New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: February 4, 2014
Corpsessed – ‘Abysmal Thresholds’ (Dark Descent)
Dark Descent Records
Genre: Death Metal
Death metal is supposed to be scary, not schticky. Corpsessed are bringing the scary back. A harrowingly dark and cinematic intro opens the curtains on Abysmal Thresholds, the band’s debut full-length. Their parting reveals an obsidian darkness rooted beneath malicious death metal clawing its way around your soul with gnarled, diseased fingers.
Subterranean and sepulchral tones put the listener on edge as truly demonic vocals plague the psyche. Thunderous percussion motivates fiery, blasting riffs and infernal mid-paced admissions of inhumanity. An unhallowed, chasmal aura binds Corpsessed’s considerable strengths into a churning malevolency destined to terrify the way highest quality death metal is meant to. Hail the metal of death.
Down from the Wound – ‘Violence and the Macabre’ (Comatose)
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
Succeeding their 2007 debut, Agony through Rituals of Self-Purification, the latest release from Filipino wrecking ball Down from the Wound isViolence and the Macabre, a walloping brutal death metal album that utilizes smart riffs and copious slams to deadly effect.
Backed by a forbidding atmosphere, the quintet’s no-frills carnage churns remorselessly, bringing to mind the early efforts from USDM acts like Disgorge and Devourment. Although the majority of the tracks onViolence and the Macabre are a bit too long, the final result remains a frenzied and slamtastic dose of brutal death.
Exmortus – ‘Slave to the Sword’ (Prosthetic)
Genre: Thrash Metal
While listening to Slave to the Sword, the new release from Californian thrashers Exmortus, I thought it would make a perfect soundtrack for a non-sucky remake of Conan the Barbarian – and that was even prior to noticing the vocalist/guitarist is named Conan Moreno.
With virtuoso guitar performances and a flare for modernizing classic speed metal, it’s an album that, despite a couple forgettable mid-tempo death anthems, looks back at a rich history of extreme music, then takes a step forward in terms of aggression and technical wizardry. Exmortus further prove that Prosthetic is one of today’s leading merchants of thrash.
Hawkwind – ‘Space Hawks’ (Four Worlds)
Four Worlds Media
Genre: Space Rock/Hard Rock
Hawkwind have been plying their trade for more than 40 years. Vocalist/guitarist Dave Brock has been there since the beginning, but there have been more than 50 other band members over the years. One of those was a bass player named Ian Kilmister. You probably know him better as Lemmy, who was in the band from 1972 to 1975.
Space Hawks is the band’s 29th studio album. It’s a combination of re-recordings of classic tracks like “Sunship” and “Seasons” along with new songs. Hawkwind have inspired and influenced countless bands over the years, and are still going strong.
Battle Beast – ‘Battle Beast’ (Nuclear Blast)
Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Finland’s Battle Beast are exactly the band you would think of when you see their album art: classic heavy metal and power metal collide. You’ll hear influences from Udo-era Accept and Running Wild, with the latter providing the over the top atmosphere and the European chants that German heavy metal was known for.
Mayan – ‘Antagonise’ (Nuclear Blast)
Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal
Mayan is the side project started by Epica’s Mark Jansen. Antagonise is the band’s second album. It features a pair of new vocalists: Henning Basse (ex-Firewind) and Laura Macri. Jansen still handles the harsh vocals.
Since they share several band members, there are certainly musical similarities to Epica, but they have their own identity. The songwriting is more cohesive this time, better blending the death metal and symphonic elements. Basse’s clean vocals are excellent, as are Jansen’s uncleans. There are a lot of contrasts, from intense death metal to mellower tracks, and the crystal clear production spotlights the dynamics and arrangements.
Metal Noam – ‘Avram’ (Mountastic)
Genre: Black/Heavy/Doom Metal
Bonus points for the individuality felt and found within Avram, the debut EP from a trio of Noam Chomsky enthusiasts who warmly call themselves Metal Noam. Spliced with audio bites from the world-renowned linguist and philosopher, this three-track recording is an intriguing spread of various metal influences, ranging from blackened thrash to an opaque doom metal crawl.
Chomsky’s assured timbre serves as the vocal bedrock of Avram, while a litany of effects and often dramatic riffing counterbalances the humorously affectionate tone of the band’s name. The music and the messages it ramparts have been exceptionally well-mortared, and for such a brief record, it works as an able, emotional extension of Chomsky’s ideas.
When the vocals take on a harsher tone. fans may notice a sound similar to that of 3 Inches Of Blood. with a sound truly forged in the ‘80s. Battle Beast’s second album is a fun romp from 30 years ago; just don’t expect the doors to be blown off.