Music Reviews: August 2011

Tommy Peltier,"Love, Women and Song" (Plastic Echo Records)
Tommy Peltier’s self-described “eclectic mix of Rock, Bop, Pop, Classical and Jazz” has all the charm of seventies free form FM radio. His vocals are a mix of Arlo Guthrie and Ella Fitzgerald melted together and poured into Dizzy Gillespie’s horn only to be spewed out in riffs and random bursts. From the soulful sounds of “What Can I Say” to the disco meets spaghetti western smashup of “Papa”, to the reggae groove of “Tail of the Comet”, Peltier succeeds in keeping the listener wondering what’s coming next.
www.tommypeltier.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Random Touch,"Tributary" (Token Boy Records)
A Random Touch album is much like hanging upside down, watching an old black and white episode of Dark Shadows, listening to a soundtrack from an old episode of The Twilight Zone, all while tripping on acid. I mean, you’re so disoriented and confused and yet so deeply entranced at the same time. I really don’t know any other way to describe it. To all you folks out there that never dropped acid, well this is a much safer way to see what it’s like and it’s completely legal. I think.
www.randomtouch.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Eli Cook,"Ace, Jack & King" (Self-Released)
“Ace, Jack & King” is a smooth mix of equal parts country and blues. Eli isn’t you’re run of the mill blues guitar wanker. The song comes first, no showboating, no long guitar solos, just the song. His acoustic guitar work is very tasteful and it really carries the songs without pushing to the forefront as if to say “hey, I’m a great guitar wanker, just listen to this.” His deep, booming voice really grabs your attention and has a truckload of soul to boot. Sort of reminds me of Son House at times. All in all, Cook has made an impressive and very soulful blues album that doesn’t sound like every other recent blues album out there. “Crowjane” is a great track and probably my favorite on the disc. Oh, and he can rock too. Just check out the slight return of “Death Rattle”.
www.elicook.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


A Pale Horse Named Death,"And Hell Will Follow Me" (SPV)
A Pale Horse Named Death is the brainchild of Brooklyn, NY's Sal Abruscato, former drummer for Type O Negative and current drummer of Life of Agony. His latest project’s 13-track debut affair finds Abruscato bashing away behind the kit with his usual menacing grooves (“Pill Head”), but also doing a bulk of the guitarwork in addition to holding his own in the vocal slot, essentially making him a Goth metal version of Dave Grohl. Rounded out live by members of Seventh Void and Biohazard, truly making this troupe a Kings County all-star squad to be reckoned with, APHND pull no punches while grittily illuminating a bleak existence (“Die Alone”). Maintaining the legendarily oppressive slow tempo doom rock aura of Type O with a discernibly dark and depressive Alice in Chains vibe (“Devil in the Closet”) and a slight industrial tinge (“Meet the Wolf”), A Pale Horse Named Death is a disc that seemingly copes with the recent loss of Peter Steele in both lyrical content and musical direction, tackling the issues of drug addiction and depression with the subtle authenticity of people that have pulled themselves away from the wreckage and live to tell.
www.spv.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Portrait,"Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae" (Metal Blade)
Swedish metal troupe Portrait does an amazingly accurate interpretation of the diabolical Mercyful Fate as documented on their eight-track offering CRIMEN LAESAE MAJESTATIS DIVINAE. Chock full of delectable twin guitar tradeoffs and flashy falsetto vocals, this quintet have done an extensive job in recreating the evil spirit from King Diamond and company, throwing in a few choice NWOBHM moments in between sinister structures (“The Passion) for good measure. While their style is unquestionably not their own, Portrait nail the power and fury of the early 80’s metal as if it were (“Darkness Forever”), providing a convincing and compelling array of traditional heavy metal mayhem.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Neuraxis,"Asylon" (Prosthetic)
For over 15 years, Montreal metal machine Neuraxis have been whipping up a smorgasbord of tumultuous technical metal across the globe. Their latest release ASYLON contains 10 tracks of unhinged aggression and pristine musical expertise colliding, as the squad’s devastating demonstrations of metallic punishment relentlessly go for the jugular and express no signs of the band resting on its laurels or slowing down. In fact, despite not one single original member remaining in the unit, Neuraxis impressively continues to create a similar strand of the forward thinking yet destructive style of heaviness that they have championed since their inception, complete with a bevy of blast-beat brutality and death metal intricacies that are wondrous to behold (“Sinister”). Boasting an apocalyptic abundance of crushing riffs, belligerent vocals, and complex compositions working in cahoots to develop a chaotic cranium-bashing experience (“Trauma”), Neuraxis delivers a slab of top shelf futuristic death metal that does not disappoint.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Heart Set Self-Destruct,"Monster" (Soundmine Music Works)
Chicago-based outfit Heart Set Self-Destruct combine generic pop punk with strained commercial hard rock on their slickly produced five-track endeavor MONSTER. Employing similar structures as Three Doors Down, Trust Company, and fellow statesmen Chevelle (“Collapse”), this quartet resonates modern rock radio malaise with a tidy blend of crunchy guitars, driving rhythms, and angst-ridden vocals that the Hot Topic crowd is bound to fawn over.
www.myspace.com/heartsetselfdsestruct
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Scale The Summit,"The Collective" (Prosthetic)
Scale The Summit return with another rousing instrumental affair entitled THE COLLECTIVE. This unit’s latest batch of 11 tunes showcases the massive levels of dexterity and versatility this squad owns, constantly shifting from intricately elegant metal to odd-metered jazz interludes to pristine movements evoking complete serenity at a moment’s notice. Holding back from rearing back and completely going off to allow space and breath between the dazzling twin guitar interplay and deft rhythm section’s masterful work, this Houston-based troupe perpetuates a salvo of writing cohesively complex songs in lieu of writing songs that serve merely as vehicles to display their proficient playing abilities, resulting in this album yielding a multitude of breathtaking moments where this outfit’s musical majesty truly shines (“Gallows”). Skillfully fusing virtuosity with atmosphere (“Black Hills”), Scale the Summit’s progressive mindset and softer impressions may not captivate those unaccustomed to a singer-less band right off the bat, yet after a few spins of their luxurious layering, subtle technical prowess and spot-on dynamics (“Alpenglow”), Scale the Summit’s unquestionable musicianship and surprising sense of self-editing are undeniably brilliant.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Graveyard,"Hisingen Blues" (Nuclear Blast)
Swedish quartet Graveyard is a band whose deeply entrenched roots in classic hard rock and metal will entice anyone clamoring for something old school, as these predominant traits set the tone on the troupe’s latest endeavor HISINGEN BLUES. Using the works of the greats in the game as a blueprint to create their own authentically produced organically concocted analog offering, everything from the terse rhythm section pumping out the swagger to the bottomless array of molten hot guitar licks to the histrionically self-assured vocals cast across the entire affair vehemently screams retro rock ‘n roll at its finest. Striking a balance between mellow and heavy with a hearty helping of psychedelic blues-rock grandiosity, Graveyard sophomore effort is a soulful rock masterpiece and is essential listening for any fan of Zeppelin, Cream, and Sabbath in their prime.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Soil Of Ignorance / Wadge,"Split CD" (Give Praise)
Soil of Ignorance and Wadge join forces to demonstrate the merits of Canadian grindcore on this four-track split. Up first is Soil of Ignorance with an eerie and crusty five-minute track continuously spewing anger and malice while summoning up a raw and relentless assault to the skull. From there, Wadge come busting out of the gate with discernibly cleaner tones without sacrificing the breakneck pace set by SOI on their three scorn-laden tracks, indicating traces of both Pig Destroyer and Sheer Terror in their phrasings and structures. Clocking in at a little over 10 minutes, this split disc offers a whirlwind of velocity driven volatility sure to satisfy those who feel the need for speed.
www.givepraiserecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Seidr,"For Winter Fire" (Flenser)
Seidr is a Kentucky-based project that mixes post-metal expansiveness with the deliberately solemn crunch of doom metal to create a jarring yet engaging sound on their seven-track debut FOR WINTER FIRE. Clocking in at over 70 minutes, this unit exhibits no reservations about taking their time to get their point across properly, meticulously constructing an unorthodox and ambitious blend of ambient heaviness with a bevy of textures and flavors from shoegaze to Americana to stoner metal in its ranks. While some of the sounds and nuances employed by Seidr are sure to polarize purists, any listener of heavy music with a sense of adventure and an open mind will have a field day indulging in the luxury of this album’s vast experimental elements and overall ominous atmosphere.
www.theflenser.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bloodiest,"Descent" (Relapse)
Bloodiest is a Chicago septet featuring prolific underground metal musician Bruce Lamont in their ranks that emits a vintage aura of eeriness on their debut six-track affair DESCENT. By adding piano and acoustic guitar as integral elements to the traditional bass, drum, and guitar setup, Bloodiest allows the music they create to venture into atmospheres and reveal textures usually not associated with metal, revisiting styles that Lamont is accustomed to from some of his more recent solo work in the process. But make no mistake; this is a definitively heavy record, both in the undeniably thunderous delivery (especially from the drums) this band possesses as well as it being ingrained in every doom-laden riff and tortured scream throughout. Despite being richly adorned with the spiraling riffs and circular rhythms that elicit an off-kilter avant-garde vibe while Lamont’s eclectic vocals finds the balance between the light and dark of the material, Bloodiest tends to meander in the name of musical exploration, making an already difficult to digest piece of music that much more challenging to comprehend. Nonetheless, if you think you can handle this band’s bold and edgy output and don’t mind a few drawn out parts, Bloodiest is a release worth seeking out.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nightshade,"Lost In Motion" (Bullet Tooth)
Nightshade is a deathcore band with members from both the US and France whose latest 10-track disc LOST IN MOTION is beleaguered by the presence of every clichéd element from modern day heavy music. From a bounty of redundant breakdowns to countless feeble attempts to recreate the savagery of Swedish death metal to an alarming misuse of Autotune on the vocals, this quintet have truly lowered the bar by producing an utterly generic and ultimately forgettable release that leaves very little to be desired even by the most ardent supporter of the deathcore scene’s standards.
www.bullettooth.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Eyes Of The Sun,"Eyes Of The Sun" (Self-released)
Punishing Brooklyn, NY trio Eyes of the Sun unleash a caustic four-song eponymous offering that blends scathing shards of post metal with ominous dollops of doom to create a maelstrom of misery. Distressed vocals and deliberate drone rhythms lead on this endeavor, painstakingly pieced together to form a bastardized concoction of chaos in the vein of Neurosis, Godflesh, and Isis as seen through a murky black metal filter (“Separation”). Crushingly heavy yet enticingly hypnotic, Eyes of the Sun curate a skull bashing aura of seismic proportions that menaces the senses from start to finish without reprieve.
www.reverbnation/eyesofthesun
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Escape To Everything,"A Story Untold" (Self-released)
Escape to Everything is a Massachusetts based quintet that employs a commercially accommodating modern approach to their hard rock and metalcore leanings as shown on A STORY UNTOLD. This unit’s 10-track endeavor kicks and claws its way through to strike a middle ground between Disturbed, All That Remains, and Drowning Pool, naturally discovering the right spots in between teeth-rattling rhythms and angst-ridden screams (“Low Road”) to inject a dark aura laden with catchy yet heavy hooks (“Rain”). While the output demonstrated by Escape to Everything is far from original, this troupe faithfully follows the current metal blueprint with an explosive array of aggressive melodies spearheading the surge.
www.myspace.com/escape2everything
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Debauchery,"Kill Maim Burn" (AFM)
German death metal unit Debauchery delivers a simple and brutal form of groove-oriented heaviness on their reissued album KILL MAIM BURN. Liberally borrowing from the Six Feet Under playbook for the duration of the 11-track affair, this squad keeps the tempos slower than average (“Hordes of Chaos”) while beefing up the vocal gurgle considerably, resulting in a mixed bag of savagery whose rudimentary structures and basic compositions offer virtually no variation past a few sub-par live tracks and very little past the initial listen that most fans of the genre haven’t heard before.
www.afm-records.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bloody Ceremony,"Living With The Ancients" (Rise Above)
Female fronted Canadian metal quartet Bloody Ceremony dig deep into the archives to recreate the vintage sound of evil on their nine-track sophomore excursion LIVING WITH THE ANCIENTS. Chock full of Hammond organ overlays and a startling supply of flute solos, this troupe does an admirable job of capturing a warm and realistic retro vibe invoking Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull and countless occult doom metal acts from the 70’s. Boasting a steady stream of powerful yet haunting vocals while demonstrating a consistently masterful level of organic musical interplay that effortlessly flows from downtrodden to airy, Bloody Ceremony display their dedication to preservation with skill and grace, creating a rich combination of heaviness and soul.
www.riseaboverecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beer Corpse,"Keg Nuts" (Give Praise)
Australian grindcore crew Beer Corpse bang out an unruly 10-track, 11-minute blink if you miss it slab of velocity and aggression with KEG NUTS. Teetering on the edge of completely unraveling at any given moment, this outfit’s charming lack of precision fuels a full-on bludgeoning assault that combines grind, death, and thrash (“Blood Brew”) into short sharp songs where Beer Corpse’s primal rage and destructive style can truly shine. As sloppy as your last keg party, Beer Corpse’s freewheeling disposition and brutal musical direction make for some good friendly violent fun.
www.givepraiserecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


A Broken Code,"Retribution Of The Afflicted" (Self-released)
NYC unit A Broken Code administers a vibrant hip-hop metal vibe on the quintet’s scorching eight-track affair RETRIBUTION OF THE AFFLICTED. Featuring a bounty of slamming riffs and fiery verses spit with passion, this Big Apple band supplies a well-focused intensity fusing the cadence of Rage Against the Machine, the volatility of Bad Brains, and the ferocity of Body Count while underlying layers of jazz and funk sprout up in between the headbanging grooves (“Strong or Strange”) for added depth and texture. Brimming over with vivid instrumentation, tasty guitar riffs and tones and a rock solid rhythm section holding it all down, A Broken Code delivers an authentic amalgamation of metal and rap that breathes much needed life into the fading genre.
www.abrokencode.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Echtra,"Paragate" (Temple Of Torturous)
Echtra is an Oregon-based one-man ambient metal project whose latest presentation PARAGATE consists of one 46-minute drone metal song divided into two equal halves of 23 minutes. Steeped in foreboding atmospheres through most of the first half before submitting to a surge of chilling acoustic guitar bursting from the whirring murky soundscape, Echtra’s manipulations of deliberately paced tempos and cautious composition makes way for a textbook ethereal black metal movement that fluctuates between somber acoustic and obliterating doom during the second-half. This disc requires an understanding of the more unorthodox spots on the metal spectrum as well as a wealth of patience, yet overall yields a rich listening experience for the informed adventurous follower to enjoy.
www.myspace.com/23echtra23
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Horde Of Hel,"Likdagg" (Regain)
Horde of Hel ascends from the abyss with their second offering of aural calamity in the form of the 12-track endeavor LIKDAGG. Meshing a pronounced black metal callousness (“Celebration”) with a toned-down shot of atmospheric intervention and industrial metal automation, this secretive Swedish collective that have chosen to work anonymously carve a new direction out with an array of malicious riffs and frantic tempos directly derived from the worn and tattered evil metal handbook focused on producing the most harsh and raw tones possible. Unfortunately, many other bands already hold a firm stake in this squad’s newfound mission, yet Horde of Hel provide the proper balance of devastation and dread to be counted as significant amongst the legions of dark metal bands.
www.regainrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bulldozer,"Unexpected Fate" (Scarlet)
Italian metal merchants Bulldozer throw their hat back in the metal realm’s ring on this special edition of their 2009 release UNEXPECTED FATE. Adding four choice recently recorded live tracks to round out this 14-track re-release, Bulldozer runs through ripping renditions of older material with the NWOBHM meets Gilded Age of Thrash Metal sound employed at full blast, exhibiting this troupe’s undeniable relevance in today’s metal environment. Maintaining their handle on vintage heaviness while rightfully joining fellow senior metal mavens Sodom, Destruction, and Kreator at the forefront of the resurgence, Bulldozer demonstrates the vigor and might that enables their catastrophic set of chops to continue to get the job done nearly two decades past their initial heyday.
www.scarletrecords.it
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Murder And The Harlot,"These Hands Wrote The Bastard In Me" (Hotfoot)
New Jersey quintet The Murder and the Harlot showcase a schizophrenic style of metalcore on their debut nine-track offering THESE HANDS WROTE THE BASTARD IN ME. Sounding like a mash-up of everything heavy you could imagine hearing at the Warped Tour rolled into one big conglomerate, this unit adroitly weaves melodic hardcore anthems, off-kilter metallic dissonance and modern metalcore sonic bombast together to form a progressive brand of heaviness with a penchant for adventure (“Hey Man”, “10 Times the Wake”) and the uncanny ability to effortlessly switch up dynamics from clobbering (“A Plague and the Mixture of…”) to calm (“The Difference Between”). Falling somewhere between Poison the Well and Norma Jean, The Murder and the Harlot approach modern heavy music with an intriguing spin whose familiar parts work well together.
www.hotfootrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Faithsedge,"Faithsedge" (Scarlet)
California quartet Faithsedge displays a wealth of versatility on their eponymous 11-track debut. This troupe of seasoned musicians merge the bounce and bite of ‘80s hard rock with a touch of progressive metal melody (“Take You Away”) to make a strand of Sunset Strip-approved melodic rock that’s both catchy and musically engaging (“Even If”). Boasting a set of solid guitar chops with an attentive rhythm section that makes its mark (“That’s What Happened to Us”), Faithsedge combines these stellar performances with clever and memorable hard rock songwriting (“World Keeps Falling”) to make a winning mix of hard rock with a broad appeal.
www.scarletrecords.it
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The August Infinity,"To Whom It May Concern" (Self-released)
NYC quintet The August Infinity create a well-crafted high energy shot of rock ‘n roll on their latest installment of music, the five-track EP TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. Stocked with a slew of pop sensibilities that scream for a mass audience to sing back (“So Long”) while honing the firepower to crank fiery hard rock a la Chevelle out (“Fever”), this unit also displays their softer side this time around with a symphonic edge on “Some Kind of Lullaby”. Showcasing their many shades with an exuberant vocal performance (“Make You Crazy”) making sure that melody is always at the top of the list, modern rock fans of Funeral for A Friend, Story of the Year, and Senses Fail can add another band to their list of bands to follow.
www.theaugustinfinity.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Intensus,"Intensus" (Metal Blade)
New Jersey metal multi-instrumentalist Eli Litwin is the driving force behind the forward-thinking math metal project INTENSUS, whose eponymous 16-track affair further pushes the boundaries of an already advanced form of music. For this album, Litwin began by recording the drums and guitars by himself with no solid game plan in place (in one take, no less), creating an improvisational smorgasbord of heaviness chock full of skull fracturing riffs and disarming rounds of disjointed rhythms and downtrodden dissonance. Then, he recruited guest vocalists from many of his friend’s bands to provide the brutal vocal tracks, resulting in this slab of free form cacophony. Experimental and eccentric, Intensus may come off a bit too clinical to the laymen, but for those who crave unbridled unpredictability with a severe headstomping crush, Intensus delivers a formidable offering.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Obscura,"Omnivium" (Relapse)
Lauded German technical death metal squad Obscura outdoes themselves on the project’s latest nine-track adventure OMNIVIUM. Dazzling ears with waves of astonishing musicianship over complex structures, this unit exhibits elaborately composed yet mercilessly heavy tracks that manage to maintain momentum despite the ridiculous rapid-fire changes and technical prowess necessary to pull off the magical metallic feats they effortlessly demonstrate (“Ocean Gateways”). And somewhere within all of that pandemonium, Obscura masterfully maneuvers the matriculation of mountains of malevolent melody to coexist amongst the blistering savagery, complete with stunning guitar shredding (“Euclidian Elements”) and pristine percussion work. While a good argument can be made that some of this album’s intricacies are unnecessary and overindulgent, the overall production and expert musical interplay between the band make up for this in spades, making this disc a must get for those into Death, Cynic, Atheist, and the like.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Drainland,"And So Our Troubles Began" (Southern Lord)
AND SO OUR TROUBLES BEGAN is a combination re-release of two older vinyls from underground Irish sludge metal unit Drainland. This disc administers an off kilter bruising of the most viscous order, channeling the harsh tones from scene kings such as Unsane, Iron Monkey, and Raging Speedhorn with touches of post hardcore bombast and noise metal clamor (“Weakness”) to concoct dollops of this squad’s distortion-driven nihilistic nastiness (“Luxophage”). Even though this troupe blatantly wears its influences on its denim vest, Drainland’s vitriolic delivery reveals the authentic abrasiveness required to effectively broadcast genuine disdain and loathing.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blackwolfgoat,"Dronolith" (The Maple Forum)
Despite the uber-evil moniker, Blackwolfgoat is not a black or death metal project. Instead, it is the end result of one man’s vision (Darryl Shepard from Hackman) to combine drone rhythms with ambient soundscapes to create a six-track six-pack of tunes that require a lot of patience for maximum enjoyment. Constructing spiraling layers of looped sounds, Shepard hits the mark between instrumental post-metal and hypnotic drone, creating a deliberately repetitive percussion-less guitar effected menagerie of sound whose clinical nature, while tough to digest without any forewarning, has a fitting vibe that would work well on the soundtrack to an edgy television show or off kilter film.
www.myspace.com/blackwolfgoat
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kvelertak,"Kvelertak" (The End)
Norwegian sextet Kvelertak have been making quite a global ruckus and with good reason as documented on this troupe’s rabid 11-track eponymous debut. Juxtaposing the boisterous nature of hardcore punk with a slew of black metal overtones taken directly from their homeland, this raw offering (predominantly sung in their native tongue) relays a rabble-rousing triple-pronged guitar assault that is rounded out by barrages of hard driving caustic rhythms and fronted by a madman behind the microphone whose unmitigated fury leads this unit’s contagious brand of chaos. Part Refused, part Turbonegro, and all parts kickass, all the time, Kvelertak has made a monstrous hybrid form of heaviness that is required listening for anyone and everyone that likes it loud.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Anaal Nathrakh,"Passion" (Candlelight)
Making their demonic resurrection back to the surface of the Earth after a few years away, the dastardly duo known as Anaal Nathrakh have unleashed another hostility-driven boundary-pushing album consisting of 10 tracks of extreme metal terror entitled PASSION. Crammed with intermittent harsh white noises and blistering percussion intertwined with a depraved sense of melody and screaming vocals that sound as if they came straight from the psych ward (“Paragon Pariah?, this two-piece have created an overwhelming collection of blackened grind that rings pure evil from top to bottom, guaranteed to illicit massive nightmares and induce countless acts of mayhem and destruction.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


So Hideous, My Love,"To Clasp A Fallen Wish With Broken Fingers" (Play The Assassin)
NYC squad So Hideous, My Love decorate their brand of melancholic black metal with a bevy of symphonic classical music elements, making TO CLASP A FALLEN WISH WITH BROKEN FINGERS a 15-minute four-track tour de force that conjures up a groundswell of emotion in rather short order. Effortlessly surfing the extreme metal continuum to create atmospheres ranging from somber to savage (“However Bold Their Warm Blood Split”), So Hideous My Love fuse Goth metal romanticism and black metal malaise with a dash of post-rock exploration while the ever present force of keyboard and piano dictates the music’s direction and flow. Serving up a menacing batch of poignantly composed majestic mayhem, So Hideous My Love displays an uncanny flair for dramatic dynamics without losing power while their overall sound takes an intriguing initiative to reach further in the classical realm than a majority of their peers, giving this affair a unique and freshly blackened glaze for all to behold.
www.playtheassassin.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Planks,"The Darkest of Grays/Solicit To Fall" (Southern Lord)
Moody German sludge metal unit Planks manage to keep things both gloomy and crusty on the 16-track Southern Lord re-release of their vinyl-only affairs THE DARKEST OF GRAYS/SOLICIT TO FALL. While many other bands fro Mastodon to Converge to Coliseum employ a similar earth shaking sound and brazen attitude that this band chooses to destroy to, the method that this squad exhibits an effortless follow-through that carries between two separate releases, maintaining a cohesive crushing nature with a barrage of the ominous tones to put Planks smack dab at the heart of sludge metal meets post hardcore sect. If you like it gritty, raw, and confrontational, Planks delivers in spades with passion and aggression.
www.southerlord.com
Rating:
<
Review by Mike SOS


Borgo Pass,"Deadwater" (Self-released)
Reemerging from a lengthy period between releasing albums, veteran Long Island metal clan Borgo Pass deliver a crushing 11-track endeavor entitled DEADWATER. This quintet administers a savvy mix of stomping rhythms and contagious choruses brazen with thunderous metallic fury, striking a thick and viscous middle ground between Pantera’s old school metal admiration and the soulful sensibilities of Down. Southern-fried and sludge-enhanced, Borgo Pass’ hard-hitting assault merges a wealth of heavy music genres from doom to commercial to create a headbanging and hook-laden listening experience that gracefully shakes the Earth.
www.borgopass.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sourvein,"Black Fang" (Candlelight)
North Carolina-based doom metal merchants Sourvein unleash a ruthless display of menacing sludge metal with a soulful side on the brooding squad’s latest offering BLACK FANG. Even though Sourvein has remained active through countless lineup changes via splits with other likeminded acts and a handful of EP releases, this 10-track affair marks the band’s first full album since 2002. Righteously challenging the threshold of oppressiveness, this quartet exhibits a colossal combination of anger and despair with every deliberate percussive strike, ear shattering guitar feedback squeal, pummeling bass line and tortured growl they project (“Night Eyes”), keeping songs short in length yet no less hypnotic nor bludgeoning in comparison to the output from many of their peers (“Society’s Blood”). Piling on the punishment without reprieve, Sourvein delivers a masterful demonstration of slow churned sludge metal that requires to be played at maximum volume.
www.candlelightrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blackguard,"Firefight" (Victory)
Canadian epic metal outfit Blackguard does an admirable mimicking of their Finnish counterparts on the 10-track endeavor FIREFIGHT. With a superfluous array of synth overlays (“Wastelands”), majestic power metal riffs, and a spirited vocal rasp leading the proceedings, this troupe serves up a multitude of middling melodic metal moments that stick closely to the wares of Children of Bodom and Dark Tranquility with dashes of folk and symphonic metal strewn in for good measure (“Cruel Hands”). Yet despite all of their strengths, by leaning on their influences and staying the course a bit too stringently to be considered required listening, this band falls prey to being interchangeable and lacking distinction, especially as the particular genre Blackguard is part of is so saturated. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a potpourri of extreme metal with a predilection for the highly orchestrated, Blackguard will fit the bill.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lock Up,"Necropolis Transparent" (Nuclear Blast)
Lock Up is a grindcore side project of mammoth proportions consisting of a who’s who in the underground metal realm, as Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates), Nick Barker (Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir), and Anton Reisenegger (replacing the late Jesse Pintado) have joined forces once again to showcase how to efficiently annihilate everything in your path (“Anvil of Flesh”). Hyper speed drums and frantic guitar and bass runs dominate this all-star squad’s abrasive 16-track exercise in extreme, fusing grindcore speed with death metal ferocity to form a block of blistering brutality that doesn’t let up an inch (“Through The Eyes of My Shadow Self”). Throw in a couple of cameos by Hypocrisy/Pain mainman (and one time Lock Up vocalist) Peter Tägtgren and Jeff Walker (Carcass, Brujeria) and this disc becomes a staggering must-have disc for all fans of metal in its most devastating increments.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Last Chance To Reason,"Level 2" (Prosthetic)
Talk about out of the box thinking! Last Chance to Reason’s latest endeavor, chock full of electronic blips and bleeps, comes with a companion video game custom-built on the concept of the squad’s comprehensive sophomore effort LEVEL 2. This 10-track excursion finds this Maine sextet progressively punishing eardrums with dazzling degrees of technical excellence and monstrous mounds of modern metallic heaviness, adroitly fusing the wares of obvious influences Cynic and Between the Buried and Me (whose very own Jamie King lent a hand behind the board) to their own schizophrenically futuristic style to create a smorgasbord of sci-fi metal with massive attention deficiency. Seamlessly switching from atmospheric to feral with grace and precision, Last Chance to Reason provides a fresh perspective with both their unique presentation and cerebral amalgamation of technology and music that makes LEVEL 2 a progressive metal masterpiece.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Looking For An Answer,"Eterno Treblinka" (Relapse)
Looking for an Answer throw down a triumphant blend of no frills blistering grindcore on the quintet’s 17-track collection ETERNO TREBLINKA. Keep levels of aggression at a fever pitch throughout the entire album’s 30-minute duration, this Madrid, Spain based squad mashes remnants of Terrorizer up with the guttural thrust of early Napalm Death while heartfelt shots of noise, hardcore and punk seep through to make this skull-crushing outfit’s velocity-driven grind paradigm both malicious and memorable (“Terror Carnivoro”), “La Peste Roja”). Looking for an Answer prove to have all the tools necessary to carry the old school grindcore flag with an authentically derived savage brevity commandeering their relentless blasts that leave very little time to recover (“No Compasion”).
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mercenary,"Metamorphosis" (Prosthetic)
After replacing three-fifths of the band, Danish outfit Mercenary return with a sleeker design destined to polarize on the 10-track METAMORPHOSIS. Rapidly moving towards a total Killswitch Engage meets enter Swedish band name here metalcore makeover, Mercenary have all but dropped their more intriguing traits in exchange for a generically-designed almost pop metal feel (“In A River of Madness”) and streamlined Swedish melodic metal sound that truly renders a major disservice to the aptitude and creativity this band was once lauded for. Nonetheless, Mercenary’s all too familiar blend of crunchy riffs, dramatic choruses, and jackhammer rhythms does provide its share of rousing moments with their new sound and direction, but hardly the type those who like the band before will want to hear.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mark Deutrom,"The Value Of Decay" (Southern Lord)
Having spent time with such underground rock luminaries as Melvins and Sunn O))), it’s safe to say that Mark Deutrom has a firm handle on how to intertwine avant garde elements into heavy music. His latest solo offering, the eccentric 15-track endeavor THE VALUE OF DECAY, effectively echoes that sentiment as well, as Deutrom’s sly transitions from bombastic proto-metal highs to deconstructive drone lows are tastefully strung together to illuminate this artist’s subtle charm (“Making a Killing”). Deutrom has created a diversified playing field of heavy sounds and jarring methods where drowsy blues jams and country-tinged electronica can coexist before rumbles of crust-ridden grunge, viscous doom, and puffs of psychedelic take the reigns. Intentionally odd and unorthodox, if you enjoy heavy music that challenges the senses, Mark Deutrom has created an experimental batch of songs worth discovering.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Generic Concession Stand,"Foreign" (Self-released)
Despite having one of the worst band names of all time, Generic Concession Stand redeems themselves by putting out heavy rock that falls somewhere between the robotic nature of Static X, the freewheeling rap-metal of Hed Pe and the low-end crush of Mudvayne as heard on their five-track affair FOREIGN. Having a live band behind their hip-hop moments amps “Elevated” up to Kid Rock levels while the somber piano intro on “Letting Go” radiates with a Linkin Park vibe gone grunge, yet the overall mission this Philadelphia-based squad attempts for fuses the tones and nuances from current metal with stabs at commercial rock stardom that would benefit from better production and guidance to help the smooth out the rough edges.
www.myspace.com/gcsband
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Obnox,"I'm Bleeding Now" (Smog Veil)
A staple of the Cleveland rock scene, drummer Lamont Thomas assumes Obnox as the name for his solo effort, an uneasy seven-track sojourn into highly combustible lo-fi noise rock bliss entitled I’M BLEEDING NOW. Yielding a raw energy via waves of guitar feedback, complex percussion, and garish garage band elements, underneath the jagged surface created on songs like “Gin and Coke Water” lays a batch of solidly written songs with wistful melodies. Definitely an album that needs to be processed repeatedly to fully appreciate, I’M BLEEDING NOW offers a rewarding challenge to all who choose to take the plunge.
www.smogveilrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


VYGR,"Hypersleep" (Creator-Destructor)
Hailing from Boston, MA, VYGR (pronounced Voyager for those who can afford vowels) uncoil a collection of downtrodden and doom-laden cosmic sludge with galactic themes on the 10-track HYPERSLEEP. Striking a balance between the aggression of Isis (“Galactic”), the instrumental prowess of Pelican (“The Hidden”), and the structural flow of Cult of Luna, this group weaves elaborate and ornate textures into a foundation of colossal heaviness, creating atmospheric enlightenments that allow listeners a shotgun seat in VYGR’s exhilarating post-metal rocket ship as it orbits around the Earth. Stocked with a plethora of keyboard originated sound effects seemingly ripped from a ‘70s sci-fi television show with a hearty helping of downtuned riffs and harsh vocal bellows, this quintet blasts into space with a metal gaze extravaganza for fans who choose to boldly go where no man has gone before.
www.creator-destructor.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Indestructible Noise Command,"Heaven Sent Hellbound" (Candlelight)
After a two-decade long hiatus, Connecticut thrash metal mavens Indestructible Noise Command return to the scene with the 12-track HEAVEN SENT, HELLBOUND. Produced by renowned knob twiddler Fredrik Nordstrom and containing a barrage of both old and new school thrash metal tactics guaranteed to get heads banging and limbs flailing, this excursion yields an undeniably powerful yet all too familiar blend of massive grooves, anguished screams, and thunderous rhythms that consciously reference every band from Pantera (“Swallowed”) to Destruction (“Bleed the Line”) to comprise a sound that hits hard and leaves marks but definitely is not their own. Displaying a distinct appreciation for acts from the Golden Age of Thrash by implementing a widespread array of heavy influences from the likes of Death Angel, Sacred Reich, and Exodus, INC makes their music palatable for both those with a finger on the pulse of the modern thrash metal resurgence as well as acceptable to those who still revere in the glory from days past but overall lack that inexorable spark to place them a cut above their peers.
www.myspace.com/incmetal
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Alpinist,"Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch" (Southern Lord)
Alpinist is a crusty German hardcore unit who get the re-release treatment of their first two vinyl only releases courtesy of Southern Lord. Falling directly in line with such likeminded acts as The Secret, Trap Them, and Converge, this oppressive quartet blissfully applies a blackened aura to their feral musical assault (“AIDT”), combining confrontational vocals, explosive D-beat downtuned guitars and titanic bass pummeling with a sprinkling of ambient passages and quiet moments to create proper measures of downtime before the next round of cacophonous chaos ensues (“The Cursed Word Open-Minded”). Deliberately doling out a volatile and belligerent musical style, add Alpinist to the growing list of bands that drag a boisterous blend of hardcore heft and metallic might through the sludge to comprise a dirty and dark offering fans of bands like Mastodon, Black Breath, and Tragedy can sink their teeth into.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Necrodeath,"The Age Of Fear" (Scarlet)
Italian metal veterans Necrodeath present a 15-track retrospective of their 25-year career entitled THE AGE OF FEAR. While many folks outside of the European metal circuit may not know much about this unit, this compilation release does a fine job of offering a comprehensive crash course of this troupe who have been serving up their dark blend of thrash metal seemingly under the radar for over two decades. Highlighting the band at their best with a few live tracks, a rousing symphonic reworking of their song “Queen of Desire” and a cover of Slayer’s “Black Magic” strewn in for good measure, THE AGE OF FEAR offers something for everyone, giving the best from this long running act in a convenient one stop shop as well as serving up a smattering of bonus material for the diehards.
www.scarletrecords.it
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


REV 16:8,"Ashlands" (AFM)
Swedish black metal trio Rev 16:8 expose their dastardly disposition on the 10-track release ASHLANDS. Brazen with a grandiose percussive presence blaring blast beat drums and diabolical tremolo picking galore (“Ashlands”), this collection of nefarious tunes breaks little new ground in the world of velocity-driven hate fueled metal (“Rust Retinal Vein”), stringently following the template laid down by the likes of Marduk and Dark Funeral with little deviation. Despite their unoriginality, Rev 16:8 produces a convincing eerie vibe, hurling fierce slabs of evil with a noticeably versatile vocal performance (“The Chase”) keeping the mood ominous and the atmosphere foreboding throughout even when the compositions run out of steam.
www.afm-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Liturgy,"Aesthethica" (Thrill Jockey)
Polarizing Brooklyn squad Liturgy expand their already broadened horizons further on sophomore effort AESTHETHICA. While many of the breakneck drum and cascading guitar nuances that comprise this quartet’s quirky charm remains, Liturgy goes off their self-proclaimed transcendental black metal trail intermittently on this release with success, daringly dipping into the sludge metal pool on “Veins of God” before returning to their noisy and chaotic template on “Red Crown while an oddly placed keyboard interlude (“Helix Crown”) and choral chanting (“True Will”, “Glass Earth”) sounding as if taken from a 70’s cult horror film intro music provide hypnotic breaks from blood curdling vocals and excessive technical metal meltdowns. Retaining their penchant for repetition and thirst for exploration, Liturgy is still worlds away from the mainstream yet implements enough decisively memorable metal moments to pique the interest of more than the average heavy music listener.
www.thrilljockey.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


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