Absolon – ‘Darkness Rising’ (Roxx)
Genre: Power Metal
The epic concept album is a staple of power metal, and that’s exactly what Absolon have tackled on their debut release Darkness Rising.There are interludes, spoken word parts and a storyline revolving around a man who sells his soul to the devil, resulting in his band becoming the biggest metal band in the world.
It’s a very theatrical release, and even though there’s a lot of music, the songs are not overly long. The concept is the dominating aspect of the album, meaning atmosphere and bombast sometimes overshadow things like hooks and melody. There’s a little Queensryche, a little Broadway and a lot of showmanship on Darkness Rising. It’s sometimes over the top, but ultimately satisfying.
Ayr – ‘Nothing Left To Give’ (Antithetic)
Genre: Black Metal
Originally released in 2011, the third (and last so far) album from North Carolina’s Ayr has been reissued. The four song EP embraces traditional black metal, but incorporates a lot of diversity. The opening track “Thirst” is almost soothing at times, interrupted by periodic howling vocals before ramping up to full blast-beat mode.
“Hallucination” is a trippy instrumental, followed by the forbidding and atmospheric closer “Expiration.” Ayr are an intriguing black metal band, and if you aren’t familiar with them, Nothing Left To Give is well worth exploring.
Call of the Void – ‘Dragged Down A Dead End Path’ (Relapse)
Genre: Metallic Hardcore
Call of the Void are pissed, and they use Dragged Down A Dead End Pathas a way to express this. This uproarious debut is caught somewhere between metallic hardcore and grind-y punk. The album isn’t as unstable as Nails or Converge can get, but a few moments on “Failure” and “Napalm Lungs” almost get to that point.
The band isn’t afraid to toy with tempos either, though the attempt to sprint past three minutes on “Breeding Grounds” is a misstep. For those who want crushing, metal-infused hardcore in 25 minutes or less, this album will be sufficient.