Music Reviews: May 2011

istDotsun Moon,"4AM" (Self-Released)
The band has labeled their music as “dream beat”. I don’t think I could think of a better description even if my life depended on it. I love Mary Ognibene’s voice. She can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up one minute and put you in a trance the next. “Heed The Warning” is the track on the album, or at least it’s the standout track that won me over. It’s like she’s whispering the lyrics in your ear. Check out the video on their website as well. Another cool track is their cover of Bo Diddley’s 1957 single “Who Do You Love?”. Mary doesn’t sing lead on this one, not sure who’s singing to be honest, but it has a real nice Love and Rockets / Bauhaus feel to it. No shave and a haircut two bits beat here, unless it’s been stripped down to its minimal frame, but a very cool version all the same.
It’s pretty safe to say that Dotsun Moon has won over a new fan of their “dream beat” music.
www.dotsunmoon.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Long Distance Calling,"Long Distance Calling" (Superball)
German instrumental quintet Long Distance Calling return with an eponymous seven-track affair showcasing a clever juxtaposing of post metal and progressive rock. Unlike most bands of their ilk, this squad establishes a solid groove as the foundation of the track before fleshing it out with a flurry of heavily effected guitars, bouncy bass runs, and synth overlays (“Timebends”), maintaining an uncharacteristic linear approach that keeps the rhythm section locked down tight while allowing the rest of the band to explore vast terrains on the metallic continuum (“Into the Black Wide Open”). Long Distance Calling also employs a discernible array of melodic overtones than their peers, keeping their music more in line with the likes of Pink Floyd than Scale the Summit (“Beyond the Void”). Featuring guest vocals on one track seems to be the band’s calling card, as the last two discs boasted Peter Dolving and Jonas Renske. This time, they get assistance from Armored Saint/ Anthrax singer John Bush (“Middleville”), whose odd yet powerful ethereal performance sheds new light on the expansive scope and grandiose presence this album conveys. Long Distance Calling provides a well-textured and soundly structured slab of (mostly) vocal-less tunes with an edgy underbelly and a cinematic scope that fans of Pelican, Mogwai, and Karma to Burn can probably all meet in the middle about.
www.superballmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lo-Pan,"Salvador" (Small Stone)
Lo-Pan is a Columbus, Ohio based quartet whose latest offering SALVADOR provides a cavalcade of stoner grooves that hit hard and leave marks (“Seed”). This troupe dishes out heaping helpings of thick guitars and rollicking bass and drums, topped off with a soaring lead vocal that combines the grace of Maynard Keenan and the grit of John Garcia. Exhibiting the ability to compose tunes that sting like a smack to the face (“Bleeding Out”) and possess the imminence of hardcore (“Spartacus”) yet can also calmly float overhead (“Bird of Prey”), Lo-Pan commandeers a cross-section of fuzzed-out down-tuned excellence that can confidently stand shoulder to shoulder with the pioneers of the genre.
www.smallstonerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lazarus Ad,"Black Rivers Flow" (Metal Blade)
Wisconsin-based thrash metal squad Lazarus AD demonstrate no sign of the sophomore slump on their bruising new release BLACK RIVERS FLOW. This quartet acutely balance modern thrash nuances with a hearty smattering of Pantera-esque groove, a bevy of tasty guitar licks (“Light A City”) and the golden era of thrash metal’s unbreakable spirit firmly in place (“Through Your Eyes”), resulting in a triumphant offering that comprises a hellacious hybrid of Exodus, Machine Head, and Unearth guaranteed to get the blood flowing and the dance floor moving (“Casting Forward”). Despite being covered by countless bands numerous times over, Lazarus AD does an admirable job of recreating familiar breakneck tones without wearing out their welcome, blending vocal snarls, crisp guitars, and walloping bottom end with workmanlike expedience and reverence to the history of the genre at the forefront of their assault.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Demonaz,"March Of The Norse" (Nuclear Blast)
Founding member of Immortal Demonaz has finally given the metal realm his first proper solo effort, the nine-track MARCH OF THE NORSE. This long-awaited offering provides fans of the distinct Norwegian metal sound something to clamor over, as Demonaz and company (mainly comprised by Immortal side project I) lay down an epic-minded album chock full of heavy metal bombast and spirited warmongering battle cries (“Sons of the Sword”) complete with pronounced mid-tempo gallops that stay the same within much of the disc, yielding an unquestionable amount of strength that tends to wear down a bit thin towards the end. Nonetheless, the grandiose scope and harsh vocal delivery with choral accoutrement combination (“Legends of Fire and Ice”, “All Blackened Sky”) fits while a NW
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Electric Wizard,"Black Masses" (Metal Blade)
Premiere UK doom metal merchants Electric Wizard return with an eight-track affair chock full of hefty psychedelic swirling guitars, Ozzy-esque echoing vocal refrains, and deliberate drugged-out rhythms entitled BLACK MASSES. While this veteran band has gone through numerous lineup changes and sounds little like it did during their most revered era culminating with 2000’s DOPETHRONE, their recent discovery of vintage recording techniques and equipment, not to mention their unwavering penchant for developing dedicated anthems to Satan that plow through the murky haze with groovy viscosity (“Scorpio Curse”) has yielded a new chapter in their storied career that takes discernible detours yet still stand head and shoulders above the doom metal contingent’s best and most diabolical (“Turn Off Your Mind”). Hypnotically heavy yet shockingly accessible for a band of their ilk, Electric Wizard create a homage to Hell with 70’s horror movie flair laden with effectively redundant compositions rendering contagious verses and choruses (“Patterns of Evil”) championing syrupy bass-driven slow crawls and abrasive lo-fi drone metal noise (“The Nightchild”).
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Jag Panzer,"The Scourge Of The Light" (SPV)
Springing back with a blistering 10-track power metal assault (“Condemned to Fight”), Jag Panzer returns with their bombastic swagger intact on THE SCOURGE OF LIGHT. This veteran Colorado troupe puts the pedal to the metal here, making certain that meaty riffs and histrionic vocals work together in perfect harmony while displaying a glorious array of melodic splendor (“Overlord”) with a flurry of dizzying fretwork gymnastics that shred heads will undoubtedly fawn over. Prevailing with a pervasive classic metal vibe (“Let it Out”) while adding in piano and strings for added dramatic appeal (“Burn”), Jag Panzer has made a triumphant return to the frontline of the power metal realm with the release of this stellar offering.
www.spv.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Meads Of Asphodel,"The Murder Of Jesus The Jew" (Candlelight)
THE MURDER OF JESUS THE JEW is the latest disc by the bizarre UK troupe The Meads of Asphodel, a unit that makes System of a Down look downright conventional. Controversial album title and lyrical content aside, this fearless squad continues their journey that has never strayed from exploring unsettling musical avenues or going the extra mile to shock, creating a tumultuous potpourri of mismatched styles that fans of avant-garde metal can absorb for days on end without an ounce boredom setting in. From pomp-driven choral parts to atmospheric drone with odd instrumentation to seething black metal to crusty Brit punk, The Meads of Asphodel throw their cacophonous blend into their custom-built centrifuge, with the end product resulting in an unorthodox fusion of styles and sounds that takes patience and tolerance to fully appreciate and comprehend.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Deicide,"To Hell With God" (Century Media)
Everyone’s favorite Satanist Glenn Benton and company return with TO HELL IS GOD, a scalding 10-track offering that rekindles the flames of evil for the long running death metal unit Deicide. Brimming over with speed-picked fury (“Empowered By Blasphemy”) and anti-Christian sentiment aplenty (“Angels in Hell”), this endeavor features another fleet-footed percussive performance from longtime member Steve Asheim as well as a smashing twin guitar presence from death metal mercenaries Jack Owens and Ralph Santolla while Benton’s mighty roar is captured for the first time with all of its demonic firepower represented. Demonstrating a good flow of tempos from blistering (“Save Your”) to bludgeoning (“Hang in Agony Until You’re Dead”) while keeping content melodically-tinged yet decisively velocity-driven, Deicide’s latest recording finally has fine-tuned their sound to totally encompasses their diabolical philosophical viewpoints. You’ve been warned.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Drugs Of Faith,"Corroded" (Selfmadegod)
15 tracks of socially-minded cerebral grindcore is what Drugs of Faith serves up on the troupe’s long-awaited full length debut CORRODED, an album that manages to coherently combine the ferocity of Napalm Death, the passion of Fugazi and the venom of Black Flag. This DC trio strikes a fine balance between velocity-driven intensity and left of center angularity (“Sight Unseen”), resulting in an intriguing amalgamation of traditional grind (“Corroded”), hardcore punk (“Farewell Kiss”) and post hardcore (“Grayed Out”) that aims for the jugular while creeping inside your subconscious (“Anemic”). Armed with distinctively disjointed waves of dissonance with odd melodic sensibilities abound, Drugs of Faith have honed a hybrid sound all their own whose unique properties embody a multitude of underground heavy music’s best qualities.
www.selfmadegod.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Firebird,"Double Diamond" (Rise Above)
Bill Steer and company return with another 10-track installment of organically grown hard rocking blues based tunes entitled DOUBLE DIAMOND, the unit’s sixth album. Firebird keeps their rock solid rhythm section grooving on cuts like “A Wing & A Prayer” while rounds of nifty fretwork and catchy choruses left at the curb on the Sunset Strip make their presence felt on cuts like “Ruined”. Sticking close to the blueprint developed by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, Firebird provides a predictable yet appeasing batch of bluesy boogie and hard hitting hard rock jams that don’t aim to reinvent the wheel but will keep air guitars going strong into the night (“Pound of Flesh”).
www.riseaboverecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Paranoid Critical Revolution,"Euphobia" (Systems Neutralizers)
The two-woman noise metal tandem The Paranoid Critical Revolution present a 12-track disc championing all things disjointed and dissonant entitled EUPHOBIA. Heavily effected guitars and jazzy percussion mix it up throughout this offering, resulting in a multitude of high-pitched squealing freakouts (“I Didn’t Wake Up This Morning”), no wave hypnosis (“Loitering With Intent”) and abrasive odd-timed white-noise knuckle rides (“Tour De Force Majeure”). Sounding like every appliance in your kitchen involved in a heated debate, The Paranoid Critical Revolution is a polarizing outfit for certain, yielding an unruly and evidently underground sound geared solely for the most adventurous of exploratory music fans to embrace.
www.theparanoidcriticalrevolution.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Across The Sun,"Before The Night Takes Us" (Metal Blade)
Across the Sun is a Portland, OR based modern metal quintet whose 10-track disc BEFORE THE NIGHT TAKES US displays a streamlined array of both European and American influence from many of the more successful bands in metal from the last 10 years. Liberally applying parts of Killswitch Engage, Soilwork, Bleeding Through, and Children of Bodom into their mix, this squad extols a clinical and calculated form of metal enhanced by crushing guitar tones (“Ghost of Grandeur”) and assisted by progressive bass tones, emotionally-charged Howard Jones sound alike vocals and a prominent yet thankfully not overbearing piano/keyboard presence (“Seasons”). Across the Sun expresses an uncanny ability to create soaring melodies and bruising mosh parts, yet relies on familiarity a bit too often here and needs a bit more of their own identity to seep through their songs in order to break away from the metalcore middle.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Ocean,"Anthropocentric" (Metal Blade)
Much like their last effort, following last release HELIOCENTRIC, Germany’s The Ocean unveil a 10-track companion endeavor a mere seven months later entitled ANTHROPOCENTRIC. This unit’s latest effort marks the first time where band founder Robin Staps allowed outside songwriting influence into the mix, undoubtedly topping up the squad’s already abundant diversity (“Willie Zum Untergang”), yet this affair finds The Ocean decisively heavier and less expansive than its counterpart (“She Was The Universe”) as well. Nonetheless, this quintet maintains the genuine compositional quality and structural cohesion they are lauded for by meshing post metal melancholy, prog metal majesty and the occasional tech metal tweaks that pop up intermittently (“The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots and Locusts”). The Ocean’s usual bounty of metallic texture is ramped up considerably on this disc here, accompanied by a extra helping of aggression throughout that assists in distributing the plethora of sludgy doom metal moments The Ocean consistently provides (“Sewers of the Soul”).
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crystal Viper,"Legends" (AFM)
Polish female-fronted power metal troupe Crystal Viper gallop their way through an 11-track metal opus entitled LEGENDS. Chock full of rousing melodies and furious rhythms that cross Doro with Hammerfall (“Blood of the Heroes”, “A Man of Stone”), this unit’s latest endeavor showcases a by the book coherence that leaves no stone unturned when following the basics of power metal. Add in the robust female presence of Marta Gabriel, whose soaring vocal lines and stellar fretwork admirably lead this band’s pure NWOBHM influenced charge through the familiar forests and enchanted lands (“Night of The Sin”), assisting this band in standing out from the pack. Championing the mentality and chops from the days of yore, Crystal Viper packs an old school punch while most female fronted bands in this genre opt to get operatic, resulting in a predictable yet well executed and enjoyable excursion.
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Weedeater,"Jason The Dragon" (Southern Lord)
North Carolina trio Weedeater unveils a succinct slab of sludge with JASON THE DRAGON, a malaise-ridden and murky10-track, 28-minute offering that picks up right where their last disc left off. Dragged down and drugged up melodies courtesy of Dixie Dave (“Homecoming”) collide with the impenetrable wall of sound laid down by the mammoth rhythm section, creating a racket of hypnotically hazy sludge metal (“Mancoon”) with a few backwoods accoutrements like banjo and nature sounds strewn in for good measure (“Whiskey Creek”). Swampy tempos and buzzing riffs aplenty adorn these tracks (“Long Gone”) while the albums contiguous flow assists each song bleeding into the next, rendering an expository feel that intertwines the colossal heft these songs carry with a deliberate vibe of despair (“Jason the Dragon”). If you like it raw and heavy with a heaping helping of smoked-out bong filled fury, Weedeater’s latest is a must have record to add to your collection.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Exemption,"Public Cemetery Party" (Self-released)
Ubiquitous Long Island power trio Exemption busts through the gate with another mind-bending collection of tunes on their psychedelically sprinkled nine-track affair PUBLIC CEMETERY PARTY. This multi-faceted unit allows its prog rock sensibilities to overshadow their stoner metal tendencies and modern metal panache this time around (“Cold Bodies”) while tumultuous percussive rumbles and layers of delectable guitars illuminate their variety-addled path to musical enlightenment (“White Animal”). Exuding as many moments of jaw dropping musical interludes as produced studio slickness (“Hyper Spiral”) with a boundless energy and freewheeling musical spirit at the helm, the compositions on this release are jam packed with an encyclopedic knowledge of a multitude of rock genres that reaches down deep in the grab bag to obtain wondrous musical prizes for folks who care to have their horizons expanded (“Hounds of Sound”).
www.myspace.com/exemption
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dotma,"Sleep Paralysis" (Scarlet)
Finnish female fronted symphonic metal squad Dotma pull out all the expected nuances with refined elegance on their eight-track excursion SLEEP PARALYSIS. Operatic female vocals and symphonic keyboards aplenty intertwine with melancholic chunks of thunderous metal (“The Cave”) to emit an ominous and dramatic flair that carries through the entire duration of the album (“Legend Of The Blackbird”). Evoking a mystical mysteriousness while unloading a pervading sense of sorrow, the music this troupe creates maintains a powerful presence thanks to a solid bond of stellar musicianship whose work within Dotma’s dark and brooding atmospheres seems to hit harder and go further down the trail of desolation than the works of their peers (“Whispering”), bypassing the knockoffs to place this unit at the top of the heap.
www.scarletrecords.it
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Brennan Dylan,"Bullet Ride" (Self-released)
Ever go to a club that has different rooms playing totally different music in each room? Award-winning six-string maestro Brennan Dylan apparently has, as he fuses hard electronica beats with bursts of metal virtuoso guitar on his debut endeavor BULLET RIDE. This well-versed musician’s discovery is far from groundbreaking, but his disc merges the two armed with clever compositional methods that gives equal reverence to both genres. This 10-track all instrumental affair contains a head rattling array of techno beats bound to keep the dance floor moving (“Racing Laguna”) while a discernible hard rock edge makes its presence known thanks to Dylan’s inventive approach and undeniable chops (“Derailed”). At times wandering through dark wave and industrial soundscapes (“Bullet Ride”) while at others coming off like the perfect background music for a television or movie chase scene (“Delirious Factor”), Brennan Dylan has struck a cohesive balance of styles and sounds for ravers and rockers alike to adhere to.
www.myspace.com/brennandylan
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Madlife,"Angry Sonnets For The Soul" (Rock Band Entertainment)
Madlife merge the hard edge industrial metal with sanitized commercial rock sheen on their 11-track offering ANGRY SONNETS FOR THE SOUL. This Los Angeles based quartet borrows as much of their synthetic energy, six string crush and sequenced rhythmic movements from KMFDM and Marilyn Manson as they do Linkin Park to comprise a heavily effected thump (“Falling Apart”) that crams all the melody they can muster into the mix (“Little Ray of Sunshine”). This album has its fair amount of catchy choruses and angst-ridden anthemic riffs to keep the dance floor pumping (“Feeling Alone”) yet Madlife’s reheated formula wears thin after a few listens into a hodgepodge of electronically manipulated ‘90s alternative rock that you’ve heard before from the likes of Filter and Stabbing Westward.
www.rockbandent.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Astrosoniq,"Quadrant" (Exile On Mainstream)
Netherlands based stoner rock squad Astrosoniq have created a labyrinth of classic sci-fi influenced psychedelic metal luxury on their latest release QUADRANT. This unit simultaneously cosmically channels Hawkwind, Kyuss, and Pink Floyd, developing a style where quirky spoken word dialogues from a space mission in distress and gritty desert rock grooves blend into one another without batting an eye (“As Soon as They Got Airborne”) before dropping shards of modern thrash metal (“Play It Straight”) and syrupy sludge (“Downfall Lover”) into their musical crockpot. Limitless in scope and laden with skillfully applied stylistic shifts, Astrosoniq has created a kaleidoscopic array of tones and textures leaning on the heavier side of the spectrum that audiophiles, baked heshers, and space rock cadets alike will undoubtedly freak out over.
www.exileonmainstream.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Helstar,"The Glory Of Chaos" (AFM)
Veteran Texas metal unit Helstar unleash a wicked 10-track album chock full of progressively-minded power metal fury and thrash metal enormity entitled THE GLORY OF CHAOS. Led by a versatile vocal demonstration by the criminally-underrated James Rivera, this affair sticks to meat and potato riffs and solos over compositions that pack a punch and flow well, at times sounding like the bastard spawn of Nevermore and Iced Earth (“Monarch of Bloodshed) while at others exuding a concoction of Exodus with a Fates Warning flair (“Bonecrusher”). Ensconced in unabashed heaviness with a genuine metal sensibility guiding their mission, Helstar is amongst the rare metal acts that get heavier as their career continues, and THE GLORY OF CHAOS does so with a convincing fistful of aggression spearheading the surge that fuels tracks like the Death Angel meets Vio-lence clamor of “Anger” and the PAINKILLER-era Judas Priest influenced “Angels Fall to Hell”.
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Demilitia,"At The Altar Of The Earth" (Self-released)
Bruising Brooklyn, NY extreme metal quintet Demilita serve up a smoldering four-track hybrid of heavy with AT THE ALTAR OF THE EARTH. Displaying a diabolical set of death metal chops with a demonic vocal presence that summons Satan with fierce growls in a heavenless rasp, this troupe punishes eardrums with thunderous percussive rolls and well-executed twin guitars that go above normal spheres of influence (“Come to the Naught”). Assaulting senses with both technical prowess and clobbering sonic excess while judiciously composing a mix of succinctly savage songs, Demilitia bridges gaps between extreme metal styles without sounding forced or contrived to develop a unique vibe of controlled chaos rooted in a genuine love for all things heavy.
www.demilitia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Noisear,"Subvert The Dominant Paradigm" (Relapse)
New Mexico-based grindcore unit Noisear displays a versatile stream of extreme metal influences on their latest full-length affair SUBVERT THE DOMINANT PARADIGM. Eschewing modern metal practices, nary a trigger or Pro Tools edit was used when making of this 30-track album, as this act admirably keeps their aggression as visceral as possible while dialing up bombastic blasts of heaviness (“Slave”, “Life Consumed You”). Despite all the usual suspects’ bodies of works easily being traced here, Noisear throws a few surprises in from time to time and does a formidable job of juxtaposing old school grindcore tones with a bevy of styles from slow crawling (“The Perpetual Downfall of Man”) to quirky (“Inoperative”) to straight out blistering (“Information Highway to Hell”). Noisear has made a terse and tumultuous musical offering custom made to properly execute the adventurous spirit and socially conscious awareness this brutal form of music embraces and is a worthy purchase to add to your grindcore set.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Architects Of A Broken Design,"The Great Reflection" (Wreckin' Joint)
Architects of a Broken Design are a forward-thinking metal project whose two main members develop an unapologetically heavy blend of extreme metal eccentricities. This duo’s latest 10-track excursion is brimming over with volatile twisted compositions that demonstrate the tandem’s crushing heft with a multitude of progressive overtones, reminiscent of an amalgamation of The Red Chord, Misery Index, and Candiria while shards of higher visibility artists like Mudvayne and Glassjaw embedded within the band’s framework intermittently pop up. Odd shaped and hard to digest at times yet unquestionably vicious and technically sound throughout, THE GREAT REFLECTION yields an unsettling ride through dark and menacing modern metal terrains.
www.wreckinjointproductions.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cauldron,"Burning Fortune" (Earache)
Canadian trio Cauldron continue to ride the metal preservation route, as this band wired with authentic classic metal circuitry demonstrates their vintage ways on their latest nine-track affair BURNING FORTUNE. Boasting basic yet effective songwriting efficiency resonating with the spirit of heavy metal from the early to mid ‘80s, Cauldron lays down a melodically driven vintage sound that teeters somewhere in between a Sunset Strip hair metal band with choruses as big as their hair and a down and dirty proto-metal troupe with bursts of snarling aggression. Exuding a pronounced sense of simplicity that blissfully captures sentiments from the era they aim to recreate, Cauldron supplies a bounty of nostalgic time machine trips on this disc that at times go heavy on the cheese e yet rarely wane from following the old school heavy metal playbook.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Balfor,"Barbaric Blood" (Pulverised)
Ukrainian outfit Balfor have been around for quite some time, but have waited until now to unleash a proper collection of blackened thrash metal that encompasses all things evil entitled BARBARIC BLOOD. While this quartet’s slightly symphonic blend of black metal fury is doing very little in the way of breaking new ground in the extreme metal genre, the consistent surge of aggression and vitriol they commandeer on this nine-track excursion abides by the more melodic template set by the likes of Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir with a demonic diligence guiding over every blast beat and guttural growl.
www.pulverisedrecords.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wino,"Adrift" (Exile On Mainstream)
Prolific metal warrior Wino takes a radical departure from the normal sonically crushing experience the St. Vitus frontman is associated with executing on his sophomore solo effort, stripping down his legendary doom metal density for an exercise of primarily acoustic guitar led music on ADRIFT. This intimate 12-track offering displays yet another side of this revered artist, resonating stark singer-songwriter vibes using little else besides barren guitars with brief yet effective electric accompaniment and Wino’s whiskey-soaked vocals, maintaining the level of intensity from his heavier offerings while digging down deep to explore the origins of American styled country, blues and folk music. At times sounding like protest music ripped from a Vietnam rally (“Green Speed”, “I Don’t Care”) while at others wistfully welcoming a whole new spectrum of sounds at his dispose (“O.B.E.”), Wino retains his patented rousing spirit while presenting his music through a whole new light.
www.exileonmainstream.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Odd Dimension,"Symmetrical" (Scarlet)
Italian troupe Odd Dimension dole out other influences besides the progressive metal that you’d expect on their debut affair SYMMETRICAL. Championing a multifaceted mix of heavy and melodic nuances, this act injects modern Euro metal bite into traditional metal song structures (“The Day Meets the Night”) intertwined with a complex concoction of chops from bands like Fates Warning and Dream Theater shooting out from virtually every position (“Rising Through Light”). Despite a solid musical showing demonstrated throughout (“Light Speed Journey”), a waning vocal delivery disappointingly diminishes the power and majesty many of these songs come close to attaining, resulting in making an album that could have been much more engaging than realized.
www.scarletrecords.it
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Havok,"Time Is Up" (Candlelight)
Denver, CO quartet Havok does their part to recreate the sound and fury of the gilded age of thrash metal on the band’s sophomore endeavor TIME IS UP. Armed with a sensational six-string assault that spans the genre from Kreator to Lamb of God (“Scumbag in Disguise”) and a hearty helping of songwriting and attitudinal influence from the likes of Slayer, Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel (“Prepare for Attack”), this exuberant unit lets their thrash flag fly without reservation with a batch of predictably themed and composed songs whose durable execution and domineering spirit will have headbangers thrashing like athletes from the year 1987 in no time (“Fatal Intervention”).
www.candlelightrecordsusa.co
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nekromantheon,"Divinity Of Death" (Vendlus)
Norwegian trio Nekromantheon present a bludgeoning 11-track album directly derived from Possessed, Venom (“Alcoholy Terror”) early Slayer, and pre-CHAOS AD Sepultura on DIVINITY OF DEATH. Everything from the blistering riffs and gravel throated growls from days gone by (“Further Beyond”) to the purposely raw production value adds the proper ingredients needed to give songs like “Psyanide” authentic old school crunch while the album’s expedient running time of a bit under 35 minutes ensures that this unit’s homage doesn’t wear its welcome out. Don’t expect anything you’ve never heard before, but if you hanker for a chunk of vintage speed metal with the right hues of darkness and calamity implemented that hit hard and leaves just as abruptly as it arrives, DIVINITY OF DEATH is an disc worth seeking out.
www.vendlusrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bob Wayne,"Outlaw Carnie" (Century Media)
Strange to find a straight-up country release on a predominantly metal label, but Bob Wayne is not your average artist, as he blows modern country stereotypes out of the water with his wagon wheel songwriting and rebellious delivery as heard on the 15-track release OUTLAW CARNIE. Falling somewhere in between Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Hank III and Supersuckers (the latter pair who he worked with in the past), this hard nosed cowboy portrays the aesthetic of black hats and Mexican standoffs with conviction while the band behind him expertly interprets a song like a cross between the house bands of The Grand Ol’ Opry and Hee-Haw. Chock full of skillful pickin’ and grinnin’ but also packing a spaghetti western cowpunk punch that stands toe to toe along to anything considered bad ass in corpsepaint, Bob Wayne delivers a staunch reminder of country music’s gritty underbelly with a genuine sense of the hard living and loving lifestyle he sings about.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sleepies,"Sleepies" (Doom Song)
Sleepies are a multifaceted Brooklyn trio whose raucous punk quirk and erratic noise rock pulse make this squad’s 13-track eponymous excursion an intriguingly tumultuous affair to get acquainted with. Boasting jagged guitars and chaotic vocals that never miss the chance for a gang chorus moment while terse rhythmic patterns hold everything from running off the rails with the eerie smoothness of Violent Femmes, this band’s road worn and battle-torn sound stealthily apes swagger from the Sex Pistols, draws vitriol from Nirvana, and gets moody like The Replacements to create an efficient and effective 21st century strand of apocalyptic rock straight from the garage to your eardrums.
www.sleepies.bandcamp.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Onslaught,"Sounds Of Violence" (AFM)
Veteran British thrash metal quartet Onslaught continues the trend of seasoned bands coming out of the where are they now file only to throw down relevant headbanging material as heard on this troupe’s latest affair SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE. This 11-track offering supplies an aggressive array of smash everything in your path thrash metal prowess (“Rest in Pieces”) with the right balance of rapid fire rhythmic fury and volatile riff and seething vocal combinations akin to latter day Exodus or Kreator at the forefront of their assault (“Born for War”). Onslaught maintains a mauling pace with little derivation from the pummeling thrash metal paradigm this squad has ardently followed since the mid-80s, making this album a predictably angst-ridden excursion with enough meat on its bones to suppress the hunger of ardent fan’s heavy fix.
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Jolly,"An Audio Guide To Happiness Part I" (Inside Out)
Progressively minded New York quartet Jolly displays a cohesive cornucopia of musical acumen on their 12-track release AN AUDIO GUIDE TO HAPPINESS PART I. While expected influences from the likes of Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Muse consistently seep through this unit’s concoction of sound, a discernibly 90’s alternative metal underbelly appears intermittently to propel tracks like “The Pattern” into realms where the likes of Faith No More, Tool and Meshuggah often reside. Despite a smattering of stylistic borrowing, Jolly does an admirable job of fine tuning a sound to call their own by blending atmospheric and heavy nuances together in a way which demonstrates a balance between playbook-familiar symphonic keyboard-led tones and distinct twists ripe with modern prog rock vibes, allowing the well-textured songwriting with underpinnings of heft (“Pretty Darlin’”) to stand out amongst the work of their contemporaries (“End Where It Starts”).
www.jollyband.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Very End,"Mercy And Misery" (SPV)
German metal quintet The Very End derives a hybrid modern metal sound from a multitude of influences on their latest 13-track endeavor MERCY AND MISERY. Showcasing a knack for composing compelling melodic Euro-style metal a la The Haunted or Soilwork (“Dead is the New Alive”, “Vultures”) as well as the ability to unleash rough and tumble riffs you’d expect from Trivium or Volbeat (“The Leper”, “For All Things Undone”), this act supplies a well-versed heavy attack firmly entrenched in what’s current in the metal realm. While the band’s renditions of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” should be approached with extreme caution and treated as guilty pleasured novelties, The Very End overall produce a palatable batch of memorably melodic heaviness that falls squarely in line with the present day metallic landscape.
www.spv.de
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...