Saturday, June 30, 2012

WEEK 57 (7-1-2012)


Nile - At The Gates Of Sethu (2012) - Nile's no stranger to any death metal fan, as they've been putting out their Egyptian and Lovecraftian themed death metal for almost twenty years now. I enjoyed the band's last outing, 2009's "For Those Whom The Gods Detest" and I also have to say that I really liked this one too. But it's no "In Their Darkened Shrines 2003" or "Annihilation Of The Wicked 2005" so don't expect that. This is a new type of beast.

Yes, they've gone back to their roots with the album, as it contains many of the Egyptian atmospheres and instrumentals that we would've expected from the band in their early to mid-era. Karl's growls are now scowls, and I'm not quite sure how people are taking to that. The gravel is still there of course, it's just not as heavily pronounced and is only most prominent in the band's single, "The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magic Of The Deceased 4:30."

But regardless of the change in vocal style, the drums still blast as well as they always have, the rhythms are still the same, the riffs are just as you remember them, and the solos just as frantic as ever. Musically, this album is quite a blistering marvel of brutality, with tracks such as the opener "Enduing The Eternal Molestation Of Flame 4:29." or "The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh 5:30." And those are just a few!

Each and every track on here bashes with the fury of death metal vets, and there's absolutely no remorse to be found within it. Even if Karl is trying to save his vocal chords, the lines are still as brutal as they have always been. The amount of technicality, precision and sheer "nile-ness" of the band is still intact. This is still Nile, they haven't added unnecessary electronics or some other strange hooplah that bands fiddle with when they're trying to keep fresh. When you buy this, you're getting a death metal album. You're getting a Nile album.

It's got some killer leads, some influences from odd places - is that black metal riff I heard there? Are they also playing around with some prog, this time? Yes, there's a hell of a lot of structure here; quite possibly more structure and meat than they've ever had. It certainly sounds like a band that methodically thought out every line, every riff, and every drumbeat. This is a disc that was hand-crafted, not just thrown together. Also expect to hear some horns, "When My Wrath Is Done 3:11" chanting, and orchestral influence to close out the album on it's last track, "The Chaining Of The Iniquitous 7:05." Don't forget about the two instrumentals, "Slaves Of Xul 1:24" and "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms 1:40." These are both essential Nile atmospheres, just as good as anything that they've used on the other albums, and Karl Sanders' solo material. They definitely add to the mood of the disc, and that is most important.

With all of the atmospheres, brutality and structural integrity; this is definitely one of the band's finest releases to date. It's not their best, but certainly not their worst either. These guys are getting old, but the music is still as strong as ever. Definitely worth a purchase.

(11 Tracks, 47:00)



Cattle Decapitation - Monolith Of Inhumanity (2012 BY REQUEST) - Another well known musician requested the review of this, (not naming any names) so I decided that I would certainly go ahead and give it a go. I'm not quite familiar with many of the band's current material, but I do believe that it's much better than some of their older work. This album is, anyway.

I was a little surprised by this one. While the disc is as brutal as you would expect it to be, and it's also as technical as you might also expect; (as several brutal bands are incorporating technicality these days) the disc is also features some interesting ideas at times. I have no idea what's going on with the clean vocals though, it sounds like someone with an accent is singing through their nose. They could've left that shit out.

The disc also has solos, but damn are they ever short. I guess it's more about the drumming, the gravelly vocals and whatever the hell else they've got people doing on the mics. I'm serious folks, you've got your gravel/deathcore growl, you've got the scowl guy and then some guy that sounds like he's trying to be as demonic as humanly possible. Of course, that could be the same guy.

As for the album, there are some songs that actually have a deep level of structure and don't sound like they're just set to "pulverize." Most of this album is that way, so if you like head-smashing metal, this is your bag for sure. Believe me, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely the right kind of ravagery for me. However, tracks like "Lifestaker 4:14", "Do Not Resuscitate 3:18" and "Your Disposal 4:47" actually offer some breaks in the brutality that include clean melodies and black metal riffs, for example. Parts of this disc actually encroach a little bit on black metal, but then it'll go right back into chuggy death metal, and then to piggie squeal, and then right into fucking slaughter mode, where the drums thunder.

Yes, the drums thunder. They thunder pretty fucking hard. If one thing can be said about Cattle Decapitation, it's that they've got a hell of a drummer and some worthwhile riffs. Definitely much better than the Job For A Cowboy disc. If you already bought that one, shame on you! You should've saved your money and purchased this massacrepiece of brutality, instead.

While I could have honestly done without "The Monolith 3:39" a slow, dreary atmospheric piece that opens the album's monumental closer, "Kingdom Of Tyrants 4:50"; I feel that the band has obviously matured from their earlier deathcore influenced stuff they put out like "To Serve Man." There's still deathcore to be found here, but it's been muddled into the grind, death and black that finds it's way into this clusterfuck of carnage.

I could've done without the clean vocals, they sound amateur and could be left out. If you can't fucking sing, then don't fucking sing. I couldn't make the clean vocals out in my headphones, and listening to this on my laptop didn't help. They're just real low in the mix and real muddy. It's like the singer didn't want you to hear him sing. Face it buddy. You can growl, you can squeal, you can scowl, you do some kind of voice that sounds like you're fucking possessed; don't try out for American Idol on top of it, okay? Keep it in the realms of brutality.

Other than that, no major qualms. A brain melting disc that will warrant many plays, despite the fucking clean vocals that you wish weren't on there. It's like you just can't win these days. The Job disc had awful scowls in the background that they didn't need, and these guys have that fucker who sings through his nose. Do any of these popular bands know how to just make brutal death metal fusion music that doesn't have bad vocals? I would love to hear what this sounded like without the clean vocals. Would it have killed him to growl on the melodic parts? Quo Vadis did it when these guys were still semen, and nobody bitched about it.

Ah, fuck it. I might as well be talking to the moon. Nevertheless, death metal fans who already picked up Job and Nile need to pick up this disc too. Yeah, it's another 20 you could've put on gas. But you want to support your favorite bands, right?

Go check it out.

Highlights: Dead Set On Suicide, Gristle Licker, Projectile Ovulation, Lifestalker, Do Not Resuscitate, Your Disposal, Kingdom Of Tyrants (11 Tracks, 42:00)

8/10 (Would've gotten higher if the clean vocals were sapped. But not that much, nothing over the top amazing - but still pretty damned good. Great for a quick dose of adrenaline. Probably great with an FPS.)


Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme (2012 Limited Edition) - These guys blew me away when I saw them live last year with Powerglove and Fleshgod Apocalypse. They played damn near a three hour set. That set fucking killed. I don't care if you didn't think so, because I did. I wasn't even really a fan until i saw those guys live. They brought that same energy back with them on this disc. Now I don't recommend getting this limited edition, unless you want to get shit on by the band, but for the most part; it's pretty fucking good. As in brutal, as in groovy, as in chugga chugga chug.

First of all, these guys are trying to incorporate some new stuff into their music, but it's still Dying Fetus. You'll notice quite a few sweeps on the opener "Invert The Idols 2:05" and plenty of that signature groove. This wouldn't be a Dying Fetus disc without the groove and chug that they're known for. There's no pussy vocals on here either. Two vocal styles, but both of them excel. A little bit more structure than the last disc, which is a good thing. It's good to see innovation that doesn't kill the nature of the band.

Oh, there's some thrashy stuff on here too. "From Womb To Waste 4:56" (with it's unmistakable intro) and Dissidence "3;27" contain some definite thrash influence and are much faster. But you're still going to get that signature groove, so just expect it. There's also more little guitar jizz portions on this then you'd expect. "Revisionist Past 3:57" starts out with one of those. There's also some guitar solos on this disc that are fucking worthwhile, so listen for those. DF has never been about solos, but this time they've done a few and they're good, so be fucking grateful and enjoy them.

It's simple. If you like Dying Fetus, and you didn't think that they could get any better, well they fucking did. This probably one of the best discs I've heard from the guys and it tops 2009's Descend Into Depravity and the shitty little EP.

Alright, so the EP was good. But this is much better. Go grab this shit along with the rest of the death metal I've told you to buy. Money is no object. Don't spend all that time on Rockbox getting the shit for free, go and charge the fuck out of your plastic cards! These guys need the money and they fucking deserve it!

Bonus Track: Dead Whores Love To Fuck (0:50) Yeah, this is what you get with the limited edition. The shit should come with a live show DVD or something, not just this 50 second track that is nothing more than thrown together shit with the vocals, "Dead whores love to fuck! Dead whores love to fuck!" over and over again. The record company must've told them, "Hey, we need a bonus track." So they said alright, let's throw some shit together!

This is what became of that. Seriously, buy the original version of this disc, unless you get a badass DVD of a show with it. But you need to fucking buy it anyway, because it's worth every minute of bludgeoning.

(10 Tracks, 38:00)

10/10 (Limited Edition Version: 9/10)


Ihsahn - Eremita (2012) - After the completion of the trilogy, Ihsahn decided to further delve into the same progressive tendencies that filled much of his last album, 2009's "After." Some of you might not feel so great about this, wondering why he's fooling around with weirdness and synthesizers; and why Emperor hasn't yet gotten back together to record a new album.

But I feel that in Ihsahn's current state of music, a new Emperor album from him might sound completely different. It might not even sound like black metal. This album doesn't even have the right to be termed proper black metal. It's blackened prog metal. You'll see hear your blasts and erratic riffs, Ihsahn's scowl lets loose on the tracks, but so do his clean vocals; but black metal purists might spit in the face of the man for this one, because it's heavily star studded and seems to be going for a more mainstream audience.

Ihsahn wants to make money now. He's enlisted several people to help him in doing just that; including Devin Townsend, Jeff Loomis, and several others. There's even a female vocalist featured on the disc, if you can actually believe it. Hell, the first track, "Arrival 5:40" opens up with a guest male vocal! I also might add that the track is a little bland, and is not a great way to open up an album. However, "The Paranoid 4:43" comes in strong with what we would expect from Ihsahn's earlier discs.

One of the main points in this album is the unbelievable pairing of Ihsahn and Devin Townsend, a man who needs absolutely no introduction. "Introspection 5:37" is definitely one of the best songs on this album, and is a must hear. The riffs are absolutely killer, and the vocal styles of Ihsahn and Devin meld together seamlessly. There's even a good solo thrown in, just to make an already great track better.

Those songs were completely sax-free, but "The Eagle And The Snake 8:47" brings that saxy sound right back to us. This track is a little different then most people would expect, it sounds very mature, almost like something that might be played in a jazz club with some darker metal elements. There's even the classy piano in addition to great licks and solos left and right. Really, this album is a finely crafted masterpiece; even though it does seem to fall apart in a few places. But I'll get to that in a minute.

"Catharsis 4:50" is another unique track, it has a very slow pace and the sax continues here. It also has a really great vocal chorus. Oddly enough, and quit twisted in a sense, this song has a sort of "romantic tendency." Would people fuck to this one? I don't know. Would this set the mood? Maybe. But it does feature one hell of a solo. "Something Out There 5:09" follows, bringing with it something that reminds me of black metal, but with orchestral influence. Again, Ihsahn's clean vocal chorus is just as good here. This song really sounds like an odd mix of alternative rock and black metal... And I like it.

Now we get to the filler. For some odd reason, a dreary instrumental piece called "Grief 2:21" is here, and I'm not sure if it's an intro to the next track or not, but this sort of thing really isn't his style. I don't care for it, and it's really not needed anywhere on the album. it's also rather basic, and could've been used as the base of a song. "The Grave 8:18" rushes right in, sounding like a suicidal black metal track, despite the added saxophone (did we really need that?) In the middle of the song, there's just all this nonsensical experimentation and continued saxophone playing. While this might be the disc's darkest track, it's also one of it's most throwaway tracks.

"Departure 7:06" starts out very slow and morbid, then it explodes into extreme metal mayhem. Until the clean vocals come in and soften the vocals, bringing in the Opethy acoustics. Things even turn a bit djent, believe it or not. Then the female vocals come in, shattering the ears of the majority of the world's black metal listeners. They scream in agony, "female vocals don't belong in black metal!" But then again, this ISN'T black metal. The end of the track is unbelievably chaotic and then ends abruptly.

The disc ends with "Recollection 5:39" which is almost a classier version of a rock song. Don't be surprised if you only hear Ihsahn singing on this track. There does happen to be a great solo on this one though, probably not something you'd hear from a normal radio band. I do believe these riffs are Loomis's though. The disc ends out with saxophone.

So there you have it. I tricked you and did a SxS anyway for Ihsahn's fourth solo outing. Don't like it? I don't care. There's really no other way to describe this disc properly. It's literally a Baskin Robbins album, and even though you'll hear black metal bits; it's not and would never be considered black metal. To be perfectly and completely honest, this is very mainstream. Ihsahn has not been one to hide in the shadows, as he's guested on Metalocalypse and has done other acts of mainstreaming that I can't quite remember off the top of my head.

The man has plenty of ideas, that's for sure. But I also wouldn't be entirely surprised if he pulled out some sort of dark atmsopheric album next year. It always seems to come out from a solo artist. Trust me, the dark atmospheric album is coming... and it'll also probably have some saxophone.

Again, this is a great record that is bogged down by too much experimentation and not very much cohesion. I think that was the idea here, but it doesn't flow quite like "After" did. Which in my opinion, "After" is definitely better.

Highlights: Introspection, The Eagle And The Snake, Catharsis, Something Out There (10 Tracks 58:00)



Deathspell Omega - Drought EP (2012) - Paracletus was one hell of an album, and it was also one hell of a change from Deathspell's original style of black metal. Once a cult act, the band has broken out and is now one of those "must-watch" black metal acts, very much like Blut Aus Nord. This album, quite like Paracletus, is also a hell of a change.

Unlike Paracletus, this disc is much blacker and less proggy. Alright, so "Salowe Vision 3:41" and it's drone isn't really the best description of that, but I like to look at the track as mainly an opener; a slight calm before the storm. When "Fiery Serpents 4:15" comes into play, you'll witness firsthand at the ferocity of the band's further evolution; an attempt to mix the prog of Paracletus along with the blast beats that we're all familiar with.

This continues through "Scorpions & Drought 3:11" and stops right at the melodic but still slightly heavy, "Sand 1:35." It then comes back and blasts into "Abrasive Swirling Murk 3:47" which also has a solo portion. Although I can't quite hear it as well as I'd like to. The disc ends with "The Cracked Book Of Life 4:25" which is an instrumental that shows slight promise and more melody than the band has ever offered.

These encroaches of melody might alienate Deathspell's kvlt fanbase. But that's fine with me, because black metal itself is; and has been, evolving. Prog and melody might scare off the kind of people that might fancy listening to raw black metal that was produced in somebody's garage. But we knew that the change was coming, and I predict that the follow-up to Paracletus will be well worth waiting for. If this is just a sample of what they're working on; then I have a good feeling about the band's next opus.

This EP is well worth checking out. Imagine the meat of this thing as a darker, blacker version of Paracletus. You'll actually hear some black metal here, as I've noted; but you'll still hear that prog, whether you want to or not. Definitely some promise on this one.

Highlights: Fiery Serpents, Abrasive Swirling Murk, The Cracked Book Of Life
(6 Tracks, 20:00)



Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage (2012 Limited Edition) - France's Gojira is no surprise to anyone here, obviously. They worked their way out of the underground and became a mainstream act in no time. This was in part due to their third opus, "From Mars To Sirius." Then after that, they released an excellent and thought provoking piece called "The Way Of All Flesh." But after something as deep as death, where else does one go?

This is where, apparently. The band's fifth album actually has a French title, which is sort of new for them as all of their titles have been in English with the exception of their little known debut, "Terra Incognita" which sounds little like the band does today.

As far as I'm concerned, this disc is more about flash and flair than actual meat. There are some interesting ideas on this album of course, but it sounds less like art and more like mainstreaming with experimentation portions so they don't alienate their older audience. "Explosia 6:39" comes in strong, but basic. The only thing that really differentiates it is the odd outro piece to the song that trails on a little long. The interesting prog used on "L'Enfant Sauvage 4:17" definitely makes it stick out, and the heavy portions help to bring that one out.

For the most part, the disc is mainly just a light to heavy, light to heavy. And of course, during the heavy vocals, there has to be a harsh vocal.

Songs like "Liquid Fire 4:17" actually seem to hit a note with me, as well as "Mouth Of Kala 5:51" but I just feel as though there's something about this disc that I' m not getting. Perhaps I need to further congeal it, as it's something that you actually have to soak into your brain; rather than to just listen to the first time through. But being a reviewer, I don't have this kind of time. "The Way Of All Flesh" was more blatant, but this one seems to be filled with more prog, experimentation, acoustics, and light vocals. There is very little of an actual "death metal vocal" to be found on this disc, so at this point it's hard to call them death metal, and to more or less consider the band some kind of extreme experimental prog.

Maybe this will be a letdown for fans of the death metal style that Gojira once incorporated. I mean, while there are a few death metal tracks on here, some of them only seem to have the heaviness and death metal vocals because the band didn't want to, again; alienate any fans. I've been a fan of Gojira for years. I think I discovered them at the same time that everyone else did, but not only did I tap into "From Mars To Sirius" I also tapped into their back catalog and really enjoyed that first release.

But on this one, the style seems to be getting played out. Perhaps the band have found their sound, perfected their sound and are now trying to preserve their sound. But by that time, there's a million little other bands trying to copy and re-perfect the band's signature sound. Once you've inspired someone, they're bound to not only copy, but to improve upon your sound. It's already ahppened more times than I can count. But I strongly doubt that this fifth disc will be the band's swansong. I see it as just one of many and I'm sure that it will receive great plays from other technical and prog metal nuts; but I had that Gojira phase of my life and I don't think that this disc will be able to reignite that wonder than I got from "From Mars To Sirius", "Terra Incognita", and "The Way Of All Flesh." Those albums really meant something to me, especially "The Way Of All Flesh" because it really felt like a cohesive journey. Aside from the song with Randy Blythe, this disc seems to fall flat in comparison to that one, and definitely their third (which some consider to be their best) album.

For the most part, you already know what to expect here; and there is little new. Just more tinkering and lots of empty spaces.

Bonus Tracks:

I'm left indifferent by the both of these. Just like the rest of the album, they showcase very little. "This Emptiness 4:09" and "My Creation 3:59" are decent enough, but there's nothing really fantastic or different about them. They could be trimmed fat, but with them the album would be an entire 60:00 of music, and not just the 52:00 that you get from the original disc. Not necessary, but if you're a hardcore fan of the band, you'll probably get the limited edition for these, or just download them.

Either way, I'm left unimpressed and I was actually looking forward to this one. Yet I've heard that some people really liked the disc, so just try before you buy, okay?

Highlights: Explosia, L'Enfant Sauvage, Liquid Fire, Planned Obsolescence, Mouth Of Kala, Born In Winter (13 Tracks, 60:00)

6/10? (I really don't know. I'm still up in the air about this whole thing.)


Animetal USA - W (2012) - Animetal has finally released a new disc. You might remember that I ranked their debut as one of 2011's best power metal albums of the year. Yes, they are still covering anime themes (some popular in US and others in Japan) in the format of power metal. There's still plenty of thrash to be had here, some killer melodies and just as amazing vocals. Not to mention the solos. But who is responsible for all this? Well, here's the lineup:

Mike Vescera (ex-Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen) Vocals
Chris Impellitteri (Impellitteri) Guitar
Rudy Sarzo (ex-Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio) Bass
Scott Travis (Racer X, Judas Priest) Drums
Marty Friedman (Megadeth) Arrangement

That's quite a line-up if I've ever seen one, and yes, they play these anime themes just as well as a band made up of musicians from those groups could. The solos on this are harder and fiercer than any solos should be for anime theme covers, and the drums thunder more than you'd ever expect. One more thing, the tracklist - translated for you anime fans out there:

01. Touch (Touch OP)
02. CAT'S EYE" (Cat's Eye OP)
03.Hero Medley
~Devilman no Uta (Devilman OP)
~Let's go Rider Kick (Kamen Rider OP)
~Tatakae! Kamen Rider V3 (Kamen Rider V3 OP)
~Himitsu Sentai Goranger (Himitsu Sentai Goranger ED)
~Ultra Seven no Uta (Ultra Seven OP)
04. "Dragon Ball Medley"
~CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA (Dragon Ball Z 1st OP)
~WE GOTTA POWER (Dragon Ball Z 2nd OP)
05. Galaxy Express 999"(Galaxy Express 999 Theme Song)
06. We Are! (ONE PIECE 1st OP)
07. Yuzurenai Negai (Magic Knight Rayearth OP)
08. Girl's Anime Medley"
~Moonlight Densetsu (Sailor Moon OP)
~Cutie Honey (Cutie Honey OP)
~Attack No. 1 theme (Attack No. 1 OP)
~Himitsu no Akko-chan (Himitsu no Akko-chan OP)
~Mahoutsukai Sally (Mahoutsukai Sally OP)
09. Ai Oboeteimasuka / Do You Remember Love (Macross: Do You Remember Love Theme Song)
10. JAM Project Medley (~VANGUARD~MAX ON~SKILL)
11. Give Lee Give Lee Rock Lee (NARUTO Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals OP)

Yeah, even I must admit that some of these are quite weird. But the songs each come in with the same force that we would've expected from the band's debut, and the medley's all seem to work together well enough. The original Animetal did this, so it's kind of like a tribute. Again, all the lyrics are just about in English. Of course, the choruses are sometimes still in Japanese, ("Cha-la Head Cha-la" for example) and sometimes some of the lyrics, because it's hard to translate and make it go along with the music.

There's a few themes on here I don't care for, like the "Galaxy Express 999 Theme 2:55", 'The Girl's Anime Medley 4:21", and "Do You Remember Love 4:46" from Macross, an anime I remember watching on VHS years ago. Damn, that brings back memories.

Some might say, "Well, they did Eva, so what the hell else do you want?" and I said, "We Gotta Power" but it's like at the end of "Cha-la Head Cha-La" and it's about a 1:00 long. But they definitely did it justice. They also did the Japanese opening from Sailor Moon, which had rock elements anyway, so that came out nice.

The final track on the disc is actually done with the guy who sings it, because he's still alive, and it's the only one done in pure Japanese. I don't fucking care for Naruto anyway, but some people might like this parody metal thing.

To sum this up, there's nothing different here. But that's a good thing. It wasn't broke, they didn't fix it. The package is brilliant and even theme songs to anime that I never watched or liked, ("One Piece" for example) came out really great.

I'll tell you all right now. If you want this disc, you'll pay a fortune in import costs. So you should definitely download it and blame them for the fact that it wasn't brought over to the states. Yeah, English lyrics, American musicians, and it wasn't brought out to the states. I'd personally love to have an original copy of the first one, but that's not happening anytime soon. (Special Edition 12.00 on CM DISTRO. Animetal USA original is 32.00 in Japan and W is also 32.00 W/DVD it's 37.00! W Is NOT available in the US!)

Definitely check it out if you're into anime and power/traditional heavy metal. It's a great formula from great musicians that worked out well again. It just didn't work out as well this time. But the original Animetal probably put out like 30 albums, and if they keep releasing one every year, they should cover some major ground.

Highlights: Touch, Cat's Eye, Hero Medley, Dragon Ball Medley, We Are!, Yuzurenai Negai, Jam Project Medley (10 Tracks, 48:00)



The Agonist - Prisoners (2012) - The Agonist has come a long way since their female fronted deathcore was first unleashed onto an unsuspecting popular. Some might say that this is the result of the "girl power movement" started by vicious females like Angela Gossow and Otep. But unlike those two, who don't actually sing, this female actually does let a few notes come out, which does in all actuality; sound just as fucking poppy as you'd expect.

Thankfully, there are some really interesting things done on this album that manage to save it. Like the acoustic intro for example, which explodes into some very heavy and somewhat proggy death metal. I didn't expect the drums to do just the sort of things that do on this disc. Whoever's on that kit, they decided to do more than just some basic beats, and whoever's playing the guitar also decided that they would actually incorporate some decent fucking melodies in, despite the fact that her clean poppy singing fills them. We definitely hear some mannish growls from the lead vocalist, but most of the time we hear what sounds like a pissed off drunken woman.

But I understand, because women don't have the same vocal chords that we do, and it's tougher for them to get the deepness of vocal that men have. This is natural, so I wouldn't expect her to be very gravelly in the throat. But being able to mix the vocal style of her growls and the singing together without it messing up her tone is a feat. I will say that she does have a very goblin style scowl at times that I sort of find both very useful for the album, and also kind of sexy.

Some other saving graces on this disc are the guitar solos. You wouldn't expect to hear them, but they're definitely there. But get this, they're also frequent on the album. So expect to hear lots of actual solos on this one. Nothing Megadeth "Hangar 18" but definitely good.

"Predator And Prayer 5:04" also incorporates some great riffs in places, but at this point, you might think that even the prog is getting overplayed. But the melody isn't, at least not yet. Then he breaks into that solo. Yep, that's a full metal solo. not some half-ass radio thing. Another one to check out is "Ideomotor 8:07" and yes, it's as long as you see. It also features 3-5:00 of straight guitar jizzery, which we'd not expect. The guitarist in this band apparently wanted to be on the cover of Guitar World, so showing people that he can play just might help.

"Dead Ocean 6:19" is another track on here that manages to keep the disc afloat. The tracks trance-like prog riffs tend to give the band a new sound, something different that can be explored. It's evolution, dare I say it. The same ideas get further used in "Everybody Wants You (Dead) 5:00" and "Revenge Of The Dadaists 6:42." The band plays around with a lot of prog and acoustics on this discs, but there's still a little radio single called "The Mass Of The Earth 4:40."

The vocal style hasn't much changed, but she's gotten better. This album has much more structure than I would've ever hoped to hear from the band, and there's definitely some promise here. The drummer and guitarists definitely tear through this album and give us something much more than what the band has done in the past. This might be the closest that the band will actually come to mattering outside the mainstream.

If you're interested, check it out. But don't expect anything real grand. It's a good album, but not a great one. Hard work was put into this one, though. I will say that much. There's also some big words floating around on this one.

Highlights: Predator And Prayer, Ideomotor, Lonely Solipsist, Dead Ocean, Everybody Wants You (Dead), Revenge Of The Dadaists (11 Tracks, 58:00)



Diskord - Dystopics (2012) - This album has been getting rave reviews, due to the band's ability to mix traditional death metal, prog, and the occasional weirdness together in a fashion that doesn't manage to piss off the death metal elitists. It really is an interesting, if not weird package; but here at the tower, weirdness is certainly an affecting factor in review. We like weirdness here, almost embracing it; because innovation can in itself, be a very peculiar thing at first.

But this album in it's peculiarity, is still at it's base core; a death metal album. The vocals are gravelly and also contain deathly screams, the guitars certainly reek of the smell of dead flesh, and the drums thunder with the hell choruses that we all know and love. Things here are just a little bit... different. "Entropic Death 3:31" for example, gives us the feeling of a fuck session between Entombed and Athiest, but it works together in the end.

One of the biggest parts of this album is also it's speed. There really isn't any, so don't expect to hear blazing death metal. Again, think of bands like Atheist and Cynic on this one. In fact, they borrow quite a bit from Cynic, especially in the bas riffs section. But you'd have to be dense not to notice that. At times, this entire album can sound like one big song with many textured parts; but perhaps that is how the band intended it.

Diskord is the kind of band that is more interested in showing you how good they can play, rather than giving you a groove-laden headbang fest. But there are still heavy drums in portions of the disc and you can still bang your head, if you simply must. This is in most ways, an atmospheric death metal experiment. It echoes early Athiest quite a bit, and the low quality production makes it sound like it came out during the same time as anything those guys had put out in the 90's.

For most of you, this is a wet dream of sorts, and I very much enjoyed this disc. I think I've listened to it three times already. It's not that long an experiment, but it sure is an interesting one. I guess that you could quite easily consider it the sort of death metal you would want to play if you wanted to retain focus.

It's also good to listen to while you're working on a piece of art. (Designed the new banner while listening to it, btw.) If you're looking for something that is brutal, methodical, experimental, and still old school in the sense of production; then this album is for you.

Trust me, the album cover alone showcases just what you're in for. It's a death metal album that's most certainly abstract art.

Highlights: Entropic Death, Overseer, Woebegoneness, Ambisinitral, Psychotic Process, As The Circus Leaves The Galaxy, Rambling Words From A Sore Throat, Metamorphosis, Godsends & Hellbents, Primitive Doom
(12 Tracks, 39:00)



The Cult - Choice Of Weapon (2012) - As I'm certainly no stranger to the Cult's later work, (but a blind ghost to their early material) I knew exactly what to expect from this album. Tambourines, Astbury's vocal croons, punky rock and roll guitars, and eclectic drumming that goes from contemporary to tribal. There definitely is a very spiritual feel to this disc, especially on songs like "Elemental Light 4:51."

The melodies on this album haven't changed a bit from anything else that the band has released, and that's a good thing. They still have the same very trance-like feel that they've always had and I'm thankful for that. The Cult could've tried to go absurdly heavy in order to connect with the popular rock/metal media, but I'm glad that they didn't. This is by far, one of the band's best releases.

A full twenty minutes longer than the band's last disc, "Born Into This" (2007) the extra time was not wasted. You have hippie-punk tracks like "Honey From A Knife 3:12", "The Wolf 3:39", and "For The Animals 4:34."

But you've also got the David Bowie influenced, "Life > Death 5:39." It's not my favorite track on the disc, but it is good for variety's sake. There's also a couple of great ballads like "Wilderness Now 4:39", "This Night In The City Forever 4:51", and "Embers 5:08." But what you won't believe, is that all of these ballads are good.

To be perfectly honest, there's little here on the album that I didn't like. But that's thanks to Billy Duffy's incredible riffs. It doesn't really matter what the song is, he plays each and every one of these with passion and finesse, a flair that only he could have brought to this band, and has brought forth with every album. This is no throwaway disc, and is a true example of The Cult's music.

I was fortunate enough to watch a full concert from these guys on the television, and it was quite brilliant. Even with this album, I can still hear the same sort of licks that the band played in it's most earliest years; and the mixes of the old sound and some of the newer, slightly heavier sound featured on tracks like "Until The Light Takes Us 4:26." You can certainly hear that the band takes influence from classic blues and even groups like The Rolling Stones "A Pale Horse 3:20."

But my personal favorite track on this, while very contemporary and radio friendly; is "Every Man and Woman Is A Star 3:32" which means a lot more than what you may think. Anyone whose read Crowley's Book of the Law (Liber Al Legis) knows what I'm talking about here. This song also has one of the best, and most catchy choruses on the album. I'm waiting for a video for this one, it's certainly warranted.

The Cult have once again impressed me, in the way that they always seem to do; by breaking up and doing their own things (BXI for example) and then getting back together and giving us something like this. Those of you who saw that awful hip-hop mix of "She Sells Sanctuary" during the Super Bowl, well... Don't expect any hip hopping on this album. It's a 100% true album from the band that both the vets and the newcomers should enjoy. Definitely pick yourself up a copy and experience some really great rock. There's not much of it out there anymore, sadly.

Highlights: Elemental Light, The Wolf, For The Animals, Amnesia, Wilderness Now, A Pale Horse, The Night In This City Forever, Every Man and Woman Is A Star, Until The Light Takes Us, Siberia (And all the rest are just about as good.) (14 Tracks, 59:00)



The Night Flight Orchestra - Internal Affairs (2012 Limited Edition) - An odd side project from Soilwork's Bjorn Strid and Arch Enemy's Sharlee D'Angelo; this classic rock projects is one of the best things that either of these two men have put their names on. I don't care if Arch Enemy or Soilwork ever release another disc, as both bands are in my opinion now thoroughly played out and have had their day. There's not much that can be done with either one of them, and they're both going to be beating a dead horse if they do decide to release another disc.

Thankfully, there's this. A spot of maturity, or perhaps a drunken idea to create classic rock. Either way, the end result is brilliant and really echoes the kind of classic prog influenced rock from the days when rock music was still good. You'll hear classic riffs, some synths and traditional drumming. But what really makes this disc stand out are D'Angelo's riffs and Strid's vocals. Songs like "Siberian Queen 6:03", "California Morning 5:37", West Ruth Ave 6:42", and "Transatlantic Blues 8:21" are all fantastic examples of this formula done right. If you don't yearn for the days of great classic rock while listening to these, then you just don't like rock music.

The solos on the disc are also fantastic, as you would expect them to be. Each and every song on the disc certainly has it's own feel, nothing on here sounds alike. But they all share the common influence of classic rock. "Transatlantic Blues 8:21" actually is the heaviest of the bunch, and it's also got the most prog of the disc. There's even a slight jam-out session, just like bands used to do back in those days. If anything, this is a history lesson for the youth. There's even some 80's shout-outs, like "West Ruth Ave 6:42." Try and tell me that that chorus doesn't sound like an 80's chorus.

Then we've got "Internal Affairs 4:48" which definitely has plenty of disco influence and I'll tell you something... it kind of sucks that disco died, because it's actually pretty good music. I think I'd rather listen to that then dub-step.

There are just a few songs I didn't like quite as much, like "Stella Ain't No Dove 4:27" and the soft ballad, "Green Hills Of Grumslov 4:08." But there are certainly people out there who will enjoy these tracks, I'm sure. For the most part, this isn't an album for metal heads, and possibly the fathers and mothers of said young metalheads would enjoy this more than they would. But I'm an 80's child, so I'm familiar with a lot of the music back in those days, and the older music that my mother used to listen to.

If you're under the impression that the best rock music has already been made (like myself) then you'll also understand how this album is one that you've got to have in your collection. These metal greats came together and made one of the best classic rock albums I've heard in an innumerable amount of years. Bands like Cream and Pink Floyd don't exist anymore, but it's a good thing that The Night Flight Orchestra did their best to try to remind us of what kind of effect that music had on an entire generation.

Definitely essential classic rock.

Bonus Track: "American High 3:36" is definitely a good track, it's got a catchy chorus and a good melody. It was definitely good enough to have on the album, but it's not one of the band's best tracks. It's right up there with the other two that I wasn't exactly crazy about. If it's not much more for the limited edition, go get that and this extra track. But I wouldn't spend more than three extra dollars on it.

Highlights: Siberian Queen, California Morning, Glowing City Madness, West Ruth Ave, Transatlantic Blues, Miami 5:02, Internal Affairs, Montreal Midnight Supply (12 Tracks, 61:00)



Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (2012) - This dream project of Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Michael Ankerfeldt (Opeth) finally came along this year, but it wasn't quite what the masses had hoped for. There is little guitar and more atmosphere than anything else here. But that doesn't mean that it's not good. Of course, most people were expecting a prog-rock jam session and they didn't get it.

"Drag Ropes 9:52" opens the disc with eerie synths and Micahel's clean vocals. Let it be noted that there are no death metal vocals on this album, as you might expect. "Storm Corrosion 10:09" is a tribal atmospheric with acoustic guitars and Steve's vocals plastered all over it. "Hag 6:28" and "Happy 4:53" each have a distressing and melancholy feel. It's also safe to say that they're both heavy atmospheres, despite a slight "rock" portion in "Hag" that sounds fuzzy to say the least. This was definitely meant to be some sort of experiment. "Happy" has a nice acoustic solo. Thought I'd just throw that in, for those of you who were under the assumption that guitars were absent on this disc.

"Lock Howl 6:10" is a weird piece that features some shakers, acoustic guitar and a little bit of electric. It's got all sorts of weird effects in it, like one hell of an experiment where "just anything went." However, it is quite interesting and is slightly much warmer than the rest of the tracks on the album. The disc ends with "Ludjet Innan 10:20" which begins with some high pitch vocals (from Michael?) and then has what I could honestly describe as the type of music that would accompany one trying to perform the act of astral projection. It is a very light, ethereal atmosphere that seems to continue on for a while. Then the song slows and Wilson sings a bar or two among the light guitar. The atmosphere comes back in, and the whole thing just sounds completely beyond this dimension. Just like the rest oft his album.

A listening tip is to first get high. Mushrooms, acid or marijuana might definitely help in the enjoyment of this album. It's an experience and you probably need to be in the right state of mind for it. While not the kind of jaunty prog-rock fest that we were expecting, there is a ridiculous amount of experimentation on this disc that could've only been accomplished by these two masters of prog. Worth a listen, but I feel that only few will actually buy this one.

Still, I'll bet there's at least a few people who say this is one of the best albums they've ever heard. I don't feel the same, but to each their own; I suppose.

Highlights: Drag Ropes, Storm Corrosion, Lock Howl, Ljudet Innan
(6 Tracks, 47:00)


Anna Salen - Anna Salen (2012 FREE EP) - This free EP from Ana Salen was a free download from bandcamp. I was getting some music from Over-Reactor (I'll reviews for them later) and this was suggested by them, so I check it out. Not much here to really talk about, since it's only three songs. The first song, "Vehicles 3:08" is the sort of prog rock influenced thing I would expect from a band of this sort. It thumps, but not in a way that we haven't heard. The drummer's pretty decent, but the band doesn't sound like they've got a whole lot of meat. The riffs sound very generic d-tune for the most part too, and that shit irks me to no end.

"How To Be A Man 5:12" has the prog synthesizers that we all know and love, and it's definitely nothing out of the ordinary. Could be developed further, but not a bad showcase of the band's talent. A little bit too much riff-repetition for me. However, It has a surprising acoustic melody at the end. The last song on this disc reminds me of something from SNK's King Of Fighters style music. It even has the over-used heavy bass riffs that we hear in fighting games these days. it's not surprised that the song's called "Karate 3:13." There's an interesting portion in the middle, then a break down and reinterpretation of the opening riff. Sounds good, but nothing altogether amazing.

All in all, this is maybe worth the free download; but I think that the band needs to step up to the plate just a little more and really give me an idea of just what they're capable of. These three songs are each different and unique, but some seem a bit stale and under-developed.

Worth a download, at least; but you've probably heard better instrumental bands before. (Soul Cycle, for example.)



Binah - Hallucinating In Resurrecture (PR2012) - Who the fuck is Binah? Well, they're your new death metal god for one thing, so start bowing. Some guy was talking about how their name is derived from Hindu or something; but I could give a fuck less, I'm not hear to talk about the name, I'm hear to talk about the music, and it is pretty damned breathtaking folks. This isn't just death metal. It's highly influenced by prog and very melodic in portions as well.

Yes, you'll still get beat over the head - but not with each and every single song. Sometimes the band just likes to take it slow. After all, death metal is not a race to see who can play the fastest; it's who can play the best, and with the most skill and talent. I looked at a photo of these guys and saw that they're young for the most part. You would think they're a little green. But that's not the case here; as this is definitely some of the best death metal I've heard in quite a while.

Do all the songs stick out? No. Of course not. "A New Rotten Dawn 5:15", "Absorption Into The Unearthly 3:16", and "Dissolution 4:49" have their moments, but they're mostly bland death metal thrashers that we've all heard before. No, I don't need to name bands, it's pretty fucking obvious as to what generic death metal sounds like.

But here's the thing. The rest of the tracks on here are golden. If it's over 7:00 long on this disc, it's worth checking out. Oddly enough, the band placed these four tracks that are each around 7 minutes and 30 seconds; in between the shorter, blander tracks on the disc. Genius or suicide? You choose. I for one, think that it's a good idea to have the slower more melodic (and progressive influenced at times) tracks on the disc along with the faster tracks, that way we don't just get one style of death metal from a band; which can be extremely boring.

The disc has a slightly raw sound, but you can definitely discern all of the instruments. It's slightly muddy for the most part. The growls are much louder on my laptop then they were in my headphones, so I can't make the argument about the vocals being too low in the mix. But I still suggest that they very well might be.

The drumming is definitely good on this disc, and it shows that the drummer can alternate between bludgeoning his kit and playing with artistic precision. The guitarists can both play classic death metal riffs and some weird and eerie proggy shit that we didn't see coming. This is really the kind of death metal that you just don't expect to hear clean melody or prog in, but it helps the atmosphere. Again, don't worry. You're still going to get your spleen ripped out through your asshole by this. It will just be done in a much classier way.

If the thought of melodies and touches of prog doesn't interest you, then perhaps you should stay away from this one. But I would even then still recommend you to get this disc. Trust me, this has the feel of classic death metal; it's just updated a little and might be a change from those old Entombed, Grave, and Deicide albums. Definitely give this unique disc a try. Binah is onto something here, and with great tracks like "The Emissary 7:22" and the title track, "Hallucinating In Resurrecture 7:37"; there's plenty to like here. Not only do you get tremendous structure with epic atmospheres; you also get relentless brutality on the same disc.

These three guys made one killer of an album. Go check it out and give these guys some support. This is the kind of thing I want to hear from death metal in 2012, not the same regurgitated crap.

Highlights: Morbid Obumbration, The Emissary, Hallucinating In Resurrecture, Eminence Of The Sombre, Crepuscular Transcendence (10 Tracks, 50:00)



Dogbane - Residual Alcatraz (PR2012) - Dogbane is a doom band that plays with a little bit of prog and some classic rock elements. Their style is certainly nothing new, but they do it play it well. The raw production value of the disc also helps. This thing sounds about as analog as can be, but I don't think that it could've or should've been done any other way.

The band definitely adds slight touches of prog into the mix, which is something you really wouldn't expect. However, these touches help to sweeten an already great package. The riffs are actually worth a shit, with the band playing some great melodies on tracks like "Born To Die 4:47", "Annihilator 5:18" and many others. The vocal delivery isn't very good in some areas, but the high pitch croon of their vocalist does hit pretty hard in others. I'd be a fool to say that he can't keep up the rhythm.

What I really like about this disc, is that the band really doesn't show any boundaries. This goes from heavy metal, to prog, to jam out session in a matter of seconds. Most of the lead riffs you've heard before, but there are slight tweaks that give the music just a little more form. This kind of music is probably great while "medicated" and definitely has it's share of 60's moments.

This is quite comparable to Candlemass, but it has more structure; even though that's almost a blasphemy, I'd reckon. I'm just calling it like I see it. If you're a fan of traditional doom metal and 60's prog rock, you'll probably love this one. I'm not even going to sugarcoat this. The band came out of nowhere with a very worthy doom disc, and it's got plenty of worthwhile tracks to keep you entertained for hours at a time. There are even a few shout outs to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest if you'll listen closely(Devil in The Dark 6:47").

So maybe it's not just doom metal, after all. Maybe it's just a mix of everything. There are even some death metal vocals in the epic, "Burning In The Light 9:50." Again, this is a band that doesn't really have boundaries. They didn't just want to make a generic heavy metal album. They wanted to make a heavy metal disc that mixes in their influences of doom, prog, death metal, punk and classic rock. Sure you can hear the influences in the music, but it's one hell of a mix; and you can bet your ass that you'll be playing it for days. It's an album where you can still hear the fuzz and static from the amps, as old school as can possibly be.

If you're a new school metal head, you probably should give this one a spin. Because this is how metal used to sound before all of the production and cleanliness that discs have now. This is what shit used to sound like in the metal's early years, before anyone even knew what the hell the words "kvlt" and "djent" meant.

Go get it for a history lesson, if you're young and curious. But for the older heads out there, you know damn well what I'm talking about. If you're still under the assumption that "there's no good metal out there anymore", you need to fucking check this out. It seems that there are some bands out there (and let's be honest, these are some old dudes playing this shit) that still know how to play the old sound. I'm thankful as hell that they still do, and I'd have never heard about this album if not for my PR folks. So I'm returning the favor by promoting it to the masses.

School's in session. Go pick this one up and learn something about metal besides technicality, brutality, blast beats, and djent.

Highlights: Banished, Annihilator, Devil In The Dark, Burning In The Light
(10 Tracks 54:00)



Forefather - Last Of The Line (PR2012) - With Viking metal, I can't say that I've really been much of a fan. Sure I've enjoyed some of it, and I know some friends who absolutely love it; even consider it part of their religion. But as for this band, I can certainly say that they've got both talent and experience. The songs have a great deal of folk melodies and a mixture of clean and harsh vocals. Yes, this is nothing new.

But the clean singer has some really great pipes "By The Deeds 4:51", "The Downfallen 5:53" and combined with some of the great melodies that this album occupies, it's an almost unbeatable formula. But for you fans of harsher and more vicious Viking anthems, you should know that Forefather excel in doing both. There are some definite heavy tracks on the disc like, "Chorus Of Steel 4:42" and "Doomsday Dawns 6:42", but the heaviness is balanced out with the melody and clean vocal.

There's a Viking ballad on here as well, it's called "Up High 5:08" and I could see many a heathen disrobing and worshiping the old gods to this one. It's very hymn-like in that aspect, I consider it a very sacred and true musical work. A proggier piece called "Wyrda Gesceaft 3:06" also seems like it's got a sort of meditation like presence; only a few words are spoken on this track. It is mostly an instrumental reflection. One thing is truly certain about this album, it is a true heathen metal album for true heathens.

Some of the songs do start to sound in very much in the same style as the opener with it's mix of heaviness and melody and both vocal styles; but it's the other tracks on this disc that make it worthwhile. There aren't any truly awful tracks on this one, but it does begin to sound like filler in the middle. It's not filler to all, of course; some people might really like "Shadows Of The Dead 5:24" and "Spears Of Faith 4:54", but I've heard much the same thing before from bands like Ensiferum.

Either way, the disc is rounded out well enough by it's better tracks, that mask the filler and make the whole thing worthwhile and a must for Viking metal fans and heathens of all types. This is great Viking metal, and it's definitely worth adding to the collection that you've already got stored in your longboat.

Give Odin a few hails, and blast this one from the rooftop!

Highlights: Cometh The King, Last of Line, Chorus Of Steel, By The Deeds, Up High, Wyrda Gesceaft, Doomsday Dawns, The Downfallen (12 tracks, 55:00)



Hordes Of The Morning Star - Consummatum Est (PR2012) - I know that this album came out a while ago overseas, but now the American release is set to come out; so I'm reviewing it for that purpose.

Hordes is one hell of a black/death band. They're one of the most downright fucking evil groups that I've heard in quite a while. The vocals literally sound like they're filled with scorn, the drums seem to be absolutely merciless, and the guitars bring forth some of the blackest and darkest riffs that I've heard in a while. If this thing had an aura, it'd be the color of coal.

You've got an alternation of black and death metal vocals, but it works together nicely, albeit there is much more malice coming from the black metal scowls than the growls. As for the guitars, you can't really expect and solos or anything of that nature; it's not that kind of happy band. These guys are evil and pissed. Each and every song is filled with an ultimately bleak and destructive atmosphere. You might want to play this as you murder someone, but I'd not recommend it.

But it would be great music for that. This really is the kind of music that was made to be played while watching a church burn, and that'd be quite alright with these gentlemen as they seem to have quite a thing for the guy with the horns and don't seem to care much for that other guy. But that's fucking putting it lightly.

Nevertheless, you're going to get a severe beating from this one that you're going to be feeling for days. Each and every song really carries the same vibe, as there are none that I can really single out. It sounds like black metal more than anything else, and the riffs seem to tread along those lines. Even the acoustic bits that do exist on this disc are quite dreary. The drums bang and blister with a fervor, as the man behind the kit must be insane.

Normally, I don't fear the image of bands and their over the top dark imagery and anger; but these are the type of gentlemen that I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. If you're going to carve up an animal, or a human corpse, this music might also be good for that. It's just so fucking diabolically evil that it's beyond words.

My only qualm with this disc is that many of the songs gravitate towards the same direction. Yes, I wouldn't expect any less from these metallic demons; but you know what to expect with each and every song. But that's very little of a gripe. Hordes does everything right here, and the clean production on the disc makes the vocals screech right into your ears. You won't just hear this album, you'll feel it. if you're a young disenfranchised youth and are looking to piss off your parents and the neighborhood; then buy this and blast it. If you're looking for some malicious black metal with elements of death metal, (and some great melodies) definitely pick this up.

Again, there are no solos. There are no clean vocals. There is no prog. This is just complete 100% fuck you all black metal. If that's not indication enough, just listen to "Holocaust 4:10." it's the ultimate "work sucked today" song.

it's pure evil through and through. This will probably piss of 95% of the general population who don't even listen to metal. Take that as an extra incentive.

(9 Tracks, 35:00)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Week 56 (6-20-2012)




Candlemass - Psalms Of The Dead (2012) - Candlemass is back, but for their last time. Oh sure, we'll get a b-sides, best of, live album, about a million remasters and a dvd, but this will be their last studio album. So how does it fare for a final offering?

Just as good as you would imagine. Anyone who liked "Death, Magic, Doom (2009)" should have no problem with this material, as it's cut off the same block as that album was. There's not really anything new here, but that's the good thing. We didn't need to fool around with electronics or breakdowns or anything of that matter. Yes, there are some more synth sections then were on their last album, but the synths help to give it more of an atmosphere. For the most part, they do their job quite well on songs like "The Lights Of Thebe 5:49" and the closer, "Black As Time 6:47."

This album is a one-hundred percent doom metal shred-fest. The guitars do nothing but shred left and right, but that's what you want to hear from these guys. Every lick is killer, even on the weird 3:38 track, "Dancing In The Temple (Of The Mad Queen Bee" which honestly sounds like they threw it in there. You and I both know that this song, with it's very... let's just say "different" style of lyrics, make Candlemass sound like a joke. But that's until that solo kicks in. Though I'm going to have to say, if the guitar hadn't saved that track, I'd consider it a throwaway for sure. I still don't think it has any place on the disc.

But you've got your thrashers, like "Prophet 6:06" which opens the disc on a heavier note, but still retains the band's signature sound. Lyrically, there isn't much good here. The vocals are good, but the words sound like they're coming from a band who is running fresh out of ideas. It's a good thing they split. True, the lyric nature and performance of "The Lights Of Thebes" is great, but "Waterwitch 7:03", "The Sound Of Dying Demons 5:30" and "Siren Song 5:57" aren't that special. If not for the fact that this album excelled musically, I'd have to consider this a bad swansong.

But again, this album kills musically. In the end, you won't much care what is being sun about; the vocals are as powerful as ever, the drums thunder with a precision, and the guitars come screaming right at you. If this is their last, they've really gone out with a bang.

"Black As Time 6:47" The album closer might be worth mentioning, as it has a very eerie, if not different lyrical matter for the band (the idea that time is the ultimate evil) and features as I've stated before; a hell of a lot of synth. It's almost as if they had a little bit of a 60's prog moment here. But there's still plenty of doom to be had on this monolith end to a wonderful career, which spawned plenty of music that will be heard for many years to come.

(9 Tracks, 50:00)



The Foreshadowing - Second World (2012) - This third album from Gothic/Doom band The Foreshadowing is nothing, if not monumental. For months it sat in the top spot of 2012's best on Metalstorm. Seeing as how it was higher ranked than say, Paradise Lost's recent masterpiece, I knew that I had to give a test drive for myself.

But it's definitely not difficult to say that I found the disc truly impressive. Not only does the band do (what sounds more like funeral doom then gothic metal) correctly, with one of the most remarkable vocal performances that I've heard in a while; they also have a well-rounded structure that keeps things from getting boring. One could compare them to Katatonia, but I think that I like their vocalist a bit more than Katatonia's current frontman.

As this is funeral doom / gothic metal for the most part, you can expect a somber atmosphere, quite like most of the band's material. Nothing has really changed in that aspect; and you really aren't getting something exactly new. To tell you the truth, this album didn't stick with me all of the way through and began to grow uninspired after awhile. Despite the vocal performance in "The Forsaken Son 4:34" and the title track, "Second World 5:37"; there is little here to really appease the listener except for maybe "Aftermaths 6:28", "Outcast 4:51" and opener, "Havoc 7:13."

That's about five songs, and 28:00 of truly great material to be found here. But I wouldn't say that it's uncanny for a band to put their best few tracks on first. A couple of the softer, less metal tracks fail to keep my attention. "Colonies 6:21" is a certainly well-rounded ballad of sorts, but it doesn't leave the mark on me that something of the same nature done by Paradise Lost, for example; would have. Also, the closer "Friends Of Pain 4:01" isn't the greatest way to end the disc, on the note of an atmosphere that I just really didn't get.

Word has it that Katatonia is releasing a new disc this year, and while I didn't like their last one (yes, go ahead and stone me) I have a feeling that this new disc might be able to trump this one for sure. There was metal here, there was some good riffs and a few memorable solos, the drums did a few nice things - the vocal performance was splendid; but it didn't grow on me. The only two songs that I personally wound up really enjoying from this one was the single, "The Forsaken Son" and the title track. That's really about it.

For an impressive vocal performance, gloomy synths, some definite structure and Katatonia worship; check this one out. But it won't hold your attention for long.

Certainly not terrible, but not the best metal album of 2012 either. I personally think that the new Paradise Lost trumped it.

Highlights: Havoc, Outcast, The Forsaken Son, Second World, Aftermaths
(10 Tracks, 54:00)



Marduk - Serpent Sermon (2012) - Okay, it's time for a confession. This is my first ever Marduk disc. I was told that they weren't very special, so I never checked them out. But their new disc was available, so I decided to give it a shot. According to an interview, the content is supposed be more satanic this time, not so much based on death. Oh well. I could give a fuck less, really.

For the most part, the disc is blistering. The drums blast left and right and the scowls mix well in the formula. It's very thrashy in most aspects, and seems to hit very hard. There's some good riffs here and there and it's got some definite promise. But for a band that's been out as long as Marduk have, I'm sure they have better and worse material respectively.

The band is trying to experiment a little on this disc. There's some odd effects, odd vocal styles and even some doom metal influence on "Souls for Belial 4:45." Not all of the songs stay fast either. "Temple Of Decay 5:25" is slow and menacing, also bringing with a little bit of doom and atmospherics. "World Of Blades 7:11" and closer, "Coram Satanae 8:02" are also worth mentioning, because they clearly have a great bit of atmosphere to them, and this diverts them from most of the thrashier tracks.

So yes, you've got your black metal thrashers, your black metal doomers, your melodic black metal tracks, and your atmospheric black metal tracks with great melody and feeling. What in the hell else do you want from these guys? Plus they put their own experimental touches on most of the material so that it doesn't sound boring or re-treaded quite as badly. The thrashers are short and the epics are long.

There are definitely plenty of good licks on the disc, some great drum skills and some worthwhile vocals. Marduk didn't just throw this shit together, but it might not be cohesive enough for some people. I'm just glad that all the tracks don't sound the fucking same as is the case with a great deal of black metal these days. These guys are one of black metal's old farts and they're still going strong.

Maybe some other gentlemen up there in Norway might be able to follow their example... You know very well who I'm talking about.

Highlights: Temple Of Decay, Damnation's Gold, World Of Blades, Coram Satanae (11 Tracks, 54:00)



Devilish Impressions - Simulacra (2012) - Having never heard of this band before, I opted to check them out. I guess the genre tag really helped, since it's Avant/Black and I do like my avant-garde as much as I like my black metal. But that's not to say that this isn't for the most part, a "stay in the lines" sort of album, that feels very safe. I would liken it to the high produced black metal of Dimmu Borgir, with hints of experimentation, rather than the bombastic stuff I was expecting.

As you might expect, there's orchestral synths sprawled throughout this disc in order to make it sound more epic. The vocals are grim scowls as you would also expect, and the clean vocals try as much to sound like Vortex as humanly fucking possible. But the accent is obviously different. As for riffs, whew... somebody's been listening to current era Dimmu far too much. This album might be good if it came out a few years ago. Still, fans of Dimmu might dig it. Much better than the last Dimmu disc, that's for fucking sure.

Either way, it's not too bad. If there's one song that really caught my eye; it'd have to be "Icaros 4:12." The song has a decent clean vocal chorus and hits the mark a few times. The band also knows how to play some really nice light melodies like on "Lilith 5:02" which has more of that gothic nature they were going for. But unlike Dimmu, some of the songs (like this one) feature more clean vocals than scowls. Yeah, like Borknagar...

Honestly, I shouldn't bash these guys too much. This is a decent effort. There are some really interesting synth portions that help to give the disc some form. The drummer also does a good job behind the kit. The thing stays in melody well enough and it's not totally forgettable. Of course, we've got so many bands that sound like this already.

The thrashier songs emulate Dimmu's heavy stuff as much as humanly possible. Of course, we could also liken them to the heavy portions of Old Man's Child and every other fucking bm band that was doing this sort of thing back then (and some that still do it now.)

There's a nice little instrumental at the end though, that's worth checking out if you like. It's called "Solitude 4:16" and it's not a bad track. Definitely showcases more of the guitar melodies then we get to hear on the non-instrumental tracks.

This disc isn't bad, it's just nothing really special. It does a few good things, but most of them we've already heard before. Kudos to these guys for trying, as it's definitely a solid album - just not really memorable. But there's much worse out there.

Highlights: Icaros, Lilith, Fear No Gods!, The Scream Of The Lambs, Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vivi, Solitude (9 Tracks, 39:00)



Shining - Lots Of Girls Gonna Get Hurt EP (2012) - Shining are supposed to be a suicidal black metal band. At least this one is, apparently. I know of two other Shining's out there - one that plays black/prog now, and the other that just experiments around with everything. They put out a little disc called, "Black Jazz." then they made a live CD of it. Worth tracking down. The other Shining is good too.

As for this band, this is about the furthest thing from black metal that can be. Some people thought this was a joke. I can't blame them. This 20 minute EP of covers has the band covering Katatonia, Poets Of The Fall, Kent, and Imperiet. I'm only familiar with one of those bands, but the others sound like they might have been popular groups back in the eighties or something.

The cover of Katatonia's "For My Demons 6:03" is decent enough, the vocals aren't so great - but they're a decent clean style. The chorus hits hard and heavy and I kind of enjoyed it. But this guy's not the best vocalist I've ever heard.

The Kent cover of "Utan Dina Andetag 4:30" is definitely going to piss fans of the band off, because it sounds like some alt-rock or pop song with very whimpy vocals. Yes, skip this one.

The Imperiet cover of "Kung Av Jidder 4:53" sounds like industrial goth rock. The vocals also mirror that style It's a good song, but nothing really that great. Much better than the last one. Trust me, if you want black metal... SKIP THIS DISC.

Poets Of The Fall's "Carnival Of Rust 4:41" ends out the disc on a gloomy rock track that sounds pretty decent for the most part. It's as good as the opener, and has some good acoustics. The clean vocals aren't too bad either.

Again, stay away from this if you wanted black metal. Definitely not bad, but I wouldn't recommend it. Don't buy this. If you're going to get it, preview the tracks first and get the covers yourself. Why did they even do something like this? It boggles the mind.

(4 Tracks, 20:00)

1/5 (4.0)


Neurotech - Decipher Vol.1 (2012 EP) - Wow. What the hell happened to Neurotech? Last year's "Antagonist" album had a full band, yet this release only sees one fucking dude behind everything. According to the booklet, everything was done by "Wulf." Well, was he any good?

First of all, he should have waited. 18 minutes of music these days is like a free sample. Was this even free? Does anyway know? Is this a "name your price" on bandcamp? Regardless of all that, the music here isn't that bad actually. I guess one man can run Neurotech all by himself. Sure, the opener "The Cyber Waltz 4:04" is kind of bland electronic black metal with little to be desired and "Damage is Done 4:13" only rises a little higher, but it's softer numbers like "Home 4:14" and "Below These Scars 5:43" that really hit me.

Perhaps it's his good programming of keys and synths that really make this one worth checking out, maybe it's that strong black metal chorus, maybe it's just that "Home" sounds fucking beautiful and the guy scowls all over it, which adds some extra emotion (albeit extreme) to the song.

Same thing with the closer, "Below The Scars 5:43" that works well with the sorrowful, yet beautiful electronics that remind me of great goth; but the scowls work just as well as any song of this nature done by a group of the same merit. I can compare these two sorrowful tracks to many others that I've heard and been left with the same feeling - so that really works well in attracting certain listeners. I can already tell you that I know certain people that will be all up in arms for just these two end tracks and they'd buy the recording just for them.

But if you're not one of those people, you might not want to get this. Another EP (Part 2) is supposed to release later this year, and it would've been better if he just combined them both and released it all as one album, unless the other part is like country or dub-step or something. But I hope not.

Honestly, I really like some of this disc and I think that fans of Deathstars lighter material, The Sin:Decay, The Kovenant's electronic stuff, (and everything else you can think of that sounds like electronic goth/black) will like this material quite a bit. It's full of promise. Now I'm curious as to what that second album is going to sound like.

Highlights: Home, Below These Scars (4 Tracks, 18:00)



Deathronation - Exorchrism (PR2012) - Deathronation is an old school death metal band with some definite promise. Their latest disc Exorchrism, showcases some new tracks from the band as well as a five track release, called "A Soil Forsaken."

The band definitely plays with a bit of structure, not flowing too much into the stereotype of pure speed and no showmanship. There are plenty of death metal bands out there that can be fast and be brutal, but few actually add the right sort of structure that makes things interesting.

Well, how do they do that, you ask? How does one do that, you ask?

Well, you start with the riffs. A song should be built on more than just a handful of riffs. Sure, the drums blast on this album - but that's not all they do. The riffs definitely have the death groove that you'd expect, but there's more than just the same cacophony of riffs being used over and over again. The vocals are a mix of gravel and scowl, which also makes things interesting. To have another gravel mouth would have made this package boring.

The drummer's definitely got some skills and the guitarists, especially - the fact that the guitars can do much more than just a few of the same old riffs really make this stand out to me. Some of the earlier songs don't seem to offer much, but in between the time of the EP and now, the band has definitely learned how to make things interesting. The vocalist does a mindless scowl a few times more than he really needs to, it doesn't help his case.

At it's root, this is old school death metal. There's no synths, and only a little use of effects. But that's what you want. The solos come flying out at you and the drums will blast your fucking ears off. This is death metal as it's sounded for several years. Yes, it has more structure than other bands, but it's still death metal. There is no genre-dropping uncanny amazement to be found on this album.

But if you like old school death metal, you could certainly be listening to worse. Definitely check these guys out and see if you like them. They're not too shabby.

Highlights: One Once Forsaken, Scorn Domination, Curse From The Grave (11 Tracks, 48:00)



My Dynamite - My Dynamite (PR2012) - Sometimes I just scratch my head when I get sent certain bands, and these southern rockers are just one of them. The vocalist sounds like a little like Kid Rock, and the music sounds a lot like alternative/southern rock music. It's not bad, it's just not something I'd expect to have to review. But it keeps me on my toes and ready to review anything.

(Linkin Park - Living Things to be reviewed in Week 57, along with Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania; which actually impressed the hell out of me.)

Anyway, these guys have southern rock down quite a bit. I'm pretty sure that young beer swilling rednecks might blast this out of their truck stereos. But that's fine with me. The band has some CCR in them, they've got some Lynyrd Skynyrd, they've got some Kid Rock, they've got the whole nine yards. It's bluesy, it's got a ton of catchy choruses and could catch on with the right people.

The playing's pretty good on the disc. I found myself enjoying the thing while I was at work unpacking clothes. It's definitely got a certain "soul" to it, and it's uplifting, lighthearted "feel-good" music. Songs like "If We're Livin' 3:21", "Watch Yourself Grow 4:42", and "Raise You're Glasses 4:45" are good enough southern anthems for any proud country folk, and I'm sure that those songs will be well received. Others, like the opener "Take It, Or Leave It 4:14", "Dirty Game 3:23", "Singing Stormy Weather 4:27" and "Big Attraction 5:13" are just as good, but don't hit quite as hard.

For the most part, the fans of this type of music won't care too much about half of the things that I'm saying. It'll sound good with a smoke or good with a beer, it's good at a barbecue, it's good music to clean to - it's good music for a lot of things, really. If you like southern rock, I would definitely recommend these guys to you. I definitely think they're on the right track to commercial success. The guitar playing is pretty damned good too. Make sure to check out the solos.

Highlights: If We're Livin', Watch Yourself Grow, Raise Your Glasses, Take It Or Leave It, Dirty Game, Signing Story Weather, Big Attraction (10 Tracks, 42:00)



Grave Desecrator - Deathspells Rising (PR2012) - Grave Desecrator is an alright black/death band at best. Their latest album took many cues from Slayer, but it was certainly solid and not the worst thing that I've ever heard.

This however, is a collection of the band's demos. Why they released it, I'll never really know, as there wasn't really anything in these 16 tracks to satiate me. Worse yet, the production quality gets worse and worse as the album drones on, and the vocals which start out as rasps, continue on the same path. The disc starts to fizz a little with the grain of demo production, but it's to be expected.

The only thing that I can figure, is that Grave Desecrator really liked black metal and decided to go deathier as time went on.

My main problem with the album is quite simple. These songs sound decent enough, but there's little a break in the monotony. The same tempos are used over and over and over again. Even Impiety's gotten out of this habit, so learn your lessons now, gentlemen.

"Apocalypse 5:29" actually had a change in tempo and sounded decent to me. They should re-record that one, perhaps. "Revelations Of The Dead 4:21" was actually death metal and had the gravel, not to mention a bit of structure that made it worthwhile. "Carnal Obsession 6:50" is another well rounded track, which has some interesting guitar tinkering. I'll also have to give proper recognition to "Cursed Mass 5:17" and "Midnight Sinner 5:56." Whenever these tracks were recorded, the band was definitely on their game.

There's a Bathory cover on here, it's "Sacrifice 4:12" from their first album, of course. Death metal vocals as opposed to Quorthon's pre-black metal scowl is a bit of a change for me, but the song is done well enough. The quality however, I could care less for.

Then we run into the band's very first song, "Stared To Hell 2:48." But this could be live. I have no earthly idea. It's a mess to hear and sounds like a band's first ever anything.

While it is nice to get both a tradition black metal album and a traditional death metal album, each with raw production; I wish I could've heard stronger material. But some of this is honestly not bad for the demo days.

Highlights: Apocalypse, Revelations Of The Dead, Carnal Obsession, Cursed Mass, Midnight Sinner (16 Tracks, 72:00)



Laster - Wijsgeer & Narreman (PR2012 FREE ALBUM) - Laster is a two man melodic black metal group from God knows where. All I got was the album and an odd band photo where I can make out two human-like images. I don't even think I got the cover image, unless it's just a black background with the band's name.

This melodic black metal band is really nothing special, and for the most part, this sounds like some kind of demo. I can make out the instruments well enough, and I do like the guitar melodies that overwhelm the album, but the first two tracks are very much of the same variation. They could just as well be one song and you'd never notice the difference.

It's the third and final track "Wijsgeer & Narreman 8:34" that actually does something for me. First of all, the tempo is much slower, almost in the vein of suicidal black. I cannot make heads or tails of the scowls, but the melodies are good enough that it really doesn't matter. It almost makes me wonder if bands really care if anyone can actually hear their lyrics, or if it's just an emotional release for the vocalist.

Surprisingly, the drums are pretty decent on this disc. They don't sound like they're programmed, but if they are; then these two would have to be some great programmers. It does sound like there's a kit back there, but I can't be certain.

If you like raw melodic black metal with more than enough moments of gloom (and some acoustics too) then check out this short disc. It's 21:00 long, but does show some promise on the namesake track. They could've just released the one track and I'd have been happy, honestly.

Not too bad.

Highlights: Wijsgeer & Narreman (3 Tracks, 21:00)


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!