EAR CANDY MAG
SEPTEMBER 2009 ISSUE

Music Reviews: September 2009

Peter Lacey & Stephen John Kalinich,"South Downs Way" (Pink Hedgehog Records)
The duo of Peter Lacey and Stephen Kalinich has created a quiet masterpiece with "South Downs Way". As is my past habit of listening to Peter Lacey releases, I always gives it several spins before I really pay attention to the lyrics, to let is sink into my subconscious. But this time I couldn't escape the intertwining of the lyrics and the melodies to evoke emotions, and not many artists can do that! The album touches on heavy themes - such as war, with uplifting themes - hope and beauty; the end result being a metaphor about the "journey of life". Despite the heavy subjects of some of the songs, the ultimate message of the album is "the spirit of eternal hope", and the album ends on a very uplifting note with its final song. "South Downs Way" is the perfect balance of beautiful melodies and evocative lyrics - so far, my favorite album of the year.
Pink Hedgehog Records
Peter Lacey myspace site
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


Strangefinger,"Into the Blue" (SideBMusic)
I love the old songs of bands like 10cc and their timeless power-pop gems. So, when I heard Strangefinger's new release, I was a little taken aback. Here's a band that takes the best melodic aspects of 10cc, Beach Boys-like harmonies, and soulful lead vocals. A bizarre alternate universe in which Michael McDonald jams with members of 10cc, Steely Dan, with the Beach Boys sitting in on background vocals! But this aint no retro-throwback...just listen to such songs as "Fuck You Stars", with its hilarious lyrics. Strangefinger is "Maximum-Power-Pop", bringing back what I really miss about great rock songs: melody, harmony and soul supreme.
www.sidebmusic.com
Strangefinger myspace site
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


Tournament,"Years Old" (Forcefield)
Jagged NYC quartet Tournament showcase a boisterous indie rock clamor with an acute metallic swagger on their 10-track offering YEARS OLD. Unreservedly borrowing from the playbooks of Jesus Lizard and Melvins with traces of scathing punk strewn in for good measure (“Intake Controller”), tracks like “Smokelore” display melodies buried under walls of jaded guitars while the volatile man on fire vocal delivery guides scrawling guitars and rumbling rhythms through “Washcloth” and assists the brutal Helmet-esque low end tidal wave crashes on “Walking Negative Man” and “Snuff News”. Propelled by well-measured doses of heaviness and a disjointed sense anxiety cranked to the max, Tournament properly portrays what a dirty by design brand of balls out rock ‘n roll outfit should sound like.
www.forcefieldrecords.org
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Pitfight,"Pitfight" (Self-released)
Queens, NY quintet Pitfight keeps the unbridled NYHC spirit close at hand on their eponymous seven-track sojourn, hammering out menacing chunks of aggression laden with burly breakdowns and hostile gang vocals. Songs like the Madball-esque “The World” and “All Hell Breaks Loose” (not the Misfits song) include the ingredients necessary to elicit a sea of flailing arms and windmill fisticuffs while the SOD meets Entombed feel on “Night of the Living Death” injects a dollop of punk metal attitude into the mix. Most in-tune with the urban metallic end of the hardcore spectrum chock full of chugging guitars and vocal abrasiveness, Pitfight delivers a solid hardcore-styled kick to the skull.
www.myspace.com/pitfightnyc
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ambassador Gun,"When In Hell" (Pangea)
16 tracks of multi-faceted grindcore chaos come courtesy of Minnesota trio Ambassador Gun and their latest release WHEN IN HELL. Hyper and hostile, this troupe keeps up a relentless rapid-fire pace while furnishing their blistering Napalm Death meets Nasum assault (“So Pristine”, “Population Control”) with a plethora of contagious riffs exploding from the speakers and a stirringly vitriolic twin vocal onslaught whose apocalyptic imminence pounds through your cranium and sticks in your head long after the disc’s 28 minutes have run out (“When in Hell”, “Delorean”). Startlingly melodic with a punk rock precipice without sacrificing a lick of savagery (“Taylor Reign”, “Ignorance is This”), WHEN IN HELL is a triumphant affair specially crafted for well-rounded speed freaks and genre mashers to adore.
www.myspace.com/ambassadorgun
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


God Dethroned,"Passiondale" (Metal Blade)
Veteran Dutch death metal mongers God Dethroned return with PASSIONDALE, a harrowing 10-track frontline account of the little known horrors from one of the most deadly battles of World War I done over a scintillating modern death metal backdrop. Intertwining storytelling devices from other genres such as Viking metal to properly give reverence to the subject matter at hand, this quartet’s direct and durable warmongering delivery and blackened Swedish metal assault is equipped with a few surprises such as touches of clean singing (“No Survivors”), interludes adorned with keyboard-enhanced doom laden reflection (the triumphant “Poison Fog”) and a cohesively binding instrumental outro (“Artifacts of the Great War”), yet still packs the pulverizing punch expected from this seasoned unit (“Under a Darkening Sky”). Falling a bit on the short side yet not before succinctly fleshing out detailed accounts of the massive massacre, God Dethroned has whipped up a stunning portrait from one of the most notorious atrocities in modern history.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Exilia,"My Own Army" (AFM)
Italian female fronted nu metal comes courtesy of circuit vets Exilia, whose latest offering MY OWN ARMY slaps pieces Otep’s metallic rage, Lacuna Coil’s stealthy songwriting and My Ruin’s audacity together to form a solid but formulaic strand of rock. Teeming with a bevy of textbook modern rock twists that commercial radio craves with a punchy songwriting acumen that skillfully skirts the line between mainstream rock and action movie metal (“I’m Perfect”), this 12-track release falls prey to nu metal cliché quite a bit (“Far From the Dark”, “Magnolia”) yet redeems itself thanks to a brazen vocal performance whose tough and throaty delivery keeps attention spans alert under the generic brooding atmosphere.
www.exiliaweb.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ravage,"The End of Tomorrow" (Metal Blade)
Instead of following the usual metal sound from the bands of their home state a la Killswitch Engage and Isis, Massachusetts crew Ravage masterfully capture an early 1980’s metallic vibe, channeling everyone from Mercyful Fate and Grim Reaper to Judas Priest (whose “Nightcrawler “ they cover) on the retro quintet’s debut disc THE END OF TOMORROW. This 12-track ode to traditional metal comes fortified with over the top rousing choruses (“Damn Nation”) and the sort of rollicking freight train musicianship you’d expect from the likes of Armored Saint, Metal Church, and fellow retread act 3 Inches of Blood (“The Shredder”). Tracks such as the meaty “Freedom Fighter” and the histrionic power metal-esque title track burst at the seams with an abundance of galloping rhythms, whammy bar solo trickery, evil riffage, and an unrestrained vocal attack whose wailing pipes are bound to expunge posers quicker than a hiccup. Steeped in classic wares, Ravage goes back to the formative days of NWOBHM, Bay Area thrash, and European power metal to create their inspired and cohesive assault on your ears.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Defibulators,"Corn Money" (City Salvage)
NYC outfit The Defibulators import the down home sounds of truck stop country, bluegrass and honky tonk to the Big Apple on their provocative 17-track affair CORN MONEY. Any band that has its own coloring book has to be a guaranteed hoot, and this raucous septet is just that, embodying southern fried swing with just the right touches of tear in your beer country (“Your Hearty Laugh”), ragtime frolic (“Honey, You Had Me Fooled”), and whacked out mountain music (“X-mas Ornament”). Armed with hyperactive fiddle, stacked male-female vocal duels, jug and washboard accoutrement, knee-slapping melodies, and guitars whose twang cry out for a two-step (“Dum-Dum”, “Go-Go Truck”), this unit’s punkified take on old-time music turns Americana on its head with a bawdy and bodacious delight.
www.thedefibulators.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Laudanum,"The Coronation" (20 Buck Spin)
A bleak and desperate seven-track doom fest arrives thanks to Oakland’s Laudanum. THE CORONATION is a dreadful and discordant offering lumbering with an uncomfortable aura, as this quartet drum up an ominous affair draped in piercing horror movie ambiance (“Apotheosis”), noise metal clatter (“Wooden Horse”) and mechanized industrial nuances (“In Obscura”) while a devastatingly destructive sludge metal attack akin to molten lava oozing from a volcanic explosion rears its head and clears room for nefarious vocal growls and howls, binding the entire excruciating 50-minute excursion together. This disc’s foreboding atmosphere and woebegone wares are custom made for an impending full-on global collapse.
www.20buckspin.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sonata Arctica,"The Days of Gray" (Nuclear Blast)
Finnish power metal quintet Sonata Arctica returns with a punchy pomp-filled endeavor titled THE DAYS OF GRAY. Blending cascading commercial metal hooks with soaring progressive metal prowess into their lush yet visceral keyboard-heavy Euro metal approach (“Juliet”), this squad’s sixth release demonstrates a band well-versed in sweeping dramatics (“The Dead Skin”) and poignant balladry (“As If the World Wasn’t Ending”) as well as cranking out darkened over the top orchestral metal (“Zeroes”) while sneaking in a bit of homeland folk metal (“Flag in the Ground”) for good measure. Melodic and full of zest, THE DAYS OF GRAY bridges the gap between Dream Theater-esque flash and Blind Guardian-like durability, providing an abundance of rousing metal moments for those who prefer a more elegant design in their metal.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Firebird,"Grand Union" (Rise Above)
Laying down a concrete 70’s retro rock feel that you can’t help but groove to, Firebird’s fifth installment of classic hard rock GRAND UNION serves up a winning amalgamation of tooth-bearing hard rock and muscular blues in its journey across the hard rock timeline. Spearheaded by unlikely extreme metal luminary Bill Steer, the whiskey soaked guitars, thunderous bass and drum rhythmic interlocking, and sinewy compositions echo bell bottom heaviness from bands like Cream and Free (“Lonely Road”) while “Release Me” pairs up AC/DC and Deep Purple for a bloozy hard rock tour de force and “Fool For You” displays this power trio’s cleverness by turning a James Taylor song into a sizzling bongo-filled blues rock free for all. Dirty riffs collide with dashes of organ and harmonica (“Worried Mind”) accompaniments with a pulsating vibe straight from the arena rock glory days throughout, assisting Firebird ‘s triumphant throwback aura to fully encumber your rock ‘n roll soul.
www.riseaboverecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Shakra,"Everest" (AFM)
Swiss troupe Shakra deliver a hard-hitting hard rock offering on EVEREST, the unit’s seventh full-length album. This quintet exhibits a modern slant on a discernibly 80’s metal foundation, as the influence of bands like Dokken (especially guitar wise) can be heard throughout the 12-track duration. Hooks on cuts like “Love & Pain” and “Dirty Money” mix the wares of Kix and Udo while “Insanity” displays a righteous Euro metal flare with a hearty dollop of Sunset Strip biker grit, kind of what a merger of Love/Hate and In Flames would sound like. Taking the everyman no frills rock from Tesla and slapping a set of BLS-sized balls on the frame, Shakra’s throbbing bottom end and steadfast dedication to hard rock melody make this album a solid album to throw on while cruising down the highway with the top down.
www.afmrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Church Of Misery,"Houses of the Unholy" (Rise Above)
Japanese stoner rock band with a liking for the tales of serial killers a la death metal band Macabre (all of their song titles are named after one) Church of Misery pour on a plethora of teeming lava riffage (“Blood Sucking Freak”), gravel-throated yowls and Black Sabbath bass and drum worship on the seven track HOUSES OF THE UNHOLY. Stocked with a sludge metal swagger and a stoner rock heft that swings as hard as it strikes, songs like “Shotgun Boogie” kick up the jams before the oppressive pentatonic pummeling and creepy bullhorn vocal intro of “The Gray Man” stomps your head against the curb. Channeling everything from COC to Cathedral to Sleep and Weedeater while carving out its own niche into the heavy metal tree of woe, Church of Misery showcase a catchy yet perilous collection of maddening metallic maneuvers slow cooked to savor every last drop of diabolical umbrage.
www.riseaboverecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Light This City,"The Hero Cycle" (Prosthetic)
A posthumous re-release of comes from recently disbanded Bay Area death metal unit Light This City, whose debut THE HERO CYCLE gets the reissue treatment. Recorded while the band was still in high school, this 10-track endeavor sounds a bit undercooked overall yet burns with the fires of an upstart band fueled by a youthful reckless abandon following a paint by numbers Swedish death metal blueprint. Hardly essential but interesting for completists and rabid fans, this disc showcases a fine display of nubile aggression from a band’s humble beginnings.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Danko Jones,"Never Too Loud" (Bad Taste)
Veritable Canadian hard rock trio Danko Jones strays a few degrees away from the raucous all guns blazing design that gave them their reputation to make way for a much more streamlined and less dangerous change of pace on latest effort NEVER TOO LOUD. Opting to draw from the squad’s favorite classic rock nuances to comprise this 11-track affair, tunes like the more than ever Thin Lizzy-inspired “Ravenous” and “City Streets” maintain the trademark grit this European circuit favorite is known for and sophomoric romps “Let’s Get Undressed” and “Still in High School” quench perpetual teenage fantasies as only rock ‘n roll can fulfill, yet the slick Kid Rock-esque ballad “Take Me Home” misses the mark, sounding a bit too polished and contrived from a band that thrives on energy and rock ‘n roll rebellion to churn out. The album’s best moment however is the deliciously deliberate stoner rock direction the six-minute plus track “Forest for the Trees” takes, which boasts not only an undeniable hypnotic groove but boasts a pair of blockbuster guest vocalists in the form of John Garcia and Pete Stahl, who alongside Jones form a monsterous vocal stoner rock triad that is worth the price of the disc alone. Following the lead set by heroes AC/DC and Motorhead in providing consistence while digging deeper to display their roots, NEVER TOO LOUD is an album that will perplex some fans as it will take a few listens to fully absorb the changes, yet it is still armed with all the necessary elements to absolutely satisfy everyone who is about to rock.
www.badtasterecords.se
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Darkness Dynamite,"The Astonishing Fury of Mankind" (Metal Blade)
French metalcore unit Darkness Dynamite pulls influence from a bevy of reliable high profile sources to compile the by-numbers blend of metallic ferocity heard on this quintet’s 11-track endeavor THE ASTONISHING FURY OF MANKIND. While this squad won’t be praised for reinventing the metal wheel any time in the near future, they do craftily salvage scraps from cutting room floors of their peers, piecing feral chugga-chugga blasts from the deathcore sect, off-kilter song structures a la fellow countrymen Gojira (“Immersion Inner-Nation”), raging knuckle-breaking hardcore, and creamy melodic choruses from Soilwork (“15$”) and In Flames (“Hell Eve Hate”) together to form a bruising yet uneven batch of disjointed juxtapositions that emit a much-needed fresh scent yet seem a bit malnourished to make a perfect fit.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Chord,"Flora" (Neurot)
Four ambitious Chicago guitarists (most notably one of the dudes from Pelican) team up to present Chord, a drone project whose dedicated scope aims to “exploit and explore the depth of a single chord”. This four-track affair radiates with doom-like ambience, discovering sumptuous soundscapes within the unit’s self-imposed limitations that resonate with hypnotic beauty and sweeping splendor. While this disc would render a tedious experience for the laymen, aficionados of bands such as Earth and Sunn 0))) will have no problem fully embracing this far-out release bursting with tone and texture.
www.neurotrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Malfeitor,"Incubus" (Agonia)
Harkening back to traditional black metal’s blistering and bastardized roots, Italian trio Malfeitor presents their sophomore effort in the form of the blistering 10-track INCUBUS. Vigilantly following the wares of Dark Funeral and Gogoroth, tracks like “Typhonian Gods” features a crisp black metal crush and “Void of Voids” maintains a menacing black metal tempo while “Down With Me” provides the album with a proper kickoff of tremolo picked guitar blasts and demonic vocal rasps manning the hellacious helm. Supplying a significant amount of catchy riffs and tasty hooks into their cauldron of despair, this act’s carefully constructed black metal bashings do not boast originality yet showcase an unabashed admiration for the movement’s Norwegian and Scandinavian progenitors, making this release a dependable and solid foray into the abyss.
www.agoniarecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Molotov Solution,"The Harbinger" (Metal Blade)
Is deathcore still a dirty word amongst the metal sect? If so, no one has told Las Vegas quintet Molotov Solution, whose scalding 11-track endeavor portrays the nuances from the much-maligned genre with brash sociopolitical bite and a penchant for clever composition that falls prey to redundancy at times yet manages to hover a cut-above of the rest of the gang. THE HARBINGER is an album laden with malicious guitars runs (“Only the Dead”), threatening rhythmic bashings (“Corpus Imperium”), and a gamut-running vocal presence reminiscent of Despised Icon and Misery Signals yet at times remains on the treadmill a bit too long, taking easy chugga-chugga shortcuts to reach familiar bass-dropped moments of volatile nirvana a la every other damn band in the deathcore bunch (“Rule By Secrecy”). Nonetheless, this act seems to have a firmer handle on bludgeoning listeners into submission and throw enough intriguing treats into its mix to warrant massive moshpit activity as well as repeated listens.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Moss,"Tombs of the Blind Drugged" (Metal Blade)
Slow churned sludge-ridden droning doom comes courtesy of veteran British monolithic metal troupe Moss, whose subtle and simplistic yet excruciatingly lethargic 40-minute excursion TOMBS OF THE BLIND DRUGGED reveals a viscous display of tortured vocals over a plodding and punishing musical backdrop despite containing only four tracks. Consisting of three new tracks and a curious doom adaptation of Discharge’s “Maimed and Slaughtered”, casual metal fans are sure to find this unit’s minimalist approach and significantly sluggish pace difficult to deal with, but for those cursed with firsthand knowledge of pain and suffering, this is the soundtrack of your life.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Goatwhore,"Carving Out the Eyes of God" (Metal Blade)
NOLA’s nefarious blackened metal squad Goatwhore returns with another smattering of evil in the form of a hellacious hybrid of metallic fury entitled CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD. This diabolical 10-track display of demonic aggression is armed with a discernible degree of thrash metal mannerisms (“Shadow of a Rising Knife”) but maintains the trademark menacing black metal gallop (“In Legions, I Am Wars of Wrath”) this quartet is best known for. Once again produced by extreme metal guru Erik Rutan, this disc teems with a rabid rapid-fire six-string ruthlessness (“Apocalyptic Havoc”) and benefits by another chalice raised to the netherworld performance by vocalist Ben Falgoust, whose crisp yet malevolent raspy roar leads the impious charge from the bowels of Hell to the Earth’s surface.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Suffocation,"Blood Oath" (Nuclear Blast)
New York death metal masters Suffocation triumphantly return to the forefront of the game they basically created with the unit’s sixth full length offering BLOOD OATH. Retaining the veteran squad’s trademarked (and much plagiarized) combination of hulking atmosphere, jarring tempo shifts, raw barbarism, and awe-inspiring chops, this 10-track presentation crushes your cranium with a lethal display of intricate death metal insanity. Throwing out fierce fireballs of jolting staccato grooves (“Images of Purgatory”), tumultuous and technical percussion, complex twin guitar chaos (“Cataclysmic Purification”), seething growls telling depraved tales, and in a rarity for death metal, a rumbling bass whose pulverizing low-end and vicious plucking is not only audible but virtually leads the charge (“Pray for Forgiveness”), BLOOD OATH is yet another powerful presentation which admirably adds to Suffocation’s glorious extreme metal legacy.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Eryn Non Dae,"Hydra Lernaia" (Metal Blade)
French troupe Eryn Non Dae brazenly throws conventional boundaries out the window on their debut affair HYDRA LERNAIA, opting to steer its brand of crushing metal through the same filters as fellow countrymen Gojira. Heavy on the atmosphere and off-kilter time signatures with a terse low-end snap dominant throughout, if you could imagine a somewhat awkward amalgamation of Neurosis, Meshuggah, and Mnemic, this quintet’s blend of sheer sonic bludgeoning with their bleak outlook on humanity seeping into the music as a sixth member constantly gnawing at your brain fits the bill most accurately. Despite a lack of memorable hooks to latch onto, Eryn Non Dae’s weighty offering provides the right quantity of jarring experimental lapses and provocative metallic moments to draw in those who enjoy their heaviness with angularity.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Merauder,"God Is I" (Regain)
One of the first true bands that merged modern urban blight with metal, NYC metalcore pioneers Merauder sticks to its guns in their comeback bid, returning with a sinister slugfest on the 11-track GOD IS I. Stocked with a smorgasbord of the unit’s trademarked battering riffs intertwined with all of the nasty nuances acquired from inhabiting in the bowels of the Big Apple for over two decades (“Never Surrender”, “Built on Blood”) Merauder’s cautious yet chaotic approach appeases the diehards, churning out a myriad of malicious metal riffs over jackhammer rhythms adorned with the raucous roar of longstanding member Jorge Rosado bellowing as belligerently as if it were 1996 all over again (“God Is I”). Ferocious and ready to reclaim their spot at the top of the metalcore mountain, Merauder deliver a passionate old school tutorial chock full of the blend of harbingering hostility they helped put on the map.
www.regainrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky,"The Grand Partition and the Abrogation of Idolatry" (Nuclear Blast)
Undaunted in their approach to bring the truth to light, Tampa, FL unit SWWAATS burst out the gate with brutish volatility, a nihilistic outlook, and a rabid death metal meets grindcore method whose rapid-fire technicality goes for the jugular (“Of Worms, Jesus Christ and Jackson County Missouri, “Cattle”). This sextet’s 13-track debut endeavor (produced by the renowned James Murphy) devastates with an intriguing presentation of baleful barrages of blast beats accompanied by arrays of chugging guitar goodness (“Despot”) resonating the utter chaos of a world in disrepair (“Automated Oration And the Abolition of Silence”). This act also pays close attention to society’s ills, highlighting global decay via their confrontational and suggestive lyrics, making serious pitch for exposing conspiracies and sounding off as a wake up call for all humanity to heed (“A Path”). SWWAATS provide a solid and thought-provoking hybrid of pummeling death metal and piledriving grindcore armed with burly breakdowns for the tough guys and mindblowing dynamics for those who demand more than the norm from their extreme music.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Graves of Valor,"Salarian Gate" (Relapse)
Featuring former members of Through the Eyes of the Dead, Graves of Valor play a standard form of death metal on their 11-track debut SALARIAN GATE. Despite a majority of redundant compositions that rarely climb above the median, this squad exhibits a seething selection of steamrolling chops (especially drum-wise) that lunge out the speakers to grab you by the throat (“The Clever Ape”). Durable but predictable, Graves of Valor possesses a wicked death metal gallop (“To Breath Blood”, “Suffocation of the Last King”) and can undeniably blow doors down when running at full capacity (“Pestilence”), yet display a think too much in the box mentality on this disc that renders only a few memorable moments.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Antigama,"Warning" (Relapse)
Polish powerhouse quartet Antigama return with a vengeance on their aptly titled 16-track excursion WARNING. This exercise in extremity is teeming with the unit’s crushing amalgamation of grindcore blasts, blistering guitars, and anguished vocals (“Empty Room”, “Preacher’s Pray”), as this prolific squad pour on the punishment without a shred of remorse (“War”). Also included is another round of the band’s boundless experimentation, as Antigama’s now-patented unorthodox jazz atmosphere musings allow for short breaths in between the onslaught (“Paganini Meets Barbapapex”) while the adventurous percussive demonstration (“Lost Skull”) assists the overall release to resonate with an oddball brutality that distances this troupe further from the grind ‘em up and spit it back pack. Unrelenting and stark, Antigama stir up a callous and calculated blend of off kilter aural carnage that fans of grindcore will find hard to resist.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Voivod,"Infini" (Relapse)
Finishing up where KATORZ left off, the final round of posthumous musical output from deceased guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour has arrived in the form of INFINI, a 13-track collection dutifully piecing together the remainder of the compositional odds and sods D’Amour left behind on his laptop before succumbing to cancer in 2005. The rest of Voivod had the tough task of not only grieving over a lost comrade, but rifling through material to draw up a tangible release as well, an undertaking the remaining members administer admirably. Spearheaded by Jason Newsted’s punchy production and roaring bass guitar rumblings (“Treasure Chase”, “From the Cave”), songs like “Volcano” rip out with a Motorhead punk-thrash vibe, while “Krap Radio” demonstrates the bands disdain via the troupe’s trademark slanted slash and burn style. Paying homage to a fallen friend, INFINI is an inspired affair that fondly closes a chapter in this band’s legacy.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dejha Colantuono,"Tea And Vodka" (Mad Meow)
Breaking away from band life (Rotten Apples most recently) to get her solo groove on, Northwest by way of NYC songstress Dejha Colantuono secures her game by providing a rash of refined tunes intact with a firm grasp of rock dynamics on TEA AND VODKA. This 11-track offering boasts the punchy production skills of Matt Bayles, fully capturing Colantuono’s versatile vocal delivery audible on the quirky jangle of “Poolside”, the Bjork meets PJ Harvey electro creep of “Something With You” and the smoky “Miss Fortune” while properly doing justice to bouncy guitar rock on cuts like “Anxiety” and “Color Blue”. Showcasing pop sensibilities built into a wider musical framework, this disc showcases a seasoned vocalist whose eclectic mix of rock-based music elicits a dash of soul straight from the heart..
www.madmeowmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mumakil,"Behold the Failure" (Relapse)
A frenetic exhibition of gruesome grindcore comes courtesy of Switzerland’s Mumakil, whose keep it real 27-track, 36-minute exercise in brutal brevity boldly pick up where grindcore masters Nasum untimely left off. From the opening strains of “Brothers in Slavery”, this foursome kick down the door and go ballistic, injecting a hearty dose of death metal into their lightning-fast tempos for an extra kick guaranteed to peel the paint off the wall and cause your immediate neighbors to phone the authorities (“Useless Fucks”, “Barbecue in Bhopal”). Strangled vocals projecting bile everywhere, dizzying riffs whose succinct savagery calls to mind Napalm Death (“Daily Punishment”), and incessant drum explosions combine forces to create a devastating batch of quick blows to the skull that will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped in the ring with a champion prizefighter.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Birds of Prey,"The Hellpreacher" (Relapse)
A Southern metal supergroup gone Swedish death ‘n roll, the quintet known as Birds of Prey churn out another raucous swampy sludge-ridden offering in the form of their third release THE HELLPREACHER. Ensconced in filth both lyrically (whose depraved storyline would make one hell of a movie) and sonically with a barrage of ripping blackened riffs (“Taking on Our Winters Blood”), blistering rhythms, and a bellicose lead bellow narrating the gruesome tale, Birds of Prey do a fine job of streamlining the wares of Goatwhore, Entombed, and Eyehategod into a wickedly bludgeoning bundle of southern fried death metal (“False Prophet”). Featuring Erik Larson, Ben Hogg, Dave Witte, Summer Welch, and Bo Leslie, this amalgamation of metalheads from below the Mason-Dixon have developed quite the macabre concept album.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Astra,"The Weirding" (Rise Above)
Strap yourself in and dial back the time machine to the early 1970’s in order to fully embrace Astra’s eight-track, 78- minute journey THE WEIRDING. This San Diego quintet does a marvelous job excavating classic sounds and vivid instrumentation from the psychedelic sunshine acid days when Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath were the latest craze, nailing down the majestic bass and guitar tones with a muscular but not overpowering presence perfectly (“The River Under”). Armed with a bountiful serving of Mellotron sprinkled with woodwinds enhancing the heady riffs and grandiose arrangements, Astra takes their time to build exhilarating monuments of sound straight from archival prog rock blueprints left behind by Hawkwind and Yes (“Ouroborous”). Chock full of lush melodies and tantalizing musicianship stimulating the type of shimmering jams that yield an authentically cosmic listening experience, if you remember a time when music was allowed to be pure and unfettered by industry nonsense and commercial pressures, this disc is essential.
www.myspace.com/astrasound
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hail of Bullets,"Warsaw Rising" (Metal Blade)
Another old school death metal assault arrives via Hail of Bullets, the Dutch side project from members of Asphyx, Houwitser, Gorefest, and Thanatos in the form of a six-song EP showcasing this unit in both the studio and live setting. While the studio tracks are solid, dripping with the vintage death metal decay that draws comparisons to greats such as Death and Bolt Thrower (especially on the surprising reworking of Twisted Sister’s “Destroyer”), it’s the live cuts on this short and sweet sojourn where this quintet shines brightest, as the gravel-throated delivery of Martin van Drunen commandeers the voracious crowd through death metal’s murky underbelly with the passion and power necessary to summon the masses to revolt. Despite being a stopgap offering, Hail of Bullets bestows a nice mix of odds and ends before unleashing a fresh batch of menacing metal.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bone Gnawer,"Feast of Flesh" (Pulverised)
As if the band name and album title haven’t hinted enough, Bone Gnawer is a death metal unit that features the blood-curdling know-how of Kam Lee in its ranks. This splatter flick obsessed affair contains 10 tracks of chophouse death metal in tune with the glorious vibes from both the seminal Tampa scene and its Swedish counterpart as cuts like “Hammer to the Skull” and “The Lucky Ones Die First” strike with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Armed with a simplistically sick template of blood soaked grunts over galloping death metal with an air of catchiness, Bone Gnawer’s straight ahead blood and guts approach conjures up countless comparisons to Cannibal Corpse, both in attitude and sound, making this disc hardly an essential purchase, but a vile amount of fun for those who like a little horror in their metal.
www.pulverised.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Red Eyed Devil,"Demo" (Self-released)
Featuring three-quarters of bruising NYC hardcore veterans Everybody Gets Hurt, Red Eyed Devil crashes through the gates with a menacing four-track debut. Retaining the seething hostility of their former outfit with a rash of beatdown breakdowns while implementing some nifty fretwork fireworks into the mix (“LOV”), this troupe’s modern take on brutality screams nasty from start to finish and renders a surefire way to successfully jumpstart a circle pit anywhere its played.
www.myspace.com/redeyeddevil
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Eyes Of Noctum,"Inceptum" (Morbid Rose)
American black metal unit Eyes of Noctum stick to the Hot Topic black metal paradigm closely both in look and in sound on their 11-track offering INCEPTUM. Led by Weston Cage (who goes under the name Arcane here), son of Hollywood megastar Nicolas Cage, this sextet’s debut was recorded in Sweden (!) by metal guru Fredrik Nordstrom and features “appearances” by seasoned metal players Snowy Shaw and Hellhammer, both of whom apparently handled percussion duties when the band’s sticksman couldn’t cut it. Expect a garden-variety glossed-over keyboard-heavy Cradle of Filth meets Dimmu Borgir meets (enter Norwegian black metal band name) attack here, adorned with the symphonic accoutrements (“Eyes of Noctum”) and haunting melodic interplay (“Thy Fire Within”) ripped straight from the charred playbooks of their close at hand influences.
www.eyesofnoctumofficial.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kim Rose,"Year of Severed Ties" (Self-released)
Angst-ridden and teeming with grit, YEAR OF SEVERED TIES showcases a multitude of rock ‘n roll wares from NYC singer/guitarist Kim Rose. This 12-track offering supplies a significant array of hard rocking hooks (“Escaping Me”, “Reason Behind You”) that fall smack dab between the cathartic vibes of Evanescence and the refined edge of Incubus, complete with a slew of monstrous skin bashing (“Unjust”) and a vitriolic vocal delivery by a lady whose not gonna take it anymore. Laying down steadfast streams of punchy guitars over a rock solid rhythm section (“Broken Frames”), this disc exhibits Rose’s adoration for the harder side of ‘90s alternative rock with enough modern rock sensibilities that make for a well-rounded listening experience (“Made”).
www.kimroseonline.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


KK Null,"Oxygen Flash" (Neurot)
KK Null is one of the many projects emanating from the experimental mind of prolific Japanese noise monger Kazuyuki Kishino. His latest foray into the genre is a nine-track, nearly 50 minute offering entitled OXYGEN FLASH. Chock full with earsplitting skree, industrial strength electronic clanging, hypnotic delay, massive reverb invocations, and the type of white noise feedback that will drive your neighbors and pets insane, each track only goes by a number, further distancing this endeavor from resembling anything remotely accessible. This disc is most definitely for the most ardent of adventurous ears.
www.neurotrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lazarus Ad,"The Onslaught" (Metal Blade)
The neo-thrash movement still shows it has some gas left in the tank thanks in part to contributions from bands such as Wisconsin’s Lazarus AD, whose Metal Blade re-release of the unit’s 2007 offering THE ONSLAUGHT nails the classic formula down pretty impressively. Sounding at times like the perfect blend of Death Angel and the newer incarnation of Exodus, especially vocally (“Damnation for the Weak”), this quintet embodies the bullet belt attitude, flashes the meaty yet slick chops (“Last Breath”), and sounds as ornery as a veteran band such as Kreator (“Revolution”) while integrating modern metal tactics into their airtight locked in a capsule from 1988 overview to make for a righteously retro yet intriguingly fresh sounding thrashing good time.
www.metlablade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Infernal STronghold,"Godless Noise" (Forcefield)
Infernal Stronghold essentially are a black metal band by design, yet they trade typical genre uniforms in for a nasty punk rock disposition, giving their 10-track release GODLESS NOISE the intriguing twist necessary to stand out. Fortified with a feral black metal bark (“Crippling Blasphemous Persistence”) and grindcore-esque bursts of rhythmic nihilism (“Buried by Grime and Crust”), this troupe’s combination of blistering speed, unorthodox angularity, and chaotic compositions tap into metal’s subterranean universe but arrive under a much different precipice, helping this Pennsylvania quartet spit out jagged shards of hate that have as much in common with Propagandhi as Satyricon (“ A Dog You Call God”, “Curb the Trend”) Infernal Stronghold has created a solid hybrid whose unique take on black metal excels with a bastardized but brutal integrity.
www.forcefieldrecords.org
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Necrophobic,"Satanic Blasphemies" (Regain)
Excavated from the nefarious catacombs of Hell (also known as their old studio tapes), SATANIC BLASPHEMIES is a collection of three early demos from Swedish death metal squad Necrophobic. Containing nine tracks of uncompromising buzzing, this disc provides a glimpse of the formation stages of demonic death metal with a nice remastering job and in depth liner notes illuminating key aspects of this diabolical crew’s malevolent start to their mission. Resonant with a feral ferocity and bursting with an exuberant sense of evil, this disc will appeal to both genre completists and dark thrill seekers alike.
www.regainrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Spheric Universe Experience,"Unreal" (Sensory)
French progressive metal quintet Spheric Universe Experiment put their love of Dream Theater to the test on the unit’s latest nine-track endeavor UNREAL. Despite the band following a tried and true prog metal template and their obvious influences falling a bit on the cautious side, this squad delivers an enjoyable nine track excursion that exhibits an array of top notch musicians whose massive musical acumen, technical aptitude (special shout out to drummer Christophe Briand’s durable chops) and jam-ready know-how (“O.B.E.”) gets the job done with a slew of memorable moments that carry melody yet don’t skimp on the metal to boot (“Lakeside Park”). Solid yet not very groundbreaking, it’s unlikely that Spheric Universe Experience has the tools necessary to break into the mainstream, but UNREAL demonstrates that they can decisively hold their own amongst their prog metal peers.
www.lasersedgegroup.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Boy Will Drown,"Fetish" (Earache)
Ambitious UK upstarts The Boy Will Drown dazzle with a tenacious technical prowess on their debut 10-track offering FETISH. This group maintains a disjointed heaviness without relying on breakdowns, opting instead to steer their compositions with sharp dips in dynamics (“Akura Class”) and blistering speed-freak tempos (“Epilpleptic”). Elastic bass lines and coarse guitar riffs do battle while staccato percussion patterns flail away underneath a barrage of gruff and guttural death metal grunts, creating a stirring yet bit redundant metallic undertaking whose constant cacophonic clobbering becomes grating and repetitive, yet when interspersed with brief flashes of unorthodox musicality (“Dead Girls”) takes on as an admirable offshoot of Dillinger Escape Plan meets Psyopus by way of Poison the Well.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dark Castle,"Spirited Migration" (At A loss)
So another two-piece guy-girl band comes to the forefront but before temptation to cry out in protest wins out (even if judging solely on aesthetics) don’t be fooled; Florida duo Dark Castle is the total antithesis to White Stripes in every way conceivable. From swapped-out band roles (whose female vocals are pretty spot-on foreboding, by the way) to the multi-faceted less is more rhythmic attack chock full of echo swirls, caustic distortion, and synth accoutrements, Dark Castle invites listeners to engage in vast levels of morass without a bass to be heard, sprouting an unanchored uneasiness prevalent throughout the eight-track, nearly 40-minute journey. Best taken in its entirety in repeated doses, SPIRITED MIGRATION is the end result of post-hardcore embellishments and doom metal devices gone awry by way of modern metallic psychedelica beaten into the brain. Almost as if Isis and Crowbar decided to jam out for fun, the combination of this act’s galactic scope and gigantic heft renders a sludge-ridden good time for those who enjoy a hearty helping of abrasiveness layered with ambient passages to help the lava go down smooth.
www.atalossrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Tim Ripper Owens,"Play My Game" (SPV)
After providing vocals for the most notable metal bands in the world for well over the past decade, Tim “Ripper” Owens finally steps out as a solo artist on his 12-track debut PLAY MY GAME. Bringing a mind-blowing cross-section of the metal friends he’s made along the way to the party (an impressive list that reads like a who’s who in the metal realm), Owens and associates dole out a lesson in traditional metal excellence with a modern edge (“No Good Goodbyes”). Channeling his former band Judas Priest and Dio as main sources of inspiration for his powerful vocals, the harbingering aura of “The Shadows Are Alive” and the wild caterwauls accompanying the extra-terrestrial pounder “The Cover Up” help Owens decisively cement his own identity while a surprisingly cohesive considering the vast array of hands in the mix multidimensional metal attack utilizes British metal swagger and American hard rock grit to get the job done (“Play My Game”). Despite the over the top six-string bravado of the likes of Craig Goldie, Doug Aldrich, and Carlos Cavazo leading the rhythm section towards a studio session feel, Owens’ powerful pipes and old world compositions ground this all-star affair long enough to strike a balance between sound like a musician’s clinic and a metal album with mass appeal.
www.spv.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Father Of Sin,"Greatest Sins" (Self-released)
Pennsylvania sextet Father of Sin follows fashion and provides the creepiness as if they hailed from Transylvania, as this spooky squad references everything from the thrashing throb of Marilyn Manson to the malevolent pomp of Cradle of Filth on their latest endeavor GREATEST SINS. With one foot planted in a freshly excavated gothic industrial plot and the other in an avant-garde extreme metal niche, this troupe does an admirable job of pulling off a strand of heavy music without the services of a drummer, opting to use a drum machine to provide the thunder. Relying heavily on doomy metallic atmosphere cultivated from the Celtic Frost and Sabbath handbooks while making it palatable so the kids in the mall can join the black parade, subject yourself to the modern dread Father of Sins drums up.
www.myspace.com/fatherofsin69
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Conspiracy,"Concordat" (Pulverised)
Former Melechesh bassist Al Carpathian Wolf’s one-man project Conspiracy rolls out its sophomore effort, an intriguing batch of death-thrash metal entitled CONCORDAT. Inducing melancholic malevolence while seamlessly meshing metal sub-genres, tracks like the Pagan-influenced “Faith” display the range of influence Conpiracy draws from while “Mentally Ill God” and “Last Veteran” dish out the barrage of dastardly riffs and venomous rasps that keep the head banging. Exhibiting a wide range of diversity yet raw as hell, Conspiracy also implements a slew of spicy guitar solos a la Kreator and Megadeth (“Limited to 666”) to prevent the overcast tremolo-picked blackened atmosphere from becoming redundant. This eight-track excursion renders a refined yet relentless listening experience containing metallic melody executed with a handsome dash of diabolic style.
www.pulverised.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


We Insist!,"The Babel Inside Was Terrible" (Exile On Mainstream)
The French avant-garde rockers We Insist return with another ceiling-shattering collection on the 11-track THE BABEL INSIDE WAS TERRIBLE. Inhabiting the edge shared by like-minded boundary breakers like Tool, System of a Down and Queens of the Stone Age, this eclectic unit consistently pushes its music into strange and wondrous territories without sounding crammed in or forced. Thanks to a vast musical acumen and distinct overall sound highlighted by a raucous rock ‘n roll delivery spearheaded by a saxophone played through a guitar amp, this veteran squad embraces the luxury of total musical freedom without losing its backbone. Implementing a barrage of left of center rock hovering around the headier sphere of influence a la King Crimson and Mr. Bungle, We Insist will keep those who crave convention defiant music pleasantly occupied.
www.mainstreamrecords.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blood Red Throne,"Souls of Damnation" (Earache)
On their latest nine-track endeavor SOULS OF DAMNATION, Norwegian death metal mongers Blood Red Throne pay homage to the US death metal sound, channeling everyone from Morbid Angel to Cannibal Corpse. Solidly delivered with a proper portion of groove and technicality in place (“Demand”), there may not be a wide array of groundbreaking material present, but the band’s vitriolic onslaught is undeniable (“Prove Yourself Dead”). This veteran unit reaps the benefits of staying on a course without much variation, resulting in shaping its murderous musical machine to a well-oiled machine manufacturing enough face-breaking riffs, sinister growls and neck snapping double bass battering to satisfy the most rabid bloodthirsty cravings for death metal glory.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Skum City,"Skum City" (Self-released)
NYC quartet Skum City keep the Big Apple’s punk rock fires burning bright with an authentic blast of contagious chaos straight from the LES gutter on the unit’s latest six-track 7”. Keeping the guitars crunchy, the tempos fast and dirty, and the singing sneering, tracks like “Don’t Worry About Nothin’” and “Hungry and Dirty” display a love of the hardcore punk spectrum a la DRI and Black Flag while the band’s self-titled anthem “Skum City” provides a visceral kick to the cranium as a divine group vocal chorus leads the charge. Raucous and in your face, Skum City’s colorful and confrontational punk rock stomp is certifiably scraped up from NYC’s grimy underbelly and delivered with the confident cadence of a band with the chops and aggression to pull it off.
www.skumcity.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Charetta,"Defying the Inevitable" (Self-released)
Charetta is a NYC-based female fronted hard rock outfit whose latest nine-track effort DEFYING THE INEVITABLE is adorned with a barrage of heavy-handed and well-composed melodies whose tendencies to work within the confines of atmospheric metal falls somewhere between In This Moment and Lacuna Coil (“On The Line”). Featuring a skull-rattling bottom end crunch that combines Staind and Chevelle (“Stop the Cycle”) alongside a powerful female voice that proudly wavers in between breathy and bad-ass (“Too Far In”), this quartet’s ready for the radio modern hard rock is balanced with nasty riffs (“Love Your Lies”) and angelic vocal anguish (“So Convincing”, “Never”), passionately meshing driving grooves with overwhelming outpourings of emotion to create a refined album ready for mass consumption.
www.charetta.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Necrophobic,"Death To All" (Regain)
With song titles like “For Those Who Stayed Satanic” and “Celebration of the Goat”, it’s pretty evident what to expect from Necrophobic’s no-frills eight-track audio sacrifice to Satan DEATH TO ALL. Blistering black metal a la Dissection exalting Beelzebub is precisely what’s on tap from this veteran Swedish squad, complete with a garden variety permutation of dastardly vocal rasps, abrasive dynamic shifts, belligerent blast beats, and tremolo-picked demonic guitars propelling the entire offering (“La Santisima Muerte”). Supercharged with a sinister spirit brazen with an apocalyptic attitude holding tight at the core, chalk up another dark mark in the black book of blasphemy for Necrophobic, as this band continues to spread its message of disdain while providing a fitting soundtrack behind it all.
www.regainrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sworn Enemy,"Total World Do Mination" (Century Media)
After sticking it out for over a decade, NYC hardcore metal troupe Sworn Enemy return in top form with a ripping thrash-heavy monster of an album that pulls no punches entitled TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION. Again choosing to work with Tim Lambesis, this quintet’s relentless assault on the ears is bolstered as always by Sal Lococo’s gargantuan vocals yet this time twin guitar work that digs deep from the Exodus and Destruction songbooks accompanies the pummeling to mercilessly take you down and out for the count (“On the Outside”). Imagine the intensity of Municipal Waste without the frivolity colliding with the clobbering tactics of Madball and Earth Crisis and you’ve got the template for this NYHC-bred unit’s latest barnburner, as choice cuts such as “Still Hating”, “Ready to Fight” and “Run for Shelter” provide the adrenaline necessary to demolish everything in the way throughout the course of the day and showcase that this band proudly holds onto its roots with an unwavering aggressive as ever mindset leading their charge.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mile Marker Zero,"Mile Marker Zero" (Self-released)
Connecticut progressive metal mavens Mile Marker Zero display a unique smattering of familiar influences on their eponymous 10-track affair. While footprints from acts like Queensryche, A Perfect Cirtcle, Dream Theater, and Fates Warning are scattered throughout the album, this quintet manage to forge their own sound from the same rich prog launch pad thanks to exhilarating musicianship and tantalizing composition twists within a shadowy atmosphere sandwiched somewhere between Opeth and Porcupine Tree (“Passive”). Showcasing the capacity to both wail away on a dime as well as show restraint (especially on the vocals) when needed (“Crimson Red”), this group of classically trained musicians make the most of their pedigree by portraying an impressive array of delicate melodies and ethereal dramatics without losing basic hard rock insight, taking songs like “Peril Aerial” to new and exciting places without falling prey to usual prog rock excessive pomp and superfluous trappings.
www.milemarkerzero.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Delain,"April Rain" (Sensory)
Female fronted symphonic metal fans have a new band to love and their name is Delain. This Dutch quintet’s sophomore effort entitled APRIL RAIN contains the standard heavy guitar and angelic vocal combination (“Go Away”) throughout its entire 12-track duration, giving similar bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation (whose ex-keyboardist Martun Westerholt formed Delain) a run for their money. Embracing the recognizable sounds from the aforementioned while bolstering their take with guest vocals by Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala (“Control the Storm”) and some compelling cello work (“On the Other Side”), Delain finds the fine balance between mainstream pop music melodies and progressive metal tendencies (“Start Swimming”) with solid production values, catchy songwriting and a slew of sugary choruses at their command to create this larger than life Goth metal experience.
www.thelasersedge.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Antikaroshi,"Crushed Neocons" (Exile On Mainstream)
CRUSHED NEOCONS is an eclectic nine-track presentation by German trio The Antikaroshi that straddles the line between post-hardcore and post-rock with oodles of jazzy edges. Jaded guitars drenched in delay (“Cruiserwait”), mighty bass rumblings and adroit percussive work converge to form hypnotic rhythms with a pervasive free-from jam sensibility flowing in and out of the rollicking jolts and rest stops on cuts like “Fistful” and “Contradiction”. An abstract non-singer stream of consciousness vocal delivery and a general flair for the off-kilter assist unorthodox arrangements like “Baskerville” and “Pes” to contort into weird and wondrous soundscapes that borrow as much from the DC hardcore scene standouts as they do forward thinking bands that go above and beyond constraints of the norm a la Refused and Sunny Day Real Estate. Championing an angular and hard to pin down yet easy to sink into style, this exercise in experimental rock may prove to be too far-reaching for some, but for those who enjoy a space shuttle mission to the Moon should heed this prime opportunity to get on The Antikaroshi’s rocket ride.
www.southern.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Elwood Emission,"Ode to the Ego" (A Few Little Notes)
NYC’s Elwood Emission is Lucy Kalantari’s one-woman electronic project jam-packed with soul-bearing crooning to a harsh industrial rock soundtrack. The callous vocal and distorted ukuleles that start off “The Invitation”, develop an unsettling sensation furthered by the cross between Alanis Morrisette and Shiny Toy Guns influenced vocals and angst-ridden subject matter (“Despicable”) displayed. ODE TO THE EGO also throws in snippets of Tori Amos-like catharsis (“Divine”) into the mix, giving this six-track sojourn into Kalantari’s darker side a fair share of lush yet eerie attributes that ambitiously push tracks like the scintillatingly sultry “Run” from the shadowy recesses to the spotlight.
www.afewlittlenotes.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Alexisonfire,"Old Crows/Young Cardinals" (Vagrant)
Canadian punk hardcore band Alexisonfire has grown considerably from their humble screamo upbringing judging by their latest 11-track release OLD CROWS/ YOUNG CARDINALS. Perpetually altering their sound with every release, this album’s switches may prove the most daunting, as the unit’s unique three-tiered vocal delivery has been radically tinkered with, nearly dropping all the squad’s trademark high-pitched wails for a more common yet genuine (and way less grating) earthier punk rasp. While songs like “No Rest” and “Heading for the Sun” get a discernibly gruffer makeover across the board, Alexisonfire builds intensity with the acumen of a unit who has been around the block a few times with the excellently placed keyboards on “The Northern” delving into considerably more brooding states of mind than previously visited. Alexisonfire seem to have comfortably outgrown their former selves in some aspects, even going so far as to proclaim the change in song on “Old Crows”, a maneuver that undoubtedly insures losing diehards in droves. But for those who choose to stick around, this Toronto troupe’s escalating sense of self and collected post-punk output reminiscent of bands like Thrice solidifies this disc by celebrating the exploring new avenues without pandering to the pressures of commercial success.
www.vagrant.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Unholy,"New Life Behind Closed Eyes" (Prosthetic)
Syracuse, NY quintet Unholy are no strangers to the scene, as this group features members of Another Victim, Santa Sangre, and Path of Resistance, not to mention hail from one of the hotbeds of ‘90s metallic hardcore. And even though obvious and unmistakable traces of hometown influences All Out War and Earth Crisis are very detectable everywhere across this unit’s brutal chugfest, Unholy savagely spreads its wings to implement sinister spoonfuls of Swedish and American thrash metal elixir to their seething hardcore skeleton, a move that gives this squad a ferocious quality that while far from original, portrays all the necessary bone-crushing nuances to render a pleasingly pummeling experience non-withstanding(“The Followers”, “The Blinding Light”). Adorned with scathing guitars solos and a simple yet effective approach that rarely drags despite the telegraphed compositions, if you could imagine the merger of Terror, Bury Your Dead, Entombed and Machine Head, then you can envision the rock-solid onslaught brought on from this bruising bunch’s 10-track discharge, perfect for those that demand more from their mosh metal.
www.prosetheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Emery,"In Shallow Seas We Sail" (Tooth and Nail)
Christian rock quintet Emery returns with a bang, rediscovering their former selves with a renewed sense of purposed on their fourth full-length IN SHALLOW SEAS WE SAIL. Fine-tuning their screamo tendencies with an increased sense of incense (“Cutthroat Collapse”) and a streamlined melodic edge (“Dear Death Part 2”), this outfit’s latest 13-track endeavor beefs up Emery’s output in nearly every category. From solid twin-vocal interplay (“Inside Our Skin”) and torrid rhythmic undercurrents (“In Shallow Seas We Sail”) to unabashed heaviness (“Butcher’s Mouth”) and a penchant for hooky yet refined choruses, this squad’s delectable dichotomy of fragility and ferocity fits snugly between Dredg and Thrice, placing Emery in the upper echelon of the new breed of alternative punk while finding its biggest influence from within.
www.toothandnail.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wrench,"Wrench" (Self-released)
Brooklyn, NY quartet Wrench tear through speakers with the finesse of an old school Bay Ridge brawler, showcasing an abrasive amalgamation of the sheer sonic furies of Carnivore, Madball, and Pro-Pain on their six-track release. Subtle as a blunt object to the skull yet bouncy enough to keep the head bobbing, Wrench comes equipped with a vicious vocal bark reminiscent of Helmet at their most caustic, a gutwrenching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea bottom end that rattles fillings and a procession of slamming Biohazard-esque grooves all working as one to hammer this crew’s brawny bullet points home. This recharged veteran unit’s creates a viscous wall of 90s crossover metal perfect for throwing a fist in the air or throwing down in the pit to.
www.wrenchnyc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Axis Powers,"Marching Towards Destruction" (Pulverised)
A revisiting of the Swedish old school death metal style seems to be thriving as of late, and countrymen Axis Powers is making sure the revival stays strong as heard on their sophomore nine-track excursion MARCHING TOWARDS DESTRUCTION. Relying on the wares of the pioneers from the genre for their crushing servings of sinister sonic bliss, this quartet’s retro metal renaissance resonates with the feral fury and devious cadence of early Entombed, Bolt Thrower, and Grave, nailing each ear-splitting guitar riff, rollicking bass line and mangled growl with the menacing malevolence of the originators fully intact. Eschewing metal’s modern virtues for the sake of whipping up a dastardly display of metal the way Mom used to make, Axis Powers provides an unsurprising yet uncompromising listening experience bursting with the distinguished tones of early death metal’s dissonant anguish.
www.pulverised.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Incoming Cerebral Overdrive,"Controverso" (Supernatural Cat)
Italian quintet Incoming Cerebral Overdrive’s eight-track endeavor complementarily exhibits this audacious outfit’s well-versed variety of avant-garde hardcore a la Dillinger Escape Plan and Poison the Well. Exuding mighty metalcore premonitions laced with a cathartically scream-y set of vocals, spastic time signature shifts, and a hodgepodge of hellacious guitar tones ranging from ear-splitting to bottom-scraping, this band’s slanted sensibilities yield a dizzying array of volatile tunes armed with spiky transitions, sludge metal tendencies and a dash of cosmically-induced prog-rock noodling for a daring and daunting listening experience.
www.supernaturalcat.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Death By Stereo,"Death Is My Only Friend" (Serjical Strike)
Orange County hardcore punk bastion Death By Stereo have made a career of taking chances and changing up their sound, so there’s no surprise that the stalwart act’s fifth full-length disc, the 15-track DEATH IS MY ONLY FRIEND continues the trend. Pulling further away from their hardcore punk roots (associating itself more with a modern metallic approach a la Atreyu and AX7 these days) yet retaining the simmering intensity regardless how far the group has traveled off the starting line of the journey, their well-tread lead guitar heavy style and fist-pumping group vocal anthem paradigm remains a huge part of the music’s makeup much to the chagrin of old-schoolers (“Welcome to the Party”, “I Sing for You”, “The Ballad of Sid Dynamite”). The disc does include its fair share of clunky head-scratching moments however, as piano ballad “Forever and a Day” and the awkward stab at radio rock on “The Last Song” comes off contrived and out of place, but ultimately Death By Stereo redeems itself by laying down a satisfying smattering of the hurried punky hullabaloo that put this band on the map in between moments of well-earned but shaky attempts of artistic liberty (“We Sing Today for a Better Tomorrow”).
www.serjicalstrike.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Animals As Leaders,"Animals As Leaders" (Prosthetic)
One-man progressive metal machine Tosin Abas is the main brain behind Animals as Leaders, a project whose eponymous 12-track excursion daringly thrusts into the far reaches of the metal spectrum, encompassing a progressive metal edge with a slew of decadent fretboard nuances with all-inclusive jazz-fusion tendencies. Doing all the bass and guitar (both 7 and 8-string) tracks himself, Abas creates a world engulfed in lush soundscapes aimed to beguile the listener as a rich array of technical intricacies dually derived from the foundation of both jazz and metal pours out of the speakers. Armed with flurries of enthralling expansiveness, this affair fosters the ambitious musical spirit of a virtuoso player a la Vai and Malmsteen whose first-rate chops never get in the way of its composition’s flow, while displaying a lack of the typecast clinical residue which results in the invigorating feeling of refreshed fluidity this release exudes.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ektomorf,"What Doesn't Kill Me" (AFM)
Hungarian modern groove metal merchants Ektomorf’s latest effort WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME is a plodding installment of utterly unoriginal down-tuned new school heavy music. Are they aware that Sepultura and Soulfly have already written half of these riffs and vocal lines? Simultaneously beating the rap-metal horse to death while grinding the nu metal movement to a halt by rendering a virtual line for line reprisal of all things Cavalera, Ektomorf’s uninspired homage properly radiates a solid slab of rage; shamefully it’s not their own.
www.regainrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Minsk,"With Echos in the Movement of Stone" (Relapse)
Minsk’s third full-length offering serves up a transcendent smorgasbord of post-metal garnished with a masterful blend of styles and flavors. This Chicago, IL quartet channel the spirit of early Genesis, Voivod, and Mastodon to form sonically rich music laden with a cosmically charged left of center progressive metal edge, thrusting this fearless foursome’s pummeling pops of sinister sludgery and episodes of ethereal abrasiveness into realms reserved for the elite of the metal adventurers and the ensuing tolerant followers. Issuing an aura of uncanny uneasiness via the help of exotic compositions and intoxicating instrumentation, WITH ECHOES IN THE MOVEMENT OF STONE wields a power derived from a blend of Minsk’s multitudes of non-metal influence, unrepentant waves of oppressiveness and foreboding musicianship, captivatingly holding attention spans with a mix of skull-splitting scintillation best heard under black light. Epic and intense, Minsk delivers huge here.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Old Man's Child,"Slaves of the World" (Century Media)
After a four-year slumber, Dimmu Borgir guitarist Galder resumes his prolific solo project Old Man’s Child with the release of SLAVES OF THE WORLD. This Norwegian’s nine-track aural assault contains an obligatory dose of symphonic metal complete with keyboard flourishes and dastardly vocal growls, yet there’s also strong elements of death and thrash metal (“Unholy Foreign Crusade”), allowing songs like “On The Devil’s Throne” and “Saviours of Doom” to delve into more sadistic and sinister territories. Maintaining a grandiose vibe that simultaneously spews epic and evil visions (“Ferden Mot Fienden's Land”), those who despise high-end production will shun this disc immediately, but for those who don’t mind some cracks of light seeping through black walls of despair, Old Man’s Child steadfastly delivers another well-manicured collection of black metal blasphemies.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ex-Deo,"Romulus" (Nuclear Blast)
Featuring four members from Canadian cripplers Kataklysm, Ex-Deo (rounded out by members of Martyr and Blackgard) focuses on The Roman Empire as the subject matter for this sextet’s incendiary offering ROMULUS. Masterfully harnessing melodic death metal’s majestic overtones, this 11-track affair bids few surprises yet crushes with a menacing mid-tempo pace, recreating the epic history of the events behind the world’s greatest civilization’s rise and fall along the way. Sturdily built from a proper blend of cavernous chugging guitars, purposeful keyboard accoutrements, and ferocious vocals that accurately narrate the gory glories from the beleaguered battlefields, Ex-Deo’s intriguing slant on Pagan metal renders a cohesive metal attack whose distinct cinematic scope and orchestral instrumentation radiates with the freshness that saves this disc from being cast as just another side project and is worthy for those who enjoy metal at its most sweeping and regal.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Warbringer,"Waking Into Nightmares" (Century Media)
Los Angeles metal troupe Warbringer churns out an authentically replicated form of the best from thrash metal’s guilded age on the squad’s sophomore effort WAKING INTO NIGHTMARES. Emulating the fury and power of every Testament riff, Overkill tempo acceleration, Baloff vocal pattern, and Slayer drumbeat as if their own, this quintet’s tried and true array of speed and heaviness (“Shadow of the Tomb”) coupled with a rousing ability to stay the course yet still knock out their own unique blend of searing compositions and rebellious subject matter that gloriously screams 1987 Headbangers Ball all the way. Complete with a snarling Kreator-esque guitar tone (“Scorched Earth”) yielding only to the rich classic metal influenced breaks and interludes peppered throughout (“Nightmare Anatomy”), WAKING INTO NIGHTMARES is an excellently rounded 10-track disc laden in apocalyptic atmosphere and chock full of unquestionably volatile thrash metal virtue.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The New Black,"The New Black" (AFM)
German quintet The New Black purposely channels a hard rock from North America appeal on their eponymous debut disc. Sounding like a hybrid with Nickelback’s hooky choruses and commercial flair, Black Label Society’s fretboard gymnastics, and Hellyeah’s sinewy swagger, this outfit’s mammoth whiskey-fueled guitar chugs and piledriving bottom end is solidified with a metal cowboy appeal that fans of Shinedown will appreciate (“Why I Burn”) and a modern hard rock sound tailor made for action sports highlight reels (“Wound”). While some derivation from the blueprint would knock this disc out of the park, all of The New Black’s ass-kicking elements are in place and uncoil at the right times to offer a listening experience for the gym or the pub that won’t disappoint.
www.afmrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Grief of War,"Worship" (Prosthetic)
Japan’s Grief of War embraces a conglomeration of Bay Area thrash signatures, Germanic rapid-fire tempos and Sepultura-esque intensity (“Disorder”) as evident via the trio’s latest endeavor WORSHIP. Despite the squad’s honorable homage to the battering riffs (“Into the Void”), dive-bomb friendly solos (“Built My Brain”), skull-jolting rhythms, and Kreator-esque seething-mad vocal shouts of yesteryear, Grief of War’s retread is sturdy but a bit too unimaginative, ultimately lacking that intangible spark necessary to place them into the realms of thrash metal’s upper echelon, yet maintains a solid undercurrent of visceral aggression that can easily find a spot somewhere between Nuclear Assault and Death Angel along the grand sonic spectrum.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Iconicide,"Bout Fucking Time" (Self-released)
NYC underground mainstays Iconicide celebrates 20 years of causing a ruckus from below with their subversive mix of NYHC chaos, anarchistic rock tendencies, lo-fi metal belligerence, and caustic punk abrasiveness on BOUT FUCKING TIME. This 10-track affair explores this nonconformist squad’s dastardly mix of snarling guitar riffs, furious drums, and rabid vocal rants, sounding as if unearthed from the catacombs of the abyss (“Name Your Price”, “Biochipped”). Crustily non-PC and completely unapologetic, Iconicide’s slanted sociopolitical stance and unadulterated utter reckless abandon is intentionally sloppy at times and drips with every undesirable nuance of the Big Apple, rendering a welcomed reprieve from the cleanliness and clarity of modern music that sonically socks you in the jaw with the shock of a suckerpunch from behind.
www.iconicide.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Napalm Death,"Time Waits For No Slave" (Century Media)
Pioneering grindcore unit Napalm Death continue their trademark trail of wreckage, willfully destroying everything in their way with lethal rounds of speed and a rabid sense of aggression on TIME WAITS FOR NO SLAVE, the British troupe’s 14th studio endeavor. Exhibiting the ravenous thirst for domination they’ve built into every face-splitting blast beat, crossover metal interchange, and skull-caving breakdown lovingly churned out since their inception in 1981, Napalm Death is one of the few bands that have a broad enough scope to pull off balancing finite consistency with experimental growth spurts, flat out refusing to rest on a decorated extreme metal pedigree or glories of their blueprint back catalog. Instead, this incendiary foursome opts to kick up the intensity and lunge at the jugular with a vintage voracity fueled by the danger and dread they’ve carried since their salad days. Look no further for an album that will blow your head clean off, as TIME WAITS FOR NO SLAVE provides a tantalizing mix of grind, death, thrash, and punk as only Napalm Death can deliver.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


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