Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 55 (6-12-2012)


Fear Factory - The Industrialist (2012 Landfill Edition) - What the fuck is this, Fear Factory? Please, tell me what the fuck this is supposed to be. Did you guys just decide to ruin the entire legacy of the band with this copy and paste bullshit? Honestly, not a worse album could exist in the band's discography. But as we all know, the band has had their share of hits and misses. "Mechanized" brought the band back into their own, and then as soon as everyone started to care about them, an "Obsolete" knock-off disc comes along with a forgettable story, and only 37:00 of real music.

There are no memorable riffs here. There are no memorable drums, because there's not even a real drummer. Gene said, "Fuck this shit!" and hopped off. Good thing too. After this garbage, I wouldn't care if the band ever released another album. Burton manages a few good choruses, but they're nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing memorable. Even when the band tries to be heavy, they just sound plain, dull and boring. This has got to be one of the worst metal albums I've heard this year, and is definitely one of 2012's biggest disappointments.

Revolver gave this 4 stars. They were paid. There's no fucking way that this album deserves that high of praise. Even the reviewer sounded like he wanted to say, "this is Fear Factory doing nothing new or original" but he sugarcoated his feelings with marketing speak. Should I even explain the songs? Should I even give you track names? No. Because they all sound round-about the same, or worse. Better yet, there's a shitty little instrumental called "Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed 1:52" and that goes into the album's awful atmospheric closer of a track, "Human Augmentation 9:04."

This honestly sounds like something that they threw together at the last minute. There is no muse, no inspiration - it's as cold and dark as the bleak dystopian story, which is also not surprisingly; unoriginal. Do not buy this album. The band does not need compensation for this crap. If you must listen to it, either stream it or torrent it. The limited edition is no better. I've renamed it fittingly after the second of the bonus tracks, "Landfill 3:45" which is where this album belongs.

Bonus Tracks:

Blush Response 4:39 - This is a dub-step remix of "Difference Engine 3:37." I'm sure that's all that I need to say here.

Landfill 3:45 - This song and it's unfinished lyrics and chorus, all need to be thrown into a landfill somewhere. It should have been 86ed and forgotten. No one needed to hear this, and it's not worth spending extra money on. It's tantamount to the band literally taking a shit on your face.

Fuck this album, and to hell with this band. This is a damn good swansong for these guys. It's over. Go back to your respective projects, or go retire somewhere. Even the message is getting old. We've heard it all before. I'm glad I didn't buy this album, and I would probably buy it just to send it back to the band with the words, "GAME OVER: PLEASE TRY AGAIN" etched on the front of it.

Highlights: Nothing. Save yourself a precious hour of your life.
(12 Tracks, 57:00)

1/5 (4.0)


Huntress - Spell Eater (2012) - A band that I heard about in Revolver, Huntress is a prog/power thrash band (that's actually heavy) with a female vocalist who's hot as Hell. But she probably doesn't even believe in Hell, because she's a hardcore Pagan. All of the lyrics (or most of them anyway) are related to paganism and are very blatant. But this band, unlike many others of the type, is not concerned with folk music and Odin, it's more based along ancient Wicca with a dash of traditional Paganism.

But enough about the lyrics. Jill Janus is definitely a force to be reckoned with in metal, bringing her King Diamond-esque vocal approach and mixing with a bark that I would expect from Joan Jett or The Genitorturers. She hits some great vocal lines during some of the choruses and it really works for most of the songs.

There's also a bunch of dudes in the band, and they play the instruments. Those dudes are fucking good by the way, and they definitely have thrash, prog and the art of shredding a good solo down. The band also incorporates bits of doom in their sound, which helps it even more, I think. Many of the eerie riffs also help the vibe of the disc, although I'm sure it won't look to some Pagans who believe that music like this might give the faith a bad name. Especially with the lyrics revolving around death, rape by an incubus and school shooting "Terror 3:11." Great, just what we need. Another band telling disenfranchised youth to go shoot up their schools. Great job, guys.

There are some good melodies here, some of them remind me of Mastodon at their proggiest. The drummer definitely holds his end of the deal up also, with some great work on the kit. He doesn't really blast much, but the does bring the thunder when he needs it. As I said, the guitarists are both badass and an integral part of this band.

Some people might not dig Janus's vocals and I can understand that. But you've at least got to take the riffs, the percussion and the sheer structure of the band into consideration. These guys pull a lot of tricks here, and you won't expect the precision and structure of this to be near as good as it actually is at first listen. So even if you don't like her vocals, the band certainly has the chops and the skill that got Napalm Records to notice them and sign them.

I'm gonna be honest with you, I wasn't so sure about this band; but I've already worn this album out. Dani Filth's vocals never bothered me and I am still a huge Cradle of Filth fan. But there are several vocalists that have really gotten on my nerves. But I've heard much worse than Jill. Besides, I love when she pulls off a scowl. It's utterly demonic.

All in all, if you're looking for something new in the power/thrash genre; this might help fill the void for a while. It's actually pretty damned heavy so be ready for that. There's a lot here to like and it's definitely worth checking out.

Bonus Track

The Dark: The Dark is definitely a track that shouldn't have been cut from the disc. While not as good as some of the others, it still has some good riffs and is certainly better than "Snow Witch 5:04" the album's worst cut IMHO. Try to get a version of the disc with this track on it.

Highlights: Spell Eater, Senicide, Sleep and Death, Eight Of Swords, Aradia, Night Rape, Terror (Hey, I said the lyrics were bad, but the song is good.), The Tower (11 Tracks, 46:00)

5/5 (8.0) (Despite some tracks being not as good as others, the musicality on this thing is impressive.)


Horseback - Halfblood (2012) - Unfortunately, Horseback's new album isn't anywhere near as good as their 2009 disc. I'll have a review for the 2011 two disc in a short while, but I figured that I'd cover the newest one first. The production values are much higher and the scowls are certainly more audible, but less is being done with the music that interests me. Personally, I don't think they can top what was done in 2009, and this album is just a reminder of that notion.

It's certainly a good disc, but nothing that you'll be playing for the rest of your life. Unless you like to get really fucked up and listen to drone. There's a lot of drone and ambience here, and not so much of the relaxing blackened metal influenced rock music. Really, it sounds like a sort of ritual and that's probably what it is. Again, God only knows the things my computer has summoned throughout the years, with all the odd rituals that I've played. This is yet another one of those.

Take "Halucinogenia I: Hermetic Gifts 3:55" for example. It's a light ambience and chants in a scowl. These are most certainly occultic chants, there's no mistaking that. even if these are lyrics, they are most certainly spoken in the format of an induced state of gnosis. Something was being summoned. The second part of this adds more atmosphere and instruments (particularly the shakers, which have been used in tribal rituals for years) But even if it might sound like sleigh bells, Santa Claus is definitely not coming to town. The third part of it adds guitar drone and electronic effects. You might think it's a good atmosphere, but it wasn't really what I was looking forward to.

There's even one song here called "Arjuna 5:32" that lets you hear how much of geeks these guys really are. Whoever had the idea to use clean vocals with no tone or inflection, that guy's an idiot. The secondary vocalist sounds like some computer geek who'd be showing me how to upgrade my OS or something like that. Then the scowler scowls along with him in the worst monotone. Whew, that song had such a good beginning too. But I guess that only geeks are really into this trippy occult stuff anyway. It naturally lures us in.

I think it was the first two tracks, "Mithras 5:05" and "Ahriman 3:55" that I actually enjoyed on this disc. All of the rest were okay. I suppose if you don't look at this as a metal album, because it's not - and it's not really a musical album either, so much as it is an atmosphere; you'll enjoy the disc more. Maybe you want to leave your body. Perhaps this atmosphere will help you achieve that, I dunno.

Highlights: Mithras, Ahriman, Halucinogenia I,II,III (7 Tracks, 43:00)

3/5 (6.0)


Odium - Burning The Bridges To Nowhere (2012) - Odium is a melodic deathcore band that has some promise, and some technicality in sections. But the band's singer has a clean vocal approach that is easily good enough for the radio. As a matter of fact, the closer track "The Descent 4:27" is one of those songs that would wind up in rotation for weeks, if not months.

But that's not one of the heavy ones. The other 40 minutes of this disc however, is full of heavy melodic death/core tracks. The riffs are interesting enough, the drums bash around a good couple of times and the vocals sound a little like a cardbard cookie monster, but the clean really balance everything out. In the end, you wish that you just heard a metal album with the singer singing, rather than the other guy who just really doesn't add much to the band. All right, sometimes he pulls off a good growl, but that's rare.

The band does have a good sense of structure however, and I was a little surprised by that. There's actually a lot of different collections of riffs and ideas thrown into this amidst the strong choruses. That's much different from some other deathcore bands out there, who don't even care about melody. By the way, there are some great solo portions on this disc that you also wouldn't expect. Think of Deadlock during the "Wolves" era, right before they started to suck.

There are people who might compare the clean vocalist's tone to that of the Chevelle or even Maynard James Keenan, but it does echo that style. Plus it's much heavier than anything the two of them have ever done. Yes, even though slight tempos occur, the band still manages to stay in the same style. It's definitely core with prettied up clean vocals, but it manages to pull enough extra bells and whistles that make it actually worth checking out. Might have some stuff to do with Jesus also, but that's big in metal lately.

Highlights: Burning The Bridges To Nowhere, Blue Channel, Insomnia, Claw My Eyes Out, Identity Of The Doomed, No Way Out, The Descent

3.5/5 (6.5)


Rush - Clockwork Angels (2012) - Rush's new disc starts out surprisingly heavy, almost in the vein of hard rock or prog metal. But sadly, it doesn't do that for long. "Caravan 5:38" is a decent opener, "Bu2b 5:09" is very much a classic, "Clockwork Angels 7:30" is a amazing, and "The Anarchist 6:51" and "Carnies 4:51" are both decent tracks.

But that's where the quality drops. The music gets softer, slower, and more predictable. "Halo Effect 3:13" is a relatively boring acoustic, "Seven Cities Of Gold 6:31" offers nothing at all of merit, and despite the atmospheric nature and strong chorus of "The Wreckers 5:00", I'm sure I've heard better from the band.

The disc picks up the heaviness with the thrashier nature of "Headlong Flight 7:20" but Geddy's vocals don't really go well with it. It really sounds like Tool in certain areas to be perfectly honest. But there are some great guitar theatrics that make the song still quite enjoyable. No, this isn't a bad album. It's just not a perfect one. But I don't think that fans will be upset with the work here.

Take, "Wish Them Well 5:25" for example. The vocals are decent, but the it's the prog theatrics that really make the song what it is. Geddy Lee does a few vocal tricks on it, but he mostly bores the crap out of me with it.

As for the closer, "The Garden 6:58" well, it's a good prog-rock ballad. Geddy's vocals seem to work well with it, and I guess it's a good way to close out the album.

Honestly, this disc tries to mesh together a more metal based sound, while still keeping the prog rock classic nature of the band intact. There will be songs on here for new fans, and fans of heavy metal; as well as the older generation who still remembers the early Rush. But I do believe that both demographics will enjoy both of these deviations, as they are done rather well for the most part. This album could have been a lot worse than it is, and we should be thankful.

There are memorable riffs here, great vocal lines and choruses; and the band sounds strong and well structured. There is filler, but not enough of it to kill the great songs that are on this disc. It's just five minutes over an hour long, and some of these prog epics are well worth hearing. Just be ready to skip a few of them.

Not bad, Rush. You've definitely still got it after all these years.

Highlights: Bu2b, Clockwork Angels, The Anarchist, Carnies, The Wreckers, Headlong Flight, The Garden (12 Tracks, 65:00)

4/5 (7.0)


Blackstar - Barbed Wire Soul (2012 Special Edition) - Jeff Walker's new project is a mix between classic rock, punk, and heavy metal in it's most anthemic. Now the date on this says 1998, but I've also heard that this is a brand new album and band from 2012, so I'm not sure if this is really new or not.

EDIT: Peaceville 1996

Regardless, the production value sounds a little bit raw, yet it still has some polish in areas. The band does a great job musically, especially on songs like "Smile 3:39", "Better Than The Devil 4:42", and "Instrumental 5:31." Which is actually not even an instrumental.

There are also some horns and saxophone play on "Rock and Roll Circus 4:15" and "Waste Of Space 3:52" respectively. You wouldn't imagine hearing sax and a few horns on these rock tracks, but they do appear and make the tracks stand out from the others.

For the most part, Walker's vocals suck. I'm going to be honest. The vocals and lyrics sound terrible. There are no good vocal portions on this album, and Walker ends up sounding like a stoned goblin the entire time. But you can tell that he is trying to sing and should have never stopped making Carcass albums, because no one really cares about this guy much anymore - especially after "Welcome To Carcass Country." (2006).

However, the guitar playing is pretty good - nothing special; but there are a few good riffs and solos on this album. Yes, it's stuff that we've heard before; but at least that part of the experience is good. Sometimes the music on the disc is so good that Jeff's horrible croons seem to no longer matter. Honestly, this sounds like a man who isn't quite sure what he wants to do anymore. From legendary grindcore, to legendary death metal, and then to country and rock/metal fusion - I truly think that he's about out of ideas, and hope that he soon retires.

Relax Jeff, you've given us Heartwork and that was enough. All this other crap just pales in comparison to the work that you've already done and it's forgettable. Go take a long (non-musical) break.

Bonus Tracks:

The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill 2:47 - It had the right idea of being heavier than some of the others, but the lyrics were ridiculous and after a while I thought Walker was rambling drunkenly.

Running Back 3:09 - Jeff's song about running back to some woman is probably only a track that he will care about. It sounds like a lame heavy pop song.

Peace Dog (The Cult Cover) 3:37 - This song is actually pretty decent. There's some good guitar acrobatics, but it was already done much better by The Cult.

Demos of "Revolution Of The Heart","New Song","Don't Want To Talk Anymore","Waste Of Space" and "Instrumental" also appear. "New Song" is better than it's album version, since it doesn't contain the woman or the kids; and "Waste Of Space" is better than it's album version, which was renamed "Sound Of Silence 3:46" which is the worst song on the disc, due to Jeff's use of softer whispered vocals that really sound like garbage.

Also, the demo of "Instrumental" is actually an instrumental.

The bottom line is simple. This is for hardcore fans of Jeff Walker, not Carcass. Problem is, there aren't too many people who are fans of Jeff Walker alone. That's where the album fails. In the end, it's just a simple little disc that might be good for a couple of listens. I don't recommend buying it, unless you've listened to it and enjoy what you've heard first. As I said, the band kicks ass.

Jeff Walker, well... He doesn't.

Highlights: Smile, Rock And Roll Circus, Waste Of Space, Better Than The Devil, Instrumental, The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill, Peace Dog, Instrumental (Demo Version) (19 Tracks, 74:00)

2.5/5 (5.5)


6:33 & Arno Strobl - Giggles, Garlands, & Gallows (2012 Free Album) - 6:33 is one hell of an avantgarde metal band. Think a mix of Ayreon and Arcturus and you might think you have it, but you don't. There's more shit in these two songs alone, then I've heard in a full album from either of those bands.

The amount of musicians that worked to make this music is pretty large too. I think they announced seven people's named at the end of the second track, "Chapter II: MIDGETS 11:50." Trust me, in just three of these tracks; there's about an album's worth of ideas. This is literally 21:00 composing Chapters 1 & 2 and then a bonus 4:24 for a perverted little song called, "I Like It 4:24."

The disc is jazzy, it's got some electronics, some techno, some death metal vocals, some nasally clean singing, some interesting guitar riffs, and about a hundred million other things. If I was able to write a list of everything that I heard on this disc, it would probably be about a page long. The quality on the disc is surprisingly high, for it to be a free release. But if the band wants you to donate a little, you probably should - because this band would more than likely use that money to make an awesome full length, if they haven't released one already.

By the way, the lyrics come with this. If you can read them. Kudos if you can understand them. At first it's simple, but then it gets weird. It's about a man killing another man for fucking his wife, then he becomes a clown and then the dwarves kill the clown. I think.

I'm not sure what drugs you have to be on to get this, but the concept and lyrics are as avantgarde as the music. Which is really out there. If you're into something that's really completely different, then this will probably be good for you. About as good as a fucking hit of acid, I imagine. Imagine it the metal equivalent to LSD.

Highlights: The entire recording (Since it's not a disc.) (3 Tracks, 26:00)


777 (10) (Never heard anything quite like this. The future of Avantgarde?)


Emptiness - Error (PR2012) - The third album from this blackened death metal act that was formed from black metal to begin with, (Phorgath and Olve are in Enthroned) brings about the same raw and dirty black metal influenced death metal that you would expect.

The band does evoke a sense of dread through most, if not all of the nine tracks on this album. The vocals sound very garbled in some instances, and they can be hard to decipher. Nonetheless, they still have the same overly demonic feel that one would expect in a band of this nature. The music itself is surprisingly slow and atmospheric, yet still manages to pack a very grimy punch.

The band certainly experiments a great deal on this album, and some of this sounds like a bad trip mixed with black and death metal. I just really wish that I could hear it better, because it's hard to differentiate instruments sometimes. The drummer seems to be able to hold his own, but I've heard nothing fancy or noteworthy, other than a few blasts every now and then. Yes, this is THAT kind of record.

The riffs definitely echo both death and black metal, respectively; and occasionally you'll hear a few solos. But sometimes the solos on this thing sound like they might have been cooked up in another world. It is true that this is more of an experience and not something of a hard-driving nature. While there might be heavy parts, atmospheres are definitely the biggest part of this album. Again, imagine it as a really bad drug trip mixed with black and death metal and you've got it.

Thought they have something unique to offer, I feel that most people will like the band for their straightforward death metal portions, and less for their weirdness. Of course, there are those people who might really enjoy this bad trip, and that's great. I'm sure it's the kind of album that grows on one with several listens, but as a reviewer; I am not granted that convenience. But black and death metal fans both need to check out this interesting band, who amazingly manages to meld all of this together in a package that doesn't seem so messy.

If you're interested in a bad trip, this band offers one of the bleakest musical adventures that you might go on this year. I definitely recommend at least checking them out. Not something you hear every day.

Highlights: Best when listened to as a whole. Certain portions of certain songs stand out, but no songs in particular. (9 Tracks, 38:00)

4/5 (7.0)


Bestial Holocaust - Into The Goat Vulva (PR2012) - Bestial Holocaust for the most part, is a Brazilian black/death/thrash band that has much in common with bands like Slayer. Of course, you're still going to hear black metal tinges being put into the music, and the barks and growls of their frontman is unmistakable for the genre. Unless you're familiar with the dialect, you won't understand the vocals; but that doesn't mean that you won't feel them. Sometimes he even lets out a small shriek as a nod to the classic thrash vocalists that inspired him.

The disc definitely contains thrash metal riffs, but there also some proggy portions of the disc that you may not expect. But even though some of this contains prog, these guys still sound like they are ready for warfare on a massive scale. This is the kind of stuff that probably makes Brazilian priests shudder in fear and swear that these guys are demon possessed.

Despite the fact that some of you might pass on this because you've heard it before, the band does do some interesting things particularly on the track "Eterna Transmigracion 5:17." There is a rather trippy portion of that one that is unlike anything else on this album. It really makes this band stand out to me, and shows that they have potential. Other than the fact that they mix proggy riffs with thrash riffs and are able to still make it sound quite demonic and not artsy.

Nonetheless, Bestial Holocaust is the kind of black/thrash that will appeal to those who enjoy listening to black metal in it's earlier, thrashier days. There's no synths or effects or clean vocals. It's just uncompromising black/thrash with a few bells and whistles that you wouldn't expect. Definitely worth checking out.

Highlights: All of them. (8 Tracks, 38:00)

4/5 (7.0)


77 - High Decibels (PR2012) - These Foreigners have one mission, and that mission is quite simply to bring the American side of good old rock n' roll to their side of the woods. As you would expect, there's an accent on the vocals, but after a while it stick to you like glue. One could say that the band heavily ripped off ACDC, but they did a damned good job of it. Yet there are some other "good old American rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and CCR" that also have influenced this band.

Nevertheless, most of you are going to say ACDC rip-off band from the first few licks on the album, and that's fine. These guys aren't trying to hide it, and as I've said, they do a damned good job of it. Take a gander at the title track, the 8:31 multi-faceted epic "Promised Land," or the awesome closer "Things You Can't Talk About 5:32" with it's incredible rock solo. I haven't heard a rock solo that sounds that good for a long time folks, and these guys managed to pull it off and actually impress me.

At first glance, I was going to pull the plagiarism card; but I can't do that. This is simply one hell of a tribute album and it will definitely bring that classic rock sound that ACDC is known for back to the masses, especially those who though "Black Ice" wasn't the best thing those guys could've put out.

I'm going to tell you right now, and without a doubt - if you want to rock and roll, and you're not ashamed to say so, (even if some metalheads will call you out) then this is probably one of the best albums for it that you'll hear this year. Several bands out there might try to copy ACDC and make it sound boring and unoriginal, but these guys took my ear and I'm fucking thankful for it.

Highlights: High Decibels, Are You Ready For Rock N' Roll, Promised Land, Things You Can't Talk About (11 Tracks, 51:00)

5/5 (8.0)


Cardiac Arrest - Vortex Of Violence (PR2012) - Labeled as "Heart-Stopping Death Rot" this brutal death metal band definitely has the chops to make some solid death metal that you'll actually remember. The riffs are solid, the drums pound with a fervor, and the vocalist vomits forth an unholy bark that sounds like it came from the hounds of Hell themselves.

This band isn't about pretty little soundscapes. Cardiac Arrest wants to take your heart out and feast on it, with an absolute aural assault to the senses. Even some solos make an appearance in the music every now and then, and they're definitely well warranted. The production value of the disc sounds a little organic, but that's the good thing about it. Nobody wants this over produced sounding schlock that most mainstream death metal bands put out these days. Whatever Fear Factory might have called death metal this year, it isn't death metal.

This is. You can hear the drums, each and every beat of them, the vocals come bellowing out at you, and the riffs still manage to be heard despite everything else. But I'm going to tell you right now that the drummer is a very tight link in this band, and they wouldn't be half as good as they are without this guy.

This disc will get you banging your head immediately, with songs that are both fast and groove oriented. It's got the best of the American scene and the best of the Swedish scene here together and playing nicely.

Those of you looking for something more than death metal won't find it here, but those of you who are looking for death metal will find it here. There's really no other way to put it. The vocalist is great on the mic, the drummer's a beast, the riffs are good enough and the solos are great. What else do you want?

Get your fucking heart ripped out by these guys.

Highlights: The Whole Disc (11 Tracks, 48:00)
5/5 (8.0)


Chaos Inception - The Abrogation (PR2012) - Alabama's own Chaos Inception have released their sophomore album of absolutely uncompromising tech-death that has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or the Bible. Instead, it's all about the ancient ways, which some say are the best ways. So there's definitely no down-home Alabama sound here.

Matt Barnes has some really unique melodies in certain sections that make this band stand out among others of this genre. ("Phalanx 3:54" for example.) He also plays some pretty damned good solos that really manage to stick out in a few of the tracks. Gary White's drumming is certainly solid enough, and he blasts his way through most of the album, but you will hear that technicality in places.

Technicality seems to be part of this disc, but it's mixed well in with the brutality and gives us something that actually lets up on all the time signatures that many death metal bands these days flood us with. As for vocals, Chris White certainly has a good sense of gravel, and he uses some other shrieks and screams from time to time. You can even hear where he's running out of breath in a few sections. But that's normal. You ever done death metal vocals before? It's tiring as hell.

In truth, this band gives us the best of both worlds. It's a devastating album with some art on the side. There's no synths, there's no clean vocals. It's certainly death metal, and it's very well produced. (That might hurt some of you, but I can't understand why it would.) You're going to get 30 minutes of great death metal that will blast your ears out. There's also some great riffs, solos and drumming as well as vocals. These guys bring the package and seem like they could really go far in the scene. Help them get there if you like them, by supporting them!

Highlights: The Whole Disc (Again) (9 Tracks, 30:00)

666 (9.0)


Dehuman - Black Throne Of All Creation (PR2012) - Another great death metal band, Dehuman from Belgium; has now decided to throw their hat into the metal ring. This is the band's debut album, which is described as an "old school sounding album that doesn't sound like it was produced twenty years ago."

Having opened for Agathocles and also having played their homeland many times, the band definitely already has a fanbase. It's well worth it, too. The band has some truly great riffs and some venomous vocals. The drummer definitely knows what he's doing behind the kit and things don't sound at all boring. This is death metal for those who really want to hear something that sounds old school, but doesn't rip anyone else off.

Some may argue back that we're all ripping someone else off, and that's probably right - but at least they're not doing it blatantly. They're also doing it with a very tight sound that's able to change tempos and rhythms and riffs at the drop of a hat. I like that in a band, it shows character. The fact that this band can literally begin with one style and chunk it out to begin another style that transforms the song but maintains it's nature is something that I've always considered talent.

I've really got to mention the riffs on this one, because they really stick out to me. This guy's a great guitarist, throwing out some amazing melodies that definitely keep me listening, especially when he decides to throw hints of prog into the mix. You're going to hear that there's just a little but of Cynic Influence here, but you're going to like that. Because it's actually death metal and not whatever crap Cynic's doing now. (I call it making money.) Not to mention the guitar solos on here, that certainly make their mark on this disc.

The drumming is also important, because the drumming in death metal is what makes it death metal after all. Well, this guy's an absolute virtuoso on the kit and he's playing like he's been sitting on that kit for goddamned twenty years. I'm telling you, this drummer and this guitarist give you an absolute assault that you're not going to fucking forget.

If you want drumming that sounds like there's actually a man behind the kit, and riffs that don't sound copy/paste, and a vocalist that has a mix between gravel and escaped patient from an insane asylum, then you're going to fucking love this one. And I don't just mean love it, you're going to refuse to listen to anything else for a while. This is a treasure that I believe death metal fans will truly appreciate it and you need to pick it up immediately. Let these Belgians know that Americans do want their fucking death metal, so that the label will send more of it our way!

Do not miss this. Essential.

Highlights: The Whole Disc (Yet Again!) (9 Tracks, 44:00)

777 (10)


King - Forged By Satan's Doctrine (PR2012) - Well, not everyone excels at death metal. Take King for example. These Brazilians look like a bunch of young guys that enjoy dressing up in funny costumes and pretending to worship the devil with their use of Lovecraftian lore. (There's nothing demonic about that, really.) They look like that had fun with the Necronomicon and then said, oh okay, Jesus sucks too. Yeah, same old, same old.

Yeah, it's Satanic death metal. They consider it to be uncompromising, but after a while it just really gets kind of dull. There's two people on the vocals, one growler and one screamer and the riffs sound good enough - but nothing really amazing or mind blowing. They pretty much are playing Morbid Angel with better production. Sometimes they use proggy riffs too, but then the vocals will come in out of nowhere and really not do that much.

Despite what these guys are doing, and their blasts and the screams and their growls and their somewhat proggy, somewhat technical riffs; I think that I've heard much of this before when it was called Morbid Angel. I'm not saying that the band is bad, they certainly bring a "balls-out" evil attitude with them, but it just doesn't say much for music in general. Just a little mindless in areas, but there are signs that the band has some skill. Maybe with time, they will further develop it.

Oh yeah, there's one other thing. "Macabre Satanas 2:15" has a chant taht they use over and over for about 2:15. "It consists of Satan Satan Satanas over and over again. After hearing it, I already thought of two parody versions. You can literally put just anything in there, and in time you'll be laughing at that song. They could have just left it off in all honesty. What a waste of studio time.

Bonus Tracks:

Nonlaughter: Zero Fucking Happiness - Yeah, this old demo track isn't so great. There's also zero fucking skill on this one.

What's Satan Domain - This actually features some choir samples and a ridiculously long, 7:10 of decent death metal. Yeah, they tried to be epic; but I've heard this thing all before. Truthfully, I'm beginning to find Satanic death metal to be a joke these days. I don't even pay much attention to the lyrics, it's all about the music and there's little here to impress me there, either.

I'm not saying that King is a bad band, I'm just saying that they didn't really offer me anything new or unusual, however I found that they were quite solid in all actuality; and nothing was really done wrong here besides the closer track which was unnecessary. There's some talent here, some skill, and definitely a hell of a lot of brutality. But if you're looking for something that redefines the genre, you should look elsewhere.

Highlights: Summon Shub-Niggurath Ye Black, No Mercy Just Death, Evil Evangelization, The Ruthless Attitude Of Evil Sobervia, Satan's Fabrica
(11 Tracks, 48:00)

3/5 (6.0)


Vesperian Sorrow - Stormwinds Of Ages (PR2012) - Texas epic extreme metallers, Vesperian Sorrow are certainly no stranger to me. I jumped at the chance to review this disc and it was well worth it. As much as I loved 2006's "Regenesis Creation", 2012's new album was well worth waiting for.

But with six years comes it's share of differences. For instance, this disc has more of a gothic feel and a much higher production value that definitely dwarfs the production on their earlier disc. The vocals are absolutely killer, comparable to latter God Dethroned, but even better I think. The melodies and riffs are fucking beautiful, as well as the solos. The drums blast every which way and still manage to not lose the atmosphere that the synths carry so well.

I honestly didn't expect this much of a gothic metal influence this time, but it seems to have worked well for the band. Don't worry though, as there is still plenty of black metal influence here as well. It all melds together so seamlessly, just as I would've expected.

Sometimes there are layering effects on the clean vocals (which sound very dark regardless) and some female vocals on major standout, "Casting Dawn Into Shadows 5:23." I've ever heard full on clean in "Eye Of The Clocktower 7:14" and never knew that their vocalist had such a great singing voice. Speaking of that track, it's a long epic, and definitely deserves that title.

Fans of more popular black metal bands like Dimmu Borgir and Old Man's Child that feel those bands haven't offered anything that great in a while might want to check the Vesperian camp over here out. But I won't even lie that I am still drawing some major vocal comparisons to God Dethroned here, and I like that a great deal.

This disc is actually full of surprises and every damned one of them is worth hearing. When they say "epic" they mean epic. I literally feel this disc as the soundtrack to a very dark fantasy role-playing game. You could probably play it during Dark Souls. But I'm sure that these guys don't care, and probably play it too.

There's not one song here that I can't recommend, not one instrumentation that I did not like here. Everything definitely was set to kill, and to thrill. This is not boring, and it's most certainly brutal. You're going to hear great riffs, great drumming, fucking killer vocals and the kind of synths that make this kind of metal epic. I had no idea I was going to enjoy this disc so fucking much, so I recommend that you check it out too, because it's one of the year's best, quite simply.

There's so much meat to this album, and so much ground has been covered in each and every one of these songs. If these guys don't get known for this fucking disc, then they just won't get known and I'd piss all over the scene for it. This is the kind of metal that's going to mean something, and I'm sure that the underground embrace is going to come for them soon enough. This is a disc that was well worth waiting for, quite possibly the best of their fucking career.

You can't go wrong with this one.

Highlights: The Whole Disc, even the intro! Play it again and again.
(11 Tracks, 57:00)

777 (10)


Katana - Storms Of War (PR2012) - I figured I'd end this with yet another unexpected surprise. Katana is a Swedish traditional heavy metal band that is supposedly in the veins of Judas Priest, Saxon and Iron Maiden. But I'm hearing more Iron Maiden than anything else in this sophomore release. The disc is literally incredible, reminding me of "Number Of The Beast" and "Powerslave" era Iron Maiden at their very best. Songs like "Khublai Kahn 6:34" , "Wrath Of The Emerald Witch 5:13", "In The Land Of The Sun 8:02" and closer "The Wisdom Of Edmond's Field 6:21" sound just as good as anything that Bruce fronted Maiden ever did.

I just slapped myself, because I never expected to say anything like this. Just imagine me listening to this disc on my mp3 player at work with my mouth dropped open the whole fucking time. They've got the riffs, the progressions, the lyrics, the vocal emotion, everything that I expected from Maiden. As far as I'm concerned, they can keep right on making albums too.

Again, many of you can make Iron Maiden comparisons to this band, and that's fine. I'm sure they're well aware. But think about it just for a second. Who can actually do Iron Maiden as well as Iron Maiden can? I'm talking about memorable riffs, great solos and instrumental portions where the band really gets to build the atmosphere of the song, and some of the best vocal harmonies I've heard since Bruce grabbed the mic after Samson finally laid down it's set of Barbells back in the 80's.

This is about as traditional as metal can be, and it's about as good as anything I've heard from a traditional metal band in a while. I can only imagine what these guys can do live, and I hope they come to our shores soon. I would love to see a show where these guys opened for fucking Maiden. Could you believe hearing "Khubilai Kahn" and then it goes into "Alexander The Great?" No. You can't, because it's that fucking awesome.

These guys definitely bring the balls back into traditional metal, taking the cheese and corniness that newer bands have brought to it. It's not about being corny, it's about being true. These guys have it all, I fucking loved every bit of it. From the Priesty intro, to the Maiden-y closer. When I was young, this was metal to me and in many ways, this still is. A tear almost fell when I heard this damned thing, and I'm very grateful for having the privilege to review it.

Please pick it up and support the true bringers of heavy metal.

Highlights: Once again, all of it. It'll bring back memories. (10 Tracks, 49:00)

777 (10)

More to come. Shitloads more, in fact!

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