The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
The Acacia Strain – ‘Coma Witch’ (Rise)
Genre: Death Metal/Hardcore
Longtime deathcore purveyors The Acacia Strain are back with their seventh full-length release in Coma Witch, a bleak, vitriolic, and pummeling ode to the chug-goddess that witnesses the addition of two new guitarists and the departure of original axe-hacker Daniel ‘DL’ Laskiewicz.
The band’s penchant for ominous notes and colossal rhythms remains viciously intact, but The Acacia Strain’s complacency towards the writing process ultimately delivers little more than burly roars and indistinguishable down-tuned hammering, resulting in an album that feels far too tedious and one-dimensional. By the time the red-cheeked chest-beating has all but dispersed, the monstrous and promising doom-closer “Observer” tries its best to inject some much-needed hot air into this deflated witch.
At Dusk – ‘Anhedonia’ (Broken Limbs)
Genre: Black Metal
At Dusk, a one-man project from California, stays confined to a raw emotional state throughout these four tracks. The black metal is on the melancholy side, a depressing atmosphere even with sparse piano and organ accompaniment. The musician behind this band, Korihor, screams and shrieks until it seems like his voice is ready to give out.
Every bit of himself is left in these recordings, and it’s almost like we are peering through the eyes of a figure succumbed to a torturous life. Anhedonia is a striking debut that will be difficult for many to get into, but through the struggle will come a grim satisfaction.
Baptists – ‘Bloodmines’ (Southern Lord)
Genre: Metallic Hardcore
Bloodmines is the second album from the Canadian band Baptists, and like their debut, it’s a punishing and furious slab of noisy metallic hardcore.
Most songs gallop along at a brisk pace with plenty of aggression and emotional vocals. The band varies the tempo and intensity to avoid monotony and create a more well-rounded effort, even getting into doom territory on a couple of tracks. They weave melody and groove into the cathartic songs, making for an album that will both crush and stay stuck in your skull.
Better Left Unsaid – ‘The Reisssues’ (InGrooves)
Genre: Heavy Metal
As you can garner from the title,Reissues gathers older material from Calfiornia’s Better Left Unsaid along with some newly released goodies.
The collection includes 2010’s Only The Dead To Witness and 2013’s self-titled album. In addition, there are a couple previously unreleased songs and several demos. The band’s sound is aggressive and groovy with thick riffs. They are at their best when the intensity is ratcheted up and the vocals are harsh. The more ‘core influenced tracks with singing vocals are effective as well, just not as potent.
Calm Hatchery – ‘Fading Reliefs’ (Selfmadegod)
Genre: Death Metal
As technically proficient and musically pounding as you’d expect from a Polish death metal band, Calm Hatchery’sthird full-length Fading Reliefs takes no prisoners. Like early Decapitated and Lost Soul, it’s a very riffy, death-by-decibels affair that offers very little in the way of respite.
They expend enough energy to power a small city but when all is said and done only the choppy riffs of “Luminous Bardo Transition” (very reminiscent of Nile’s “Lashed to the Slave Stick”) stood out from the din. Serviceable, but too one-dimensional in its assault.
Cara Neir/Venowl – ‘Split’ (Broken Limbs)
It’s hard to make sense of this split as each side is so different than the other. Crusty Texan duo Cara Neir take the “A” side with three tracks. One sees their speedfreak blackened crust punk take center stage. The second is all about the post-metal melodies and clean half-spoken vocals. It sounds more like Explosions In The Sky than just explosions. The third and longest blend the two previous adding artfulness and epicness.
Illinois-based Venowl contribute a 20-minute live track of droning, filthy noise/doom. Groaning feedback and stabbing, murderous downstrokes punctuate the formless noise. Torturous, haunted screams howl from beneath a hidden sub-basement. You can practically taste the feral energy. Trying to wrap your head around this is gonna hurt.
Drone – ‘Drone’ (Metalville)
The latest album from the German band Drone is a self-titled effort. They are influenced by classic Teutonic thrash, but also metalcore and groove metal.
The songs have galloping thrash riffs, but also mid-tempo grooves and periodic breakdowns. The vocals combine singing and screaming. It’s an interesting combination of styles, from ’80s thrash to Pantera-style grooves to modern metalcore. They do a good job keeping things cohesive, and the songwriting diversity has improved since their last album.
Eden Circus – ‘Marula’ (Lifeforce)Drone – ‘Drone’
Genre: Melodic Post Metal
On their debut release Marula, Eden Circus play on the listener’s emotions by creating a haunting atmosphere and riveting dynamics. They focus on esoteric chord phrasings and do an excellent job of shifting time signatures. If you combine the best elements of Ghost Brigade and Tool, you would get a clear picture of their direction.
The songwriting is ambitious and complex in nature. Most of the material cracks the six-minute mark and demands the listener’s attention. The songwriting unravels itself the more you listen as the layers continue to reveal themselves. Not overly heavy but the excellent use of dynamics makes for an appealing release.
Favorite Weapon – ‘Sixty Saragossa’ (Rise)
After the demise of Woe, Is Me last year, vocalist Hance Alligood has formed the new project Favorite Weapon. Their debut album Sixty Saragossa incorporates some elements of metalcore along with a mainstream flavor.
The vocals are mostly melodic, with a few screams here and there. The songs are extremely catchy with accessible melodies. Some tracks have beefy guitars and are in in the hard rock realm, but others are straight up rock with some ’90s pop/punk vibes.
Hang the Bastard – ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle’ (Siege Of Amida/Century Media)
Genre: Stoner Metal/Sludge Metal
If it wasn’t easy to genre-tag England’sHang the Bastard before, their latest release Sex in the Seventh Circle makes it even trickier. Bassist-turned-vocalist Tomas Hubbard has helped redefine the band’s stoner-sludge sound with his brand of crackling and acerbic black metal screeches; a distinction that may divide the HTB camps who preferred the original roars of former frontman Christopher Barling.
The result, thankfully, is still a heavy ride. Stoked with rolling grooves and doom-drenched chords, Hang the Bastard’s energy remains a selling point, even if the tracks tend to blur from all the southern-fried smoke. Simon Grubb’s power drumming remains a game-changer, and the band’s take on acid rock with “Mists of Albion” is conquered nicely, not to mention a cool change of pace.
The Acacia Strain – Coma Witch (Rise)
Ancient VVisdom – Sacrificial (Magic Bullet)
Arabrot – I Modi EP (Fysisk Format)
At Dusk – Anhedonia (Broken Limbs)
Audio Porn – Midnight Confessions (JK)
Aurin – Catharsis (Pavement)
Baptists – Bloodmines (Southern Lord)
Beastmilk – Use Your Deluge EP Re-Release (Magic Bullet)
Better Left Unsaid – The Reissues(InGrooves)
Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti)
Calm Hatchery – Fading Reliefs(Selfmadegod)
Cara Neir / Venowl – Split (Broken Limbs)
Chasing Safety – Season Of The Dead(Outer Loop)
Climates – Bodyclocks (Artery)
Cognition – Cognition (JK)
Crone – Gehenna EP (Prophecy)
Drone – Drone (Metalville)
Dystopia – Human = Garbage Re-Release (Tankcrimes)
Eden Circus – Marula (Lifeforce)
Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast)
Favorite Weapon – Sixty Saragossa (Rise)
Fit For A King – Slave To Nothing (Solid State)
Fleshworld/Gazers/Viscera – Split (Unquiet)
Hang the Bastard – Sex in the Seventh Circle (Siege of Amida / Century Media)
Heroes of Vallentor – The Warriors Path Part I (Inverse)
Horrendous – Ecdysis (Dark Descent)
House of Lightning – Lightworker (Translation Loss)
Inter Arma – The Cavern EP (Relapse)
Itnuveth – The Way Of The Berserker (Xtreem)
KMFDM – Our Time Will Come (Metropolis)
Knight Area – Hyperdrive (Lasers Edge)
Kreyskull – Tower Witch (Inverse)
Like Monroe – Things We Think, But Never Speak (eOne)
Lunatic Soul – Walking On a Flashlight Beam (Kscope)
The Lurking Corpses – Workin’ For The Devil (Hells Headbangers)
Manes – Be All End All (Debemur Morti)
Manhack – Dominicide EP (Autumn + Colour)
MoE – 3 (Fysisk Format)
Maplerun – Restless (Pavement)
Mastercastle – Enfer De La Bibliotheque Nationale (Scarlet)
The Melvins – Hold It In (Ipecac)
Menace Ruine – Venus Armata (Profound Lore)
Midnight Sin – Sex First (Bakerteam)
My Brother The Wind – Once There Was A Time When Time and Space Were One(Free Electric Sound)
Noturnall – Noturnall (Metalville)
Occultation – Silence In The Ancestral House (Profound Lore)
October 31 – Bury the Hatchet (Hells Headbangers)
Old Lines – No Child Left Behind (No Sleep)
Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs of a Madman DVD/CD (Epic)
Pig Destroyer – Mass & Volume EP (Relapse)
Planethard – Now (Scarlet)
Process of Guilt / Rorcal – Split EP (Bleak)
Rebellious Spirit – Obsession (SPV)
Revocation – Deathless (Metal Blade)
Rings Of Saturn – Lugal Ki En (Unique Leader)
Riot Horse – This Is Who We Are (Metalville)
Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died (Century Media)
Sarea – This Is Not Goodbye (Doolittle)
Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity) (Nuclear Blast)
Septycal Gorge – Scourge of the Formless Breed (Comatose)
Sloths – Twenty Years EP (The Ghost Is Clear)
Starkill – Virus of the Mind (Century Media)
Swallowed – Lunarterial (Dark Descent)
Tarnkappe – Tussen Hun En De Zon (Hammerheart)
Thy Serpent’s Cult – Sedition, Sorcery and Blasphemy (Ordo)
Today Is the Day – Animal Mother (Southern Lord)
Transmaniacon – The Darkening Plain (New Heavy Sounds)
Volunteer – Goner EP (Forge Again)
Weed Is Weed – Blunt Force Trauma (Ripple)
Wormwood – Wormwood (Magic Bullet)
Zelorage – So You’re A Mess (Inverse)