Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of January 6, 2015

The reviews are on a 5 star scale.

Chaos - 'Violent Redemption' - Transcending Obscurity

Chaos – ‘Violent Redemption’. Transcending Obscurity

Chaos – ‘Violent Redemption’ (Transcending Obscurity)

Genre: Thrash Metal
When you think of thrash metal hotbeds, India probably isn’t the first country to come to mind. But Chaos have been flying the flag for the genre for a decade and have garnered a loyal following in their homeland. As fans await a new album later this year, the band’s 2013 debut Violent Redemption is being reissued.

You’ll hear plenty of old school thrash influences from both the Bay Area and Europe. They are able to crank up the tempo to gallop, but also dial it back to a more moderate groove. The guitar work is excellent and JK provides potent thrash style vocals. Even though their vibe is old school, the production is modern, providing even more potency to their sound.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Dethlehem - 'Destroyers Of The Realm' -

Dethlehem – ‘Destroyers Of The Realm’.

Dethlehem – ‘Destroyers Of The Realm’ (Self)

Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania purveyors of RPG metal are back with their third album, Destroyers Of The Realm.

The subject matter of the songs and corny member names like
Brutalitus The Bloodbeard and Overlord Brom give them a unique identity. And while the interludes are cheesy, the music is not. It’s solid melodic death metal with power metal influences that has catchy hooks, excellent guitar work and a combination of harsh and singing vocals.  The production is excellent as well, with mastering from Jens Bogren (Opeth, At The Gates).

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Hooded Menace - 'Gloom Immemorial' - Doomentia Records

Hooded Menace – ‘Gloom Immemorial’. Doomentia Records

Hooded Menace – ‘Gloom Immemorial’ (Doomentia)

Genre: Death/Doom Metal
As fans await a new album in 2015 from Finland’s Hooded Menace, the compilation Gloom Immemorial will help fill the void. It has a lot of various material collected in one convenient release.

The 76 minute long album includes tracks from their 2007 demo The Eyeless Hordealong with “I, Devil Master” recorded for the Live Evil Vol. 1 compilation. There are also songs from Hooded Menace’s numerous splits and EPs released over the past several years. If you’ve only listened to the band’s studio albums, you’ve missed a lot of great music on those EPs and splits, and now have the chance to easily scoop them up.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Sata Kaskelottia - 'Sata Kaskelottia' - Inverse Records

Sata Kaskelottia – ‘Sata Kaskelottia’. Inverse Records

Sata Kaskelottia – ‘Sata Kaskelottia’ (Inverse)

Genre: Stoner/Sludge/Progressive Metal
By balancing thick, sludgy rhythms with intricate guitar leads and powerful vocals,Sata Kaskelottia (which when translated to English means 100 sperm whales) have created a unique sound that needs to be heard, rather than explained . While relatively new to the metal scene, their self-titled debut release  is certain to garner some serious attention from the metal community.

Each track offers the listener something different either through varying vocals, rhythm work, or guitar leads, yet the album as a whole still maintains its progressive, sludge metal feel .Fans of early Mastodon, Red Fang and Baroness are certain to enjoy this release.

Rating: 3.5
(Diana M. Marsh)

A Skylit Drive - 'Rise: Ascension' - Tragic Hero Records

A Skylit Drive – ‘Rise: Ascension’. Tragic Hero Records

A Skylit Drive – ‘Rise: Ascension’ (Tragic Hero)

Genre: Post Hardcore/Melodic Metalcore
2014 was a tumultuous year for A Skylit Drive, with harsh vocalist/bassist Brian White and drummer Cory La Quay exiting the band. After vocalist Michael “Jag” Jagmin and guitarist Nick Miller released several videos of them performing songs from 2013’s Rise acoustically, they decided to re-record the entire album that way, resulting in Rise: Ascension.

The songs were re-arranged, incorporating acoustic guitar, bass, piano, cello and other instruments. The songs hold up really well in the stripped down mode. They are mellower and more melodic than on the original album, but still have plenty of urgency and emotion.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Tourniquet - 'Onward To Freedom' - Pathogenic Records

Tourniquet – ‘Onward To Freedom’. Pathogenic Records

Tourniquet – ‘Onward To Freedom’ (Pathogenic)

Genre: Heavy/Thrash Metal
After a nearly decade long hiatus from 2003 to 2012, the reactivated Tourniquetare back with their second album in the past couple of years. Onward To Freedomis a concept album tackling the issues of animal cruelty and injustice.

Drummer Ted Kirkpatrick wrote the songs, and most of the vocals are done by guest singers such as Michael Sweet (Stryper), Mattie Montgomery (For Today) and Dug Pinnick (Kings X) along with narration from the legendary actor Ed Asner. Guitarists Marty Friedman, Chris Poland and others also appear. The songs on the album are bombastic and melodic traditional metal with some thrash influences. The guests provide diversity, and the concept ties everything together nicely.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Wardruna - 'Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga' - Indie Recordings

Wardruna – ‘Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga’. Indie Recordings

Wardruna – ‘Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga’ (Indie)

Genre: Folk/Ambient Metal
If you watched History Channel’s Vikings series, you’ve heard music fromWardruna’s album Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga. The band’s 2009 debut is now being reissued.

Wardruna use old school instruments likedeer-hide frame drums, kraviklyra, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn and lur. Their lyrics are written in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse, with vocals from former Gorgoroth and current God Seed singer Gaahl. The songs are atmospheric and ambient, not all that metal, but interesting and sometimes mesmerizing. The band is currently working on the third and final installment of the Runaljod trilogy.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Weight Of The Tide - 'Epilogue' - Undergroove Records

Weight Of The Tide – ‘Epilogue’. Undergroove Records

Weight Of The Tide – ‘Epilogue’ (Undergroove)

Genre: Heavy/Groove Metal
Vocalist/guitarist Mark Moots and drummer Jason Thomas were members of December for a decade until the band split in 2004. Now the two are part of the quartet Weight Of The Tide, whose debut album is Epilogue.

Their sound is packed with thick, sludgy riffs and catchy grooves. Even though they are from Nevada, there are southern influences in their musical DNA. Combine that with some retro stylings and good old hard rock and you have an album that has appeal to fans of several different genres.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Witchrist – 'Vritra' - Iron Bonehead Recordings

Witchrist – ‘Vritra’. Iron Bonehead Recordings

Witchrist – ‘Vritra’ (Iron Bonehead)

Genre: Black/Death Metal
A full month before the release of theirVritra EP, New Zealand’s Witchristannounced they were splitting up, makingVritra the band’s final release. No doubt fans will be disappointed as this and their split with Antediluvian were the first to include Bolzer’s KzR on vocals.

What we have on these final three tracks is down and dirty, blood under the fingernails blackened death metal. “Transmuting Rituals” and “The Golden Ascent” bury the listener in oppressive death metal scorn. “Haruspex” even pulls a sinister and merciless Candlemass doom flavor into the mix. Vritra is an intensely dark and vitriolic end to the band’s relatively brief existence well worth bloodying your ears with.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)