Darkest Era – ‘Severance’ (Cruz Del Sur)
Cruz del Sur Music
Genre: Celtic Heavy Metal
Inspired by their home country of Ireland, Darkest Era add many elements of folk and Irish mythology into their sound. On their sophomore release Severance, comparisons to fellow Irishmen Primordial are obvious as both bands follow a similar path. The band utilizes songwriting as its greatest strength with tremolo picked guitar riffs and memorable vocals being featured throughout.
The back to back punch of “Beyond the Grey Veil” and Trapped in the Hourglass” is stunning. The latter captures the band at their most aggressive with blazing double bass and a quick tempo while the former is built around pure emotion. A weeping riff and soaring vocals are backed with a slow grooving bass line and flowing chords that climaxes in a stunning chorus.
Dead Congregation – ‘Promulgation Of The Fall’ (Profound Lore)
Profound Lore Records
Genre: Death Metal
Greece’s Dead Congregation made a huge splash with their debutGraves Of The Archangels back in 2008. Back then, the OSDM resurgence was exploding and Dead Congregation were a band leading the way. Six long years later, the OSDM revival shows no signs of slowing down, and Dead Congregation once again make a stamp for supremacy with the varied assault of Promulgation Of The Fall.
A doom-laden affair with plenty of plodding, crushingly heavy riffs to go along with variations in tempo, Dead Congregation reveal their influences in the form of Incantation and other related bands. But, the songwriting chops displayed on this album separate Dead Congregation from the hordes of likeminded bands.
Deep In Hate – ‘Chronicles Of Oblivion’ (Kaotoxin)
Genre: Death Metal/Deathcore
After their early material was more in the death/grind genre, the French band Deep In Hate have kept the death metal, but traded grind for more ‘core elements. Chronicles Of Oblivion is their third full-length.
Groovy riffs and breakdowns mix in with more intense death metal sections. The vocals combine low pitched growls with higher pitched screams, making for a varied performance. Aborted’s Sven de Caluwe makes a guest appearance on the song “Wingless Gods.” It’s pretty standard deathcore, but well-executed.
Diseased Reason – ‘Recombinant’ (Handshake)
Culled from acts like Phobia, Abigail Williams, and Plutocracy, Tucson grind quintet Diseased Reason are set to release their debut album,Recombinant, a thudding display of grit-toothed displeasure that should appeal to fans of Weekend Nachos and old Napalm Death.
Diseased Reason mix tempos well, giving Recombinant’s 10 tracks character, a covetable trait on a grind record. The sound quality is grim, purposefully laid under a bed of bones and gravel, but still huge. Slower tracks like “Irradiated” come off toughest, but there’s no animosity dry spell here. A short-lived riot.
Dragon’s Kiss – ‘Barbarians of the Wasteland’ (Killer Axe)
Killer Axe Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Playing no frills straight up heavy metal, Portugal’s Dragon’s Kisscombine the attitude of Motörhead and Venom with the swagger of Wasp and Rose Tattoo. Their debut release, Barbarians of the Wastelandfeatures six originals and two cover songs: The New Order’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldiers” and Marquis De Sade’s “Somewhere Up in the Mountains.”
Vocalist Adam Neal possesses grittiness to his approach that works seamlessly with the up-tempo music. Similar in style to Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl, Neal dirties up the songwriting perfectly. Never overly complicated, the band gets straight to the point and hits their stride on “I Embraced the Serpent and the Devil in the Dark,” the title track and “Ride for Revenge.”
Fallen Angel – ‘Crawling Out of Hell’ (Killer Axe)
Killer Axe Records
Genre: Power Metal
Originally self released in 2010, New York’s Fallen Angel have found distribution for their debut release Crawling Out of Hell. The album is the first of three releases that are based on a trilogy of novels written by guitarist and founder John Cruppe. The release features twenty tracks and runs 72 minutes in length, with six instrumentals added to the fourteen traditional tracks.
The band combines power and speed metal as most of the record features a pushed tempo, soaring vocals and blazing lead guitar work. It is sometimes tedious and tough to make it all the way through in a single listen. It is an ambitious project that the band is tackling, but I hope a little more focus is spent on fine-tuning the songwriting for their follow up.
The Great Sabatini – ‘Dog Years’ (Solar Flare)
Solar Flare Records
Genre: Noise Rock/Hardcore/Sludge
On Dog Years, The Great Sabatini’s third full-length, the Montreal quartet channels The Jesus Lizard combined with the heft of modern day sludge. The 10 tracks on offer here run the gamut from vintage AmRep quirkiness to alt-rock, all held together with a violent hardcore attack. The riff in “Periwinkle War Hammer” is like “Eye of the Tiger” thrown into an industrial-size dryer set to tumble, “Reach” adds a little ’90s melancholy to the proceedings, and “Aleka” follows that up with a stumbling, acoustic slide guitar ditty.
The fact that The Great Sabatini pull all of these disparate ingredients and influences together into one cohesive album is impressive. This isn’t controlled chaos, it’s a bacchanalia of the bizarre. If noise rock is your thing, Dog Years will most definitely tickle your fancy.
Hoth – ‘Oathbreaker’ (Self)
Genre: Black Metal
For their second album Oathbreaker, the Washington duo Hoth are going the independent route. You’ll hear plenty of great riffs and old school black metal on the album, but Hoth incorporate other interesting styles.
There’s a lot of acoustic guitar parts, which add a nice contrast to the extremity. There are also elements of melodic death metal. It’s a concept record that follows an individual on a downward spiral. The titles of the last two songs are “Oblivion” and “Despair,” so you know it won’t end well for the protagonist. The arrangements are excellent, with a lot of diversity and atmosphere.
Hard Riot – ‘The Blackened Heart’ (Pitch Black)
Pitch Black Recordings
Genre: Hard Rock
Germany’s Hard Riot are a unique combination of dirty hard rock with the slick catchy vibe of Nickelback. Their sophomore release The Blackened Heart finds the band tightening up their songwriting and musicianship. An acquired taste as the record is overly catchy; the band seems to be writing for the radio.
Vocalist Michael Gildner’s voice captures the spirit of Chad Kroeger in style and in melodies. “The End,” “Last Goodbye” and “Count On Me” could have been pulled straight from the last Nickelback record. The band sleazes up their songwriting on the southern rock inspired “Devil’s BBQ” which features a banjo riff directly taken from “Sweet Home Alabama.” Guitarist Andreas Rockrohr adds dynamic guitar solos throughout to give the songwriting some authenticity.
Rubicon Cross – ‘Rubicon Cross’ (INgrooves)
Genre: Hard Rock
Rubicon Cross are a new band fronted by Firehouse singer CJ Snare. He and guitarist Chris Davis (Furyon, Pride), wrote the lion’s share of material on their self-titled debut.
The songs are melodic, but with plenty of edge. Snare’s distinctive voice makes anything he sings sound at least a little like Firehouse, butRubicon Cross has more modern touches. Some tracks have an arena rock feel, but others are a little darker and subdued without losing the hooks and melodies. The emotional ballad ‘Save Me Within” is an album highlight.