Evil United – ‘Honored By Fire’ (MVD)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Texas thrashers Evil United are ready to unleash their sophomore album Honored by Fire. The band is heavily influenced by Overkill and Zetro-era Exodus. Down picked and fast intricate aggressive guitar riffs are fused with an intense chewed on glass vocal style. Vocalist Jason McMaster is the current Dangerous Toys singer and also was the original vocalist of progressive thrash titans Watchtower.
The band does a nice job of changing up their tempos and keeping the material straight to the point. The majority of the material is around four minutes long and never overstays its welcome. The melodies aren’t overly memorable and follow the same rhythmic pattern. A solid release, but doesn’t stand out compared to some of the stellar thrash releases so far this year.
Funerary – ‘Starless Aeon’ (Midnite Collective)
Genre: Doom Metal
Phoenix, Arizona is a place that is sunny and warm. Funerary, who hail from the Valley of the Sun, are the exact opposite. Starless Aeon is their debut album.
The songs are bleak and atmospheric, plodding along at a glacial pace. Crushingly heavy riffs give way to lengthy ambient sections. The vocals are sometimes death metal growls, other times black metal shrieks, but always buried deep in the mix. The songs take a long time to develop, but have a lot of depth and intricacies that become more evident with each listen.
John 5 – ‘Careful With That Axe’ (60 Cycle Hum)
60 Cycle Hum
Genre: Guitar Instrumental
Careful With That Axe, John 5’s eighth studio album, shows the current Rob Zombie guitarist at the height of his chicken pickin’, guitar shreddin’ powers. Most instrumental albums end up sounding like cheesy vanity projects, but John 5 has always had a fun, albeit macabre, sense of humor (check out album opener “We Need To Have A Talk About John”) that makes him feel more like a down-to-earth guitar player than an egocentric virtuoso.
Over the course of 30 minutes, Mr. 5 jumps from modern metal (“This Is My Rifle” and “The Dream Slayer”) to country-fried acoustic cuts (“Jerry’s Breakdown” and “Jiffy Jam”) and even pulls out a beautiful, fleet-fingered flamenco composition from his bag of tricks (“El Cucuy”). With the release of Careful With That Axe, Marty Friedman’s Inferno definitely has some competition for most enjoyable instrumental album of 2014.
Mutilated Veterans – ‘Necro Crust Warhead’ (Hells Headbangers)
Hells Headbangers Records
Genre: Death Metal
Infusing the D-beat destruction of Discharge with the aggression and inhuman vocals of early Napalm Death is the blueprint of death/crust newcomers Mutilated Veterans. Their debut EP Necro Crust Warhead is thirteen minutes of non stop annihilation. Featuring only two members who are responsible for the beat down, vocalist J.M. Dopico delivers a vicious performance that is unintelligible.
The majority of the riffs are straight up punk infused and up-tempo. Opener “March of the Mutilated” is like “Am I Evil” being performed from the pits of hell before ripping into an old school death metal assault. There is absolutely no variation between the songs and the EP length works to its benefit.
The Order Of The Solar Temple – ‘The Order Of The Solar Temple’ (I, Voidhanger)
I, Voidhanger Recordings
Genre: Hard Rock/Traditional Heavy Metal/Occult Rock
Surely there are a few of you who wish the revivalist trend in hard rock and metal would come to an end. Not me. I’m a sucker for it. The good stuff, anyway. The Order Of The Solar Temple are just that… the good stuff. Their self-titled full-length is steeped in heavy rock ‘n’ roll, a bit of pop sensibility, and some NWOBHM swagger.
The Order Of The Solar Temple are every bit as talented, and rock just as hard as the bands they bring to mind; high-pitched vocals and lyrical content a la Mercyful Fate; riffs and harmonies reminiscent of Rainbow and Demon. They even cover Blue Öyster Cult and do a great job. Bottom line, they rock.
Protokult – ‘No Beer In Heaven’ (Self)
Genre: Folk Metal
No Beer In Heaven is the second full-length album from the Canadian band Protokult. The rousing opening track “Get Me A Beer” is alcohol-fueled folk metal with similarities to bands like Korpiklaani, but they have many other facets, and that side is not shown again on the album.
The band has male singing vocals, male harsh vocals and operatic female vocals. The female vocals give many tracks a gothic metal vibe, and there are some power metal influences as well. It’s an extremely diverse album, so much so that it sometimes gets a bit disjointed. That’s especially the case with the disco instrumental “Brotokult” and the final song, the reggae tinged “We Smoke The Ganja.”
Rabbits – ‘Untoward’ (Lamb Unlimited)
Lamb Unlimited Records
Genre: Metal/ Noise/ Experimental
Rabbits are normally cute and cuddly. Mostly harmless. Non-violent. But these are a different species of rabbit. Portland’s Rabbits are just the opposite of these things. They’re loud, rude, and rock ‘n’ rollingly crude. Musically, Rabbits are all over the map, but somehow manage to bring things together in an impressive, scathing, controlled-burn kind of way.Untoward, the band’s newest release, finds them at the top of their game.
Untoward is braincrushingly good. It blasts off and keeps a manic tempo throughout. Standout tracks include “So Fake It’s Real” and “Reek And Ye Shall Find.” Fans of Unsane, Melvins, and Karp will dig this record. As good as they are, let’s all hope these particular rabbits don’t multiply.
Shaved Women – ‘Just Death’ (Ektro)
What kind of name is Shaved Women? It’s the kind a bunch of punked-up hardcore dudes take for themselves. Given the “don’t like it? Punk off!” attitude the St. Louis band gives off, I wouldn’t question it, or their latest intoxicating effort Just Death.
Barking and coarse hardcore vocals direct the gnarly riffs swinging like haymakers and to-a-bloody-pulp percussion. It’s dirty, painfully raw and as threatening as a loose noose. Just Death personifies the DIY aesthetic and doesn’t care whether you like it or not. It’s vicious, volatile and a packed basement of fun. I imagine a Shaved Women show attendee would be taking their life in their own hands!
Slaughterday – ‘Ravenous’ (FDA Rekotz)
FDA Rekotz Records
Genre: Death Metal
Slaughterday follow up their debut LP Nightmare Vortex with this 4 track EP (3 originals and a cover of Acheron’s “Ave Satanas”) called Ravenous; an old school throwback to the death/doom of Autopsy and Asphyx.
The vocals are very low and gruff and are mixed well with the up and down pace of the music. Even some excellent melody is thrown in for good measure to help add some extra depth to this tried and true style of death metal. This German duo has a bright future ahead of them.
Twitching Tongues – ‘World War Live’ (Closed Casket)
Closed Casket Activities
Genre: Doom Metal/Hardcore
After two studio albums and a few splits/EPs, the L.A. band Twitching Tongues deliver their first live album World War Live. It was recorded in Van Nuys, California in front of a small but devoted crowd.
The majority of the songs in the set are from last year’s In Love There Is No Law. Their live chops are excellent, with the rumbling low end cranked up loud. The album captures the band’s vitality and energy and the power of their riff-heavy songs. Not every note is perfect, but that’s how it goes in a live show, and if the audience at the show didn’t seem to mind, you shouldn’t, either.
Unisonic – ‘Light of Dawn’ (Armoury)
Genre: Power Metal
Not as instantly gratifying as their superb debut, Unisonic’s sophomore release Light of Dawn is a deeper more complex record that takes additional attention to unravel the excellent songwriting within. The band features former Helloween members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen, who are both legends in the metal community. Their style is similar to the Keeper of the Seven Keys era with the pop sensibilities of Pink Cream 69 because of the influence of their bassist Dennis Ward, a member of both bands.
The record packs an incredible punch as it begins with the blazing power metal anthem “Your Time Has Come” and the instantly remarkable “Exceptional,” which contains one of the best choruses of the year. It’s an excellent follow-up that solidifies the band as one of the true giants of the power metal genre.