JUDAS PRIEST – ‘Firepower’
/// Date : 10th March, 2018 ///
‘Firepower‘ is the eighteenth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It was released on 9th March 2018, through Epic Records.
Track Listing :
01. Firepower (3:27)
02. Lightning Strike (3:29)
03. Evil Never Dies (4:23)
04. Never the Heroes (4:23)
05. Necromancer (3:33)
06. Children of the Sun (4:00)
07. Guardians (Instrumental) (1:06)
08. Rising from Ruins (5:23)
09. Flame Thrower (4:34)
10. Spectre (4:24)
11. Traitors Gate (5:34)
12. No Surrender (2:54)
13. Lone Wolf (5:09)
14. Sea of Red (5:51)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Forty-eight years and eighteen albums into Judas Priest’s career, the Metal Gods are still in powerful form. Four years after ‘Redeemer of Souls’, Priest re-enlisted the classic production duo of Tom Allom and Mike Exeter, adding modern whiz Andy Sneap to the fold, to ensure ‘Firepower’ blazes with a slick, modern and punchy production without sacrificing their classic metal sound.
‘Firepower’ establishes a familiar riffing ethos immediately with the title track opener, working in leads to accent the rhythmic barrage. The twin guitar attack that defined the band — and early heavy metal — aren’t as present here as they’ve been in the past, but Richie Faulkner truly establishes himself beyond any doubt as a worthy replacement for K.K. Downing. He’s reignited the band onstage over the years; here, he makes his greatest studio contributions yet with simple but daringly effective leads (and plenty of divebombs!) to add flourishes to moments on “Lightning Strike” and the grandiose “Traitors Gate” to name a few highlights.
The rock-steady, grinning opening of “Evil Never Dies”, where Rob Halford declares “The Devil’s moved from Georgia, his mission’s still the same,” (a cheeky nod to the Charlie Daniels Band classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”) nearly gives way to arena territory, but it’s quickly cut down by the musclebound, sliding rhythms of the chorus, keeping the intensity of the album in the red just three tracks in. Meanwhile on the heroic, galloping “Traitors Gate”, the singer discharges his best performance of the album and the bottom-heavy refrain packs the might needed to counter the more traditional riffing aesthetic.
These choral elements also work against some otherwise standout songs. “Children of the Sun” with its slugging, Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer-esque tectonic riffing thunder and brilliantly composed back half, is hampered by an all too simple, underwhelming rhythm. “Necromancer” suffers the same fate, but Halford’s affinity for horror fantasy redeems the lackluster refrain.
‘Firepower’ really finds all of Priest’s members committing career performances. Never a flashy player, Ian Hill remains the anchor of the band’s thunder-forged sound, his bass forever fused to his hip as if it was a bodily extension. His rhythmic counterpart, Scott Travis, elevates his game here with subtle brilliance. The China cymbal smashes in the chorus of “Lightning Strike” make a great song even greater with just that small touch. Elsewhere, he leads with clever kick patterns and even on songs like “Spectre”, just one extra kick beat brings out a whole dynamic behind the line “With the blade held tight”. During “Rising From Ruins,” a cinematic and empowering song that surges with an anthemic refrain and layers of vocal harmonies, his surgical, rolling fill following the climactic solo buildup brings the song back home to the refrain to close out the track.
After nearly five decades of delivering the goods, Judas Priest could have coasted on their reputation on a new album, but they still have their ear to the ground of modern metal. They’ve crafted a record that can confidently stand alongside their most esteemed works without sounding dated or like self-parody. With the news of Glenn Tipton’s decision to step away from touring as he continues to battle Parkinson’s Disease, who knows if we’ll ever get another chance to hit “play” on a fresh batch of Priest tunes ever again?
MACHINE HEAD – ‘Catharsis’
/// Date : 27th January, 2018 ///
‘Catharsis‘ is the ninth album by American heavy metal band Machine Head. It was released on 26th January 2018, through Nuclear Blast Records.
Track Listing :
01. Volatile (4:39)
02. Catharsis (6:11)
03. Beyond the Pale (4:31)
04. California Bleeding (4:12)
05. Triple Beam (4:41)
06. Kaleidoscope (4:04)
07. Bastards (5:04)
08. Hope Begets Hope (4:30)
09. Screaming at the Sun (3:55)
10. Behind a Mask (4:07)
11. Heavy Lies the Crown (8:49)
12. Psychotic (5:02)
13. Grind You Down (4:07)
14. Razorblade Smile (4:00)
15. Eulogy (6:34)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Machine Head have released some groundbreaking and influential albums in their long career. Their 1994 debut ‘Burn My Eyes’ hit the scene like a ton of bricks, and 2007’s ‘The Blackening’ is a classic. Later albums ventured into nu-metal territory, while more recent efforts have blended groove, technicality and greater accessibility. That brings us to their latest album, ‘Catharsis’. With 15 tracks clocking in at around 75 minutes, it’s a lengthy and emotional record that explores a variety of styles and approaches from throughout Machine Head’s career, and ventures down some new paths as well.
The album definitely isn’t middle of the road. Rather, it’s all over the road. Opening track “Volatile” sets the emotional tenor of what follows from the opening lyric “Fuck the world”. Flynn’s angry barks blend with more melodic moments and a monster groove. The title track has some of the anger you’d expect from its title, along with a memorable melodic chorus. “Heavy Lies the Crown” is a nearly nine-minute epic about Louis XI, the Spider King of France. It has classical elements and slowly builds into a dynamic middle section before peaking and fading back down at the end.
Flynn takes a different approach on “Behind a Mask”, an acoustic based song with all melodic singing. It’s accessible and downright mellow and features excellent vocal harmonies of Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern. That’s contrasted by tracks like the boisterous Lemmy tribute “Razorblade Smile”.
Other songs miss the mark to varying degrees. The similarity between “Beyond the Pale” and Strapping Young Lad’s “Love” has been well chronicled. The return to nu and rap metal works reasonably well on “California Bleeding”, but “Triple Beam” is over the top, dated and cheesy. “Bastards” begins acoustically with Flynn giving advice to his sons before shifting to Celtic punk, a bizarre twist that goes off the rails.
Other songs find them channeling other bands, like the Papa Roach-esque “Kaleidoscope” and the Slipknot-ty “Grind You Down”. ‘Catharsis’ will certainly be Machine Head’s most polarizing album to date. There’s a regular album length’s worth of excellent songs, but the quality of ‘Catharsis’ is diluted by that other 30 minutes or so and hampered by a lack of cohesiveness.
MORBID ANGEL – ‘Kingdoms Disdained’
/// Date : 02nd December, 2017 ///
‘Kingdoms Disdained‘ is the ninth studio album by American death metal band Morbid Angel, which was released on December 1, 2017 by Silver Lining Music. It is the first album since 2003’s ‘Heretic‘ to feature Steve Tucker and the introduction of Annihilated drummer Scott Fuller. It is also the first to not feature David Vincent, Destructhor and Tim Yeung since 2011’s ‘Illud Divinum Insanus‘, as all three members left the band in 2015.
Track Listing :
01. Piles of Little Arms (3:44)
02. D.E.A.D. [Department of Eradication and Disposal] (3:01)
03. Garden of Disdain (4:25)
04. The Righteous Voice (5:03)
05. Architect and Iconoclast (5:44)
06. Paradigms Warped (3:59)
07. The Pillars Crumbling (5:06)
08. For No Master (3:29)
09. Declaring New Law (Secret Hell) (4:21)
10. From the Hand of Kings (4:02)
11. The Fall of Idols (4:49)
ALBUM REVIEW –
In an annum heralded The Year of Death Metal – as Decibel magazine notably dubbed 2017 – Morbid Angel return from a lengthy hiatus to send the genre out on a high note. Years removed from the milestone debacle that is 2011’s reviled ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ the Trey Azagthoth-led Floridian four piece has a lot of good will to recoup from their fans. To that point, this year’s long awaited ninth LP, ‘Kingdoms Disdained’, bears a distinct air of mea culpa about it… And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
To back up for a minute, the band essentially imploded over the past year and change, first David Vincent either quitting or being fired – and his former replacement Steve Tucker being brought back into the fold. Interviews with both Tucker and Azagthoth have revealed no intent to retain the services of ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ guitarist Destructhor, but the drummer for that album, Tim Yeung, apparently opted out on the present album due to lack of availability. Replacing the latter pair are David Vadim Von on guitar and Scott Fuller (Annihilated) on drums. Per Azagthoth, the goal in rebuilding the band this time was to acquire talent that could give their full attention span to Morbid Angel rather than risk another lengthy interim between album cycles resulting in split commitments with other projects.
Azagthoth has always been a stellar recruitment of talent, so it’s no surprise that Von and Fuller both rise to the challenge of their forebears. Fuller, in particular, carries the torch of Pete Sandoval like a fucking champ, pounding and grooving his way through tracks like “For No Master” and “Piles of Little Arms” with a combination of flair and restraint. Azagthoth, naturally, is the real star here, and his knack for distinctly catchy riffs is on full display : lead single “Piles of Little Arms” is one of the snappiest ditties Morbid Angel have laid down in years, and indeed we get a full four tracks into the album before anything less than extraordinary appears.
Even the “filler” is still pretty damn solid, it’s only that a minority of tracks like “Architect and Iconoclast” and “Declaring New Law (Secret Hell)” lack the memorable instant appeal of neo-classics like “D. E. A. D” and “Garden of Disdain”. Even late album entries “Paradigms Warped” and “From the Hand of Kings” knock it out of the proverbial park, setting the bar high for an album that distinguishes itself in the Morbid Angel canon through ruthless efficiency and consistency alone.
And that’s the legacy of ‘Kingdoms Disdained’ in a nutshell: pound for pound one of the band’s most essential efforts, the record contains almost wall to wall instant classics, and is not only Steve Tucker’s best album as Morbid Angel frontman, but by extension the group’s most genre-defining effort since 1995’s iconic ‘Domination’.
CANNIBAL CORPSE – ‘Red Before Black’
/// Date : 10th November, 2017 ///
‘Red Before Black‘ is the fourteenth studio album by American death metal band Cannibal Corpse. It was released on 3rd November 2017, through Metal Blade Records.
Track Listing :
01. Only One Will Die (3:24)
02. Red Before Black (3:12)
03. Code of the Slashers (4:46)
04. Shedding My Human Skin (3:29)
05. Remaimed (4:14)
06. Firestorm Vengeance (3:43)
07. Heads Shoveled Off (3:37)
08. Corpus Delicti (3:29)
09. Scavenger Consuming Death (4:33)
10. In the Midst of Ruin (3:26)
11. Destroyed Without a Trace (4:01)
12. Hideous Ichor (4:34)
ALBUM REVIEW –
‘Red Before Black’ marks the 14th studio album from the all-mighty Cannibal Corpse. The band will forever claim a spot as one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, helping to bring death metal into the limelight, and unleashing 30 years of devastating music. Their consistent brutality and horror themed metal has led the way for years in inspiring new bands to play and create the heaviest and most sinister sounding work they can.
Opening track “Only One Will Die” is a key indicator of this terrific balance. It’s immediate drive in savage drumming and shredding guitar work leads the way for an ever beating bass as Corpsegrinder screams away. The album then leads into the self-titled track, following through the consistent beat down in drumming, the guitar riffs riding with a vibrant rage. “Code of the Slashers” is quite similar and proves how the band can really center in on such a tremendous sinister style. The guitar tone lingers in each riff like a stalker in the shadows, eventually leading the track into a burst of hysteric instrumentation. This change from terror in the dark, to maniac on the loose presents this thrilling shift that complements each aspect.
Cannibal Corpse continue to bring even more savagery in “Heads Shoveled Off”. The song whips around with a sense of anxiety, primarily thanks to the rampant drum work. “Scavenger Consuming Death” lingers briefly before taking off in relentless pursuit. The riffs rise to hellish wildness, to low tones of murky horror. The drumming fires off with pure insanity, the bass and vocals pounding away in a barbaric manner. The final track of the album, “Hideous Ichor”, is a chaotic blend of ballistic guitar work and drumming. The song shifts from this overwhelming delivery of clashing and riffs, into a much smoother tone of dread that drones within the guitar playing. Towards the end, the guitar lifts into a brilliant solo, as the rest of the instrumentation picks up the overall tempo, making for a stunning finish.
‘Red Before Black’ is a terrific Cannibal Corpse record. Taking the best aspects of the band’s sound from such works as ‘Torture’ and ‘Evisceration Plague’, the album presents a truly evil tinge throughout its brutal composition. Everyone in the band is sincerely on point, and in particular with the instrumentation, displays a nice range of style and sound. ‘Red Before Black’ is a work that proves how a band can build upon their structure, stretching out their talents, while keeping to their core artistry. Cannibal Corpse’s 14th record is a terrific release that will please fans looking for horrifying death metal and pure brutality.
ANNIHILATOR – ‘For The Demented’
/// Date : 04th November, 2017 ///
‘For the Demented‘ is the sixteenth studio album by Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator, released on November 3, 2017 thru record label Neverland Music Inc. This is the band’s first studio album with bassist Rich Hinks, who co-produced and co-wrote the album, and drummer Fabio Alessandrini.
Track Listing :
01. Twisted Lobotomy (4:44)
02. One to Kill (4:43)
03. For the Demented (5:22)
04. Pieces of You (6:10)
05. The Demon You Know (4:43)
06. Phantom Asylum (6:14)
07. Altering the Altar (5:05)
08. The Way (3:18)
09. Dark (2:09)
10. Not All There (5:42)
ALBUM REVIEW –
For over three decades, Canadian thrash pioneers Annihilator have been cranking out tasty licks and addictive hooks with reckless abandon. ‘Alice In Hell’ and ‘Never, Neverland’ are two of the (unsung) classics in all of thrash, with the former and its sinisterly epic master-track “Alison Hell”. Yet, with this their whopping sixteenth studio record ‘For The Demented’, and with a revolving door of members from vocalists and every manner of instrumentation, there are questions as to whether the Jeff Waters fronted outfit are running on fumes after crossing the 30 year mark.
There is little debate to be had when discussing the pedigree of Waters himself. The man is a fucking jack of all trades: a one-stop-shop for assembling consistent, quality metal. He’s a seriously, criminally, underrated guitar player and he’s managed to act as the adhesive for Annihilator through the dark days of 90’s metal flux, through the at times tumultuous 2000’s and beyond. Stepping back into lead vocal duties with 2015’s Suicide Society, Waters finds himself in fine form performing double-duty with hard-hitting cuts like “Twisted Lobotomy”, the title track “For The Demented” and the regrettably named “Altering The Altar”.
Tracks like “Not All There” and the sombre true-crime-inspired “Pieces of You” offer up a welcome throwback to some of the earlier thrash-meets-melodic stylings that earned Annihilator credibility amid a sea of copycat bands of the 1980s and early 90s. It’s always worthy of note that the introduction of bassist Rich Hinks into the studio and production sessions seems to have paid some dividends here. There’s a renewed freshness that comes with a different set of eyes and ears, and it’s welcomed at this stage in the game for a band that has seen its share of evolution.
While there are quite a few pros, it’s not all sunshine and roses. As fresh and undeniably on-point as the composition and instrumentation is, there’s a noticeable issue when it comes to songwriting. There are some groan-worthy lines throughout, but there’s one particular offender that requires extended shaming. The albums eighth track, “The Way”, is a particularly formulaic and toothless piece of work, albeit one with some impressive rockabilly-esque guitar. The lyrics, which are lazy and uninspired, are a far cry from peak Waters prowess. He can do better and shouldn’t be content to coast.
‘For The Demented’ is not the record that is going to propel Annihilator into the stratosphere, nor will it convert doubters as to who truly rules the roost when it comes to the major players of the modern day thrash movement. It is however a worthy indication of a band that has no desire to rest on its laurels. At 16 records and counting, that’s about all we can ask.
ENSLAVED – ‘E’
/// Date : 14th October, 2017 ///
‘E‘ is the fourteenth studio album by the Norwegian extreme metal band Enslaved. It was released on 13th October 2017, via record label Nuclear Blast.
Track Listing :
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:12)
03. Sacred Horse (8:12)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:49)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:32)
Bonus tracks available on the digipak :
07. Djupet (7:39)
08. What Else Is There? (Röyksopp cover) (4:44)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Enslaved have been not-so-quietly making their presence known in the extreme metal community for a full quarter century, from those early pure black metal demos ‘Nema’ and ‘Yggdrasil’ to more experimental, open ended efforts such as ‘RIITIIR’ and ‘In Times’ in recent years. Through it all the band have weathered extensive criticism over deviating from their original sound, all the while maintaining an overall sense of goodwill and artistic appreciation within the community. Unlike other genre-bending groups like Opeth, Enslaved have never fully evolved from their original black metal ethos, instead further coloring outside the monochrome palette of the genre, finding new avenues of exploration in the expansive plains of other progressive musical genres.
New band member Håkon Vinje makes his presence felt immediately with dreamy, psychedelic synth patterns and haunting backing vocals that contrast nicely with Grutle Kjellson’s patented croak (see the opening section of “Feathers of Eolh”, for instance). While songs tend to average out around the eight minute mark, each is chock full of clean, intricate riffing – we’re talking real hooks here – and intelligently plotted lyrical themes of mankind’s intertwined relationships among one another. The lyrics are backed up by a consistent musical focus that definitely makes ‘E’ seem of a piece, both reaching artistically yet also firmly grounded at the same time.
Highlights abound here, from the acid-tinged “Axis of the Worlds” to the creeping doom of “Hiindsiight”, which features an avant-garde sax solo (increasingly common in extreme metal, as is the flute accompaniment on “Feathers of Eolh”). “Storm Son” gets things off to a winding start, taking its time building up and establishing the album’s central theme, which is again one of how man interacts with and feels drawn to both his fellow man and other elements of his environment.
There’s definitely an earthiness to these six tracks (eight on the deluxe edition) that isn’t always present on prior LPs. Enslaved albums pretty much always work as a complementary unit of songs, but the half dozen tracks on ‘E’ have an intraconnectedness that strives beyond the usual thematic cohesiveness of most of the band’s material. That said, these tracks all work just fine as individual statements on their own. Any given one of these tracks could be isolated and sandwiched into a setlist paired up against nearly anything in the band’s catalog, which makes ‘E’ more a summary of Enslaved’s career to date as it is a bold step in a new direction. It’s also hands down one of the group’s more laudable achievements in a career chock full of them.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – ‘Nightbringers’
/// Date : 07th October, 2017 ///
‘Nightbringers‘ is the eighth studio album by American death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder. It was released on October 6, 2017 through Metal Blade Records. ‘Nightbringers’ became the best-selling direct-to-consumer pre-order in Metal Blade Records’ history.
Track Listing :
01. Widowmaker (3:21)
02. Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake (3:49)
03. Matriarch (3:24)
04. Nightbringers (3:35)
05. Jars (3:37)
06. Kings of the Nightworld (3:13)
07. Catacomb Hecatomb (3:37)
08. As Good as Dead (3:34)
09. The Lonely Deceased (5:06)
ALBUM REVIEW –
When it comes to melodic death metal bands, The Black Dahlia Murder have established themselves as one of the genre’s most successful and well-known groups. They do it without the clean vocals utilized by many other melodeath bands, delivering nothing but growls and screams from Trevor Strnad.
The album gets off to an impressive start with “Widowmaker”, opening with a cinematic intro before the devastation kicks in with blastbeats and aggressive vocals. The oppressive heaviness eases up for a blazing guitar solo, then the pummeling resumes anew. In addition to veteran axeman Brian Eschbach, this album is the debut of new guitarist Brandon Ellis (Arsis, Cannabis Corpse).
Vocalist Trevor Strnad made an effort to inject this album with more violence in its storytelling, with one superb example being that of “Matriarch”. The song tells the story of a woman who desperately wants her own child, and upon finding a pregnant woman, stalks her until she can rip the baby from inside her. While the band feels comfortable in skull-crushing mode, they are equally adept in amping up the melody and groove on songs such as the title track, which also includes a memorable guitar solo.
“Jars” takes a lot of The Black Dahlia Murder formula, but tosses in some elements of classic death metal. The aura of metallic blast beats weave in with stellar melodies, producing a tone that honors the likes of Morbid Angel. One of the catchiest tracks is “Kings of the Nightworld”, whose melodic riffs and fills are contrasted by the intense vocals.
The vocals are intense throughout, and the lyrics are not for the weak of heart or stomach, either. “I felt I needed to rise to the occasion to make as much of the blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrote some songs”, Strnad reveals. “I just didn’t feel like they were dark enough, or violent enough, so I was really trying to ramp up the monstrous aspects of things – the grizzlier the better!”
The band really hits their stride on the last part of the album, with the ominous “Catacomb Hecatomb”, the rifftastic and thrash influenced “As Good as Dead” and somber closer “The Lonely Deceased” that includes a brief acoustic section. At 33 minutes, they leave the audience wanting more, which is what all good entertainers do.
‘Nightbringers’ delivers all the heaviness, extremity and brutality fans of the Black Dahlia Murder have come to expect along with ample melody and first rate musicianship. It’s both punishing and engaging, an impressive combination.
CRADLE OF FILTH – ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay’
/// Date : 30th September, 2017 ///
‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay‘ is the twelfth studio album by the British extreme metal band Cradle Of Filth. It was released on 22nd September 2017 through Nuclear Blast Records.
Track Listing :
01. Exquisite Torments Await (2:15)
02. Heartbreak and Séance (6:24)
03. Achingly Beautiful (7:02)
04. Wester Vespertine (7:24)
05. The Seductiveness of Decay (7:38)
06. Vengeful Spirit (6:00)
07. You Will Know the Lion by His Claw (7:22)
08. Death and the Maiden (8:48)
ALBUM REVIEW –
For more than a quarter century, British extremists Cradle Of Filth have been unafraid to push the envelope. They helped popularize symphonic black metal in the ’90s, and visual elements have always been an important part of their style. These days, their style has more gothic elements, and they remain a polarizing band. After 2015’s very well received ‘Hammer of the Witches’, COF return with ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay’.
As to what the title means, frontman Dani Filth explains : “The album, both lyrically and artistically, is infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that. Cryptoriana implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the fervently ghoulish. The subtitle, The Seductiveness of Decay, further cements the attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation.”
The two minute opener “Exquisite Torments Await” serves as an introduction to the album, leading into “Heartbreak and Seance”, a heavy track with galloping riffs and a gothic atmosphere, topped by Filth’s growls and shrieks. This is the second album for guitarists Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Smerda, who have developed an excellent chemistry and deliver a plethora of memorable riffs, fills and solos.
Tracks like “Achingly Beautiful” blend grandiose symphonic elements and choir vocals with crushingly heavy sections. Like most of their albums, Cryptoriana’s songs are lengthy and epic, ranging from six to around nine minutes long. The ebbs and flows and shifting styles avoid any hint of dragging or overstaying their welcome.
With all the different styles on display, New Wave of British Heavy Metal probably isn’t one you’d expect, but there are moments that are downright Iron Maiden-esque on songs like “Wester Vespertine” and especially the title track. Now Filth doesn’t croon like Bruce Dickinson, but some of the guitar parts definitely have that Maiden vibe.
With Cradle Of Filth’s arrangements, there’s always a lot going on, from swirling guitars to cinematic keyboards to choirs to female vocals (including a guest appearance from former Leaves Eyes singer Liv Kristine on “Vengeful Spirit”). There’s a danger of overusing the bells and whistles and forgetting about the meat and potatoes of the song, but they strike an effective balance of atmospherics and melodies.
The album does go over the top at times, but that’s part of the plan, and part of the fun. If it’s reserved and understated you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place. ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay’ is exactly what you’d expect from Cradle Of Filth : a mix of brutality, beauty and immersive lyrics that will transport you to the Victorian era.
SATYRICON – ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’
/// Date : 23rd September, 2017 ///
‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep‘ is the ninth studio album by Norwegian black metal band Satyricon. It was released on 22nd September 2017 via Napalm Records.
Track Listing :
01. Midnight Serpent (6:21)
02. Blood Cracks Open The Ground (4:53)
03. To Your Brethren In The Dark (6:08)
04. Deep Calleth Upon Deep (4:37)
05. The Ghost Of Rome (4:27)
06. Dissonant (4:14)
07. Black Wings And Withering Gloom (7:11)
08. Burial Rite (5:43)
ALBUM REVIEW –
The band’s most recent album, 2013’s ‘Satyricon’, presented a minor comeback in the sense of greater immediacy and consistency in songcraft, but four years later ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ takes that sure-handedness and accumulated proficiency to another level.
“Midnight Serpent” is the first of a nonstop series of single-worthy tracks, effortless fusing loose strands of old black metal with more prominent strains of doom tempos, fleeting glimpses of goth metal tropes, and a central guitar riff that – given a different tone and a makeover in contextualization – would make for a hell of a deathcore tune. “To Your Brethren In the Dark” exists somewhere in the Venn diagram between old post-punk, doom-laced goth rock and guitars out of a low-key sludge tune. If that all sounds like a horrible combination, well, the genius of this album is in Satyr’s and Frost’s ability to weave seemingly contradictory, polyglot musical genres into a coherent whole.
Really, every song here is a winner, but a few stand heads and toes over others, and in addition to the two already mentioned you really need to hear the 90’s doom death spin off “The Ghost of Rome”, the epic black & roll of “Black Wings and Withering Gloom”, and the deconstructed stoner-rock-with-sax of “Dissonant”. Bonus points : Satyr’s voice is often mixed on this album similar to Ron Royce’s vocals on Grin, if there are any latter day Coroner fans in the house.
Satyricon aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but what they are doing is sourcing the spokes from as many musical milestones as possible. Often that kind of overreach results in a well-meaning if altogether bloated mess, but the sheer avoidance of anything close to self-indulgence is exactly what makes ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ a sort of quiet masterpiece.
ARCH ENEMY – ‘Will To Power’
/// Date : 09th September, 2017 ///
‘Will To Power‘ is the tenth studio album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy, released on September 8, 2017 via Century Media Records. This is the first album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis who joined the band in November 2014.
Track Listing :
01. Set Flame to the Night (instrumental) (1:18)
02. The Race (3:15)
03. Blood in the Water (3:55)
04. The World Is Yours (4:53)
05. The Eagle Flies Alone (5:15)
06. Reason to Believe (4:47)
07. Murder Scene (3:50)
08. First Day in Hell (4:48)
09. Saturnine (instrumental) (1:09)
10. Dreams of Retribution (6:40)
11. My Shadow and I (4:05)
12. A Fight I Must Win (6:37)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Bands change members all the time, but a vocalist change can be tricky. Sometimes it works well, other times not so much. Arch Enemy have managed to pull off the feat twice, first switching from Johan Liiva to Angela Gossow in 2000, and then from Gossow to Alissa White-Gluz in 2014. They were an underground band when the switch to Gossow was made, but a lot had changed by the time of the next switch. Arch Enemy had become one of extreme metal’s best-known and most successful bands, and in the age of social media the scrutiny was high.
‘War Eternal’ took on new changes in the band’s sound and chemistry, proving to be an energetic good time. Alissa White-Gluz introduced a new edge of lyricism to the band, while the group continued to show their ability in creating powerful and vibrant instrumentation. It is with this in mind that ‘Will To Power’ acts as the next step for Arch Enemy, as they amp up their sound and musicianship to new highs. It’s their first studio album with guitarist Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), who has already appeared on the live album ‘As the Stages Burn’, released earlier this year.
After a catchy introduction in “Set Flame To The Night”, the album fires out of the gate with “The Race”, which gallops along at a brisk pace and has Arch Enemy’s trademark blend of heaviness and memorable melodies. White-Gluz delivers a varied blend of growls in both low guttural and higher pitched styles. The groove amps up on “Blood in the Water”, featuring some first class guitar work. Loomis apparently didn’t participate in the songwriting on the album, but his presence is certainly felt. He’s one of the best axemen in the business, and along with Michael Amott, displays an expert command of riffs and solos.
There’s a mix here of the personal to the political when it comes to lyrics, and while portrayed in a fairly straight forward fashion, at times they can come through quite poetically. One of the strongest examples of this is in “The Eagle Flies Alone”, where White-Gluz shares some of her views on religion and empowering herself. That brings us to “Reason to Believe”, which includes clean singing and will be the most talked about track on the album.
“Murder Scene” gets the second half of the album off to a rousing start with twin leads and blazing solos. “First Day in Hell” is a slow build that has a satisfying conclusion. The final third of the disc is the most epic, with the instrumental “Saturnine” flowing into the album’s longest track, “Dreams of Retribution”. Closer “A Fight I Must Win” is also more than six and a half minutes long, with a symphonic beginning that eases into a mid-tempo melodic monster before a cinematic finish.
‘Will To Power’ is able to take those parts that were interesting in the band’s previous record, and expand them into superbly catchy and fun moments. The drum and bass work hold the foundation for a consistent weight and pounding rage, while the guitars continuously create utterly enchanting melodies and savage riffs. White-Gluz has also built upon her voice to spread across more styles and tones, while also offering a variety of storytelling through her lyricism. With this new addition to their discography, Arch Enemy continues to demonstrate how they are one of the genre’s most talented acts, creating music with remarkable force and excitement.
PARADISE LOST – ‘Medusa’
/// Date : 02nd September, 2017 ///
‘Medusa‘ is the fifteenth studio album from Yorkshire doom metal band Paradise Lost. It was released on 1st September 2017 via Nuclear Blast.
Track Listing :
01. Fearless Sky (8:30)
02. Gods of Ancient (5:50)
03. From the Gallows (3:42)
04. The Longest Winter (4:31)
05. Medusa (6:20)
06. No Passage for the Dead (4:16)
07. Blood and Chaos (3:51)
08. Until the Grave (5:41)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Paradise Lost are doom/death pioneers, and helped spawn the gothic metal genre, as well. Over the years their sound shifted in a more accessible and less extreme direction, but 2015’s ‘The Plague Within’ saw them return to their heavier roots. Not only have they continued that path with their 15th studio album ‘Medusa’, they’ve doubled down with an even heavier effort.
Starting an album with the longest track might be a risky move for some bands, but Paradise Lost have the gravitas and skill to pull it off. The eight-minute “Fearless Sky” starts deliberately with heavy plodding doom and harsh vocals, but the tempo picks up halfway through and Nick Holmes switches to melodic singing. The band’s plodding, morose side is on display on tracks like “Gods of Ancients”, while songs like “Blood and Chaos” are much more uptempo and energetic. That helps add some variety, but Paradise Lost’s bread and butter is downtempo, downbeat fare that’s laden with thick riffs and emotional vocals. Holmes does an excellent job shifting from his baritone croon to intense death growls throughout the album, with growls being heavily represented this time around.
The title track features mostly melodic singing, but songs like “No Passage For the Dead” and album closer “Until the Grave” spotlight Holmes’ aforementioned harsh vocals. And if you thought the album would end on an upbeat note, you don’t know Paradise Lost. According to Holmes, “Ideas around this song are based on : innocents lost for no reason, slaughter founded on unfounded hatred, fear, and gradual dehumanization based on lies and propaganda.”
The evolution of Paradise Lost’s sound is interesting. Usually as bands age, they mellow, either in attitude or sound. It looked like Paradise Lost were headed that way too, but their last couple albums show the band revisiting the sound of their youth while bringing the maturity and skill they’ve developed over the past three decades.
ACCEPT – ‘The Rise Of Chaos’
/// Date : 05th August, 2017 ///
‘The Rise of Chaos‘ is the fifteenth studio album by German heavy metal band Accept. It was released on August 4, 2017 via Nuclear Blast.
Track Listing :
01. Die by the Sword (5:00)
02. Hole in the Head (4:01)
03. The Rise of Chaos (5:16)
04. Koolaid (4:58)
05. No Regrets (4:20)
06. Analog Man (4:10)
07. What’s Done Is Done (4:08)
08. Worlds Colliding (4:28)
09. Carry the Weight (4:33)
10. Race to Extinction (5:24)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Accept, which has weathered and won the day amidst its own state of disorder, delivers its fourth album featuring vocalist Mark Tornillo. Those who laid bets the band would dissolve without Udo Dirkschneider in 2010 are sadly mistaken, Accept has shown immense fortitude in its second coming. Top-selling albums in Germany and Finland and top ten landings in numerous countries, Accept’s new world order has been largely positive.
Its new album, ‘The Rise of Chaos’, all but forces us to turn to the tube and consume the worldwide turmoil, dominating the daily headlines. War, terrorism, hate crimes, a cultural degeneration threatens us all as one collective human race. It gives many of us charge to act, and Accept takes up that cause to much length here.
“Die By the Sword” opens as any traditional metal album would, big-minded, grand, a would-be epic upon greeting. While not quite as explosive as initially suggested, the pump of “Die By the Sword” is checked just enough to let the riffs sing as proudly as Mark Tornillo. “Hole in the Head” rings like a 1990s Megadeth jam, as Mark Tornillo hilariously natters “I need you like a prison term, like a ball and chain, like a spike into my brain…” in a spit-filled tirade against a soured relationship. Hence, another oft-used rock and metal trope.
Accept drops a sorely needed speed bomb, “No Regrets”, to wipe off “Koolaid”‘s prickly taint. The band lyrically reverts to the inherent conscience from which this album was conceived. This illusion is cast so well you can picture yourself quickly snapping “The Rise of Chaos” over in mid-play and dropping the needle on “Analog Man”, which Markhes stoically like the leadoff cut on a second side. Take the intended old-school cue of the song, in title and in words. “What’s Done Is Done” and “Worlds Colliding” thus logically following as customary power pumpers.
“Carry the Weight” picks up the momentum once more in a slight mirror of “Wrong is Right” from ‘Metal Heart’. “Race to Extinction” wraps louder and brisker than it initially suggests, and if you’re an old-dog headbanger, you’ll be snickering at long ago debates over which side was better to albums that still stand the test of time. No further elaboration needed, on this album, side two wins out, easily.
“The Rise of Chaos” may not be the band’s finest outing with Mark Tornillo, but once it trips past its initial foils, it settles into a contented, hard-hitting groove. Wolf Hoffmann continues to show the world what a gifted guitarist he’s always been. Peter Baltes is Wolf’s last holdout following the exodus of Stefan Schwarzmann and Herman Frank—the latter’s presences are grossly missed. It’s a matter of timing from men who worked so long together that’s still being processed with Christopher Williams and Uwe Luis respectively. The new recruits prove up to the task, but even younger Accept fans will detect a glaring difference between this album and its predecessor, ‘Blind Rage’. That being said, Wolf and Peter still have a fangy pack to sustain their pride.
DECAPITATED – ‘Anticult’
/// Date : 08th July, 2017 ///
‘Anticult‘ is the seventh studio album by Polish death metal band Decapitated. The album was released on July 7, 2017 by Nuclear Blast.
Track Listing :
01. Impulse (6:02)
02. Deathvaluation (4:24)
03. Kill the Cult (4:40)
04. One-Eyed Nation (5:00)
05. Anger Line (3:45)
06. Earth Scar (5:10)
07. Never (6:05)
08. Amen (2:50)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Decapitated is among the more respected bands in the death metal scene. Any self-respecting death metalhead knows the name well and probably follows their career as well. And they’ve actually been on the scene for quite some time. So much so that they’ve gone down the route that many bands do where their signature sounds morph and change from album to album. This has definitely alienated some fans who only long for those older sounds, but the band doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. ‘Anticult’ is Decapitated’s latest release, and it might be set to alienate even more fans than before.
And if you were following Decapitated when they released a few singles ahead of ‘Anticult’ release, you might have noticed some of these aforementioned things pop up slightly. “Earth Scar”, while still very fast and heavy, definitely has a good focus on the melodic side of things. And much can be said about their other released single, “Never”, which is even slower than “Earth Scar”.
“Impulse” is the first track which opens up to lots of ambient guitars while other guitars and drums build to a really huge opening riff and is a very good summation of the sound of ‘Anticult’. It plays around with different tempos and time changes so that it’s hardly boring, and keeps you wanting to listen to hear what new developments will occur. The next two tracks, “Deathvaluation” and “Kill The Cult” follow similarly in that fashion. And it’s worth noting this sort of song structure isn’t new from the band either. We do eventually run back into “Earth Scar” and “Never”, which aren’t bad songs whatsoever. Don’t think these tracks make the album any weaker, quite the opposite, it provides variety and contrast.
‘Anticult’ continues Decapitated’s roll of evolving their sound little by little, album to album. If you’ve been a little apprehensive of their evolution, I would still suggest giving this album a shot again, or just getting over it. All good bands change somewhat in between albums, and their change has definitely not been super dramatic. And ‘Anticult’ is definitely Decapitated doing what they do best. It’s another solid album in their discography and definitely deserves a listen or several.
DYING FETUS – ‘Wrong One To Fuck With’
/// Date : 24th June, 2017 ///
‘Wrong One To Fuck With‘ is the eighth studio album by American death metal band Dying Fetus. It was released on June 23, 2017 via Relapse Records.
Track Listing :
01. Fixated on Devastation (4:05)
02. Panic Amongst the Herd (3:18)
03. Die With Integrity (5:14)
04. Reveling in the Abyss (6:29)
05. Seething With Disdain (5:32)
06. Ideological Subjugation (5:19)
07. Weaken the Structure (5:01)
08. Fallacy (4:29)
09. Unmitigated Detestation (5:20)
10. Wrong One to Fuck With (4:52)
ALBUM REVIEW –
It’s been five years since the release of ‘Reign Supreme’, Dying Fetus’ last album of original material. But to hear their latest offering, ‘Wrong One to Fuck With’, you’d think no time has passed at all. The band’s eighth album can be differentiated from its predecessors in only two ways: it is the first of Dying Fetus’ full-length releases to bear the less-legible of their two logo designs, and it is the first Dying Fetus full-length release to feature more than nine songs.
‘Wrong One to Fuck With’ can hit pretty goddamn hard. What you’ve come to expect from the band : groove, technicality and brutality are all here in spades. Opener “Fixated On Devastation” gives you a little bit of everything all at once – a tasty, shreddy riff, a funky bit of groove, blistering speed and some heavy-as-hell drumming that sounds like it’s thudding around inside your skull. It’s dizzying and satisfying. And as the track thunders forth, you can tell this album has already earned its title.
What’s always been the most tricky thing about techy albums is bringing out a cohesive, interesting whole. Something that doesn’t get so lost in its riffing that it just shoves one after the other, after the other, after the other down our throats. Dying Fetus have almost always held this balance. John Gallaghar’s frantic fretwork (the track “Reveling in the Abyss” is especially strong in this regard) and Sean Beasley’s thick bass-lines have a chemistry most bands can only dream of. Match that with Trey William’s standout drum work and it’s easy to see why ‘Wrong One to Fuck With’ works so well. Tracks like “Die With Integrity” and “Weaken the Structure” provide incredible build that only picks up more and more steam before swinging between a sinister drive and sporadic bursts of rage.
The album’s strongest song is also the only one which dares to mess, however briefly, with the Fetus formula. The title track — the aforementioned tenth, and closing, song — has what is not only the album’s best riff, but the one most likely to cause involuntary windmilling. But it’s the first part of the song, which lasts less than forty seconds, which is the most interesting.
As great as ‘Wrong One to Fuck With’ is, its fifty-minute runtime can burn you out. There is a lot crammed into these songs and as stand out as a lot of it is, it’s easy to get lost amongst the riffs and tempo changes. It lacks not for adrenaline or pure, unfiltered rage. Things just get a little on the long side, especially with over half the tracks clocking in at over five-minutes. Yeah, if you didn’t think you couldn’t do a lot with five-minutes, you clearly haven’t heard this band before.
‘Wrong One to Fuck With’ is another fantastic entry in the Dying Fetus catalog. When up against their past discography, this ranks as a damn good album. Something like a sister piece of ‘Descend Into Depravity’. But regardless of that, if you like Dying Fetus then you’ve probably already torn into this menacing motherfucker. If you haven’t, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.
MASTODON – ‘Emperor Of Sand’
/// Date : 01st April, 2017 ///
‘Emperor of Sand‘ is the seventh studio album by American metal band Mastodon. The album was released on March 31, 2017 through record label Reprise.
Track Listing :
01. Sultan’s Curse (4:09)
02. Show Yourself (3:03)
03. Precious Stones (3:46)
04. Steambreather (5:03)
05. Roots Remain (6:28)
06. Word to the Wise (4:00)
07. Ancient Kingdom (4:54)
08. Clandestiny (4:28)
09. Andromeda (featuring Kevin Sharp) (4:05)
10. Scorpion Breath (featuring Scott Kelly) (3:19)
11. Jaguar God (7:56)
ALBUM REVIEW –
‘Once More Round the Sun’ left Mastodon fans with a number of questions regarding the future of the band. Following their most “mainstream” effort to date, the Atlanta quartet received a fair amount of praise and criticism. Enter ‘Emperor of Sand’, Mastodon’s seventh studio album. Whether they meant to or not, this new album clears up some lingering questions. The direction of the band lies somewhere between full-blown mainstream and a return to roots. Mastodon has brought back the narrative-driven album, last seen on ‘Crack the Skye’.
‘Emperor of Sand’, begins with a “Curse”… and for good reason. Modern metal’s fiercest four-piece suffered a litany of tragic personal events leading up to the album’s writing process. Bassist-vocalist Troy Sanders’ wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, drummer-vocalist Brann Dailor’s mother endured chemotherapy, having battled cancer for the last 40 years, and guitarist Bill Kelliher’s mother passed away from a brain tumor.
Instead of outer space and tsarist Russia, ‘Emperor of Sand’ is set in the desert. Our protagonist is delivered a death sentence and is left to wander the endless arid landscape, representing the all-too-real hell of chemotherapy. Despite the gravity of this album, “Sultan’s Curse” immediately takes fans to riff heaven. Every note that Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds strike feels essential, as does Brann Dailor’s brilliant choice of cymbals, adding to the song’s distressing mood.
Though the lyrics to “Sultan’s Curse” are very abstract, ‘Emperor of Sand’ promptly becomes more straight-forward as “Show Yourself”, “Precious Stones” and the sludge-trudging “Steambreather” hit listeners’ eardrums. It’s Dailor, who emerges not only as Mastodon’s strongest pure singer, but one of the most refined vocalists in rock and metal’s current landscape. His soaring highs and somber crooning within “Roots Remain” are jaw-dropping, as is Dailor’s gorgeous chorus in “Word to the Wise”.
It only takes until the halfway point of ‘Emperor of Sand’ to realize how progressive the album is. Despite the album’s grievous subject matter, ‘Emperor of Sand’ shines with extreme moments of triumph on cuts like “Ancient Kingdom” and “Clandestiny” thanks to some of the highest notes Troy Sanders has ever reached for.
Much like most of Mastodon’s previous albums, ‘Emperor of Sand’ features a guest appearance from Neurosis’s Scott Kelly. His help on “Scorpion Breath” continues a tradition of Kelly on the band’s albums that started back on ‘Leviathan’. Additionally, “Andromeda” features guest vocals from Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth. These two songs are some of the heaviest moments on the album. Everything concludes with “Jaguar God”, a fitting end to a powerful album. An eight-minute track that morphs from an acoustic ballad to a cosmic banger by its conclusion.
‘Emperor of Sand’ has been 17 years in the making. Since the turn of the century, Mastodon has been one of the most prolific metal acts to come around. They have evolved from a relentless sludge band to a progressive force and now into a critically-acclaimed mainstream act. Throughout it all, the same four men have stuck together as brothers through thick and thin. This album stands as much of a testament to the band’s personal cohesion as it does the evolution of the band’s sound. Consequently, this has resulted in the band’s strongest material in a decade.
OBITUARY – ‘Obituary’
/// Date : 18th March, 2017 ///
‘Obituary‘ is the tenth studio album by American death metal band Obituary. It was released through Relapse Records on March 17, 2017.
Track Listing :
01. Brave (2:14)
02. Sentence Day (2:49)
03. A Lesson In Vengeance (3:07)
04. End It Now (4:02)
05. Kneel Before Me (3:04)
06. It Lives (3:24)
07. Betrayed (3:01)
08. Turned To Stone (4:13)
09. Straight To Hell (3:57)
10. Ten Thousand Ways To Die (3:16)
ALBUM REVIEW –
These guys are among the top tier of bands that ushered in a new chaotic age of ferocity and aggression. With each record Obituary has proven that they have no intension of ever slowing down. The new album contains all the best parts of the band, revving the excitement and adrenaline all the way. Both Kenny Andrews and Trevor Peres bring in corpse crushing grooves, with Andrews ripping sick solos at times. Terry Butler makes for some funky lines throughout and Donald Tardy delivers drumming with blistering precision. John Tardy provides solid vocals that aid flow and blend screams and grueling lows.
“Brave” begins and takes off with a standard drive. It’s a fun way to start the album and get the muscles warmed up in the pit. “Sentence Day” kicks things up a few notches thanks to some brilliant guitar moments. Andrews adds in little moments of flair that come through like lighting, all backed by berserk drumming. Towards the end Andrews goes off on this absolutely fucking wild solo that soars, swooping in at the right time to bring a crunching end. “Lesson In Vengeance” mixes up styles of the first two titles, taking its time in pace. One of the more forward jam tracks, it pops from time to time with electric excitement. “End It Now” is a balls to the wall thrash out fest. Harsh vocals pounce through crunching speeds, at times dropping into brutal growls.
In “Kneel Before Me” we get more of the same ideas found in “End It Now”. Obituary surely has their stunning moments of technical mastery, but the attitude here is more one of an immediate punch to the face. The album embodies aggression through varying means of relentless speeds, or with a slow heft that crushes the listener. From time to time there are even elements of horror like tones surrounding the music, noticeable towards the end of “Kneel Before Me”, and the beginning of “It Lives”.
Picking up with some brighter notes that carry some swing to them is “Betrayed”. It feels good with a band to let the bass get some attention, and while the record does that well in general, it came through strong here. Not only does the guitar find its way into another cool solo, but there is a funky rhythm that flows throughout, adding a splendid switch up to the chemistry.
“Turned To Stone” also caters to a beat down structure, and while this structure is common, it is never repetitive. It helps that the material at its core is full to the brim with excitement and solid fun. The two closers “Straight To Hell” and “Ten Thousand Ways To Die” set off the fire works for a terrific ending. With a range of variety in sound, both keep the listeners on their toes, while tearing at their eardrums.
Obituary have put out one hell of a record. With everything to please fans and old school death metal heads, the self-title ‘Obituary’ is a killer jam. Structure can become a little common, but not once does it ever take away from the pure bliss of rage. Devastating drive, flying solos, and harsh vocals create a whirlwind of death metal chaos that will please everyone from the beginning to the end.
SIX FEET UNDER – ‘Torment’
/// Date : 25th February, 2017 ///
‘Torment‘ is the twelfth studio album from American death metal band Six Feet Under, released on February 24, 2017 by Metal Blade Records. It is the first album to feature drummer Marco Pitruzzella.
Track Listing :
01. Sacrificial Kill (3:55)
02. Exploratory Homicide (2:45)
03. The Separation of Flesh from Bone (4:52)
04. Schizomaniac (3:54)
05. Skeleton (3:43)
06. Knife Through the Skull (3:40)
07. Slaughtered as They Slept (4:55)
08. In the Process of Decomposing (3:50)
09. Funeral Mask (3:28)
10. Obsidian (4:14)
11. Bloody Underwear (3:41)
12. Roots of Evil (4:02)
ALBUM REVIEW –
‘Torment’ is the first Six Feet Under album with some of Barnes’ touring musicians laying down the riffs and beats. Jeff Hughell (guitars) and Marco Pitruzzella (drums) have been in Six Feet Under for quite a bit. They did not however record with Barnes’ on ‘Crypt of the Devil’, with Barnes instead collaborating with Cannabis Corpse members.
Opening title “Sacrificial Kill” makes for a slow intro, only picking up just towards the end. It primarily consists of that standard chopping effect with these evenly paced vocals, leaving nothing extravagant behind. Tracks like “Exploratory Homicide” and “The Separation of Flesh from Bone” carry a bit more, allowing the guitar to go off and play with tempo. These two songs set the course for the next three tracks however. The beginning material marks a difficult time for the album, as there is a large lack of diversity. These songs cater to patterns we’ve come to already have heard, only playing around with speed ever so lightly. In the beginning the strongest part of the band is the drumming, having the most range in sounds and composition.
The second half of the album is where things begin to pick up for them. “Slaughtered As They Slept” is the first time the band brings out a killer groove. While Barnes’ vocals are somewhat tolerable here, the guitar work really takes the lead in driving this track with a fun jam. “In the Process of Decomposing” and “Obsidian” introduce haunting tones that give a strong horror vibe. Both make for some of the best drumming on the record as well, providing well timed delivery that keeps up the adrenaline. It is in this later portion where the band as a whole really shines and comes through clearer and louder. With each title the album offers something fresh, the intensity at great highs and the music grooving with eeriness.
‘Torment’ is far from the best thing that Six Feet Under has ever done. It suffers from an odd opening that requires listeners to get acquainted with a new sound unlike anything from previous work. Once one works their way to the halfway point, Six Feet Under hone in on what makes them a great death metal band. The sinister grooves, tone, and hectic delivery make for good times that are surely to rip at some skin. It is a shame however that the whole album could not provide the same energy found in the later portion.
OVERKILL – ‘The Grinding Wheel’
/// Date : 11th February, 2017 ///
‘The Grinding Wheel‘ is the eighteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill. It was released through Nuclear Blast on February 10, 2017.
Track Listing :
01. Mean Green Killing Machine (7:29)
02. Goddamn Trouble (6:21)
03. Our Finest Hour (5:49)
04. Shine On (6:03)
05. The Long Road (6:45)
06. Let’s All Go to Hades (4:55)
07. Come Heavy (4:59)
08. Red White And Blue (5:05)
09. The Wheel (4:51)
10. The Grinding Wheel (7:55)
ALBUM REVIEW –
Aside from adding a heavy dose of groove back in the early 90’s, the band have never really deviated from their no-frills brand of gremlin-voiced, hook-driven thrash. The very appeal of Overkill is that they act as a stalwart anchor in an ever shifting metal landscape, where artistic credibility is often judged these days in experimentation, often to a degree where the end product ventures further and further from anything properly metal at all.
‘The Grinding Wheel’ is, remarkably, the group’s 18th studio album – consider the output of other contemporaries like Metallica (10), Anthrax (11) and Testament (11) – and the even more remarkable thing is that the band have yet to lose their step. A big part of that vitality no doubt lies in the occasional fresh injections of new talent : singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni are the sole remaining original members, with the next most elder member of the band joining in 1999 and the newest in 2005. Which means that this current incarnation has been playing together for well over a decade, and the chemistry shows.
Ron Lipnicki kicks off album opener “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” with a propulsive double kick drum beat that almost demands the exact riff that Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk soon swoop in with. The deluxe edition boasts a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” that features some pulse-racing dual guitar action, and the start/stop groove of “Our Finest Hour” gives D.D. Verni a chance to pair with Lipnicki on some nifty fills. Throughout it all Ellsworth wails over the top like a man deeply pissed off, but just Dyonisian enough to have fun with it all.
Since there isn’t a lot of musical variation from one Overkill album to the next – the best way to assess one Overkill album against another is in the number of instant classics it adds to the catalog. The band have been on a tear this past decade, so it’s difficult to say this record is objectively better than the few preceding it, but with a wealth of anthemic songs like “Goddamn Trouble”, the low-key bravura of “Shine On”, and the epic, old school build of the 8-minute title track, ‘The Grinding Wheel’ is every bit the equal of late period fan favorites ‘White Devil Armory’ and ‘The Electric Age’.
Why Overkill has remained relegated to the second tier since thrash’s beginnings is perhaps attributable to the revolving door madhouse that once plagued the band. Overkill has long been on solid ground, and, if anything, the band has proven this lineup can take on, much less defeat just about anyone in its way. ‘The Grinding Wheel’ well surpasses the recent offerings by the Big Four, noble as most of the latter’s recent offerings have been.
KREATOR – ‘Gods Of Violence’
/// Date : 28th January, 2017 ///
‘Gods Of Violence‘ is the fourteenth studio album by the German thrash metal band Kreator. It was released through Nuclear Blast on January 27, 2017.
Track Listing :
01. Apocalypticon (1:06)
02. World War Now (4:28)
03. Satan Is Real (4:38)
04. Totalitarian Terror (4:45)
05. Gods of Violence (5:51)
06. Army of Storms (5:09)
07. Hail to the Hordes (4:02)
08. Lion with Eagle Wings (5:22)
09. Fallen Brother (4:37)
10. Side by Side (4:19)
11. Death Becomes My Light (7:26)
ALBUM REVIEW –
More than three decades into a career, it would be easy for a band to rest on its laurels and live on past glory and reputation. But that’s not how Kreator are wired. The Teutonic thrash titans don’t take anything for granted, striving to release new material that’s worthy to stand alongside their impressive body of past work. And that’s exactly what they have done with their latest album ‘Gods of Violence’.
After a short cinematic intro track, Gods Of Violence‘s first proper song is “World War Now,” which begins with an uptempo dose of old school thrash with galloping riffs and thundering drums from Ventor. It eases back into a more moderate pace and a memorable chorus. When it comes to pacing, Kreator realize you don’t have to play at a thousand miles per hour all the time. They are fully capable of a bludgeoning thrash attack with screaming solos and no restraint, but also dial it back when needed into a moderate groove, which gives the album a lot of texture and variety.
That’s exemplified on the title track, which has an acoustic intro with some Middle Eastern flavor before the thrash kicks in. There’s a killer guitar solo as well, with Mille Petrozza and Sammi Yi-Sirnio bringing a high level of musicianship throughout the whole record. Petrozza’s vocals are edgy, whether he’s delivering harsh thrash style barks or singing melodically. Some may find the repetitive melodic chorus of “Satan Is Real” to be ominous, but even if you find it cheesy, Petrozza’s delivery is convincing.
“Lion With Eagles Wings” is the album’s most dynamic composition, moving from a mellow intro to a blazing thrash section to a melodic groove and back again. The album closes with the impressive “Death Becomes My Light”, an epic seven-plus-minute track with both subtle and soaring moments and even a hint of prog.
It had been nearly five years since Kreator’s last studio album, and even though there have been a couple live albums and a compilation released since then, fans have been hungry for new material. It was worth the wait, as ‘Gods of Violence’ adds to their long and successful legacy, and Kreator remain a vital and relevant musical force.
SEPULTURA – ‘Machine Messiah’
/// Date : 14th January, 2017 ///
‘Machine Messiah‘ is the fourteenth studio album by the Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura. It was released on January 13, 2017 via record label Nuclear Blast.
Track Listing :
01. Machine Messiah (5:54)
02. I Am the Enemy (2:27)
03. Phantom Self (5:30)
04. Alethea (4:31)
05. Iceberg Dances (4:41)
06. Sworn Oath (6:09)
07. Resistant Parasites (4:58)
08. Silent Violence (3:46)
09. Vandals Nest (2:47)
10. Cyber God (5:22)
ALBUM REVIEW –
For more than three decades, Sepultura have been flying the flag for Brazilian metal. ‘Machine Messiah’ is their 14th studio album, and the eighth of the Derrick Green era. This time around they worked with producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Kreator).
Sepultura have always explored a lot of different styles and genres, and that trend continues on ‘Machine Messiah’. They throw a bit of a curveball with the album opening title track. Instead of blasting out of the gate, they stroll slowly, easing into things with a mellow intro and reserved melodic vocals from Green. The song does eventually kick in and incorporate potent growls. The second track “I Am The Enemy” would have been the obvious choice for an opener. It is a ripper with galloping riffs, passionate vocals and a run time just over two minutes. Throughout the album, Sepultura shift from straightforward old-school grooves to more progressive and experimental compositions. The clouting percussion and synthesized cinematic swirls opening “Phantom Self” ring like a bell from a James Bond flick.
One thing that doesn’t change is Kisser’s skillful guitar work. Whether he’s blazing along at maximum velocity or exploring progressive territory, it’s creative and flawlessly played. Songs like “Alethea” and the instrumental “Iceberg Dances” that incorporates acoustic parts really showcase his chops. This is drummer Eloy Casagrande’s second album with Sepultura, and he has stepped up his game this time around. The cinematic “Sworn Oath” has Green’s harsh vocals, while “Vandals Nest” features some excellent singing along with his growls.
Paulo Jr.’s tickling bass gives “Resistant Parasites” skulking groove a ticked-off snarl. The heaping guitars and orchestral plants elevate the song higher than anyone could’ve expected within its first few bars. It makes the switched-up thrash and mosh madness of “Silent Violence” even more powerful. The closing track “Cyber God” incorporates a plethora of vocal styles and metallic grooves.
While there are some epic moments on ‘Machine Messiah’, it’s relatively streamlined at 47 minutes. The disc is a step up from 2013’s ‘The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’. Also it is one of Sepultura’s best releases during Green’s time with the band.