Music Reviews: April 2011

Tokyo Rosenthal,"Who Was That Man?" (Rock & Socks Records)
I love the mariachi horns on the title track. It sounds so cool when married with the southern soul bass line and the eerie melody of a fiddle. Imagine if Marty Robbins “El Paso” had been recorded in Memphis for the Stax label and you’ll get an idea of what the song sounds like. Rosenthal’s voice and songwriting style is a bit of a mix of Harry Chapin, Don McLean and Freddy Fender with a pinch of John Prine thrown in as a bonus. “Black to Blue” is another great track with a haunting bluegrass /country / folk mix. “San Antone” brings back those amazing sounding mariachi horns. This is a beautifully recorded album and another notch in the belt for Rosenthal. Standout tracks are: “Who Was That Man?”, “Black To Blue”, “San Antone” and “Ann Marie”.
www.tokyorosenthal.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Garfields Birthday,"More Sense Than Money" (Pink Hedgehog Records)
Formed in 1995 in the English seaside town of Weymouth and inspired by everyone from Teenage Fanclub and XTC to Big Star. Garfields Birthday is a pop band and a very good pop band at that. After 10 years of live gigs and appearances on various compilations they released their first EP in back in 2005. Their latest release, “More Sense Than Money”, sounds exactly like an album by a band that has been together for more than a decade and a half should. Their playing is air tight and their harmonies are spot on. My favorite track is “Bubbles” which is a damn near perfect pop song. You should definitely check ‘em out.
www.pinkhedgehog.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Baby Woodrose,"Mindblowing Seeds And Disconnected Flowers" (Bad Afro Records)
This one’s been on regular rotation since I received it in the mail. It’s as trippy as the Chesterfield Kings latest release but this one comes from the other side of the tracks. Imagine a slightly darker “Their Satanic Majesties Request” or “Surrealistic Pillow”. Lorenzo and his little magic seeds are back with another dose and it lives up to every expectation. This time around it’s a batch of his earliest Baby Woodrose demos. Fifteen songs to be exact, a lot of which appear on 2001’s “Blows Your Mind”. I really dig the energy of these demos. “Spinning Wheels Of Fire” is an instant favorite that has a cool riff and a bass run that reminds me of a Husker Du song whose title I can’t remember at the moment. Anyway, the whole album is packed with primo stuff and I for one wouldn’t mind hearing a volume 2.
www.myspace.com/babywoodrose
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


David LaFleur,"Them Bones…" (Self-Released)
If you want to talk American roots music based on the traditions of country and blues then David LaFleur is a subject that’s well worth conversation. His music is in much the same vein as that of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, The Weavers, Burl Ives, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The New Christie Minstrels, The Limelighters, The Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary. He also has much in common with blues artists such as Son House and Robert Johnson. A self-described “solo roots-acoustic singer-songwriter (folk, blues, Americana and Appalachian) performing on guitar, dobro, mandolin and dulcimer.” His shows are described as very upbeat, humorous and family friendly. Favorite tracks: “Double Down Or Fold”, “Them Bones”.
www.DavidLaFleurMusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


About Group,"Start And Complete" (Domino Records)
“Start And Complete” is the bands sophomore release. They originally formed in 2009 as a studio band with the idea of making a one off record of improvised music. That eventually grew into something a bit more permanent. Their latest release was recorded in one day but you’d never guess from listening. An intoxicating and hypnotizing mix of drums, organ, piano, electric guitar and electronic noodling married with extremely mellow, laid back vocals. This is what it sounds like after the party’s over.
www.dominorecordco.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


David Michael,"Low Bid On A Dream" (Dog Head Music)
When I listen to “Low Bid” I get this mental picture of Frank Sinatra and Arlo Guthrie locked up in a room together with a couple bottles of wine and a carton of smokes. Just picture a young Sinatra (late twenties, early thirties), sharp suit with his tie loose and collar open, drink in hand and Guthrie, eyes closed and smiling, all mellowed out and digging on the whole vibe, strumming his flattop and blowing harmonica. I know, I’m crossing genres and generations here but that’s exactly what Michael does with these thirteen tracks. He touches on everything from blues to jazz to swing to country and pop. The songs are as comfortable as an old t-shirt and faded jeans. This is Americana, this is apple pie, this is a lazy, stoned Sunday morning, and this is a “Low Bid on a Dream”.
www.dogheadmusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Titan,"Sweet Dreams" (Relapse)
Instrumental psychedelic Brooklyn, NY outfit Titan present an expansive five-track affair with a synth-heavy foundation and a hard rock pretense working together to form colossal swirls of majestic progressive rock on their aptly titled EP SWEET DREAMS. This quartet’s organic blend of trippy krautrock and predominantly keyboard driven hard rock histrionics is directly derived from an amalgamation of Deep Purple and Hawkwind (“Sweet Dreams”), complete with meaty guitars twisting and contorting through massive walls of sound courtesy of a versatile bass and drum tandem, striking a middle ground between a high-speed car chase and a galactic odyssey through the cosmos (“Maximum Soberdrive”). If you ‘d like to take a rocket ride to the outer limits, you’d be doing yourself a favor to allow Titan to be your guide.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Algaion,"Exthros" (Pulverised)
Algaion juxtaposes black metal atmosphere with rousing power metal melodies on their 11-track release EXTHROS. Boasting members of Morifade and Corporation 143 in its ranks, this seasoned troupe has been around for almost two decades yet this is only their third official release. This Swedish trio employs a number of divergent influences to conjure up their hybrid metallic attack, merging crisp Gothenburg rhythms (“We Are the Enemy”) with harsh vocal rasps (“Theos Tou Aimatos”) to create a rare uplifting feeling emanating from something so bleak and cold. Retaining a massive sense of melody without abandoning a shred of raw aggression(“Nature Our Slave”), Algaion supply an intriguing barrage of blackened fury to the extreme metal realm.
www.pulverised.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Royal Thunder,"Royal Thunder" (Relapse)
GA trio Royal Thunder has spawned a haunting form of prairie sludge on their seven-track eponymous EP. This female-fronted unit showcases a staggering abundance of soul in their vocals and compositions, sounding like a cross between Danzig and Hole in some instances (“Low”). Harkening back to an organic NWOBHM style and form (“Mouth of Fire”) with the proper stoner metal bombast and post metal contrasts implemented (“Grave Dance”), this squad has a surefire grasp on how to convey atmosphere. Despite being guilty of being derivative towards the grunge era in spots, Royal Thunder exhibit an exemplary command of dark rock and the magnitude of its emotions, exuding an ornery elegance that won’t go unnoticed for long.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


God Dethroned,"Under The Sign of the Iron Cross" (Metal Blade)
Veteran Dutch death metal squad God Dethroned choose World War I once again for the subject matter of their ninth album, the blistering UNDER THE SING OF THE IRON CROSS. Picking up where PASSIONDALE left off, this nine-track release supplies a bombastic barrage of blood-soaked death metal fury, fully embracing the violent nature of the material with a wealth of crushing rhythms and rapid-fire percussion that emits an authentic warmongering vibe from every tortured expository growl and sweeping melodic guitar fill (“Under the Sign of the Iron Cross”). Surprisingly catchy yet substantially brutal (“Chaos Reigns At Dawn”, “Fire Storm”), God Dethroned delivers another pulverizing display of death metal devastation with a history lesson attached for good measure.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Tombs,"Fear Is The Weapon" (Relapse)
NYC trio Tombs return with FEAR IS THE WEAPON, a 14-track album containing both previously released material from the band’s gestation stage as well as demos from the WINTER HOURS sessions. This troupe’s sludgy black metal ambience, crusty take on noise rock, and shoegaze tendencies are all present and accounted on this disc, showcasing this unit’s development of the amalgamation of creepy crawl dissonance, jagged eeriness and sonic crush that comprises their sound conveniently packaged as a proper stopgap until they concoct their next batch of exploratory heaviness.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Black Sleep Of Kali,"Our Slow Decay" (Small Stone)
Crushing Denver, CO post-metal quartet Black Sleep of Kali patch generous shards of Mastodon and Baroness together to form a mammoth eight-track offering entitled OUR SLOW DECAY. Providing a bevy of Orange Amplifier crush, dexterity-ridden percussion, and contorted screaming group vocals, this unit displays a predilection for sludge metal tempos and tones a la Torche while keeping the overall atmosphere oppressive much like High on Fire or Black Cobra (“Eulogy”). Churning out bombastic low-end dominance with harsh Hesher overtones, Black Sleep of Kali do an admirable job of using their influences as a foundation and not a crux for their sonically serrated sound.
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Demonic Resurrection,"The Return To Darkness" (Candlelight)
India’ premiere metal troupe Demonic Resurrection commandeers a grandiose symphonic black metal sound without skimping an ounce of brutality on their 10-track endeavor THE RETURN TO DARKNESS. This quintet casts the spirit of the corpsepainted contingent with a flurry of double-bass propelled diabolical rhythms and foreboding guitar runs yet implements a smattering of the finer progressive elements a la Opeth into their dark swirls of metallic majesty (“Lord of Pestilence”), creating a groundswell of well-executed extreme metal melding the wares of Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, and Limbonic Art (“Bound by Blood, Fire And Stone”).
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Eastern Front,"Blood On Snow" (Candlelight)
Corpsepainted UK quintet Eastern Front delivers malevolent black metal with a wartime theme on their debut endeavor BLOOD ON SNOW. This eight-track excursion examines the subject of warfare with both atmospheric embellishment (“Dvenadtzat Kilometrov Ot Moskvy”) and black metal belligerence (“Stalinorgel”) spearheading the assault, juxtaposing between harsh vocal (“Blood on Snow”) and tremolo picked savagery and somber doom-laden passages from track to track with relative ease (“Battle of Smolensk”). While Eastern Front offers little new to the genre, the way this unit connects their hodgepodge of styles together forms an impressive frontline account of the horrors of the battlefield.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Windfaerer,"Tribus" (Noire Perpetua)
New Jersey is the last place you’d think a pagan folk metal band would originate from, yet the Garden State’s Windfaerer unleash a full-on eight-track Euro metal explosion with TRIBUS. Formed to pay tribute to mainman M. Goncalves’ Iberian Peninsula roots, this offering is packed to the gills with aggressive vocals, folk metal melodies and melodeath density commonly found in the works of similarly sounding Scandinavian outfits (“In the Wake of War”). This troupe adds little to the genre despite their difference in lineage yet exhibits an uncanny knack for recreating tones and atmosphere their Nordic brethren employ with dashes of authentic instrumentation via the presence of a violin and bagpipes (“This Beautiful Death”, “Viriato”) and thankfully without keyboards. Grab your sword and shield and pillage towards the Lincoln Tunnel for this exercise in pagan folk metal.
www.myspace.com/windfaerer
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dukalaton,"Saved By Fear" (Relapse)
Israeli sludge metal trio dole out a decisively viscous mix of slow churned riffs and deliberately mid-tempo rhythms on their Billy Anderson produced eight-track endeavor SAVED BY FEAR. Merging the wares of bands like Cavity, Black Tusk, High on Fire, and Eyehategod together, this unit strives to examine how the power of the riff compels them and tracks like opener “Peis” does a fine job of zeroing in on the solution while the title cut demonstrates this band’s versatility by stripping down to acoustic guitars to provide a much less abrasive yet effective mindtrip before heading back into the depths with the oozing “Electric Site”. While few may make the claim that there’s nothing new here that hasn’t been covered by any of the aforementioned groups, Dukalaton does an admirable job of honing in on the borrowed heaviness and dishes out a hearty blend of brawny sludge metal in the process (“Gate of Mind”).
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Belphegor,"Blood Magick Necromance" (Nuclear Blast)
Hot off the heels of previous offering WARPULGIS RITES, Austria’s premier merchants of wickedness Belphegor return with another searing batch of diabolical blackened death metal on their eight-track excursion BLOOD MAGICK NECROMANCE. This blasphemous lot shows no sign of stopping their streak of releasing quality audio malice with relatively little turnaround time, enlisting Peter Tagtgren behind the board this time around to commandeer the carnage while the band praises evil and debauchery at every turn with a distinct hybrid attack of black metal malaise and death metal savagery (“In Blood- Devour This Sanctity”). Armed with a ramped up production value while maintaining their trademark sense of malevolence whether it be via a blast beat and tremolo-picked frenzy (“Angeli Mortis de Profundis”) or a newfound sinister slow crawl pace (“Blood Magick Necromance”), Belphegor showcases their undeniable proclivity for the demonic side of the spectrum with a sound directly derived from the depths of the abyss.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dark Black,"Midnight Wraith" (Stormspell)
Dark Black is a Portland, OR by way of Lancaster, PA outfit whose retro hard rock sound could easily snag Preservation Society honors based on their five-track EP MIDNIGHT WRAITH. Laden with NWOBHM colloquialisms and acid wash bell-bottom bluesy vibes (“Power Monger”), this quartet rips through the speakers with a bevy of killer riffs and tasty percussive fills bolstering their retread assault (“Midnight Wraith”). Led by a proto-doom metal falsetto vocal and a sensational guitar tandem whose Iron Maiden meets Thin Lizzy style chugs and shreds with dignified elegance, this album’s authentic throwback aura renders the perfect soundtrack to cruising down the freeway as you notice the cops chasing you down in the rearview.
www.myspace.com/darkblack
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Red Giant,"Dysfunctional Majesty" (Small Stone)
Hello, Cleveland! Red Giant returns to the scene of the crime after a six-year absence with a cosmically enhanced desert rock dust-up entitled DYSFUNCTIONAL MAJESTY. This time around, this quartet balance out their gargantuan galactic explorations with servings of teeth-gnashing stoner metal (“Silver Shirley”) and hard-nosed and dirty blues boogie (“Million Point Buck”, “It Doesn’t Seem Right”), creating a tight and heavy batch of tunes with a solid rock backbone and the propensity to launch into the stratosphere at any given time. Red Giant’s pent up aggression rears its wrath from tip to tail on this endeavor, displayed strongest via the cavalcade of fierce yet fuzzed out guitars expertly trading off between waves of soulful soloing and locking into indomitable grooves (“Lamentations”, “Easy, Killer”). Welcome back, boys!
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Calm Hatchery,"Sacrilege Of Humanity" (Selfmadegod)
Poland’s burgeoning death metal scene has put out a number of incendiary acts from Vader to Decapitated in addition to being home to countless quality metal bands across the metal spectrum, amongst them Calm Hatchery. Their sophomore effort SACRILEGE OF HUMANITY showcases a band vying for the same lauded position occupied by the likes of Morbid Angel as well as the aforementioned acts and fellow countrymen Behemoth, as 13-track presentation exhibits a band well versed in making unrelenting heavy music that sticks to the template stringently. With such a high standard in place, this Polish quartet has their work cut out for them to attain the levels they desire, and for the most part this unit provides a solid interpretation of modern death metal that is both technically proficient and head smashingly vicious (3). Don’t expect Calm Hatchery to break any new ground, but do be on the lookout for little twists and spins they stamp on the standard style within each track to warrant repeated headbanging listening experiences.
www.selfmadegod.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Gristle,"Cold Blue Sky" (Metal Blade)
Featuring former members of cult 90’s progressive metal troupe Galactic Cowboys, the Houston, TX quartet Gristle update the power-laden metallic pop sound pioneered by Ben Huggins and company for the year 2010 and beyond on the 10-track endeavor COLD BLUE SKY. Retaining a running thread of Beatles-esque vocal melodies and slamming guitar crunch (“Save Me”) with sprinklings of piano and organ for added dramatics (“Only Love Can Save Us Now”), Gristle provides a soothing sensation mustered by Huggins’ distinct dreamlike vocals with familiar portions of past musical glories and intriguing new avenues intertwining, building well-textured modern musical extensions on to an already rock solid foundation (“Making it All Go Away”).
www.metalblade.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ion,"Immaculada" (Restricted)
Ex-Anathema bassist Duncan Patterson mellows out with a world beat musical mindset on his side project Ion’s latest eight-track offering entitled IMMACULADA. Don’t expect any sign of the heaviness from his other projects here; instead, soak the Celtic-influenced serenity in from these set of songs that soothe the soul with haunting piano and synths (“Cetatea Cisnadioara”), hovering choral refrains, and luxurious percussion and acoustic instrumentation. Adorned with an array of captivating female vocalists that assist in keeping the atmosphere meditative, Ion is an emotionally heavy album that emits a mystical aura that enchants and relaxes.
http://www.myspace.com/duncanpatterson
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


36 Crazyfists,"Collisions And Castaways" (Ferret)
Resilient Alaskan metalcore unit 36 Crazyfists always seem to play the bridesmaid but never the bride throughout their tenure in heavy music, yet their latest 11-track offering COLLISIONS AND CASTAWAYS may change that. Decisively stepped up in the heavy department (“Death Renames the Light”) without sacrificing the band’s trademark powerful clean chorus (“Reviver”) and brutish breakdown combination (“Anchors”), this squad’s fifth album succeeds in focusing on the subtleties from the extreme side of the spectrum this band employs that make their music stand out. Brock Lindow’s voice is stretched to the limits here yet holds its own and carries a sense of urgency like never before (“Mercy and Grace”), while riff after riff throughout the disc bubbles over with a volatile sense of aggression (“Whitewater”, “The Deserter”), culminating in the band’s most heavy handed release to date. Tweaking a hybrid style of metalcore, nu metal, and modern metal they’ve championed for over 15 years, 36 Crazyfists continues to carve out their distinct metallic mélange on the metal continuum.
www.ferretstyle.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Tuck From Hell,"Thrashing" (Metalville)
Swedish thrash metal quintet Tuck from Hell take their name from lead singer Niklas Tuck and their musical influence from a smattering of Metallica, Lamb of God, and Municipal Waste judging by this band’s aptly titled debut THRASHING. Rendering a cohesive yet unsurprising affair admittedly wrought in cliché and steeped in idol worship, this disc provides an innocuous paint by numbers account of thrash metal with retro solos galore, a barrage of Exodus-esque riffs (“Italian Stallion”) and hard to take seriously lyrical content that ties in the entire over the top vibe this band shoots for with all guns blazing. Tune in, turn up, and thrash out with this deliberately derivative and freewheeling slab of heaviness to feel the brunt of the first wave of thrash metal’s remnants left for future generations to build upon.
www.myspace.com/tuckfromhell
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hour Of 13,"The Ritualist" (Earache)
Determined by their eight-track output, North Carolina doom metal collective Hour of 13 are devout servants at the altar of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, St. Vitus, and Trouble. This unit, who recently welcomed Ben Hogg into the fold as their new singer replacing Seamount’s Phil Swanson, have a firm handle on how to make simple soulfully crushing riffs (“Possession”) and ethereal singing regarding all things occult like they used to, complete with a Judas Priest meets Mercyful Fate twin guitar attack (“Demons All Around Me”) and an unsteady vocal warble that somehow commandeers the power from every Sabbath frontman into one compact fulcrum of despair. This excursion is a re-release from last year, so while we have to wait to hear what the new incarnation will sound like, this batch of foreboding tunes has more than enough lingering melodies and ominous vintage grooves to keep you well occupied until the next album drops.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beehoover,"Concrete Catalyst" (Exile On Mainstream)
Teutonic two-piece unit Beehoover returns with CONCRETE CATALYST, a foundation-shaking nine-track continuous playing excursion distinctly distanced from the run of the mill band paradigm. This duo skillfully concocts an album bolstered by impenetrable walls of sound laden in groove sharing as much in common with the down tempo and doom metal sect (“A Poem”) as they do the experimental faction of the metal world (“Rocking Chair”). Staccato beats, fuzzed-out bass, and chugging distorted guitars collide with this band’s unfiltered jazzy free form mentality, creating a wondrous amalgamation of hazy heavy blues, jagged noise rock dissonance, and avant-garde post metal atmosphere to wrap your head around when you’re looking to take a trip into the inner recesses of your mind.
www.mainstreamrecords.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rabbits,"Lower Form" (Relapse)
Portland, OR crew Rabbits checks in with a sludgy, punk-inspired tome on their 10-track offering LOWER FORM. This unit takes the dirty grooves straight from the Am Rep catalog and juxtaposes the free form wooziness of Black Flag (“Invisibugs”) only to feed them into a stoner metal wood chipper, resulting in a nasty hybrid style chock full of caustic chaos (“A Tale of Tales”). Razor sharp vocals lead this viscous assault while a syrupy bass keeps the entire album hypnotically enticing (“Duck, the Pigs”) and jagged guitars supply the insurmountable abundance of anger continuously boiling over with unbridled intensity (“Weight Here”). Intentionally ugly and hard to digest, Rabbits produce a callous form of abrasive music custom made for people who enjoy unsettling forms of heaviness.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Absence,"Enemy Unbound" (Metal Blade)
While countless bands around the globe have been championing the Gothenburg melodeath sound, few prepare it with the care and tact that Tampa, Fl troupe The Absence bring to the table on their latest 11-track endeavor ENEMY UNBOUND. This quintet pound out a poignant display of twin guitar acrobatics with a menacing rhythm section maintaining the necessary heaviness underneath (“The Bridge”) and a raspy growl leading the punishing proceedings (“Hidden in White”). Containing rounds of rousing fretwork and skull crushing melodies aplenty (“Vertigo”, “Deepest Wound”), this outfit meshes the wares of Testament, Darkest Hour, and Amon Amarth to come up with a sound that adroitly balances catchiness and destruction. The Absence are not breaking new ground by any stretch of the imagination here, yet this unit’s dedication to replicating an authentic Swedish metal sound needs not only to be recognized but played at maximum volume to ensure the greatest impact.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rival Sons,"Rival Sons" (Earache)
Rival Sons is a California rock quartet whose earnest rock ‘n roll interpretations garnish a genuine swagger that shines through their vintage hard rock sound as heard on their eponymous six-track EP. Channeling classic rock majesty from The Who to Led Zeppelin, this squad’s beefy bottom end and bluesy six-string sting work in tandem to take rock ‘n roll back to analog times. Chock full of soulful hard rock licks, ballsy percussion, and rumbling bass grooves (“Radio”) and topped off with a lead singer whose wailing vocals are delivered with an exuberant conviction (“Soul”), Rival Sons does retro right and renders a treat to the ears for any self respecting rock fan.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Georgian Skull,"Mother Armageddon, Healing Apocalypse" (Scarlet)
Formed from the remnants of Mister Bones, Canadian quartet Georgian Skull make an attempt to cohesively mash up extreme metal styles on their 11-track debut MOTHER ARMAGEDDON, HEALING APOCALYPSE. Fusing sludge metal ooze, doom metal dread, space metal headtrips, and whatever else they can get their hands on, this boundless troupe serves up a purposely disjointed amalgamation of heaviness that comes off a bit off kilter than their peers more often than not thanks to a plethora of odd genre shifts and warped musical interludes floating in and out (“Doom Lord Pusher”). Despite the adventurous nuances this unit weaves into their sonic crush from talk box cameos (“Hunting the Ghost”) to spoken word incantations (“Intermission”), Georgian Skull strongest efforts result when the band plods through the doom and gloom template with a touch of old school death metal and southern flair at the forefront (“Demon Crippler”).
www.scarletrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Serpent Throne,"White Summer Black Winter" (Translation Loss)
Vintage hard rock revivalists Serpent Throne are an instrumental metal troupe that puts their fuzz pedals to the metal to develop a smoking 11-track excursion entitled WHUTE SUMMER BLACK WINTER. Cascading twin guitars do an exemplary job of switching moods from monolithic doom to harmonious stoner shuffle (“Riff Forest”), usurping the vocalist position with poise and power (“Last Spark of the Sun”). Bluesy and ballsy (“White Summer - Black Winter”) with more than a fair shake of Sabbath, early Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy in its back pocket, this Philadelphia, PA quartet’s blend of soaring retro rock and histrionic six string tradeoffs (“Pagan Eclipse”) is the premiere soundtrack choice for the time machine, exuding the spirit of brotherly love with organically-grown grooves, massive musical depth and a freewheeling flow firmly intact.
www.translationlossrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Antikaroshi,"Per/Son/Alien" (Exile On Mainstream)
Springing from a discernible punk foundation, adventurous German trio The Antikaroshi take another musical journey through ambiguity on their 10-track offering PER/SON/ALIEN. This squad skillfully sticks and moves through left of center musical genres with an eye for the artistic guiding their mission (“Azazel”), alternating between avant-garde punk rock (“Josef”), enhanced electronic manipulations (“Jacek I Placek”), and spaced-out cosmic math rock (“Quandt”), almost as if Fugazi and Hawkwind had some jam session secretly stashed in a vault. Spirited with a throw the rules out the window vibe permeating throughout the entire duration, The Antikorashi once again defy convention and create captivating music with a rough edge on their latest experimental endeavor.
www.mainstreamrecords.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bruce Lamont,"Feral Songs For The Epic Decline" (At A Loss)
Yakuza mainman Bruce Lamont goes it alone for the first time on FERAL SONGS FOR THE EPIC DECLINE, a seven-track sojourn through many familiar musical landscapes this diligent and prolific artist has explored before in his other musical endeavors. Lamont puts his gift of being a multi-instrumentalist to task, creating a haunting avant-garde atmosphere that chills the bones like the desert at fortnight (“Year Without Summer”) while developing magnetic enchantment via swirls of saxophone and other woodwinds over lush synths and drone rhythms (“2 Then The 3”) not before ripping everything apart with a furious industrial metal cleansing (“Deconstructing Self Destruction”). Decisively dark and off-kilter with a discernibly southwestern slant, this flow of this release begs it to be played uninterrupted to yield maximum impact, yet the eerie vibes and creeping tones Lamont assembled here bear an oppressive amount of musical weight regardless of how long you listen, as this disc’s ethereal nature sticks in the subconscious long after the last note fades.
www.atalossrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Shroud Eater,"Thundernoise" (Self-released)
The South Florida two woman, one man trio that comprise Shroud Eater whip up a smorgasbord of sludge metal heaviness on the 11-track THUNDERNOISE. Pounding out raw low end nastiness with soul shaking swagger (“We Are Beasts”) that is surprisingly melodic at times (“Pale Rider”), this unit comes equipped with buzzsaw guitar tone, thick walls of bass guitar, and a thunderous percussive presence slugging out a mélange of grunge fury, post-hardcore discipline, garage rock raucousness, and fuzzed out stoner metal majesty while the album’s bare bones production captures the band’s bare knuckle noise rock tenacity and efficient sludge metal songwriting punch this unit exudes (“Descent from the Summit”). Developing a rich blend of simple and effective abrasiveness, Shroud Eater is a mighty musical force to be reckoned with.
www.shroudeaterrocks.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ghost,"Opus Eponymous" (Metal Blade)
Satanic Swedish unit Ghost provides a solid yet head-scratching nine-track affair entitled OPUS EPONYMOUS. This quintet (whose identities are shrouded in secrecy via evil priest costumes) has comprised quite the buzz by delivering the listener to evil realms with an unusually fitted combination of Hammond organ accoutrements and classic metal guitar noodles in line with progressive rock pioneers than torch bearing Beelzebub worshippers. Not exactly the sound you’d expect from a band whose song titles include “Satan Prayer” and “Ritual”, yet Ghost’s uber-clean musical output is far from lightweight, as it consistently contains a sinister underbelly emphasized by a rollicking bass and drum tandem that underscores the sweet harmonies throughout the entire affair (“Con Clavi Con Dio”). Top it off with a vocalist whose mid-range croon weighs in more melodic than menacing (“Prime Mover”) and OPUS EPONYMOUS renders a wondrous listening experience to followers of bands such as King Hobo, Mercyful Fate, Pentagram, and Blue Oyster Cult who need to satiate their diabolical side.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Attackhead,"Voices In The Dark-Second Attack" (Twisted Hillbilly)
California thrash metal troupe Attackhead unleash a decisively raw 11-track endeavor entitled VOICES IN THE DARK- SECOND ATTACK, which apparently is a re-recording of the same album from 2004. Hard to convey what this squad beefed up in three years though, as this affair maintains a primitive production value that harkens back to the sounds today’s successful thrash acts embraced back in the early 40’s. Sounding like a cross between old school Slayer, DRI, and Exodus (“Lead the Blind”), Attackhead champions the spirit of the glory days of thrash metal yet Attackhead’s by the book delivery and antiquated songwriting techniques leave a lot to be desired when the masters have moved light years ahead.
www.twistedhillbillyrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Full Blown Chaos,"Full Blown Chaos" (Ironclad)
Bruising NYHC and brutal metal collide on the latest release from the resilient Full Blown Chaos and their eponymous fifth album. This 13-track offering kicks your teeth down your throat from the onset of opener “Doomageddon” and continues its pummeling onslaught with Ray Mazzola’s menacing bark leading the belligerent musical assault. Stringing a series of hardcore breakdowns and neck snapping chugs together with an imminent sense of savagery (“The Walking Dead”), Full Blown Chaos mixes up metalcore heft (“Gravedigger”) and hardcore strength (“Gutter Mouth”) with pinches of modern metal technique to concoct an explosive exhibition of aggression tailor made to destroy things to.
www.ironcladrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Murder Construct,"Murder Construct" (Relapse)
Death grind crew Murder Construct administers a seven-track sensory overload laden with audio carnage on their self-titled soiree of savagery. This release eschews the musical philosophies of both Napalm Death and Nasum without going overboard in derivations, leaving room for Murder Construct to explore alternative extreme metal avenues before crushing skulls with blasting bombast (“End of an Error”). Beautifully blending brutality and brevity with a monstrous vocal presence at the forefront of their catastrophic charge (“Control”), this album contains all the tools necessary to make velocity freaks very satisfied.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Thomas Giles,"Pulse" (Metal Blade)
Between the Buried and Me frontman/keyboardist Tommy Rogers takes an alias (Thomas Giles) and makes his way into solo artist territory on the 11-track PULSE. This effort showcases Giles’ crisp songwriting prowess as well as a leaning towards the electronic side of the mainstream rock spectrum, a far cry from his day job’s progressive pounding. Providing a departure that stands toe to toe with any artist currently impacting the airwaves, this album embodies the true definition of solo project, as Giles both produced and performed all of the instruments that comprise this adventurously composed and diversely developed release. If you’re expecting something heavy, move along, but if you want well textured and masterfully captured avant-garde rock, this disc is worthy of your attention.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Gozu,"Locust Season" (Small Stone)
Gozu get it right on their nine-track stoner rock powder keg debut entitled LOCUST SEASON. Crafting the perfect amalgamation of the griminess of Kyuss and the swagger of Queens of the Stone Age, this Boston based quartet maintain a cavernous bottom end while dispensing contagious stoner metal melodies that combining tasty guitar lines and clever vocal devices (“Kam Fong as Chin Ho”). But there’s more to this troupe’s attack than desert rock time travel, as this squad throws in a slew of psychedelic musical diversions and groovy metal licks as well as a load of timeless blues rock rhythms (“Jamaican Luau”) to create a stylistic sizzle that yields repeated bouts of head-bobbing bliss (“Meth Cowboy”). LOCUST SEASON is a must-have album for anyone who reveres Fu Manchu, Dixie Witch, or early Clutch.
www.smallstonerecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wive,"PVLL" (Exile On Mainstream)
Wive is a DIY collective musical project who creates somber electronic music with an avant-garde flair as documented on their 10-track excursion PVLL. Combining minimalist orchestral compositions, drone metal atmospheres, traditional instrumentation and modern studio manipulations anchored by piano and strings to create their unique synthetic soundscape, this unit lays down a array of songs whose haunted charm seems more concerned with creating mood rather than crafting a killer hook (“The Day Bvrnt to Death”). Ripe with lullaby quality serenity (“Come, Join the See”), it is interesting to note that despite the member’s working on this album in a long distance tape-trading scenario, there’s never a lapse in the calming continuity heard throughout. Luxuriously full of lament, Wive have made a massively melancholic album custom made for those reflective moments or dreary daydreaming days.
www.mainstreamrecords.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Abigail Williams,"In The Absence Of Light" (Candlelight)
Dealing with defecting band members and a severe loss of style, Abigail Williams has found themselves out of ideas and scaled back to a three-piece unit to boot while trying their hand at producing a more traditional blend of black metal on their eight-track endeavor IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT. Shedding their prior symphonic identity mainly due to the departure of their keyboardist, this trio settles into developing a meandering hodgepodge menagerie of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and Dark Funeral that misses the mark way more than expected. Listless riffs, uninspired compositions, and aped concepts aplenty plague this disc’s momentum from the get-go, rendering this excursion as a retread release with a few shining moments (“Malediction”) yet far from essential and a major let down considering the troupe’s previous track record.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nightfall,"Astron Black And The Thirty Tyrants" (Metal Blade)
Nightfall serves up a multifaceted mix of symphonic black metal containing enough clever compositional twists to keep listeners engaged past the point of guessing the origins each derivation on their 12-track album. This unit juxtaposes Nordic fury and Swedish brutality with touches of dramatic orchestration, striking a middle ground between Celtic Frost, Cradle of Filth and Amon Amarth (“Astromonica/ Saturnian Moon”). Showcasing a strong yet not overpowering use of keyboards while burning through the black metal playbook (“Ambassador of Mass”), Nightfall smoothly switches gears from raging to melodic without losing an ounce of the venom fueling their underlying sense of evil (“I-I”, “Proxima Centauri/ Dead Bodies”).
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crucifire,"Infernal Earthly Divine" (Pulverised)
Crucifire put the pedal to the metal and pound out nine tracks of velocity driven blasphemy on the nine-track affair. This troupe unapologetically unleashes an old school death metal collage (“Witch Hammer”) complete with Slayer-esque twin guitars (“Hellish Sacrifice”) and Swedish guttural vocals galore illuminating their ascent from the catacombs of the abyss. Bolstered by a raw production that dials in the vintage sound ripping through the speakers, this album follows the three cheers for Satan path strictly and is far from original in most instances, yet its authentically replicated sound captures the attitude and adds a modern hostility to the mix to make an explosive exaltation to the Dark Lord.
www.pulverised.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wojczech,"Pulsus Letalis" (Selfmadegod)
Blending death metal, noise rock and grindcore into a colossal 12-track affair, Wojczech provides a diabolically abrasive collection of tunes on PULSUS LETALIS. Featuring a bevy of relentless blast beats, dissonant guitar riffs, and a twin vocal tandem that covers both the blood curdling highs and guttural lows, this outfit packs the feral firepower to rip faces off of skulls (“Steinzeiten”, “Izotope”) yet throws a fair share of off kilter rhythmic movements in between the devastation to make the overall presentation brutally off balanced (“67°48’0’’N 12°50’0’’O”). Confrontational yet unconventional, this German squad pummels the eardrums with an unabashed combination of blazing speed and unadulterated heaviness.
www.selfmadegod.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Withered,"Dualitas" (Prosthetic)
The latest release by American pseudo black metal unit Withered entitled DUALITAS yields an extreme metal tour de force chock full of vehement aggression draped in bleak atmosphere. Intertwining shrieking shards of velocity, tribal percussive fury, and sinewy drone metal slow crawls (“The Progenitor's Grasp”), Withered demonstrates advanced compositional control while still procuring a majestic tone and scope across this eight-track affair (“Seek The Shrouded”). Displaying a penchant for effortlessly changing tempos from blistering to deconstructive without losing their primal sense of brutality (“Extinguished with the Weary”), Withered has created a well-textured collection of savagery whose exploratory edge renders an adventurous listening experience encompassing the darker edge of the metal spectrum.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Glyder,"Yesterday Today And Tomorrow" (SPV)
Glyder is a hard rock quartet from Ireland who share many traits of fellow statesmen Thin Lizzy as heard on their 10-track offering YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW. This troupe nails the tender ballad shuffle (“Back to the Water”) and passionate delivery of Lynott and company (“Always the Loser”) with a hodgepodge of ‘70s guitar rock muscle rounding out their stellar approach (“Knockout”). Displaying the knack to delve into the past and piece together catchy hard rock anthems and whiskey-fueled rockers alike, Glyder’s blend of retro rock gallops with a gritty attitude when not replicating nuances from the bag of tricks of their direct influences.
www.spv.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bot,"Bot" (Self-released)
NYC duo Bot is a bass and drum male/female tandem whose five-track minimalist metal excursion slams down fierce blasts of tribal metal fury (“Pinchot Pass”). Thick slabs of bass guitar explode with authority while a spastic percussive performance dexterously holds everything down and finds time to break into tangents in the process (“Rowena”). Boasting robotically rhythmic strikes contorted through noise rock twists and turns, Bot create a low end driven machine that pummels with a foundation-shaking sound encouraged by their free-spirited delivery of heaviness.
www.botmetal.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cue The Sun,"...And Turn Off The Dark" (Self-released)
Queens, NY quartet Cue the Sun roll out a pensive yet rocking four-track EP on …AND TURN OFF THE DARK. Summoning pop-rock power from the likes of J Mascis, Weezer and Jimmy Eat World, this troupe skillfully composes catchy alternative rock tunes with infectious choruses that echo in your head while throwing down impressive slabs of brooding guitars (“Ambien (Not Bien)”). Brazen with rounds of multi-layered vocals and bolstered by a string of strong musical buildups, Cue the Sun packs the kind of punch bursting with melody perfect for the college rock sect to latch onto.
www.myspace.com/qthesun
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Roast Beef Curtains,"Pleasure" (Self-released)
The Roast Beef Curtains mash up the sound of the islands with alternative rock on their five-track affair PLEASURE. Sharing similar mindsets with the likes of Sublime and Pepper, this Long Island trio implement elements of ska, dub and rock steady into their musical repertoire, creating a buffer in between NOFX-style punk tendencies and palm tree infused rhythms (“Rabbi David”). Developing an enticing mix of reggae and rock that embraces warm Caribbean breezes, The Roast Beef Curtains have struck a cure for the wintertime blahs with their tropical rock ‘n roll flavor.
www.theroastbeefcurtains.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sweet Cobra,"Mercy" (Metal Blade)
Sweet Cobra dishes out a salvo of sludge rock on their latest eight-track affair MERCY. Adorned with viscous guitar grooves and hypnotic rhythmic passages, this squad churns out a jagged mix of bottom-heavy abrasiveness (“Crusader”) and nerve-rattling dissonance (“Reinhold London”) with machine-like cadence (“Matriarch”). Including touches of harmonic vocals and straight ahead hardcore muscle (“Wounded Parade”) into their molten mix of sludge metal, stoner rock, and desert doom, this Chicago-based unit confidently displays a vicious versatility that makes their unsettling slabs of aggression a tad more uncomfortable than most. Sadly, this menacing band’s future is in question due to the untimely passing of guitarist Mat Arluck, so if this is the last taste of what this band delivers, it is a proper swan song.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Within The Ruins,"Invade" (Victory)
Within the Ruins is a Massachusetts-based deathcore crew whose abusive seven-string guitar attack fuels their 11-track release INVADE. Unloading technically proficient riffs and fills and tortured growls galore (“Red Flagged”) while adroit drum beats pound out colossally heavy odd measured tempos (“Cross Buster”), Within The Ruins strikes a balance between frivolous and dangerous as their flashy and fancy guitar gymnastics lead to end of the world breakdowns and floor-punching disintegrations (“Feast or Famine”). At the end of the day though, it is all about the breakdown in deathcore, and Within The Ruins honors the genre by delivering its finest crumbled chugs and decelerated rhythmic drop-outs in between copious bouts of blistering guitars numerous times here for the kids to lose their minds to.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Coldsnap,"Perfection" (Mig)
Croatian quintet Coldsnap aims to resuscitate the electronic rage of nu metal on their latest release. This disc suffers through Korn meets Soulfly mimicry (“You Failed”), Static X call and response (“Party”) and blatant Slipknot plagiarizing (“Genocide”) but then takes a turn into a Deftones-like mellow mindset for much of the latter half of the disc (“Religion”). Coldsnap sounds like a band striving to break out of a mold towards the end, but even their hand at dancehall by covering Manu Chao’s “Bongo Bong” comes off like a paltry Rammstein meets Offspring knockoff. Jumping through too many hoops to create anything more than a nu metal homage, Coldsnap lacks a specific identity yet channels enough from their influences’ to provide a competent retread of heaviness from the not too distant past.
www.mig-music.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Winterfylleth,"The Mercian Sphere" (Candlelight)
Putting a unique twist on black metal turbulence, England’s Winterfylleth makes an intriguing 10-track album that takes unexpected leaps and bounds. From folk metal chants and tender acoustics (“The Honour of Good Men on the Path to Eternal Glory”) to majestic warmongering metal (“When the Woods Were Young”) sounding like Isis gone Viking, this outfit demonstrates a firm grip on creating well-textured dramatic music (“The Wayfarer Pt. 3”). Add in a knack for placing galactic explorations over rich layers of strings (“A Valley Thick with Oaks”) while doling out interludes of luxurious instrumentations and undergoing bold transformations from the battlefield to outer space and this album’s cinematic scope and overall grandiose vitriolic vision make it a release worth seeking out.
www.candelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sons Of Tonatiuh,"Sons Of Tonatiuh" (Hydrophonic)
Brewing a miasma of Masotodon, Black Flag, Eyehategod, and High on Fire, Sons of Tonrituh hammer out doses of sinisterly composed mauling riffs over waves of syrupy rhythmic sludge on their uneasy eight-track excursion (“Den of Thieves”). Bolstered by a set of seething vocals turning the heat past the boiling point (“To the Throne”, “Chain Up the Masses”), this sheer sonic heft found in this collection of tunes possesses the hardcore punk power of a wrecking ball when necessary (“The Artifact”) while exhibiting the ornery disposition that awards this album an sense of dread that hovers throughout, sending shivers down the spines of those uninitiated to the origins of this troupe’s dense and dastardly doom-laden output.
www.myspace.com/sonsoftonatiuh
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beneath The Massacre,"Maree Noire" (Prosthetic)
Montreal deathcore troupe Beneath the Massacre present a blistering five-track offering showcasing cacophonous chaos at every turn. Guttural growling vocals lead explosive percussive blasts and spastic mosh ready riffs into pinball machine-like rhythmic collisions yielding spurts of bottom-heavy brutality and six-string technicality (“Designed to Strangle”) . Brimming over with greater degrees of punishing prowess and feral dexterity than their deathcore peers, Beneath the Massacre provide dazzling yet dizzying complexity through their altered states of metallic excess.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Evocation,"Apocalyptic" (Metal Blade)
APOCALYPTIC, the latest 10-track offering by Sweden’s very own Evocation unleashes a smorgasbord of Swedish metal almost to a fault. This band follows the template laid by At the Gates, The Crown and Carcass right down to the notes in the solos (“Murder in Passion”, “It is All Your Fault”), making this release at times more like a tribute to those bands (“We are Unified Insane”). Despite obvious patronizations, Evocation does a solid job in recreating the menacing guitar tones (“Psychosis Warfare”) and general savagery of the style they’ve adopted as their own (“Reunion in War”).
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Infernaeon,"From Genesis To Nemesis" (Prosthetic)
After an exhaustive piano-led symphonic intro, Infernaeon get down to business with a battle-ready black metal attack on their latest 10-track offering. Melding dramatic keyboards with skull-pounding blasts of progressive fury (“Lilith Ave Satanas”), this unit maintains an evil aura while pounding out a ferocious assault of tremolo-picked riffs and blitzes of double bass drums that share the fury of death metal and the bite of black metal (“Legacy of Kane”, “Immaculate Deception”). Serving up a brutal slice of blasphemy with a hybrid of extreme styles mended together, Infernaeon chose wisely when piecing their visions together from the continuum to create their own nefarious blend of dark and brooding metal.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Holy Grail,"Crisis In Utopia" (Prosthetic)
Traditional metal in all of its chalice-raising glory is what Holy Grail distributes on their 11-track offering. This quintet cranks out a vintage amalgamation of classic metal with a convincingly confrontational cavalcade of shred guitar and histrionic vocals spearheading their flashback metallic attack (“Call of Valhalla”, “Immortal Man”). Offering tasteful solos (“Hollow Ground”) and well-versed rock solid songwriting aplenty, this album lovingly recreates driving rhythms from the days of yore and adds Holy Grail’s proficient progressively minded swagger to the equation, resulting in this versatile squad’s impressive interpretations and bold advancements of the tried and true metal sound.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hail Of Bullets,"On Divine Winds" (Metal Blade)
Dutch warmongering metal squad Hail of Bullets come back to the frontline with ON DIVINE WINDS, an 11-track album again with a militaristic mindset, covering World War II this time around. Chock full of skull-pounding rhythms (“Tokyo Napalm Holocaust”) and grooves that will keep your neck in traction for weeks (“Guadacanal”) topped by the unmistakably seething vocals of Martin Van Drunen (“On Choral Shores”), this disc leans heavily on the death metal sound championed by Bolt Thrower and countless pioneers of the Swedish metal movement. Powerfully recreating both the sounds and fury of the time period they derive their style from while exuding the confidence to cohesively write an entire album based on an event with a scope as dramatic and epic as WWII, Hail of Bullets does justice to the style and gives the metal as history lesson both lyrically and musically another run on the wheel (“The Mukden Incident”).
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Intronaut,"Valley Of Smoke" (Century Media)
Los Angeles, CA progressive metal squad Intronaut continue to rewrite the book on taking it to the next level as audible on the group’s third release VALLEY OF SMOKE. This quartet’s latest eight tracks demonstrate the proper way to bend minds and blow people away with both grace and power (“Above”), as Intronaut’s combination of exemplary musicianship, astonishing versatility and fluid songwriting needs to be heard numerous times in order to truly grasp all of the beauty and wonder this outfit has created. Dynamic as it is dramatic with a plethora of stylistic shake-ups and jaw dropping interludes that will have you scrambling for the repeat button, Intronaut have crafted a triumphant metallic amalgamation that tantalizes the senses and raises the bar for the modern metal sect that earmark Isis, Baroness, and Mastodon as their leaders.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Facebreaker,"Infected" (Metal Blade)
Subtle as their name suggests, Swedish unit Facebreaker are in fact a band that you’d be afraid of breaking your face as heard on the squad’s 11-track endeavor INFECTED. From blazing brutality (“Torn to Shreds”) to sinister slow crawls (“Cannibalistic”, “Mankind Under Seige”), Facebreaker waste no time at putting your sorry ass down for the count with an authentically brewed old school Swedish death metal sound. Melding the wares of the pioneers of the genre into their own blistering barrage of fat bottomed metallic mayhem (“Bloodshed”), Facebreaker offers very little new but does a bang up job of revisiting past glories of their inspirations.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Obsidian,"Point Of Infinity" (Candlelight)
Dutch metal unit Obsidian unleashes a technically proficient death metal attack on their nine-track affair POINT OF INFINITY. Enhancing their heavy disposition with nuances the likes of Cynic and Opeth often utilize, this quintet demonstrates their keen understanding of dynamics while maintaining a suffocating atmosphere (“The Upward Spiral”) with grace and precision throughout (“Spectral Pathways”). They also exhibit that they haven’t forgotten how to rip the flesh from your face with tumultuous bouts of frenzied riffs and Meshuggah-esque djent breakdowns (“Illuminate”), giving this band a likeminded violent versatility of The Ocean and The Faceless, offering something for fans of metal that strives to go further on the progressive scale while still brutal in their delivery something to clamor for.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Daath,"Daath" (Century Media)
Atlanta, GA sextet Daath goes the eponymous route for their latest endeavor, a white-knuckle 13-track ride through melodic death metal and all of its shadowy side roads. Churning out a complex and twisted form that blends guttural vocals, virtuoso twin guitars (“A Cold Devotion”), and a jarring metalcore power, this troupe display a commendable aggressive acumen yet sometimes overextend their stay on the progressive metal continuum to leave behind any sort of hook or memorable part to hang on to, leaving a lot of the album running into dead ends or lost in translation. Nonetheless, Daath’s expansive musical knowledge hurls jaw dropping six-string runs and copious compositional curveballs championing intricacy almost at command (“Arch {Enemy} Misanthrope”), leaving listeners dizzy from all the changes yet not with anything in their memory bank to keep with them.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Athorn,"Phobia" (AFM)
German quintet Athorn cover a lot of ground on their 10-track debut PHOBIA, running the gamut from technical power metal to brooding progressive metal to fist-pumping metalcore throughout the duration of the album. Despite all of the cross-pollination happening, not many interesting permutations are made, resulting in overblown attempts at epic metal that sound like a cross between Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch doing impressions of Blind Guardian with a little bit of All That Remains thrown in for a modern heavy slant (“Phobia”), resulting in a mixed bag that doesn’t always deliver.
www.afmrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Atlas Moth,"The One Amongst The Weed Fields" (Candlelight)
It’s unclear if Chicago, IL’s The Atlas Moth are trying to be tongue in cheek or celebratory by putting out this four-song EP of covers, but their metallic space sludge style and the songs they chose, ranging from the near black metal interpretation of “California Dreamin’”(The Mamas and Papas), to a modern psychedelic reworking of “Fearless” (Pink Floyd), plus a noisier version of “Golden” (Failure), and a raucous near industrial vibe on “Five to One” (The Doors) definitely yields interesting spins on (for the most part) well-known tunes. Exhibiting a broad range of musical likes in a quirky way, this disc plays like an experimental stopgap release yet still bears the band’s trademark oppressive quality, truly giving these songs a fresh spin for the heavy music fan.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


New London Fire,"Happiness Through Radios And Wires" (Self-released)
Taking elements of 50’s and 60’s pop and Phil Spector-influenced wall of sound style (“Waterpark”), New Jersey unit New London Fire take a meticulously vintage approach to recreate the aura of their childhood musical memories on their sophomore effort HAPPINESS THROUGH RADIO AND WIRES. Chock full of moonlight drive doo-wop vocal melodies (“I Ran to Hide”), Beatles-esque movements (“Lonely”), and blue collar rock a la Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne (“Olivia”), this 10-track disc plays as if tuned in to a classic oldies station, complete with rich production and smooth and easy on the ears compositions that you could hear everywhere from the supermarket to the background of a television show.
www.newlondonfire.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ross The Boss,"Hailstorm" (AFM)
Former Dictators and Manowar six-stringer Ross the Boss returns with his band’s sophomore effort, the 11-track HAILSTORM. Ripping through a barrage of power metal riffs and galloping rhythms that play like a cross between Iron Maiden’s newer material and Metal Church (“Dead Man’s Curve”) with a few choice moments of soaring guitars strewn in for good measure (“Great Gods Glorious”) and a kick ass ballad chock full of fretwork fireworks (“Among the Ruins”), this born and bred NYC rock veteran mixes it up, as songs like the title cut and “Kingdom Arise” come out of the gate aggressively while “Burn Alive” radiates a 70’s hard rock vibe. Even though this album tends to waver between genres, Ross the Boss and crew maintain a consistent meat and potato metallic quality throughout, yielding a solid offering from tip to tail of traditionally flavored metal.
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Witchsorrow,"Witchsorrow" (Metalblade)
UK doom metal trio Witchsorrow churn out a five-track eponymous offering that embraces traditional genre nuances set forth by bands like St. Vitus, Black Sabbath, and Cathedral. Employing a mid-tempo pace for a majority of the disc while keeping the riffs sloshing in a molasses-like lava (“Gomorrah”), this unit lays down thick walls of sound reverberating with haunting echoes while a crushing rhythm section keeps the mood ominous (“Thou Are Cursed”). Witchsorrow run their gloom and doom machine simple and clean, emanating chilling tones and a forlorn sense of dread with every faraway vocal and deliberate cymbal strike, eschewing modern advances for the sinewy slow crawl feel of bands like Candlemass and Trouble.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kryoburn,"Three Years Eclipsed" (Candlelight)
After a five-year hiatus, New Mexico unit Kryoburn returns with their sophomore effort THREE YEARS ECLIPSED. This nine-track excursion blends superfluous arrays of Fear Factory’s industrial metal tendencies (“Reinvention”) with bursts of metallic polyrhythms and metalcore melodies, in turn creating a clinically heavy offering (“Slaughtered with Lies”) meticulously pieced together from the scraps from metal’s most advanced laboratories. Serving a slew of dastardly keyboard enhanced modern metal derivations, this long awaited offering champions a synthetically induced crush that hits with all the right emphasis (“Season of Suicide”) yet stays too close to the template to gather a unique identity or render anything groundbreaking or fresh.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Amorphis,"Magic & Mayhem - Tales From The Early Years" (Nuclear Blast)
To commemorate their 20th anniversary, Finnish metal veterans Amorphis have gone back into their vast catalog to re-treat some of their older material on the long-running unit’s latest 13-track excursion MAGIC & MAYHEM – TALES FROM THE EARLY YEARS. Being held in high regard as one of European metal’s elite acts, Amorphis does an admirable job of upgrading tunes from their first three albums to match modern standards, though a haphazard cover of “Light My Fire” by The Doors does the band no favors and just as easily could have been left off the disc. Nonetheless, this release provides a grandiose revisit through a storied band’s career for both ardent fans that miss the band’s former style and inquiring minds wondering what all the fuss is over alike.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dimentianon,"Collapse The Void" (Paragon)
Formerly known as The Forgotten, Dimentianon is a Long Island, NY based group whose latest five-track excursion COLLAPSE THE VOID boasts a sturdy foundation of blackened death metal with a host of other influences seeping through. From progressive to thrash and back again, this well-versed unit showcases the ability to both explode with feral fury (“Breathe Deep”) as well as lay down ethereal sounds (“Fragmented Nostalgia”) without losing their head of steam. Conjuring up diabolical tones while spitting out the vocal vitriol necessary to convey true evil while implementing advanced levels of musicality, Dimentianon display a knack for making engaging genre-bending metal with decisively sinister overtones.
www.paragonrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


King Of Asgard,"FI'MBULVINTR" (Metal Blade)
Featuring members of Viking metal troupe Mithotyn, the seasoned trio King of Asgard picks up right where many of their former outfits left off on the 13-track FI'MBULVINTR. Produced by King Diamond’s Andy LaRocque, this disc brims over with a flurry of warmongering riffs (“Lingering a Sacred Ground”) and battle-ready rhythms (“Brethren of the North”), evoking images of Viking warships invading shorelines. Pummeling listeners with a straight ahead amalgamation of epic and black metal with a discernible darkness at the center of their onslaught, King of Asgard scale its brand of Pagan metal back down to the most primal denominator, resulting in an album that fans of Dissection, Amon Amarth, and Thryfing will undoubtedly get stirred up over.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cephalic Carnage,"Misled By Certainty" (Relapse)
Denver, CO extreme metal explorers Cephalic Carnage continue to shatter expectations while crushing skulls as heard on the quartet’s latest album MISLED BY CERTAINTY. Upon first listen, this 14-track offering appears to take a much more streamlined approach into a technical death metal area than previous endeavors, yet there’s no need to worry; this band made their reputation on making heavy music challenging for both themselves and their listeners, and songs like the Bruce Lamont saxophone and guest vocal spot on “Repangea” and the sinewy spoken word slow crawl intro of “Dimensional Modulation Transmography" demonstrates they still possess the wares to stir up an intriguing mix of chaotic grind (“PGAD”) and punishing death metal (“Abraxas of Filth”) with a bevy of other influences whizzing by at light speed. While long time supporters may feel snubbed at the abundanceof straight-up speed and fury present, Cephalic Carnage have raised the bar on so many other fronts in their metallic assault to mature into a masterful troupe brazenly balancing brutality and technicality.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Viral Load Vs. Putrid Pile,"Split EP" (Relapse Records)
American one-man death metal bands Viral Load and Putrid Pile have comprised a six-track split EP complete with super sweet comic book horror artwork pitting themselves against each other entitled VIRAL LOAD VS. PUTRID PILE. Up first comes Viral Load with a batch of three songs consisting of ridiculous song titles (“Dog Food Lube”) and Dying Fetus worship ad nausea, resulting in a hackneyed start to this split. Putrid Pile follows with three tracks taking a much more technical approach with a noticeable set of upgraded production values at the helm of the attack, yet stumbles over the same retread tactics countless other death metal acts utilize a bit too often. Sadly, the best thing about this disc is the artwork.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Adorned Brood,"Noor" (Black Bards)
German pagan metal unit Adorned Brood do an admirable job of transporting the listener into the waterways of Nordic lands via their Viking ship on their 10-track NOOR. Celebrating their 15-year anniversary in both traditional and modern style, Adorned Brood have decked their latest installment of mead drinking metal out with an omnipresent flute (“Noor”), choral shouts galore, ground shakimg rhythms (“Storm”) and a fistful of aggressive vocals (“Schiff Der Toten”). Whipping up a jamboree balancing metallic fury and folk metal luxury, Adorned Brood is far from original but do exude the proper qualities to summon a medieval spirit.
www.black-bards.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Melechesh,"The Epigenesis" (Nuclear Blast)
Melechesh is regarded as one of the leaders when it comes to morphing Middle Eastern culture with black metal and with good reason, as this collective’s latest 11 track offering THE EPIGENESIS melds traditional musical instrumentation of their lineage with blasts of foreboding black metal (“Defeating the Giants”). Using Arabic upbringing to hammer home a dose of fury isn’t a new concept in extreme metal, yet the lengths this Israeli quartet goes to incorporate classic tools such as sitar and bazuq into their biting guitar and punishing rhythm tandem (“When Halos of Candles Collide”) goes beyond the norm, all the while maintaining a harrowing mid tempo pace that really allows this band’s unique brutality to come to fruition (“Mystics of the Pillar”).
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Del Rey,"Immemorial" (At A Loss)
From unorthodox instrumentation to a twin percussive presence, Chicago post rock instrumentalists Del Rey demonstrate a bevy of intriguing elements that set them apart from merely a cross between Mogwai and Maserati on their latest seven-track offering IMMEMORIAL. Besides the use of two drummers, their multi-layered blend of psych rock designed to be played in its entirety employs quite a bit of international rhythmic flavor as well, adding more intensity to their already dynamically charged approach to building songs (“These Children That Come At You With Knives”). Despite obvious comparisons to fellow statesmen Pelican being made, Del Rey manages to carve out a discernible niche in the voiceless rock realm via a combination of forward-thinking compositions embracing a maverick sense of experimentation and a finite attention to detail keeping the overall flow sure and steady yet rough and ready when need be (“Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars”).
www.atalossrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kill The Client,"Set For Extinction" (Relapse)
Texas grindcore squad Kill the Client unleash an intensely hellacious 13-track affair with SET FOR EXTINCTION. With not one song going past the three-minute mark, this quartet prepares an unrelenting velocity-fueled assault that fuses the brutal brevity of middle period Napalm Death (“As Roaches”) with the steamrolled devastation of Brutal Truth (“Conflict Within “). Brazen with blast beats and razorwire riffage (“Pressing the Flesh”), Kill The Client directly derive their style from the likes of Nasum, Terrorizer, and the aforementioned acts, putting their head down, charging at full speed and wrecking anything that gets in their way of achieving maximum aural malevolence (“Vicious Slaughter”).
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Whores Of Tijuana,"Psycholongevity" (B@1)
California stoner metal troupe Whores of Tijuana return after a five-year hiatus with a versatile nine-track endeavor entitled PSYCHOLONGEVITY. Borrowing as much from Kyuss (whose Scott Reeder once again helmed the production reigns) as they do Fu Manchu, this long-running trio skillfully intertwines whiskey-soaked biker blues (“Pig Country”) and hazy desert rock (“Onsiya Kel”) with a dollop of rock ‘n roll rebellion (“Racer X”, “Blue Ball Blues”), providing the righteous soundtrack to explore the mind’s outer reaches with.
www.whoresoftijuana.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Our rating system:

Flawless...
Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
Slightly redeeming...
Worthless piece of $#%@...
Extremely BAD! Should be illegal to possess...

Format Denotation:

Note: mp3 "albums" count as CD's. All reviewed collections are CD's unless tagged with the following images:

Denotes vinyl release...

Denotes cassette release...