New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: November 12, 2013
Reviews are on a 5 star scale.
Artical – ‘Illusion X’ (Pitch Black)
Genre: Power Metal
Greek power metal act Artical return after a six year hiatus with Illusion X, a record built on shredding leads, driving tempos and over the top vocals. The band's focal point is guitarist and drummer Mike Dimareli, who formed the band back in 2002. He excels at both instruments and one cannot understate the talent he possesses.
Former Yngwie Malmsteen and Royal Hunt singer Mark Boals handles the vocal duties. Boals employs a powerful octave range and he executes it to perfection on openers “Look in the Mirror” and “Chasing My Life.” The band breaks up the monotony with “Mother”, an acoustic track that takes the dynamic down and showcases a different side of the band.
Brutal Truth / Bastard Noise – ‘Axiom of Post Inhumanity' Split (Relapse)
Genre: Experimental Grindcore/Powerviolence
For their latest split record Axiom of Post Inhumanity, experimental grindcore group Brutal Truth and ambient noisecore/power violence pioneers Bastard Noise are releasing completely different records under the same title. With a 4-track LP and a 6-track CD available, only via digital release can fans hear all seven tracks by Bastard Noise and three from Brutal Truth.
Bastard Noise’s contributions are defined by overwhelming walls of sound, squalling tsunamis of electro-acoustic violence that ripple and smother. The grittier, sharper and more punctuated pieces from Brutal Truth come as almost a relief. Their eerie and half-heard sounds, suffused with strange buzzing and shot through with wriggling feedback and discord, had a great sense of tension to them, but even this crawling dread is gentler that what comes before.
Chronos Zero - ‘A Prelude Into Emptiness...’ (Bakerrteam)
Genre: Progressive Metal
A Prelude Into Emptiness... is an ambitious debut from the Italian band Chronos Zero. It's epic in scope and sound, a concept record that features several guest appearances.
The prog is augmented by symphonic elements. The arrangements are complex and there's also a lot of atmosphere. Jan Manenti from Love Must Kill is the vocalist, with female vocals provided by Claudia Saponi (Absynth Aura). The musicianship is excellent, although some of the instrumentals could be trimmed or cut to make things more streamlined.
Cronian – ‘Erathems’ (Season of Mist)
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
For the last 18 years Borknagar have been a huge influence on the underground progressive black metal scene. Their guitarist Oystein Brun and vocalist Vintersorg are also working together in the side project Cronian and have recorded their third release Erathems. Containing a lot of the same elements as their main band, one would be hard pressed to hear a major difference.
Where Borknagar are more riff oriented, the songwriting on Erathems is centered around Vintersorg’s wonderful vocal melodies and huge musical soundscapes. The band does an excellent job of balancing aggression and melody throughout the release. An improvement over their last release, Erathems is a fine accompaniment to Borknagar’s stunning 2012 release Urd.
Demonical – ‘Darkness Unbound’ (Cyclone Empire)
Genre: Death Metal
Spawned out of the shadows of Centinex, Demonical were formed to return to the roots of death metal. Their fourth full-length release Darkness Unbound is a straightforward assault of brutality. Buzzsaw guitars blended with guttural vocals and detuned riffs are straight out of early Swedish death metal icons Dismember and Unleashed.
A new drummer and two new guitarists have joined the band since their last release and their contributions are essential to the release. Demonical do an excellent job of varying their tempos, as “The Healing Control” is a nonstop juggernaut and “King of All” is a doom tinged battering. Another solid record from a band that wears their influences on their sleeve and don’t deviate from a proven formula.
Drugs of Faith - 'Architectural Failures' (Malokul)
On Architectural Failures, the Virginia threesome Drugs of Faith follow up their 2011 full-length Corroded with four tracks of their hybrid mix of blistering grind and hardcore. Band co-founder Richard Johnson, also a vocalist for grind contingent Agoraphobic Nosebleed, shouts out anthemic lyrics tailor-made for a dirty VFW pit while guitar, bass and drums fuse together as one frenzied pummeling machine—I just wish there was more of it.
If you're a grind fan, don't hesitate to pick up this one-sided 12" EP up from Malokul, as it's limited to only 300 copies. Hopefully the next Drugs of Faith release from Rich and company will be a proper full-length.
Glorior Belli – ‘Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls’ (Agonia)
Genre: Black Metal
Crossing Corrosion of Conformity and Watain might seem like an odd mix, but that is exactly what Glorior Belli accomplish on their fifth release Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls. Juggling southern style guitar riffs with razor sharp fast tremolo picking sets them apart from their peers. The vocals are raspy for the most part with some rare melodic singing.
The band does have a unique sound, but the mix unfortunately is brash and not cohesive. “Ain’t No Pit Deep Enough” is filled with incredible riffs that most stoner bands would dream to come up with. The title track is an atmospheric gem that closes the record in fine fashion. The songwriting is strong, but it is just a notch below 2009s excellent Meet Us at the Southern Sign.
Hammer Fight - 'Chug Of War' (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Chug Of War is the debut album from New Jersey's Hammer Fight, who would have been right at home in the early days of thrash. They also mix in more moderately paced traditional metal.
Raspy vocals provide an edge while melodic riffs swirl at a lightning fast pace. There's plenty of guitar wizardry, and a few cool bass runs as well. It's straightforward and old school, an album that grooves and shreds. The songs fly by, with most of them between 2 and 3 minutes long.
Handful Of Hate - ‘To Perdition’ (Code666)
Genre: Black Metal
Italy’s Handful Of Hate have been around for 20 years, but just really haven’t gotten their due. That’s a shame, as the band’s brand of furious black metal is as caustic as it comes. Similar to fast bands such as Marduk and the like, Handful of Hate also inject a sense of sexual unease into their assault.
Past releases were a bit rough around the edges, but To Perdition cleans things up considerably, going for an extremely slick, yet full and crystal clear production that showcases the band’s scathing attack. Well written songs aid the cause, and To Perdition is just the latest reason for you to investigate Handful Of Hate.
Heretics In The Lab - 'Suture' (Sacrifice)
Genre: Industrial Metal
Suture is the latest effort from the Norfolk, Virginia industrial outfit Heretics In The Lab. Thick guitars are punctuated by electronic elements and highly processed vocals. Softer melodic sections appear periodically, like on "Vampire," which add a human element to the machine-like precision.
Heretics In The Lab's type of industrial is more Manson than Fear Factory. There are experimental moments, but plenty of melody and accessible sections.