Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of April 14, 2015

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Abyss - ‘Heretical Anatomy’ - 20 Buck Spin Records

Abyss – ‘Heretical Anatomy’. 20 Buck Spin Records

Abyss – ‘Heretical Anatomy’ (20 Buck Spin)

Genre: Death Metal
It’s difficult to be floored by a contemporary metal album, especially if you listen to metal on a daily basis, butAbyss invoke that feeling with their astounding debut. For twenty unnerving minutes, the group annihilates their peers with an equal distribution of crusty death metal and cruel grind.

The opening title track forces its heartless intentions on the listener, and the remaining seven tracks build upon that. Steamrolling riffs and shredding leads are commonplace, though something like the doom-y stature of “Thrall of the Elder Gods” can come along to mess with those standards. Heretical Anatomy is a top-tier record that doesn’t compromise on its barbaric nature.

Rating: 4.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Annisokay – ‘Enigmatic Smile’ - SPV Records

Annisokay – ‘Enigmatic Smile’. SPV Records

Annisokay – ‘Enigmatic Smile’ (SPV)

Genre: Metalcore/Alternative Metal
Unabashedly injecting full doses of beta into their metalcore stylings, German quintet Annisokay are back with album numero dos in Enigmatic Smile, an enjoyably airy vacation into clean vocal-meets-breakdown paradise, a realm with electro hugs, long bangs, and plenty of harmless posturing.

Only a few cans short of a six-pack,Enigmatic Smile remains a helplessly melodic and well-produced album, traits that inescapably make this better than it probably should be. The melodrama comes off in stink waves, and the clean vocals are often embarrassingly obnoxious, but the riffs are there, so are the impressive hooks. If this band looked a little closer at how Bring Me the Horizon handles this emo-aggro sound, they may just end up finding some lead in their pencils.

Rating: 3
(Evan Mugford)

At the Dawn – ‘Land In Sight’ - Bakerteam Records

At the Dawn – ‘Land In Sight’. Bakerteam Records

At the Dawn – ‘Land In Sight’ (Bakerteam)

Genre: Power Metal
Formed out of the ashes of death metal band Conspiracy, At the Dawn are the polar opposites as their focus is on grandiose melodies and a mix of power and progressive metal. Their sophomore release Land In Sight picks up where their debut left off with an enhancement on adding symphonic elements.

Lead guitar play Michele Viaggi shreds, as his neoclassical style is a blend of John Petrucci and Yngwie Mamlsteen. He is the clear highlight since his playing is magnificent and fits the progressive elements perfectly. Vocalist Stefano de Marco possesses a wide range but thankfully keeps his register in the mid range and never sings outside his reach.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Eden's Curse - 'Live With The Curse' - AFM Records

Eden’s Curse – ‘Live With The Curse’. AFM Records

Eden’s Curse – ‘Live With The Curse’ (AFM)

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
After four studio albums, the British bandEden’s Curse are releasing their first live album, Live With The Curse. It was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland. There’s plenty of material on the album, with 20 songs clocking in at around 100 minutes.

Vocalist Nikola Mijić, whose first record with Eden’s Curse was 2013’s Symphony Of Sin, also does a nice job with the band’s earlier material that he did not originally sing. It’s an energetic performance all around, with tight musicianship, good backing vocals and an appreciative crowd. It’s ironic that a band formed as solely a studio project has turned into a first-rate live act.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Gallows – ‘Desolation Sounds’ - Bridge 9 Records

Gallows – ‘Desolation Sounds’. Bridge 9 Records

Gallows – ‘Desolation Sounds’ (Bridge 9)

Genre: Post Hardcore
Mosh pit darlings Gallows have delivered yet another stereo punisher withDesolation Sounds. Flowing between anthem style hardcore and melodic driven sing-along, the album is a strong statement by a band that chooses no conformity.

Each song delivers its own masterful composition, exposing what this band does best. Darlings of the underground, Gallows deserve your attention, and Desolation Sounds is an outstanding record to begin that discovery if you’ve never checked out the band.

Rating: 4
(Edward Banchs)

Jaded Star - 'Memories From The Future' - Sensory Records

Jaded Star – ‘Memories From The Future’. Sensory Records

Jaded Star – ‘Memories From The Future’ (Sensory)

Genre: Heavy Metal
Jaded Star are a new Greek band with some veteran members. They are fronted by ex-Visions Of Atlantis vocalist Maxi Nil and other members have been in groups such as Iced Earth and Wardrum.

Their debut album Memories From The Future is a diverse effort with influences of traditional metal, power metal and hard rock. Nil has a great voice, and she’s able to sing with both power and restraint. The songs are very catchy, both in melody and riffage. There’s also plenty of atmosphere that adds depth and texture to the songs.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Lancer - 'Second Storm' - Despotz Records

Lancer – ‘Second Storm’. Despotz Records

Lancer – ‘Second Storm’ (Despotz)

Genre: Power Metal
As you can probably guess from the title,Second Storm is the second album from the Swedish power metal band Lancer.They are a young band who are influenced by classic groups like Iron Maiden and Helloween. Influences of more modern bands like DragonForce can also be heard.

The songs are very melodic and packed with hooks, but also have ample aggression. Isak Stenvall is an excellent vocalist with a lot of power and range. The guitar work on the album is top-notch, with a lot of great solos and memorable riffs. There’s even a bass solo or two. While somewhat derivative, it’s a well-played and enjoyable power metal album.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Magic Kingdom – ‘Savage Requiem’ - AFM Records

Magic Kingdom – ‘Savage Requiem’. AFM Records

Magic Kingdom – ‘Savage Requiem’ (AFM)

Genre: Power Metal
Formed in 1999, symphonic power metal band Magic Kingdom are prepared to release their fourth album Savage Requiem. It is also their third different lead vocalist as ex-Adagio singer Christian Palin now takes over vocal duties. Magic Kingdom were formed by guitarist Dushan Petrossi, who also handles primary songwriting duty in fellow power metal outfit Iron Mask.

Where Iron Mask have hard rock tendencies, Magic Kingdom are pure power metal. The album’s tempo is at warp speed as the song structures are built around blazing double bass, excellent musicianship and grandiose melodies. Palin has tremendous range and showcases his voice throughout.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Drago)

Michael Angelo Batio 'Shred Force 1: The Essential MAB' - Rat Pak Records

Michael Angelo Batio ‘Shred Force 1: The Essential MAB’. Rat Pak Records

Michael Angelo Batio ‘Shred Force 1: The Essential MAB’ (Rat Pak)

Genre: Neoclassical Metal/Hard Rock
You may have seen him and his distinctive double guitar performing on a recent episode of That Metal Show, and now shredder extraordinaire Michael Angelo Batio is unleashing the career retrospective Shred Force 1: The Essential MAB.

Along with instrumentals featuring his guitar wizardry, Batio brings aboard some guest vocalists. Queenryche’s Todd LaTorre sings on the Rush cover “What You’re Doing” and Deep Purple’s “Burn.” Batio pays tribute to some other guitar gods such as Eric Clapton (“Slowhand”), Randy Rhodes (“RRR”) and Dimebag Darrell (“Diamond”). There are tons of other guest appearances as well, such as Chris Poland, Mark Tremonti, Rudy Sarzo, Michael Wilton, Jeff Loomis, George Lynch and more.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Outre - ‘Ghost Chants’ - Third Eye Temple

Outre – ‘Ghost Chants’. Third Eye Temple

Outre – ‘Ghost Chants’ (Third Eye Temple)

Genre: Black Metal
Sharp brutality and haunting melodies run through the black metal on Outre’s first album Ghost Chants. When the two aspects mingle, like on the gripping finale “Arrival,” the band sees the best results. That track also has one of the fastest parts on the whole album, as the song hits a buzzing pace that it doesn’t come out of.

Stellar drum work throughout gives the proceedings a charge helped by songwriting that is more than just static strumming. Divided into seven “chants,” the spirits of the genre, both past and present, have a strong hold on this effort.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)