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Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of February 24, 2015
February 25th, 2015 at 8:47am
Aktor – ‘Paranoia’ - High Roller Records

Aktor – ‘Paranoia’. High Roller Records

Aktor – ‘Paranoia’ (High Roller)

Genre: Heavy Metal
Chris Black is constantly moving forward, as his work ethic is commendable. After High Sprits and Dawnbringer releases in 2014 he is back with his latest creationAktor. Their debut release Paranoia is rooted in psychedelic tendencies and heavily influenced by ‘70s progressive rock. Aktor are more suited in the rock world and is the least heavy of all of Black’s projects.

As always, Black’s melodies are infectious and seep into your consciousness the more you hear them. Opener “Devil and Doctor,” “Where Is Home” and “Gone Again” are recognizably stamped with Black’s memorable melodies. Black has an amazing ability that allows for all of his bands to have a similar feel while still retaining a unique identity.

Rating: 4
(Dan Drago)

Astral Blood - ‘Astral Blood’ - Tridroid Records

Astral Blood – ‘Astral Blood’. Tridroid Records

Astral Blood – ‘Astral Blood’ (Tridroid)

Genre: Black Metal
Prepare thy sacrifice for the glory of Astral Blood and their self-titled debut EP! Okay, so you don’t have to kill for it, but it’s definitely worth some pain. This Minnesota-based black metal group makes quite an impression over 16 necrotic minutes. Most of Astral Blood moves at mid-paced-to-quicker speeds but when they kick into high gear things get absolutely frigid.

They use just the right amount of symphonic keys to make it sound epic without going over the top. The keys bleed atmosphere and majesty over merciless black metal. A strange, haunting and oddly sensual spoken word interlude slides in with Holly Axelrod’s poetic narration. Astral Blood’s tempered theatrics and scathing delivery definitely deserve your attention.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Atomic Aggressor - 'Sights of Suffering’ - Hells Headbangers Records

Atomic Aggressor – ‘Sights of Suffering’. Hells Headbangers Records

Atomic Aggressor – ‘Sights of Suffering’ (Hells Headbangers)

Genre: Death Metal
Chilean old school death metal upstartsAtomic Aggressor bring the pain like it is still the late 1980s. They are riding a strong wave that could be classified asAltars Of Madness but with a renewed fervor that showcases a modern sharpness combined with the wonderfully old school.

They pull together elements of the strong roots of South American death metal, whether it be their fellow countrymen in Pentagram or the forefathers the likes of Sarcofago and Sepultura. A great debut from a band that pays homage to their roots without falling victim to copyright infringement; fans of OSDM will dig this album very much.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Below The Sun - ‘Envoy’ - Temple Of Tortuous Records

Below The Sun – ‘Envoy’. Temple Of Tortuous Records

Below The Sun – ‘Envoy’ (Temple of Torturous)

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Below the Sun’s aim is to transcend past space and dimensions with this enthralling release. Sludgy, yet ever-evolving, riffs stretch to gargantuan lengths (sometimes too long). There’s a gravitas to the songwriting that makes each minute seem as if it’s building to a formidable conclusion.

The unintelligible growls and bellows become a distraction from the transcendent music. Honestly, the album would’ve been better without them. The band thrives in a minimalistic environment, where words aren’t a required means of expression. When the album reaches those points, as it does on the last two tracks, that’s when the group turns into a substantial entity.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Carach Angren - 'This Is No Fairytale' - Season Of Mist

Carach Angren – ‘This Is No Fairytale’. Season Of Mist

Carach Angren – ‘This Is No Fairytale’ (Season Of Mist)

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
The Dutch metal outfit Carach Angren are back once again with their blend of furious blast beats and landscape orchestrations. Their fourth full length This is No Fairy Tale is a conceptual story that deals with abuse, deprivation and seclusion. A straight up horror, it unfolds as a fairy tale dealing with two children’s adventures to break away from darkness.

The story flows like a King Diamond penned effort where narration and the common thread between songs work seamlessly to create an eerie atmosphere. A cinematic feeling permeates throughout as the symphonic elements work congruently with the thematic aspect. Another powerful frightening tale that Carach Angren have become masters at portraying.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Chiefs - ‘Tomorrow’s Over’ - Roosevelt Row Records

Chiefs – ‘Tomorrow’s Over’. Roosevelt Row Records

Chiefs – ‘Tomorrow’s Over’ (Roosevelt Row)

Genre : Stoner Rock
Formerly Phoenix, Arizona’s bohemian Roosevelt Row house band, Chiefs move to San Diego to go where the buffalo roam, or so they offer in Tomorrow’s Over’s first song “Buffalo Roam.” The chunky desert rock riffs and thick brown sound give the Chiefs a signature stoner spirit. As the album sinks in it becomes apparent that Tomorrow’s Over isn’t a haphazard title but rather a subtle nod to the doomier elements buried in all the sludge. 

“Tesla” generates an electrical crispiness to the overall crunch of the album. “1999” is one year minus a Y2K meltdown, and if not for the weakness of the album’s vocals, the song would have brought down all the wine bars in La Jolla with an apoplectic genre-busting burst. Cali sunshine with a heart of darkness delivered through the vocal delivery of William Ginsberg, while beatniks wrestle hippies for the best hash all makes for a curious rush.

Rating 3.5
(Todd Lyons)

Crypt Sermon - ‘Out of the Garden’ - Dark Descent Records

Crypt Sermon – ‘Out of the Garden’. Dark Descent Records

Crypt Sermon – ‘Out of the Garden’ (Dark Descent)

Genre: Doom Metal
This debut album checks off the essential qualities of doom: ascending melodic vocals, fret-scorching guitar leads, mythical reverie. All of them done with a nod to groups like Candlemass and Saint Vitus, without directly mimicking those timeless acts.

Though there a few quicker moments in “Heavy Riders,” the album functions in a blissful mid-tempo style. The lofty ambition of the eight-minute “Into the Holy of Holies”—the tender acoustic beginning picking up to a joyful main riff—is an accurate depiction ofCrypt Sermon’s range. The band isn’t reshaping the genre, but their inspired work instills confidence for their subsequent releases.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Dr. Living Dead – ‘Crush the Sublime Gods’ - Century Media Records

Dr. Living Dead – ‘Crush the Sublime Gods’. Century Media Records

Dr. Living Dead – ‘Crush the Sublime Gods’ (Century Media)

Genre: Thrash Metal/Hardcore
Combining the riffs of thrash metal with the attitude and aggression of hardcore is the path that Sweden’s Dr. Living Deadhave been exploring throughout their career. Back with their third release Crush the Sublime Gods, it’s their first with a new vocalist and drummer. The production is light years better than their previous releases as the guitars are incredibly thick and heavy.

New vocalist Dr. Mania is much closer in style to Suicidal Tendencies singer Mike Muir as he perfectly executes not only his hardcore bark but also his unique melodic vocals. There are also hints of Spreading the Disease era Anthrax with a healthy dose of D.R.I. as well. When they tap into their metal roots is when the band is at their best.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Eclipse – ‘Armageddonize’ - Frontiers Records

Eclipse – ‘Armageddonize’. Frontiers Records

Eclipse – ‘Armageddonize’ (Frontiers)

Genre: Hard Rock
Coming off the critically acclaimed Bleed & Scream, Sweden’s Eclipse have returned three years later withArmageddonize. Equal in stature, the release is filled with massive hooks, grandiose vocal melodies and tight musicianship. They have developed a mature AOR sound that has much more in common with Whitesnake than the countless hair bands of the ‘80s.

The record starts off with a bang as “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry” is remarkably catchy with hooks that will remain long after the song has ended. Armageddonize is an instantly accessible affair that finds the band bringing energy and strong songwriting to the table once again.

Rating: 4
(Dan Drago)

Falling in Reverse - ‘Just Like You’ - Epitaph Records

Falling in Reverse – ‘Just Like You’. Epitaph Records

Falling in Reverse – ‘Just Like You’ (Epitaph)

Genre: Metalcore
Falling in Reverse, from the strip club capital of the world, Las Vegas, do a nice strip down with band interaction on Just Like You.  Basically a solo outing for Ronnie Radke, the best songs “Chemical Prisoner” and “Brother” act as bookends for an unremarkable example of metalcore.

“Just Like You” goes American Idiot with the awful hit single’s precious corollary that he, Ronnie, is an a–hole just like you. What can be said about any metal album that uses “OMG” in a couple of its song’s lyrics? Embarrassing. Better than their last album, the dreadful Fashionably Late, this contribution to the arts will  end up high on the sales charts.

Rating: 2
(Todd Lyons)

New Heavy Metal Album Releases: February 24, 2015
February 24th, 2015 at 7:30am

New Metal ReleasesAethyr – Corpus (Cimmerian Shade)
The Agonist – Eye of Providence (Century Media)
Aktor – Paranoia (High Roller)
All That Remains – The Order of Things (Razor & Tie)
Andsolis – Vigil (Quality Steel)
Ashes In Vein – Ashes In Vein (Pavement)
Astral Blood – Astral Blood EP (Tridroid)
Atomic Aggressor – Sights of Suffering (Hells Headbangers)
An Autumn For Crippled Children – The Long Goodbye (Wicker Man)
Bedemon – Child of Darkness (Relapse)
Below The Sun – Envoy (Temple Of Tortuous)
Benighted – Brutalive the Sick DVD (Season of Mist)
Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
Burweed – Hide (Inverse)
Carach Angren – This Is No Fairy Tale (Season Of Mist)
Chiefs – Tomorrow’s Over (Roosevelt Row)
Crest of Darkness – Evil Messiah EP (My Kingdom)
Crimson Wind – Last Poetry Line (Pitch Black)
Crypt Sermon – Out Of The Garden (Dark Descent)
Dead End – Forever Is Not Eternal (Vic)
Deadstar Assembly – Blame It On The Devil (Standby)
Dr. Living Dead – Crush The Sublime Gods (Century Media)
Eclipse – Armageddonize (Frontiers)
Endlesshade – Wolf Will Swallow The Sun (Rain Without End)
Ensiferum – One Man Army (Metal Blade)
Eternal Tapestry – Wild Strawberries (Thrill Jockey)
Falling In Reverse – Just Like You (Epitaph)
Fashion Week – Pret-a-Porter (Solar Flare)
Fetid Zombie – Grotesque Creation (Metalhit)
Furyon – Lost Salvation (Dream)
Gian – All Life Erased (Inverse)
Goat Semen – Ego Svm Satana (Hells Headbangers)
Graveyard After Graveyard – Hellhound On My Trail (Chaos)
Griever – Our Love Is Different (Vitriol)
Hacavitz – Darkness Beyond (Dark Descent)
Halshug – Blodets Band (Southern Lord)
Human Waste – Harvest Remnants (Xtreem)
The Inspector Cluzo – Gasconha Rocks (Suicidal)
Izah – Sistere (Nordvis)
Johansson & Speckmann – Mask Of The Treacherous (Vic)
Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology (Indie)
Krysantemia – Finis Dierum (Memorial)
Legion of Andromeda – Iron Scorn (At War With False Noise / Unholy Anarchy)
Malsanctum – Metamorbid Fetishization (Iron Bonehead)
Mangled – Through Ancient Times (Vic)
Nasty – Shokka (Good Fight)
Necrowretch – With Serpents Scourge (Century Media)
New Plague – New Plague EP (Fly The Light)
Oceans Ate Alaska – Lost Isles (Fearless)
Pelican – The Cliff EP (Southern Lord)
Prophasis – Boundaries (Imminence)
Red – Of Beauty and Rage (Sony)
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints (Frontiers)
Riti Occulti – Riti Occulti Re-Release (Noravind)
Rob Zombie – Spookshow International Live (Universal)
Ruby The Hatchet – Valley of the Snake (Tee Pee)
Six of Swords – Polar Vortex EP (Sorrow Carrier)
Skeyes – Empty Mirrors EP (Imminence)
Skogen – Vittra Re-Release (Nordvis)
Solefald – World Metal Kosmopolis Sud (Indie)
Soundcrawler – The Dead-End Host (Klonosphere)
Terror Empire – The Empire Strikes Black (Nordavind)
Them Country Bastardz – Sick Daze (Smokehouse)
Torche – Restarter (Relapse)
Uriah Heep – Live at Koko (Frontiers)
Vassafor / Temple Nightside – Call of the Maelstrom Split (Iron Bonehead)
Warhorse – As Heaven Turns To Ash Re-Release (Southern Lord)
The Whorehouse Massacre – Altar Of The Goat Skull/VI (Transcending Obscurity)
The Wolf Council – The Wolf Council (Static Tensions)

Snot Footage Of Entire London Concert
February 24th, 2015 at 7:22am
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Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of February 17, 2015
February 18th, 2015 at 9:53am

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – 'Split' - Broken Limbs Recordings

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – ‘Split’. Broken Limbs Recordings

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – ‘Split’ (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Black Metal
Broken Limbs Recordings present an excellent split featuring black metal actsBarshasketh and Void Ritual. Barshasketh began in New Zealand but now (as a full band) calls Scotland home. Their two songs, both breaking the eight minute mark, are full of swarming guitars, blistering tremolos and the expected black metal snarl. That venom balances with slower, more melodic, emotional movements as well, all with subtle ancient undertones.

Albuquerque’s Void Ritual take the b-side with three tracks dedicated to various cults. Lone member Daniel Jackson’s snarl falls more on the death metal end but his black metal is white hot. Ungodly swift, the melodies sit lower in the mix teased out by atmosphere. It’s a devastating display from one of USBM’s up-and-comers.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’ - Made In China

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’. Made In China

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’ (Made In China)

Genre: Stoner Metal
Portland, Oregon’s Black Pussy are back on top with a killer slab of new tunes called Magic Mustache. Featuring tight, ’70s guitar riffs and trippy keys, these guys know how to get things done. “Let’s Start A War” gets things going with a stoned out intro that gives way to a bluesy, Kyuss-like riff. This goodness is just the beginning.

Black Pussy worship Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. You’d swear that “For The Sake Of Argument” was a song that didn’t make it onto QOTSA’s Rated R. At the same time, they incorporate enough riffs and late ’60s/early ’70s organ tones of their own to give this record an original and unique sound. Throughout the ten songs that make up Magic Mustache, they never once falter. Stand out tracks include “Protopipe” and “Lions Breath.”

Rating: 4.5
(Ken Kopija)

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ - Neurot Recordings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’. Neurot Recordings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ (Neurot)

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal   
It has been almost 15 years since Tad Doyle put out a record. While I would prefer not to wait this long in between his releases, this new endeavor with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is well worth the wait.Brothers of the Sonic Cloth hands down features Tad’s heaviest work to date. The opening track “Lava” is proof of this, while it sets the monumental pace for the destruction to come; it just gets heavier from there.

Featuring veteran bassist Peggy Doyle and Dave French (The Anunnaki) on drums, this well-oiled machine pull you in and trudge effortlessly through five thick tracks of dark, apocalyptic sludge ridden doom. You cannot escape, and you do not want to. This debut is only the beginning of great things to come. One hundred words is nowhere near enough characters to do this record justice.

Rating: 4.5
(Ken Kopija)

CDC – ‘End’ - Get This Right Records

CDC – ‘End’. Get This Right Records

CDC – ‘End’ (Get This Right)

Genre: Hardcore
Pennsylvania DIY hardcore quartet CDChave returned with their first release in five years, End. An uncompromising display of brutally honest angst, held together by an ‘in your face’ vocal performance that does not get lost on the record, END features great 4/4 hardcore anthems, as well as an impressive closer; ‘Temple’ which takes the band into a melodic territory that is not out of place.
With this impressive EP, fans should be excited as to what else CDC will come up with in the future.

Rating: 3.5
(Edward Banchs)

Death Karma – 'The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1' - Iron Bonehead Recordings

Death Karma – ‘The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1′. Iron Bonehead Recordings

Death Karma – ‘The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1′ (Iron Bonehead)

Genre: Death Metal
The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1 is the debut full length from Czech duo Death Karma which is comprised of two members of Cult of Fire. Knowing that last fact it should come as no surprise that these six tracks are swollen with grandiosity and worldly affectations.

Each song talks about rituals from different countries (Slovakia, Madagascar, Mexico, Czech Republic, India and China), but you’ll need a lyric sheet to get the full picture. On the musical side it’s a fusion of death and black metal with Hammond organs providing a sense of doom and atmosphere. Brutality and power decay alongside melody, majesty and complication. It’s a break from the norm actually quite brilliant.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’ - Selfmadegod Records

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’. Selfmadegod Records

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’ (Selfmadegod)

Genre: Technical Death Metal
While they aren’t as flashy and as kinetic as the long-hairs that haunt the United States west coast, Polish technical death metal band Deivos have been definite mainstays in the subgenre since their 2006 debut, Emanation from Below. Nine years later and the quintet are back at it with their fourth cut, Theodicy, an unorthodox joyride of endless tempo changes spread across a quasi-industrial backdrop.

Interspersed with electronic passages, Deivos deliver fine-tuned death metal that hits on many of the Polish scene staples—creative and winding guitar work; audible, voluble bass; decipherable textbook roaring; and relentless octopod drumming. At only six tracks in length, Theodicy utilizes its time with deadly efficiency, stocked with riffs and patterns that, while not always show-stopping, remain consistently and heavily effective. Recommended for those who enjoyed Souls of Damnation-era Blood Red Throne.

Rating: 4
(Evan Mugford)

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – 'Collaboration' - Handshake, Inc.

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – ‘Collaboration’. Handshake, Inc.

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – ‘Collaboration’ (Handshake Inc.)

Genre: Grindcore
This isn’t so much a split as it is aCollaboration between Finland’s Haapojaand Greece’s Dephosphorus. On each lead track the bands trade vocalists and there’s some crossover with guitarists as well. Specifically Haapoja’s Pekka Kivela’s solo on Dephosphorus’s “Shades of Reality” which is dedicated to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman.

Other than the sharp Slayer flavour on “Shades,” Dephosphorus continue to impress with their “astrogrind”. The percussion is insane. There’s groove buried in there of the neck-snappin’, break something, hardcore variety. And the impassioned vocals can keep you up at night. The vocals are equally as intense on the Haapoja side. However, they’re backed by a fuzzier tone and restless riffage bleeding black metal over their ADHD-friendly grind. It’s a complementary collaboration yielding intense results.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Ecnephias - 'Ecnephias' - My Kingdom Music

Ecnephias – ‘Ecnephias’. My Kingdom Music

Ecnephias – ‘Ecnephias’ (My Kingdom)

Genre: Death/Gothic Metal
The fifth album from the Italian bandEcnephias is a self-titled affair. The band’s brand of dark metal combines gothic and death metal elements.

The songs are melodic and atmospheric and infused with plenty of melancholy, which is heightened by the baritone singing vocals. There are also more extreme parts with death metal vocals and added intensity. They smoothly transition between styles, with plenty of lengthy instrumental sections that help bridge the gaps. It is a long album at nearly 70 minutes, making it a daunting but enjoyable listen.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Furor Gallico - 'Songs From The Earth' - Scarlet Records

Furor Gallico – ‘Songs From The Earth’. Scarlet Records

Furor Gallico – ‘Songs From The Earth’ (Scarlet)

Genre: Folk Metal
Nearly five years after their debut, Italian folksters Furor Gallico return with Songs From The Earth. The 8 piece band utilizes instruments such as violin, tin whistle, Celtic harp and bouzouki.

Their style ranges from soothing to raucous. Mellow acoustic sections ramp up into upbeat jam sessions. The vocals are diverse as well, utilizing melodic singing, harsh yells and death metal growls in multiple languages. They aren’t as well known as some of their folk metal brethren, but Furor Gallico have delivered an entertaining and enjoyable sophomore album.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Harrow - 'Fallow Fields' - Broken Limbs Recordings

Harrow – ‘Fallow Fields’. Broken Limbs Recordings

Harrow – ‘Fallow Fields’ (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Blackened Folk Metal
Fallow Fields is the third full-length album from Harrow, who hail from British Columbia, Canada. The band mixes folk elements with atmospheric black metal.

There are only four songs on the album, but each one is an epic, ranging from about 9 to 14 minutes in length. Every track is diverse, with ebbs and flows between mellow folk and more extreme black metal. Singing and rasping vocals add even more contrast. The ever-shifting nature of the songs avoids monotony, holding interest throughout.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

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