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THE HOUSE OF CAPRICORN Morning Star Rise

Album · 2014 · Gothic Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Morning Star Rise" is the 3rd full-length studio album by New Zealand doom/goth metal act The House of Capricorn. The album was released through Svart Records in November 2014. It´s been some years since the release of "In the Devil's Days (2011)", but The House of Capricorn makes a welcome return with "Morning Star Rise".

The band have obviously developed their core musical direction on "Morning Star Rise" and also honed their skills in the process. The strong and quite dominant Type O Negative influence which graced "In the Devil's Days (2011)" has been toned down considerably. Actually to a point where it´s only the 9:32 minutes long closing track "Dragon of Revelations", which features that particular influence. The band´s doom metal leanings have also been toned down and while there are certainly heavy beats and riffing enough on the album so satisfy listener´s with a preference for that, it´s only "Ashlands" and the above mentioned "Dragon of Revelations" that can be labelled doom metal. The remaining part of the album is closer to the gothic/doom rock style of Babylon Whores, which means a hard edged "black leather jacket/shades" type of gothic metal style, and not the more soft eyeliner type goth metal. In other words this is pretty badass occult themed (check out song titles like "The Road to Hell is Marked" or "In the Light of Lucifer") gothic metal with an attitude. Sisters of Mercy is of course also a valid reference.

There´s a dark rock´n´roll atmosphere to the album, which is created by a generally energetic pace (except on the two doomy tracks on the album, which are both slow and epic in nature), hard rocking riffing, rock´n´roll style guitar solos, and an attitude filled vocal performance by Marko Pavlovic. It´s not that this style is completely new to The House of Capricorn, as they´ve explored it some on their first two releases, but they´ve really embraced it fully on "Morning Star Rise". The two doomy tracks, which in this respect, are the odd ones out, still fit with the overall musical concept though and they are great for the variation and flow of the album.

The band are well playing and the vocals are delivered with both passion and conviction, and they are relatively varied too, which often provides the music with an extra dimension. "Morning Star Rise" also features a strong, powerful, and organic sounding production, which suits the music well, so upon conclusion it´s quite an entertaining quality release by The House of Capricorn and definitely their most memorable album so far. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

MADROST Into the Aquatic Sector

Album · 2014 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Universal energy...

Genre: death-thrash

The second full-length release by American metal outfit Madrost, Into the Aquatic Sector was released back in September.

The band is often categorized as a death-thrash band, and this album definitely is full of death-thrash elements. But they go beyond standard death-thrash, taking their music in a somewhat more technical direction. Extreme metal fans will be happy to know that, like a couple of other thrash metal bands, Madrost have adopted blastbeats into their style, and I must say that, although categorized as a death-thrash effort, this album is much more extreme than most death-thrash. It's not quite tech death, bu there are plenty of tech extreme metal elements on the album as well as some really melodic stuff. The vocals are generally of the screechy variety, but it does feature some surprising old school metal screams, as heard in the beginning of 'Frozen Beneath The Snow'. At times, there is a hint of Death in some of the songs, so fans of Schuldiner might like it.

Fans of death metal or thrash metal should definitely check this album out. It's fierce and fast. it's angry and aggressive. It's technical and refined. Head over to their Bandcamp page and give it a listen.

(review originally from seaoftranquility.org)

STRIKER City Of Gold

Album · 2014 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.75 | 2 ratings
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Underground...

Genre: power-thrash

The third full-length effort by Canadian metal act Striker, City of Gold was released in August on Napalm Records.

On this album the Canadians strike a perfect balance between traditional metal and thrash metal, resulting in a solid power-thrash attack. The opening track 'Underground' is an uptempo thrasher, while the title track combines thrashy aggression with a catchy chorus that, for some reason, makes me think of Stormwitch. The listener is treated to both uptempo thrash metal aggression and old school Judas Priest-like riffage combined with Maidenesque guitar melodies. 'Bad Desicions' even takes the music in 80s hard rock territory akin to Whitesnake at their best, standing in a nice contrast to the following thrasher 'Crossroads'. So yes, this is a perfectly balanced power-thrash release. The guitar solos are absolute facemelters, and the soaring vocals are all out old school metal, and the musicianship is overall impeccable. What really appeals to me about this album is its eclectism which simply captures most of the elements that made the 80s metal and hard rock landscape so attractive and brings it up to date in terms of performance and production.

Being a fan of thrash metal and traditional heavy metal, I have a weak spot for both US power metal and power-thrash in general (while European power metal cheese generally does not sit well with me), I may be a bit biased here, but I think that City of Gold is a very well put together album which captures all that's great about power thrash. This album should appeal to fans of both traditional metal and thrash metal, and City of Gold is thus recommended to fans of Charred Walls of the Damned, Dark Empire, Paradox, Iced Earth, and Artillery as well as early Running Wild and early Anthrax.

(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)

CROSS EXAMINATION Dawn of the Dude

EP · 2014 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Wake up call...

Genre: crossover thrash

Released in August on Organized Crime Records, this EP is available in 7'' vinyl and digital format. Now, any thrash metal connoiseur will look at the cover image and probably expect some batshit insane retro crossover thrash...

... and that's exactly what we get. The EP offers up fast and furious crossover thrash. With most songs being shorter than two minutes and full of aggression and, most importantly, speed, each track is a burst of energy in its own right. Cross Examination is known for their party thrash attitude – as reflected in song titles like 'Ritual Snackrifice', 'Hail to the Jeef', and 'The Bluntapocalypse' - but their sound is considerably more aggressive and angry sounding with Kegmaster G's (aka. Devil Dan) vocal style being the cherry on the cake. Now, while there is a lot of silliness on this album, like there should be, don't expect the band to be subpar. They got the chops, and the listener is bombarded one thrash metal attack after another, and the guitar solos are flurries of notes hurled at the listener in a most old-fashioned style (think Slayer).

This is a surprisingly good release within the realm of crossover thrash and, while, there are some filler tracks, the listeer is treated to quality thrash metal with plenty of elements from hardcore. Fans of Carnivore, Nuclear Assault and Wehrmacht, as well as Gang Green, should like this release.

(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)

THOSE WHO BRING THE TORTURE Piling Up

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Under twin suns...

Genre: death metal

Released in August, Piling Up is the fourth full-length effort by Swedish death metallers Those Who Bring The Torture. The band was formed in 200, apparently as more of a grindcore outfit, only to split up in 2010 and reformed in 2012 with only one original member. This is a band that I am not really familiar with, so Piling Up is my first exposure to this band.

Not having heard their previous releases, I have no frame of reference and comparison. However, the album at hand is more in the vein of death metal with a melodic twist than all out grindcore. The grindcore elements are definitely there in the form of blastbeat sections and Napalm Death-ish aggression. However, it is death metal that takes the central place as heard in the crushingly heavy and Cannibal Corpse inspired title track or 'Through The Aeons', which combines d-beating crust influences with old school death metal riffage and blastbeats. 'In Orbit' similarly offers up old school death metal carnage, but combines it with melody and hints of groove, while 'Lifesucker' is another all out death metal attack, revolving around a compelling stomping drive. The melodic element, interestingly, is primarily reminiscent of melodic black metal and not so much typical melodic death metal, which is definitely refreshing. Not surprisingly, the guttural growls and screechy screams – which constitute another grindcore element – suit the music quite well.

Overall, Piling Up is a very good death metal effort which should appeal to fans of death metal and melodic black metal alike.

(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)

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DEEP PURPLE Now What?!

Album · 2013 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.94 | 12 ratings
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aglasshouse
I'll admit it- I've never really listened to much Deep Purple until I gave a listen to their 2013 album. I've heard these guys well perceived by critics over the years, and just a little while ago decided to check them out. I gotta say, I was also impressed. But I knew; I couldn't review a band after just listening to a 2013 album, I had to go way on back to their heyday in order to juxtapose this album with the classics.

And after listening, this song is up there. I mean, an album like Stormbringer (which I enjoyed), or Machine Head could not be compared to. It is obviously hard to match work from forty-three years ago when these guys were in their prime. Although I must say that their sound seems much more raw then their classic works. Not to mention they use much more synth on the release as opposed to the simple smashing of hard rocking that you'd see on In Rock (my favorite of all). It may be some sort of pattern that these old bands, once their out of their huge popularity heyday, that they come back with sound that is backed up by other affects in order to support their music which has dulled. Not to say that this dulls their music very much, in fact if you listen to the song 'Weirdestan', you'd swear you were listening to a classic Deep Purple track. Overall, there is a sound of hard rocking that still remains, and it is quite nice, maybe even nicer than some of their older albums.

So, if you are a fan of "classic metal", or Deep Purple for that matter, this is a definite release for you to check out.

Go give it a listen.

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS Purple

Album · 1994 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.51 | 5 ratings
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aglasshouse
Out of all of Stone Temple Pilots' releases, this has to be the most experimental and interesting of all of them. Their previous grunge-laden release of Core definitely showed that these guys could rock, but they were able to change significantly as well as experiment with different variations of their hard rock genre.

Purple is, perhaps, the most known of the STP albums (next to Core (1992), and has thus earned several different awards and high spots on lists around the world. It earned number six on Loudwire's "10 Best Hard Rock Albums of 1994", was ranked at number 438 in Rock Hard Magazine's "The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time", as well as being ranked at number 24 on Guitar World's "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list. It earned number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 in 1994, number 10 in the UK Album Chart, number one on the Australian albums chart, and number two on the Canadian RPM Albums Chart.

Needless to say, the album didn't do horribly. Not to mention several different and equally successful singles were spawned from the release. 'Interstate Love Song' in fact became their most popular song to date (next to 'Plush' [Core]). But the question is, does this album deserve all the credit and praise it has received? I would think, after listening, say yes. I definitely like this album equally, if not more, than their debut album. I've always felt like Purple had more interesting elements than Core, mostly because of Weiland's deep drug addiction that he fell into around the time of this album's release, which caused their sound to become not only more creative, but also much more weird. It must be said that Stone Temple Pilots suffered huge dislike from a wide variety of critics upon the release of their debut, most insults coming from the fact that they, as a alternative hard rock band, had blatantly ripped off the alt. rock uprising that Nirvana had lighted on back in 1991. Both alternative rock and it's metal counterpart exploded during the early 90's, with bands like Alice in Chains coming in with the release of Dirt (which was incidentally released on the same day and year as Core). So it didn't help STP out of the rut that there were numerous alternative bands around them around the time of their up-commence. But perhaps, it could be said that Stone Temple Pilots were more demeaned than other bands at the time, and Core was particularly, well, stoned because of it's (as critics said) uncreativity and lazy grunge-rock sound. So with full remembrance of the hate heaped on Core, STP released their second album, Purple, to the masses.

The album uses not only hard-rocking grunge as it's centerpiece. In fact, there is a much more acoustic and, dare I say, progressive sound on this album. It is clear upon listening to the entire album that is has psychedelic influence (as said before due to Weiland's drug addiction). This adds a somewhat richer tone to their overall sound, and automatically adds a more creative edge on the rock. The opener of 'Meatplow' is somewhat reminiscent of Core's 'Dead and Bloated', with them both being rather bland (but not bad at all) grunge track. It isn't a bad opening, but it does sort of offset you from the mood of the album. 'Vasoline' is a quick-riffing, free-flowing track. Like 'Meatplow', not too spectacular but still pretty good. The album takes a more boring turn with 'Lounge Fly', which is quickly followed up by 'Interstate Love Song'. This song sort of sounds bland and lame, mostly due to the country-influences that are clearly present. 'Pretty Penny' is an interesting acoustic, yet it does take some certain key changes which I overall find annoying. 'Silvergun Superman' heads off the heavier side of the album, and is the heaviest off of the album. Slow, slamming riffs accompany awesome guitar and bass screams. Real nice. 'Big Empty' is my second favorite track off of the album (next to 'Silvergun Superman'). Although hailed as a alternative rock song, this songs acoustics combined with grungy-riffing give it a oddly progressive sound. Highly enjoyable. 'Unglued' is another quick-riffing song, and is actually pretty catchy and nice. 'Kitchenware & Candybars' is a beautiful song that slowly falls into a hard-hitting song with crunching chords, finishing the album off well.

I think my only problem with this album preventing me from giving it 4.5 or 5, is that very much filler is present. Those songs are unenjoyable, and not worth listening to. Aside from that, this album is a really great pickup for anyone interested in the band.

Go give it a listen.

PENDRAGON Pure

Album · 2008 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.33 | 3 ratings
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Unitron
Pendragon-Pure

'Pure' is the eighth studio album by British progressive rock/metal band Pendragon. After Pendragon's shift to a harder rocking style on the previous release 'Believe', Pendragon expands upon that shift in sound and extends the metal leanings.

Like the previous album, there is a balance between heavy metal/rock songs and slower calm songs. The album begins with the heavy 14-minute 'Indigo', which soon blasts you with heavy riffing. The song has a nice contrast between the heavy metal riffing and slower passages, the transitions coming at the perfect times. At the bridge Peter Gee plays a great bassline over Clive Nolan's atmospheric keyboards, with Nick Barrett's heavy riffing soon coming in. The song ends with a great soaring guitar solo. One of my favorites on the album is 'Comatose I: View from the Seashore', which begins very slow and melancholy with heavy riffing coming in about 3-minutes through. My other favorite is the shorter song 'The Freak Show'. It immediately begins with heavy crunching guitar and Nolan soon gives us more atmospheric keyboards. I also really like the lyrics for this song.

Like with the previous album, Barrett's vocals fit this sound much better then Pendragon's older stlye. The way the slower and calmer parts in this new style are played, makes his voice sound very passionate. Instead of grandiose sometimes really annoying synth, it is overall much more guitar led with more acoustics then synth.

My only problem with this album, are the all slow songs. The longer songs that have various tempos are great, but I feel like the songs that are just slow are pretty weak. They seem to drag on and on, especially the 8-minute long final song 'It's Only Me'.

Overall, even though it has it's flaws it's still a great addition to any progressive metal/rock collection and I recommend it. Pendragon would improve their sound on the following album.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!

ULVER Bergtatt: Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler

Album · 1995 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.03 | 31 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
ULVER (Norwegian for 'wolves') has become one of the strangest and most eclectic bands in the universe over their two decade span of releasing albums and that uniqueness begins right here on their debut release BERGTATT – ET EEVENTYR I 5 CAPITLER (Spellbound – A Fairy Tale In 5 Chapters). The first thing you hear is a fast drum roll and then kicks in black metal riffing but what really grabs your attention is the Gregorian chant vocals that accompany it. Eventually the clean vocals give way to the expected raspy shrieks and screams more typical of the second wave but the interplay between the two styles is the basis of this entire album which was inspired by Scandinavian folktales. What's really going on here is two distinct styles of the album taking place. One is in an aggressive black metal style and the other is in an acoustic folk style with the monk-like chanting. These two styles usually trade off with each other but often they coincide with one taking the lead role at any given moment.

The album is actually considered part of the “Black Metal Trilogy”even though the second album lacks the metal part of the equation. In addition to the fusion of styles, ULVER set themselves apart from other black metal bands of the day by focusing their lyrics around myths and fantastical worlds instead of anti-Christianity, national pride or other hateful themes. The folk sections consist of beautiful classical acoustic guitar, cello and flute. The black metal parts pack in all the aggressive fury one would hope for but what really works is how well it is all mixed together and all the trading off of sounds is perfect. Before you know it the album goes by way too fast. A very unique album that obviously influenced later acts such as Agalloch and Deathspell Omega. Despite being lumped into the black metal universe it is clear from one listen to this beautiful beast that ULVER were on their own trajectory and it's one that i'm glad I have finally latched on to.

GOREMENT Into Shadows

Single · 1992 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Into Shadows" is a 7" vinyl single release by Swedish death metal act Gorement. The single was released through Poserslaughter Records in May 1992. It is limited to 1000 copies on white vinyl. The two tracks from the 8:01 minutes long demo are also featured on the two compilation albums "Darkness of the Dead (2004)" and "Within the Shadow of Darkness - The Complete Recordings (2012)".

The music on the single is raw and brutal old school Swedish death metal. It´s the third release by Gorement within a year and while there is a slight development in sound since the "Human Relic (1991)" demo, the music is still old school Swedish death metal. Dark, raw and brutal. Both tracks on the single would make their way unto the band´s debut full-length studio album "The Ending Quest (1994)". The quality of the material is pretty good and the sound production is alright too, so I guess a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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