Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of February 10, 2015

Abstracter – ‘Wound Empire’ (Sentient Ruin)

Genre: Blackened Doom/Sludge Metal
Oakland, California’s Abstracter are back with a fantastic new record. The band, consisting of Mattia Alagna (vocals), Robin Kahn (guitar), Donovan Kelley (bass)  and Emad Dajani (drums) are releasing Wound Empire through various outlets and on multiple formats.  I’ve been a fan since their first release, 2012s Tomb of Feathers, so I was very eager to give this one a listen.

Featuring four songs that clock in at 40 plus minutes, Abstracter do not disappoint. Firing on every cylinder available, the band plows through the songs “Lightless,” “Open Veins,” “Cruciform” and “Glowing Wounds,” with each track weaving an intricate, dark tale. Take note. Abstracter are a force to be reckoned with.

Rating: 4
(Ken Kopija)

Adrenaline Mob – ‘Dearly Departed’ - Century Media Records

Adrenaline Mob – ‘Dearly Departed’. Century Media Records

Adrenaline Mob – ‘Dearly Departed’ (Century Media)

Genre: Heavy Metal
Dearly Departed is a collection of covers and rarities from Adrenaline Mob. While it’s not earth shattering, it’s not bad either. Each track is its own entity that gives the listener a diverse musical experience, but the production value is slightly lower than I anticipated. Mike Orlando’s guitar work is fantastic, but I cannot get past its overly fuzzy tone. Russell Alllen’s beautifully raspy vocals are on point, and the combination of A.J. Pero’s drums and Erik Leonhardt’s bass work is tight, but the overall package could use a little polish.

A great metal cover of “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and a tender acoustic version of “All On The Line” from 2012’s Omerta are real standout tracks that make the album a worthwhile investment. I think that Adrenaline Mob fans will enjoy Dearly Departed, but I wouldn’t recommend using it to hook new fans.

Rating: 3.5
(Diana M. Marsh)

Ahamkara - 'The Embers Of The Stars' - Bindrune Recordings

Ahamkara – ‘The Embers Of The Stars’. Bindrune Recordings

Ahamkara – ‘The Embers Of The Stars’ (Bindrune)

Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Ahamkara are the British duo of Steve Black and Michael Blenkarn (Wodensthrone). The Embers Of The Stars is their debut album.

It’s majestic and atmospheric, with layers of synths augmenting the guitars. The sound ranges from oppressive and extreme to reserved and introspective. Each of the four tracks is at least 10 minutes long, with numerous shifts in tempo and intensity. The vocals are the typical tortured black metal screams and rasps. The album is more about ebbs and flows than hooks and riffs.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Amber Sea - 'Infantile Vision' - Famined Records

Amber Sea – ‘Infantile Vision’. Famined Records

Amber Sea – ‘Infantile Vision’ (Famined)

Genre: Progressive Metal
On their debut EP Infantile Vision, the French band Amber Sea start with a progressive palette, and then add several other genres to the mix.

There are melodic parts, death metal influences, metalcore breakdowns and plenty of prog. The vocals alternate between guttural growls and singing. One of their influences is Monuments, so it’s only appropriate vocalist Chris Barretto from that band makes a guest appearance on “Deci(mate).”

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Bonz - 'Broken Silence' - Pavement Entertainment

Bonz – ‘Broken Silence’. Pavement Entertainment

Bonz – ‘Broken Silence’ (Pavement)

Genre: Rap Metal
Stuck Mojo were one of the pioneers of rap metal in the ’90s. The group’s original vocalist Bonz is back with his own band, whose debut album is Broken Silence.

There are the obvious similarities to Stuck Mojo with numerous other influences ranging from Run DMC to Body Count to Red Hot Chili Peppers. The songs are an extremely catchy blend of metal and old school hip-hop with some memorable guitar riffs. Rap metal fans will want to check this one out.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Call of The Void – ‘Ageless’ - Relapse Records

Call of The Void – ‘Ageless’. Relapse Records

Call of The Void – ‘Ageless’ (Relapse)

Genre: Sludge/Crust
Ageless, the new full-length from Denver doom punks Call of the Void, is a barn burner. The band honors the aggression of their first record while mindfully evolving, injecting the past formula with more sludge and tempering it with more variation.

Call of the Void’s delivery displays a more focused assault this time around. WhileAgeless is just as fast and sloppy as their past output, they aren’t afraid to stray from their “blast and bang” approach in order to pay homage to their groovier, doomier influences. Fans of Tragedy, Trap Them, Cursed and Eyehategod will all find something to love on Ageless.

Rating: 4
(Schuler Benson)

Chastain - 'The 7th Of Never' - Tribunal Records

Chastain – ‘The 7th Of Never’. Tribunal Records

Chastain – ‘The 7th Of Never’ (Tribunal)

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Chastain returned to the scene a couple years ago after a near decade long gap between albums. Now Tribunal Records is reissuing a couple of the band’s early releases.

The 7th Of Never was their third full-length, originally released in 1987. The new version has been remastered and features a couple of instrumental bonus tracks. David T. Chastain’s guitar wizardry and Leather Leone’s powerful vocals are a potent combination, and this was one of their best albums. Along with The 7th Of Never, their 1988 effort The Voice Of The Cult is also being re-released.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Cowards – ‘Rise to Infamy’ - Deadlight Entertainment

Cowards – ‘Rise to Infamy’. Deadlight Entertainment

Cowards – ‘Rise to Infamy’ (Deadlight)

Genre: Hardcore/Sludge
If the shrill feedback from Cowards’second album doesn’t send shivers through a listener, the horrid screams might do the job. The compact songs throughout this monstrous release ramp up better than the lengthier cuts from their 2012 debut. A blackened hardcore vibe interweaves with a sludgy drive.

The group balks at any kind of passive attitude to their music. These ten tracks have an immediate charge backing them up, whether it’s the directness of “Frustration (Is My Girl)” or the stifled static build-up of “So Easy.” The angry passion seething through Rise to Infamy will garner the band its share of eager supporters.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Demoncy - ‘Joined In Darkness’ - Forever Plagued Records

Demoncy – ‘Joined In Darkness’. Forever Plagued Records

Demoncy – ‘Joined In Darkness’ (Forever Plagued)

Genre: Black Metal
One of the first bands out of the early USBM scene, North Carolina’s Demoncyhave been kicking around since the early 1990s. Essentially a one man band that occasionally plays live shows with session musicians, Demoncy are straight out of the Beherit school of black metal with low-pitched, rasped vocals and an extremely muddy, yet catchy, sound.

Joined In Darkness is a long out of print classic, although a vinyl re-release appeared in 2011. Originally Demoncy’s second album and released in 1999, the album is now being given a wider release on CD in digipack form, courtesy of Forever Plagued Records. The release of the album will serve to increase Demoncy’s profile, as they will be embarking on a short tour of the United States in the spring which will include an appearance at Maryland Death Fest.

Rating: 3.5
(Dave Schalek)

Dwell – 'Vermin and Ashes' - Hells Headbangers Records

Dwell – ‘Vermin and Ashes’. Hells Headbangers Records

Dwell – ‘Vermin and Ashes’ (Hell’s Headbangers)

Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Vermin and Ashes is the stunning debut from Denmark’s Dwell. The album consists of their demo plus three new songs. It’s a perfect blend of traditional doom’s downtrodden nature and death metal’s grit with slightly gothic and charred aspects and tortured, anguished, demonic vocals.

It’s blessedly dynamic, mixing a determined plod with steamrolling riffs and soul-scarring solos. Melody co-mingles with ferocious tone and thunderous percussion. Whether flattening or slow-burning like the dying embers of a fire, atmospheric and eerie synths compliment the downfall. Then there’s “Become the Void.” It’s an ambient and psychedelically meditative departure from the burly, haunting and melancholic death/doom that surrounds it. Vermin and Ashes is a stellar 26 minute introduction to a band with an undoubtedly high ceiling across multiple sub-genres.

Rating: 4.5
(Matt Hinch)