, Incantatrix, A Greater Darkness (2 Discs, 17 Tracks, 78:00)

AN: 2/5
OW: 3.5/5

Overall: 3/5 (6.0)


Marilyn Manson - Born Villain (2012 Deluxe Edition) - Talk about disappointment. I don't know whether it's Manson, Revolver, (I just paid for a subscription to Decibel today, because Revolver seems to lie and hype up BS) or the press; but as far as I heard - this was Manson's comeback album. Industrial influenced metal/rock like in the days of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals.

Boy, did I get fucked. Most of this is uninspired electronic music with slight pop overtones and Manson seeming to turn his screams into vocal acrobatics that just don't work for me. Perhaps it's because he's more mature, I don't know. "No Reflection 4:37" seems to be the only comeback song on the disc, and one of the only songs here that make this album worth checking out. Then there's "Pistol Whipped 4:11" which is catchy enough to get respect from fans. The Gardener 4:40" is another one that has some weird riffs from Twiggy and a catchy hard rock chorus. Of course, it's got some poetry in it too.

For the most part, the majority of the songs on this disc are decent, but nothing truly memorable sans a few, like "Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day 4:18" that's "thrash" like Manson said would be a big influence on this disc. "Where is this thrash you speak of Manson, sir? I do not hear it on the other 14 tracks!" But even this song is hampered down by light portions, effects, and other such stuff. Also, this isn't really thrash - but it does remind me of NIN's heaviest days, and Twiggy plays a good frantic solo.

Yeah, this is the only fun you'll have on the disc, sorry guys. The disc actually ends with "Breaking The Same Old Ground 4:27" and that's really what it is. There's nothing really new here. It's a combination of Mechanical Animals and several of his other heavy discs... but stripped down. This is definitely stripped down Manson. Perhaps it's a gear up for a full-on heavy album.

Perhaps I need to look in the mirror and just keep telling myself that it's okay, and that Marilyn Manson is never coming back. Whatever the case, this album was full of potential, but really seems to have been hyped as being much heavier than it actually was. Don't believe the hype and stick to the originals. Next motherfucker gonna get my metal...

Bonus Track:

You're So Vain (Feat. Johnny Depp) - Johnny Depp plays guitar on this track, and he's quite good. The man's an avid guitar player and Alice Cooper even said that he'd ask him to play guitar on his live shows, but the man's too busy with movies. He carries an expensive rig everywhere with him (to all the movie sets too) and plays every chance that he gets. Anyway, the song is a decent Carly Simon cover. It's heavier than the original, but that ain't saying much. Then he tipped his hat and said, "Alright, I'm off to play Jack Sparrow, The Lone Ranger, Jesus Christ and Santa Claus!"

Highlights: No Reflection, Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day (15 Tracks, 66:00)

2.5/5 (5.5)


Opera Diabolicus - 1614 (2012) - Mostly fronted by Snowy Shaw and Mats Leven after their departure from gothic metal masters Therion, this surprisingly heavy mix of opera and metal is actually worth checking out. There are eight tracks on the disc and six main tracks of a considerable length. The shortest length of these six main tracks is 6:45, and the longest is 10:35.

The disc is pretty much what I expected for the most part, very operatic/gothic sort of metal with both male and female vocals. But it is surprisingly heavy, and features some nice acrobatics. Fans of Shaw's vocal style will not be disappointed here, and even though it was hard for me to grasp when he was in Therion, I find myself almost welcoming his unique vocal tone on this disc. Mats Leven also delivers an amazing performance with his vocals, sounding just as good as they did on "Sons Of The Staves Of Time." Of course there are several other metal greats who you will instantly recognize, as this is one big metal opera.

Once again, it is surprisingly heavy and surprisingly metal. You're certainly going to have those little gothic portions on the album, and it pretty much sounds the same as a whole. At it's basic element, it's just well structured power/thrash with operatic elements and prog style drumming. Occasionally there are some death metal growls here and there, but this never really ventures into the realms of extreme metal. The guitar solos also shine brightly on this album, but there aren't too many of them. All in all, it's a thrilling performance that you should be able to enjoy again and again. Many people skipped out on this because they didn't really know about it, but that's a grave mistake. This is where the better part of Therion went, and it seems that without these guys, that whole act pretty much went to shit. (Ref: Sitra Ahra (2011)

If you're into Therion, Avantasia, or any other bands in this genre, you should definitely pick this up. You won't be disappointed, as it's probably one of the better metal operas I've heard, and I've heard quite a few of them.

Highlights: I couldn't really find one in particular, as each of the six main tracks have their moments. (8 Tracks, 50:00)

5/5 (8.0)


16 - Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds (2012) - 16 are a sludge metal band and they want you to know it. Every riff, every scowl, and every drumbeat all echo "sludge" in bold letters. The album bashes you right in the face with a dirty, grimy, and overall filthy sound that makes me think of an early Mastodon. But the band does experiment with prog and it's easily discernible as soon as your ears experience "Parasite 3:51" the song that directly follows the raw opener "Theme From "Pillpopper" 3:41."

But even though the band does use some more structure then most sludge bands, that doesn't mean that they aren't just as good as any other sludge band out there. You're going to hear familiar riffs, an absolute vocal onslaught that really delivers with every word, and drums that are able to do much more than just keep up the damned beat. To tell you the truth, this band has put out a really great sludge disc that shows a lot of promise.

As I said before, if you're a fan of early Mastodon (Demo Era, Remission and some of Leviathan) you should certainly get into this disc. This disc is raw, unrelenting and pounds you with each and every riff. I don't know about you, but I loved each and every song on here, with no qualms about any of them. This is 39 minutes of prog-infused sludge that isn't going to pussyfoot around. Sure these guys are definitely artists, but that doesn't mean that they don't want to bash your face in. Go grab this album along with the new High On Fire. They'll both complement each other.

Highlights: What's not to like? Every song does exactly what it was made to do. (10 Tracks 39:00)

5/5 (8.0)


Deadborn - Mayhem Maniac Machine (PR2012) - Instead of trying to promote this as good, non-generic death metal, which it isn't - I'll just tell you exactly what it is. It's crap. Yes, I'm going to be honest with you. Not everything you get from a PR group is going to be excellent. I respect that the band certainly has talent, and has up till now put out some good releases which showed that they have, or had promise.

Had seems to be the key word there. The sound is much "rawer and thicker than previous releases" as I've heard, but there's no real change in the tempo and everything just sounds as cardboard as it can. The only reason you're going back to listen to this album right now is because you're trying to defy me. Be honest. It's nothing new, and completely generic as anything you can pick up in the bargain bin.

Sure, there's a couple things here and there - but those things are on every other fucking album as well. The riffs are the same pace as the drums, which carry the same damned tempo throughout each and every song. They might as well have hired a robot. It's basically like saying "Oh, you can play technical death metal. That's great. But so can 15,000,000 other bands."

You might find one or two songs that sound good on this album too. But you'll find those on the new Marilyn Manson album. So stop convincing yourself that this isn't generic slop, because it is. The only person that will really enjoy this one is someone who's never heard technical death metal before. If I find some high school metal kid with no access to the internet and burn this for him, he'll think it's the best thing ever. You know, until he hears Decapitated.

This is Necrophagist light, it's Decapitated light. But you know what's true about light beers, right? Light beers suck. Same thing goes for light metal. I don't know about you, but I'm looking for something interesting, not something I've already heard. By the way, the album's electronic intro "Kraftwerk D 2:11" actually shows some potential. But only because it's the only track on the album that sounds different from all the others. Even the 1:51 bullshit they call "Reinvented Power Process" is nothing more than a "let's see how short of a song we can make."

I'm done here, let's move on.

Highlights: Kraftwerk D (9 Tracks, 35:00)

2/5 (5.0)


Fisthammer - Devour All You See (PR2012) - Every once in a while, a band comes along that really innovates and shows us what death metal is supposed to be. Well, these melodic death metal masters who remind me of a much better Dethklok, are without one single flaw. All right, well maybe that's a bit of a stretch, because I only have one qualm about this album and it's a vocal one.

The vocalist does have a great growl approach and scream when necessary, but "Doom Of The Gods 4:23" (where it is most present) and several other song have a vocal style that reminds me of the pseudo death growls of Brendan Small when he is in his "Nathan Explosion" persona. This is, as most true metal fans should know, an absolute blasphemy towards the metal genre and I would've expected better. Especially for a band that sounds as good as they do.

The band has a great amount of skill and talent, despite that they all look like young mini-Chris Barnes's on the photo, dreads and beards and all. But the proof is in the pudding, and they kill. They kill with unique and memorable riffs, killer drumming that actually accents the music and great vocals for most of the album. If you want structure, melody and brutality, you've come to the right place for sure.

These guys prove that they don't (unlike some other bands) need to keep a song on life support with the same tired riffs, and actually use more than a just the same few riffs in each and every song. This makes the songs sound more meaty and much longer than they appear. The guitar solos on this disc are also done very well, without sounding to rock and roll, or too much like solos that we've heard before. The sheer fact that this band offers so many great sections in each song, and so infectiously, is just one more reason to pick them up.

If you're looking for a metal band that actually has some talent (besides the Nathan Explosion impression) and you're looking to support that talent, you should definitely check these guys out. I'm thankful that I even got review a band like this that really has their shit together and doesn't have this oddball, over the top mainstream image. It's definitely got melody, but is much darker and technical than much of what we would presume to be melodic death metal.

As I said, expect every song to be different, challenging and devastating. This is no bullshit metal, it's the real thing. If you can't find anything to like on this album, you're either looking too hard or you're tone deaf. A great release from a relative unknown. All i got with their PR pack was album, the cover, and a small pic of the band. I don't know much else. So your job is to go check them out. Just make sure that you don't miss out on Fisthammer, who has a name that's completely worthy of their sound.

Highlights: Everything but "Doom Of The Gods" which is somewhat ruined by the vocals. But musically, even that's a good song. Make your own judgment. (11 Tracks, 40:00)

666 (9.0)


Dreaming Dead - Midnightmares (PR2012) - More melodic death metal, but this time it's proggier and fronted by a female vocalist. But wait! It's really not as bad as it might sound, so keep reading. The band has a good sense of structure and keep things interesting with a heavy dose of technicality and prog. There is a backup vocalist who uses a growl, but the main vocalist uses a sort of deep scream that sort of reminds me just a bit of Chuck Schuldiner. Of course, sometimes her deep scream turns into a little bit more of a high pitch sort of deal, but it's very womanly, nonetheless.

The album's production value is still quite raw, but it doesn't sound like complete garbage. However, it doesn't have the kick of high production that we'd expect with big name bands. The band is worthy enough to be one of those big named bands, partly because they know how to drop tempos and styles at the drop of a fucking hat, and can really make a song that's only about 5:00 sound like it's twice that length. That's a worthy quality to have, I think - to be able to trick one's mind into thinking that a song is much longer than it actually is.

The band also uses some interesting riffs at times that really make the whole thing feel like in many cases, a nightmare. There are some vocal effects and other ideas thrown into the mix that really give life to this concept. Creating atmospheres is something that this band really excels at, and they use each and every instrument proficiently enough to achieve these atmospheric effects.

The drummer seems to be well on top of things, the guitarists are absolutely maniacal, and the vocalist is just one more reason to really give female fronted metal a chance. Lacuna Coil, this is not. Otep, this is not. This is real female fronted progressive melodic death metal that will certainly catch your attention quickly. I wish that I had gotten the chance to listen to something like this when I was younger and hadn't really heard this kind of music before. I'm sure I'd have played it over and over and again. To tell the truth, I'm very impressed by the amount of talent and musicianship on this disc and most people have never even heard of this band.

Again, I can't really find any tracks that stick out more than the others. This album really seems like a blow from nowhere, and with riffs and structure like these, I really can't single any of them out. The guitar solos are also of good merit and certainly add even more flavor to this already impressive metal package. This really reminds a lot of Death's progressive days, and that should really be saying something. I also need to mention the band's instrumental treat, "In Memoriam 6:37." that has more layers of structure than a Las Vegas Heart Attack burger has layers of meat.

But I could tell you that I really like "Corpse Mountain 4:52" (Makes me think Of Berserk, to be honest) or the opener, "Overlord 4:48" or even the second of the band's instrumentals and album closer, "Departure 5:08." But I wouldn't be doing this disc justice. It's a great hearken back to Death's last couple of years, but can still stand as a worthy album on it's own. It will definitely change the way you think about female metal too, if you're still under the assumption that females have no place in it.

Highlights: Can't mention just one. (9 Tracks, 40:00)

666 (9.0)


Bible Of The Devil - For The Love Of Thugs And Fools (PR2012) - I'm sure this is an idea that's not really new, but these guys from Chicago really have a sound that's worth checking out. It's for fans of both classic metal and classic rock, and mixes them perfectly together. It's essentially rock with a metal kick, and has a high energy sound that should please any fan of old school music.

The band seems to know their Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead and the sounds of countless classic rock and roll bands that you many of you still know and love. The vocals might not be perfect, but they sure as hell go along well with the songs, and in the end; that's all you'll care about. I'll also have to mention that the band has the rocking solos of the past nailed down to a science. This is the kind of metal your old man might actually be able to get into. I hear from young guys all the time, can't get into metal because of all the screaming and growling stuff. Well, this is definitely metal music, but old pops could use this one on Father's Day.

You're going to hear plenty of familiar riffs here, so I'm not going to give a 777. That's for fucking sure. There's nothing really jaw dropping here, and the quality of the disc is pretty damned raw. But my promo is only 192 kbps. Of course, it sounded much better in my headphones at work, than what it does now on my laptop.

Some of the songs aren't so great, I don't quite care for the vocals on "The Parcher 5:33" which has a Survivor "Eye Of The Tiger" feel to it. Sometimes the vocals don't quite hit just right either. You could definitely find a better replacement on the vocals than this guy, who makes the whole thing feel very independent, and less likely to be on a major label, ever.

Songs like "Can't Turn Off The Sun 5:18" certainly stand out though, with it's interesting take on Dio's "Holy Diver" riffs in the intro. But even with this, it really sounds like a bunch of guys that you'd hear playing at a bar. But that's probably what they do. It's good music to drink too, and probably sounds just like it does on stage, as it does here. The quality of this whole thing just sounds like it was recorded live, not in a studio at all. There's not much production, but some people might like that.

Going into anymore detail would be worthless at this point. It's not something you really need to hear, but if you're interested in a mix-up of classic rock and classic heavy metal, you might find something to like here. Not terrible, but certainly not the best thing you'll hear this year.

Pick it up if this sounds like it might interest you.

Highlights: Sexual Overture/Away, Out For Blood, Raw And Order, Anytime, Can't Turn Off The Sun, Night Street (9 Tracks, 46:00)

3/5 (6.0)


Moonloop - Deeply From The Earth (PR2012) - Fans of Opeth, rejoice! Or complain, whatever you feel is necessary. Yes, it's another Opeth inspired progressive melodic death metal band. Some like to say that Opeth sucks now, but I think that the classic sound of Opeth is still evolving, it's just not evolving through means of Opeth anymore.

A band can create a sound and decide to diverge from what they've created, for fear of copying themselves. Yet there are bands out there who believe they've got enough skill to take a classic style and further evolve it in a way that the band who pioneered it never could. These are the kinds of bands that you should care about. As for Moonloop, these guys from Barcelona/Spain will definitely have your ears at full attention. They do much to accentuate the Opeth sound.

Moonloop adds more technicality to the progressive death metal pioneered by Opeth, but the growls aren't quite as fierce as anything that Michael did. There are definitely "ripped off" leads here and there, and if not for the acrobatics of the guitar and drums, I would almost consider these guys plagiarists. But they aren't. You can also hear bits of Gojira in here and Meshuggah to boot. So this is in many ways, a wet-dream mindfuck of a mix between Opeth and Gojira.

The leads and solos on this disc are just as good as anything mid-era Opeth, and you'll notice that instantly. The band pulls no punches with their Opeth worship, but combining classic prog death like that with the melodic tech death of Gojira really seems like something of a feat. Apparently these gentlemen have released some superb demos in their early years, and this is the band's first full length, which has been highly awaited.

I can say for sure that if you love Opeth and Gojira and aren't crazy about the new Opeth stuff, you might find this disc heavily enjoyable. It's not perfect, that can be stated; because the vocals aren't perfect and they sure aren't Michael's, but the overall musicianship of the disc shines throughout each and every riff on this 60:00 unexpected surprise. The drum work is excellent, the riffs are amazing in certain instances, and the guitar solos quake and thunder through this progressive technical death metal masterpiece.

This is definitely one of the albums you definitely need to get your hands on this year. I can't spot one bad track on it, as each one of them have at least something unique to offer. Some of them are prog-death with clean passages, some of them are mixes between acoustic and death metal, and others feature a great deal of technicality, but most of the songs have at least one or two of these styles within them. This isn't anything you haven't heard before, but it's done rather well. Of course, Ikuinen Kaamos's "Fall Of Icons" features more Opeth than this one, and it's done much better - but it lacks the technicality of Moonloop, even though they are clearly copying Gojira.

I still think the production could be a bit better, and that might be the only real problem that I see with this disc. But my promo is only 192, so an actual disc might have better production value. The only way to be sure is to buy yourself a copy of a band that certainly thinks they might be able to take the progressive death metal chalice away from Opeth, especially since they left it to collect dust when they began their prog rock era. Maybe Moonloop can brush the dust off and give the thing a good cleaning, because it needs one.

Highlights: Um... All of them. If you don't believe me, go ahead and check it out for yourself. Not one real downer track on this disc. Nothing like, "The Drapery Falls" but definitely good, nonetheless. (10 Tracks, 60:00)

5/5 (8.0)


Chopstick Suicide - Lost Fathers And Sons (PR2012) - I'm not going to beat around the bush about this one. If you like Dillinger Escape Plan, you might find this something you could get into, but honestly this band is nothing more than one of those experimental core bands that are all over the fucking place. My friend calls this shit "Jerseycore" because he says that most of it is made in New Jersey, and it's an obvious reference to the Jersey stereotypes. I personally don't get this music. I like Dillinger, but this is not something I would play over and over again.

The band clearly copies off many other bands like Between The Buried and Me, and probably several hundred others that I'm too busy listening to better bands to listen to. I guess you could compare it to IWrestledABearOnce or The Bunny, The Bear, and all the bands along that genre.

Oddly enough, the band has a few sections that remind me (faintly) of Acid Bath, and the clean vocals aren't exactly terrible. It sort of sounds little bit like the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold and I don't think his vocals are that bad (at least as bad as they used to be.)

All right, so I'm not doing much to save this ADD mess. But that's what it is. There's some clean riffs in the package and some great drumming, the mixture of styles isn't exactly hurting the band, it's just that they are repaving over shit I've already heard. It's a dead-ringer to tell these bands by their song titles:

1.Everyone Sleeps But Me
2. The Chalk and The Matter
3. Shores Are Not For Vacancies
4. Television, Television
5. As I Lay Fail
6. Small People, Broken Glasses
7. Your Average Hero
8. Kolpa

Notice many of the song titles sound sort of "oddballish." This is a 100% dead-ringer that the band is producing Jerseycore from the Jersey shore. Even if they're not from fucking Jersey.

Nonetheless, the band has technicality, odd riffing styles, clean melodies, and a mix of a general "fuck you scream" vocal approach and a clean vocal style that I've already described as close to the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold with a little hint of Chad Gray (Mudvayne.) In all honesty, some parts of these songs are not that bad. "Shores Are Not For Vacancies 5:13" has a decent clean portion towards the end of the track that really makes it stand out. When the band goes into clean vocals and melodies, I tend to care a little more about them. The guys do have some skills, you just won't hear much of it because they seem to be too busy with core simplicities. But let's be honest, for the aged metal listeners, the old men and women of metal - this is going to sound like a new trend. As I've said before, there's seriously something in our water or air that is fucking with the brains of the people.

I think if we played something like this to any advanced alien civilization, they'd consider us inferior and blast us to smithereens. There's a word I haven't used in a while. This review might seem a little sporadic and off-topic, but it's because the material I am reviewing is very sporadic and off topic, assuming the topic is music of form and function.

Despite that parts of this one weren't bad, I have heard better bands play this kind of music, and I consider this stuff at the top of the metal guide pyramid, with the words (listen to sparingly) right beside it. But some good riffs, drum ideas and melodies keep this from being completely mediocre - but the vocals are rough and the core simplicity can get in the way. Still, songs like "Your Average Hero" have great passages that I didn't expect from this kind of music. The solo there was also not bad. Just don't listen to the song after it - the song is a joke.

To finish this, I feel that this band has musicians within it who really do have some musical skill. But there is obviously a lot of joking around and fecal matter on this album that make it hard to find the real musicality on the disc.

Imagine it like a treasure hunt, if you will. Can you find the parts of this that are worth a damn?

Highlights: Shores Are Not For Vacancies, Small People; Broken Glasses, Your Average Hero (8 Tracks, 31:00)

2.5/5 (5.5)


Begrime Exemious - Visions Of The Scourge (PR2012) - Don't expect any high levels of production on this one, first off. Secondly, I have next to nothing on this band. The only thing that I got from them was the album and a cover that's really just a drawing by one of the band members. But don't let that discourage you from checking out this black/death thrash band with plenty of sludge and rock and roll elements.

The production sounds very raw, but you can still discern all of the riffs well enough. The vocals are raspy with a bit of gravel, and the mix of thrash and sludge really seems to work well together. The guitars also use some slightly progressive riffs, which help to give the music some form. But don't get me wrong, this is definitely some very dirty and grimy metal that you'll be able to interpret almost instantly. With a name like Begrime Exemious, you can kind of expect to hear the "grime." It's there, folks. I'm not fucking with you. You might even want to listen to this in a vat of tar for atmosphere. If you don't drown first, that is.

Though the band tends to vocally veer towards black metal, there's still plenty of thrash to be had, and there's definitely some black and roll riffs that fans of the new school Darkthrone would love. Even the non-frequent guitar solos are more towards classic shredding than anything else. This band knows who they are, and they know their audience. There's really not much else to say about this band other than the fact that they've got a sound that you should check out, and I think they'll definitely get some fans from this one. I haven't heard one song here that I've hated or thought was fodder, but nothing really came out at me either.

You know what to expect with each and every song on this disc. But that's a good thing this time around. If they starting doing some really proggy stuff or got all acoustic, it might kill the nature of the album. However, it does match the artwork quite well, I'll say that.

Go check it out.

Highlights: No real highlights on the disc. (8 Tracks, 52:00)

4.5/5 (7.5)


Diseim - Holy Wrath (PR2012) - Now I get to play the bitch. Just like Deadborn, there are bands out there that just aren't really that fucking special. Latvia's Disiem might be from the land of Doctor Doom, but they sure don't bring his rage with them.

First of all the band is glued to the same tempo. It's a very depressing sounding sort of riff that is also used by many black metal bands. Yes, they can play death metal, but they don't really put anything on the table. The vocalist can scream and can growl, but I've heard this sort of thing 10,000 times already and by this time, it's beginning to grow rather boring.

I'm not saying that this is bad death metal, just the fact that it's too simplistic. There's nothing really innovative here, but to someone who's never heard anything like it before; I'm sure that they'd think it was really something. The raw production doesn't help it much either. Though it's stable and solid, it doesn't have much to offer in the realms of ingenuity.

So what if you can play death metal with elements of prog? There's still not much here to go on. Maybe in a few years and with some more music under their belt, this band might be something - but for now, I'm not really hearing anything interesting other than a few of the riffs. But I'm sure that I've even heard those riffs somewhere before.

Buy it if you want, I'm sure it'll interest someone. But to me, it sounds like a sandwich without any filling. It's about as metal as two slices of bread. Yes, even that Jerseycore band was better. This disc was 100% boring, through and through. Somebody get these guys some energy drinks.

Highlights: Nope. (8 Tracks, 31:00)

1/5 (4.0)


Eternal Helcaraxe - Against All Odds (PR2012) - I've been singing the praises of this band ever since I heard this fucking album while at work. The band is Irish, and I usually like Irish bands; especially Irish doom. Some dipshit online wants to say that doom metal is better in Finland, but I don't think so. While I love Finnish doom like Swallow The Sun and others; I find that doom in Ireland has more emotion and spirit.

The fans consider the band pagan black metal, and the band's info document considers them "Irish black/Epic metal" but I consider them to be melodic black metal with elements of funeral doom. However, you don't have to go out and buy this album right away. Being the nice gentlemen that they are, the band decided to give away their first EP, "To Whatever End (2009)" as a free download from bandcamp. It's available in every kind of format you could ever want, so check it out.

The album is composed of the same kinds of dark, triumphant melodies that you would expect for a band of this genre. Songs like "Invictus 7:06" really showcase that point, being something of a single for this album. The song contains infectious melodies and exceptionally powerful vocal emotion. It's the kind of thing to play during an epic battle and is one of the best songs about an invincible army that I've ever heard. The fact that this album contains that fucking song, is just one of the many reasons to buy this disc. (That and I found it on abyss records for only 9.98 + S/H.)

The disc also contains besides infectious melodies like those on Invictus, pummeling drums, fierce screams and wonderful clean vocals done by the vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Praetorian, (who also plays in Eadochas) and the second guitarist Mualgrim, as well as the Bass player, Thule. (Everyone but the drummer does some vocal work.)

This band also implements massive amounts of structure, and live up to the subgenre classification, "epic metal." This band is in no way afraid to stop their black metal bashing for just a few minutes and throw in some nice, yet sorrowful melodies. Cernunnos himself would be pleased at the beauty of some of these melodies, as they really take control of the songs and focus all of your attention directly to them. What you might have first heard as a brutal call to death quickly becomes a slow paced section with a clean melody that sounds like it was inspired from an ancient folk song that dealt with the sorrow of battle.

The mix of sorrow, black metal brutality, and clean melody all help to make this disc what it is. It assures that you are listening to Eternal Helcaraxe, and not some other band. This sound has definite inspiration from many bands, there's no disputing that; but when you hear the clean/scowl vocal duet on "As The Snow Gathers 7:32" you're going to definitely mark these guys up on your list of bands that you need to give a shit about. Some of the melodies on this disc, combine with the vocals are so fucking beautiful that they might elicit tears, and I think that somebody somewhere is really going to feel this. There's heart in this music, truly; and I felt it in the deepest part of my soul.

I have no idea what else you want me to say about this one. But fans of Irish black/doom like Primordial might really, really, really, want to check these guys out. Hell, melodic black metal fans and fans of funeral doom should also give this one a spin. To tell you that the drumming is good, the riffs are good and the vocals great would be a bit redundant I think; because these should all be assumed at the forefront. There is not even one hint of sup-par musicianship on this disc; and I can only hope that they'll keep going up from here.

But to tell you the fucking truth, I have no idea how they will be able to improve on this one. Goddamn, this is great black metal. It's definitely without a fucking shadow of a doubt; going to be on my list for 2012's best black metal. If the Mayans are right, I can certainly die happy now that I've heard this.

Highlights: Claim Your Place With The Gods, Invictus, We Assist Death, As The Snow Gathers, Echoes Through Our Blood, Against All Odds (All The Battles To Come Pt.II) (8 Tracks, 50:30)

777 (10)


Sammath Naur - Anhedonia (2011) - Sammath Naur's Behemoth inspired EP that I will choose to forget, "The Anhedony Domain" left me with big doubts about the future of this band. "Self Proclaimed Existence 2005" was a beast of an album and the band showed off some incredible lessons in prog and melody within some of it's passages. Few albums I really remember these days, since I listen to and review so many of them. But that album is an exception.

While not as good as SPE, the band still shows that they still have a trick or two up their sleeves with this disc. They don't have many tricks, but what they do offer is going to be halfway worth remembering. Besides the cover of Satyricon's "Mother North 5:59" there are actually a few more interesting tracks on this disc to check out.

First of all, 17:10 of this album is the Anhedony Domain EP, but it sounds much different, less Behemoth rip-off. Yes, I am not fucking with you. The versions of these songs that you bought last year, have now changed. They aren't so "brutal" and more focused on the atmospheres, orchestrations and melody. You wouldn't really even notice that they were the same songs.

As for the new tracks, "Let Them Die 5:56" features the band playing around with some synths, atmospheres and electronic effects. It shows the band in further evolution. The rest of the songs follow in this style, but the band does add more guitar melody, song structure and effects then were used on the first couple of songs (which were on the EP.)

As for the band's cover of "Mother North 5:59" (And yes, I've heard the original.) The quality is quite low. I'm not sure if the band is doing this in homage, or this could just be a track with bad production. It's not a bad cover of the song, just a little different, since they don't quite use black metal vocals. The song structure has been slightly changed, and there are some atmospheres added into the mix. The drums also give some more flavor to the song than what it had personally. It's still "Mother North" just revamped. There's also this really demo sounding closer called, "On The Altar Of Mars 6:04." It sounds alright, but the fact that they added high production effects and mixed them in with low-fi music really doesn't work well. But the track really sounds like it came out of the demo days and that's where I have to end this review.

This disc more or less contains 4 re-tweaked songs, two new songs, a cover, and a tweaked demo track. It clearly wasn't quite finished. These guys wrote these songs in 2008 probably, and they got chided for copying Behemoth, so they figured they'd go ahead and release them again in 2011 and re-tweak them.

If you bought the EP, stab yourself in the foot. Then sell it and buy this disc which fixes the EP. But I hated the EP and ever since Saturnus dropped from the band, it's not been quite as good. These guys are struggling. Let's face it. At this rate, this might be the last album from Sammath Naur, and that'd be fine with me. I'll remember them for SPE and nothing else. Doesn't seem like much can save them now.

Highlights: They're all good tracks, but follow more or less the same style. I could say that I liked the new versions of the EP tracks and the rest of the stuff on here, (because I did) but compared to Septic Flesh, these guys aren't really doing much. (10 Tracks, 48:00)

3/5 (6.0)


Deprivation - Amalgam (2011) - Deprivation are a very promising Melodic Death/Thrash/Groove metal band from the United States. As you can expect, our soil is well versed in the melodeath/thrash/groove core stuff, and these guys are no exception to the rule. The vocalist uses a bit of a bark, and the guitars definitely play In Flames style riffs, as the drums play with as much modern metal and core influence that they can.

Fans of Soilwork, Lamb Of God, Chimaira, Devildriver and Machine Head as well as God Forbid and other such bands; would certainly enjoy this disc. It's definitely got the same vibe. These guys could just as well sit in a seat right beside these other bands, as they have the same potential for fame that those bands enjoyed from making music just like this.

However, I have neglected to mention something. It's either Lachlan Harrison, or Brock Patton that has some real guitar skills. It very well could be both of them, but they certainly know their way around solos and you can hear that in the music. They also launch some pretty good leads from time to time. Nothing rightly amazing, but there's still something of merit to be found here. In particular, the instrumental track, "Under The Mountain 3:18" shows the true skill of the guitarists, and my belief that they should be in another band that doesn't sound quite so damned copy/paste.

Most of the structure in this band is too similar to modern metal that we've all heard a thousand times before. But the band undoubtedly still has fans that enjoy this kind of metal and don't care how many times they've heard bands that sound like bands they've already heard. Who cares if the songs are standard length (3-5:00) and there's nothing really new here? Those guys sure don't.

But for you, you might want to think a little before you go spending your money on this one. I recommend hearing the instrumental, but as for the rest of these songs, I believe that there are great melodic death metal bands from Australia (don't shout the names out if you know them!) that would probably wipe the floors with these guys.

But it's still a decent disc. Nothing done wrong, just too much of the same.

Highlights: Under The Mountain (Yeah, that's about it.) (11 Tracks, 45:00)

2.5/5 (5.5)


Eternal Helcaraxe - To Whatever End EP (2009 FREE EP) - Surprisingly, there isn't too much to say about this EP, but rest assured even though this was recorded in 2009, it is still Eternal Helcaraxe. Yes, the production is not quite as good, and it's not quite as epic - but these 5 songs definitely offer enough material to better assist your decision in purchasing the band's first full length from Abyss Records. Which you should, because it's the smart thing to do.

The style of this disc is still the same black metal with epic elements, but it just doesn't have the clarity of the new release. It really does sound like a taste of the band, and not the full banquet that you get with "Against All Odds." But it does feature 3 tracks which total over 5:00 and a closer, "All The Battles To Come" which totals 10:29, and features some great female vocal harmonizing at the end.

Everything that was good on the full length, is going to be just as good here. In 2009, the band sounds just as good as they do now. The guitar riffs a re great, the melodies are great, the drums are just as good as they were on the full length, and the vocals also sound like you would expect them to. If you already bought the full length and want to grab the band's EP for free over at bandcamp, then you should know that you're going to get music that's on the same quality - just not with the same production value.

If you can get over that hurdle, you'll be doing fine. I consider this disc an appetizer for the full length, and it's fucking free - so what in the bloody hell are you waiting for? A written invitation? These guys have much more than just promise, so go and experience this greatness for yourself if you haven't already.

Even if it sounds like I'm being pushy... You really do need to go ahead and grab that full length too. That's the last time I'll say it, and I won't bother you anymore with it. I'm not selling that thing to you because the band has paid me. I'm selling it because I fucking love it, and I'm sure that you will too.

But remember, this one's free. So go get a taste, and if you like it - go on ahead and purchase the whole thing. It's like a playable demo in a way - if you like the demo, go on ahead and get the rest of the game. But a game based on this would probably be pretty badass, I'd imagine. But that's a topic for another conversation.

I'm through hyping this thing up. It's free, so go grab it.

Highlights: ALL (5 Tracks, 29:00)

5/5 (8.0)

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