New releases for November 27, 2013
A middling mish-mash of albums as the year winds down
Agony Lords, A Tomb For The Haunted (Chaos): The first album in 13 years by the Mexican band is an intriguing one, striking a neat balance between melodic death metal and the more old-school sounds of the early-1980s. Some might find the snarled lead vocals to be a bit over the top, but for those who miss ostentatiousness and horror in heavy metal will thoroughly enjoy this album.
Amenra, Mass V (Neurot): The Belgian sludge/doom band is back with their predictably titled fifth album, and just like every time before, they faithfully follow the lead of Neurosis, churning out slow, methodical, colossally heavy music. However, don’t dismiss this album as a mere Neurosis clone – and yes, that’s Scott Kelly on the excellent “Nowena I 9.10” - as it turns out to be a tasteful yet tortured doom record, its four tracks majestic and forlorn.
Bloodbound, In The Name Of Metal (AFM): Bloodbound’s fifth album is more of the same power metal derived specifically from HammerFall and Edguy, and while I’m often a sucker for old-fashioned anthems that celebrate metal, the songs here simply cruise along complacently instead of sounding passionate. The subject matter is there, but the energy isn’t. Metal isn’t supposed to be tepid.
Blood of the Sun, Burning on the Wings of Desire (Listenable): Now here’s a fun one. Led by St. Vitus drummer Henry Vasquez and featuring appearances by Derek St. Holmes and Scott “Wino” Weinrich, this album is straight-ahead, exuberant ‘70s heavy rock, a cool combination of the Southern-tinged sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd with the Hammond-driven jams of Deep Purple. As “Let it Roll” shows, this is simple stuff, but great fun.
Dehumanized, Controlled Elite (Comatose): Although these guys were peers of fellow New York death metal bands Suffocation and Internal Bleeding, Dehumanized only put out one album in the 1990s, ‘98’s Prophecies Foretold. 14 years later they’re back, and it’s the exact kind of blue-collar death metal you’d expect, grinding one minute, grooving the next, and always pulverizing.
Eversin, Tears On The Face Of God (My Kingdom): Eversin bill themselves as thrash, but like so many other bands from Italy, that power metal bombast can’t help but creep into the music. Unlike Nevermore, however, this band’s combination of the two styles always feels awkward. Skip this one.
Finsterforst, Rastlos (Napalm): Epic, nature-themed and inspired black metal that skillfully blends atmospheric passages with acoustic instrumentation. It’s amazing why anyone would even bother when Moonsorrow does this better than anyone, but if you’ve been wondering why there isn’t more black metal with accordion these days, then this album is for you.
Fullforce, Next Level (SPV): Inoffensive yet patently forgettable power metal from Sweden. The only thing memorable is the song title “Break it, Crack it, Destroy It”, which should be adopted as the official theme song for the American Egg Board.
Incantation, Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable): The American death metal greats, best known for the towering classic Onward Toward Golgotha, have returned after a six year absence, and predictably, the new record faithfully gives the fans exactly what they want. Typically, though, this is one band that’s not best suited for such a cleanly record album as this one is. As Golgotha so resoundingly proved 20 years ago, Incantation are best sounding absolutely filthy, and that atmosphere is sorely lacking on this well-composed but sterile-sounding record.
Kuolemanlaakso, Uljas Uusi Maailma (Svart): This project, which features Swallow the Sun/Barren Earth vocalist Mikko Kotamäki, tries to follow the lead of Triptykon, adding Finnish lyrics along the way, but the results are spotty at best, sometimes coming across as effectively thudding and enigmatic, but mostly feeling stultifying.
Lord Agheros, Demiurgo (My Kingdom): The concept of this double album might be operatic in scope, but when it comes to the music it’s far too mundane. Decent atmospheric black metal passages, decent melodic breaks, but whither the flamboyance and melodrama? This record aims big but falls way, way short of the mark.
Mammoth Mammoth, Volume III: Hell's Likely (Napalm): Australia never seems to have a shortage of raucous, derivative rock ‘n’ roll bands, but there’s something about Mammoth Mammoth that makes them feel like a keeper. There’s a rawness, an edge to the music that sets them apart from the Airbournes, Wolfmothers, and Jets that Australia has churned out, a sound that echoes the bruising music of the dearly missed Four Horsemen. Beer-fueled, a little psychotic, and an absolute blast from start to finish.
Merrimack, The Acausal Mass (AFM): Merrimack mack mack, of metal so black black black, have a brand new record record record, with nine tracks tracks tracks. Tunes so kvlt kvlt kvlt, coming from France France France, they feel so scary scary scary, you soil your pants pants pants. We’ve heard it all before fore fore, from countless bands bands bands, but few can play play play, music this grand grand grand.
Northless, Valley of Lead (Halo of Flies): This 10” EP is some mildly impressive post-metal, highlighted by a faithful reading of The Jesus Lizard’s classic “Elegy”.
Sinister, The Carnage Ending (Massacre): The Dutch band have returned with their tenth album, and it’s more of the same death metal they’ve been known for all these years. It’s not an essential purchase by any stretch, but it’s well produced, quite catchy, and good fun.
Varg, Guten Tag (NoiseArt): Varg paint their faces like Turisas, and their brand of pagan metal is just as trite. Far from bands like Tyr, Moonsorrow, and Arstidir Lifsins, who take great pride in exploring their musical heritage by filtering it through metal, this album is straight-up gimmick, simple, galloping metal with cornball folk melodies thrown in. All that we ask is that Varg sell it well, and they do, making this a mildly enjoyable little record despite its idiocy.
The Very End, Turn Off The World (SPV): The German band’s name might be instantly forgettable, but this is actually some good, mainstream-friendly metal that will appeal to fans of Arch Enemy and Metallica, loaded with lavish guitar melodies and surprisingly strong, Hetfieldian vocal hooks. Not too shabby at all. Just try not to forget the band’s name. What are they called again?
Vicious Rumors, Live You To Death (SPV): Always a much more popular band in Europe than in North America, the long-running San Francisco band recorded this live album on their 2011 European tour, and it’s a solid effort. The setlist spans the band’s long career, boasts a couple of good covers (Black Sabbath’s “The Sign of the Southern Cross” and Judas Priest’s “Running Wild”), Geoff Thorpe sounds as good as ever, and his latest hired hands do a great job behind them. Fans of Vicious Rumors will love this one.