The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Bad Guys – ‘Bad Guynaecology’ (Riot Season)
Genre: Rock/Heavy Metal
With a humorous edge underneath a dirty groove, Bad Guys inject some fun into what could have been a serious affair. That makes a big impression, and it’s hard not to smile at the lyrics to a tune like “Prostitutes.” However, these guys can perform, and the album is more than just filthy jokes.
“Crime” channels George Thorogood and the Destroyers, if Thorogood sang about Tonka trucks instead of alcohol. “Zoltan” and “Motorhome” are speedier cuts, a departure from the gloomy riffs throughout “World Murderer.” Not only does this album rock hard, but it’s an entertaining, light-hearted venture.
Drakkar – ‘Run With The Wolf’ (My Kingdom)
Genre: Power Metal
Run With The Wolf is the fifth album from the Italian power metal band Drakkar. It also includes a bonus disc of five songs from the band’s first three albums re-recorded by the current lineup.
You’ll hear the usual power metal elements including plenty of guitar wizardry and atmospheric keyboards. One things that makes Drakkar stand out is the vocals from Davide Dell’Orto. He has the power metal soaring style, but his voice has a gritty element that gives things an extra edge and unique sound. The musicianship and song arrangements are excellent, the lyrics melodramatic and periodically slipping over the line into cheesy.
Fossils – ‘The Meating’ (Indisciplinarian)
Genre: Noise Rock
Just a year removed from their excellent sophomore effort Flesh Hammer, the typically instrumental noise rock drum-bass duo Fossils are back with a new EP entitled The Meating, a record that features seven tracks from their 2010 debut Meat Rush but with added interpretational vocals (and guitar) from a variety of artists that performed at Flesh Hammer’s release party.
While the instrumentation on hand is unsurprisingly heavy and off-the-wall, the vocals additions, for the most part, are very hit-and-miss, and only further reinforce Fossils’ original two-man game-plan. There are highlights, though, with “Ridge and the Rock” and “Ham Reader” serving as the undisputed best of the batch. In spite of its avant-garde poetics and eccentric punk flailing, the vocals come off as an unnecessary experiment that ultimately detracts from the raucousness that it is Fossils.
Ghost Bath – ‘Moonlover’ (Northern Silence)
Genre: Black Metal
North Dakota’s Ghost Bath may be coined as a depressive black metal band, but on their second full-length album Moonlover, one can’t help but detect a distinct and sonorous feeling of hope. Virginia Woolf’s favorite band has returned, and their maturation into one of the finer crestfallen acts is on stark and crippling display.
Laced with tortured cries, an impressively vibrant drum sound, and moments of searing melancholy, this particular strain of black metal comes with a surprising accessibility, one no doubt manufactured by the excellent, often uplifting guitar work. A uniquely rewarding effort that pleases with every listen, despondency is but an afterthought with Moonloverand its gorgeous cold comforts.
Horisont – ‘Break the Limit’ (Rise Above)
Genre: Hard Rock
“Break the Limit,” the latest release from Swedish retro-rockers Horisont, only has two songs, but mighty those two songs are. Meant to be a stop-gap between their splendid third release Time Warriors, and their highly anticipated fourth, this is a limited-release 7” single in a variety of colors, featuring a drawing of a ripped and snarling Viking, swinging his ax through some interplanetary landscape.
The lead song “Break the Limit” is a driving, fist-pumping anthem about ridin’ the wind, breakin’ the law and fightin’ our way back. The B-side, “Yellow Blues,” starts with a synthesizer intro, then breaks loose into some pretty sweet Lizzy-style leads and fine golden god wailing by singer Axel Söderberg.
(Karen A. Mann)
Macabre Omen – ‘Gods Of War At War’ (Van)
Genre: Black Metal
Ten years after their last full-length, the Greek band Macabre Omen return withGods Of War – At War. Mainman Alexandros handles vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards, and brought aboard drummer T.J.F. Valleley (Lychgate, Orpheus) for this album.
Macabre Omen play an epic style of pagan black metal. The songs are lengthy with a lot of atmosphere with riffs that are sometimes dense and oppressive, other times groovy and melodic. There’s plenty of diversity, such as the acoustic folk at the beginning of “Man Of 300 Voices” and some spoken word parts. Mixing harsh vocals with some melodic singing also adds variety.
Nocturnus – ‘The Science of Horror’ (Nuclear War Now!)
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Despite being a part of the early incarnations of Morbid Angel and Incubus, Mike Browning earned his renowned status with the forward thinking death metal outfit Nocturnus. Unleashing two pivotal albums in the early ‘90s, they are now releasing their hard to find original demos, The Science of Horror.
As with most demos, the material is rougher and more primitive than their final versions. There is more of a thrash feel as Browning is still exploring his vocal style and isn’t quite as guttural. The keyboards play an essential role in their second demo, which the band is known for. This is an excellent look into the birth of a vital early death metal outfit.
The Order of Apollyon – ‘The Sword and The Dagger’ (Listenable)
Genre: Death Metal
The Order of Apollyon’s founding member BST has completely revamped his lineup for The Sword and The Dagger, including a couple members of long-running French outfit Temple of Baal. The Order of Apollyon keep with their death/black metal aesthetic. No strangers to furious speed, they’re obviously technically solid as a rock, but they’re not afraid to let loose and stray from the path.
Scorching black metal and chugging death metal balance with an abundance of atmosphere. Tremolos race beneath hammering percussion and guttural vocals. Behemoth fans can get behind the epic touches and there’s a worldly feeling to it without being as overt as Nile or Cult of Fire. It’s an impressive and interesting listen in a genre often dragged down by normalcy.
Ranger – ‘Where Evil Dwells’ (Spinefarm)
Genre: Speed Metal
Dust off those patched vests and bulletbelts, kids! Because you’ll be scrambling for them when you hearWhere Evil Dwells, the debut full-length from Finnish shredders Ranger. They embody the spirit of the early ‘80s and the drive to be the fastest.
As expected, Ranger rip and thrash with youthful exuberance and the chops to back it up. Galloping rhythms and scorching leads showcase their ability to shred. The volatile twin guitars threaten to break into frenetic solos at any moment. If you can get past the sharply pitch shifting vocals and their position way out front, you’ll have a lot of fun with this.
Reign Of Fury – ‘Death Be Thy Shepherd’ (Static Tension)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Reign Of Fury are a relatively new band based in the U.K., but sound like they could have been an ’80s Bay Area thrash group. On their sophomore release Death Be Thy Shepherd they are heavily influenced by classic bands, especially Metallica.
The production is fairly modern sounding, but their style is vintage thrash with a lot of melody and plenty of shredding. Vocalist Bison Steed has a lot of Hetfield in his voice, especially on tracks like the “Unforgiven”-like “All Is Lost.” Their songwriting is ambitious, with a couple of tracks in the 10 minute range. It’s derivative, but still a well-executed thrash album.
Sleeping with Sirens – ‘Madness’ (Epitaph)
Genre: Post Hardcore
Kellin Quinn and Orlando, Florida’sSleeping With Sirens have another hit album on their resume. Panic! at the Disco, The Used and Memphis May Fire are intimately channeled here in songs like the dumb-defiant “Kick Me” and the sugary toaster-strudel “Go Go Go,” which reportedly has something to do withAmerican Pie.
The pant-load of poppier-than thou post-hardcore band influences get flogged in nearly every song as Quinn seeks the peaks of castrati overload and what helium can do not only to the male voice but to the content of metally-core tracks.“The Strays” is mildly interesting with its acoustic change up in orchestration and glockenspiel arrangement. It’s the catchiest thing on an album that works its heavy metal like fifty shades of Carly Rae Jepsen.
The Slow Death – ‘Ark’ (Chaos)
Genre: Funeral Doom/Death Metal
Tragedy surrounds The Slow Death’s third album Ark. With the unfortunate demise of vocalist Gregg Williamson hovering over the proceedings, the band’s dreary doom metal is given an extra touch of sadness.
Commanding female vocals interlock with deep grunts, while the sparse keys help to invoke a downtrodden atmosphere. The big addition to the group is Pallbearer vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell, who provides scorching leads throughout. It’s an admirable contrast to the leisurely pace that defines the music. At 75 minutes, Ark is an intimidating, yet gratifying record that requires several full play throughs.