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Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 2 ratings
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When US post-black metal act Vattnet Viskar parted ways with their frontman Nicholas Thornbury in 2016 after two full-length albums, it spelled more change in the band that any of their fans could have expected. Rather than seek a replacement the band recruited their new voice in house with bassist Casey Aylward stepping up to the centre stage. The Viskar was struck from their name, which appears to have been a symbolic statement now that Vattnet (2017), the self-titled debut of this new incarnation of the group and third album overall, has been released. That's because this record, simply put, has very little in common with either of its predecessors released as Vattnet Viskar, Sky Swallower (2013) and Settler (2015).

It's a well established fact that metalheads in general don't embrace changes in direction too well. This is especially true of artists who start out playing extreme metal and then stop, which is what the case is on Vattnet. The name change even though its a minor one is a decent way of them saying 'this is still us, but a fresh start' but that doesn't mean it's easy to not listen to Vattnet as a follow-up to Settler. The previous album was, by the accounts of many reviewers including myself, a really excellent work that I described in my review as something that combined absorbing atmospheric black metal with crushing sludge metal. Well with this change of direction you can forget about all that. The black metal is gone. The sludge metal is gone. The vocal style has switched to clean singing with Aylward's promotion to frontman. In fact the only thing Vattnet has really in common with Settler is the term 'post'.

Specifically this album's style can be best described as a post rock infused take on progressive metal. It's still somewhat atmospheric but done in a completely different way. The clean vocals of Casey Aylward play no small part in that of course, but the music also displays a more technical approach, especially in tracks like Sugar, which has to be singled out as an album highlight. Other standout tracks for me include Dark Black and Chains. Musically at least it's actually very good and once you've got used to the drastic shifts in style it isn't hard to hear how the band reached this point. But vocally, even though Aylward does have a good voice, with times where he sounds excellent, I do have to consider his style the weak link here. It just seems out of place against the post-progressive metal backdrop, reminding me more of the kind of vocalist you hear in modern emo or post-hardcore bands. He comes across as lacking a commanding presence and being out of his depth.

Listening to Vattnet as the debut of a new group sees it come across as a promising release, but the record doesn't allow the group to stand out in the crowd as much as Settler did. The crowd of course is a different one, meaning there's no fair way to judge the two albums against each other, but even though I do enjoy Vattnet as an album there's always this nagging feeling that the band threw something really special away when they dumped the sound of Settler for this. This album simply feels much more familiar going into it, as if I'd heard this kind of thing all before. I'm a firm believe that artists should play what they want to and not what others think they should play, but I'll reverse the right as a listener to judge it a mistake. Of course, this album may turn out be all about them re-finding their feet after their reinvention and their craft could be honed considerably by the time they follow it up, so I'm keeping an open mind at this point. For now, Vattnet is a decent release on its own merits, if a bit unremarkable.


Single · 2017 · Hard Rock
Cover art 4.50 | 2 ratings
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Thirteen years of baited breath and whispered rumors followed A Perfect Circle following their 2004 cover album eMOTIVe and subsequent hiatus. This effect followed both them and Tool, the other project featuring the frontman vocalist extraordinaire Maynard Keenan, as both bands of which fell into what seemed like an irreparable slumber filled with insubstantial announcements of various happenings, none of which came or seemed would come to fruition.

But Tool in fact came back with a bang with a surprise reunion tour in January of 2016, and it was only expected by the collective conscience of Keenan to give a fair shake to his sister band as well. As expected, a little over a year later APC also received recognition with not only a similar tour but one supporting the release of a new single (/rumored album) titled 'The Doomed'. Remember, this single is the first thing this legendary act has created in almost a decade and a half, so expectations are higher than an elephant's ear.

'The Doomed' has arrived at a perfect time, particularly for me, at a time when I am personally starved of new and enthralling uniqueness on the rock scene, let alone the hard rock/metal scene. It has got to be one of the most interesting songs released over the span of this entire year, and this is for a variety of reasons. First, for those who care to know, this song does in fact synthesize previously established sounds on other APC records, particular the past two. In other words Thirteenth Step and the good stuff from eMOTIVe, especially the original song from the latter, 'Passive'. This means great big burly drums (by new member Jeff Friedl replacing long-time member Josh Freese) that shift from simplistic beginner fills to war-like timbre that fills the stage heftily. This coincides perfectly with Keenan's vocal delivery- one of his absolute best in my opinion- which similarly shifts from scratchy and raw (akin to the Tool trademark) to almost saddened, quiet bridges. These bridges lament of a rapture-like event, as a "new Christ" comes to bless/doom those he deems worthy or not. The blessed are portrayed as undeserving (the fornicates, the rich, the envious, etc.) as they sit on the proverbial skeletons of the deserving doomed (the pious, the pure-of-heart, the peaceful). This lyrical environment is not only fresh but also almost bemusingly expressive. Although such greatness is unsurprising from such an act as A Perfect Circle, the content they deliver is straightforward yet thought-provoking, panicked yet collected, emotional yet headstrong. All in perfect harmony with eachother.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to write such a massive review for a single track, but a band that is so important to me and my past releasing such satisfying content is something I'm not willing to slip under my radar so easily. Fantastic.

BORN OF OSIRIS The Eternal Reign

EP · 2017 · Deathcore
Cover art 2.50 | 2 ratings
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After their short EP debut studio release “The New Reign” which appeared in 2007, BORN OF OSIRIS roughly released a new album every two years but somewhere along the way the band decided that they just weren’t happy with their debut EP and it desperately needed to be re-recorded and repackaged, retitled and released once again. Come ten years later and the newly named THE ETERNAL REIGN accomplishes this goal by taking all eight tracks back to the studio and polishing them into deathcore perfection with even a bonus track in the form of “Glorious Day” to finish it off with bringing the new playing time to a whopping 23 minutes and 50 seconds.

Well, what can someone exactly say about a brutal deathcore band trying to re-record and album. How about…. REALLY? Ok, first of all, i’m rarely a fan of any band re-recording an album because of nitpicky imperfections no matter how legit they may be due to the fact that for every inch of error is erased, so too is a pound of passion that made the album stand out in the first place. However in the case of BORN OF OSIRIS who utilize a brutal deathened core sound designed to bang your head and make your ears bleed with slight touches of sugary atmospheric keyboards to make the bitter just a little sweet, i have to shake my head and ask the obvious question: WHY BOTHER?

To the casual listener this won’t sound a bit different as all the growly screams, all the distorted guitar riffs, solos, drum blasts and metal accoutrements are pretty much following down the same path. Where this second rendition of the EP does differ is in the “extras” department namely in the ambience and keyboard effects that add new riffs here and there and stand out as more prominent features of the band sprinkled across the album but nothing added makes this a substantially better album where it counts, namely in the songwriting department where all the tracks sound just as average as they did the first time around. I have to admit that the percussion has improved over the original.

Perhaps it would’ve been a better idea to focus on new music instead. The only redeeming aspect of this album is that there is one new track titled “Glorious Day” which is the best track on the EP which only serves the purpose of showing how far the band has come in its technical prowess and ability to make tracks more interesting. Hmmm, maybe that’s the point? I dunno but this track shows a more adept ability of blending all the core elements with more classic metal sounds, more sophisticated atmospheric embellishments and even the drum parts are more diverse than elsewhere. Unfortunately it lasts a mere two and a half minutes so hardly worth tracking this down for a mere bonus track which is good but not outstanding. Nah, this is mostly a waste of time.

THE LURKING FEAR Out Of The Voiceless Grave

Album · 2017 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.25 | 2 ratings
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"Out Of The Voiceless Grave" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act The Lurking Fear. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 2017. The Lurking Fear was formed in 2016 and features several prominent members of the Swedish death metal scene: Lead vocalist Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates, Grotesque, Lock Up, The Crown), drummer Adrian Erlandsson (At the Gates, The Haunted, Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth, Vallenfyre), guitarist Fredrik Wallenberg (Embalmed, Skitsystem, Sarcasm), guitarist Jonas Stålhammer (At the Gates, Bombs of Hades, God Macabre, Macabre End, The Crown), and bassist Andreas Axelsson (Edge of Sanity, Tormented, Marduk, Infestdead).

Stylistically the material on "Out Of The Voiceless Grave" is old school death metal. Playing that style was also the premise of forming The Lurking Fear, and the band arguably succeed well in their mission. It´s audible that these are seasoned musicians because they deliver the music with great skill and conviction. It´s brutal, it´s occult (the H.P. Lovecraft lyrical themes help pull in that direction), it´s distorted and raw, and Lindberg has changed his voice a bit to a slightly deeper growling style, although he still has the higher pitched hysterical edge to his delivery that we´re used to from his performances with At the Gates.

"Out Of The Voiceless Grave" features a raw and powerful sounding production, which suits the material perfectly, and paired with the high level musicianship, and some good quality songwriting (highlights include tracks like "Upon Black Winds" and "Beneath Menacing Sands", but there´s not a single sub par track on the album, which is more varied than it initially may seem), the album is upon conclusion a great quality old school death metal release and a very promising debut, which begs for a follow-up as soon as possible. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.


Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.98 | 2 ratings
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It’s always an exciting day when one of your favorite and most consistent metal bands releases an album and continues that exciting thrill of anticipation of whether they will continue their lengthy run as ambassadors of the extreme metal scene after more than two decades on the scene or the unthinkable of botching their rein and utterly teeter off that precarious precipice that they ride like a skateboarder sliding down a staircase railing. As the decade runs closer to its end Norway’s ENSLAVED took only two years to craft yet another installment into their progressive black metal universe after the release of 2015’s “In Times” which left more than a few loyal fans divided over exactly where they saw the band was heading next. While true that the album continued down the path of the expected quality material, there was still that lurking nagging feeling that perhaps ENSLAVED is just one tiny step away from completely derailing into pools of stagnation and ultimately becoming the feared and dreaded parodies of themselves. In 2017 the band emerge from their cocoon of secrecy and let loose their 14th full-length studio album E.

With an album title so truncated to one mere letter, it automatically triggers that WTF response and thankfully Ivar Bjørnson has explained this nebulous concept to smother any possible misconceptions in their nascency. E apparently has a dualistic meaning, firstly being a letter of the Latin alphabet but is also a reference to the rune Ehwaz which is depicted as our letter M (note both letters on album cover painted by long time associate Truis Espedal.) Ehwaz simply means horse and the relationship with humankind’s most endearing animal friend that celebrates one of our longest cross-species collaborations. Once you get past all the horse symbology, the title and tracks included expand further into the symbolisms of the duality of humankind and nature as well as fear and subconscious drive all wrapped up in the expected Viking imagery constructed through poetic prose in both gurgling raspy utterances as well as clean Gregorian chant inspired harmonies that exude a beauty and beast combo effect only this is bro style.

As evidenced from the sneak peak video for the first track “Storm Son,” ENSLAVED have entered new sonic arenas indeed and have once again taken all the different styles they’ve accumulated over their vast career and simply expanded them into new territory as if they take their Viking expansionist roots and simply apply those principles to conquering new musical territory. As E begins, i was expecting the immediate bombast of heaviness before meandering into softer passages of folky and ambience atmospheric touches but E takes a totally different approach than past offerings. This one begins with the sensual sounds of birds and the blowing of a gjallarhorn before horses whinny and clomp along insinuating a battle scene to come, however the track unexpectedly delivers a clean dreamy guitar riff that delivers the ultimate head scratcher making me wonder if these guys have pulled an Ulver on us and went post-rock or some non-metal direction as the repetitive riffs churn on augmented by an atmospheric ambience swirling around every arpeggiated note. Goodbye black metal ENSLAVED, hello progressive rockers who have always lurked beneath the noisefest.

Oh, wait there’s those raspy vocals on top of the clean angelic choral. (then once again the riff ratchets up in intensity but this isn’t quite the metal i was expecting) as Grutle Kjellson takes the lead with his raspy evil-as-fuck vocal style. As the synthesizers swirl around and the staccato guitar riffs pound on like Teutonic marches on Prussian plains it seems that ENSLAVED has gone Opeth on us and finally divorced the black metal aspects that have carried them this far into the 21st century minus those raspy vocals of course. But wait! This is progressive black metal and nothing happens too quickly in this world. Finally at seven minutes in the black metal guitars and bass kick in with synchronized drums and yeah baby! Oops, i jumped to conclusions. This is black metal for PATIENT fans :p After a rough start things seem on track once again although the atmospheric synths and staccato guitar riffs are totally uncharacteristic of the ENSLAVED sound. This band has decided to carry on into new even more progressive arenas. Will the fickle black metal fans like this? Probably not. As “The River’s Mouth” takes the baton, the black metal groove is back at first but alternates substantially with the progressive metal segments that sound more like something out of a post-metal sludge band’s canon than anything ENSLAVED has tackled. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this is a band always looking for parameters to overstep while breaking rules and worshipping runes and on E the floodgates have opened.

Many surprises lurk on E which is of course the key ingredient (surprise that is) to keep things spiced up. For example, “Sacred Horse” begins like a hippie dippy folk track for a few seconds but then bursts into the more familiar extreme metal sound of past glories. “Axis Of The Worlds” has a very different sort of groove than the band is used to with a much more sophisticated labyrinthine and circuitous riffing methodology that ratchets up their progressive rock aspects even further and with the mellotron organ sounds that accompany may raise the red flag for a progressive pollen attack for those allergic to the world of progressive rock but somehow once again the band walks that thin line between the black and prog worlds all the while including some bizarre electronica sputtering in the background reminiscent of electropop bands like Röyksopp whose cover they tackle with the rhetorical self-directed question “What Else Is There?” “Fathers Of Eolh” is probably the most un-ENSLAVED sounding track on E with its heightened 5/4 timing sludgy riffs, ambient shoegaze backdrop and liturgical proggy vocal styles mostly delivered in a clean, clear yet turgid display of interweaving compositional parts that are laced together in various alternating ways. “Hiindslight” is yet another progressive metal behemoth that tackles hitherto unexplored arenas as it churns out complex guitar riffs that range from brutal to sensual and graced by the raspy vocals of Kjellson. This is the track that will for sure act as the sunlight that scares the black metal vampires into their coffins as it incorporates a whirlwind of progressive features including the unthinkable use of flute and saxophone. “Djupet” is another more traditional track tacked on to appease the hardcores.

You may be wondering just how progressive can they possible get. Well before you get your knickers in a twist and cry out that they’ve totally gone Opeth on us, it should never be forgotten that ENSLAVED was always a progressive black metal band which began with their debut album “Vikingligr Veldi” and despite tamping down the progressive qualities on their next three albums, “Frost,” “Eld” and “Blodhemn” they nevertheless persisted under the surface before finally erupting once again in full pent-up fury on 2000’s “Mardraum: Beyond The Within” only to have the progressive aspects outweigh the black metal from “Monumension” and the albums that followed. The fact is that unlike Opeth who utterly abandoned their extreme metal roots to focus exclusively on progressive rock, ENSLAVED never for even a single album smothered the black metal out of their overall sound. While it’s true the black metal has taken a back seat to the progressive side of the coin, it’s more akin to the band having a new lover move in while banishing the ex to the basement only to be chained up but kept around because she’s still useful for all those chores around the house. Yeah, the black metal may be the ugly ex-wife who is forced to perform as an indentured servant but she still has a role to play while ENSLAVED’s promiscuous Hugh Hefner tendencies take on a musical libido all their own. Keep in mind that the band’s name is ENSLAVED and not “Emancipated.” Set free the black metal and we’re left with an Age of Aquarius la-la-la singalong feel good album. Now that wouldn’t be very metal now would it? While ENSLAVED has not gone Opeth on it can be argued they’ve followed in the same footsteps another fellow Norwegian and gone Ihsahn on us instead. You don’t believe me? For anyone who has kept up with Emperor’s frantic frontman as a solo artist, you will hear lots of parallels with albums ranging from “The Adversary” to “Arktis” not only in the highly complex time signature rich riffing styles but in the addition of unorthodox metal instruments with the inclusion of flautist Daniel Mage and sax blower Kjetil Møster on the tracks “Hindsight” and “Feathers Of Eolh” and also the inclusion of fellow Norwegian Einar Kvitrafn from the Nordic dark folk outfit Wardruna. OK, i lied. There is one moment of going Opeth and that is the short use of mellotron style keyboard sounds at the end of “Sacred Horse.” This is probably one of the parts of the album that doesn’t exactly sound like it’s at home here.

Ultimately i’m finding E is about contrast and tension. There are simple clean parts that are unlike anything the band has done but somehow after slow developments the band always resolves itself with heavier and more frantic dynamics delivering fairly balanced compositions that may carry on a wee bit too long at points but never entering the uncomfortableness zone. It goes without saying that ENSLAVED alienated the one-dimensional kvlter-than-thou crowds long ago when the scales tipped in the progressive metal direction and with E, the band challenges their fans once again and therefore the close-minded, musically illiterate and those who simply get complacent in a particular phase will probably piss all over this one, however if dissected like a laboratory rat in order to scrutinize the inner parts, E is actually the logical next frontier for ENSLAVED to venture into. As the band continues to mature it would be pathetic for them to linger in pastures already explored and personally i much prefer a band to delve into new arenas despite less than perfect results than stagnate in festering doldrums of inertness. E may not constitute the absolute pinnacle of the career of ENSLAVED but i’m finding this to have much more of a return value than “In Times” and offers yet another creative and excellent rung in their long ladder of musical development since their humble beginnings during the second wave of early black metal.

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metal music reviews (older releases)

POISON Open Up And Say... Ahh!

Album · 1988 · Glam Metal
Cover art 3.31 | 14 ratings
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First of all let me get this out of the way: You do not even have to read an interview with guitarist CC Deville or hear him talking about his influences to know that he was one of those American teenagers obsessed with Kiss (in a Detrot Rock City film style), just listen to his guitar sound and his riffs to see it clearly.

I confess that I have an absurd preconception about this Hair Metal thing. I have not yet heard a single decent record from this 'genre', but I keep trying, I guess. The only records I remember that I have somewhat enjoyed are The Final Countdown (Europe) and Screw It! (Danger Danger). Everything else I heard does not do anything for me. The almost Pop production of the 80s weights on that factor, and on several occasions, Metal does not even exist.

'Open Up and Say ... Ahh!', Poison's second record, does not change my mind, it's an ok record if it's playing as background music in some friends' meeting or at that Rock Bar you went for a beer, and that's all. 'Nothin' But A Good Time 'is a pretty cool track, and' Every Rose Has Its Thorn 'is the obligatory ballad of the record (every Hair Metal album needs a 'power ballad', right).

Like I said, in the end, forgettable after just one listen.


EP · 2007 · Deathcore
Cover art 3.27 | 10 ratings
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The Chicago based deathcore band BORN OF OSIRIS had quite the difficult time choosing a name as in a mere short period from 2003-07 they chose and rejected the names Diminished, Your Heart Engraved and Rosecrance before finally settling on the Egyptian deity who was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. During that time they produced a few demos under all those names but wouldn’t release their debut studio EP - THE NEW REIGN until 2007 as BORN OF OSIRIS. Although the band started out more as a metalcore outfit they began adding more death metal elements such as the abrasive growled vocals as well as the expected rhythmic breakdowns more suited to the death metal scene however all those core elements are retained. This band somehow latched onto the progressive world as it seems to pop up as such although the progressive touches take a back seat to the brutal metal aspects in the forefront.

BORN OF OSIRIS deliver a typical death metal meets metal ore = deathcore sound with the expected death metal riffs and blast beats while retaining all those core breakdowns with all the hardcore punk infused energy and brutality, however what sets this band apart from the rest of the pack is that it utilizes atmospheric keyboards to create a backdrop of ambience and also throws in a few unorthodox sound effects on the side. Ronnie Canizaro’s vocals are nothing out of the ordinary nor are the staccato riffs of Lee McKinney however Matthew Pantelis dishes out some melodic lead guitar parts along with squeals and little tricks and trinkets to add a sprinkling of more class metal to the mix including a few solos here and there.

The percussion seems to be the weakest part as i’m not hearing the OMG drum abuse i would expect for a deathcore band, or at least not to the extend that i would prefer. Yeah, there are blast beats now and again but generally the percussive parts are fairly by the books and not overly exciting. Overall the tracks are all fairly similar with only the keyboards and lead guitar differentiating them in any significant ways. Deathcore is certainly not my favorite subgenre in the metal universe and BORN OF OSIRIS doesn’t dish out a whole lot of originality to make me change my mind on that one. This debut is a nicely delivered near 22 minute display of metal energy with some atmospheric elements thrown in but in the end it’s all fairly predictable and doesn’t even come close to blowing me away.

WOLF Evil Star

Album · 2004 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.01 | 7 ratings
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I had no idea that this band from Sweden existed, as I started my 'Evil Star' audition on Deezer the first thing I notice is that Niklas Olsson could be the new Rush vocalist, such a resemblance to Geddy Lee's voice.

If the band name (there are at least 10 bands with the same name) does not show any originality, neither does the sound. The band plays Heavy Metal, in the classic shape of the 80's Metal. The difference being the previously mentioned vocal. But look, in some cases the lack of originality may not be a negative thing (well well, classic bands like Ramones, AC/DC and Motorhead did not record the same album 20 times?!?), and Wolf, despite sounding similar to 300 other bands, is a good surprise. Well played, well composed and full of will.

It's true that the vocals, too loud all the time (in a King Diamond style sometimes), can tire the experience hearing in some parts. But overall the album has a strong grip and holds you from start to finish.

Great discovery!

OBSCURA Cosmogenesis

Album · 2009 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 3.85 | 25 ratings
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Brain knot music. The term just popped into my head as I was reading reviews of this album. I have listened to it a few times plus given randomly picked songs extra play time and although I am of the sound and sure opinion that I like it (enough to consider buying another album by Obscura), I am finding it very difficult to stride into a review.

As anyone will tell you, this album, as well as Obscura’s style, is very technical metal. There seems to be something going on constantly and the band are rarely prepared to ease back and let something playout for a bit. I admit to having a certain fondness and admiration for technical bands like Decrepit Birth, Augury, and now Obscura too, but there is that challenge to make sense out of the music of each track and, for that matter, to learn to distinguish one song from another. All instruments are moving often at great speeds and sometimes in seemingly disparate directions except that you understand that the music is actually quite coherent and the instruments intelligently integrated.

What makes Obscura and this album stand apart from much of my previous technical metal listening experiences are a couple of things and that would be the use of slower tempos and even clean and beautiful parts with acoustic guitar or a kind of Steve Vai-like soloing style and the delightful use of bass guitar as an instrument that can hold its own and even stand out in the music. I have a great appreciation for metal and prog music that gives the bass a lead melody or frequently casts the spotlight on that wonderful instrument (which I don’t play, in case you were wondering).

Because of the attention served to these aspects of the music writing, it becomes rather easy to begin to remember tracks for their standout parts rather than be doomed to be remembered as an intriguing and exciting tangle of rapid-fire, aggressive drumming, multi-single-note convoluted guitar riffs, and tangles of shredded solos with pinch harmonic wails that seem to drive through the music like hailstones in a thundershower during a baseball match. No, Obscura make it a little easier to say, “I really like the lead guitar melody here,” or “Good use of clean guitar here to add something to the song,” or “This acoustic passage is very pleasant and unexpected.” Interestingly for me, shortly after acquiring “Cosmogenesis” I got “Focus” by Cynic and I could see the possible influences this older album had on Obscura’s musical style. There is even a bit of vocoder vocals on “Cosmogenesis” as if in salute to “Focus”.

The production is very clear and that is something I appreciate for such complex and often speedy music. My one criticism might be that the growls and sore-throat screams strike me as not being necessary throughout the whole album. It’s not the first time that I was very impressed with the music but felt something more could have been done with the vocals in that the brutal style doesn’t always seem to be the best approach.

And now it looks like I have managed to write just over a page-worth of words in review of this album. Technical. Highly-skilled. Creative. Effective. Challenging.

Delightful brain knot music!

VISIGOTH The Revenant King

Album · 2015 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.12 | 4 ratings
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As far as classic heavy metal goes, there aren't a whole lot of new bands of that pure old school 70's/80's sound, and even fewer that get much attention. The few that will, usually have bigger production values that ruin the impact of the music. Look a bit, and you'll find bands that both play and sound just like what could be a classic metal band of old. Visigoth is one of those bands.

Visigoth takes influence from bands like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road, as seen in their cover of the latter's "Necropolis", but they don't come off as copycats. They sound like they would fit right into a hidden 80's metal gem list you might find, and deliver masterful traditional heavy metal in every way. The ultimate highlight of the album and one of the greatest metal songs of the 2010's is the single "Dungeon Master". The heat-seeking hook of the riff and attacking drums instantly just gets the listener hooked, couple that with beautifully melodic vocals, and you've got yourself a masterpiece. The bass gets some shine on the album too, with the crushingly heavy yet melodic "Iron Brotherhood", where you can feel the reverb.

Now sometimes with extreme high points such as that, the rest of an album can pale in comparison. Thankfully, The Revenant King does not. Most of it is consistently fantastic, "Creature of Desire" in particular comes very close to "Dungeon Master"'s greatness. It opens right up with a punchy riff and a scream that could have come right from a classic Helstar album. "Necropolis" is a faithful and excellent cover of the original Manilla Road tune, but the band gives it their own touch. The band couldn't have picked a better song to close out the album than "From the Arcane Mists of Prophesy", this is what I call an epic. Each riff and melody hooks the listener, especially sort of a mix of singing solos creating a rhythm in the middle. The epic perfectly ends with a melodic doom metal finale that would make 80's Candlemass proud.

What about the production? No polished bullshit is to be found here, this has a nice warm and organic sound that is what traditional heavy metal should sound like. It's not that raw like a thrash or death metal album needs to be, but you can hear and feel all of the heaviness on this record.

If you miss the traditional metal sound without any modern bullshit, Visigoth is an essential listen. Along with Crystal Viper, these guys renew my faith in bands carrying on the torch of classic metal. Turn it up, headbang, and sing to the epic melodies. It's old school all the way! Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!


Album · 1998 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.97 | 5 ratings
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"Exterminate" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US death metal act Angelcorpse and the successor to "Hammer of Gods" from 1996. The album was released through Osmose Productions in early 1998 and recorded at Morrisound Studios during October/November 1997. Since the recording of the debut album second guitarist Bill Taylor has been added to the lineup, making Angelcorpse a four-piece on "Exterminate".

Stylistically the music on "Exterminate" continues the blasphemous/occult themed blackened death metal style featured on "Hammer of Gods (1996)", but adds in the extremity department. "Exterminate" is if possible even more uncompromising and inaccessible than "Hammer of Gods (1996)" was. The closest relative is probably Morbid Angel, but Angelcorpse are generally far more extreme and less immediately catchy.

The music consists of fast and very technically well played drumming, fast and aggressive tremolo riffing, screaming atonal guitar solos, and lead vocalist/bassist Pete Helmkamp´s snarling hate filled growling in front. The rest of the music has little to do with black metal, but Helmkamp´s vocals provide the music with a blackened touch, and his vocals are generally a great asset to the band´s music. His got a rare caustic delivery that leaves no doubt that he means business, spitting out his blasphemous hatred.

Viewed upon objectively the material on the 8 track, 39:49 minutes long album is actually a bit one-dimensional, and the tracks don´t differ that much in sound or style. You´ll find catchy vocal phrases and a riff here and there that you´ll be able to remember, but overall this is a full on assault of raw and aggressive blackened death metal almost completely without melody nor hooklines. While that may sound negative or off putting to some listeners, that´s actually the whole point of a release like "Exterminate". Angelcorpse is obviously not out to cater to those listeners who crave variation or instantly catchy hooks, but rather those who want their death metal as extreme, raw, and chaotic sounding as possible.

Tracks like "Christhammer", "Phallelujah", and "Sons of Vengeance" feature bludgeon guarentee, and that´s more or less how you feel after listening to "Exterminate". Like you´ve just been beaten by an angry mob. So if you can stand a 40 minutes beating I can highly recommend "Exterminate", even though a slightly more varied songwriting approach could probably have lifted the overall quality and accessibility of the album. Nonetheless it´s still a high quality blackened death metal album, featuring high level musicianship, an organic and raw sounding production, and uncompromising high quality songwriting (when speaking of individual tracks) and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

LÄÄZ ROCKIT No Stranger To Danger

Album · 1985 · Speed Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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"No Stranger To Danger" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, San Francisco, California based heavy/thrash metal act Lääz Rockit. The album was released through Target Records in 1985 and it´s the successor to "City's Gonna Burn" from 1984. Lääz Rockit was formed in 1982 ans was an active part of the early Bay Area scene, although the early part of their discography only feature very few thrash metal elements...

...and the same applies to "No Stranger To Danger", which features a hard edged heavy metal sound with only a few thrash metal leanings. The tracks are vers/chorus structured with anthemic chorus lines, and almost always featuring a well played guitar solo after the second chorus. So that part of the music is very basic and there´s definitely not the most adventurous approach to songwriting on display here.

It´s of very little importance though, as the band fully make it up with a fiercely convincing performance. The instrumental part of the music is played with raw passion but also features quite a few more sophisticated tricks. Pounding drums, hard rocking bass lines, heavy rocking riffs, and great melodic guitar solos, are the main ingredients of the band´s sound. It´s lead vocalist Michael Coons, who takes the prize though, with his strong voice and commanding attitude filled delivery.

The 9 track, 37:54 minutes long album, is pretty consistent in style and in quality, so while not all tracks stand out equally much, I don´t hear any filler material. Honorable mentions go to the opening trio of tracks "Dreams Die Hard", "I´ve Got Time", and "Town to Town", but the fast paced heavy rocker "Backbreaker" also has its moments.

Overall "No Stranger To Danger" is well worth the price of admission if you´re fan of raw and hard rocking traditional heavy metal, played/sung by skilled musicians, and packed in a powerful and organic sounding production, and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is well deserved.

ALTERED AEON Dispiritism

Album · 2004 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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"Dispiritism" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish thrash metal act Altered Aeon. The album was released through BLack Lotus Records in November 2004. Altered Aeon was formed in 2001, but had a rather short recording career as their 2007 "Reborn as Gods" demo didn´t result in a new record contract and the band subsequently disbanded.

The music on "Dispiritism" is a technical brand of thrash metal with US power metal leanings, and artists like Charred Walls of the Damned, Control Denied, and Antithesis, are valid references. The playing is on a high technical level, and lead vocalist Kjell Andersson sings both raw shouting vocals, and more melodic clean ones.

The album features 10 tracks and a full playing time of 42:06 minutes, but there´s a limited edition available of the album too which features two bonus tracks. An instrumental track titled "Cellular Disorganization", which is actually quite a great track, that could easily have been part of the regular edition, and a cover of "Welcome Home" by King Diamond. The latter is really well played, and as a result of the clear, powerful, and detailed sound production on "Dispiritism", it´s possible to hear details on this cover version, that you can´t hear on the original. Unfortunately that track and the rest of the tracks on the album, which feature vocals, are mared by the fact that Kjell Andersson isn´t the most interesting singer out there. His voice is as such powerful enough and he hits the notes too, but his tone and delivery just aren´t that interesting (and neither are the melody lines), and the vocals are soon reduced to something that is just there, or even worse a slight annoying element.

It´s not a major issue, as the instrumental part of the music pulls in a very positive direction featuring some intricate technical drumming, relatively complex thrashy riffing, and some very fine melodic guitar solos, but it´s not a positive either when the vocals don´t add to the music. They are generally toneless and lacking emotion.

The material is overall very well composed, but could have featured more catchy parts to hook the listener. Too often I find myself listening for technical chops instead of enjoying the catchiness of a track. I realize my review has come out a bit more negative than intended, but when I hear something featuring as much potential to be great as "Dispiritism" does, and that potential isn´t fulfilled, I can´t help being a bit critical. When that is said, "Dispiritism" is still quite an interesting technical thrash metal release with US power metal leanings, and if you enjoy the genre, and maybe some of the artists I mentioned above, chances are you might enjoy this one too. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

FOZZY Sin and Bones

Album · 2012 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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'Sin and Bones', released in 2012, was a huge breakthrough for American metal group Fozzy. While 2010's 'Chasing the Grail' came out to mostly rave reviews from critics, it flopped commercially, likely due to the fact that most people still couldn't take a band fronted by professional wrestler Chris Jericho seriously. However, relentless touring and an energetic live show helped the band endear to new fans, and so with 'Sin and Bones', an album brimming with anthems that were tailor-made for a live setting, did they really start to gain credibility as a legit band.

Either that, or they're like the annoying gnat of the rock world that just won't go away. But all that persistence was starting to pay off.

With a slick production and some of Rich Ward's most accessible guitar riffs (including one of the most killer tones in rock music today!), 'Sin and Bones' sees Fozzy ease up on the full-blown metal elements of their sound, and instead focus on the sleazy rock 'n' roll vibe. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it totally suits them, especially when compared to the overall image and showmanship of the band.

Vocalist Chris Jericho (THE Chris Jericho... you stupid idiot!), shows that he is more than just a professional wrestler, but indeed a kickass front man! His vocals are incredible, and while he may struggle with them a bit when performing live, he more than makes up for it in energy, enthusiasm and showmanship.

'Spider in My Mouth', 'Blood Happens', 'Inside My Head', 'She's My Addiction' and the hit single 'Sandpaper' are all Fozzy classics that show a band who are constantly evolving and changing, yet never straying too far from the very essence that makes them who they are.

Indeed, Fozzy are huge rock stars!

F5 A Drug for All Seasons

Album · 2005 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.49 | 3 ratings
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F5 were one of many bands that popped up around that transitional period after the nu metal fad had died and everyone was trying to ditch the label and fit in with the "old school" approach that was back in fashion. Or simply put... nu metal bands were now calling themselves "alternative metal".

Still, this is an all-round good effort. They have the contemporary sound nailed perfectly, with enough melody and groove to appeal to fans of modern metal, yet with the guitar chops to please fans of older, riff-based bands. The melodic vocals suit the music perfectly, making for some catchy, inoffensive and totally unashamed metal listening.

While my interest in the band was somewhat piqued by vocalist Dale Steele, whom I was familiar with after his work on Sick Speed's 'The Way I Am' (I won't hold it against you if you've never heard of them), it was mainly bassist David Ellefson, a founding member of Megadeth, who gave this band instant credibility. However, his later return to the band he helped form would pretty much ensure that F5 would forever be nothing more than "that band Ellefson was in while he wasn't a member of Megadeth".

Standout tracks include 'Faded', 'Dissidence', 'Hold Me Down', 'Bleeding', 'Fall to Me', the title track 'A Drug For All Seasons', and an interesting cover of Eddie Brickell & New Bohemians' 'What I Am'. The album itself is fairly short, consisting of twelve tracks with a total duration of 36 minutes, leaving barely any time for any lapses in quality. It rocks from start to finish. Short, simple and effective.

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