Chaos Divine - The Human Connection (2011) - If you’re looking for the next incarnation of Tool, Chaos Divine may very well be it. This album, which is different from their last in quite a few ways, features more of a rock approach, but still has plenty of metal moments. The most important thing about this album is the amount of blatant influence from Maynard and crew, which is greatly improved upon, and sounds like much more than just a tool clone with metal elements.
The lead singer’s vocals are excellent, and he manages to capture an almost radio quality voice that I’m almost certain the Edge would play if the songs didn’t contain some death metal portions. Of course, there isn’t a great deal of death metal here, but I would still consider this a metal album due to certain elements which can be observed through the passage of the ears.
If you haven’t heard these Aussies before, I recommend that you check out their music from their official page, and purchase a copy of this disc. Any fan of Tool, or progressive metal in general will like this one a great deal. One of the album’s standout tracks is the closer “No Road Home (Solastalgia)” which reminds me a hell of a lot of the classic Tool closer, “Third Eye” as it has that same feeling, and really borrows heavily on the Tool riff style. This closer almost sounds like more of a Tool tribute than anything else.
OVERALL: PROGRESSIVE MELODIC DEATH METAL/ROCK FOR FANS OF TOOL AND OTHER PROGRESSIVE METAL. NOT A CLONE OF TOOL, BUT RATHER AN EVOLUTION OF THAT BAND’S SOUND, INVOLVING MORE METAL AND SOME OTHER MODERN ELEMENTS. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ALBUM, AND ASK THAT YOU WOULD CHECK OUT AT LEAST SOME SAMPLES FROM THE BAND’S MYSPACE PAGE.
Score: 777/5 (I hope to hear music like this in the astral world, personally.)
Assaulter - Boundless (2011) - Assaulter makes their relapse debut with this disc, one hell of classic sounding modern black metal disc in the vein of current Satyricon with a lot more melody, and some nice solos. There’s also a lot middle eastern influence and chanting, harmonizing and the like. The bottom line is that most black metal heads are shitting over this. I am, for instance.
The band didn’t put out a long disc, but the eight songs that are here will certainly satisfy fans of what’s been termed “modern black metal” which I guess just means mainly that the band doesn’t keep their blast beats on all the time, and they actually seem to have some skill. The drum work really sounds great on this album, and being able to hear every hit makes it even more worth the listening experience. The vocals are sharp and raspy, and the overall riffs on the album are heavily enjoyable. If you don’t like this disc and enjoy black metal, then I personally don’t want to hear what kind of black metal you do like.
Just about every damn riff on this disc is insane, and every solo is definitely worthy of an air guitar pick. If you’re looking for some damned good black metal, you’d be a complete idiot to pass this one up. If this band comes anywhere near this state, I would urge you to check this shit out live, because Assaulter is one of the best black metal acts I’ve heard in a long fucking time, and after hearing this 40:00 masterpiece of black metal, you’ll add them to your list of “great fucking bands” for sure. Don’t take my word for it, check out their myspace page.
OVERALL: GREAT BLACK METAL FOR FANS OF GREAT BLACK METAL. USE OF MIDDLE EASTERN RIFFS AND OVERALL GREAT RIFFS IN GENERAL (PLUS AMAZING SOLO WORK) MAKE THIS ALBUM A MUST HAVE. THE VOCALS, AND DRUM WORK ARE ALSO INFALLIBLE. NEED I SAY ANYMORE?
Beyond Creation - The Aura (2011) - If you’re looking for some really kills riffs and displays of technicality, look no further than Beyond Creation. These guys have amazed me with their technicality, and I usually don’t like a lot of technical death metal that’s out there. Some of the sweeps are no big deal, but some of this stuff is really quite amazing. Take “Omnipresent” for example…killer fucking track. If it’s on their myspace, you must hear this track as soon as possible.
The band mixes great melody with technicality in a way that doesn’t just work, but it fucking slays. Trust me, these guys play live somewhere around here, you need to go see their live show. This band plays extremely tight for the majority of the album, sans a few tracks that sound filler. I mean, it’s not perfect - but when it is, it’s really fucking good. I’ll also mention that their drummer’s pretty insane. I know a good drummer when I hear one, and this guy really seems to be talented behind the kit.
As for the vocals, it’s pretty basic death metal growls and screams, but I could give a shit less for what’s going on behind the mic, because the musicality of this album is pretty damned stellar, and whatever the instruments are doing is much more important 100 percent of the time. To tell you the truth, this band doesn’t even need vocals. A way to tell whether or not the track is going to be good on this disc is usually by the length of each track, since the longer tracks seem to feature more ability than 2:35 deals like “Le Detenteur.”
All in all, this album has 10 tracks at about 52:00, and probably about 45:00 of that is worth checking out. Solos kick on in the longer tracks, and melodies start to really kick on those as well. As for the short tracks, it seems kind of pointless. Why even have them? Give me 45:00 of quality music, and no crap tracks.
OVERALL: MELODIC TECHNICAL DEATH METAL THAT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT. SOME OF THESE SONGS ARE AMAZING, AND OTHERS YOU CAN JUST SKIP OR DELETE. MAKES NO SENSE TO RECORD SHODDY SHORT TRACKS, BUT THEY DID. STILL PLENTY OF KILLER TECHNICALITY ON THIS DISC FOR ANY TECHNICAL DEATH METAL FAN TO ENJOY.
Norther - Circle Regenerated (2011) - How the mighty have fallen. Norther’s “N” was a great and interesting disc, and three years later, we get this - which is alright, but it reminds me way too much of another band that is slightly much more famous and well known…Children Of Bodom. I don’t know what happened in those three years, but aside from the great clean vocals on this disc, the Bodom album sounds much better.
You know those hardcore chants that they used on earlier Children of Bodom albums? The ones that most people didn’t like? Norther thought that would be a good idea also. I mean, even with the good solos and clean vocals, and guest vocals…it’s still not that great. I mean, just everything on this disc screams Children Of Bodom knockoff, and I don’t want to say that, because I don’t remember these guys doing that before.
Fuck! If you like Norther, this a coffin nail. What in the hell happened guys? Is it time to quit? Sure, it’s got good guitar and synth work, but so does the new Bodom, and that even has better guitar and synth work than this one, except for the vocal approach which is much better here. Still an enjoyable disc, but not as good as N. There was some real magic on that disc. Hell, you can always play “Dreams Of Endless War” also.
To end this one, I honestly don’t know if this disc would be worth much without the guest clean vocals. Well, it would sound just like a Bodom album in many aspects. I will reiterate that the playing and mid-portion solos are not bad at all, we’ve just heard this shit before, and I think Bodom’s were better this year. Perhaps the chorus of the last song defines this album: “I’m going under, I’m closing in, These (Children Of Bodom) walls I can‘t escape!”
Norther 2011 - Better clean vocals, great sing along choruses and solos, some use of electronics, a lot of guests, contains some slow songs. Can the guests save the album? You be the judge.
Bodom 2011 - Better melodies, solos and synth-work, same crappy vocals.
Neurotech - Antagonist (2011) - Neurotech is electronic symphonic black metal with a scowling vocalist, and could be comparable to another popular electronic metal act by the name of the Dethstars. Except that there are no clean vocals here. However, the choruses sell this album, as they did with Kovenant’s SETI, and so many other bands that perform this style of music. Trust me, I know much about this, as I’ve written a lot of metal lyrics in this style.
Of course, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those that enjoy electronics and black metal this works very well. It’s not as fast as the Gorgonea Prima I reviewed last week, but it’s one of those that you can enjoy if you like those bands like Kovenant, late era And Oceans, Dethstars, and some other ones I have heard but can’t think of the names of right now. Yes, it’s copy and paste stuff - but I like it on a personal level, as I would love to make metal in the same vein as this. I’ve wanted to for several years…hence the two digital albums I’ve made. Where in the hell do you find people around here that have experience with synths and electronics?
As for me, this disc will get a very high grade, but for everyone else I’ll give it a 2.5/5 as it’s not anything I haven’t heard before. Yes, it’s a good disc of this electronic black metal style, but I can go through my digital archives and find many similar bands. Still highly recommended for those who enjoy electronic black metal.
OVERALL: GREAT ELECTRONIC BLACK METAL IN THE VEIN OF THE DETHSTARS, KOVENANT, AND OCEANS, AND SEVERAL OTHERS I CANNOT THINK OF RIGHT NOW. IF YOU HATE THIS STUFF, AVOID IT. BUT IF YOU LIKE DARK ELECTRONIC MUSIC WITH GUITARS AND SCOWLING VOCALS, YOU’LL ENJOY IT.
PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE ELECTRONICS: 2.5/5 (OR LESS) L
Blackguard - Firefight (2011) - Now we have a band that sounds like a major Norther clone, but supposedly their female drummer is really good, so I decided to check them out to see how she fares. After all, I haven’t heard too many female drummers, and with the testosterone filled expectations of metal drummers like Gene, for example - It’s about time we see some female power on the kit.
I think there should be a law against bands that come out with a purchasable album, and sound exactly like another established act, down to the note. As I’ve stated, this band sounds a lot like Norther…but hold out on that, because they also damn near close to Children Of Bodom. Sure, the woman is great on drums, but she’s not doing anything unique. The music is copy and paste bodom/norther/thisband/ and a million other bands.
How can they even sell this shit legally? There’s a video and everything for this band, go you tube that shit and watch it for yourself. These guys are signed, and they sound exactly like a signed artist. This is what happens when art becomes monetized. The label says “Hey! You like Children Of Bodom? Well, you’ll like Semen Squeezers too!”
The band also has what sounds like a death core guy in there too at some parts (or a really bad death metal growler). Now it just sounds like Children Of Bodom with a death core vocal guy too.
It’s an absolutely ridiculous to give this trash a score.
OVERALL: HEY! YOU LIKE CHILDREN OF BODOM? WELL, GO LISTEN TO THEIR ALBUMS AND ACCEPT NO IMIATATIONS, ONLY INNOVATIONS.
Score: Just Say No To Plagiarism.
Ommatadia - In This Life Or The Next (2011) - Ommatidia is melodic doom metal in the vein of Paradise Lost, and SOME of the vocals remind of the thrash metal vocal style used on “In Requiem” and classic “Icon.” Listen to it for a while, and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. One might due well to say that they are almost ripping off Paradise Lost’s melodies, but is that such a bad thing?
The band certainly captures the style as well as one would expect, and I think they’re trying to grab the Paradise Lost torch, but they started out miserable on the first track of the album “Only Found By Those Who Seek”. This could be due to the vocals in the beginning of the disc, which got better as the it progressed. By the way, there are two vocalists in this band.
I was about to cast this band out completely like a angered god, but upon hearing how well their melodies emulated almost perfectly one of my favorite, if not my favorite doom metal band (Paradise Lost), and how much this band sounds just like they do now that it’s to the point of ripping them off…I enjoyed them. If you enjoy bands that rip off other bands and do it really well, you’ll also enjoy this band. Just call it a “tribute band”…Yeah, that works.
OVERALL: MELODIES AND MOST OF THE PERFORMANCE SEEMS TO RIP OFF PARADISE LOST, BUT THERE ARE MULTIPLE VOCALISTS IN THE BAND WHICH ADD FLAVOR TO WHAT WOULD’VE BEEN A COMPLETE RIP OFF. IT IS STILL WORTH HEARING THIS DISC THOUGH, ESPECIALLY FOR FANS OF PARADISE LOST, WHO ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING THAT SOUNDS RATHER CLOSE TO THEM. SERIOUSLY, GIVE IT A TRY. IT’S BETTER THAN YOU THINK, DESPITE SOME VOCALS IN PLACES.
Score: 4/5 But it’s still close to plagiarism.
Nervecell - Psychogenocide (2011) - The death metal Nervecell sounded in the beginning like some ordinary brutal death metal band, until I noticed that they didn’t have the desire to make every song fast and heavy. A great wind of relief passed over my body as I was mowing the lawn and listening to this album. When I am mowing, I ahte to hear bands that sound awful or repetitive because it makes the mowing of one’s lawn an even more tumultuous experience. After all, who enjoys mowing their lawn, field, or pasture?
The band begins with a middle eastern intro, which goes immediately into brutality. Yet the groove in this album keeps the technicality in check, so it doesn’t get too fast and ridiculous. Yes, there is Nile influence here, most definitely; but it doesn’t stick to sounding like anyone else than who the band is. Which is a killer death metal band with technical and groove elements.
You can just imagine them as a more groovy Nile, with some more emphasis on thrash and less emphasis on being as fast as humanly possible. The melodies in the album are also good when used, and the drum work of course has to be worth a damn, or I’d be bitching about it right now. Sure, there’s blasts - but the thrash influence really makes things much more interesting. This album is definitely worth checking out, and anyone that likes their death metal groovy (like me) with some Nile type middle eastern melodies, will really enjoy this one. Check it out.
OVERALL: NERVECELL IS AN EXTREMELY STRONG DEATH METAL BAND WITH ENOUGH BRUTALITY AND GROOVE FOR ANYONE TO ENJOY. THESE GUYS WERE GREAT LAWN MOWING MATERIAL, AND I RECOMMEND LISTENING TO THEM WHILE PERFORMING OTHER LABORS, OR DRIVING IN YOUR VEHICLE. MAYBE DURING SEX, IF YOUR WIFE INTO THAT SORT OF THING…YOU SEE WHAT I’M GETTING AT HERE. WORTH A SPIN.
Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations (2011) - Negative Plane is a black metal band that likes to keep things and raw and classic. Yes, this is their newest album, but signs of this age and technology are absolutely non-existent in this release. But that does not make this album a bad one by any means. It’s just a little rawer than some of us would like.
The melodies are completely audible, and they sound rather eerie, which works for this band pretty well. I’ll admit that even though the band uses a lot of machinegun drumming, their use of these really eerie melodies seems to make them something of an oddity. I really feel the sort of fear and wonder within these riffs, and it’s far better than I’ve heard from black metal bands that try to be evil. Just like another black metal band that I’ve reviewed, this band definitely has the spooky and creepy feel of the black metal genre down.
This is the kind of music I would assume would be perfect from some sort of Satanic mass, or to play in a haunted house somewhere. It just has that very dark feeling that I wish more black metal had. As I said, despite the production value - this band really has a sense of purpose, and just as much as Dodsengel. If you’re looking for progressive black metal with a very dark and creepy feeling, not to mention the raw classicness of the old days, Negative Plane will not disappoint with it’s 10 track, 61 minutes of sheer evil. Sure to please many black metal fans. Although, I will say that I hear something in the songs that might sound like surfboard music. I doubt this is intentional, but if you listen with a keen ear, you might pick this up.
OVERALL: PROGRESSIVE MELODIC BLACK METAL WITH A VERY DARK AND CREEPY FEELING. RIFFS ARE INTERESTING, AND THE WHOLE THING GIVES OFF A SENSE OF EVIL, YET IT ALSO STAYS TRUE TO THE OLD SCHOOL IN SOUND AND STYLE. PRODUCTION IS AS I SAID, CLASSIC - BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THIS IS ONE YOU SHOULD SKIP. CHECK IT OUT, BECAUSE IT’S FULL OF POTENTIAL. SEE IF YOU CAN HEAR THE SURFBOARD MUSIC.
Crimson Sky - Illusive Dream (Internet Single 2011) - Well, it’s just one song by a Russian band with about eight members. It’s decent gothic doom metal, and nothing I haven’t heard before. As this is just a single, it won’t get a full review. It’s sure to be enjoyable for fans of the genre, but sadly, this same effort could have been made and has been made, with less people. This band started in 2008, and has broken up several times before recording what I believe is their first debut, “Rising” which will be released later this year. If you like operatic female vocals and death metal growls and deep dreary male vocals, with so/so gothic doom metal music, you’ll like this band…and so many others that sound just like them.
Witchcraft (Ru) - Ash (2011) - Witchcraft is a progressive metal version of Nightwish, that is slightly faster, and not near as operatic. The female vocalist borrows more from Tarja than their newer vocalist, and is accompanied by a male vocalist who sings rather satisfactory. There are some good things on this disc, like the overall progressions used on it. Fans of progressive metal should actually somewhat enjoy this disc, and far more than fans of gothic metal would. The synth-work on this disc is pretty good, actually.
There are a few ballads on the disc, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all quite skippable. The band seems to only perform at their peak when the songs are energetic, and the slow ballads are really nothing more than just slow ballads. The latter half of the disc is taken over just about entirely by the female vocalist, which then sounds completely like a progressive Nightwish. Fans of that band and others in the genre might really enjoy this type of music, and I see that this band has a lot of promising things to offer the genre of metal.
My only qualm on this disc is that is just a debut more than likely, and due to production it doesn’t sound as good as it could’ve. This is hardly something to bitch about, as I know bands aren’t made of money, especially in Russia, who pirates the majority of U.S. materials legally within the laws of their country. (Yes, you can legally buy a bootleg American DVD in their country.) But still, without a higher quality of production, bands like this might never get to see the light of day.
So if you do like this music, please support the band. Maybe their next release will be a little more robust. Still, this is a good disc though, and I recommend it. Just not to everyone, obviously.
OVERALL: GOOD PROGRESSIVE METAL WITH NIGHTWISH STYLE FEMALE VOCALS. THE MALE VOCALS ARE ALSO USED, BUT AREN’T VERY GOOD. THE BAND EXCELLS WITH THEIR HIGH ENERGY SONGS, BUT BALLADS ARE SLOW AND BORING AT TIMES. ELECTRONICS ARE SOMETIMES USED IN THIS BAND’S MUSIC AS WELL, BUT I WOULDN’T CALL THEM ELECTRONIC METAL.
Debauchery - Germany’s Next Death Metal (2011) - If Rob Zombie was a little heavier and German, this would be his band, for sure. This is death metal for people who don’t know what death metal is, and those people will only like it because it’s heavy. But how heavy? Well, think sort of a cross between Six Feet Under at their most rock, and Rob Zombie at his most metal. As for the vocals, well…
This might get on your fucking nerves real quick. It’s awesomely bad and far too catchy. I only like it because sometimes I like listening to really awful stuff, just like I have a thing for really bad movies (Not just B Movies, I’m talking D and lower, like “Zombies Gone Wild”, without a doubt the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life.)
Do you like rock and roll in the vein of ACDC? Do you like death metal vocals? That’s what you’re kind of getting here. As for lyrics and song titles, they’re just as awful - and there’s a cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on the disc as a bonus track. Are you as curious as I was to check out this really awful shit? It’s a real treasure. A treasure with a steamy smell of shit coming from it. High school kids will like this stuff and think it’s really heavy and foreign, so I guess that makes it cool. I think it’s trash.
Unless you like trash, as we all know what they say about another man’s trash…it’s another man’s fucking horrible treasure. Avoid this like the plague.
OVERALL: IF YOU LIKE THIS ALBUM, YOU MUST REALLY LIKE AWFUL MUSIC. WHICH IS OKAY, BECAUSE I LIKE BAD MOVIES, AND I LIKE HAVING SOME BANDS THAT SOUND JUST AWFUL TO LAUGH AND TORTURE PEOPLE WITH, THEY ARE ALSO GOOD FOR JOKES. “HEY, CHECK OUT THIS AWESOME BAND!” SORT OF THING.
…And The Sky Is Full Of Stars - …The End (2011) - This Russian post metal/sludge/experimental metal band might sound good at first. It contains very sludgy riffs, and bloodcurdling vocals, and for the most part, that’s all it really is. The screamer literally screams himself to death on this album, and the band plays as you would expect for an album called “The End.”
It’s a good album for sludge fans, especially if you’re looking for something very dark and full of rage. The only realm qualm I have, is that I wish I knew what this album was about, and what he was singing about. You see, everything but the name of the band and the album title are in Russian. There is a great deal of emotion on this album from the frontman, and damned if I can’t understand what in the hell his passion is about.
There are some experimental things here and there, and even a cleaner vocal touch on the second track which doesn’t help it much. Latter, the man is better screaming his head off. Russian vocalists tend to not be very good from my knowledge of listening to Russian bands. Female vocals can be good, but Russian men just cannot sing, for some odd reason. This is just like the Finns. Some people have good pipes, and some don’t.
As I said before, if you really want something that sounds like very dark sludge with a man screaming his lungs out, I would have to recommend this one. If you feel as if the world is a hopeless abyss, then I would recommend this album as well. If you’re just really pissed off about the state of everything, then listen to this one. It’s not happy, by any stretch of the mind.
OVERALL: RUSSIAN POST METAL/SLUDGE/EXPERIMENTAL METAL THAT IS MOSTLY GOING TO WORK FOR THOS EPEOPLE THAT OVERTLY HATE THE WORLD, AND WANT MUSIC THAT SHARES THEIR HATRED. IT’S DEPRESSING RAGE IS SURE TO BRING YOU ONE STEP CLOSER TO ENDING YOUR OWN LIFE, BUT IT’S ALL IN RUSSIAN. ENJOY!
Dead Eyed Sleeper - Observing Oblivion (2011) - Dead Eyed Sleeper amazed me with their first release, yet I find myself finding few things on this album to be excited about. Yes, there are still good things to found on this album, but it seems like all the emotion has left the band. They seem to have taken a much heavier and less melodic approach with this album, and I find myself not enjoying most of it. It sounds like run of the mill progressive death now, and it really didn’t before.
If you are a fan of the band, you might still enjoy it, but I believe that the 2009 release is myriads better, and just doesn’t hold a candle to this one. The sophomore slump has not been good to these guys, and it shows. Damn, what happened?
As for the long closer of the album “Dead Eyed Sleeper Pt 2” it has some good things, but remind me too much of a band trying to capture what made Swallow The Sun so great, and not doing anything original. For those who want to hear what a real band of that particular nature should sound like, please check out the review following this one.
OVERALL: DEAD EYED SLEEPER HAS PUT A RUN OF THE MILL PROG/DEATH ALBUM WITH FEW FRILLS. AS I LIKED THEIR LAST ALBUM, I FIND I AM DISAPPOINTED BY MANY THINGS ON THIS ALBUM. THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT IT IS A BAD ALBUM, AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF LIKING IT, BECAUSE THERE ARE GOOD THINGS HERE AND THERE. STILL WORTH A SPIN TO FANS OF THE BAND.
Cathis Ord - The Far Shore (2011) - This melodic progressive atmospheric doom/death band has a large amount of promise, and even though the recording effort is not as well produced as one would like, the band manages to capture the essence of their art quite well within these 6 songs and 56:00 minutes. The vocals are a little scratchy, but the melodies and general atmospheres that this band creates are simply amazing and must be experienced by fans of this sort of metal. You could compare them to other doom/death bands, but might come up a tad short, because this band really does something that I just haven’t heard from the doom/death scene, at least to my knowledge.
The songs mainly are quite slow, but are heavy in parts and rather light and atmospheric in others. As melody makes for great doom metal, and it’s one of the reasons I so love the genre; I feel that this band musically captures the feel of what doom metal should be within these 6 tracks. If you love beautiful melodies, and just can’t get enough of them, the guitars on this album will do that for you. For instance, the guitar solo on “The Palace Without A Name” is absolutely staggering. I would love to see this song played live, just to see if this can really be performed as good right in front of my face.
This band has the kind of melodic guitar work that I dream of, and for me, I would surely purchase it, had I the money. I feel that if you truly enjoy melodic doom/death, you can’t go wrong with this one, as the guitar work, drums, and solos are on the level of Opeth, or higher. Frankly, I’ve never even heard guitar work this great in Opeth, and have heard all of their albums. They have a great knowledge of prog, but have yet to amaze me with a fantastic solo.
Even though the production isn’t perfect, it will more than satisfy most fans of this music. I tell you this with absolute certainty that Cathis Ord is a band to watch, and may have created one of the best doom/death albums of the year. Don’t pass it by.
OVERALL: SPECTACULAR MELODIC DOOM/DEATH WITH PROG NOTIONS, ATMOSPHERES, AND STAGGERING MELODIES. SOLOS ARE BOMBASTIC AND INCREDIBLE, DESPITE THE BAND’S ONLY DECENT PRODUCTION VALUE. I AM LITERALLY DROOLING TO HEAR WHAT A BETTER PRODUCTION MIGHT MEAN FOR THESE GUYS. THERE IS SO MUCH MEAT HERE, THAT I RECOMMEND PLAYING THIS ALBUM MORE THAN A FEW TIMES TO FULLY ABSORB IT. BUY IT.
Score: 777/5 (Even with the production value, this is one not to be missed.)
Demonical - Death Infernal (2011) - I can’t help but hear plenty of Hypocrisy, Grave, Bloodbath, Entombed, Amon Amarth, and other such death metal bands in this band’s sound. Is this a tribute, or a rip off? The only way that I could recommend this disc, is to people that want to hear new versions of old riffs and styles that they should’ve already heard thousands of times.
Yes, I know that there are people that really love this Swedish death metal sound and I am one of them, but there is little here that sounds new or interesting, if anything at all. It’s really just death metal in the vein of as I’ve said - thousands of bands. The production is great, and most people wouldn’t tell it from Bloodbath, sans the fact that Akerfeldt is not on vocals, but a Peter sound-alike is, definitely. There’s also a couple good solos here and there, and “From Northern Shores” is a major standout track on the disc, being much more epic and longer than the rest at 6:12. This is the band at their best.
Yes, if you enjoy this type of music you won’t hate this disc. You’ll probably pick it up and love it. It’s like a new incarnation of your favorite Swedish death metal sound. There’s a few nice grim melodies and gravelly vocals in the vein of Peter for sure, but not much else here. It’s not bad, just not new.
OVERALL: NOTHING NEW, REALLY. IT’S JUST SWEDISH DEATH METAL. IF YOU LIKE IT, GET IT - IF NOT, THAT’S YOUR DECISION. YOU’LL ENJOY IT IF YOU’RE INTO THIS STUFF, DEFINITELY. I’VE JUST HEARD IT A THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE.
Winds Of Plague - Against The World (2011) - Winds Of Plague’s third album is only one minute longer than their second release, the “The Great Stone Bore”, which makes it a whole 38:00. Thankfully, this album has a slight bit more experimentation, and sometimes has a dreary clean vocal style that reminds me of the Solefald brothers. But as I reach the third song, I am convinced that this album is not a vanilla album, with the same style portrayed on every song. “Drop the Match” for example, adds a very hardcore, almost rap approach to the disc; which would make most metal heads drop it without a second thought.
What works on this album is the symphonics. While not used as much in some songs as others, whoever is on the keyboards in putting out some quality soundscapes and should not be overlooked, despite the almost Nu-Metal quality of some of the material on the disc. I thought Nu-Metal was dead, didn’t you? One tell-tale sign of Nu-Metal influence is the use of a great deal of curses. In real metal, there isn’t much a need to curse - but to angry teens, curse words seem to speak frustration better. This stuff was made for pits pure and simple, despite the somewhat interesting experimentations and great synth work…and some solos. Yeah, really. But nothing amazing…Is that Jamey Jasta? Yep. It is.
You must see what I’m getting at here. It’s definitely going to appeal to the hardcore death core people who post their growls on you-tube, but I think the hardcore chants, death core and symphonics are all out of place. It’s fierce, but it’s not going to appeal to people who like intelligent metal. It’s very meat-head stuff. Go lift weights to it. Which is a good thing anyway, since physical fitness is something we all need.
OVERALL: LIKE HARDCORE? LIKE DEATHCORE? LIKE REALLY GOOD SYNTHS? DID YOU NOT WANT ALL THESE THINGS MIXED TOGETHER? WELL, THEN DON’T BUY THIS ALBUM. IF YOU DID, WELL YOU’LL LOVE EVERY BIT OF IT. THERE’S EVEN A LITTLE EXPERIMENTATION IN A FEW PLACES. GO LIFT SOME WEIGHTS TO IT.
Demonaz - March Of The Norse (2011) - This side project from Demonaz (Immortal) is not black metal at all. It is actually more or less a shout out to early 90’s era Bathory, (which I dare say might be their best era) the Viking metal era. Since, most of you should know that Bathory put out more Viking metal albums than they did anything else. I’m talking more along the lines of Hammerheart/Twilight Of The Gods, which I argue are some of the best Viking metal albums in the history of man.
Demonaz tends to lean vocally towards a more clean approach, but his voice still tends to be a bit dark. Melodious notes creep into his vocals in quite a few tracks, and it works. “Son Of The Sword” and “Under Great Fires” are absolutely spectacular tracks with an array of melody coming from both the guitars and Demonaz himself, which in all actuality doesn’t sound so damned demonic on these tracks.
The amount of melody in this album is breathtaking, and the playing is really light and beautiful for the most part. Yes, there are hints of Immortal here, but they aren’t so dark and menacing. This is a very happy and anthemic album, that seems more of a man’s solo tribute to his heritage than to anything else. The solos on this thing are really good as well, and there’s plenty of them.
To sum this up, I would tell you to just imagine the project as a lighter Immortal, which really bombastic, over the top solos and melodic vocals that almost come to the point of singing. I don’t know about a new classic, but I’m sure this one might have a small cult following. After all, it’s really great Viking metal for fans of Immortal and bands of that nature. It’s definitely something I believe that Quorthon himself would approve highly of, had he still been alive to hear it. Perhaps the sound echoes on into Valhalla then, at least one would hope.
OVERALL: BRILLIANT MELODIC VIKING METAL THAT IS A FEW PARTS IMMORTAL, AND A FEW MORE PARTS EARLY 90’S ERA BATHORY. THE MELODIES AND SOLOS ARE OVER THE TOP, AND THE VOCALS ARE LIKENED MORE TO CLEAN SINGING, BUT NOT SO CLEAN EITHER. VIKING METAL FANS SHOULD ENJOY IT, AS WELL AS FANS OF IMMORTAL.
Dia De Los Muertos - Satanico Dramatico (2011) - This is California’s Dia De Los Muertos, and they are Spanish death metal. As for the force of this thing, it comes on pretty fierce, with female screaming (and growling) death metal vocals, and some good playing. It‘s definitely not a vanilla album in terms of style, and it even incorporates a little flamenco. At times I am reminded of Sepultura, but this band just sounds a little fiercer at times than they ever were.
The vocals creep back into English along the way, so it’s not all in Spanish, if that was a deal breaker for you. Personally, I don’t care about language, it’s all about the effort. I used to think ill Nino was great back in the day because of their death metal influence, but upon hearing such an amazing and capable Latin band like this, which is truly death thrash that at times gives Sepultura and Soulfly runs for their money, perhaps even Brujeria - I am fucking sold on this band.
I urge all fans of death / thrash or fans of Spanish metal in general to check this one out. These guys and their female vocalist are really talented, and this debut is just the kick in the teeth I was looking for. It’s as spicy as a true Latin dish, (and not that fucking Tex-Mex stuff) and it’ll light your ass on fire. If you don’t want that, then I guess you should listen to something a little more tame. It’s only a 30 minute disc, so it won’t burn your ears for long.
There is one song on the disc that is purely thrash metal “Sigo Vivo”, and one instrumental following that. However the thrash song is still played with great intensity, and the instrumental is the title track, which sounds like a heavier version of the theme from Bonanza. There’s also a Carcass cover for “Fresh Meat For The Grinder.” I will also add that this disc has many guests who perform vocals as a backup, or do the entire vocal for certain songs. Of course, the band’s main vocalist is a female by the name of Loanna Valencia, and she is fucking great.
OVERALL: GREAT SPANISH/LATIN DEATH METAL WITH A DEFINITE FORCE AND POWER. AT TIMES IT HAS THE ABILITY TO ONE UP SEPULTURA AND SOULFLY. I’LL ALSO ADD THAT THE VOCALIST HAS A GREAT BLOOD CURTLING SCOWL. IT’S ONLY 30 MINUTES, BUT A VERY SPICY DISH INDEED. THE BAND HAS A LOT OF POTENTIAL, AND COULD GO SOMEWHERE. SO CHECK THEM OUT.
Dira Mortis - The Cult Of The Dead EP (2011) - Dira Mortis will be completely familiar to fans of traditional death metal. There’s even an Autopsy cover of “Ridden With Disease.” The band definitely pulls no punches with this 20 minute EP which is more or less a sampler. The drum work and grooves keep this band going, but the riffs are really sort of standard-fare. The gravelly vocals are also there, as one would expect, but the drums are what’s the real treat here. This band would be nothing without their drum work, and the skinsman really knows what he’s doing. So check it out.
OVERALL: GOOD DEATH METAL WITH GREAT DRUM WORK. EVERYTHING ELSE IS AS YOU WOULD EXPECT, AND THERE’S AN AUTOPSY COVER ON THE DISC THAT SOUNDS GOOD AS WELL. NOT MANDATORY, BUT NOT BAD EITHER.
Heathendom - The Symbolist (2011) - Alas, I’ve saved the best for last. I have been highly anticipating this album since I’ve seen the video for the title track, and finally being able to hear the album in it’s entirety has only meant one thing for me, and that is the mere question as to why I even thought that these guys were the second coming of Iced Earth? Sure, there’s still some influence from bands like Iced Earth, but I also hear plenty of King Diamond and Candlemass, among other proggy theatrics.
Which is mainly what this record is, a little bit of power thrash mixed in with prog, and theatrics. It’s like a metal opera that’s definitely King Diamond friendly. Most of the songs are very bombastic, and there’s got to be some kind of a concept to this record, since as I said, it all seems to tie into each other.
If you liked Heathendom’s last album, you will probably like this one as well, if not even more than that last one. It’s much more focused, and has all that crazy prog opera doom and power stuff you’ve been craving. If this doesn’t even sound like metal to you from the description I’ve given, you’ll just have to hear it for yourself. All I know is that I definitely hear A LOT of King Diamond this time around.
OVERALL: OPERATIC PROG POWER/DOOM METAL WITH PLENTY OF THEATRICS WHICH REMINDS ME MUCH OF KING DIAMOND. IF THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING YOU’D BE INTO, IT WOULD BE WORTH IT TO CHECK IT OUT. THOUGH ON THE OTHER HAND, IT WAS A BIT TOO MUCH FOR ME.
Score: 5/5 (I just didn’t care much for it, but there’s no denying effort was made on this disc.)