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Friday, December 28, 2007

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008) (SPV)

Ayreon will release its long awaited new album "01011001" in January 28th 2008 in Europe (one day later in the U.S.). The album "01011001" again features a double-disc concept, with 15 tracks spread across the 2 CDs. Ayreon challenges musical boundaries within the metal arena and beyond, building upon what was a brilliant album in "The Human Equation".

Ayreon's "01011001" cover art is a fine illustration of the concept the album is presenting. Featuring a whole host of guest artistes from various metal bands including Epica, Blind Guardian, Evergrey, Pain of Salvation and more, in this official trailer for the album's release, Ayreon shares more on what "01011001" is about:

To sample Ayreon's "01011001", check it out here.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Norther - N (2007) (Century Media)

Norther the Death Metal will be releasing their new album "N" in Feb 2008. Continuing their simple cover-art, Norther releases another typical Norther death metal album. "N" features their trademark Norther sound but it is grainier and harder than recent releases.

"N" has Norther going back to their roots perhaps but it is still an incredibly enjoyable album. With 13 new tracks and a cover art that does not distract you from the music, Norther has another winner in "N".

Sample some of Norther's new album "N" here.

Heaven Shall Burn - Iconoclast (2008) (Century Media)

Heaven Shall Burn will be releasing their new album "Iconoclast" come February 2008. Featuring their usual trademark Heaven Shall Burn sound - a mix of death metal and hardcore - Heaven Shall Burn has a grand return to form with "Iconoclast".

With 14 tracks, "Iconoclast" will have Heaven Shall Burn fans in pleasant raptures - it is raw aggressive power with opening track "Endzeit" in all its glorious double bass footwork and menacing riffs, with greater power than a soccer match. The quality songs from Heaven Shall Burn continue with highlights including "Murderers of the Murderers", "A Dying Ember", "The Bombs of My Saviours" and the Edge of Sanity cover "Black Tears".

Guaranteed to please fans of all metal genres - you can check out Heaven Shall Burn here and here.

If you like the album, get it here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Exodus - The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A (2007)

Thrash Metal legends Exodus have released their new album The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A. The band has come out smashing on all fronts and the album packs a lot of punch despite the band being around for quite a while and releasing several duds previously.

All in all, this album ranks better than Megadeth's recent release, and this year has been a great one for Thrash Metal - this is another fine addition to the list of strong releases.

Check out the great artwork on the album cover - brings back memories of a certain Slayer cover.

Check out The Atrocity Exhibition here and here.

Moonspell - The Great Silver Eye (2007) (Century Media)

Portugese Gothic and Doom Metallers Moonspell have released another album (their 15th in 10 years) - The Great Silver Eye. It is an epic masterpiece which surprisingly has much variety and depth. You not only get the requisite metal classics in the making, but also songs that include touches from other genres. The electronically-tinged Magdalene best illustrates this.

There are sweeping doom epics here, with a total of 16 tracks, this album should be a massive satisfaction for any Moonspell and doom metal fans. Melodic and often lifting at times despite their musical genre, Moonspell have produced yet another classic which will stand the test of time in years to come.
Find out more here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Soilwork - Sworn To A Great Divide (2007) (Nuclear Blast)

The Swedish Death/Thrash Metal band Soilwork has released their new album Sworn To A Great Divide. It has been a long time coming and for one, I am really pleased with this album. The songs are fabulous and showcases even a wider repertoire and maturity in sound.

Soilwork is known for not following trends and establishing their beautifully textured sound in a scene which is filled with copycat bands. The hard aggressive nature is still present, but there is a higher melodic quotient with the clean vocals being featured more, without diluting the diamond-hard nature of the genre.

You may find out more here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Metal CDs for Cheap!

Hi everyone, I have put up 3 CDs for sale on Ebay. If you wish to get these great titles for really cheap prices and in excellent condition (they are used, but I treat my CDs with loving care), do check them out and put up your bid fast:

Deicide - Scars Of The Crucifix Digipak with Bonus DVD
Entombed - Morning Star
Nightwish - Angels Fall First (with bonus track)

Thanks for looking and I appreciate all the support you have shown! It's been tough maintaining this blog and I would appreciate any support you can show me by purchasing my CDs (if you wish to).

Metal fans Unite!

Hammerfall - Steel Meets Steel (2007) (Nuclear Blast)

That enduring German Power Metal band, Hammerfall, has released a massive 2-CD compilation of all their best tracks. Containing 30 tracks, this album marks another milestone in the band's career. If you are a fan, you will love an album that will add to your collection. If you aren't a fan, you will appreciate this one-stop jukebox to find out if the band suits your tastes!

Find out more here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dragonland - Astronomy (Jap Release) (2006) (Century Media)

This is Power Metal at its grandest, most powerful and majestically melodic best! Astronomy was released last year and this Japanese release comes with a few extras. Sweden's Dragonland presents an orgasmic concept album that reveals their maturity in musicianship and there is not one dud contained within!

Listen to Astronomy here.

Bury My Sins - King Of All Fears (2007) (Guideline Records)

Bury My Sins release their new album King of All Fears on Guideline Records this month. While the album presents nothing new in terms of Metalcore records that has been piling up the past couple of years, there are enough hooks in the record to keep your head nodding and feet tapping. Nothing more I can say really - it's not a bad album, but it isn't an excellent one either.

Listen to it here and be the judge!

Amon Amarth - With Oden On Our Side (2007) (Metal Blade)

Everyone knows Amon Amarth. If you don't, you obviously do not know heavy metal! This album With Oden On Our Side came out earlier this year, and Alex from Metal Observer sums it up well:

"Basically we get all trademarks of the AMON AMARTH sound, the majestic, but still heavy riffs and leads of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, the powerful drumming of Fredrik Andersson together with Ted Lundström’s pumping bass and, of course, Johan Hegg’s roar, everything packed into altogether faster compositions again, which still do not drift off into one-dimensionality and should satisfy every AMON AMARTH fan!"

Find out more here.

Monday, October 8, 2007

All Out War - Assassins In The House Of God (2007) (Victory Records)

Coming across more like a Slayer on extreme aggro instead of a metalcore act, All Out War released this album earlier in the year and took the metal world by storm. The thrash metal crunch is still alive, and kick-ass bass heavy riffs fill the album.

Sample theatrics open the album and the first riff bulldozes its way out of your speakers, instantly pummelling you into submission. There is plenty of healthy double-bass action peppered all over the release and like I mentioned, this puts a lot of Slayer's recent work to shame.

Find out more about Assassins In The House Of God here.

Violent Work of Art - Automated Species (2007) (Swedmetal)

They used to be a metalcore band, but now they have mixed it up with Industrial, Drum & Bass, Death, Metal - just about anything heavy that would crush your balls. A more streamlined version of Atari Teenage Riot with greater (traditional) structure and melody, they have now put out their first album and certainly worth a listen.

Listen to more of Automated Species here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Steve Grimmett Band - Personal Crisis (2007) (Metal Heaven)

Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett has released an album of his own, from the Steve Grimmett Band (what else?). This will be out on Oct 24 and is pretty much a good effort in the hard rock vein with a slight nod towards Power Metal.

The tracks are relatively enjoyable but honestly, nothing memorable. Grimmett and band keep it pretty simple and melodies abound - most would sit down well with an arena rock crowd but somehow there just isn't a strong enough hook to hold this up as something a must-listen.

Still, if you are a hard rock fan, this certainly would not disappoint.

Listen to the album here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Novembre - The Blue (2007) (Peaceville Records)

Italian Doom Metal practictioners Novembre will be releasing their new album The Blue on Peaceville Records on November 5. Produced by Mikko Karmila (Nightwish), this album has all the aspects of a great listen for me. Beautiful melodies and accoustical passages, wrapped by powerful and majestic heavy riffs. The 12 songs are all intertwined smoothly in a strange way, and somehow end up very memorable.

I have just started listening to the promo for a while so the review is short. If you are into melodic doom with a nice dash of death thrown into for good measure, be sure to check out Novembre's new album The Blue!

Sample the promo here and here.

Suicide Silence - The Cleansing (2007) (Century Media)

Suicide Silence produces a powerful mix of death metal, grindcore and hardcore in this new release The Cleansing. The band's sound features a pummelling force of chaos that crushes your eardrums (if tuned all the way up of course) - the production is crystal clear and provides a heavy low end that sits well with the bass heavy riffs.

There is a good mix of the extreme fast and ploddingly slow from 'The Price of Beauty' to 'Hands of a Killer'. And never one to crank up the speedometer just for the sake of showing how extreme they could go on the racetracks, Suicide Silence has released a very mature and killer death metal album that could possibly go down as one of the highlights of 2007.

Check it out here.

Behold... The Arctopus - Skullgrid (2007) (Black Market Activities)

Behold... The Arctopus will be releasing their new album Skullgrid this month. Widely lauded for their progressive sound, the album showcases more of their eclectic abilities with 7 new songs. While definitely technically excellent, I would be able to appreciate this more 10 years back when I was still attempting to be a guitar god or musical genius. Now, I prefer melody in my music - don't get me wrong, there are pretty flashes throughout this album, but not enough for me.

Still, fans would adore this, and there is less noodling compared to their other efforts available. Highly anticipated and certainly would go down well.

Find out more here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pagan's Mind - God's Equation (2007)

Norwegian Progressive Power Metallers Pagan's Mind will be releasing their new album, God's Equation, on November 9th, and it has been a long wait of 2 years since their last. This release sees an even greater production quality (although the drums do sound just a tad flat, but not that noticeable) and fantastic progression in the band's sound.

While Dream Theater has gone to largely unlistenable territory unless you delight in listening to musical theory, Pagan's Mind has managed to find the right mix of progressive technicality and hooky endurability.

This is just one of their tracks from a previous album in case you're wondering:

The new album kicks arse. Listen to more of it here.

Animosity - Animal (2007) (Metal Blade)

I am not that huge a fan of such extreme mixes of grindcore and death. Admittedly the buzz surrounding Animosity's new release, Animal, got the better of me and I gave it a listen. The usual blastbeats and grindcore vocals (sometimes you do wonder why these vocals are even there) are all over the place, but surprisingly the tracks are growing on me. I still cannot differentiate between the different songs, but it could be the hangover I am experiencing over the weekend - hell those brutal riffs are slamming my head in.

There are some bright and heavy moments here that come close to looping in my cranial cavity ("Tooth Grinder", title track "Animal" and "You Can't Win") and it is absolutely certain that fans of the genre would trip over themselves with the glowing reviews.

Listen to more of Animal here.

Galneryus - One For All, All For One (2007) (VAP)

One For All, All For One is Japanese Power Metal band Galneryus' 4th full length release. Now, if you still do not know who they are (well, I didn't until a couple of months back), check out this video:

The guitarist Syu is one helluva player.

In case you were wondering - they sing mostly in English - and no noticeable accent so you can hear what Yama-B is crooning about. Extremely heavy and bombastic in parts.

Check out One For All, All For One here.

Elvenking - The Scythe (2007) (Candlelight Records)

This is as far removed from the original Elvenking sound as it could possibly get. You still get the folkish elements and power metal feel, but most of the riffs are extremely catchy (not a bad thing) but sound more like Linkin' Park trying to be power metal than an established band maturing in sound.

Long-time Elvenking fans are bemoaning the departure in sound towards a more commercially viable channel, but with Damnagoras sounding like a tired old Italian power metal vocalist nasally crooning through uninspired lyrics, the band has a greater chance of sticking to what they do best. The 'growls' are so watered down and rarely sprinkled over the whole album.

The Scythe does have its nice moments such as "A Riddle Of Stars" but a huge disappointment for any fan looking forward to a greater growth in their sound. It sounded like an effort from a band looking for its own identity instead of one that has just put out their 4th major release.

Sample The Scythe here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nightwish - Dark Passion Play (2007) (Spinefarm Records)

Finally, the long-awaited new album from Nightwish has hit the shelves. Armed with their new vocalist Anette Olzon, the band has surprised me with a terrifically strong release - one that I am enjoying more than their previous efforts. Olzon has a much more varied style compared to Tarja and the album contains many quality songs with greater depth and bombast. I have previously given some lukewarm reviews on their early singles, but after repeated listens of the album, I am now convinced the musical maturity of the band deserves widespread recognition and I look forward to global domination.

Sample Dark Passion Play here and here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom (2007) (Candlelight)

Mix everything you've got in metal - riffs, death grunts, grind, rhythm, bass - and what you have with jazz, swing, operatic vocals and what you get is Diablo Swing Orchestra - pure musical fun and madness.

If not for the fact that I have the very first tune Ballrog Boogie on endless autoplay, I would be able to offer a long in-depth review. I even wonder if this should go under Metal, but it is simply brilliant - musical genius this enjoyable should be heard all over the world.

Check it out now!

Moonspell - Under Satanae (2007) (SPV)

Here's what the press release says:

"Under Satanae is the new full-length release of the Portugese Dark Metal band Moonspell. This album consists in a complete re-recording of all the existing pre-Wolfheart songs that includes not only all the tracks and instrumental pieces of the now lengendary avant-garde Under The Moonspell (considered by many fans as an Underground gem of Mediterranean Black Metal) but dives deep into the band's blackest roots in the shape of the infamous 1993 demo-tape Anno Satanae and further deep into Morbid God's (pre-Moonspell) only recorded 1992 song, the tenebrous Serpent Angel. The result is like drinking from a dark fountain of youth. The band has revisited these songs under the wheel of Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquility, Fight) at Denmark's finest Antfarm studios and introduced new and daring arrangements to the pieces retaining, at all times, the primordial dark force, enthusiasm and unique depth of the originals..."

Sample the album here.

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (2007) (SPV USA)

Well, the album has been out for a couple of weeks now and it is really storming the charts all over the world. No surprise as Jon Schaffer and gang continunes to rip up sound systems everywhere with quality power metal such as that served up on a golden platter with Framing Armageddon.

Everyone is in top form here - Tim 'Ripper' Owens with astounding vocals as always, Schaffer and guitarist partner Troy Seele blazing the audio arena with fiery fretwork, Dennis Hayes with a clear throbbing bass and Brett Smedley's pounding skinwork.

There's the usual Iced Earth trademark staccato rhythm galloping you across the vast plains of metal mayhem, peppered with Owen's incredible screams and powerful Halford-like vocal melodies. Hooks abound in every song, making each of them memorable in their own right, and all foreseeable anthems when the band embarks on their world tour in support of the album's release.

A massive release and as mentioned before, definitely a strong contender for Metal Album of the Year 2007.

Get Part 1 sample here.

Get Part 2 sample here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Deep - The Deep Demo (2007)

The Deep reminds me of a less focused version of progressive death legends Atheist. While the band display much aggression and intensity in their sound, with doublebass galore, however their songs seem to meander aimlessly at times. There is also a distinct lack of melody or listenability, and the band has sacrificed complexity for proper song craft.

Still this is a demo and hopefully the final product will be much better.

Sample it here...

Drudkh - Estrangement (2007) (Supernal Music)

Here's what the press release says of this new release from the Black Metal band:

"After their Neo-Folk opus, 'Songs of Grief and Solitude', with this latest effort Drudkh returns to their Black Metal roots, with five long compositions in the epic and melancholic vein of 'Forgotten Legends', although with better sound, organic drums, and brilliant bass playing, in sum displaying the sophistication of 'Blood in Our Wells'."

If you ask me, I am not sure why they have so many fans, or even people who would pay to buy this album. I might be missing something, but so many Black Metal bands really should do something about their production. I might have been pampered by the superior production and recording quality of other metal releases, but paying my hard earned money on such extremely poor sound is a no-no. What's more, they are releasing this on a marketing strategy of limited editions.

That said, the compositions are epic and hint of great listenability and endurability if only you could actually hear some low end crunch. The drums sound like they were made out of cardboard.

I wouldn't get this at all when it comes out, but I know there are lots of fans. So here sample this...

Arch Enemy - Revolution Begins (Single) (2007) (Century Media)

This is the new single from Arch Enemy - a teaser for the full album release coming soon. The album review has been done previously so I will not go through it again. There are 2 tunes from the album itself - "Revolution Begins" and "Blood On Your Hands", with the addition of 2 other tracks - a Queensryche cover "Walk In The Shadows" and a fantastic live recording of "I Am A Legend/Out For Blood".

Check it out here...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Samael - Solar Soul (2007) (Nuclear Blast America)

This was a really pleasant surprise for me when I heard it. Samael's Solar Soul has so much pop sensibility that you can sing along to almost every track!

Just check out the chorus of the first tune "Solar Soul" - a wacky mix of Rammstein's melodic structure with an almost fist-pumping punk anthem. The electronic tinges now do not overshadow the songs, instead strongly accenting each. Listen to the classical strings thrown in in tunes such as "Promised Land" and "Slavocracy", impressing with a sense of chaotic grandeur.

In fact, you get 12 solid tracks of anthem potential in this album. I wouldn't be wrong to say that images of Rammstein would flash by after listening to this. But much darker, of course.

Ok, enough, before I get slaughtered by hardcore Samael fans!

Check out the tunes here...

Nightwish - Amaranth CDS (2007) (Spinefarm Records)

I don't think I need to elaborate much on this single release, which incidentally came out as 2 singles. You can read more here on my earlier review of the whole album.

Sample the singles here.

Primal Fear - New Religion (2007) (Frontier Records)

Europeans seem to have a knack for really good hard Melodic Metal, as evidenced from the ancient years of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, till now with the many Italian metal bands spanning genres from Symphonic to Power Metal. German Power Metal band Primal Fear display their chops admirably on this new release on Frontier Records.

Admittedly, I do not know much about Primal Fear, as I did not use to have much access to Italian bands. (Edit: and this shows - because they are really a German band - thanks for highlighting, guys! :)) They have a thick bass-heavy sound where the bottom-end simply delights coming out from my throbbing speakers. The vocals are reminiscent of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and the keyboard lines and chugging guitar riffs all meld gracefully but with massive punch that really reminds you of standing in a grand stadium listening to the band churn out stadium anthem after anthem. But the band is not adverse to epic tracks as evidenced by "Fighting the Darkness" and "The Man (That I Don't Know)".
Really good rockin' album!

Check out the promo here and if you like it, get the CD when it comes out!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fleshcrawl - Structures of Death (2007) (Metal Blade)

It might seem like I'm a Metal Blade fan, but there just seems to be quite a number of nice albums coming out from their artiste roster. This new release from Fleshcrawl is another one. Though once again you have a Death Metal record that does not necessarily offer anything new, but the sound... ohh... just the sound reminds you so much of Entombed circa Left Hand Path.

Fleshcrawl has got it down so well - the guitar sound is a perfect clone of the buzzsaw grind of the Death Metal legends, except that the production is clearer and crisper. The bottomend adds a lively punch, as demonstrated in tunes such as "A Spirit Dressed in Black". There are even harmonic squeals reminiscent of Dismember, Entombed and so many of the old Swedish Death Metal bands. Manic drumming just about seals this band a place in my record player.

Even the song titles are so old skool ("Into The Fire Of Hell", "Anthem of Death", "Nothing But Flesh Remains") you could slap an Entombed cover on the CD and you would never notice the difference!

Great old skool Swedish Death Metal here, with admirable production. The tunes all rock and are extremely catchy, well worth the wait for Fleshcrawl fans and new ones in the making.

Check out Structures of Death here.

This Ending - Inside The Machine (2007) (Metal Blade)

Got this somewhere:

"This Ending is actually the reincarnation of A Canorous Quintet, who released a few albums in the '90s before disbanding in 1998. The newly named band includes Amon Amarth drummer Fredrik Andersson along with vocalist Mårten Hansen, guitarists Linus Nirbrant and Leo Pignon and bassist Jesper Löfgren. Inside The Machine is first rate melodic death metal. This Ending picked up right where A Canorous Quintet left off, with really melodic and catchy guitar riffs and a healthy dose of aggression. They also incorporate thrash into their sound. There's a strong element of technicality in addition to the bone crushing brutality. Hansen's vocals are strong. They are aggressive and angry, but also understandable. He varies his intensity and the pitch of his screaming style, which a lot of extreme vocalists could take a lesson from. This Ending is treading down familiar ground, but they put their own spin on the genre and their songwriting is strong enough to make them a force in the melodic death metal genre."

Inside The Machine is a surprisingly strong Death Metal release - while there is actually a very strong technical element to their sound, This Ending still manages to infuse refreshing melodies in the tracks. The album production is incredibly clear and well-mixed, oftentimes I am left breathless with the doublebass crush and the riffs overpower the speakers - I wondered if they would blow at times.

The vocals are alright - perhaps a clearer Amon Amarth. What shone through was the power and aggression which the band captured well in the mix. Definitely a good Death Metal album, although I would not classify it strictly melodic death metal.

Sample Inside The Machine here...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us (2007) (Metal Blade)

2007 has been a year of massive metal releases, with metal bands both new and old releasing incredibly strong and quality albums. In the much maligned metalcore genre, Neaera have impressed me with their recent release (featured here). Now, a fellow label mate of theirs, As I Lay Dying, have unleashed their just as brilliant new LP - An Ocean Between Us.

Containing 10 brutal efforts (excluding 2 filler tracks), the band have concocted an intriguing blend of pummeling deathriffs, chugging and staccato-filled rhythms, harsh rasping vocals with clean singing periods, and mesmerisingly melodic guitar lines. Opening full track "Nothing Left" gets everyone off on a great start, with a galloping riff that gets your balls off while banging your head against the speakers. "Forsaken" interspaces uplifting anthemic choruses with melodically technical verses that remind you of the best melodic death metal bands around today such as Arch Enemy and Dark Tranquility. Title track "An Ocean Between Us" bellows full steam ahead at breakneck speed, yet maintaining a catchy hook throughout. "Comfort Betrays" and "Bury Us All" grandly reveal the band's thrash and death metal roots, as both hurtle on with typical thrashy abandon as well as mid-tempo deathly gallops. "I Never Wanted " goes dangerously close to 'Linkin' Park' territory, but then the rumbling aggression rears its ugly head and you figure out what a tease the band is. The clean vocals contrast terrifically against the backdrop of sonic mayhem. In fact, there are no bad or even average tunes here - I found myself listening to this album continuously despite the endless cookie cutter output of metalcore bands recently, as the band have done the genre a favour by writing brilliant tunes, with closing track "This Is Who We Are" demonstrating this amazingly.

A fantastic effort from As I Lay Dying - continuing a great year for metal, some might be wishing it won't end.

Check out An Ocean Between Us here...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

D'espairsRay - Mirror (2007)

One of the few Japanese Visual Kei bands that I listen to, D'espairsRay has matured greatly with this release. With a powerful mix of bass-heavy rock, nu-metal, goth and industrial dashes, as well as some signature sounds of J-Rock, Mirror is a gem of a release this year from Japan. Vocalist Hizumi is extremely versatile, peppering his perfect-for-J-Rock pipes with guttural growls and symphonic screams. Rest of the band, guitarist Karyu, Bassist Zero and drummer Tsukasa are a tight unit - with guitarist especially skilful in coaxing melodic yet crushing riffs from his guitar. I've not had a chance to watch the band live, but with bands in such a genre famous for presenting a visual treat apart from their music, I wouldn't miss it if such a chance were to present itself. For you guys out there who have yet to hear them, give them a chance and take a listen!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls with Sand (2007) (Profound Lore Records)

From Adrien Begrand on (but hey this ain't pop!):
"Bands like Jesu and Cult of Luna might be attracting the most attention with their distortion-drenched melodies, dubbed “metalgaze” by the perpetually pigeonholing music media, but it might surprise some that the Angelic Process have been doing it for longer than many of their peers. Comprised of the husband and wife duo of guitarist/drummer/vocalist K.Angylus and bassist/vocalist M.Dragynfly, the Athens, Georgia duo’s latest album makes an astounding, indelible impression from the opening moments, combining brutality and noise with tenderness and aching melodies, unleashing wave after wave of aural beauty disguised as cacophony. The variation the pair displays is sublime: we get the drone of Boris, the experimental noise of Swans, the mechanical crunch of Godflesh, the epic scope of Isis, the awe-inspiring power of Neurosis, and the sumptuous beauty of My Bloody Valentine all at once, as the musicians croon and scream, the oblique vocals in the vein of classic shoegaze from the early 1990s. The enveloping effect of the album’s mix is stunning, as the underlying melodies bring genuine warmth, radiating from the massive wall of sound. Far from a handful of iPod tracks, this is a full album that you need to set aside time for, an hour-long experience that haunts you as much as it entrances. It’s one of the year’s best extreme releases, and another top-flight release from the ever-reliable Profound Lore Records. 8/10"

My own take - I'm lapping it up - the wall of sound (not noise) is extremely intense and the melancholy crushes you like ten thousand tons of sonic heaven.

Sample The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls with Sand here...

If you like what you hear, buy the band's whole CD! Support them!

Stormrider - Lucifer Rising (2007) (Infernal Waves/Aural Offerings Records)

If you like your death metal filled with grinding old skool riffs ala early Swedish death metal bands like Grave, Unleashed and even some Entombed, with a healthy dose of furious double-bass, Stormrider dishes up huge servings of that in their second full-length - Lucifer Rising.

Frankly, there's not much differentiating Stormrider from many of the other clones, what with the lack of a signature sound. However, they more than make up for that with enthusiastic aggression and well-written songs which display a balanced mix of melody and power. So for fans of the above-mentioned bands or a similar sound, it's well-worth checking Stormrider out. At least for the standout tracks like Dead Love Of Mine Pt 4 (Last Words) and Conflictual Insanity (Gott Mos) which are really trips down memory lane.

Check out Stormrider's MySpace page!

Listen to Lucifer Rising...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Iced Earth - Setian Massacre (s) (2007) (SPV)

Just got a copy of this new single off the forthcoming Iced Earth album - and it rocks! Heavy as hell and double-bass madness! Classic Iced Earth tunage - there have been quite a number of superb and heavy power metal albums released recently, and I can't wait for Iced Earth's eighth full-length to be out in early September - Framing Armageddon. The new album is said to expand on the "Something Wicked" storyline, and get this - the next album after that will be out in early 2008! The latter will be a continuation of the "Something Wicked" opus.

That said, Setian Massacre is a fine appetiser for the new album. Tipper Owens is in fine vocal form once again, leading the song on a glorious crusade. The track opens with a galloping and urgent riff, with Owens roaring it to life. Fine melody lines swirl over the rumbling double-bass, with a nice jerky riff thrown in. The song builds and builds on a call-to-arms chorus, before a powerful climax, leaving you clamouring for more!

Just a month more, Iced Earth fans will rejoice!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Krohm - The Haunting Presence (2007)

Found this review which I think puts it aptly:

"Krohm's second full length emanation throws open doors to depraved corridors, exploring the darkest recesses of the mind. Meet the phantasmal presence in your psyche and surrender your grip on reality as the host's tortured visions and nightmare soundscapes lead you to a realm previously unexplored by any entity.

Seven prolonged sufferances reveal dreadful pain and distress, introducing a decrepit, hallucinatory and psychotic existence, suffused liberally with infinite inspiration and hollow hopelessness. These intense invocations transmit a profound maturity and sadness, invoking disturbing apparitions and spectral emissions, unsympathetically infecting the subconscious.

The Haunting Presence is a spiritual manifestation of ritualistic bleak art, a harrowing personal voyage through labyrinths lofty, majestic and grand. Supremely individualistic, Krohm is the essence of otherworldly continuance, the re-occuring resonance of lingering energies. Transcendental, paranormal black metal; for lost souls only."

Listen to The Haunting Presence here...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Through The Eyes Of The Dead - Malice (2007) (Prosthetic Records)

The release notes of this album proclaims the band's effort as possibly breathing new life into modern metal. While I wouldn't agree totally, it could be said that this has been one of the most brutal, aggressive, powerful and downright extreme death metal albums I've come across this year.

Malice is filled with incessant riffing and mindnumbing drumming, with raw bouts of double-bass interjected frequently. Personally I feel that the songs lack some identity as I could hardly differentiate between each, which could be due in part to the incredibly heavy riffs that the band has stuffed into each tune. However, there is no denying that Through The Eyes of The Dead know what extreme metal is, and this is such a violent aural assault that many fans would be well satisfied. If you have read my previous reviews, you would know that I demand certain amounts of melody in my metal, and even though some might argue that this has to be sacrificed for brutality, I beg to differ. Dimmu Borgir's musical bombast balances perfectly with the raw aggression that exist in their sound.

That said, this is a quality release, if not at least to be a fine representation of the (extreme) heights that death metal could (still) scale. Not my cuppa, but if death metal could be judged based on power that could pummel you into submission alone, this album easily ranks a 10/10.

Sample the album here before it hits the stores

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Alchemist - Tripsis (2007) (Relapse Records)

The first time I heard Alchemist, I was taken aback by their sound, which the band self-described as Death Metal/Thrash, but other than the harsh vocals and guttural growls, it was rare to hear such uplifting, atmospheric melodies in a genre classified as such. There was basically so much melody amidst that intensity that they were refreshing to say the least. The term Surfthrash bandied around was apt in a funny way - you could almost imagine surf guitar icon Dick Dale being part of Alchemist!

With the release of Tripsis, the Australians have continued to explore and expand their unique brand of metallic mayhem. Psychedelic grooves lace the songs with much atmosphere, and the band knows a thing or two about building tension which is further enhanced by the heavy-as-hell riffs. Take a listen to "Nothing In No Time", one of my favourites on the album - the quiet opening chords gradually slams into aural chaos with an urgency that demands your undivided attention. "Grasp At Air" has a slightly similar formula but the galloping double-bass and surf thrash riff brings a heightened dancey feel to it but the breakdown quickly drops the headbanging fist pumper back into your aural territory. If this is Death Metal, the genre should be filling massive open-air stadiums everyday! "Communichate" has a more traditional structure and feel to it. Other tunes like "Wrapped in A Guilt", "Tongues and Knives" and "Anticipation of A High" bring to mind Godflesh and Fear Factory, but all that intertwining guitar melodies bring them to greater heights.

Alchemist continues to bring a fresh and inspiring Metal sound to the scene, which sometimes can become rather stagnant as most bands strive for pure brutality and intensity, but without any careful consideration for songcraft and melody. Alchemist strive towards achieving all that, and do a jolly good job at it!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Absence - Riders of The Plague (2007) (Metal Blade)

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Having toured extensively in support of established bands like Cannibal Corpse, Dark Tranquility and Nile, and on the back of a widely acclaimed debut in 2005 (From Your Grave), The Absence continues to inject an urgent freshness into the saturated melodic death metal scene with the release of their new LP - Riders of The Plague.

The love for Swedish (or Scandinavian, for that matter) death metal is apparent in the North American band's sound - with bass heavy riffs infused with a keen sense of melody, harmonised solos and wonderfully grating death vocals from frontman Jamie Stewart. Guitarists Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintavalle also display keen influences from the Florida metal scene, as the tunes often bring to mind memories of old-skool death metal bands like Entombed, Dismember, and Gorefest, but throwing in the often-harsh brutality of Obituary, Deicide and Morbid Angel. The result is often a mindblowing mix of melodic mayhem and tight, aggressive raw power.

The Absence have a strenous tour laid up in support of Riders, which is all good considering the intensity generated from their live shows have been garnering rave reviews from fans and critics alike. The new tunes would certainly go down well with the crowd - title track "Riders of The Plague" storms into your aural arena with a shriek and galloping riff before an uplifting verse and chorus. "Dead and Gone" has a more traditional thrash riff before the death metal grind slowly devours your consciousness. Another gem "Echoes" showcases the band's intuitive sense for songcraft, a tune that would sit well in any Dark Tranquility or Arch Enemy album. A definite fixture in their live set with that short call-to-arms chorus. "Merciless" opens quietly before a glorius ravenous riff blares out from your speakers. The Absence skilfully blends thrash signatures over several tunes, but death metal fans would hardly notice, taken over by the layered brutality. Other tunes of note would be the soaring "Outro", a mental "World Divides" and the stampeding "The Victorious Dead".

Talented and hardworking, not to mention well-liked by fellow bands and fans alike, The Absence have released an excellent sophomore effort, which would hopefully establish themselves as a band-to-watch in the melodic Death Metal arena.

Check out The Absence's MySpace page!

Promo The Absence - Riders of The Plague here!

If you liked the album, support the band by buying the CD here!

Absence - From Your Grave

Friday, August 3, 2007

Nightwish - Dark Passion Play (2007) (Spinefarm Records)

The promo is out, but with voice-overs. Still, sample it and if you like it, you should never forget to support the band by buying the CD when it's released. Love the music? Get it!

Have not had the time to go through it well, but from what I've heard - new addition (and a big one at that - big shoes for her to fill) Anette Olzon has done a great job. I got to hear the operatic stylings, but even more, she adds a new dimension to the Nightwish sound. Her vocals are lighter, slightly thinner, but there is more warmth. Add to that, a real growth in maturity in the band's sound - witness the opening track "The Poet and The Pendulum" - the usual bombast but excellently structured and a keen sense of focus which pulls you deeper and deeper. There is mention of other 2 singles off the same album in another of my post. You may read more there. For now, I will be sitting back and putting this in my player. A definite enjoyment for the senses!

Listen to the promo here and buy the CD when it's out!

Black Betty - Black Betty (2007) (Twin Earth Records)

Bands with obvious influences from Black Sabbath, Led Zep and good old heavy metal, applied with dashes of modern metal, bring to mind Kyuss (does anyone know if they're still around? sludge never sounded this heavy!). And Black Betty brings to mind Kyuss.

Not much info I can gather on Black Betty, except that vocalist Jonas Fairley from Sir Hedgehog, and this short bio of theirs:

"Black Betty is Jonas Fairley (Drums, vocals) and Ana Serena(Guitars, vocals). Founded in our mutual love for music and the need to express, explore and exploit our creativity, we are committed to provide the most entertaining, alternative heavy music to the world."

And heavy is what they bring to the table! True, the influences are glaring, but the tunes are riff-heavy as hell and you won't need any grass to get stoned listening to this. Fairley's pipes are reminiscent of Ozzy but with much more clarity, and Serena has got the genre nailed in that six-string she straddles. Some punk influences rear their heads in tracks like "Evil Once Again".

Highlights include "Astral Messiah", "Devil Eyes" and "House of Chains". Love those riffs man! Looking forward to more from this band!

Buy their album if you like what you hear!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Neaera - Armamentarium (2007) (Metal Blade)

I do not normally listen to much metalcore, with only Heaven Shall Burn being one of only 2 bands that I pay particular attention to. The other one would be Neaera.

Having been impressed with The Rising Tide of Oblivion over 2 years ago, I was expecting even more with the upcoming new album Armamentarium. Imagine my sheer aural delight when the double-bass accompanied galloping heavy-as-hell riff blew out of the speakers from the aptly-titled opening track "Spearheading The Spawn"! Immediate comparisons withHeaven Shall Burn could not be avoided, yet despite that, you could not avoid head-banging even more. By the time the 2nd track "Tools of Greed" was drilling into my cranium with its stop-start syncopated passages, I was wondering why there would be much wide-spread derision of metalcore. True - majority of the bands sound like they have been cloned from Dolly, but when you have such massive tunes from a band like Neaera, the categorisation should not matter - just pure metallic heaven Benny and his mates are churning out.

Guitarists Stefan and Tobias somehow manage to spew monster riffs that are a brilliant mix of grind and raw aggressive power, as title track "Armamentarium" demonstrated. There are also no shortage of melodies that do not compromise on the harsh edge in the band's sound. Drummer Sebastian brings double-bass crush to every tune - the mix and production on this record have been done up very well - bringing out the pure power in Neaera. While a couple of the tracks, like "Synergy", sound like filler material, other tunes like "Harbinger" remind you, dare I say it, of old skool killer death metal, yet updated with a modern feel. "In Loss" and "The Orphaning" showcase their blinding speed thrashy edge, but with enough variety in the time changes to let you catch your breath before hammering you right into metal oblivion. The last track "Liberation" even sees an attempt for epic metalcore - clocking in at just over 7 minutes.

To be released near the end of the month, Neaera's Armamentarium is widely anticipated for a highly under-rated metalcore band. I have not felt such pure unadulterated aggression and power in a metal record for awhile, and if you wish to once again be inspired by the passion of metal, be sure to pick up a copy of Neaera's Armamentarium!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nightwish - Meadows of Heaven/Sahara (2007) (Spinefarm)

2 new singles from Nightwish's forthcoming album in September '07.

Meadows of Heaven is a typical, but still excellent symphonic ballad. Strings and dramatic sweeping breakdowns. This is the first single I've heard off the new album, which means my first listen of their new vocalist Anette Olzon. Sure, she is no operatic diva, but her vocal chops do not pale in comparison. Just listen to the ending of the track - pure soul - dare I say soaring r&b emotions?

Sahara provides a more aggressive stomper with a darker feel. Admittedly, these 2 singles do not showcase any further marked development in the band's sound, with the most obvious difference being Olzon's vocals. She even does some Cranberries style vocal musings in here. There is some growing maturity in song structure - they have worked in more passages which have resulted in the tracks providing a story-telling feel to them.

Still, quality metal is still a byword of the Nightwish sound. 2 nice tunes, but I am looking forward to more from the album (yes, I have not heard the earlier released singles :) ).

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