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metal music reviews (new releases)

ABYSMAL DAWN Nightmare Frontier

EP · 2022 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
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UMUR
"Nightmare Frontier" is an EP release by US, Los Angeles, California based death metal act Abysmal Dawn. The EP was released through Season of Mist in February 2022. It´s the successor to the band´s fifth full-length studio album "Phylogenesis" from April 2020. The quartet lineup who recorded "Phylogenesis" (2020) is intact on "Nightmare Frontier".

"Nightmare Frontier" features four tracks and a total playing time of 19:18 minutes. "A Nightmare Slain" is a new original composition, "Blacken the Sky" is a re-recording of the track which initially appeared on the band´s 2004 demo and subsequently on their 2006 debut full-length studio album "From Ashes". The two remaining tracks are cover songs of In Flames and Candlemass. The two original compositions are in the trademark Abysmal Dawn technically well played US death metal style, so there´s little new there. "Behind Space" (the In Flames cover) is decent but nothing special, but "Bewitched" (the Candlemass cover) is a bit more remarkable. Not that it gives the original a run for the money...but because lead vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliott, who normally only performs death metal growling, has suddenly turned into Messiah Marcolin, and sings clean vocals which is an almost one to one imitation of the Swedish singer. Abysmal Dawn´s cover of "Bewitched" was previously released as a flexi disc single in June 2020 and came free with the New Noise Issue 52 magazine.

So upon conclusion "Nightmare Frontier" features two familiar sounding death metal tracks, one decent but not remarkable In Flames cover, and an interesting but not exceptional Candlemass cover. The whole thing is packed in a powerful, detailed and well sounding production, so a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.

LAMB OF GOD Omens

Album · 2022 · Groove Metal
Cover art 3.86 | 3 ratings
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Kingcrimsonprog
2022’s Omens is the Richmond Virginia Metal stars, Lamb Of God’s ninth full-length studio album (not counting releases under the Burn The Priest moniker). Much like their previous record, it was released on Nuclear Blast, Produced by Josh Wilbur and features Art Cruz on the drums.  

Going into the album, a lot of fans online, on podcasts and in print seemed a bit disinterested in the band, and there was a bit of talk about how the band were past their best, which I didn’t personally get, because I felt their previous album was quite good, they’ve still been good live and they are mostly beloved personalities in the metal media. Anyway, many people are going to talk about going into this with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised… I just say its good, period, just like I expected.

The musical direction and the production style is quite similar to the previous album, sort of leaning into the more groovey and accessible parts of their sound, rather than being technical or angular or abrasive like the early days. If your favourite Lamb Of God song is “ODHGABFE” or “Blood Junkie” this album might be a bit tame for your tastes, but for everyone who fell in live with the band for the likes of “Redneck” and “Set To Fail” this will be right up your street.

Highlights include the catchy “To The Grave,” the speedy “Denial Mechanism” the memorable closer “September Song” and the grower of a title track, which I initially didn’t gel with the very first time I heard it, but you can’t deny that chorus and now its become one of my favourites upon repeat listening.

Is this the single greatest achievement Lamb Of God have ever made? Of course not, but is it some kind of lesser album or boring late career filler with only a few good songs? Not at all! This is a worthy edition to the LOG cannon, solid all the way through, nothing I’d skip, nothing I’d remove from a playlist and nothing I wouldn’t want to see live. Better even than the previous record, much better than the one before that, overall another enjoyable and entertaining southern groover made for big stages. Recommended.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Lightwork

Album · 2022 · Metal Related
Cover art 2.23 | 4 ratings
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The Crow
After three years of waiting and a couple of experimental albums in between, Devin Townsend returns with a new album called "Lightwork".

In short, what we have here is a comeback to the most commercial passages of albums like "Addicted!" and "Epicloud", with new age touches in the style of "Ghost", resulting in a somewhat monotonous and uninspired album, whose baroque production is not able to hide.

That monotony is broken by the more progressive Heartbreaker, which reminds me of the more elaborate passages of the much superior "Transcendence", and a kind of homage to his most industrial phase in the interesting Dimensions, which includes a good solo by the always willing to collaborate Steve Vai.

Therefore, the fact that "Empath" didn't quite live up to expectations and that this "Lightwork" is a downright mediocre album, makes me think that the golden boy of prog metal is slowly losing his magic touch.

But hey... We'll always have his great albums from the past!

Best Tracks: Moonpeople (good chorus and great guitar riffs), Heartbreaker (wonderful guitar work and a central part that brings back some of the chaos and genius that made Devin great in the past) and the aforementioned Dimensions (these growls!!!)

My Rating: **

THRESHOLD Dividing Lines

Album · 2022 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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lukretion
British prog metal masters Threshold are back with their 12th studio album Dividing Lines, released on November 18th via Nuclear Blast. This is their second LP after singer Glynn Morgan – who had already appeared on Threshold’s sophomore album Psychedelicatessen in 1994 – made a return to the band’s ranks, replacing Damian Wilson. The rest of the line-up is unchanged compared to the band’s previous record Legends of the Shire. Karl Groom and Richard West lead the charge armed with guitar and keyboards, respectively. As usual, the pair penned much of the material included on the new record, although there are also notable contributions by Morgan, who injected fresh blood into the band’s songwriting department (more on this later). The line-up is completed by Johanne James (drums) and Steve Anderson (bass), forming a time-tested rhythm section for nearly 20 years now.

The band presented Dividing Lines as the “darker, moodier brother” of Legends of the Shire and the description is quite accurate: while Legends was a sprawling, double-disc progressive rock tour-de-force, Dividing Lines marks a return to a heavier and more compact sound that has characterized much of the band’s output in the new millenium. Prog rock aficionados need not worry, though: there is plenty of sophisticated progressive goodness running through the album’s 64 minutes, including distinct references to the 1980s neo-prog sound of bands like Marillion and Arena. This is probably the aspect of Dividing Lines that I found most satisfying: the album is a masterwork of balance as heavy prog metal riffage and aggression are combined with lighter prog rock arrangements and soft, emotional melodies, masterfully interpreted by Morgan’s expressive and resonant voice. The singer also contributed to the songwriting with a handful of tracks that hint towards modern metal influences (the faint growls emerging underneath the cleans in the chorus of “Let It Burn”, the massive vocal hooks in “King of Nothing” and “Run”). These influences also emerge more generally in West’s futuristic keyboard sound, in the crisp, vocal-driven production, and in the streamlined song structures that never stray far away from a simple verse-chorus form.

This was a surprise for me, as I tend to associate Threshold with a more traditionally progressive form of metal, in a similar camp as Ayreon / Star One, Queensrÿche or Fates Warning. To their credit, Threshold pull off this modernist spin majestically – and this comes from someone who is not a big fan of the modern metal fad in the first place. Threshold’s secret weapon lies in the exceptional songwriting and arrangements. Simply put, Dividing Lines contains a handful of songs that can be considered career highlights for the band. “Hall of Echoes”, “Let It Burn”, “Run” and the long-form epic “Defence Condition” offer a mighty testament to Threshold’s extraordinary ability to tread a fine line between complexity, heaviness, technical playing, and melodic accessibility. The hooks are absolutely exhilarating, but the songs also possess strong replay value thanks to the intelligent arrangements and interesting dynamics. I am particularly fond of the depth and subtlety in the arrangements, with keyboards and guitars playing off one another to create an ever-changing, multi-layered sonic background that ensures the music never feels monotonous or repetitive. The playing is also sublime, with strong solos by both Groom and West, plenty of powerful grooves by the rhythmic duo Anderson-James, and a superb performance by Glynn Morgan, who sounds like a man at the highest point in his career.

My only gripe with Dividing Lines is that the songwriting quality drops somewhat halfway through the album. The first four songs are excellent, but things start to fall through with the first long-form epic track included on the LP, “The Domino Effect”: the melodies here feel slightly phoned-in and predictable, which makes the song seem longer than it actually is. The subsequent tracks “Complex” and “King of Nothing” also fail to leave a strong impression. Things start to look up again with “Lost Along the Way”, although its very overt soft neo-prog influences are somewhat at odds with the more metallic nature of the rest of the album. Fortunately, Dividing Lines closes mightily strong with two of its best tracks, “Run” and “Defence Condition”, whose magnificence makes me forget the somewhat pedestrian 25 minutes that preceded them.

Despite the slight mid-flight turbulence, Dividing Lines stands out as one of the best albums by the British progsters, as well as one of the most accomplished melodic prog metal releases of the year. The album may not break any new ground, but when the quality of the songwriting is as high as on some of the tracks included here, it would be foolish to complain. Album after album, Threshold continue to perfect their special blend of melodic power metal and progressive rock, and on Dividing Lines they have found a way of expression that is at times utterly breath-taking. The album is the sound of a band riding a creative peak at the height of their compositional powers: if you are a prog metal fan, you’d be a fool not to ride along.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

DISILLUSION Ayam

Album · 2022 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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lukretion
How on Earth did I miss out on this amazing band for all these years?! Hailing from Leipzig, Germany, Disillusion play a formidable distillate of all my favourite metal genres, from melodic death metal, to avant-garde / progressive metal, to dark gothic/doom metal. And yet their new record Ayam, released on November 4th via Prophecy Productions, is the first I hear from them - and it simply blew me away! The LP is just the fourth in a career that spans nearly 30 years and includes a long hiatus between 2006 and 2019. That may in part explain why the band has flown under my radar for so long, but still I cannot stop kicking myself for being so late to the party!

This album is incredible. It takes the listener on a sonic journey that knows no boundaries, exploring a kaleidoscope of diverse metal styles and influences with terrific aplomb and intelligence, as each twist and turn of this 60-minute beast feels as natural as water. Opening track “Am Abgrund” is a great example of the extraordinary creative drive that runs through the whole LP. This song throws literally everything at the listener during its exhilarating 11 minutes. A ferocious death metal section with blast beats, lacerating growls and – believe it or not – trumpet and flugelhorn, suddenly resolves in an epic clean chorus, whose vocal harmonies remind me of the way clean voices are arranged by Viking metal bands like Borknagar or Enslaved. The song’s first half is a hurricane, constantly swinging between fury and melody in a way that should be jarring and yet it works splendidly. This rollercoaster of a section eventually culminates in a stunning jazzy guitar solo that gives me strong Cynic vibes. A calmer section ensues, with acoustic guitar arpeggios and soft clean vocals painting the sort of suffused, ghostlike atmospheres one may find in the work of Opeth or Riverside. Another splendid chromatic solo leads back to the death metal pyrotechnics of the opening section, bringing the song full circle.

The rest of the album continues in a similar fashion. Each song brings in new shades of darkness, swinging between annihilating aggression (“Tormento”, “Abide the Storm”), and calmer nocturnal meditations built around dreamy vocals, mournful cellos and acoustic guitars (“Driftwood”, “Nine Days”). This injects a strong unpredictability in the proceedings, as one never knows where the next song may venture. This exhilarating sense that “everything goes” is also achieved by largely eschewing formulaic song structures: each new track takes its own course, loosely arranged around verse and chorus, but free to expand and contract according to the music’s needs. The songwriting is equally fluid, embracing an ever-changing set of influences from song to song. Echoes of gothic metal (Moonspell) emerge in “Nine Days”, but the same song later explores the sort of serene post-rockish soundscapes that one can find in Anathema’s output. Meanwhile, “Longhope” combines catchy dark metal vibes à la Katatonia with a Leprous-esque chorus that is at the same time poppy and brutal. Elsewhere, we find traces of Devin Townsend’s across-the-board take on extreme metal (“Tormento”), but also doomy riffs and tempos (“Abide the Storm”), and even hints of 1970s progressive rock (the Floydian solos in “Abide the Storm”).

It’s a lot to take in, but Disillusion pull it off with ease, making each transition feel natural, almost necessary. Andy Schmidt’s distinctive voice plays a big role in ensuring the album flows without solution of continuity. His subdue, melancholy melodies and cleverly-constructed vocal harmonies are the sonic trademark of the LP: like a beacon in the dark, he guides the listener through the album’s dense and dazzling journey. His vocals are the fixed point around which the music ebbs and flows, always returning to those familiar cadences and melodies. This achieves a beautiful equilibrium between exploration and familiarity, which is one of the major strength of this release.

There is another type of balance that Ayam nails perfectly: that between technical playing and emotional delivery. The progressive metal scene today seems characterized by a chasm between bands that play hyper-technical, but emotionally dry music, and bands that instead embrace the road of “cinematic metal”, rich in emotions but often limited in terms of virtuoso playing. Disillusion sit at the exact intersection between these two traditions, like very few other bands do (Opeth, perhaps, although their music does err on the side of technicality at the expense of emotional punch). Ayam brims with exceptional playing. The guitars (played by Schmidt, Ben Haugg and exiting band member Sebastian Hupfer) pull off excellent riffs and solos, but Martin Schulz’s jaw-dropping performance at the drumkit deserves to be mentioned too: he is a powerhouse, deftly switching between brutal bludgeoning and nimble percussions in the most natural way possible. Throughout the album, however, the focus is firmly retained on effective songwriting and emotional delivery: there is no trace of technical showmanship for the mere sake of it. The result is music that lends itself to two modes of listening – cerebral and visceral –, effectively combining the best of both worlds as far as modern prog metal is concerned.

Among all the praise, there is one aspect of Ayam that bothers me a little: the songs’ sequencing. There are two long-form epic tracks on the album, “Am Abgrund” and “Abide the Storm”, both exceeding 11 minutes in length. Both songs are excellent, but placing them so close to one another (at position #1 and #4, respectively) does not work well. The similarities between the two songs become too salient, reducing their impact (for instance, their structure is similar, with a calmer, moody middle-part bookended by more energetic sections). My other, and bigger, complaint concerns the closing track “The Brook”. This song feels unnecessary to me, because the album’s perfect closing moment has already passed, with the beautiful, languid fade-out of its penultimate song “From the Embers”. In my opinion, those should have been Ayam’s last notes. After such a splendid, uplifting come-down, “The Brook” feels almost like a second, redundant album finale, that lack however the emotional punch of “From the Embers”.

However, in the grander scheme of things. these are mere quibbles. Ayam is a terrific accomplishment that, come December, I am sure will end up on many album-of-the-year lists. There is little doubt in my mind that this is one of the best, richest progressive metal albums released in the past decades, and fans of dark, melancholic metal need to check this out pronto!

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

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SINISTER The Post-Apocalyptic Servant

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.79 | 3 ratings
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"The Post-Apocalyptic Servant" is the 11th full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Sinister. The album was released through Massacre Records in May 2014. It´s the successor to "The Carnage Ending" from 2012, and given the many lineup changes the band have gone through in the past, it´s almost surprising to see that "The Post-Apocalyptic Servant" features the same five-piece lineup who also recorded "The Carnage Ending (2012)".

Sinister has been the child of lead vocalist (formerly drummer) Aad Kloosterwaard for many years now though, and almost ever changing lineups haven´t changed that, or changed the sound and style of the band. There have been slight changes in style between every album (as there should be), but it´s details which separate most releases. Sinister have kept the old school death metal flag high throughout their career and on their by now many releases.

In that respect "The Post-Apocalyptic Servant" is no different from the last many albums by Sinister. The listener is treated to technically well played, brutal, and catchy old school death metal with both fast-paced and mid-paced heavy sections. It´s relentlessly brutal and energetic, but varied enough to not become a one-dimensional listen. Sinister are seasoned musicians and composers, who understand how to write and deliver an effectful and intense death metal tune.

"The Post-Apocalyptic Servant" features a powerful, brutal, and raw sounding production, which suits the material well. The bass drums are maybe slightly too "clicky" sounding, but it´s no major issue. Upon conclusion Sinister have managed to produce another high quality death metal release and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

DECEASED Supernatural Addiction

Album · 2000 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.31 | 5 ratings
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"Supernatural Addiction" is the 4th full-length studio album by US metal act Deceased. The album was released through Relapse Records in February 2000. It´s the successor to the zombie themed concept album "Fearless Undead Machines" from 1997 and features the exact same four-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor.

Stylistically the material on "Supernatural Addiction" pretty much continue the raw heavy metal style of "Fearless Undead Machines (1997)". Deceased started out as an old school death/thrash metal act, but already on "Fearless Undead Machines (1997)" the most extreme elements of their sound had been shed (except the horror/gore based lyrics), and instead they played a raw type of heavy metal with thrash and speed metal influences. "Supernatural Addiction" is a natural successor to "Fearless Undead Machines (1997)" and further explores the raw heavy metal style of the predecessor. Drummer/lead vocalist King Fowley has a raw voice and a shouting delivery. He is not the most diverse vocalist, but his almost story-telling vocal style suits the music perfectly. It´s like listening to an old and wrinkled (and a little bit scary too) story telling grandpa by the fireplace late at night, telling an Edgar Allan Poe tale.

...and that´s how the songs work too. The instrumental work is organic and there are many strong riffs, great melodic solos, and driving powerful drumming, but it´s the horror/gore themed lyrics and the story telling vocal style which are the focus of the album. The material are generally very well written and structurally fairly intriguing too, as the band make sure to break out of the the vers/chorus formula and add other sections to keep the tracks interesting throughout.

Deceased have managed to release another high quality heavy metal release with "Supernatural Addiction", and while they are often associated with the early US extreme metal scene, this album has more in common with the output of artists like Mercyful Fate/King Diamond and (early) Iron Maiden, than it has with old school US death/thrash metal artists like Autopsy and Death. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

SEPULTURA Roots

Album · 1996 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.07 | 55 ratings
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"Roots" is the 6th full-length studio album by Brazilian thrash/groove/alternative metal act Sepultura. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in February 1996. It´s the successor to "Chaos A.D." from 1993. Sepultura had long wanted to incorporate more latin rhythms and ethnic Brazilian themes and atmospheres to their music, and they dipped their toes in that pool on "Chaos A.D. (1993)". On "Roots" they went all in though, even travelling to the Amazonas to record with the Xavante tribe (a tribe chant is heard on a couple of tracks on the album).

Stylistically Sepultura completely left their thrash metal roots behind on "Roots", so in this case back to the roots doesn´t mean a return to the sound of early Sepultura, but a visit to the roots (the indigenous cultures of Brazil) of their country. So this is basically ethnic influenced groove/alternative metal with a strong emphasis and focus on groove and adventurous percussion. Sepultura used to churn out one sharp and memorable riff after another, but here the riffs seem to have taken a backseat, because most of them are just downtuned groovy drones, which don´t stand out much from each other. I´m not completely out of line if I call this an album without a single memorable riff (alright...I´ll go as far as to call the main riff on "Roots Bloody Roots" semi-catchy, but that´s about it). Sepultura have dropped playing guitar solos too, so as written above the focus is very different from the preceding releases by the band.

Max Cavalera´s voice and vocal style has also changed quite a bit. He used to have a deep aggressive shouting vocal style, but here he has opted to scream a lot and his vocals are also often put through effects. The band are as well playing as ever and especially the drumming by Igor Cavalera is both busy and creative. "Roots" is also a well produced release (produced by Ross Robinson), so it´s a quality release on most parameters. There aren´t that many tracks which stand out though, and featuring 17 tracks (the number of tracks vary a little depending on which edition of the album you have) and a total playing time of 66:55 "Roots" is also way too long, overstaying its welcome by many tracks. Standout tracks are "Roots Bloody Roots", "Ratamahatta", and the tribal chant/percussion track "Itsári". The remaining tracks are just there. They aren´t as such of a bad quality, but they just aren´t memorable and several lack direction and hooks.

"Roots" was an interesting experiment for its time and a hugely influential album on the groove/alternative metal scene, and it´s a unique album in Sepultura´s discography. In retrospect it made Sepultura even more successful and heightened their profile on the scene, which ultimately meant they attracted more fans and sold more albums. Check, check, check...the songs though...where are the songs? The memorable riffs, and vocal lines/hooks? To my ears much drown in the downtuned groove laden riffs and percussive experimentation, and I would much rather have had the band focus on writing memorable songs. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Animosity

Album · 1985 · Crossover Thrash
Cover art 3.37 | 7 ratings
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"Animosity" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US hardcore/heavy metal act Corrosion of Conformity. The album was released through Death Records in October 1985. It´s the successor to "Eye for an Eye" from 1984 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as lead vocalist Eric Eycke has left the band. Eycke has not been replaced and Corrosion of Conformity opted to continue as a three-piece with bassist Mike Dean and drummer Reed Mullin sharing the lead vocalist duties.

Stylistically the band continue the hardcore sound of the debut album but with some added thrash/crossover metal and stoner/doom metal elements. The latter influence is pretty much only heard on the closing title track though, so it´s only a minor element of the band´s sound on "Animosity". The remaining material is pretty much pissed off aggressive hardcore featuring angry sounding shouting vocals, fast-paced rhythms, and hardcore punk riffs. It´s slightly more sophisticated than the material on their debut album, but only slightly.

"Animosity" features a raw sounding production which suits the material well, but let´s establish right way, that "Animosity" isn´t an over produced album. Featuring 10 tracks and a total playing time of only 26:20 it´s also a very short release, but as the music style is a bit one-dimensional (save for the stoner/doom metal influence mentioned above), it´s not something I lose sleep over. Upon conclusion "Animosity" is a step forward from "Eye for an Eye (1984)", but it´s not a giant leap. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

ABYSMAL DAWN Bewitched

Single · 2020 · Doom Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Bewitched" is a single release by US, Los Angeles, California based death metal act Abysmal Dawn. The single was released through Season of Mist, and made available for free as a flexi disc single in June 2020 where it came free with the New Noise Issue 52 magazine. The track was subsequently included as one of four tracks on Abysmal Dawn´s February 2022 "Nightmare Frontier" EP.

"Bewitched" is a cover of the Candlemass song from their 1987 "Nightfall" album. Abysmal Dawn usually play a technically skilled type of US death metal (somewhere between Morbid Angel And Death), but they opted to cover "Bewitched" in a relatively true to the original version. lead vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliott even imitates Messiah Marcolin´s semi-operatic clean singing, which is so convincing that I was actually in doubt if it was the Swedish singer himself who guests on the track. The death grows are only used as backing vocals on certain sections of the song.

"Bewitched" is an ultra heavy doom metal song featuring an epic atmosphere, and Abysmal Dawn pull it off covering the track pretty well. There´s nothing groundbreaking or particularly interesting about the cover other than it sounds good and the playing and the production are of a good quality, so it´s not a cover where Abysmal Dawn put much of their own spin on the composition. For what it is, it´s still a good quality single and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

OPETH In Cauda Venenum

Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.20 | 32 ratings
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"In Cauda Venenum" is the 13th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal actOpeth. The album was released through Moderbolaget Records in September 2019. It´s the successor to "Sorceress" from September 2016 and features the exact same quintet lineup who recorded the predecessor. "In Cauda Venenum" was released in three different versions. One double album version featuring the album in a Swedish language version and an English language version (on two discs), and two seperate one-album versions featuring the Swedish language version and the English language version. The instrumental part of the music is the same on all releases/versions, only the lyrics and the language are different.

Stylistically the material on "In Cauda Venenum" is in the heavy progressive rock style with folk leanings that Opeth have played since "Heritage" (2011). It´s dymamic music featuring both louder heavy parts, epic progressive parts, but also mellow acoustic parts. There is an omnipresence of vintage keyboards/synths/organ, along with equally organic sounding bass, guitars, and vocals. It´s arguably 70s influenced progressive rock, but the early 90s Swedish progressive rock revival scene and artists like Landberk and Anekdoten are also valid references. Opeth compose solid and relatively memorable material, but they don´t exactly invent the wheel here. Most of the elements, timbres, and atmospheres have been heard and experienced before on preceding progressive rock releases by other artists.

"In Cauda Venenum" features a detailed, powerful, and well sounding production, which suits the material well, and although the material could have prospered from more original compositional ideas, the high quality musicianship and Mikael Åkerfeldt easily recognisable voice and passionate delivery save the day, even when the material doesn´t shine. The idea to sing in their native language is a good one, and the Swedish language version is a nice new element, which provides the album with a needed touch of something unique. Other Swedish progressive rock artists have sung in the Swedish language, but for Opeth it´s a first on a full release, and it makes "In Cauda Venenum" stand out in their discography. So upon conclusion "In Cauda Venenum" is a good quality release by Opeth and it should please fans of heavy progressive rock featuring a melancholic atmosphere. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

CONTROL HUMAN DELETE Terminal World Perspective

Album · 2007 · Industrial Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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"Terminal World Perspective" is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch industrial black metal act Control Human Delete. The album was released through Code666 Records in March 2007. Control Human Delete formed in 2001 and released the "Error Spectre" EP in 2003.

Stylistically the material on "Terminal World Perspective" continue the industrial black metal style of the preceding releases. It´s a pretty long album featuring 9 tracks and a total playing time of 71:18 minutes. Two of the tracks are 10 minutes plus long ambient keyboard/synth darkwave compositions though, so there´s some variation to the concept there. The remaining tracks are loaded with programmed blasting drums, fast-paced black metal riffing, the occasional mid-paced, heavy, and often dissonant part, and snarling aggressive black metal vocals. The tracks often feature sci-fi tinged effects, samples, and keyboards/synths, which will transport you right into space.

"Terminal World Perspective" is a well produced release, featuring a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, and Control Human Delete are a well playing unit too, so the basics are in place and of a good quality. The songwriting is also relatively intriguing, although few tracks stand out or are memorable beyond their playing time. The two ambient tracks are a little too long for their own good, and while I don´t think they are out of place on the album in terms of atmosphere, they would probably have been better suited on a sci-fi movie soundtrack.

So upon conclusion "Terminal World Perspective" is arguably an interesting and different sounding black metal release, although other black metal artists have done similar things before, and with better results too. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.

RAGE Speak of the Dead

Album · 2006 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.96 | 15 ratings
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The Crow
Victor Smolski's influence on the music of Rage reached one of its higher points on this record!

Since his classical training and his taste for progressive metal materialized in a very evident way in the first half of the album, which is a 21-minute suite of the best symphonic-progressive metal imaginable. If you like this style, it's an absolute must listen.

In addition, sometimes the album brings back the Rage style that we already enjoyed on albums like "XIII" and "Ghosts" but with an extra touch of aggression and virtuosic playing, and it's something that after three more straight forwarded metal albums, is quite refreshing.

The second half of the album is more conventional and continues the style of the previous "Soundchaser", which is not bad at all either.

In addition, this album marked the farewell to the great trio made up of Terrana, Smolski and Wagner, closing one of the most brilliant stages of the band in a very satisfactory way.

Because in the music is what really matters here, and in that aspect "Speak of the Dead" was a triumph!

Best Tracks: Suite Lingua Mortis (strong influences of Symphony X and Savatage), No Fear (great song in the vein of "Soundchaser") and Sole Survivor (the chorus is an anthem)

My Rating: ****

WARCRY WarCry

Album · 2002 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.21 | 3 ratings
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After having been fired from Avalanch, Víctor García presented us this album of pure Power Metal, full of hymns!

Although the lyrics are quite predictable and sometimes even ridiculous, we cannot deny the heavy hook contained in many of the songs on this debut, which undoubtedly contains all of Víctor's metal philosophy and his way of seeing (metal) life.

As weak points, apart from some lyrics, I would mention the weak production (with obvious programmed batteries), and some songs that are clearly below the rest.

Best Tracks: Hoy Gano Yo (an authentic metal hymn), Trono del Metal (mandatory for true metalheads) and Nana (dramatic and intense).

My Rating: ***

RAGE Unity

Album · 2002 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.88 | 15 ratings
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The Crow
Unity was the consolidation album of one of the best formations the band has ever had, with Peavy as leader, escorted by Victor Smolski on guitars and Mike Terrana on drums.

Here the more progressive and less orchestral airs already guessed in "Welcome to the Other Side" are consolidated in a set of high-quality songs, much better produced and focused, where it's difficult to stay with single themes.

It doesn't make much sense to try to explain the quality of the interpretation of the musicians who take part here.

Just listen and enjoy!

Best Tracks: All I Want (a beastly beginning), Down (perhaps my favorite song in the entire repertoire), Dies Irae (operatic and badass at the same time) and Unity (a true bombshell of the best progressive metal)

My Rating: ****

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