Music Reviews: APRIL 2012

Everything Went Black,"Cycles Of Light" (Prosthetic)
St. Louis, MO quintet Everything Went Black whips up a predictable yet punishing hybrid of black metal and hardcore on the troupe’s nine-track debut CYCLES OF LIGHT. Brimming over with strained raspy growls, menacing guitar tones, and a hard hitting rhythm section that knows when to blast out with hardcore fury (“Thorn Feeders”) as well as pull back to allow an ethereally-enhanced crusty doom vibe to wash over (“Kingdoms”), this unit provides a durable amalgamation of heavy styles that fans of The Hope Conspiracy, Black Breath, and Ringworm should have little problem getting down with.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rhope,"Turning Maybes Into Reality" (Bakerteam)
Italian quartet Rhope turn the clock back to the days of nu-metal’s most storied glories on their 12-track offering TURNING MAYBES INTO REALITY. Taking ample influence from the likes of 36 Crazyfists (“Now”), Staind (“Parallel”), Sevendust and Taproot while displaying glimpses of their own stellar musicianship nestled within tracks like “Entropy of Brain” to give them an edgy quality, Rhope resurrects a worn-out sound and colors it with a slew of forward-thinking elements and a wealth of metallic groove to separate them from being labeled as a mere retread from a bygone era (“Truth Lies”).
www.bakerteamrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Exciter,"Death Machine" (Massacre)
Unsung pioneers of the thrash metal movement, Canada’s Exciter return with their second offering since their current reformation bid entitled DEATH MACHINE. Delivering a no-frills nine-track thrash metal tour de force, this quartet’s relentless nature is embedded in the scalding fretwork (“Skull Breaker”) while rabid aggression oozes from every blistering percussive run (“Razor in Your Back”) and histrionic Udo meets Bobby Blitz vocal scream (“Demented Prisoner”), exuding the raw feel and devil may care attitude of the days when this band ran along side the likes of Raven, Anvil, and Venom. Commandeering a virtuous blend of speed-infused heavy music with a vintage pedal to the metal attitude fully intact, Exciter grant metal fans an authentic trip back into time with their latest offering from these seasoned veterans.
www.massacre-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Outlaws Of Ravenhurst,"Book 1" (Self-released)
The Outlaws of Ravenhurst are a Calgary-based metal trio whose latest album BOOK 1 exudes a sturdy power metal presence with a distinct balance of vintage metal chops and obligatory pomp and circumstance. From the over-annunciated spoken word intro to progressively minded galloping rhythms (“Uncle Roger”), this act takes the listener on a voyage through a wide array of metallic styles from folk-laden (“By the Old Fireplace”) to battle ready (“When Men Play Marbles”) with a keen sense of melody anchoring the entire affair (“Castle of Ravenhurst”). Echoing the sentiments of Triumph, Rush, Iron Maiden and Slough Feg, Outlaws of Ravenhurst keep the metal flames burning bright with their rousing take on fantasy metal. .
www.myspace.com/outlawsofravenhurst
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Forever Her Nightmare,"The Rebirth" (Self-released)
New York female fronted unit Forever Her Nightmare bust the gates down with their modern metal explosiveness on the five-track album THE REBIRTH. Employing standard tactics such as clean female/ growling male vocals (though lead singer Jenny Torres’ ferocious bark is prominently displayed here as well) double bass-led rhythmic percussive pummeling (“Liar on the Run”), and melodic stop-start guitar lines with soaring solos (“May Cause Health Problems”), this squad hits the points on the checklist with a brutal bravado reminiscent of the likes of In This Moment, Arch Enemy, and All That Remains. Boosted by clever songwriting savvy that maintains their songs from sounding derivative, Forever Her Nightmare dole out a slab of heaviness with enough degrees of separation away from the core of the current scene to stand out.
www.foreverhernightmare.bandcamp.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Liberteer,"Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees" (Relapse)
Liberteer projects the anarchistic viewpoints of extreme metal veteran Matt Widener via a quirky mix of musical styles incorporating everything from scathing grind to Americana-esque horns and banjo on the 17-track, 27 minute affair BETTER TO DIE ON YOUR FEET THAN LIVE ON YOUR KNEES. This juggernaut release skillfully balances Souza and savagery to create a unique twist within the grindcore game that sits right alongside the likes of major influences such as Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer in terms of ferocity and raw power. Unafraid to venture into experimental terrain (“Sweat for Blood”) yet ready at the drop of hat to unleash a feral flurry of brutality (“Barbarians at the Gate”), Liberteer pushes the envelope both musically and lyrically to develop a provocative and punishing blast of metallic goodness.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Darkness Descends,"Last Of A Dying Breed" (Death Squad)
New Jersey quartet Darkness Descends tactfully straddles the line between metalcore and deathcore on the unit’s 13-track endeavor LAST OF A DYING BREED. Incorporating a heavy handed modern metallic assault into their bevy of burly breakdowns and relentless skull fracturing riffs (“Face the Truth”), this rough and tumble troupe combines anthemic qualities taken from the likes of Full Blown Chaos (“Dark Horse”) with touches of The Acacia Strain’s oppressiveness (“Dr. Doom”) to create a rousing and bruising form of heaviness with solid chops and street cred galore (“Kill The Body and The Head Will Die”).
www.facebook.com/njdarknessdescends
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nitrogods,"Nitrogods" (SPV)
Did Lemmy ghostwrite this album? German trio Nitrogods pound down some whiskey, crank the amps up and go for the jugular on this eponymous 12-track endeavor. Priding themselves on delivering “no bullshit rock ‘n roll”, this unit features former members of Primal Fear and Sinner moonlighting with a nasty case white line fever to boldly backs up their dubious claim (“Demolition”, “Gasoline”). Unabashedly derivative yet passionately performed, Nitrogods’ latest release manages to pull off a powerful homage to one of rock ‘n roll’s most notorious acts.
www.spv.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Haemoth,"In Nomine Odium" (Debemur Morti)
French black metal troupe Haemoth awaken from its six-year hiatus with an ominous seven-track offering entitled IN NOMINE ODIUM. Stylistically steeped in the traditional Norwegian approach, this duo pound and pummel through flurries of dark fury boasting a bleak and primal lo-fi production to guide the unit’s blackened by the book assault. Stocked with terrifying shrieks and blistering tremolo-picked guitar work galore as well as arrangements which unexpectedly and distractingly switch from misanthropic to atmospheric Haemoth presents an unoriginal yet well executed strand of black metal that manages to take its share of liberties while the genre’s pioneers’ playbook working in full effect.
www.debemur-morti.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Trucker Diablo,"The Devil Rhythm" (Ripple)
Northern Ireland quartet Trucker Diablo nails the beer guzzling trucker cap wearing bare knuckle hard rock leanings of the rock music from the American south as heard on the band’s 12-track endeavor THE DEVIL RHYTHM. Oozing with sinewy riffs and monster hooks expected from the likes of Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, and Shinedown, this unit doles out a mountain of melody with loud guitars, thunderous rhythms, and arena-shaking choruses channeling everyone from AC/DC to Black Label Society to Hellyeah at the forefront of their no-frills rock ‘n roll explosion. Perfect music to blast in the car with the top down along the highway, Trucker Diablo keeps the hard rock fires burning with keen songwriting and contagious choruses aplenty.
www.ripplemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Stormcrow,"Enslaved In Darkness" (Selfmadegod)
A 2005 re-release courtesy of Selfmadegod, Stormcrow’s five-track offering ENSLAVED IN DARKNESS melds crust, thrash, death, and punk to form a dastardly din. This now-defunct Oakland, CA squad doles out a no nonsense barrage of chunky riffs and thick rhythms with a bellicose throat spitting vocal venom, creating a potpourri of metallic goodness (“Baleful Conception”). Stormcrow merges elements of Bolt Thrower, Electric Wizard, Entombed, and Amebix to create a catastrophic cacophony worth spinning over and over.
www.selfmadegodrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Psycroptic,"The Inherited Repression" (Nuclear Blast)
Australian technical metal unit Psycroptic return with their fifth studio effort, the nine-track album entitled THE INHERITED REPRESSION. Presenting a dizzying array of shredding guitar acrobatics and hectic rhythmic jolts courtesy of the Haley brother drum and six-string tandem (“The Throne of Kings”) while slathering shards of melody and viscous grooves on top (“The Sleepers Have Awoken”), Psycroptic’s breakneck bravado and clobbering heaviness combo packs quite the punch, especially when the bottom drops out and the band barrels through with death metal intensity (“Become the Cult”). While some may argue this veteran troupe has lost a step or two when it comes down to innovative songwriting, Psycroptic’s mauling musings are fully stocked with both the dazzling dexterity and unabashed aggression expected from this lauded squad (“Deprivation”).
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hate Squad,"Katharsis" (Masacre)
German metal act Hate Squad presents their sixth studio effort, the 13-track album KATHARSIS. Serving up a standardized and straightforward shot of heaviness featuring bruising melodies with ample dollops of death metal aggression (“Katharsis”) and hardcore catchiness (“Old Times, Good Times”), Hate Squad exhibits its diversity via the addition of three surprising instrumental interludes to break the mood up from the eve of destruction. That aside, this quintet’s meat and potato approach boasts solid songwriting that stays the course without getting superfluous with a bevy of hard hitting hostility (“Live and Learn”) perfect for those who enjoy the crushing comfort of the rumbling resonance from the early ‘90s extreme metal sound with touches of today’s metalcore by numbers to indoctrinate the new arrivals.
www.massacrerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Someonelse,"The Doomed" (Self-released)
NYC-based quintet someonElse forge a unique blend of modern rock on their 11-track debut THE DOOMED. This troupe’s schizophrenic style swings from brooding alt metal where Faith No More reigns supreme to fragile modern rock moments a la Deftones (“Comatose”) to rough around the edges post hardcore championed by the likes of early Thrice (“Faust”) with David DeCeglie’s high-pitched vocals following along with fierce intensity (“The Devil and Dying”). Powerful guitars and pummeling percussion are also prevalent across the span of the release, displaying a dynamic and progressively minded aggressiveness where passionate interplay between musicians maintains levels of intensity necessary to switch from seething to melancholic as effortlessly as they do (“Bad Luck Charm”). Melding a refreshing batch of modern heavy elements together with detailed song structures that challenge the listener, someonElse offers an abundance of strong material for fans of bands such as 36 Crazy Fists, Finch, Karnivool, and Fair to Midland.
www.someonelserocks.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Without Wave,"Scab Platter" (Self-released)
Chicago-based group Without Waves presents a pulsating metal assault with a musical outpouring that is all over the map on their eight-track debut SCAB PLATTER. With influences ranging from Dillinger Escape Plan to Isis to Intronaut to Devin Townsend running rampant, this quartet demonstrates a penchant for experimentation while managing to administer a skillfully developed bludgeoning attack chock full of intriguing twists and turns (“Tradition of Fear”). Surprisingly accessible for a band that dabbles in such a wide variety of styles, Without Waves throws in everything from ominous atmospherics (“Dhyana”) to snippets of spoken word weirdness (“{pieta}”), to blistering off-kilter brutality (“Scab Platter”) tailor-made for the adventurous extreme metal ear.
www.withoutwaves.bandcamp.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Stigmhate,"The Sun Collapse" (Bakerteam)
Italian black metal mavens Stigmhate stick to the swift and Satanic formula of dark fury on their latest nine-track album THE SUN COLLAPSE. Exhibiting an over the top sense of evil and dread with every blood curdling scream and blast beat/tremolo pick combination, this troupe summons up demonic spirits of the netherworld with bouts of blasphemous explosiveness (“Luce”), warped dissonance (“Throne of Eternal Flame”), and frantic paces (“Plenary Repulsion”). While the approach taken by this seasoned outfit is far from groundbreaking and easily traced to the genre’s upper echelon, the misanthropy nestled deep within this unit’s musical output yields a provocative and punishing end result that followers of black metal should find little fault with.
www.bakerteamrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Western Syndrome / Lunglust,"Split" (Witchtrial)
Something heavy is going down in Massachusetts according to the four-track split disc from Boston’s Western Syndrome and Lunglust. Despite both bands sharing the same drummer, each act demonstrates its own version of hardcore metal in the year 2012. Western Syndrome strikes first with two frantic grind tracks clocking in a little over three minutes with a screeching female vocal accentuating the spastic chaos the band unleashes. Western Syndrome follows next with two longer, doomier, and denser cuts, channeling the sinister side of the metal spectrum with a beefy Isis meets Mastodon aura. As an added bonus, material from a third band that shares the same drummer but is now defunct is tacked on as bonus material when downloaded, truly giving the listener a trifecta of carnage to absorb.
witchtrial.bandcamp.com/album/split
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lay Down Rotten,"Mask Of Malice" (Metal Blade)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it seems to be the mantra for veteran German troupe Lay Down Rotten, whose latest endeavor MASK OF MALICE unwaveringly follows the coarse and chaotic guidelines set by the likes of In Flames, Dismember, and At The Gates. Despite the obviousness of this squad’s lineage, this 10-track release offers a solid hybrid of menacing yet monotone death metal (“Hades Resurrected”) with nuances running from six-string Swedish sweetness (“A Darker Shade of Hatred”) to old school mid-paced mauling (“La Serpenta Canta”) that barrels over with an undeniable abundance of brute force (“A Darker Shade of Hatred”). Will you be able to differentiate who these guys are and what they do compared to the countless other extreme metal acts following the same trail? Hard to say, but Lay Down Rotten’s seething aggression does a stellar job in trying to suppress the overall lack of uniqueness the songwriting conveys.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Black Skies,"On The Wings Of Time" (Self-released)
North Carolina trio Black Skies return with an immense eight-track affair immersed in sludge entitled ON THE WINGS OF TIME. This ambitious DIY unit got off the road long enough to lay another round of simple and straightforward Southern-fried post-metal down with a bountiful array of dynamic songwriting techniques and killer riffs leading the charge (“The Other Side of the Mountain”). Slipping shards of punk, psychedelic and stoner metal into their twin male/female vocal attack, Black Skies casts a shadowy aura with a barrage of unsuspecting melodies (“Technologicon”) and a shot of hypnotically charged gargantuan riffs channeling Melvins meeting Kylesa in the NOLA swamps as their primary weapons of choice in their relentless quest to rawk (“Darkness and Disguise”).
www.blackskies.bandcamp.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dead Icons,"Condemned" (Bullet Tooth)
Lexington, KY isn’t exactly known to be a hotbed for hardcore, yet Dead Icons throw down 12-tracks of convincingly pissed off metal tinged hardcore on CONDEMNED. This hard working unit’s stripped to the bare bones approach screams This is Hell and Terror (“Survival”), championing the seething nature and aggressive delivery shared between them all while a Madball-esque sense of bludgeoning dynamics push through (“Everything Has a Price”). While there’s little chance that you’ll hear something you haven’t heard before anywhere on this record, the rabid intensity and authentic hardcore style Dead Icons displays is more than enough to make fans of hardcore stand up and take notice.
www.bullettoothrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Sheds,"Self/Doubt" (Mediaskare)
High-energy punk rock with ska inclinations is what The Sheds dole out on their five-track endeavor SELF/DOUBT. Building their hybrid sound from the California sounds of Sublime, Bad Religion and NOFX they undoubtedly skated to, The Sheds applies touches of thrashing punk a la Propaghandi into their punchy mix (“Heart”), creating a refreshing blend of technically proficient genre-hopping punk rock equipped with strong songwriting and versatile dynamics (“Counting Sheep”).
www.mediaskarerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blood Ceremony,"Blood Ceremony" (Metal Blade)
he eponymous 2008 reissue from Canada’s Blood Ceremony is a retro metal feast for the ears, complete with harrowing waves of organ, nature loving flute galore, haunting female lead vocals, and of course, undertones of evil found in every Iommi-influenced riff (“Return to Forever”) and occult-friendly lyric. This quartet administers a vintage demonstration of early ‘70s heavy metal at its most mysterious with the attention for creating an ominous mood overshadowing the entire affair (“Hymn to Pan”). If you could have assembled Jethro Tull, Jefferson Airplane, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown for a trip-inducing jam session, the nine-track output from Blood Ceremony comes pretty close to replicating what that fantastic combination may have sounded like.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Float Face Down,"Exitium Verum" (Mediaskare)
New Jersey quintet espouse the virtues of the maligned deathcore genre on their barbaric 12-track offering EXITIUM VERUM. This unit whips up dastardly dollops of tunes with heavy on guitar heroism (“In the Face of Fear”, “Etched in Stone”) and bursting with breakdown after breakdown for the kids to get down to (“For the World to See”). Packed with guttural growls and strained shrieking vocals galore (“The Broken Switch”) and a monolithic sense of monotony, Float Face Down provides a predictable yet potent batch of downtuned depravity.
www.mediaskarerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Avatar,"Black Waltz" (Eone)
Sweden’s Avatar doles out a serving of dark-edged industrial-tinged modern metal on their latest album BLACK WALTZ. Taking pages from the likes of Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot to comprise a highly stylized form of heaviness (“Torn Apart”) with the unit’s proficient melodic death metal background as the cornerstone of their sound, this troupe effortlessly bounces from clinical to blistering with a plethora of devices and nuances that bear striking similarities to a bevy of other current metal bands in their arsenal. Sometimes sounding like In Flames (“In Napalm”), others like Hellyeah colliding with Ministry (“Use Your Tongue”), and still others whipping up a strange blend of grandiose pseudo gothic metal, Avatar’s schizophrenic musical leanings demonstrate an electronic pulse bolstered with strong songwriting and a keen sense of adventure, making BLACK WALTZ a diverse listening experience running the gamut of the metal spectrum.
www.eonemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Pilgrim,"Misery Wizard" (Metalblade)
Rhode Island trio Pilgrim dispenses a colossal six-track affair championing the slow and low doom metal sound on the aptly titled MISERY WIZARD. Purposely pronounced and definitively downtrodden, this gloom-addled unit’s lineage starts at Black Sabbath and digs deeper from there, excavating pieces of Candlemass, Sleep, and Electric Wizard from the mines of the outer reaches of the mind to comprise straightforward slow crawls (“Adventurer”) with hypnotic rhythms and monstrous monolithic riffs aplenty (“Misery Wizard”). Safeguarding the genre’s traditional virtues with staunch reverence, the debut by Pilgrim demonstrates the elements of plodding and punishing doom metal at their most foreboding.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Xombie,"Swaggaholiz" (Self-released)
Xombie is a rap-metal band from NYC whose debut full-length offering entitled SWAGGERHOLIX zealously follows templates laid down by the likes of Limp Bizkit, Hed PE, and POD (“Fully Automatic”) with a fierce metal side popping up intermittently (“TerrorDactyl”). Enjoying the luxury of being fronted by a real deal MC whose smooth hip-hop flow and commandeering timber propels the group’s spirited yet somewhat dated style, this crew exhibits strong ties to the heavier side of nu metal while the rhymes spit out are accompanied by distressed screams every now and again. Despite Xombie self-professing its musical output as “hood metal”, this quintet’s impressive guitarwork and bouncy bass and drum presence suggests otherwise, displaying an unexpected hard rock polish and a more carefree demeanor than expected from this type of hybrid band (“Power Smash”).
www.xombienation.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Iron Mask,"Black As Death" (AFM)
Iron Mask is a Belgian band with a constantly shifting lineup and a bombastic 13-track album entitled BLACK AS DEATH. Featuring an abundance of power metal aspects from histrionic vocals (courtesy of former Yngwie Malmsteen throat Mark Boals) and grandiose arrangements (“Genghis Khan”) to keyboard-led melodies (“The Absence”), prerequisite power balladeering (“Magic Sky Requiem”) and gallant gallops (“Evil Strikes in Silence”), Iron Mask covers a lot of ground when presenting their rousing metal assault. Staying within the power and classic metal parameters with a hearty helping of Dio and Blind Guardian guiding their mission through the metal realm, Iron Mask balance out power, precision, and pomp to comprise a lengthy power metal affair worth spins for the ardent followers
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Not In Portland,"Inherit Yourself" (Self-released)
Not In Portland is a screaming hardcore troupe from the UK whose furious four-track endeavor INHERIT YOURSELF shows an appreciation for American acts like Glassjaw, Poison the Well, and Every Time I Die. Decorated with jagged riffs, coarse vocals, and a strong dose of post-hardcore charm (“Brocoretomatic”), this bunch of Brits does an admirable job in raising a relevant and raucous blend of current day heaviness (“Smoke Rings”), fitting their spastic musings in squarely between The Bled, Blood Brothers, and Converge.
soundcloud.com/notinportland
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Descender,"And So We Marched" (Aqualimb)
Descender is a NYC unit that subscribes to the darker side of the hardcore spectrum as heard on their latest four-track release AND SO WE MARCHED. Meshing metallic density of bands like Mastodon with the compelling rhythmic thrust of Unsane and staccato riffings of bands like Snapcase (“The Killed”), this quartet doles a thick sound out with unconventionally structured songs bursting with brawny brevity. Providing a strand of music where the wares of Fugazi, Coliseum, and Quicksand intersect (“For What It’s Worth”), Descender dispenses a sound championing the integrity of the DIY underground with smart and provoking influences adding to their well-rounded attack.
www.descendernyc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Graveyard,"The Altar Of Sculpted Skulls" (Pulverised)
HE ALTAR OF SCULPTED SKULLS is a triumphant six-song old school death metal release from Spain’s Graveyard. Not to be confused with the retro hard rock and metal band from Sweden that also uses the name, this unit exhibits a well-versed knowledge of how to make the trademarked buzzsaw tones and cacophonous slash and burn approach administered by pioneers like Entombed and Dismember work in their favor (“The Altar of Sculpted Skulls”). Keeping the aura menacing throughout with primal strikes and mauling mid-paced tempos (“Ritual”), while there’s little on this collection that breaks new ground, this act balances the extreme metal quotient out with a strong showcase of vintage viciousness. Now, about the confusion regarding the name…
www.pulverisedrecords.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...

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

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