The ratings are on a 5-star scale.
Alpha Tiger – ‘ iDentity’ (SPV/Steamhammer)
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal
With catchy guitar riffs, power metal styled vocals, and pummeling drum work, Alpha Tiger have taken old school heavy metal to the next level with their third release,iDentity. Think Fates Warning and Queensryche, but with tighter solos, vocals that are powerful but not over the top, and touches of a Hammond organ here and there to round out the softer intros and ballad-ish songs.
Tommy Newton, who has worked with UFO, Gama Ray, and many metal acts, did a fantastic job mixing and mastering this recording; the quality can be heard from beginning to end. For those of you that like their metal more traditional/old school I fully recommendiDentity.
(Diana M. Marsh)
Arcane – ‘Known/Learned’ (Sensory)
Genre: Progressive Metal
After a more than five year span between albums, Australia’s Arcane make up for the absence with the two hour epic double album Known/Learned.
It’s a very diverse effort. From acoustic sections to mellow piano driven parts to rock based tracks to all out metal, there are a ton of different styles, textures and tempos throughout. The songwriting and musicianship are excellent, and the performance of vocalist Jim Grey is especially noteworthy. His voice is very expressive and dynamic, sometimes quiet and reserved, other times belting it out. Holding a listener’s attention for two hours can be a challenging task, but prog fans will find that this compelling and varied release is up to that challenge.
Armageddon – ‘Captivity & Devourment’ (Listenable)
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
After disbanding in 2002, Sweden’sArmageddon have reformed after a thirteen year break with their fourth full length release Captivity & Devourment. After leaving Arch Enemy in 2012, guitarist extraordinaire Christopher Amott has decided to concentrate solely on his past band. Flirting with power metal on their last few releases, they have returned to the melodic death metal sound of their earlier recordings.
The blistering title track comes roaring out of the gates with blast beats and complex riffing, Matt Hallquist supplying ripping screams. Unfortunately, he has recently left the band. As always, Amott’s leads are world class and flowing with technical brilliance. Well worth the long wait.
Bullet – ‘Storm of Blades’ (Metalville/Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Combining the classic metal style of Judas Priest and Accept, Bullet are a throwback straightforward punch to the face. With their fifth release Storm of Blades, they continue down the same path of simplistic riffs, anthemic choruses and gravelly melodies all fused together.
They seem to be more in their element when the tempo is cranked and the energy is pushed, like on the explosive title track and the steamrolling “Run With the Hunted.” “Tornado” brings forth visions of AC/DC, but the Teutonic titans inspire most of their material. It would be a nice change of pace if their next release concentrated more on their quicker paced material front to back.
Caïna – ’Settler Of Unseen Shores’ (Broken Limbs)
Genre: Black Metal/Post Metal
An amalgamation of black metal and post metal with plenty of quiet, introspective melodies, the U.K.’s Caïna has been generally well regarded over the course of six full-length albums. Previously mostly a one-man project with Andrew Curtis-Brignell handling all vocals and instruments, Caïna return with Cold Fell vocalist Laurence Taylor taking on some of the duties.
The result, Settler Of Unseen Shores, is darker in tone than most of the past albums from Caïna with a greater emphasis on black metal with blastbeats, dissonance and harsh vocals. Sprawled out over six tracks including a 15-minute closer, Settler Of Unseen Shores also has plenty of quieter moments, showcasing Curtis-Brignell’s ability to bring together different genre elements into a cohesive whole.
Chapel of Disease – ‘The Mysterious Ways Of Repetitive Art’ (F.D.A. Rekotz)
Genre: Death Metal
Chapel of Disease’s debut albumSummoning Black Gods was a huge reflection of old school death metal. By the band’s second and most recent albumThe Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art,Chapel of Disease have redefined their music with more well written songs of maleficent death metal.
The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art still has the sound signature that Chapel of Disease carved in their debut album, but with a less raw production revolving around more chunky, thrashy and melodic riffs, eight to 10 minutes epic songs and the reverberant voice of Laurent Teubl. The result is a stronger album that still sounds perfectly old school that’s slightly touched by modern structures.
Crack House – ‘The Hits Just Keep On Coming’ (HPGD)
Genre: Hardcore Punk/Thrash
Philadelphia outfit Crack House nail together the acidic elements of Gwar, Black Flag, and bits of every human-hater from Nekrofilth to Repulsion, and manage to put out a nasty little gem of ugly commentary on the depravity of urban despair. “Crack House” is a sick piece of singalong snot, while “March of the Crackheads” is self-evident, putrid and somehow hypnotic.
Clear away the vomitus, the EP swirls in its tracks and find a vicious attack on the depths of self-abuse. The drop-ins before each song are cue cards to the evils of self-loathing and victimization, not only of those whose lives are lost to a chemical idol, but also to the writing on the wall for all of society. Crack House go for debauchery and shock on this EP and, perhaps unintentionally, crank out a searing statement.
Dead City Ruins – ‘Dead City Ruins’ (Metalville)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Blending the free spirit of punk with a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll style is the formula on Australia’s Dead City Ruins’ self titled sophomore release. Dirty riffs and memorable melodies abound as the band sounds like it gave birth to the filthy lovechild of Black Sabbath and AC/DC.
“Til Death” is the clear highlight as the band embodies classic Black Sabbath with excellent vocal melodies and a groove induced simplistic riff. The record closes with a solid cover of AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation” with Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) supplying his monster vocals. At times the blueprint works but the songs are a little bloated and could be streamlined.
Garotting Deep/Fōr – ‘Void Asceticism’ (Iron Bonehead)
Genre: Black Metal
Void Asceticism is the split from Calgary’sGarotting Deep and Sweden’s Fōr.Garotting Deep is the solo project of a man named Phil also known as Imperator in Bone Chalice. Here he plays a lo-fi style of black metal more intent on atmosphere and bitter cold guitar work than calculated cleanliness. It’s loose yet incisive, sometimes with a rollicking nature. It includes a well done cover of Wardruna’s “Heimta Thurs”.
The mysterious Fōr take a different approach on the b-side in some respects. While also lo-fi and atmospheric, they’re inherently evil and chaotic. They brutalize the listener with hellish heaviness and a feral hatred. Scorching and plodding, Fōr is bent on esoterically ruining your mood.
The German Panzer – ‘Send Them All To Hell’ (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Legendary vocalist Schmeir of thrash metal titans Destruction and the recently departed members of Accept, Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann have decided to join forces in the Teutonic supergroup Panzer. Their debut offeringSend Them All To Hell is the perfect amalgam of both bands. Playing straight for the throat metal that is heavily reminiscent of the last few Accept releases, they also stray into faster, heavier territory.
Schmeir adopts a more melodic vocal style than the later day Destruction releases and ironically captures the charm of his earlier preferred style. He sounds re-energized and displays an incredible power to his voice. Each track pummels the listener into submission, as it’s a very promising debut that showcases the trio’s talent.