Black Tar Prophet – ‘Deafen’ (Domestic Genocide)
Domestic Genocide Records
Genre: Instrumental Sludge/Doom
There’s a touch of irony in naming a band Black Tar Prophet and not having any vocals. But then again, bassist Greg Swineheart and drummer Erik Dever let their thick-as-tar sludge/doom/drone do all the talking. Their second full-length, Deafen may also leave you speechless.
The duo burn slow and hot with a mix of Sleep’s filthy low end, the repetitive hypnotism of OM and their tribal rhythmic patterns, and the tone, riff structure and two-member connection of Jucifer. Deafen is weighed down by a choking smokiness. The bleary-eyed and lovers of skin-crawling heaviness should prepare to get totally zoned out, bro. Crank it up!
Creinium – ‘Project Utopia’ (Inverse)
Genre: Symphonic Death/Black Metal
Creinium go for a bombastic touch with their death metal on the band’s debut EP. Grandiose symphonic melodies align with jagged riffs and a mix of growls and shrieks that sounds like Ihsahn covering Deicide. The five songs have the necessary scope behind them, weaving in everything from lush strings to tense spoken word section.
The keyboards are abundant throughout, so much so that they at times overwhelm the other instruments. That’s not surprising, considering the understated performances from the rest of the members. Aiming for lofty heights with their music, Creinium puts in a fine, if unmemorable, performance with their first EP.
Eskhaton – ‘Worship Death’ (Chaos)
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
If you like the chaotic, filthy, lo-fi sound of black metal, but prefer your death metal growls over banshee-like screams, then Eskhaton mightend up being one of your highlights of the year. Though fellow Aussie’s Portal still very much hold the crown in this Lovecraftian genre, it’s a solid effort, even if it does fall short at times.
Definitely the sort of thing you would want to listen to in a darkened cellar; or maybe that’s just me.
Ghoul – ‘Hang Ten’ (Tankcrimes)
Genre: Surf Metal
Marketed as their first release completely embracing “surf metal,” the masked goons of Ghoul give us Hang Ten, six songs continuing the bizarre tale of rival motorcycle gangs that would be the perfect soundtrack for the cemetery acid trip from Easy Rider in a schlocky Troma remake.
“Sidehackers” rides a tide of toxic waste with contagious riffage, while “Blood on the Street” shimmers like the sun at high noon reflected in a red puddle. But this isn’t like The Ventures with distortion, or The Beach Boys on bath salts, their brand of surf metal is basically groovier thrash that still captures their gonzo tongue-in-cheek menace – even if their Bermuda shorts don’t match the color of their burlap masks.
Gunpowder Gray – ‘Gunpowder Gray’ (Boris)
Genre: Hard Rock
A couple members of Atlanta death/grind band Disfigurement team up with some punk musicians for an album that’s neither death nor punk.
The 7 song EP is old school hard rock/heavy metal. The songs are bluesy and played with a lot of swagger and attitude. They are simple in construction, but have a lot of hooks and melody. You’ll hear influences of everybody from Guns N’ Roses to Sabbath to early ’80s NWOBHM inGunpowder Gray’s sound. It’s one of those albums that you crank up while driving around with the top down.
Krokus – ‘Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House Of Rust’ (The End)
The End Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
After releasing a new studio album last year, the long running Swiss band Krokus return with the live effort Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House Of Rust, recorded in their hometown of Solothurn.
They play four songs in whole or in part from 2013’s Dirty Dynamitealong with selections from throughout their career. You’ll hear hits like ‘Screaming In The Night’ and ‘Long Stick Goes Boom,’ but there are a lot of big hits they don’t play. Well known tracks like “Midnite Maniac,” “Ballroom Blitz” and “Eat The Rich” are not included. Marc Storace still sounds great, and it’s a well-played set from an underrated band that has been around for almost 40 years.
Pet Slimmers Of The Year – ‘Fragments of Uniforms’ (Candleight)
Genre: Post Metal
I was starting to think this was going to be a relatively disappointing month of releases, but this album is just so fantastic that I feel silly for ever having thought that. Pet Slimmers of the Year are (mostly instrumental) post-metal at its finest, far more interesting than Pelican’s latest release Forever Becoming, and—at times—as beautifully melodic as anything post-rock masters God Is An Astronaut have done.
This album will definitely be circling my playlist for much of this year, and I recommend it sits in yours at some point too.
Skelethal – ‘Deathmanicvs Revelation’ (Iron Bonehead)
Iron Bonehead Productions
Genre: Death Metal
Having only formed in early 2012, death metal maniacs Skelethal have unleashed their debut MLP in Deathmanicvs Revelation. The French duo of Gui Haunting (guitar, vocals) and Jon Whiplash (drums, bass) live up to their surnames over these 23 invigorating minutes.
Skelethal play more or less standard old school death metal. They go right for the jugular with a shredding pace. The tone comes off almost Swedish which gives it a bit of a grindcore edge. It’s crunchy and fierce with a bit of swing. The not-so-up-front production drains some of the energy, but it’s still good enough for some furious headbanging.
Skinfather – ‘None Will Mourn’ (Streetcleaner)
Genre: Death Metal
After releasing a couple of EPs, Southern California death metal merchants Skinfather unveil their full-length debut None Will Mourn.
Named after a Dismember song, Skinfather definitely pay homage to that era and location of death metal, but also inject their own style and attitude along with elements of hardcore. The vocals are more aggressive yells than guttural, death metal growls. They do a nice job varying tempos from slow and crushing to fast and galloping, with a big helping of mid-tempo groove. It’s solid Swedish style death metal with an American twist.
Winger – ‘Better Days Comin’’ (Frontiers)
Genre: Hard Rock
Winger were one of the biggest hair metal bands of the 1980s. Their hits were all over MTV and the band found huge success. No longer in the mainstream, they are ready to release their sixth full-length release,Better Day’s Comin’. The band has added maturity to their songwriting, which suits their style. Their musicianship has always been impressive and age hasn’t hindered that.
The second half of the record is much stronger than the beginning and I am confused by their track selection. The last track “Out of This World” is a tender ballad that the band executes brilliantly. Guitarist’s Reb Beach still shows that he plays with a ton of emotion, as his leads are mesmerizing. Some of the tracks are a tad cheesy, but overall the band has improved with time.