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New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of October 14, 2014
October 22nd, 2014 at 8:30am

The Acacia Strain – ‘Coma Witch’ - Rise Records

The Acacia Strain – ‘Coma Witch’. Rise Records

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.

Rating: 2.5
(Evan Mugford)

At Dusk – ‘Anhedonia’ - Broken Limbs Recordings

At Dusk – ‘Anhedonia’. Broken Limbs Recordings

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.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Baptists - 'Bloodmines' - Southern Lord Recordings

Baptists – ‘Bloodmines’. Southern Lord Recordings

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.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Better Left Unsaid - 'The Reisssues' - InGrooves Music Group

Better Left Unsaid – ‘The Reisssues’. InGrooves Music Group

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.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Calm Hatchery – ‘Fading Reliefs’ - Selfmadegod Records

Calm Hatchery – ‘Fading Reliefs’. Selfmadegod Records

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.

Rating: 2.5
(Neil Pretorius)

Cara Neir/Venowl – 'Split' - Broken Limbs Recordings

Cara Neir/Venowl – ‘Split’. Broken Limbs Recordings

Cara Neir/Venowl – ‘Split’ (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Crust/Experimental/Noise
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.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Drone - 'Drone' - Metalville Records

Drone – ‘Drone’. Metalville Records

Drone – ‘Drone’ (Metalville)

Genre: Thrash/Metalcore
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.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Eden Circus – ‘Marula’ - Lifeforce Records

Eden Circus – ‘Marula’. Lifeforce Records

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.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Favorite Weapon - 'Sixty Saragossa' - Rise Records

Favorite Weapon – ‘Sixty Saragossa’. Rise Records

Favorite Weapon – ‘Sixty Saragossa’ (Rise)

Genre: Metalcore/Rock
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.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Hang the Bastard – ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle’ - Siege Of Amida/Century Media Records

Hang the Bastard – ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle’. Siege Of Amida/Century Media Records

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.

Rating: 3.5
(Evan Mugford)

New Heavy Metal Album Releases: October 14, 2014
October 21st, 2014 at 8:24am

New Metal ReleasesAlice Cooper – Raise The Dead: Live From Wacken DVD (UDR)
Allen/Lande – The Great Divide (Frontiers)
Amaranthe – Massive Addictive (Spinefarm)
Amulet – The First (Century Media)
The Body / Sandworm – Split (Thrill Jockey)
Carnality – Dystopia (Memorial)
Cemetery Filth – Screams From The Catacombs EP (White Ship)
Dalton – Pit Stop (Frontiers)
Deep Purple – Live In Verona DVD (Eagle Rock)
Encoffination – III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs) (Selfmadegod)
From Earth – Dark Waves (Wormholedeath)
Holy Dragons – Dragon Inferno (Pitch Black)
Indestructible Noise Command – Black Hearse Serenade (Ferocious)
Inferion – This Will Decay (HPGD)
Khaos – Risen (MRR)
Kingdom Of Giants – Ground Culture (InVogue)
Nuclear Perversion – Desolation Rituals (Iron Bonehead)
Oozing Wound – Earth Suck (Thrill Jockey)
Pitch Black Forecast – As the World Burns (Ferocious)
Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Soused (4AD)
Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter (Roadrunner)
Soulskinner – Crypts of Ancient Wisdom (Xtreem)
Too Close To Touch – Too Close To Touch EP (Epitaph)
Ufomammut – XV DVD (Supernatural Cat)
Varsity – Lights EP (We Are Triumphant)
Wrekmeister Harmonies – Then It All Came Down (Thrill Jockey)

The Skull Performance Footage Posted Online
October 21st, 2014 at 8:20am

The Skull’s debut album “For Those Which Are Asleep” will be released worldwide on Tuesday, November 4th via Tee Pee Records.

The band features original Trouble members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson and recently dropped a new track titled “Till The Sun Turns Back,” which can be heard at this location.

In other news, footage from the band’s latest show in London, England on October 11th has been made available online, courtesy of YouTube user YeAuldMetaller.

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Crowbar Releases ‘Symmetry In White’ Music Video
October 21st, 2014 at 8:16am

Crowbar have dropped their new Mike Holderbeast (Goatwhore, High On Fire) directed video for their track “Symmetry In White” via Noisey. Meanwhile, the band will headline the ‘Symmetry In Winter Tour‘ with Unearth and Black Crown Initiate:

11/30 Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
12/01 St. Petersburg, FL – State Theater
12/03 Tallahassee, FL – Pug’s Live
12/04 Wilmington, NC – Ziggy’s By The Sea
12/05 Knoxville, TN – The International
12/06 Reading, PA – Reverb
12/07 Springfield, VA – Empire
12/08 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
12/09 Hartford, CT – Webster Underground
12/10 Albany, NY – Bogies
12/12 Lakewood, OH – The Foundry
12/13 Detroit, MI – Harpos (no Unearth)
12/14 Louisville, KY – Diamond Pub (no Unearth)

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At The Gates Releases ‘Death And The Labyrinth’ Music Video
October 17th, 2014 at 8:36am

“Death And The Labyrinth”, the new video from seminal Swedish metallers AT THE GATES, is available. The clip was helmed by Swedish director Patric Ullaeus of the Revolver Film Company AB, who has previously worked with HAMMERFALL, DIMMU BORGIR, EUROPE, LACUNA COIL and IN FLAMES, among many others.

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Raper Releases ‘Morphine’ Music Video
October 17th, 2014 at 8:31am

Chilean thrash metal band Raper just released a music video for the track “Morphine,” which is included on the group’s latest independently release EP “Trail To Pain.”

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