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OVERKILL White Devil Armory

Album · 2014 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"White Devil Armory" is the 18th full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Overkill. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in Europe and eOne Music in the USA in July 2014. While Overkill have always maintained a decent level of popularity even in the thrash unfriendly environment of the 90s, they seem to be on the roll in recent years, having released some of their strongest material in years in "Ironbound (2010)" and "The Electric Age (2012)", and in the process also received quite a bit of praise from fans and critics alike.

With "White Devil Armory" Overkill prove to be as reliable as ever. Attitude filled thrash metal with heavy metal elements delivered with fierce conviction and great passion. The album opens with a short intro but when "Armorist" kicks in with an energy level of an angry rhino, you know you´re gonna get what you payed for. "White Devil Armory" is relatively varied in the songwriting department, but the difference isn´t huge from the two predecessors. As always Overkill have just tweaked their core sound enough to not repeat themselves too much. The focus is still on catchy aggressive grooves. You can name any track on the album and they are pretty strong, but some of the standout tracks to me are the above mentioned "Armorist", "Bitter Pill", "Where There's Smoke...", and "Freedom Rings".

Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth as always lead the show with his raw "I have just eaten a handful of rusty nails" voice, D.D. Verni´s bass is powerful, rumbling, and audible in the mix with it´s metallic tone, Ron Lipnicki is a skilled drummer delivering powerful beats, and guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek "The Skull" Tailer deliver raw and edgey thrashy riffing throughout the album. The former also plays some very well sounding solos. While it probably isn´t necessary to mention it anymore, I still think it deserves a mention that Overkill are as tight playing a unit as they come.

"White Devil Armory" is packed in a powerful, clear, and raw sound production which suits the music well. So there´s little to complain about here and overall "White Devil Armory" is yet another quality release by Overkill. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

OPETH Pale Communion

Album · 2014 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.03 | 15 ratings
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progshine
There was too much 'talkabout' on Opeth's new album. I loved Heritage (2011) thought it was a fantastic new sound for the band. Now, all this talking about the band kind put me off a bit, especially after the horrific weak single released before the album ('Cusp Of Eternity') so I waited to listen to their new album, Pale Communion (2014).

Now, I'm giving it a spin on it through Spotify and what can I say, track one 'Eternal Rains Will Come' is simply outstanding, amazing track. Then off we go to 'Cusp Of Eternity' that's way too much SW for me, and Opeth is better than him, doesn't work really. Good that 'Moon Above, Sun Below' comes in to erase the previous track very well indeed. 'Elysian Woes' continues the high quality path, but acoustically.

While 'Goblin' indeed reminds the classic Italian band, 'River' is a folk ballad in the same path of Rush's 'Rivendell'. 'Voice Of Treason' and 'Faith In Others' continue the good path of the album.

Pale Communion (2014) is able to bring all the classic Prog Rock that I love with a fresh air to it, and that's why this is so interesting and one of the great releases of the year that so far was so week.

Recommended!

CLOAK OF ALTERING Plague Beasts

Album · 2014 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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bartosso
Altering Forever

True artists are restless, insatiable, always looking for modes of expression that would satisfy nobody else but themselves. Not us, mind you. You're just a guest, a spectator of this eternal struggle between artist and his creation. Ahhh, and Mories. Those who came across this man know exactly how unwelcoming he can be. Plague Beasts, third full-length record under the aegis of Cloak of Altering, is another experimental record that catches Mories fusing his diverse styles into one whole. And as usual, it's very well done.

Not as well as it used to be, though. Two previous records presented Cloak of Altering as a well blended combination of black metal, industrial electronica, classical and noise. Plague Beasts consists of pretty much the same ingredients, with a stronger emphasis put on electronic and noise aspects of the music. If you're familiar with the band and its black metal roots are known to you, you can easily trace them. It may not be so obvious to newcomers, though. For the most part Mories' songwriting is as strong as ever. Unrelenting, polyphonic assault of devilish tremolos, ominous symphonic synthesizers and seemingly chaotic syncopation suck you into a whirlwind of beautiful insanity. You can actually see the genuine passion put into this music as it bleeds out of your ears. Still, as much as I hate track-by-track approach, I have to say "Ash666urA" and "Into Celestial Hell", due to their more straightforwardly noisy character, feel a little uninspired in comparison with the rest of the album.

Plague Beasts is another step in CoA's exploration of the unique blend of avant-garde black metal and electronica known from previous releases. While it's easier to mark out individual sound elements this time round, it still is a strangely consistent, yet in parts flawed, record. Recommendable to metal and electronica fans with a weakness for a full-on approach, Cloak Altering latest album is another quality release from the enfant terrible of experimental underground.

MASTODON Once More 'Round the Sun

Album · 2014 · Sludge/Post-metal
Cover art 4.33 | 12 ratings
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UMUR
"Once More 'Round the Sun" is the 6th full-length studio album by US metal act Mastodon. The album was released through Reprise Records in June 2014. "The Hunter (2011)" proved to be a big success for the band, and they´ve spend a lot of time touring in support of that album, which is part of the reason why there are 3 years between the two albums, but Mastodon have never been a band to release anything unless they are fully satisfied with the material they´ve composed, so they´ve also taken the time necessary to write the best possible material for "Once More 'Round the Sun".

"The Hunter (2011)" featured a less complex and more catchy and straight forward heavy metal sound, than the musical style on the earlier more raw, sludgy, and progressive releases by the band, and that stylistic change is continued and developed upon on "Once More 'Round the Sun". While the music on the album certainly is memorable with catchy choruses and powerful riffs, it´s not simple by any means and mainstream appeal is only present in smaller doses. Mastodon have not completely forgotten their sludgy past either and while the most hard edged tracks on "Once More 'Round the Sun" don´t compare in rawness to earlier material, some tracks are still pretty harsh.

And the variation of the material is one of the things that makes "Once More 'Round the Sun" such a great release. On the album you´ll find both heavy/stoner rockers, darker psychadelic tinged rock/metal tracks, and the above mentioend harsher sludgy tracks (and often all styles are combined). Another great feature is the attention to detail in the songwriting, which is something Mastodon excel in. While the music generally flows naturally and doesn´t sound constructed, these guys have obviously been through every second of music on this release to see if they could do anything different to make it sound better.

All material on the album are as a result well written and intriguing (even the most simple vers/chorus structured tracks are detailed and interesting). The music is well performed too. Great organic interplay between all involved, and the vocals, which on the band´s early releases were a bit more one-dimensional, are now more varied with both clean and raw vocal styles featured in the music. Mastodon have obviously worked a lot on their vocal melodies and how they perform them, because the vocal part of "Once More 'Round the Sun" is more catchy, powerful, and memorable than ever.

The organic sounding production is also a winner and helps bring out the best in the music, so all in all "Once More 'Round the Sun" is a high quality release by Mastodon. With the success of "The Hunter (2011)" I was wondering if Mastodon would strip down their sound and aim for an even more mainstream oriented sound on "Once More 'Round the Sun", but I don´t really think that´s the case. "Once More 'Round the Sun" is equally as adventurous as "The Hunter (2011)" and it´s nice to hear that the band haven´t completely abandoned their progressive ways in search of commercial success, even though the more simple sound on this one and on "The Hunter (2011)" are a far cry in sound and style (not in quality) compared to the more progressive predecessors. Mastodon seemingly insist on not settling or getting too comfortable and I find that greatly charming. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

CASUALTIES OF COOL Casualties of Cool

Album · 2014 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.86 | 3 ratings
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arcane-beautiful
Devin Townsend is a genius. I don't need to say anymore. But is he going mad?

After a 5 album string which pretty much showed no weakness, Devin pretty much did whatever he wanted and received a lot of success. But this was backed by record companies who oddly enough had enough faith in his music. So on this album, why did Devin turn his back on financial backing? To be honest, it makes perfect sense.

Devin is a modern music cult hero. Taking secret audiences around the world he has been able to sell out a lot of big gigs and festivals. But, having strayed away from his metal roots and gone for a rather odd country and blues rock sound, this may have alienated fans, or as he stated himself “people who liked Epicloud are gonna be pissed.” So did it work?

Ha. Did it work? Let's just say Devin became a rich man in only a short amount of days. Now, being the artist he is, a good amount of money is funding his next project, the ever awaiting sequel to “Ziltoid The Omniscient”, but if their ever was a reaction from fans to show their love, this surely is.

Now lets get down to the meat of the album and that is the music. Now this isn't too much of a dramatic change for Devin musically, in fact Devin experimented with some of this older rock and blues sound on “Ki”, but decided to flesh it more out. The album is also a daring leap for Devin because this isn't a solo album. In fact the album is a collaboration with singer songwriter Ché Aimee Dorval who did vocals before on “Ki.” As much as I love Devin's songwriting I always found a lack of cohesion in his stuff at times, and I think Ché's vocals, songwriting and lyrics really fleshed out Devin's experimental songwriting style. The only negative I can have with this album is that it is so different musically that you have to kind of getting used to it and I think that this is an album that needs a few listens before you can really love it. I can't see anyone hating this album though.

Opener “Daddy” is a brilliant introduction to the album. Taking the blues rock sound and adding a lot of Devin's personal quirks, the song soon turns into a sonic hailstorm of sound. The same can be said with “Mountaintop” which continues the blues sound and mixes with some rather melancholic melodies, especially with Ché's vocals.

My favorite song on this album would have to be “Flight.” A very simple idea with some beautiful melodies and a few interesting changes throughout, the song is incredibly beautiful. Lyrically the song deals with suicide and is one of the best penned lyrics about the subject. A beautiful piece of music and definitely up there with some of my all time favorite tracks of all time.

A very interesting track can be seen in the form of “Moon.” Starting off very spacey and with a lot of limited space, the song then explodes into a mix of groaning vocals and some beautiful saxophone playing.

One of the albums strongest tracks has to be “Bones.” Lyrically the song is one of the most relating to the concept, with some very interesting words and images being presented. The music of the song adopts a rather baroque pop feeling and it works incredibly well, especially with Ché's vocals.

One of the oddest tracks on the album would have to be “Deathscope.” Supposed to be the angry side of the protagonist, the song shows off some of Devin's metal material from the past and the dynamic vocals he has.

The album closer “The Bridge” is very reminiscent to the track “Ki” for me. Starting off slow and calm before building up to a massive climax and pays off very well. Experimenting with choirs and flutes, the song is a very experimental move for Devin's work. Great ending to the album (not including “Pure” which is a bit silly and long).

Overall, this album impressed me and confused me. It confused me because I don't know whether I should love it or like it. At the moment I'm on the cusp of loving it. Devin has really been able to create something very unique in his catalogue and really step out of his comfort zone for this one.

8.5/10

Genres: Blues Rock, Country, Alternative Country, Country Rock, Ambient, Progressive Rock, Baroque Pop, Experimental Rock, Post Rock, Experimental Metal

Country of origin: Canada

Year of release: 2014

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AC/DC Live At River Plate

Live album · 2012 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.25 | 2 ratings
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Pekka
Oh AC/DC - the eternal, unchanging, ever dependable. After going into hibernation following the Stiff Upper Lip world tour nobody, including the band themselves, seemed to know if there was ever going to be a new AC/DC album. It took its time but there it was in the end, Black Ice. More of the same ol', obviously, everybody still seemed to be in shape to deliver.

But to deliver on stage is a whole different deal, especially when it's a bunch of old farts still trying to rock out like youngsters. The major concern at least for me was Brian Johnson's voice, after all his style of singing, ahem, vocalizing ("If you want a singer, go check out the local church choir" is a quote of his that's stuck with me for years) is one that will easily blow the vocal chords to shreds. Maybe it was the years of rest his voice got, but here he's just as good as he ever was. And thankfully that goes for the entire group. AC/DC's never been so much about tempo and dexterity as about groove and badassery, and those are qualities that age doesn't tend to hinder, though it's understandable that they're not quite as reckless and dangerous as the band that recorded If You Want Blood.

As far as the setlist goes, it's hard for AC/DC to squeeze any new material among the countless classics they just have to play every night (as evidenced by them playing only one Stiff Upper Lip song on many of the nights on that tour), but here they manage to play four. Now when it comes to studio albums AC/DC The Relevant Recording Artist sort of ends for me after Flick of the Switch, but from this newest batch especially Rock 'N' Roll Train and Big Jack don't stand out too badly. The rest of it is pure Greatest Hits material, but since it's been 20 years since the last live album, it's okay to get new versions of the same songs.

I saw AC/DC on the Black Ice tour, and by seeing I mean that I was drinking beer with buddies at the back of the Olympic Stadium, a hundred metres from the stage, barely catching a glimpse of Angus Young's bare arse. And I had a blast. I've since held the opinion that AC/DC is the ultimate party band, because if a tightass like me who has never before or never since gone to a rock show for anything else than the music and the music only thinks it was completely sensible to spend 80 euros on the ticket and several more on beer without even bothering to watch the band play, there's something in it that nobody else has.

This release does a fine job capturing that something. It's AC/DC, it's live, and they've still got it.

DEFTONES Adrenaline

Album · 1995 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.02 | 10 ratings
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arcane-beautiful
So here we have the genesis of one of the most loved bands to have survived the “nu-metal” wave. While I never really thought of Deftones as a “nu-metal” band, I do think without them, the scene wouldn't have been influenced as much and probably would have lost a lot of spark.

This album reminds me of System Of A Down's debut album. In many ways they have similar tones (with the latter being better produced slightly better) and are perfect examples of brilliant debuts. Not the bands best albums, but they are pretty damn good statements of a sound.

Musically the album is very much Deftones sound. Yes, it is very much in its infant stage but this is very much the blossoming of the bands sound. The best way to describe it is a mixture of early post hard core mixed with experimental rock and at the odd times rap influences. Lyrically Chino is very cryptic in this album, with the lyrics needing a lot of explaining.

One criticism I would have with this album would be the production. Now I'm not expecting outstanding production from a debut album in the early 90s, and I have to admit some of the production is pretty good at times, but it is a slight gripe. Vocally Chino is pretty great on this album, but I have to admit that at times he can go slightly off pitch. His odd use of whispering narratives at times can be a bit repetitive, but it usually tonally goes with the music of the track.

Opening track “Bored” is pretty much an anthem of teenage rebellion...the rebellion of boredom. With a pretty killer intro the song really shines when the chorus comes in and Chino sings his heart out.

“Minus Blindfold” shows influences from and edges towards rap metal. Lyrically Chino paints an interesting almost childish image and it really adds to the chaotic tone of the song.

“7 Words” is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. Starting off with a rather fun almost funky intro, the song explodes and implodes throughout with some interesting instrumental work throughout.

One of Chino's most impressive vocal moments on the album would have to be “Birthmark.” With a brilliant build up in the verse, the chorus is brought to newer heights with a very impressive high note sung by Chino, which sends shivers down my back everytime I hear it.

The albums final track “Fireal” is one of the most experimental tracks on the album. Mixing noise rock with some art rock moments, the chorus is a mad jabber of mad and distorted metal. Pretty epic at moments too.

Overall, this album is a pretty great debut. Deftones have always been a different yet energetic band, and this debut pretty much has them landing with their feet on the ground and running in the right direction. Packed full of tunes and having some pretty killer riffs, the band showed major potential on this album, and I think it may be a tiny little bit

8/10

Genres: Alternative Metal, Post Hardcore, Experimental Rock, Nu Metal, Noise Rock, Rap Metal

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 1995

IN GRIEF Deserted Soul

Album · 2009 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 2 ratings
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UMUR
"Deserted Soul" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian death metal act In Grief. The album was released through Bombworks Records in April 2009.

The music on the album is semi-progressive and melodic death metal with keyboards. Although In Grief are Norwegian they sound very Finnish to me because it´s acts like Amorphis and Swallow the Sun that I´m reminded of when listening to "Deserted Soul". The music is slow, doomy, epic and melodic with deep growling vocals and occasional clean vocals (which remind me of the clean vocals featured on some of Enslaved´s music). While the keyboards play an important role in the music I wouldn´t call them dominant. They are rather tastefully placed in the mix and provide the music with a majestic atmosphere.

The album features 7 tracks. The atmospheric and epic keyboard driven intro "Darkening Horizon" sets the tone from the beginning and when "I Am" starts and guitars, drums and bass are added, the overall music style is quickly revealed and there are only few surprises from then on out. All tracks except the intro are between 6 and 9 minutes long. "Deserted Soul" is well produced and maybe a bit more raw and brutal sounding than the above mentioned acts, but still in the polished end of the death metal scale. The band are skilled musicians and the songwriting is generally of high class so all in all a 3.5 star rating (70%) isn´t all wrong. A very strong debut release by In Grief. They can be proud of this one.

BLACK VEIL BRIDES We Stitch These Wounds

Album · 2010 · Metalcore
Cover art 2.36 | 8 ratings
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Unitron
Black Veil Brides-We Stitch These Wounds

Say what you want, but I happen to enjoy this album by one of the most hated bands among the metal community; This album, however, is different. This was back when Black Veil Brides WAS a metalcore band, before they switched to the glam metal/rock path they are so infamous for now.

The album opens up with a short intro before the title track begins. The title track is certainly a favorite of mine, the riffs and drumming is similar to most metalcore, A lot of double-bass drumming but more melodic riffing. The song 'Beautiful Remains' is another favorite, having some crunching guitar riffs. The song 'Perfect Weapon' sounds a bit different with some cleaner vocals and more traditional guitar. There really isn't much else to say about the music, it's pretty standard melodic metalcore.

The one thing I have a problem with is the singer. He has talent, he shows that when he's using his death vocals. His clean vocals, however, are very bland and emotionless. I just get really bored during these parts, I feel absolutely nothing when he 'sings'. Thankfully, this album is heavy on the death vocals, so it's not that bad.

Overall, I wouldn't call this a great album by any means but it's certainly a good one and worth a look if you have an open mind and enjoy metalcore. I can't really say much else, just don't judge a band by the hate. You may just end up enjoying them.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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PESTILENCE Consuming Impulse

Album · 1989 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.39 | 17 ratings
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UMUR
"Consuming Impulse" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Pestilence. The album was released in the US through Roadrunner Records in December 1989 (on Christmas day no less) while Europe had to wait until January 1990 for their fix of brutality. The band´s debut album "Malleus Maleficarum (1988)" is quite a raw and brutal thrash metal release, but it´s on "Consuming Impulse" the band step fully into death metal territory...

...there are still nods toward thrash metal like on most early death metal releases but the absolutely bestial growling vocals courtesy of vocalist Martin Van Drunen effectively erase any doubt that this isn´t a fullblown death metal release. Van Drunen is one of most distinct sounding growling vocalists on the scene. While his vocal style certainly is both brutal and at times deep (yet still intelligible), he has a desperate hysterical edge to his delivery that you don´t hear very often. People often have a "love him or hate him" type relationship with him because of his vocal style, but I think his vocals are one of the things that set early Pestilence apart from other death metal acts from that time.

The instrumental part of the music is tight and raw (but at times surprisingly sophisticated). New lead guitarist Patrick Uterwijk (who replaced Randy Meinhard after the release of "Malleus Maleficarum (1988)". Meinhard went on to form Sacrosanct) has brought a new dimension to the band´s music although we´re still for the most part talking screaming whammy bar abuse and generally fast paced soloing. The material are consistent in quality, catchy and well written and the 37:24 minutes of playing time fly by in no time. As all tracks are great it´s hard to pick highlights but the über brutal "Out of the Body" does stand out as something special to my ears. One of the "classic" death metal tracks from the early years of death metal and of course a classic in the band´s repetoire too. "The Trauma" is a personal favorite of mine and could be mentioned as a highlight too.

"Consuming Impulse" is packed in a powerful and raw sound production that suits the music perfectly. So just about everything work in the band´s favor on "Consuming Impulse" and it is rightfully considered a seminal European death metal release by many. A 4 star (80%) is deserved.

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