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Friday, April 28, 2017

Prometheus (Greece) - Consumed in Flames

Artist: Prometheus (Greece)
Release Title: Consumed in Flames
Year: 2017
Label: Katoptron IX Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. The Disgusting Tongues
2. Hand of War
3. Seth
4. Vulture All Black
5. Prometheus Rising
6. Hatesworn
7. Consumed in Flames
8. Hand of War

Long-time members of the scene, Greek black metallers under the name Prometheus have suffered plenty of issues in their decade-plus holdover from their demo days as a terrible motorcycle accident with the band members halted their progress considerably. Now finally at the strength required for their first release, the bands’ full-length debut was released April 28, 2017 on Katoptron IX Records.

Starting out on a strong note, the band decides to offer up a rather impressive style of influences to make for a rather rousing and enjoyable affair. Generally the attack falls into the second-wave worship of Norwegian style old-school black metal, featuring a full assortment of tremolo riff-work and fiery brimstone-soaked rhythms that retain the general hallmarks of the scene. This is fast, fiery and utterly frantic patterns that make for a rather explosive outing here generating some rather fun times, going from the blistering tremolo-styled frantic blasting to a more controlled mid-tempo series of rhythms that offers a great deal of variety in the music throughout here while giving these parts a special charge with the inclusion of a churning rhythm section courtesy of more death metal influences. The deep, rumbling grooves and stylistic drumming that gets carried out here makes for a wholly more vicious attack alongside the thrilling traditional black metal attacks. Given that the majority of the album focuses on this style of attack which produces these rather epic arrangements, there’s not a whole lot to dislike here as the album plays it straight for the most part, and it really only comes off with a few minor strikes here with the frequent low-tempo sections that plod along rather lamely more than anything, but this isn’t enough to really deter the album for the most part.

Given plenty of room to work through some rather impressive features here, this one manages to come across rather well without too many flaws overall and barely detrimental ones at that which makes this one a wholly worthwhile choice for fans of the second wave of Norwegian black metal.

Score: 91/100

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Fading Azalea - Maze of Melancholy

Artist: Fading Azalea
Release Title: Maze of Melancholy
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Symphonic Metal
1. Rêverie funeste
2. In the Name of Justice
3. Heart of Darkness
4. Flames of Death
5. Surface
6. Time to Realize
7. Dying Paradise
8. Fall of the Mask
9. Here I Am Again
10. I Lost My Way
11. Burning to Ashes
12. L'ombre derrière l'âme
13. Where I Belong

Formed in 2013, Swedish melodic metallers Fading Azalea have set out to merge their hometown of Gothenburg’s famous style of pounding melodic fury alongside plenty of fiery rhythms that made the city renown to begin with over two decades earlier. Overcoming a host of lineup issues that has brought them down to a duo, their self-released debut effort was originally released March 1, 2017.

Attempting to impress immediately, the group manages to get a lot accomplished with their manner of strong symphonics and blazing melodies throughout. The predisposition to using the keyboard-based symphonics is the driving force here, utilizing the bombastic atmosphere and grandiose rhythms to give this one a great base for the rather striking melodic riff-work. These tend to work together rather nicely, going from the gothic-influenced sprawling melodies with full-on keyboards blaring alongside the tighter, more power metal-influenced rhythms that give this one a greater sense of variety here. That comes across rather well with the occasional dips into the frantic, blistering attacks throughout here with the frantic drumming and over-the-top symphonics of the keyboards matching the fiery and frantic rhythms utilized here and making for quite the nice amount of dynamics in the music here. While that does make for a solid time overall here, there’s still one big detrimental issue throughout here in that the softer, more mid-tempo arrangements here aren’t all that impressive, ranging from the light middling riff-work to simply letting lilting piano notes accompany operatic crooning which sounds impressive but leaves a sour taste for those wishing the rest of the music is as good as their up-tempo work. As well, the fact that the album is quite bloated and overlong with a few too many tracks, especially for a debut offering, makes it somewhat of a slough to get through and makes this one feel longer than it really should, although it’s still quite enjoyable overall with the caveat of this being a debut.

With plenty of solid Gothic-styled influences and an overall enjoyable symphonic atmosphere carrying this one along quite nicely, this one has some rather fun positives to overcome a few minor flaws and makes this a nice choice for those into melody-driven symphonic metal or female-fronted metal in general.

Score: 87/100

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Creeping Fear - Onward to Apocalypse

Artist: Creeping Fear
Release Title: Onward to Apocalypse
Year: 2017
Label: Dolorem Records
Genre: Death Metal
1. Life Denied
2. Divine Casualties
3. Swallowed by Death
4. Trenches of Desolation
5. Onward to Apocalypse
6. Spreading Disease
7. As Vultures Fly, Battlefield Bleeds
8. Soiled, Tainted and Merciless
9. Disposable Existence

Created in late 2011, French death metallers Creeping Fear have spent their time honing their skill-set with a series live dates and well-received demos that have set the group on the path to the present day as they’re finally able to put the finishing touches on their debut effort. With their work finally able to be exposed to the public, their full-length debut was released March 3, 2017 on Dolorem Records.

From the onset, this one offers plenty of utterly enjoyable elements that come about due to the bands’ rather strong and charging atmosphere. The album is fueled by strong, raging riffing that takes a ravenous, buzzsaw-style of riffing to the forefront while adding together a frantic beat to the proceedings, all of which adds together into a rather pummeling onslaught of more modern templates in the genre. When these are added together alongside more loose chugging rhythms and swirling riff-work rather than the tighter buzzsaw rhythms elsewhere throughout here, that brings for a crunchy variant to the faster efforts throughout here, letting this get some nice disparate elements into their sound. The problem is these are the bands’ more epic and overlong arrangements due to the slow chugging style in the riff-work, and these are on the whole far blander than they need to be since the band has plenty to like on the more plentiful faster tracks here so even with the more enjoyable tracks taking up a majority of the album these long-winded efforts aren’t that exciting on the whole. Still, this is a debut and that doesn’t strike as big a detriment as it really deserves to be since most everything else on the record comes off enjoyable enough to overlook this.

Despite having some problems with maintaining some interest in their longer efforts here with some overlong tracks, there’s plenty to like elsewhere here with the bands’ faster and frantic material that it should be appealing to those who prefer this style of thick, crunchy death metal and can overlook the few flaws here.

Score: 75/100

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Infernal Angels - Ars Goetia

Artist: Infernal Angels
Release Title: Ars Goetia
Year: 2017
Label: My Kingdom Music
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
1. Amdusias: The Sound of Hell
2. Vine: Destroyer of the World
3. Asmoday: The Impure Archangel
4. Purson: Matter and Spirit
5. Bael: The Fire Devour Their Flesh
6. Paimon: The Secret of Mind
7. Balam: Under Light and Torment
8. Zagan: The Alchemist
9. Belial: The Deceiver
10. Beleth: Lord of Chaos and Spirals

Continuing to usher their own devastating sound, Italian melodic black metallers Infernal Angels feature plenty of glimpses of pure aggression that are blended into parts of mournful, disturbing sonic extremity with sudden melodic grafts throughout here. Featuring several great guests on the album, the groups’ fourth overall full-length was released January 20th, 2017 on My Kingdom Music.

Once this one gets going, there’s plenty of fiery and ferocious music throughout here that continues to showcase the band at the top of their game. The album is based mostly on tight, ferocious tremolo riffing that produces a strong, thunderous base for the rest of the music to offer the frantic tempos and patterns featured throughout here. Generating plenty of intensity with the blistering drumming while remaining firmly aware of the tight, frantic buzzing melodies blazing alongside the raging music featured here, and overall there’s a solid amount of work displayed here that makes for a wholly enjoyable time. The one main problem with this one arrives in the fact that there’s just not a whole lot of deviation in the music which has a ton of opportunities to express any kind of variance here yet it doesn’t really offer that here. It’s all pretty much the same general buzzing tremolo melodies and rather tight, same-sounding rhythms for the most part, and that does tend to lower the impact of the album when it’s almost impossible to figure out where on the album you are. However, this isn’t that detrimental as there’s still a lot to like here.

While there’s plenty to like here with this one getting some rather enjoyable melodies alongside the striking black metal elements here, the minor flaws do lower this one somewhat slightly so that it appeals really only for those who enjoy this brand of melodic black metal or fans of the bands’ previous work.

Score: 85/100

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Rebel Souls - The Forces of Darkness

Artist: Rebel Souls
Release Title: The Forces of Darkness
Year: 2017
Label: Art Gates Records
Genre: Death/Black Metal
1. The Awakening
2. Descent
3. Acrimony
4. Decay of a God
5. The Elementar
6. Dark Forces
7. Fourfold Wrath
8. Doomsday

Formed back in the year 2000, German death/black metallers Rebel Souls initially never made it past the demo stage before splitting up, only to reform under a reenergized lineup a full decade later which has re-recorded most of their first demo for their newest release. Finally getting their full-length debut released, the effort was originally released February 24, 2017 on Art Gates Records.

For the most part, this is an exceptionally enjoyable outburst of quite a decent mixture between black and death metal that comes off rather nicely. Featuring plenty of churning riff-work and a rather strong, dynamic crunch that gives this one a pretty ferocious assault, the main attack featured here is given a strong enough base to work alongside the rumbling rhythms at play. This makes for a crushingly modern style of the genre which is then aided by the album’s twisting haze of rhythms that gives this a slight blackening of their riff-work, refreshingly opting for this approach rather than tremolo riffing to create that particular atmosphere. This clunky set of patterns comes off rather nicely overall here with the tight running time enabling the album to run by incredibly quickly, which is perhaps its’ one minor failing as there’s the feeling that this one really could’ve used an extra track or two to help round out the running time here as the compact manner of the album makes this one go by so quickly that it needs the six-minute epic to bring this even close to a half-hour album and it leaves the listener wanting more tunes more than anything. It’s the only thing really wrong here, and that’s not even that much of an issue at all compared to the enjoyment elsewhere throughout here.

While there’s a lot to like here overall, the fact that it’s over too quickly does hold this one up slightly so that it does feel too brief with all the quick, compact rhythms does manage to hold this back enough that this one is really recommended to fans of modern death and black metal.

Score: 87/100

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Töxik Waltz - Declassified

Artist: Töxik Waltz
Release Title: Declassified
Year: 2016
Label: Eventhink Metal Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Abduction
2. Thrash Metal Dictatorship
3. Beyond the Wall of Sleep
4. Island of Death
5. Politician
6. Srebrenica
7. Octogenarian Violence
8. Loudmouth
9. Thrashing Like a Maniac

Formed back in 2009, Spanish thrashers Töxik Waltz came together as Madhouse before adopting their current moniker following a slew of lineup changes that signified the bands’ current direction to deliver the most old-school sounding thrash in the scene. Finally able to expand beyond the boundaries of their home country, the groups’ debut full-length was initially released September 10, 2016 on Eventhink Metal Records.

Harboring the love for their old-school style, the group is clearly and obviously intent on exploring that style throughout here which makes for a rather impressive time. Focusing on tight, crunchy riff-work and a generous mid-tempo pacing for this series of patterns, there’s a wholly enjoyable series of rhythms throughout here due to the album generating this impressive style of old-school flavored attack. It’s pretty simplistic overall and really only generates any kind of special energy with the selected addition of fiery, frantic riffing that adds a much-needed sense of energy into the otherwise one-note rhythms elsewhere throughout the album which is what tends to be it’s lone minor downfall. The album contains plenty of tight, crunchy patterns and certainly competent performances, but otherwise, there’s not a whole lot else throughout here to get as worked up about considering the lack of variety in the overall presentation as the album tends to focus on the mid-tempo almost exclusively. This can make the album somewhat repetitive as it carries along, especially with all the tracks pretty much the exact same length of time overall, so this one gets a great attack that’s carried to excessive lengths of repetition here with the same riffing, and while this can be overlooked due not only to the enjoyment carried out here by the competence of their attack as well as this being a debut offering, it does lower this one slightly.

Although it does need a little extra variety and a series of different rhythms to help distinguish them from the pack, this is still an incredibly solid and enjoyable burst of old-school influenced mid-paced thrash that works well enough for devout followers of that style or those that enjoy the more mid-paced side of the genre.

Score: 75/100

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Lycanthro - Lycanthro EP

Artist: Lycanthro
Release Title: Lycanthro EP
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Power/Traditional Heavy Metal
1. Crucible
2. Into Oblivion
3. Break Through the Fire
4. Ride the Dragon

Bringing their classic influences to the front, Canadian heavy metallers Lycanthro have come together to forge one of the most appealing and intriguing love-letters to the classic metal sound of the 80s with a strong, classy-sounding release. Coming together to usher their debut EP, the group releases this first glimpse of their sound with this self-released effort January 8, 2017.

Coming straight out of the 80s, the groups’ obvious and burgeoning love-letter to the old-school style of metal becomes quite apparent from the start. Firing off tight, explosive lead rhythms full of galloping tempos and brimming with up-tempo melodies, there’s such an entertaining display of old-school rhythms on display here. With the majority of these tracks allowing the riffing to feature stellar marching gallops or tight, furious speed metal-style picking, it allows this to really cement their old-school leanings once the group begins exploring a fine mid-tempo chug that develops an interesting bridge between the grand speed metal stylings and the different traditional metal gallops that all works together into a grand and glorious old-school homage. The fact that there are only a few tracks here does come up as a minor problem as it’s just getting interesting when it really just ends and there’s the feeling that you could’ve wanted more quite easily. Likewise, there’s the raw and pretty obvious low-budget feel to the recording that might rub some the wrong way as that does limit some of the old-school influences in the fuzz from the recordings, but that doesn’t pose as big an issue as the overall brevity.

While not as big or grand as it should be due to the obvious limitations of the budgeting constraints involved here, there’s still plenty to like here in terms of old-school style power/traditional heavy metal on display for fans of this particular style to pay attention to in the future.

Score: 70/100

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Of the Sun - Before a Human Path EP

Artist: Of the Sun
Release Title: Before a Human Path EP
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Southern Progressive Metal
1. The Tightrope Mile
2. Nebulamorphous
3. Cantos
4. A Soliloquy
5. The Limbless God

Continuing to expand their brand, Texas-based modern metallers Of the Sun have sought out to refine and hone their self-described southern progressive metal tag that has allowed them to expand their standings in the local scene with more live dates and releases. Now fully cementing their touch, the three-piece prepares their self-released sophomore EP on April 14, 2017.

Offering their trademark style to the fullest, the album comes across as the truest culmination of their self-imposed genre tag with this offering. The main juxtaposition of the album is the progressive label, offering up a strong series of complex, technical riffing that offers plenty to like here, from sweeping atmospheric patterns to challenging math/metal styles and even featuring crushing grooves to offset these prominent elements. Likewise, the fact that these usually accompany that twangy style of Southern-tinged groove metal, the overall combination of influences is incredibly well-detailed and busy as the tracks usually offer varied exposure to each element. Due to the hefty track times for these few tracks, the ability to sweep it all together into these lengthy sojourns offers this one plenty of time to feature these varied elements as the thick grooves and airy post-metal breakdowns are featured prominently even though that, in the end, is the albums’ main weakness. The fact that this one is so busy and scattershot with its approach, containing so many varied and seemingly disparate elements into each and every track not only makes this one seem far longer than it really is but also too sonically varied to be really enjoyable as nothing is really cohesively conjoined all that well. This gives the feeling of being overlong for the sake of being able to cram all these influences together, and this could really use some shortening. Otherwise, there’s still some enjoyable elements here.

While it does have some problems with all the different elements present in this one being thrown together into a haphazard blender, there’s still some solid, likable moments here with their obvious technical skills and valid genre mash-ups that this one serves as a solid if unessential release for fans of modern metal in general.

Score: 66/100

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grieving Mirth - Calamitosvs Omine EP

Artist: Grieving Mirth
Release Title: Calamitosvs Omine EP
Year: 2015
Label: Loud Rage Music
Genre: Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal
1. Malaugurio
2. Indelectatvs
3. Optio
4. Mille Facce
5. Abuso

Coming together in 2011, international post-black metal supergroup Grieving Mirth have brought their collective members’ experience together into a rather solid and enjoyable output of melodic and dreary atmospheric-tinged black metal. With the original recording done several years before vocals were utilized, the groups’ first EP was originally self-released March 18, 2015 before a re-release July 1, 2015 on Loud Rage Music.

By adopting this style of post-metal, the album comes off rather familiar and rudimentary quite easily here as it offers very few deviations for the style. For the most part, it’s basically a series of swirling tremolo riffing in a galloping mid-tempo push that gives this a style similar to a vast majority of the genre as it’s often paired with long-winded sections featuring the same buzzing tremolo riff repeating for some warm, rich melodies. While it’s paired nicely alongside blasting drumming and bombastic, epic keyboards for a generally massive sound throughout here, the simple fact that there’s not a whole lot else to really glean from this one does seem to hold it back somewhat as there’s only so much deviation done in these few tracks and it serves as effective and enjoyable if one-dimensional due to that. The chance to offer more tracks would push for some more deviation throughout here, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot else to find within this one.

Though there’s nothing that overtly wrong with what’s on display here, the fact that there’s room for more to work with in regards to their sound makes for quite an appealing effort only for the most devout atmospheric black metal aficionados or fans of the members’ other projects.

Score: 70/100

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Impalers (Den) - Styx Demon: The Master of Death EP

Artist: Impalers (Den)
Release Title: Styx Demon: The Master of Death EP
Year: 2017
Label: Evil Eye Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Megalodon
2. Styx Demon
3. Death Comes Ripping (Misfits cover)
4. Prowler (Iron Maiden cover)

Continuing to honor their past, Danish thrashers Impalers are furthering the bands’ explosion of old-school thrash influences that have long been a part of their work from the beginning of their existence and becomes the fuel for their charge going forward. Staying on the cycle of two-year breaks between all their releases, this new EP was released January 16, 2017 on Evil Eye Records.

Coming on strong, this new effort contains four tracks, two originals and two covers, that allows them to display their old-school chops quite efficiently. Concerning the originals, the main driving factor is tight ferocious thrashing with plenty of sharp, jagged rhythms and full-throttle blasting to continue their homage to the past. Filled with tight patterns, fiery soloing and their deep gravelly vocals, they offer up the sparkling best of the band in brief vicious spurts with plenty of enjoyable elements within as the charging paces makes for a highly impressive time. The covers are somewhat faithful interpretations wrapped into the thrash mold as they’re not entirely based on the genre and yet come off rather well even if it’s obvious they’re not original tunes in the slightest. There’s just not much else on offer here beyond these tracks.

Given that there’s just not a whole lot to really dissect here given the originals are blistering barnburners and the covers are fine and faithful adaptations, this EP tends to really find itself simply there for fans of the bands’ previous efforts or those looking to discover the bands’ style if they’ve slipped through the cracks in the listeners’ own attention to the revival thrash scene.

Score: 90/100

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