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New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week Of March 24, 2015
March 25th, 2015 at 9:03am

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Barren Earth – ‘On Lonely Towers’ - Century Media Records

Barren Earth – ‘On Lonely Towers’. Century Media Records

Barren Earth – ‘On Lonely Towers’ (Century Media)

Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Formed by ex-Amorphis members, Barren Earth do not stray far from the core sound of their previous band. Their third releaseOn Lonely Towers finds the band firing on all cylinders and increasing the progressive elements. It’s the first release with new singer Jón Aldará, whose guttural and melodic vocals work brilliantly with the direction of the music.

The material is layered and extremely diverse. Their ability to bounce between melodic death and ‘70s prog is seamless. The eleven minute plus title track is one of their finest yet as the dynamic brings you inside its addictive structure. Barren Earth continue to pave new paths and showcase a band at the top of their game.

Rating: 4
(Dan Drago)

Bio-Cancer - ‘Tormenting The Innocent’ - Candlelight Records

Bio-Cancer – ‘Tormenting The Innocent’. Candlelight Records

Bio-Cancer – ‘Tormenting The Innocent’ (Candlelight)

Genre: Thrash Metal
No-nonsense thrash metal is always a welcomed commodity, and Bio-Cancergive us plenty of that with their sophomore record. Their blunt delivery makes for a stampede of aggression, a headlong attack that offers an abundance of cutthroat guitars and raspy screams.

Each song is a miniature atomic bomb of electric fury. The tranquil cello introduction to “F(r)iends or Fiends?” is about as twisty as the album gets, with the rest of the time devoted to thrashing. Tormenting The Innocent is a direct shot that doesn’t offer more than it needs to.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Der Weg Einer Freiheit - 'Stellar' - Season Of Mist

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – ‘Stellar’. Season Of Mist

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – ‘Stellar’ (Season Of Mist)

Genre: Black Metal
Stellar is the third album by the German black metal band Der Weg Einer Freiheit(which translates to “the way of freedom”), and their first for Season Of Mist.

This album is more complex and dynamic than their earlier releases. Lengthy somber and melancholy instrumental sections give way to dense black metal. The German lyrics are delivered with both melodic singing and harsh screams. Melody and cacophony intertwine for a listening experience that’s sometimes relaxing, other times unsettling, but always interesting. It’s not necessarily an immediate album, but a grower than will unveil different nuances with each subsequent listen.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Dodheimsgard - 'A Umbra Omega' - Peaceville Records

Dodheimsgard – ‘A Umbra Omega’. Peaceville Records

Dodheimsgard – ‘A Umbra Omega’ (Peaceville)

Genre: Avant-Garde Black Metal
After an eight year absence, the Norwegian band Dodheimsgard return with several new members. Except for guitarist/vocalists Vicotnik and Aldrahn, A Umbra Omega is the first DHG album for the three other members.

Their style is avant-garde with a black metal base. Even when the music is fairly standard, the unusual vocals give it a quirky vibe. The five proper songs are very lengthy (11 to 15 minutes) with numerous ebbs and flows and twists and turns. It’s an unusual album, but also a compelling one. Electric and acoustic, progressive and traditional, extreme and mellow, A Umbra Omega is an album of dichotomies, an ambitious, challenging, unique and experimental effort.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Fórn - ‘The Departure Of Consciousness’ - Gilead Media

Fórn – ‘The Departure Of Consciousness’. Gilead Media

Fórn – ‘The Departure Of Consciousness’ (Gilead Media)

Genre: Doom/Sludge Metal
Immense volume is what Fórn unleash, packaged into a doom metal format. Despondent riffs hold firm to a far-reaching scope that dabbles in astral planes and bottomless voids. Unassuming in its initial moments, the shaky anticipation is fulfilled when the entire band gets involved.

The heightened pace minutes into “Dweller on the Threshold” is a giant tease, a momentary relapse from the sorrowful melodies. The thick bass tones overwhelm the unsettling ambiance, and a few low-key instrumentals don’t help matters. The sinister energy emitting through each note screeched out makes for a striking listen.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Frosthelm – ‘The Endless Winter’ - Black Work Records

Frosthelm – ‘The Endless Winter’. Black Work Records

Frosthelm – ‘The Endless Winter’ (Black Work)

Genre: Blackened Thrash Metal
Blending the belligerence and aggression of Dissection with the precision of bay area thrash are the fundamental traits ofFrosthelm’s sound. Their smashing debutThe Endless Winter is a procession of blackened thrash that pummels the listener into submission. Their penchant for creating palm muted classic riffs gives them a needed breadth of diversity.

Vocalist Tyler Pfilger is a powerhouse of a singer as he rotates between inhuman gutturals and high pitched screaming. At just thirty-four minutes they don’t overstay their welcome and that makes for a blistering enjoyable ride. Mixed and mastered by Matt Hyde, the sound is powerful and gigantic in scope.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Fulgora – ‘Stratagem’ - Housecore Records

Fulgora – ‘Stratagem’. Housecore Records

Fulgora – ‘Stratagem’ (Housecore)

Genre: Grindcore
There are always high expectation when well known artists start a new band. In this case it’s bassist John Jarvis (Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed), and drummer Adam Jarvis (Misery Index, Pig Destroyer) teaming up with guitarist/vocalist B.L. LaMew to form devastating grind/death trio Fulgora and their debut Stratagem.

Expectations exceeded. All of the visceral nature of the member’s constituent bands meets LaMew’s vicious hardcore bark and gut-wrenching riffs, culminating in total annihilation. Dischord and a bent concept of riffing come out as focused rage fighting a battle with chaos. There’s barely a chance to breathe under their relentless beatdown but they manage to inject a ferocious sense of groove too. Give yourself some room to move, or at least make sure you’re not breaking anything important.

Rating: 4.5
(Matt Hinch)

The Gentle Storm – ‘The Diary’ - Inside Out Music

The Gentle Storm – ‘The Diary’. Inside Out Music

The Gentle Storm – ‘The Diary’ (Inside Out)

Genre: Progressive Metal
First collaborating in 1998 in the progressive outfit Ayreon, vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) and guitarist Arjen Lucassen have joined forces for the brand new band The Gentle Storm. Their debut The Diary is a concept that tells the story of love lost and the isolation it creates. It’s a two-disc affair that showcases the same songs with folk acoustic arrangements on one album and a heavier, more orchestral direction on the other.

As usual, Anneke’s performance is out of this world as she blends her gorgeous voice with memorable melodies. Lucassen is a brilliant musicianship and his talent for composition is showcased throughout. Both discs work exceptionally well with the heavier direction being slightly more enjoyable.

Rating: 4
(Dan Drago)

Gloson – ‘Yearwalker’ - Epitaph Records

Gloson – ‘Yearwalker’. Epitaph Records

Gloson – ‘Yearwalker’ (Epitaph)

Genre: Doom/Sludge Metal
Gloson, a five piece from the west coast of Sweden, dispense what they call Boar Sludge. Maybe it’s a Swedish thing, a way to explain stubborn attitudes, but Gloson have made a fine collection of intricate crunch blankets that shine on in the dismal murk while suffering from split brain disease. Neurosis and Isis in the same tub, leaving behind a muddy ring of Uncle Acid and other fuzz-meisters comes to the medicated mind.

”Årsgång” is foreboding, with its looming doom intro followed up with foul-breath vocals, sludgey zombie beat, oddball bells and a stretch of spoken word. It makes you want throw the curtains back after a listen or two. ”Sirens” Is a Pilgrim-like workout, but as good as the first half of the 32-minute ’Yearwalker’ may be, excellence hits the fan with “The End/Aftermath” and “The Aftermath/Beginning.”

Rating: 3.5
(Todd Lyons)

Gouge - 'Beyond Death' - Hells Headbangers Records

Gouge – ‘Beyond Death’. Hells Headbangers Records

Gouge – ‘Beyond Death’ (Hells Headbangers)

Genre: Death Metal
Norway is not your typical stop for quality old school death metal, but Gouge are out to prove you wrong. This is down and dirty roots death metal with plenty of Repulsion riffs to go around. These Scandinavians have a sound that may be nearly 30 years old, but it is a welcome (filthy) breath of fresh air.

With a simple name and no-frills death metal that blows off the doors when it only needed to knock, make no mistake about the aural violence which you are now privy to. Gouge are a band worth checking out for OSDM fans and fans of older grindcore alike.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

New Heavy Metal Album Releases: March 24, 2015
March 24th, 2015 at 8:06am

New Metal ReleasesAbominator – Evil Proclaimed(Hells Headbangers)
A.D.D. – Core (Pavement)
Barren Earth – On Lonely Towers (Century Media)
Bio-Cancer – Tormenting The Innocent (Candlelight)
Bureviy – Concealed Beneath The Space (Darker Than Black)

Burnt Books – Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire (Retro Futurist)
City Of Ships – Ultraluminal (Translation Loss)
Corpo-Mente – Corpo-Mente (Blood)
Dead Summer Society – So Many Years Of Longing (Rain Without End)
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Stellar (Season of Mist)
Dire Peril – Through Time and Space EP (Dead Inside)
Disgrace – True Enemy (Closed Casket)
Evoke Thy Lords – Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms In Your Cellar! (Solitude)
Fightcast – Siamesian (To Exist)
Forn – The Departure of Consciousness (Gilead)
Frosthelm – The Endless Winter (Black Work)
Fulgora – Stratagem (Housecore)
The Gentle Storm – The Diary (Century Media)
Gloson – Yearwalker (Art of Propaganda/Catatonic State)
Gouge – Beyond Death (Hells Headbangers)
Grenouer – Unwanted Today (Mausoleum)
Grindhouse – Chapter One (RMB)
Groan – Highrospliffics EP (Superhot)
Ilium – My Misanthropia (Nightmare)
Implode – A Syndicate: I Of Everything Chapter III (Cramada)
Implodes – Reverser EP

Karyn Crisis’ Gospel Of The Witches – Salem’s Wounds (Century Media)
King Hitter – King Hitter EP (Restricted Release / Plastic Head)
Lifeless – Dream (Fast Break)
Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire (Thrill Jockey)
Liturgy – The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey)
Massenhinrichtung – Zakon Zbroi (The Order Of Force) (Darker Than Black)
Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock – Spirit on a Mission (Allegro)
The Monolith Deathcult – Bloodcvlts (Season Of Mist)
NevBorn – Five Horizons (Hummus)
NitroVolt – Dirty Wings (Mausoleum)
Nocturnalia – Above Below Within (Gaphals)
Oceano – Ascendants (Earache)
Oppressor – Scars 1988-1990 (Xtreem)
Perdition Temple – The Tempter’s Victorious (Hells Headbangers)
The Sanity Days – Evil Beyond Belief (Candlelight)
Sonic Prophecy – Apocalyptic Promenade (Maple Metal)
Sorcerer – In The Shadow of The Inverted Cross (Metal Blade)
Strung Out – Transmission.Alpha.Delta (Fat Wreck Chords)
Svadilfare – Krig I Kunst (Naturmacht)
Theories – Regression (Metal Blade)
Toxodeth – Morbidest Reality (An Observation) Re-Release (Chaos)
Unrest – Grindcore (Unspeakable Axe)
Vamps – Bloodsuckers (Spinefarm)
Von Hertzen Brothers – New Day Rising (Spinefarm)

New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of March 17, 2015
March 18th, 2015 at 8:09am

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Bad Guys - ‘Bad Guynaecology’ - Riot Season

Bad Guys – ‘Bad Guynaecology’. Riot Season

Bad Guys – ‘Bad Guynaecology’ (Riot Season)

Genre: Rock/Heavy Metal
With a humorous edge underneath a dirty groove, Bad Guys inject some fun into what could have been a serious affair. That makes a big impression, and it’s hard not to smile at the lyrics to a tune like “Prostitutes.” However, these guys can perform, and the album is more than just filthy jokes.

“Crime” channels George Thorogood and the Destroyers, if Thorogood sang about Tonka trucks instead of alcohol. “Zoltan” and “Motorhome” are speedier cuts, a departure from the gloomy riffs throughout “World Murderer.” Not only does this album rock hard, but it’s an entertaining, light-hearted venture.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Drakkar - 'Run With The Wolf' - My Kingdom Music

Drakkar – ‘Run With The Wolf’. My Kingdom Music

Drakkar – ‘Run With The Wolf’ (My Kingdom)

Genre: Power Metal
Run With The Wolf is the fifth album from the Italian power metal band Drakkar.  It also includes a bonus disc of five songs from the band’s first three albums re-recorded by the current lineup.

You’ll hear the usual power metal elements including plenty of guitar wizardry and atmospheric keyboards. One things that makes Drakkar stand out is the vocals from Davide Dell’Orto. He has the power metal soaring style, but his voice has a gritty element that gives things an extra edge and unique sound. The musicianship and song arrangements are excellent, the lyrics melodramatic and periodically slipping over the line into cheesy.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Fossils – ‘The Meating’ - Indisciplinarian Records

Fossils – ‘The Meating’. Indisciplinarian Records

Fossils – ‘The Meating’ (Indisciplinarian)

Genre: Noise Rock
Just a year removed from their excellent sophomore effort Flesh Hammer, the typically instrumental noise rock drum-bass duo Fossils are back with a new EP entitled The Meating, a record that features seven tracks from their 2010 debut Meat Rush but with added interpretational vocals (and guitar) from a variety of artists that performed at Flesh Hammer’s release party.

While the instrumentation on hand is unsurprisingly heavy and off-the-wall, the vocals additions, for the most part, are very hit-and-miss, and only further reinforce Fossils’ original two-man game-plan. There are highlights, though, with “Ridge and the Rock” and “Ham Reader” serving as the undisputed best of the batch. In spite of its avant-garde poetics and eccentric punk flailing, the vocals come off as an unnecessary experiment that ultimately detracts from the raucousness that it is Fossils.

Rating: 3
(Evan Mugford)

Ghost Bath – ‘Moonlover’ - Northern Silence Productions

Ghost Bath – ‘Moonlover’. Northern Silence Productions

Ghost Bath – ‘Moonlover’ (Northern Silence)

Genre: Black Metal
North Dakota’s Ghost Bath may be coined as a depressive black metal band, but on their second full-length album Moonlover, one can’t help but detect a distinct and sonorous feeling of hope. Virginia Woolf’s favorite band has returned, and their maturation into one of the finer crestfallen acts is on stark and crippling display.

Laced with tortured cries, an impressively vibrant drum sound, and moments of searing melancholy, this particular strain of black metal comes with a surprising accessibility, one no doubt manufactured by the excellent, often uplifting guitar work. A uniquely rewarding effort that pleases with every listen, despondency is but an afterthought with Moonloverand its gorgeous cold comforts.

Rating: 4.5
(Evan Mugford)

Horisont - 'Break the Limit' - Rise Above Records

Horisont – ‘Break the Limit’. Rise Above Records

Horisont – ‘Break the Limit’ (Rise Above)

Genre: Hard Rock
“Break the Limit,” the latest release from Swedish retro-rockers Horisont, only has two songs, but mighty those two songs are. Meant to be a stop-gap between their splendid third release Time Warriors, and their highly anticipated fourth, this is a limited-release 7” single in a variety of colors, featuring a drawing of a ripped and snarling Viking, swinging his ax through some interplanetary landscape.

The lead song “Break the Limit” is a driving, fist-pumping anthem about ridin’ the wind, breakin’ the law and fightin’ our way back. The B-side, “Yellow Blues,” starts with a synthesizer intro, then breaks loose into some pretty sweet Lizzy-style leads and fine golden god wailing by singer Axel Söderberg.

Rating: 4.5
(Karen A. Mann)

Macabre Omen - 'Gods Of War At War' ( - Van Records

Macabre Omen – ‘Gods Of War At War’ (. Van Records

Macabre Omen – ‘Gods Of War At War’ (Van)

Genre: Black Metal
Ten years after their last full-length, the Greek band Macabre Omen return withGods Of War – At War. Mainman Alexandros handles vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards, and brought aboard drummer T.J.F. Valleley (Lychgate, Orpheus) for this album.

Macabre Omen play an epic style of pagan black metal. The songs are lengthy with a lot of atmosphere with riffs that are sometimes dense and oppressive, other times groovy and melodic. There’s plenty of diversity, such as the acoustic folk at the beginning of “Man Of 300 Voices” and some spoken word parts. Mixing harsh vocals with some melodic singing also adds variety.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Nocturnus – ‘The Science of Horror’ - Nuclear War Now! Productions

Nocturnus – ‘The Science of Horror’. Nuclear War Now! Productions

Nocturnus – ‘The Science of Horror’ (Nuclear War Now!)

Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Despite being a part of the early incarnations of Morbid Angel and Incubus, Mike Browning earned his renowned status with the forward thinking death metal outfit Nocturnus. Unleashing two pivotal albums in the early ‘90s, they are now releasing their hard to find original demos, The Science of Horror.

As with most demos, the material is rougher and more primitive than their final versions. There is more of a thrash feel as Browning is still exploring his vocal style and isn’t quite as guttural. The keyboards play an essential role in their second demo, which the band is known for. This is an excellent look into the birth of a vital early death metal outfit.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

The Order of Apollyon – 'The Sword and The Dagger' - Listenable Records

The Order of Apollyon – ‘The Sword and The Dagger’. Listenable Records

The Order of Apollyon – ‘The Sword and The Dagger’ (Listenable)

Genre: Death Metal
The Order of Apollyon’s founding member BST has completely revamped his lineup for The Sword and The Dagger, including a couple members of long-running French outfit Temple of Baal. The Order of Apollyon keep with their death/black metal aesthetic. No strangers to furious speed, they’re obviously technically solid as a rock, but they’re not afraid to let loose and stray from the path.

Scorching black metal and chugging death metal balance with an abundance of atmosphere. Tremolos race beneath hammering percussion and guttural vocals. Behemoth fans can get behind the epic touches and there’s a worldly feeling to it without being as overt as Nile or Cult of Fire. It’s an impressive and interesting listen in a genre often dragged down by normalcy.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Ranger – 'Where Evil Dwells' - Spinefarm Records

Ranger – ‘Where Evil Dwells’. Spinefarm Records

Ranger – ‘Where Evil Dwells’ (Spinefarm)

Genre: Speed Metal
Dust off those patched vests and bulletbelts, kids! Because you’ll be scrambling for them when you hearWhere Evil Dwells, the debut full-length from Finnish shredders Ranger. They embody the spirit of the early ‘80s and the drive to be the fastest.

As expected, Ranger rip and thrash with youthful exuberance and the chops to back it up. Galloping rhythms and scorching leads showcase their ability to shred. The volatile twin guitars threaten to break into frenetic solos at any moment. If you can get past the sharply pitch shifting vocals and their position way out front, you’ll have a lot of fun with this.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Reign Of Fury - 'Death Be Thy Shepherd' - Static Tension Recordings

Reign Of Fury – ‘Death Be Thy Shepherd’. Static Tension Recordings

Reign Of Fury – ‘Death Be Thy Shepherd’ (Static Tension)

Genre: Thrash Metal
Reign Of Fury are a relatively new band based in the U.K., but sound like they could have been an ’80s Bay Area thrash group. On their sophomore release Death Be Thy Shepherd they are heavily influenced by classic bands, especially Metallica.

The production is fairly modern sounding, but their style is vintage thrash with a lot of melody and plenty of shredding. Vocalist Bison Steed has a lot of  Hetfield in his voice, especially on tracks like the “Unforgiven”-like “All Is Lost.” Their songwriting is ambitious, with a couple of tracks in the 10 minute range. It’s derivative, but still a well-executed thrash album.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Sleeping with Sirens – ‘Madness’ - Epitaph Records

Sleeping with Sirens – ‘Madness’. Epitaph Records

Sleeping with Sirens – ‘Madness’ (Epitaph)

Genre: Post Hardcore
Kellin Quinn and Orlando, Florida’sSleeping With Sirens have another hit album on their resume. Panic! at the Disco, The Used and Memphis May Fire are intimately channeled here in songs like the dumb-defiant “Kick Me” and the sugary toaster-strudel “Go Go Go,” which reportedly has something to do withAmerican Pie.

The pant-load of poppier-than thou post-hardcore band influences get flogged in nearly every song as Quinn seeks the peaks of castrati overload and what helium can do not only to the male voice but to the content of metally-core tracks.“The Strays” is mildly interesting with its acoustic change up in orchestration and glockenspiel arrangement. It’s the catchiest thing on an album that works its heavy metal like fifty shades of Carly Rae Jepsen.

Rating: 2
(Todd Lyons)

The Slow Death - ‘Ark’ - Chaos Records

The Slow Death – ‘Ark’. Chaos Records

The Slow Death – ‘Ark’ (Chaos)

Genre: Funeral Doom/Death Metal
Tragedy surrounds The Slow Death’s third album Ark. With the unfortunate demise of vocalist Gregg Williamson hovering over the proceedings, the band’s dreary doom metal is given an extra touch of sadness.

Commanding female vocals interlock with deep grunts, while the sparse keys help to invoke a downtrodden atmosphere. The big addition to the group is Pallbearer vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell, who provides scorching leads throughout. It’s an admirable contrast to the leisurely pace that defines the music. At 75 minutes, Ark is an intimidating, yet gratifying record that requires several full play throughs.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

New Heavy Metal Album Releases: March 17, 2015
March 18th, 2015 at 8:06am

The Answer – Raise A Little Hell (Napalm)
Ashes Of Moon – The Darkness Where The Past Lay Sleeping (Aural)
Attack Vertical – The Great Waste(Tenacity)
Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology (Riot Season)
Beautality – Einfalen: A Tale Ov Torment & Triumph

Bulldozing Bastard – Under The Ram (High Roller)
Crimson Swan – Unlit (Quality Steel)
Crom Dubh – Heimweh (Van)
Darke Complex – Widow EP (Spinefarm)
Dirty Fingers – 250 Dollars (Illogic)
Dissident Clone – State Of Dysphoria EP (Tridroid)
Dodheimsgard – A Umbra Omega (Peaceville)
Drakkar – Run With The Wolf (My Kingdom)
Dynfari – Vegfero Timans (Code 666)
Father Murphy – Croce (The Flenser)
Flummox – Phlummoxygen (Tridroid)
Ghost Bath – Moonlover (Northern Silence)
Horizont – Break the Limit (Rise Above)
Ideogram – Life Mimics Theatre (Aural)
Katavasia – Sacrilegious Testament (Floga)
Macabre Omen – Gods Of War: At War (Van)
Moonspell – Extinct (Napalm)
Negative Self – Negative Self (High Roller)
Nocturnus – The Science of Horror (Nuclear War Now!)
Norse – Pest (Transcending Obscurity)
The Order of Apollyon – The Sword and the Dagger (Listenable)
Purple Nail – Embrace The Dark (Aural)
Pyramids – A Northern Meadow (Profound Lore)
Ranger – Where Evil Dwells (Spinefarm)
Reign Of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd

(Static Tension)
Rellik – Spiraling Infinite Chaos (HPGD)
Simbiose – Economical Terrorism (Anticorpos)
Sleeping With Sirens – Madness (Epitaph)
The Slow Death – Ark (Chaos)
Yorblind – Blind…But Alive (Klonosphere)

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