Agael – ‘Trost’ (Naturmacht)
Genre: Black Metal
After releasing his debut back in 2009, the German one man black metal project Agael returns with Trost.
He mixes standard black metal with mellow ambient sections. Intense mid-tempo riffs are punctuated by lengthy instrumental parts. Many tracks have a slow build from ambient to moderate to extreme and back again. The vocals are buried rather deep in the mix, with the guitars getting plenty of exposure. While there are some lulls, Agael nicely blends beauty and brutality.
Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers – ‘Million Dollar Haircuts…’ (Armoury)
Genre: Hard Rock
Longtime Helloween vocalist Andi Deris returns with his third solo albumMillion Dollar Haircuts On Ten Cent Heads. His backing band are the Bad Bankers, young up and coming musicians that he hand picked for the project. Like his other solo releases, the music is more hard rock based with a heavy modern rock approach.
The record stumbles out of the gate as the album opener, “C**K” & “Don’t Listen to the Radio (TWOTW 1938)” is cliché and gets the album off to a rocky start. The record dramatically picks up with the amazing “Blind,” which features a patented Deris melody that is insanely memorable. The mellower Deris writes the better and more honest the material comes across. The back end finishes very strong for another solid solo release.
Aypheros – ‘Ascendet Novissima Tua’ (PRC)
Genre: Black Metal
It’s interesting to hear the ashen interpretation of black metal from far-flung corners of the world. Santiago, Chile’s Aypheros, crank out the old school Morbid Angel and Satan sound. The production is as evocative of the eighties as the tunes themselves, such as they are.
One of the year’s best song titles, “Shamhamphorash,” appears in front of the album’s eight tracks. The title might be a recitation of evil incarnate or the Chilean name for psoriasis, but it’s a fine jolt of Emperor outtakes and a hint of protean Finnish growlcore.
Crematory – ‘Antiserum’ (SPV)
Genre: Gothic Metal
Germany’s Crematory are back after a four year break with their twelfth full-length release Antiserum. Throughout their twenty-three year career, the electronic and gothic influences have increased and added diversity to their songwriting. Pushing the electronic element to its fullest potential, they have collaborated with EBM artist Elmar Schmidt to compose the music.
The band shifted its sound in 1999 with the addition of vocalist/guitarist Matthias Hechler. His vocal approach brings a sense of accessibility and his melodies are immensely catchy. The title track, “Until the End” and “If You Believe” capture the band at its finest. The symbiotic vocal performances between Hechler and longtime growler Felix bring the songwriting to a deeper dimension and the result is one of their best releases in a long time.
Dinner Music For The Gods – ‘Beautiful and Treacherous’ (Self)
Genre: Instrumental Metal
One of the challenges of instrumental metal is keeping the listener engaged throughout the album. That challenge is met and exceeded by the Las Vegas band Dinner Music For The Gods on Beautiful and Treacherous.
They transition seamlessly from smooth jazz to blazing metal in the blink of an eye. One minute it’s a prog fest, the next it’s a more traditional take on Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” World music influences add even more flavor to the songs. The musicianship is outstanding, especially the guitar work, and there plenty of hooks and clever riffs. A lot of instrumental albums you can appreciate,but not necessarily enjoy. With this one, you can do both.
Doom’s Day – ‘The Devil’s Eyes’ (PRC)
Genre: Heavy Metal
The resurgence of occult inspired heavy metal has been making a huge impact on the metal scene with Ghost and In Solitude leading the way. Canada’s Doom’s Day are back with their sophomore effort The Devil’s Eyes, and their growth has been tremendous. Lead vocalist DooM utilizes different styles of singing to add a ton of diversity.
Opener “The Offering” is filled with huge riffs, blazing double bass and a classic mid range King Diamond meets mid era Paradise Lost vocals. The doom heavy “Watery Grave” is reminiscent of Clouds era Tiamat with its plodding riffs and the clever use of the organ. A huge improvement over their debut and at just under 40 minutes, the record is easily absorbed.
Folge Dem Wind – ‘To Summon Twilight’ (Aural)
Genre: Black Metal
The French band Folge Dem Wind have been around in various incarnations since the late ’90s, and To Summon Twilight is their third full-length.
Their sound is mainly traditional black metal with a lot of variety. There are intense, blast beat driven parts as well as more subdued and melodic sections. At times, like during the title track, there’s even a bit of black ‘n roll influence. The flow between the mellow and extreme is smooth, a testament to their musical dexterity.
Hopeless Youth – ‘Disgust’ (Candlelight)
On their full-length debut Disgust, Montreal’s Hopeless Youth have found an ideal medium between brooding angst and digestibly adrenalizing punk. The quintet shape melody into their music, but they’re sneaky about it, making sure the brunt of the experience is tense and rapid-fire.
Hopeless Youth waste precious little time delivering their message via granite-rough riffs and bark-gnawing vocals. But the showstopper must be the drums that pound merciless and flawless from start to finish. Even if you were paying strict attention, Disgust will end up catching you off guard with diesel tracks like “Ghost” and “Abomination.”