Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of February 17, 2015

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – 'Split' - Broken Limbs Recordings

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – ‘Split’. Broken Limbs Recordings

Barshasketh/Void Ritual – ‘Split’ (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Black Metal
Broken Limbs Recordings present an excellent split featuring black metal actsBarshasketh and Void Ritual. Barshasketh began in New Zealand but now (as a full band) calls Scotland home. Their two songs, both breaking the eight minute mark, are full of swarming guitars, blistering tremolos and the expected black metal snarl. That venom balances with slower, more melodic, emotional movements as well, all with subtle ancient undertones.

Albuquerque’s Void Ritual take the b-side with three tracks dedicated to various cults. Lone member Daniel Jackson’s snarl falls more on the death metal end but his black metal is white hot. Ungodly swift, the melodies sit lower in the mix teased out by atmosphere. It’s a devastating display from one of USBM’s up-and-comers.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’ - Made In China

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’. Made In China

Black Pussy – ‘Magic Mustache’ (Made In China)

Genre: Stoner Metal
Portland, Oregon’s Black Pussy are back on top with a killer slab of new tunes called Magic Mustache. Featuring tight, ’70s guitar riffs and trippy keys, these guys know how to get things done. “Let’s Start A War” gets things going with a stoned out intro that gives way to a bluesy, Kyuss-like riff. This goodness is just the beginning.

Black Pussy worship Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. You’d swear that “For The Sake Of Argument” was a song that didn’t make it onto QOTSA’s Rated R. At the same time, they incorporate enough riffs and late ’60s/early ’70s organ tones of their own to give this record an original and unique sound. Throughout the ten songs that make up Magic Mustache, they never once falter. Stand out tracks include “Protopipe” and “Lions Breath.”

Rating: 4.5
(Ken Kopija)

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ - Neurot Recordings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’. Neurot Recordings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ (Neurot)

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal   
It has been almost 15 years since Tad Doyle put out a record. While I would prefer not to wait this long in between his releases, this new endeavor with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is well worth the wait.Brothers of the Sonic Cloth hands down features Tad’s heaviest work to date. The opening track “Lava” is proof of this, while it sets the monumental pace for the destruction to come; it just gets heavier from there.

Featuring veteran bassist Peggy Doyle and Dave French (The Anunnaki) on drums, this well-oiled machine pull you in and trudge effortlessly through five thick tracks of dark, apocalyptic sludge ridden doom. You cannot escape, and you do not want to. This debut is only the beginning of great things to come. One hundred words is nowhere near enough characters to do this record justice.

Rating: 4.5
(Ken Kopija)

CDC – ‘End’ - Get This Right Records

CDC – ‘End’. Get This Right Records

CDC – ‘End’ (Get This Right)

Genre: Hardcore
Pennsylvania DIY hardcore quartet CDChave returned with their first release in five years, End. An uncompromising display of brutally honest angst, held together by an ‘in your face’ vocal performance that does not get lost on the record, END features great 4/4 hardcore anthems, as well as an impressive closer; ‘Temple’ which takes the band into a melodic territory that is not out of place.
With this impressive EP, fans should be excited as to what else CDC will come up with in the future.

Rating: 3.5
(Edward Banchs)

Death Karma – 'The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1' - Iron Bonehead Recordings

Death Karma – ‘The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1’. Iron Bonehead Recordings

Death Karma – ‘The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1’ (Iron Bonehead)

Genre: Death Metal
The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1 is the debut full length from Czech duo Death Karma which is comprised of two members of Cult of Fire. Knowing that last fact it should come as no surprise that these six tracks are swollen with grandiosity and worldly affectations.

Each song talks about rituals from different countries (Slovakia, Madagascar, Mexico, Czech Republic, India and China), but you’ll need a lyric sheet to get the full picture. On the musical side it’s a fusion of death and black metal with Hammond organs providing a sense of doom and atmosphere. Brutality and power decay alongside melody, majesty and complication. It’s a break from the norm actually quite brilliant.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’ - Selfmadegod Records

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’. Selfmadegod Records

Deivos – ‘Theodicy’ (Selfmadegod)

Genre: Technical Death Metal
While they aren’t as flashy and as kinetic as the long-hairs that haunt the United States west coast, Polish technical death metal band Deivos have been definite mainstays in the subgenre since their 2006 debut, Emanation from Below. Nine years later and the quintet are back at it with their fourth cut, Theodicy, an unorthodox joyride of endless tempo changes spread across a quasi-industrial backdrop.

Interspersed with electronic passages, Deivos deliver fine-tuned death metal that hits on many of the Polish scene staples—creative and winding guitar work; audible, voluble bass; decipherable textbook roaring; and relentless octopod drumming. At only six tracks in length, Theodicy utilizes its time with deadly efficiency, stocked with riffs and patterns that, while not always show-stopping, remain consistently and heavily effective. Recommended for those who enjoyed Souls of Damnation-era Blood Red Throne.

Rating: 4
(Evan Mugford)

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – 'Collaboration' - Handshake, Inc.

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – ‘Collaboration’. Handshake, Inc.

Dephosphorus/Haapoja – ‘Collaboration’ (Handshake Inc.)

Genre: Grindcore
This isn’t so much a split as it is aCollaboration between Finland’s Haapojaand Greece’s Dephosphorus. On each lead track the bands trade vocalists and there’s some crossover with guitarists as well. Specifically Haapoja’s Pekka Kivela’s solo on Dephosphorus’s “Shades of Reality” which is dedicated to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman.

Other than the sharp Slayer flavour on “Shades,” Dephosphorus continue to impress with their “astrogrind”. The percussion is insane. There’s groove buried in there of the neck-snappin’, break something, hardcore variety. And the impassioned vocals can keep you up at night. The vocals are equally as intense on the Haapoja side. However, they’re backed by a fuzzier tone and restless riffage bleeding black metal over their ADHD-friendly grind. It’s a complementary collaboration yielding intense results.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Ecnephias - 'Ecnephias' - My Kingdom Music

Ecnephias – ‘Ecnephias’. My Kingdom Music

Ecnephias – ‘Ecnephias’ (My Kingdom)

Genre: Death/Gothic Metal
The fifth album from the Italian bandEcnephias is a self-titled affair. The band’s brand of dark metal combines gothic and death metal elements.

The songs are melodic and atmospheric and infused with plenty of melancholy, which is heightened by the baritone singing vocals. There are also more extreme parts with death metal vocals and added intensity. They smoothly transition between styles, with plenty of lengthy instrumental sections that help bridge the gaps. It is a long album at nearly 70 minutes, making it a daunting but enjoyable listen.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Furor Gallico - 'Songs From The Earth' - Scarlet Records

Furor Gallico – ‘Songs From The Earth’. Scarlet Records

Furor Gallico – ‘Songs From The Earth’ (Scarlet)

Genre: Folk Metal
Nearly five years after their debut, Italian folksters Furor Gallico return with Songs From The Earth. The 8 piece band utilizes instruments such as violin, tin whistle, Celtic harp and bouzouki.

Their style ranges from soothing to raucous. Mellow acoustic sections ramp up into upbeat jam sessions. The vocals are diverse as well, utilizing melodic singing, harsh yells and death metal growls in multiple languages. They aren’t as well known as some of their folk metal brethren, but Furor Gallico have delivered an entertaining and enjoyable sophomore album.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Harrow - 'Fallow Fields' - Broken Limbs Recordings

Harrow – ‘Fallow Fields’. Broken Limbs Recordings

Harrow – ‘Fallow Fields’ (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Blackened Folk Metal
Fallow Fields is the third full-length album from Harrow, who hail from British Columbia, Canada. The band mixes folk elements with atmospheric black metal.

There are only four songs on the album, but each one is an epic, ranging from about 9 to 14 minutes in length. Every track is diverse, with ebbs and flows between mellow folk and more extreme black metal. Singing and rasping vocals add even more contrast. The ever-shifting nature of the songs avoids monotony, holding interest throughout.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)