Reviews are on a 5 star scale.
Altars – ‘Paramnesia’ (Nuclear Winter)
Nuclear Winter Records
Genre: Death Metal
Southern Australian death metallers Altars have unleashed their first full-length in the form of Paramnesia. It walks the line between old-school death metal foulness and more sleek, modern production values. Their sound gestures towards early Morbid Angel and more recent Immolation, but without mimicry; they have a firm handle on their sound and a strong, confident aesthetic.
What keeps Paramnesia from being excellent, however, is frankly mediocre songwriting that does not rise to the level of Altars’ sound. The longer material tends to drag; the three longest songs on the record run over 25 minutes, and tend to drift and dilute more than strike. The shorter the tracks, the more successful the songs tend to be. With a much harsher eye towards editing and more experience, Altars could craft and great album. Paramnesia is merely okay.
Cathexis – ‘Shades Of Apocalypse’ (Mulligore)
Genre: Death Metal
The tech death band Cathexis hail from Austin, Texas. Their debut album is Shades Of Apocalypse, which has plenty of technical wizardry, but also good old fashioned riffs and grooves.
Pinch harmonics are a tad over-used, but Cathexis vary the tempo and intensity enough to keep things interesting. The arrangements are complex at times, but a memorable riff is never far away. The vocals are typical cookie-monster style, and a little high in the mix. Black metal style rasps make an appearance on “Dethroned By The Pernicious,” adding an ominous touch. Shades Of Apocalypse is a promising debut, and the band already has a follow-up set for release later this year.
Dark Design – ‘Prey For The Future’ (Heaven and Hell)
Heaven and Hell Records
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Formed in 2010, Dark Design unleash their debut record Prey for the Future. The band’s sound is steeped in ’80s speed and progressive metal. There are influences of early Fates Warning, Toxik and Omen throughout the release. The production is a tad harsh, especially on the snare drum and guitar tones.
The record contains blazing guitar leads that are featured on every track. There is a clear Iron Maiden influence in the guitar playing as well. Vocalist Andrew Bertrand adds a nice bit of gravel to his melodic phrasing and is reminiscent of early Jon Oliva of Savatage. When Dark Design up the tempo like on the title track, “Dragonmount” and “Abiding Contempt,” they are at their best.