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EVIL ARMY Violence and War

EP · 2015 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
My rage unleashed...

Genre: thrash metal

The warmongering madmen in Evil Army are back with another onslaught of fast and fierce thrash metal dive bombs.

As on the previous EP, this five-track affair offers up fast and dirty thrash metal. Based on crushing riffs played at breakneck speed, the music on this release should appeal to fans of old school thrash metal. There are elements of Slayer and 80s Teutonic thrash metal as heard in the opening track 'Army of Doom'. While the production is fuzzy and lo-fi, we are not dealing with dumbed-down or deliberately simple music, as each track is a plethora of fierce and solid thrash metal riffage wrapped in rage and attitude. Fans of old school thrash metal will be happy to hear the guitar solos of the same chaotic quality as in early thrash metal. In a slight break from the thrash metal style, 'My Rage Unleashed' is more in the vain of hardcore punk, but still fits into the overall sound of the release.

Fans of dirty and edgy thrash metal with an old school feel should check this release out.

PRO-PAIN Voice of Rebellion

Album · 2015 · Hardcore and crust
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Voice of rebellion...

Genre: hardcore / groove / crossover thrash

Pro-Pain never lets you down. They've released a string of concrete-solid albums over the last couple of years, all of which awaken that "fuck-yeah" feeling that makes life just a tad better when you listen to the album.

"Voice of Rebellion" continues this trend, as the listener is treated to crushingly groovy metallic hardcore the way that only Pro-Pain makes it. Rooted in grooves that go straight to your heart (or feet), the songs are - in true Pro-Pain style - spiced up with thrash metal elements, hardcore anger, and very well executed border-line virtuosic guitar solos. Some might say accuse Pro-Pain for releasing the same album for the fifteenth time, but this is what Pro-Pain sound like, and it works. This is what they do, and it's no less awesome than the last time around. Nobody does it better than these guys, and, believe me a lot of people have tried. A lot of people have failed.

The production is well-defined, and the crushingly heavy downtuned guitars are brought to the front and given an edge that makes the grooves seem even more groovy. The bass is nicely audible, and the drums - especially the bass drums - have quite a powerful punch to them.

Once again, Pro-Pain show that they are masters of groove, and the album is pure unadulterated Pro-Pain, the Pro-Pain that we all know and love.

NUCLEAR DETONATION Living Dead, Sons Of The Lobotomy

Album · 2015 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Down to hell...

Genre: mid-tempo thrash

Hailing from Italy, this band has perhaps the most thrash metal name of all time. "Living Dead, Sons of the Lobotomy" is their debut album and was released on iron Shield Records.

Stylistically, the listener is treated to, perhaps surprisingly, melodic thrash metal. While there are a couple of bursts of speed every now and then, the majority of songs on the album are mid-tempo thrashers along the lines of, for instance, Exodus' 'Only Death Decides' and Kreator's 'People of the Lie'(as it happens there's a track on this album called 'People of the Lie', which has no relations to the Kreator track) . This approach has been generously sprinkled with melodic twin guitars, traditional metal style elements, and mellow passages. This mix works extremely well, I must say and should appeal to fans of melodic thrash metal as such.

With a crisp production and plenty of riff to satisfy any metal heart, and Nuclear Detonation have made a great melodic thrash metal album in the form of "Living Dead, Sons of Lobotomy".

GEORGE KOLLIAS Invictus

Album · 2015 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Invictus" is the debut full-length studio album by Greek musician George Kollias. The album was released through Season of Mist in May 2015. Kollias is mostly known as being the drummer for prolific US death metal act Nile, but he has also acted as session drummer for fellow Greek artists like Cerebrum, Sickening Horror, and Nightfall. He has also released some drum instructional videos.

When an instrumentalist releases a solo album, it´s always interesting what´s featured on the release. Guitarists for example usually focus the music on the guitar, but that´s not the case with George Kollias. "Invictus" of course features loads of examples of his incredible drumming skills, but no drum solos, weird percussive experiments, or anything like that. Even the purely instrumental "Apocalypse" isn´t a drum dominant track, but instead an atmospheric breather placed in the middle of the album. "Invictus" is actually a pretty "straight" and very well played death metal album, that most fans of Kollias work with Nile should be able to appreciate (and fans of Behemoth too, as there are some similarities there too). There are several similarities between the two acts, but this solo project is generally a bit less technical than what Nile is usually known for and as a result slightly more accessible.

The material on the 11 track, 54:38 minutes long album (the limited edition CD digipack features 4 bonus tracks) is generally of a high compositional quality, with a good balance between brutality, melody, fast played- and heavy rhythms, and an overall great dark atmosphere. Listening to the opening trio of tracks will give you a good idea of what the album sounds like. The atmospheric intro track "Echoes of Divinity", the heavy epic title track, and the fast-paced, energetic, and quite frankly stunning "The Passage", represent the album well.

The musicianship is on a high level throughout the album. Kollias not only plays the drums but also rhythm guitars and bass. He also performs the growling vocals. A host of guest musicians play the guitar solos featured on the album. Among others fellow bandmates Dallas Toler-Wade and Karl Sanders (both Nile), and Bob Katsionis (solo, Firewind, Outloud).

"Invictus" is a very well produced album featuring a powerful sound, which brings out the best in the material, and upon conclusion it´s a quality death metal release through and through. It´s not particularly unique sounding (although it´s obvious that it´s Kollias playing the drums), but that´s not always necessary if you can produce something of this high quality. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

REVENGE Harder Than Steel

Album · 2015 · Speed Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
At the gates of hell...

Genre: speed metal

Revenge are an extremely productive band. Formed in 2002, they have around 20 releases under their belt, six of which are full albums. "Harder than Steel" is the most recent of these. Their mission has always been to churn out awesome speed metal.

And speed metal is what you get on this album, as you are treated to one 80s speed metal inspired track after another. You can hear influences from early Helloween, early Blind Guardian, and other European speed metal acts on this album, with the difference that Revenge are less epic and more rough. So, there are plenty of double bassdrum pulses and chugging guitars. That said, there is plenty of melody in the form of a considerable Iron Maiden influence, and there are low more traditional metal-ish parts.

Generally, there is a tendency in retro speed metal to opt for a lo-fi production. However, Revenge have not gone down that road, as this production on this album is actually very crisp and well-defined, which I appreciate. The musicianship and songwriting are pretty solid, and this is something that is foregrounded by the production.

This album should appeal to fans of speed metal and is definitely such an enjoyable listen that fans of related genres such as traditional metal, power metal, and thrash metal might like it too.

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CELTIC FROST To Mega Therion

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.14 | 37 ratings
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TerryDactyl
Five Star Review

I want a five star review to show how important I am to the masses who read rolling stone or masturbate on clouds.

Who are you what looks down the whole sky at me and judges my walk, my talk, my sanity leaving for a few days and I'll go crazeeeee.

And on the B'jeweld throne did the Usurper sit. Causing the fall of Babylon and giant dunder horse of shit. "I'll throw you in the pit" said the emperor of dreams, but he didn't hear our human loving screams. For all that he decided we have much derided and chosen to live instead of in nightmares, in dreams. Eat cake, for cake is good. Watch hornets and never stumble into a spate of bees. When you hear Celtic Frost, understand you'll never human again be.

MANOWAR Fighting the World

Album · 1987 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.82 | 24 ratings
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TerryDactyl
Where to begin, where to start? This one...well...

Okay so I have one of those nostalgic stories that relate to this album in a way that very few things I listen to resonate, and I must admit this is my favorite of all Manowar albums though in many ways it is (as so many have pointed out, said, written about) the absolute worst thing they had made to this point. Overproduced as hell. Filled with the most idiotic lyrics ever, piece of mega metal shit, just listen to Manilla Road and that's not nearly as bad (oh! Road of Manilla, we shall come to you shortly, visiting like lecherous incubi upon your falling breast!) as this stupid shit, but okay, yes they did write a letter to the MTV! And they did ask why their videos were ignored even though they were on a major label, had a quality vid, and FUCKING ORSON WELLES WAS ON THEIR GODDAMNED RECORD! (sorry if this offends anyone, but I'm thinking this is a metal forum and we are trash mouthed often!)

Seriously, Orson Welles is on this album, and really I don't think one has to be a super film buff expert on anything at all to understand and know to the depths of their souls that Welles being involved with an album makes it have WAY MUCH MORE IN COMMON with Citizen Kane than most metal albums.

But the real of it all is that when I was thirteen I found a copy of "Power Chords" which was an Atlantic/Megaforce sampler from 1987 with a bevy of awesome tracks on it, and the very end of the second side, thereby being the end of the whole mind-blowing experience, was Manowar's "Black Wind Fire and Steel" which is really still probably my favorite song of all time. My conservative Christian sister heard it as I played it in my boombox for the first time on the back driver's side floorboard whilst I huddled on the seat, my head touching the speaker, and Eric Adams going WAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHAHAAAAAA" for however many minutes while I experienced true love for the first time, saying "Is that a cop? Was there a siren" and I replied "No, it's this song," and she says "Why would anyone want to listen to that?" I said naught, but thought easily "That you don't know is your greatest tragedy" and thought about Conan. It's okay if you don't get it. I do.

MANOWAR Sign of the Hammer

Album · 1984 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.14 | 22 ratings
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TerryDactyl
With their fourth album, Manowar prove once and for all that there is no falseness in their metal. They also prove that they are the most excellent lyric writers (as far as it goes, sometimes one just has to look at something for doing what it does as opposed to what it doesn't do, and I believe this is the most important key to accessing the madness that is a great Manowar album!)in the fantasy, sword and sorcery field since C.L. Moore.

Thing is, I dig this fantasy thing, always have, and I believe it's completely awesome that Manowar decided to put all this silly mess into songs. Why not write a song about Guyana and the infamous Kool-Aid King? Why not write a song like "All Men Play on Ten" that's basically saying "We are too smart to have amps that go up to eleven?"

I really love the song "Mountain" and "Animals" is sort of a neat pop song in a Manowar-ish way. I love it when metal bands let themselves be a little poppy and kinda goofy. Manowar excel at just that.

PS. Sometimes I write these things without listening to the record in a little while. So I decided to play this record while I'm writing this and yea, there's no real problem with that. My memories were adept, I guess I've heard this silly thing enough to have it all the way to my soul, stuck in there, a tree growing around, engulfing a rusty tricycle, other poetic images. Anyway, Play this one really loud. I mean it, really loud.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Album · 2014 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Necrotica
Let me begin this write-up with sort of an analogy (don't worry, it won't be long). Imagine getting your daily exercise walking down a familiar road; you have lots of friends here, and it's pleasant to watch your surroundings as you get your cardio workout in with the walk. However, with each day, some things are bound to change. Some toys will be in a different location, kids will be playing in a different area than before, etc. Basically, little changes based around a familiar path... and that's exactly the situation that Black Label Society have found themselves in. Zakk Wylde and co. have retained their sound - that is, classic metal with numerous touches of blues, southern rock, and sludge metal influences - for years and rarely break away from their comfort zone. On the flip side, the positive aspect of this resistance to change has been quality consistency; with the possible exception of Shot to Hell, the band have never released a truly bad album because they know exactly which mold they fit in. However, seeing as 2010's Order of the Black was one of the group's best records in years and perhaps a comeback of sorts, Catacombs of the Black Vatican has some pretty high expectations to meet as the successor.

Luckily, while the band don't break a ton of new ground here, they're continuing to refine the direction that Order of the Black set them in. First things first, however: one of the biggest things that fans were anticipating up to this album's release was how ex-Breaking Benjamin drummer Chad Szeliga would fare as the band's newest member to the position. Luckily (and a bit surprisingly), his grooves and overall technique fit perfectly with the band's numerous tempo changes and occasional stylistic shifts. Lead single "My Dying Time" wasn't exactly the best initial representation of the Chad's inception, given the slow and sludgy nature of the song, but a tune like the rhythmically-varied "Damn the Flood" displays things much better. As it constantly alternates between a fast swing-like rhythm and a slow Pantera-esque southern groove, it becomes more apparent how comfortable the man is behind the kit. Speaking of variation, that ends up being one of this record's greatest qualities in the long run. In particular, the ballads are much improved from the last effort. "Angel of Mercy" and "Shades of Gray" are both very solid and heartfelt songs, although in dramatically different ways. The latter in particular is pretty damn interesting for a Black Label Society song, using a clean guitar sound to give off a haunting approach as Zakk's multi-tracked vocal harmonies sound weathered and worn. The whole thing makes for a beautiful atmosphere not usually heard in a song by these guys. The instrumental work is in its usual rock-solid form, the band members adapting to each change with ease and always pounding out solid grooves to the heavier tracks. Of course Zack Wylde is still a great shredder, but he shows quite a bit of restraint as well here. His blues licks are much more fleshed out here with the ballads, and his solos generally sound as though he's making every note count in the grand scheme of things.

That isn't to say that the band have gone soft, however. The sludgy moments from songs like "My Dying Time" and "Empty Promises" are even more apparent than on Order of the Black, making for truly dirty-sounding pieces of music. The former even has a hint of Alice in Chains with the more grungy vocal harmony in the chorus, despite the distortion being way thicker. As instantly revealed by the more doomy opener "Fields of Unforgiveness," a good chunk of this album is quite slow and atmospheric as well, despite said opener having Zakk's signature shredding in the solo (and throughout many of the songs). Basically, when you get down to it, Catacombs of the Black Vatican is caught between a retread of old ideas and hints toward exciting new things. By now people should know what to expect from a Black Label Society record; if you didn't like them before, you probably won't now either. But just give this album a chance... it finally showcases some much-needed variety and diversity despite occasionally sounding more like a refined edition of the previous release.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

PUNGENT STENCH "Club Mondo Bizarre" for Members Only

Album · 1994 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.02 | 3 ratings
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UMUR
"Club Mondo Bizarre - for Members Only" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Austrian extreme metal act Pungent Stench. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 1994. The vinyl version of the album features 10 tracks while the CD version features 4 additional instrumental versions of tracks from the album. They were originally meant for a competition, where the band asked their fans to send in the most sick vocals they could possibly perform. The most sick and perverted vocal contribution would then be released on a single or as a bonus track on a future Pungent Stench release. I remember reading interviews with the band, where they enthusiastially spoke about the competition, but as far as I know the result of the competition has yet to be released. There are several different cover artworks for "Club Mondo Bizarre - for Members Only" and several of them are censored because of their explicit sexual nature. The original cover artwork is full of pictures of the band wearing S/M gear posing in a S/M club and I guess that´s too much for the authorities in many countries around the world (fortunately not in mine. To each his own I say).

If the cover artwork didn´t give it straight away, the perverted gore themes of previous releases by Pungent Stench are continued here, which is also apparent from reading songtitles like "Klyster Boogie", "In Search of the Perfect Torture" and "Fuck Bizarre". Pungent Stench were never a subtle bunch of guys. Stylistically the band has moved completely into death´n´roll territory. That part of their sound was already introduced on "Been Caught Buttering (1991)" and refined a little more on the "Dirty Rhymes and Psychotronic Beats (1993)" EP, but the transition from their early deathgrind days is now over. Besides the raw semi-growling vocals, you´ll actually find very few death metal elements on "Club Mondo Bizarre - for Members Only". The tracks are based on relatively simple and groove oriented riffs (which are for the most part surprisingly "non groovy" and stiff sounding) and while some tracks deviate from what sounds like a vers/chorus structured format, the tracks aren´t that adventurous when it comes to structure. The band often repeat their ideas too many times during the tracks and as a consequence most tracks feel longer than they are and sometimes they are a bit of a tedious listen. Sure a track like "Klyster Boogie" brings a smile to my face, but I generally don´t smile enough during the playing time and that´s never a good sign.

The sound production is organic, fat, and relatively powerful, and the band are decently playing (without showing anything out of the ordinary). All in all "Club Mondo Bizarre - for Members Only" is a decent album, but I have no problem if there are years between my listens and when I do listen to the album it mostly comes off after a few tracks. At least to me it´s a step down from "Been Caught Buttering (1991)" and a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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