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DEUS OTIOSUS Rise

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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adg211288
As a reviewer, I like cover a variety of different metal genres, but I think every reviewer probably has a few areas they're less comfortable reviewing in. The death metal genre, with the exception of the technical and progressive kinds, is one of mine. Not because I don't enjoy the genre, but because I find that a lot of the artist's music tends to blur together pretty quickly, making it hard to tell one artist from another. I find it rare to find anything that really stands out enough in either a positive or a negative light in order to write much about it. Rise (2014), which is the third full-length album by Danish death metal act Deus Otiosus, is therefore a nice surprise, being instantly attention grabbing and memorable. Not descriptions I can apply to most death metal releases I (try to) cover.

Stylistically Rise is death metal with an occasionally overt thrashy edge to it, as in a track like Iron Rule. The production is neither overly raw or given too much modern polish which allows the details of the riffs to stand out without losing any grit along the way. The vocals tend to veer between being easy to discern the lyrics and not, which is a small issue as it does make some songs stand out over others, but I don't think that Deus Otiosus have any weak tracks on their hands here. The songs generally stick with me long after the release has come to an end, especially ones like the opening Rising War, Walk The Shadows and my personal favourites Don't Fuck with the Dead and Fall of the West, the latter of which I think is actually quite an epic sounding track.

While bands like Deus Otiosus don't really offer up anything to break any moulds, they prove that they know what they're doing and have produced a strong album made up of plenty of interesting and well played riffs that instantly makes the band stand out from the crowd of other death metal acts, especially the ones that pointedly try to be old school. In short, Rise is some really excellent and highly recommended stuff. 4.5 Stars.

89/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/deus-otiosus-rise-t3661.html)

ILLDISPOSED With the Lost Souls on Our Side

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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J-Man
Like many other veteran Scandinavian melodic death metal bands, Denmark's flagship act Illdisposed has evolved quite a bit in its twenty-plus year history. Though Illdisposed's early records reek of raw, old school brutality, the band's newer albums have a much more polished, groove-oriented style that takes plenty of cues from modern trends in death metal and metalcore. 2014's With The Lost Souls On Our Side, their twelfth full-length studio album, is a strong outing with enough mosh-inducing grooves to satisfy most extreme metal listeners, even if it has a different audience in mind than Illdisposed's classic nineties' albums did.

If you've kept an eye on modern thrash bands like Legion of the Damned and Dew-Scented, the sound of With The Lost Souls On Our Side shouldn't come as a total surprise. While still death metal at its core, the album relies heavily on thrashy grooves with touches of melody thrown in to keep things interesting. With a crisp production and polished musicianship to top it off, this is a very 'modern' sounding album that may not appease old school death metal purists, but for listeners that take a liking to contemporary thrash riffage, With The Lost Souls On Our Side has plenty to offer. Though not many tracks stand out from the crowd, all ten are solid enough to warrant a decent amount of headbanging.

I suppose my biggest gripe with this album is just how familiar it feels from start to finish. Though it isn't derivative enough to strip it of all merits, Illdisposed doesn't do anything here that hasn't been heard before, and as such, it's hard to give this record a strong recommendation to anyone that doesn't already follow the band. Still, this is a well-played, well-produced, and generally well-written observation that fans of modern death metal certainly won't regret hearing. This isn't the must-hear 2014 death metal album that Behemoth released earlier in the year, but it's certainly not anything to scoff at either.

INSOMNIUM Shadows of the Dying Sun

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.10 | 3 ratings
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UMUR
"Shadows of the Dying Sun" is the 6th full-length studio album by Finnish death metal act Insomnium. The album was released through Century Media Records in April 2014. Insomnium were formed in 1997 and have with each new releas slowly but steadily build a reputation as one of the most prolific Finnish death metal acts and gained a dedicated fanbase in the process too. It´s been a few years since the release of their 5th full-length studio album "One for Sorrow (2011)", but Insomnium released the "Ephemeral" EP in 2013 to bridge the gap.

Stylistically the music on "Shadows of the Dying Sun" is an epic sounding type of melodic death metal. Artists like fellow countrymen in Amorphis and especially Omnium Gatherum are valid references. Guitarist Markus Vanhala has played in both Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum since 2011, so that further strengthens the connection between those two acts.

The material on the album are well written, catchy and epic. The tempos vary between heavier mid-paced epic sections and faster paced melodeath sections. Always with strong lead guitar melodies and themes on top of the sharp riffs and heavy rhythm foundation. Acoustic/clean guitar sections also occur. The vocals are predominantly growling (delivered by bassist Niilo Sevänen), but there are occasional clean vocal sections on the album too (delivered by guitarist Ville Friman). Both growls and the male clean vocals are convincing and well delivered.

"Shadows of the Dying Sun" is also a well produced album, where power and epic atmospheres go hand and hand and all in all it´s another high quality melodic death metal release by Insomnium. I´m not sure I find it especially original sounding (and their similarities to Omnium Gatherum are almost eerie), but everything about the album just reeks high class and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

MOURNFUL CONGREGATION Concrescence Of The Sophia

EP · 2014 · Doom Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Silence of the passed...

Genre: funeral doom

Okay, before listening to this release, hide away all sharp tools in your home and have someone lock up your guns (if you have any), and you would also be advised to throw out any sleeping pills or any other medicaments of that sort. Why? Because this as a Mournful Congregation EP, and Mournful Congregation are the undisputed kings of Australian funeral doom. Concrescence Of The Sophia contain only two tracks, but these are of epic proportions and are bound to drive you right into a pit of depression.

The title track, with its near twenty-to minutes of playing time, is a lesson in slow and tortured, yet beautifully melodic, doom metal of the most compellingly depressing type. On top of the slow beats we find melancholic guitar melodies and atmospheric growled vocals. The other track 'Silence of the Passed', while "only" 9 minutes long, slows down even more and, with its addition of clean guitars on top of distorted ones, it delves even further into the realm of crestfallenness than the title track.

While the music is stunningly beautiful, and the compositions dynamic in their own way, I think that the production is perhaps a bit thin, and I think that the guitars in particular could have been given more substance. However, in the greater scheme of things, this is a minor point. This EP is simply the epitome of quality funeral doom metal, and any fan of the genre should at least give it a listen.

(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)

TERRATOMORF Я - легенда

EP · 2014 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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adg211288
Я - легенда (2014), which I believe should be Latinised to Ya - Legenda, is an EP release by Russian heavy metal act Terratomorf and their first release overall. It features five songs, one of which features guest vocals by Артур Беркут (Arthur Berkut), former singer with heavy metal act Ария (Aria). Ария are considered a leading act of the Russian heavy metal scene so his presence on Terratomorf's very first EP is no doubt a bigger deal in their home country than it seems to me here in the United Kingdom, where I must confess I have never actually heard of Ария.

Terratomorf's music mostly fits within the traditional heavy metal vein but there are also elements of thrash metal and power metal on the EP. While the thrashy edge is quite minimal to my ears, in that they never really seem invested in it enough to go anywhere with it, the band has a real good go at making a heavy power metal track in the closing Город души, which to my ears is the best offering on Я - легенда. The mix of both heavy and power metal riffs gives the song more depth than the previous songs and it has a stronger sense of melody in the guitar playing, something I find extremely lacking in the earlier tracks which are pretty much just bland riffs and Russian sung vocals. The singing is good but the performance isn't as totally commanding as I'd like it to be on a heavy metal release.

With only one song out of five showing their potential Я - легенда isn't the most recommendable start that Terratomorf could have had but it is early days yet. Anything could happen from this point. For now though a 2 star range rating seems fair.

42/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/terratomorf-t3653.html)

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metal music reviews (older releases)

RUSH Hold Your Fire

Album · 1987 · Metal Related
Cover art 2.99 | 12 ratings
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Unitron
Rush-Hold Your Fire

After the good but sometimes poppy 'Power Windows', Rush must have thought it was a good idea to continue down that path and fully embrace the 80's sound that they had created. Lifeson's presence was already somewhat low on the last album, but this album makes his work on 'Windows' seem prominent.

The main problem with 'Hold Your Fire' for me is that other then a song here and there, all the songs sound the same. Unlike all previous Rush albums which always seemed to have a nice variety, 'Fire' just lacks unique composition that was always so great about Rush.

1. Force Ten. The album starts out promising enough with the best track on the album 'Force Ten'; Rush seems to be pretty good at making great opening songs. The choir at the beginning and Peart's driving drum beats really make this the most enjoyable. Lee's bass is really catchy and Lifeson is actually able to be heard well here. There is also a certain atmosphere in this song that fits well. The short bridge is nice too. The only 5 star song on this album for me. (10/10)

Other then 'Force Ten' there isn't much else to say, 'Turn the Page' is an enjoyable song and has some nice bass. 'Open Secrets' and 'Lock and Key' are okay. 'Tai Shan' isn't a song I particularly like, but it is different and unique. Other then that, there isn't really much else to say. All the rest of the songs have the same synth-led, guitar-lacking sound. Peart's lyrics are still strong, but they are not complimented very well by the music.

If you happen to enjoy this album, that's great! It just isn't my thing, but thankfully Rush would make a great comeback two years later. Unless you are a fan of 80's Rush, I wouldn't recommend this album.

Hope you found this review helpful.



FUCK THE FACTS Die Miserable

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Die Miserable" is the 8th full-length studio album by Canadian death/grindcore act Fuck the Facts. The album was released through Relapse Records in October 2011.

The band play a rather extreme death/grindcore style with a mix of high pitched screaming vocals and deeper growling vocals. The band are very well playing and the tracks are rhythmically varied going from blast beats, to groovy mid-paced sections, to heavier breakdowns. The album features an extremely harsh atmosphere and the cold and clinical sounding production further enhances that mood. Each note played are delivered with relentless aggression and a caustic attitude. These guys are angry and it´s heard in the music. The band make use of a lot of dissonance too, and I´m sure this is the kind of album that´ll sound like chaotic noise to the untrained ear, but if the word chaos is to be used, it should me used along side the word structured, because this is very well composed and structured extreme metal. I´m very impressed by the technical level of playing on "Die Miserable".

The band are successful at incorporating atmospheric details to their music, which prevents the album from being too one-dimensionally aggressive and extreme. It´s only short sections of atmospheric playing (I guess even semi-melodic is too far a stretch), but they really give the album room to breathe. At 35:19 minutes "Die Miserable" is a "to the point" type of album, and that suits the band´s extreme music well. Overall the album is very well produced, the playing is excellent, and the songwriting intriguing and relatively varied, so a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating isn´t all wrong.

RUSH Power Windows

Album · 1985 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.70 | 11 ratings
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Unitron
Rush-Power Windows

Rush was clearly getting lost in the 80's sound at this point, but following it pretty well by maintaining hints of their old sound here and there. In Power Windows, however, some of that is lost.

1. The Big Money begins with a guitar slash and synth that just blares in your ears. The bass is really strong in this song, but the guitar is heard much less then the other instruments. As with most of Rush's 80's songs, the bridge is the most interesting part with a guitar solo and some ambiance. The synth gets annoying sometimes, but still a nice catchy song with strong lyrics. (7/10)

2. Grand Designs starts off with the synth leading. The guitar work is ok on this song, but other then a nice guitar solo there isn't really much to say about this song. The synth leads and just makes it a little too poppy for me. (2/10)

3. Manhattan Project starts out with some drum rolls by Peart. The slow synth led beginning actually fits the song well. The lyrics are awesome as well, being about the consequences of the development of the atomic bomb. When the chorus enters the song gets a somewhat dark mood with great guitar. The bridge with violin is awesome and fits the mood perfectly. (10/10)

4. Marathon starts out promising enough with great drums and guitar. Marathon is a pretty good song for what it is. I don't like the chorus, but the rest of the song is ok. (5/10)

5. Territories. Beginning with catchy drums and bass, the song quickly gets heavy in the guitar (At least as heavy as it could get with this era of Rush). The song has nice lyrics being about nationalism and some of the snobbery. Lifeson really conducts great riffs at the bridge. The song is really catchy, not much else to say though. (8/10)

6. Middletown Dreams. Starting out very slow, Peart does give great drum work here. Once the song picks up, the guitar enters but the synth quickly gets annoying. For me it shares the same problem that 'GD' has. (2/10)

7. Emotion Detector enters with interesting instrumentation, but quickly gets way too poppy for me. Again, too poppy for me. (1/10)

8. Mystic Rhythms begins with Peart keeping a great beat on the drums and an ominous mood is set. The synth again actually helps the song, the dark keyboard played combined with the machine-like drums and Lee's strong vocals. This song just always sends chills down my spine. The great bass in the bridge is complimented by Peart's great drumming. A very beautiful song. My favorite from the album. (10/10)

Overall, Power Windows is weaker then Rush's previous two albums. It gets a little too poppy sometimes, and with only a few standout tracks it's not essential by any means. If you do like 80's Rush it is a great addition. Unfortunately, Rush's next release would be their weakest to date.

Hope you found this review helpful.

IRON MAIDEN The Final Frontier

Album · 2010 · NWoBHM
Cover art 3.67 | 83 ratings
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666sharon666
The Final Frontier is the album that brings Iron Maiden into their fourth decade of releasing albums. The time between releases is getting longer and longer but much like Brave New World before it The Final Frontier is a very impressive start for the new decade.

While I still enjoyed the prior album A Matter of Life and Death I did think it was the weakest of the previous three albums. The Final Frontier marks a step back up for me. While not as good as Brave New World I find more individual songs memorable on this one and it still has the progressive influences and longer songs that has become an Iron Maiden trademark by this point. The second half of the album is dominated by such songs. I think I would prefer the shorter and longer ones mixed up a bit more for balance though. But this is exactly the sort of album that I expect and want to hear from Iron Maiden at this point. The best songs for me are El Dorado, Mother of Mercy and Where the Wild Wind Blows.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/iron-maiden-the-final-frontier-t3676.html

MOONSPELL Under the Moonspell

EP · 1994 · Black Metal
Cover art 3.58 | 5 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
If the cover of UNDER THE MOONSPELL looks familiar its because the album “Under Satanae” has a very close variation of the cover from this debut EP. That is no coincidence since that much more recognized release contains remakes of many of the tracks on this EP. Despite the fact that many of these tracks have been rereleased and improved upon that doesn't negate the fact that these first editions are fairly well constructed tracks themselves. MOONSPELL proved from the getgo that they were a talented and unique entity in the metal world by creatively fusing folk, black and gothic elements together to suit their own purposes. The result is a very successful hybrid that delivers melody, aggression and vampire inspired themes.

MOONSPELL is probably one of the most famous metal acts to emerge from Portugal and on this debut album they lay it all down without hesitation. We hear all the elements that make great metal music churned out in a carefully crafted format. This music really floats my boat as it takes all the elements of the aforementioned metal subgenres and blends them together into a satisfying cohesive whole. Despite the unintelligible lyrics we get the lyrical themes of dark folklore and macabre poetry in both English and Portuguese. In a country where I would expect influences from such homegrown music as Fado and the like, MOONSPELL surprises by integrating a more Celtic folk sound with their blackened Gothic metal in a way that is obvious as to why they have become a major force in the metal world.

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