The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Alkaloid – ‘The Malkuth Grimoire’ (Self)
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Alkaloid are a new band made up of extreme metal veterans including Dark Fortress vocalist/guitarist Morean, Aborted guitarist Danny Tunker Spawn Of Possession guitarist Christian Muenzner, Obscura bassist Linus Klausenitzer and Blotted Science drummer Hannes Grossmann. They went the crowd funding route and self-released The Malkuth Grimoire.
The album is ambitious and creative, with 12 songs clocking in at more than 70 minutes. They mix technical and extreme death metal with progressive elements, flowing between brutality and experimentation without missing a beat. The musicianship is top-notch and the arrangements interesting,and though a bit long manages to maintain interest throughout.
Apocrophex – ‘Suspended From the Cosmic Altaar’ (Manicidic)
Genre: Death Metal
There’s no doubting the technical appeal of Apocrophex’s death metal. The bendy guitar leads, the overabundant bass drumming, the riffs that seem to distort time and space; this musical duo are very capable and prove it a multitude of times.
However, that doesn’t always translate into memorable songwriting. There are moments where they get close, like the steady groove the title track plants itself in and the lush bass lines throughout closer “Exposed Organics.” More often, it’s a whole bunch of notes that fuse into a song that doesn’t leave an impression. That’s the great flaw that stifles Apocrophex’s debut.
Dehuman – ‘Graveyard of Eden’ (Kaotoxin)
Genre: Death Metal
Belgian death metal quartet Dehuman are fighting the good fight with their second full-length release in Graveyard of Eden, a strict and heavy onslaught of guitar-centric intensity that soars and falters on its USDM formula, a take-no-prisoners methodology that hears the band giving their all to bridge the treacherous divide of melody and savagery.
Dehuman’s blend of Death’s melodic bursts—and hankering for wicked solos—and the pummeling resolve of a band like Morbid Angel is certainly on display, and on a track like “Obedience to Pestilence,” this union works wonders. But the consistent, unerring velocity ultimately exhausts rather than enthralls, making the listener crave for more multi-tempered tracks like “Ov Madness” and “Goddess of Sins.” Dehuman should heed their name and resort to something beyond the norm.
Desert Near the End – ‘Hunt for the Sun’ (Total Metal)
Genre: Thrash Metal
A rare album from Greece that doesn’t dote on the heroic Alexander, Athens band Desert Near the End crash out a crazy kind of Machine Head thrash stripped of nuance and stoked up on double-caffeinated Ouzo. There’s plenty of Blind Guardian influence everywhere, especially in the epic feel of the angular melodies.
The slap-thrash “Storm on My Side” has a hard-core edginess that highlights call-and-response vocals from long-suffering founding members Alexandros Papandreou and bassist Akis Prasinikas. Eastern European Thrash at its barest ornamentation, it makes for roughly 49 minutes of decent head-banging,
Eternal Solstice – ‘Remnants of Immorality’ (Dark Descent)
Genre: Death Metal
Remnants of Immorality has been a long time coming. It’s Dutch death metallersEternal Solstice’s first full-length since 1997’s Demonic Fertilizer. But the wait is worth it as the group slashes and screams its way through nine tracks of sonic savagery.
Dual growling/screeching vocals appear often to great effect, falling close to a duet between Glen Benton and D. Randall Blythe. The Deicide and Lamb of God comparisons don’t end there. Eternal Solstice shred and groove along the same lines as both bands with plenty of solos and mosh-ready moments. Slower marches lead into speed-fueled aggression with an ear for Slayer, Master of Puppets and Obituary. It rips. It rages. It sweats and shreds. Bang. Your. Head.
Europe – ‘War Of Kings’ (UDR)
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Saddled with the hair band label for their monster hits like “The Final Countdown” and “Carrie,” Europe have been making quality hard rock albums since reforming over a decade ago. That’s the case with their latest release, War Of Kings.
Europe circa 2015 play tight, bluesy hard rock/metal with a lot of hooks and great guitar work from John Norum. Vocalist Joey Tempest has a distinctive voice that hasn’t lost any power or range. The production by Dave Cobb (Rival Sons) gives the album a timeless sound, and if you haven’t listened to Europe since the ’80s you may be pleasantly surprised by their current output.
Evil Invaders – ‘Pulses of Pleasure’ (Napalm)
Genre: Speed/Thrash Metal
The title of the opener to Evil Invaders’ debut album, “Fast, Loud ‘n’ Rude,” is a brash slogan to this Belgium group’s speed metal. Songs whip out of control with flashy guitar solos, soaring falsettos, and galloping momentum. It’s hard to contain oneself when the band gets moving with no limits imposed.
The guitar work is the attraction, though a few songs get through on their own with a sing-along chorus, as with “Venom.” A subtle extended interlude in “Blinded” leads up to closer “Master of Illusion,” which seems taken from Powerslave-era Iron Maiden. Pulses of Pleasure is for the head bangers who suffer from a constant bout of whiplash.
Garden of Worm – ‘Idle Stones’ (Svart)
Genre: Doom Metal
Garden of Worm are back with their first full-length since 2010 in Idle Stones. The Finnish trio work through nearly 43 minutes and four tracks of melodic and jammy doom.
There’s an Americana-type jangle that runs through the guitars complementing the prog and psych leanings. (No surprise there as they’re named after a King Crimson song.) The clean vocals are nice and add to the retro feel. Their doom though exudes warmth and melancholy rather than ominousness. While there are moments of brilliance, they do have a tendency to drift. That’s not always a drawback but the nearly 20 minute closer can lose the listener around halfway through. Overall it’s solid but some brevity wouldn’t hurt.
Harm’s Way – ‘Rust’ (Deathwish)
Rust, the latest release from Chicago’sHarm’s Way, sees the band making a conscious move away from the more traditional hardcore approach of their past to a forward-thinking fusion of aggression and industrial augmentation. While retaining the influence of acts like Ringworm and New Lows, Harm’s Way also incorporate some of the most memorable traits of Godflesh and Nailbomb.
The album’s got a ton of energy. While the industrial elements are great for adding texture, it’s when the programming takes a backseat to the band’s metal-edged vitriol that Harm’s Way shines brightest. Look for a hefty take-away on the first spin, but also plan on finding more to dig on repeat listens.
Haust – ‘Bodies’ (Fysisk Format)
Genre: Black Metal/Hardcore
For their latest album Bodies, the Norwegian band Haust have added guitarist Trond Mjøen (Haraball, Ulver) to the mix. There are also some guest musicians including Henning Wisth of Okkultokrati
Haust have a unique sound that combines black metal with hardcore, crust and noise. The songs are fairly accessible, but have plenty of grit and edge. Sometimes melodic, other times cacophonous, the harsh vocals tie everything together. Slow doom, midtempo black metal and furious hardcore, this album has all of that and more.