New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: Week of September 2, 2014
Black Tongue – ‘Born Hanged/Falsifier’ (Century Media)
Heavier than heavy itself, UK’s Black Tongue have taken the deathcore genre to it’s slowest possible conclusion with the Born Hanged/Falsifier double EP.
Songs like “Coma” and “H.C.H.C” are so downtuned and the tempo crawls at such a low pace that they sound like they’re at risk at falling apart, but the five piece keep it just tight enough to make it to the next snare hit/open chug. Not a great deal of diversity from track to track, but it’s made up for by huge levels of sheer vitriol and crushing brutality.
Black Twilight Circle (Various Artists) ‘Tliltic Tlapoyauak’(The Ajna Offensive)
Genre: Black Metal
The Black Twilight Circle are a growing movement of black metal musicians based in Southern California. Composed of sixteen songs and clocking in with a running time of nearly two hours, this compilation is a comprehensive look at the artists within the movement. Although twenty bands are featured with perhaps the most well known being scene leaders Volahn, Tukaaria, and Arizmenda, I suspect that the amount of sharing of members amongst the various bands reads like an ancestral family tree of European monarchies that stretches back centuries.
Most of the music is pretty similar, consisting of dissonant, blastbeat ridden black metal with a bleak, low- fi sound similar to the rawer stuff to come out of the Norwegian second wave, but the most interesting elements occur within songs that reveal the undoubtedly Meso-American roots of most of the musicians. Uneven at best, Tliltic Tlapoyauak is, nonetheless, a good way to investigate the Black Twilight Circle.
Bloodsoaked ‘Religious Apocalypse’ (Comatose)
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
Bloodsoaked began life as a one man death metal band with founder Peter Hasselbrack playing all of the instruments while being backed up by a drum machine. Now a duo, Bloodsoaked tour with a backing band and have lofted themselves upwards from humble beginnings. Although the outfit has not released a proper full-length since 2011, Bloodsoaked stay relevant with Religious Apocalypse, a fix up EP of sorts with a mix of new tracks, covers, and live cuts.
The originals are slickly played, modern death metal that deftly avoids a ‘slam’ tag and the live tracks are worth a listen. What are most notable are the covers, however; straight up, by the numbers versions of “You’re In Love” by Ratt and “Shake Me” by Cinderella! The songs are true to the original versions with the same pace, guitar sound, the works. The only difference is the guttural vocals, but you’ll rapidly discover that both songs, especially “You’re In Love,” are top notch hair metal anthems. Who’d have thought?
Burzum – ‘The Ways of Yore’ (Candlelight)
Genre: Ambient Black Metal
I’ll admit to enjoying Burzum’s first two albums after Varg was released from prison. But starting withUmskiptar, his output has become increasingly strange. His latest album The Ways of Yore can hardly even be considered metal at all.
The album is largely key/synth based ambience and hypnotic repetition. Varg does have a way of layering sounds to soothing effect, but very little of this does anything. His chanting croon sounds out of key, like a senile old man in a porch chair. As stated, it’s quite odd, self-indulgent and a little more than eccentric. Plus, at an hour and nine minutes, it’s a lot of boring to sit through if you’re not “out of your mind” yourself.
Code Orange – ‘I Am King’ (Deathwish)
Whether they’re Steeler fans or not, Pittsburgh’s Code Orange exude much of the same toughness and attitude made synonymous by said NFL team and their blue-collar fans. The quartet’s second album is the declarative I Am King, a robust and refreshing blast of metallic hardcore that should cater to an audience much broader than the subgenre’s typical spinning back-fister.
Dropping Kids from their name, Code Orange, while still quite young in appearance, deliver a record that is simply mature beyond their years. In part to a faultless production job by Kurt Ballou at his God City Studios, I Am Kingroutinely shifts from mellow to meltdown while embracing an industrial edge too sharp to not drag your wrists along. Fiercely enjoyable.
Empress AD – ‘Still Life Moving Fast’ (Roadrunner/The End)
Genre: Progressive Metal
British newcomers Empress ADmake quite an impact with their debut album Still Life Moving Fast. It’s a dynamic and varied effort.
The band combines heavy, sludge-laden riffs and harsh vocals with more delicate and mellow melodic singing. The songs shift easily between metal and rock,with dense and aggressive sections giving way to more accessible but still progressive parts. It’s an album with a lot of depth and diversity from a band set to make some waves in the progressive genre;
Horned Almighty – ‘World Of Tombs’ (Scarlet)
Genre: Black Metal
The pairing of crusty punk and black metal tangles into an unhinged sound on Horned Almighty’s fifth album. At times channeling Darkthrone circa the late 2000s, the band is able to make catchy, yet devilish, music. “Blessed by Foulness” is seven minutes of hardened doom, while “In Torture We Trust Pt. II” is a polished sequel to a decade-old track.
A wicked cover of Autopsy’s “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay” makes for a great bonus track for those who pick up the digipak version. The ease in which World of Tombs progresses from song to song leaves behind a magnificent impression.
Incite – ‘Up In Hell’ (Minus Head)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Phoenix thrashers Incite have a few new members for their third album Up In Hell. They combine old school galloping thrash riffs with groove metal to create a sound that’s extreme and catchy.
Richie Cavalera is the stepson of Max Cavalera (Soulfly, ex-Sepultura), and is definitely influenced by him. His vocals are passionate and potent. The guitar work on the album is excellent as well, transitioning easily between maximum speed and more moderate grooves.
The King is Blind – ‘The Deficiencies of Man’ (Mordgrimm)
Genre: Death Metal
The King is Blind are a new(ish) project featuring former members of Entwined, Extreme Noise Terror and Cradle of Filth. After two demos the British quartet unleashes their debut EP, The Deficiencies of Man. On these four tracks they inject some doom and a thrashiness into old school death metal.
There’s technicality to go along with razor sharp tone and Steve Tovey’s vicious beastly growls. There’s a fire within TKiB that burns with the heat of a razed church. Pulverizing rhythms, a sinister edge and a monolithic Celtic Frost iciness collide with visceral chugs and a circling menace. You can hear the motivation in these bangin’ tunes. This band could go places. Fast.
Krieg – ‘Transient’ (Candlelight)
Genre: Black Metal
Once the vanguard of the most raw and vitriolic brand of U.S. black metal, Krieg have gradually evolved into a more multifaceted beast with all their post-The Black Houseoutput, and latest effort Transient in particular, is equally indebted to the sounds and styles of post-black metal, ambient and even industrial.
Proceedings kick off on a devastating note as blasts and cold tremolo riffs grind away on “Order of the Solitary Road,” while a track like “To Speak with Ghosts” channels the subtle post-black melodies of labelmates Woe. Some groove is also discernible throughout, imbuing the album with a rollicking sense of forward motion. Couple this with mainman N. Jameson’s (a.k.a. Imperial) emotionally charged vocals and Transient is proof positive that there’s still a lot of piss & vinegar left in the tank.