About MMA (intro)

METALMUSICARCHIVES.COM (MMA) intends to be a complete and powerful Metal music resource. You can find Metal artists discographies from 34109 bands & artists, 146709 releases, ratings and reviews from members who also participate in our forum.

metal music reviews (new releases)

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH F8

Album · 2020 · Groove Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
Kingcrimsonprog
Five Flavour Fruit Punch, Five Finger Butt Plug, Nickleback For Juggalos; call them what you want, but I am an absolute mark for Las Vegas’ biggest Metal band, Five Finger Death Punch, and their Melodic chorus/Pantera-verses/Blunt-ignorance formula. It just always hits the spot somehow.

That being said; two out of their last three albums have been weaker than their usual standard, and a lot of high profile intoxication, protracted label legal issues, loss of a key member and an on-stage meltdown plastered all over the media have somewhat tainted the band’s rising-star vibe.

Its nice to say however; that their latest album, their eighth studio album, 2020’s F8 (Fate), sees the band clear-headed, sober and once again delivering the goods. You can hear singer Ivan Moody venting all that aforementioned baggage on the excellent tune “Bottom Of The Top” which is one of the highlights musically and lyrically. The quality of song-writing here is a lot stronger than their …And Justice For None record, and the performance is a little less robotic. That album had the air of disharmony about it, whereas F8 sounds like a band really gelling and coming together. For those who like the band at their faster and heavier, “This Is War” & “Scar Tissue” are the standout moments. If you prefer the band doing ballads and poppier moments, it’s the acoustic with electro-drums “A Little Bit Off” that you need to check out.

This is their first album without their key drummer Jeremy Spencer, who was such a big part of their sound, its hard to imagine the band without him. (I recently read his autobiography, and it’s a bit of a depressing tale of addiction, infidelity and recurrent erectile dysfunction that gives a good insight into the inter-band relationships, but definitely signposted that he wasn’t going to stay in the band forever!). Charlie Engen takes the drum throne this time around, and is a capable replacement, but maybe lacking a bit in personality on this particular record. I think much like Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg, it will take until the next album until we really see his potential. I don’t reckon you’d want to make too many waves on your first appearance.

I saw the band live just before this album was released, and it was absolutely glorious. I had been following them since their sophomore record had just been out and they were only starting to get noticed, and have been a day one purchaser on most of their albums to date, and it was amazing to see them not only playing arenas, but utterly captivating them. They dropped some new material from this record and it fit in perfectly with a hits-laden set. ‘Inside Out’ in particular feels like it will stay in their live set from now until retirement.

Its not hard to imagine that in the future, F8 will be looked back upon as one of the band’s better albums. Its not a Dr. Feelgood style new beginning, but it is a focusing and strengthening of the existing formula with simply better songs. (Does that mean its their Razor’s Edge? I don’t know…)

CHAOS OVER COSMOS The Ultimate Multiverse

Boxset / Compilation · 2020 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"The Ultimate Multiverse" is a compilation album by multi-national progressive metal act Chaos Over Cosmos. The album was released through Narcoleptica Productions in June 2020. The material on "The Ultimate Multiverse" is compiled from the EP's "Chaos Over Cosmos (2019)" and "II (2020)". Chaos Over Cosmos is a duo project consisting of Joshua Ratcliff (vocals) and Rafał Bowman (all instruments and programming), who live in Australia and Poland respectively. The two have never met in person, so all parts are recorded individually and then put together for the final release. The band released their debut album "The Unknown Voyage" in 2018.

Stylistically the music is melodic metal featuring elements from melodic death metal, metalcore, power metal and progressive metal. While there are a lot of differences between the two acts, I think an act like Into Eternity is a valid reference, at least to some point. The tracks on "The Ultimate Multiverse" sounds a bit like they were composed to be played and listened to in instrumental versions, and sometimes the vocals seem like an afterthought. The instrumental part of the music is very busy and especially the omnipresent fast melodic guitar runs and futuristic synths/keyboards dominate the soundscape. The programmed drums are decent, but not more than that, and it´s another example of a release featuring programmed drums where a human drummer could have added so much more to the music. It all becomes a little too sterile, because of the programmed drum sound and stiff playing style.

There´s nothing wrong with the musicianship though, and especially Bowman is an incredibly skilled composer and musician. He knows what he is doing and he is more than capable of playing the adventurous and technically challenging pieces he composes. If he could learn a little restraint and not play a million notes almost constantly throughtout he release, I´d say there is a chance that he could compose some extraordinay material in the future. The material on "The Ultimate Multiverse" is interesting, futuristic sounding, and overall of a good quality, but the vocal parts need to be better integrated and not sound like they were forced upon tracks which were originally composed to be played in instrumental versions. The vocals vary between growling, screaming, distorted with effects raw vocals, and clean vocals. None of the vocal styles are particularly original, but they get the job done and they are generally decent enough.

So upon conclusion "The Ultimate Multiverse" is a bit of a difficult album to rate and describe for that matter. It´s eclectic and adventurous, and there are some very impressive technical playing here and some beautiful melodic parts, but there are also some sterile programmed drums, and vocals which feel a bit like an afterthought and which aren´t particularly interesting, so there are both good and not so good features on the album, and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating isn´t all wrong.

MARILYN MANSON We Are Chaos

Album · 2020 · Industrial Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
MARILYN MANSON is of course a 90s rock icon with his slew of albums starting with the shocking portrayal of American values on “Portrait Of An American Family,” the irreverence and industrial metal heft of “Antichrist Superstar” and his most controversial album “Mechanical Animals” which got him accused of ripping off David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona however soon after those releases and an excellent hit single in the form of the Eurythmics cover “Sweet Dreams,” Brian Hugh Warner who as MARILYN MANSON led the band of the same name seemed to run out of steam after blowing his wad on his 90s output. After the “Mechanical Animals” fiasco MANSON returned to his guitar based creepy persona for “Holy Wood” but something just sounded off on that one and insincere. I never pursued MANSON’s releases from then on and basically just ignored them as one review and critique after another simply tore them apart for being insidiously boring musical dross.

Being irrelevant for two decades seems to break many artists and send them away packing but nobody can accuse MANSON of not being persistent. While i have none of the albums since “Holy Wood” to compare this to, for some reason i felt compelled to explore a new release from MANSON and lo and behold a new album just emerged on September 11, 2020, MANSON’s 12th titled WE ARE CHAOS. Obviously things have changed since the lineup featured Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gary, Ginger Fish and Robin Finck who all played their parts well in the most dysfunctional band of the 90s. Many musicians have come and gone but sometime in the not so distant past MANSON hooked up with Shooter Jennings, song of the infamous outlaw country star Waylon Jennings who has taken up the task of producing WE ARE CHAOS.

Album #12 returns to the days to the concept album days of the 90s and even takes on the retro feel of an LP of yore with two distinct sides and a playing time of only 42 minutes and 27 seconds. Having cited Elton John and Bernie Taupin as a main influence, it’s no surprise that the piano plays a prominent role in crafting discernible and instinctively hooky melodies that provide the underpinning of much of the album’s run. Despite the hero worship of 70s pop, i would say that the overall melodic flow is the closest thing to 1996’s “Antichrist Superstar” that i’ve heard at least with many of those familiar returns to MANSON’s soft whispered parts alternating with angsty punk shouts and heavy metal guitar heft in tandem with crafty industrial electronica. While the album misses the mark of providing as impactful experience as his lauded multi-platinum best seller, WE ARE CHAOS is quite the surprise that it is an extremely listenable album that although dusting off old ideas for contemporary use, manages to remain engaging throughout its ten track playing time.

While the metal aspects pale in comparison to the earliest days, the return of the Goth and glam is in full regalia on WE ARE CHAOS. The familiar melodic hooks that remind me of all those classic tracks like “The Beautiful People,” “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” and tracks such as “The Reflecting God” seem more like rejects from “Antichrist Superstar” as they lack the immediacy despite the strong hooks and similar feel however this is a much more mature version of MANSON and 24 years on sounds much better than anyone could’ve ever hoped especially after a slew of extremely uninteresting specimens of musicality. While this album does tend to cast MANSON as someone who is looking back for ideas rather than innovation, in his case where the innovation of the past 20 years has resulted in dismal ennui, i can’t say that it wasn’t a great idea to focus on what made you stand out in the first place rather than something you have no business tackling.

While MARILYN MANSON has never been a favorite band, i do love the first three albums enough to cherish them as some top picks of the 90s but MANSON as a personality just rubs me the wrong way. With the accusations of Satanic pedophilia from celebrities like Isaac Kappy MANSON has been vilified once again and perhaps has brought some renewed interest in his career but judging from WE ARE CHAOS, it is doubtful that MANSON will ever match the heyday of his 90s output despite crafting a pleasant retro album that is perhaps a bit too tame for his wild image as the album’s metal heft is more on the side of “Mechanical Animals” rather than the first two albums. Still though, i’m not disappointed that i at long last have checked out a new MANSON album. The dude still has the vocal chops to pull off his wicked unique style of industrial goth rock but despite strong melodies and songwriting prowess, the album still seems a bit too tame and could use some faster more upbeat tracks to offer some needed contrast. The title track is almost pure Goth pop rock as are several other tracks. This one is decent but far from the needed comeback in the modern era. Once again i think i will ignore Mr MANSON next time around.

HAKEN Virus

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.81 | 4 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Having released its first album “Aquarius” only a decade ago, HAKEN has since become one of prog metal’s most celebrated and anticipated acts with a series of albums and EPs that show a band that loves to change things up on every release without losing the core idiosyncrasies that makes this English band stand out from the prog metal pack. Despite the stylistic shifts from album to album one can easily distinguish the first three albums more focused on the progressive rock side of the equation from the latest three which crank out a more bombastic metal heft often at the expense of falling into the traps of mediocrity which was particularly so on the band’s last album “Vector.” It seemed as if HAKEN was fresh out of ideas and innovation and was resorting to a paint-by-numbers techniques of songwriting but with the band’s sixth album VIRUS, the inspiration seems to have returned and although i wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to check out a new HAKEN album, i have been pleasantly surprised that this is a well-thought out intricately designed expression of prog metal in the modern era.

Although its merely happenstance that the title VIRUS was picked for an album that came out in the year that is all about microscopic pathogens, the title refers more to mental psychopathies rather than the physical varieties. This album that clocks in just shy of the 52 minute mark encapsulates themes that arise in the form of institutional abuse as well as physical and metal abusive relationships, anxiety, depression as well as suicide. Musically the album merges both aspects of the band’s well known sounds. While rooted in the heavy djent-ish guitar riffs of the later albums, HAKEN has returned to its atmospheric roots by adding emotive counterpoints meticulously engineered and mixed by ex-Periphery bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood. The result of this grab bag of HAKEN-isms is a stellar well-balanced album that celebrates a decade of prog metal ingenuity cleverly truncated into a single album’s listening experience.

The album starts off with the lead single “Prosthetic” which was the first track crafted by the band and which sets the tone for the entire album’s feel. The track immediately blends the eerie atmospheres with heavy guitar stomping bombast steeped in staccato palm muting action and accompanied by technically infused energetic drum workouts. At this stage in the band’s career i would say they sound more like where Leprous should’ve been heading had they not abandoned their metal origins altogether and steered into sleepy time prog. The album continues with twelve tracks that blend the subtle melodic counterpoints of vocals, guitar and bass with the soaring keyboard accoutrements and jazzy drum workouts. The twin guitar attacks are tastefully reserved with dueling riffs and occasional soloing as extended pastiches of the emotive lyrical directions. The brashness of the slightly atonal djent guitar orotundity during the heavier parts in conjunct with Ross Jennings fragile and expressive vocal parts offer a beautiful contrast that works on all levels.

The highlight of the album has to be the five part “Messiah Complex” which is a tale of the ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame beautifully brought to life by a series of musical motifs and musical gymnastics not heard from HAKEN since “The Mountain” such as the beautiful vocal harmonies heard on “Marigold.” Despite the multi-suite magnitude of these tracks the individual parts are actually quite succinct with most just over two minutes and the grand finale “Ectobius Rex” just missing the five. Some of the most daring prog metal gymnastics occur in these final moments when wrestlers guitars riff up a storm with jittery time signature ambushes and Gentle Giant inspired vocal games emerge unexpectedly in “The Sect” along with angelic atmospheric backdrops and groovy rhythms, sizzling little solos and even a few video game noises. After a climactic finale of the “Messiah Complex” suite, the album tenderly drifts off into the spacey closer “Only Stars” which drops the metal altogether and offers a little dream pop ambience.

While HAKEN started out with a series of strong albums that crafted an intricate display of metal and prog in a powerful combo effect, on “Affinity” the band started to get cold feet and retreated from the more ambitious mingling of styles that got them noticed in the first place. While “Vector” was a step up at least in terms of quality of the composiitons, the band was still suffering from sounding generic and failed to stand out from millions of similar sounding bands. Happy to say that on VIRUS these guys have struck gold again by taking the heaviness of the last two albums and bringing back the diverse elements that made the first three albums so unique. Add a little emphasis on staccato driven grooves and an incessantly eerie atmospheric presence accompanied by strong melodic vocal performances and i can only conclude that HAKEN has made a triumphant return to form. While HAKEN will never rank high as one of my favorite bands of all time, i do enjoy their unique stylistic approach that they have made all their own even if influences are sometimes a bit too close for comfort. VIRUS doesn’t miss a beat and offers an album’s worth of updated HAKEN tunes to allow you to forget about the wild roller coast ride that is 2020, at least for nearly an hour’s length.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 283 - Once Upon A Distant Plane

Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
BUCKETHEAD’s 2020 return hasn’t exactly been up to the level of previous years but he’s certainly been cranking out more products than the average artist with five releases so far this year along with a something fairly new which is a bunch of singles. Always finding a way to be a bit off kilter and a major headache for databases, the chicken lover has hatched a new egg from the coop in the form of PIKE 283 - ONCE UPON A DISTANT PLANE but the wild thing is that this follows “Pike 279 - Skeleton Keys” so it’s clear that a bunch of PIKEs have hatched but not been completely finished and BH is releasing them out of order.

This is another around 30 minute PIKE with six tracks and fits right in with pretty much a majority of those in the PIKE serious. It’s all instrumental, heavily steeped in alternative rock / metal and finds the prolific one playing all the instruments. Also like many PIKEs these days, it has a been there / done that familiarity that doesn’t really allow it to stick out from the incessant flow of PIKEs of the last 10 years.

The opening title track runs over ten minutes and easily swallows up a third of the playing time. While familiar sounding it is a bit different in that is mixes the slow lullaby styled slower PIKE tunes with the heavier alternative ones in that it has a slower mid-tempo procession with spaced out atmospheric backing with crunchy guitar heft with echo effects. Melodically it sounds like a gazillion releases before but on the production end of things it’s much more refined in how a warm atmospheric haze oscillates in the background.

“The Cosmic Mirror” pretty much follows the same way. Introductory echoey spaced out guitars find electric guitars slow build up. The familiar melody and dynamics doesn’t make this one stand out much. “Space Beyond Question” is a bit more interesting with a nice groove and then sounds like a banjo part followed by some cool guitar distortion and unique drum interaction. This is the kind of track i keep sticking around to listen to the next PIKE however these interesting gems are too far and few between these days. This is one of those tracks that changes up tempo, dynamics, timbres and time signatures and the kind i love best from BUCKET-Bro. Sounds a bit like something that could’ve been on “Monsters And Robots,” one of my top BH picks.

“The Miner’s Lamp” is another satisfying groovy metal track that quickly transmogrifies into an avant-garde space sequence then to funk metal and then back to the clean guitar avant-prog weirdness and then back to a bombastic metal groovy stomp sequence. It’s just as innovative and basically based on the blues but very cleverly done. Another winner! The final two tracks showcase another new phenomena as of 2020 with BH adding a track or two of live tracks that appeared on previous PIKES.

“Ghosts Of Broken Eggs” originally appeared on “Pike 101 - In The Hollow Hills and is basically a slow bluesy rocker that showcases some guitar soloing. Nothing super exciting compositionally speaking but well performed. The second live track is the title one from the more recent “Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique” which begins with a clean space rock guitar but quickly erupts into the now classic alternative metal groove from countless PIKEs. BH basically solos around a rather ho hum metal riff. These types of BH tracks are undynamic and not really my favorites but the track is competently performed and decent if you haven’t heard a gazillion almost identical examples.

Overall PIKE 283 will be remembered more for being released before PIKEs 280-282 in the wild rollercoaster ride of 2020. Two tracks: “Space Beyond Question” and “The Miner’s Lamp” are excellent top notch BH material and although the rest of the album isn’t OMG excellent creatively speaking, this is a fairly consistent PIKE in its content and presentation. Good but not really the best of the best.

See more metal music reviews (new releases)

metal music reviews (older releases)

ADAGIO Sanctus Ignis

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.71 | 16 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Considered by many to be the French version of Symphony X mixed with Rhapsody Of Fire, the progressive power metal band ADAGIO was formed by guitarist Stéphan Forté in the year 2000 after graduating from the CMCN music school (now known as the Music Academy International.) The band was initiated for the love of Yngwie Malmsteem’s virtuosic neoclassical shedding style which Forté mastered without missing a beat. While ADAGIO would later develop a stronger symphonic side of its person a with choirs and elements of progressive rock, this 2001 debut SANCTUS IGNÍS showcases a fairly straight forward style of progressive power metal much in the vein of the US act Symphony X to the point that this could really pass as some lost album of the New York based prog metal champions.

The band originally formed in Montpellier in the south of France but has since relocated to Paris. Ironically the moniker ADAGIO is an Italian term that means “at ease” and refers to a slow tempo whereas the band itself is known for its extremely fast tempos. While not exactly cranking up a storm at the level of say Dragonforce, ADAGIO does turn up the heat on much of SANCTUS IGNÍS with the emphasis on Forté’s neoclassical guitar shredding style however often it does site back in the mix while tapestries of keyboard sound dominate the soundscape. This album consists of 9 tracks and races past the 58 minute mark and while the album contains no sprawling 20 minute behemoths it does have one track, “Seven Lands Of Sin” that just misses the 12 minute mark.

When you’re listening to SANCTUS IGNÍS you really just can’t shake the Symphony X comparisons because at this stage ADAGIO is really the perfect clone of one of the US’s most referred progressive power metal bands. There is a distinct classical underpinning for melodies with stomping guitar riffs that build up tension and climax with sizzling solos carried out with power metal gusto. David Readman has particularly strong vocals and belts out these demanding vocal performances with ease although his talents are overshadowed by the fact he sounds like a gazillion other vocalists out there which is pretty much the problem with ADAGIO’s debut in every regard. This album simply lacks an ounce of originality that sets it apart from any other album in the demanding world of progressive power metal.

The saving grace of SANCTUS IGNÍS is that the musicianship is top notch and the album is not at all an unpleasant listening experience in the least. If you are hell bent for leather to track down every possible band that worships the alter of bands like Symphony X and Rhapsody of Fire then ADAGIO will give you orgasmic sensations until your eyes bulge out however like many bands of this ilk, ADAGIO at this stage is woefully bereft of inspiration and going through the motions for their own sake. Add to that the band isn’t nearly as accomplished as either Symphony X or Rhapsody in constructing interesting compositions that display a wide range of motifs that construct a much larger movement. Music like this has to have a higher purpose that allows the progressive power metal to support otherwise it just feels like an empty shell. I would say that SANCTUS IGNÍS is superior to the first two Symphony X albums but pales in comparison to some of that band’s later efforts. Extraordinary in execution but underwhelming in the compositional department.

GRAVE Fiendish Regression

Album · 2004 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 4 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Fiendish Regression" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Grave. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 2004. It´s the second album since the band´s long hiatus ended with the release of "Back From the Grave" in 2002. A significant lineup change has taken place since the release of "Back From the Grave (2002)" as drummer and founding member Jensa Paulsson has left and has been replaced by Pelle Ekegren. The remaining part of the lineup who recorded "Back From the Grave (2002)" is intact.

Stylistically the material on "Fiendish Regression" pretty much continue the old school Swedish death metal sound of the predecessor, but the relatively dominant groove element of "Back From the Grave (2002)" is scaled back a bit on "Fiendish Regression", making it a bit more "straight" in terms of old school death metal authenticity. When that is said the contemporary sounding production still reveals that this is not an early 90s death metal release and there are still some groove elements left in the band´s sound. To my ears it´s actually a bit of a shame that they cut down on the use of the brutal grooves, because that was the part of their sound on "Back From the Grave (2002)" that I felt made them stand out a bit. "Fiendish Regression" is a bit more one-dimensional and the tracks seldom stand out (something which isn´t helped out by the one-dimensional growling vocals). The pace is predominantly mid tempo and it´s only very rarely the band play faster parts.

"Fiendish Regression" is overall still a quality death metal release by Grave though. Personally I just find it less appealing than it´s direct predecessor and also less memorable. It features quite a few redeeming qualities in the high level musicianship and in the powerful and detailed sound production, but the songwriting could have prospered from more variation. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

GODFLESH A World Lit Only by Fire

Album · 2014 · Industrial Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
BitterJalapeno
Deep, dark and exceptionally moody, A WORLD LIT ONLY BY FIRE was the first GODFLESH album released in nearly 13 years after 2001s HYMNS. I get the impression that they were trying to record something of refreshed version of their first studio album STREETCLEANER which I think they did successfully. Call it a STREETCLEANER 2.0 if you will. It has the same relentless rumbling aggression, very low tuning and Broadrick's signature bark but with a fresher feel from the modern production. If you listen with headphones up full blast and close you eyes, you can practically see the fire mentioned in the album title (or maybe it just makes me think of the album cover of STREETCLEANER??)

Having said that, I would still put STREETCLEANER in front of this down to its originality at the time of its release even though the music itself has a less professional feel which is generally the case for most first releases anyway and certainly not always a bad thing.

One thing that lets A WORLD LIT ONLY BY FIRE down in my opinion is that it can feel that it drags on somewhat towards the end and on occasion, i do not make it quite to the end of the album. For this reason, I cannot give more than 3.5/5. Still a great album which I would recommend to anyone who likes their metal dark and bleak.

BitterJ

CROWBAR Odd Fellows Rest

Album · 1998 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 4.45 | 7 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BitterJalapeno
I hate to use the word "unprecedented" at a time when the word has lost all meaning due the frequency of its use in the 2020 media but there is no alternate word i can use to describe the heaviness of this album. I don't mean heavy as in the brutality of the music or heavy as in shockingly harsh vocals. I mean heavy as in the heavy emotion projected by Kirk and the boys which in dripping in so much sorry and burning pain that it will weigh you down to the point where you are empathizing with their misery - in a very good way.

The album is very slow and at some points dirgey but my god, the delivery is brute force. The riffs are of gargantuan proportions and sort of sound like two giants battling on a mountain top. These are carried along by the ever pounding drums and together with the rasping vocals of Windstein, the whole thing washes over you in a big wave of sludgy goodness. If you have not had the pleasure of this album yet, please get yourself immersed.

Deep, passionate, sorrowful, amazing. Truly deserving of a 5/5.

PS: Good Iron Maiden cover to round things off at the end.

CONJURER Mire

Album · 2018 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 4.31 | 4 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BitterJalapeno
I discovered this most interesting band in the autumn of 2016 when a good friend offered me a spare ticket to see WEEDEATER play at Glasgow's famous/infamous Cathouse Rock Club. As much as I enjoyed the set from WEEDEATER, the then unknown to me CONJURER turned out to be the support band. They completely blew my tits (man tits) off.

At this point, the only music of theirs I could source was their debut EP "I" which i listened to several times that week and began to tell anyone I thought would listen all about my new discovery - CONJURER

Whilst that EP was and still continues to be very enjoyable, it was only setting the tone for what was to come next in the form of 2018s MIRE.

The album opener presenting a thick, doomy wall of sound giving the listener a strong ominous feeling and a major sense of foreboding and despair. The pace soon picks up with some nice intricate yet powerful riffing and thundering drums before dropping back into hard, almost groovy death/doom. The majority of the album switches between grinding doomy sludge with more ferocious parts full of blast beats and riffs more akin to thrash and also some lighter sections with strangled anguished screaming.

The musicianship is at a very high standard and the vocal performances from both vocalists are very strong - one with a very powerful death growl and the other slightly higher pitched but they work very well together.

One other thing that struck me about this album is the atmospheric quality and real genuine, heartbreaking despair this new band manage to showcase. The guys are playing/pouring their hearts out with undeniably monstrous results. It does not feel dated in any way shape or form, but very fresh

I would recommend to anyone who enjoys anything on the heavier side of music, particularly to fans of NEUROSIS. Watch this space as I believe we have much bigger and better things to come from CONJURER in the coming years.



EDGE OF SANITY Crimson

Album · 1996 · Melodic Death Metal
Cover art 4.38 | 106 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BitterJalapeno
After years of drifting away from the heavier side of music and spending a lot of time wandering around the misty realms psychedelic, I find myself back with a bang and have been revisiting some metal relics from my teenage iPod days. This, coupled with the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland has sent me on a rampage of metal music discovery with death/prog/sludge/doom being at the very heart of it.

This album was a first for me in 2020 and I have to say that I already love it dearly like an old friend. It has equal elements of death metal and progressive metal but is also surprisingly easy going and very much likable on first listen which is not always the case for some albums spanning the death/prog sub genres. For example, GORGUTS' OBSCURA took me a good 5 focused listens to even begin to comprehend although I did also eventually love it and is also now a firm favourite.

Crimson flows seamlessly through 8 parts of a prog/death metal epic and is full of incredible deep riffs peppered with highly melodic lead guitar parts, some of which are reminiscent of the music of NWOBHM and which also have clearly been an influence on the likes of MASTODON who took sludge metal to new territories in the early 00s. The more melodic side of this album can also be clearly heard in the more accessible bands of the 00s melodic metalcore scene such us KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.

I would recommend this album highly to lovers of all types of metal music, even those that are put off by the death growls as it exhibits a stunning atmospheric and melodic quality which I feel makes it more easily penetrable than the majority of other albums within the genre. Overall, an outstanding adventure through sound. My only disappointment is that I had not heard it prior to 2020.

4.5/5

MACABRE (IL) Dahmer

Album · 2000 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.20 | 6 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Dahmer" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, Illinois based death metal/grindcore act Macabre. The album was released through Decomposed Records in October 2000. It´s the band´s first album release since "Sinister Slaughter" from 1993, and although they did release the "Behind the Wall of Sleep" EP in 1994, it´s still been quite a lengthy recording break. They´ve spend the break well though, researching the story of infamous American serial killer Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer and composing the music to go along with the gruesome real-life tale.

Thus "Dahmer" is a concept release featuring 26 tracks, and 52:12 minutes of music telling the story of the life of Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer from his early childhood, building shrines from the bones of roadkill, to his first murder of a Hitchhiker when he was 18, to his short army time in Germany where he ended up being dishonorably discharged as a consequence of his alcohol abuse. The story then goes on to tell how Dahmer is charged with child molestation. He didn´t serve time for the crime (he received a probation sentence) and soon moved in with his grandmother and began taking young gay men home, drugging them and killing them. There´s also a song about the short time he was kicked out of his grandmother´s house and stayed at the Ambassador Hotel where he also killed a man.

Around the middle of the album Dahmer moves into his own apartment and that´s when his killing spree really takes off. Quite a few tracks tell how he drugged his victims, killed them (most were strangled but some died from having hydrochloric acid or boiling water injected directly into holes in their skull that Dahmer had drilled while the men were drugged), dismember them (while taking pictures of the corpses in sexually suggestive positions at various points in the process), have sex with various parts of their dead bodies (including their severed heads and viscera), and eat them. But also details of how he disposed of their remains (some where dissolved in acid and flushed down the toilet). He kept quite a few parts for a skeletal alter he was contemplating building though, and also severed heads and other body parts he would use for masturbation. There´s also a song on this part of the album which tells the story of the poor 14 year old boy who escaped Dahmer´s apartment, but in a bizarre chain of events ended up being escorted back to the apartment by the police and handed over to Dahmer, who was able to convince the police that the drugged boy was his 19 year old lover, whom he had just had a domestic fight with. Nothing but bones were left of the boy, when Dahmer´s activities were finally revealed.

The last part of the album concentrates on how Dahmer was captured (one of his intented victims fled his apartment and contacted the police), the ensuing media circus, the trial, Dahmer becoming a born-again christian in jail, and finally his murder at the hands of another convict...

...and that´s pretty much the story contained in the lyrics save for a few details. Stylistically the music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Macabre. The "core" elements of their sound are drawn from death metal, grindcore, and thrash metal, but the band add many other elements from various musical styles to their music, which ultimately makes the overall style a bit hard to tag. There are for example a great deal of hardcore punk influences on the album (tracks like "Grandmother's House" and "McDahmers" are basically punk songs done the Macabre way), a track like "Jeffrey Dahmer Blues" is as the title suggests a heavy blues track, "Coming To Chicago" is Macabre´s bizarre version of the folk traditional "She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain", "In the Army Now" features parts of the melody from "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (an 19th century American civil war traditional), "Grandmother's House" features parts of the melody from "Over the River and Through the Woods" (another 19th century traditional), and "Jeffrey Dahmer and the Chocolate Factory" is Macabre´s version of the "Oompa Loompa" song from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". It may sound a bit silly to use children´s tunes and folk traditionals on an extreme metal album, but I assure you it has quite an impact when paired with the unpleasant lyrical subject matter.

It´s not all tracks on the album which feature "alien" elements, and there are several pretty extreme and relatively more "straight" death/grindcore tracks on the album too. The whole album is one long highlight with no sub par tracks and an overall great tracklist flow and the quality of the material is high throughout. So it´s a bit unfair to mention some tracks over others, but I still think tracks like "Hitchhiker" (that chorus is damn heavy and infectiously catchy too), "Exposure" (probably the most grindcore oriented track on the album, and it´s delightfully extreme), "Scrub a Dub Dub" (great heavy track with yet another catchy chorus), and "Temple of Bones" (heavy, heavy, and heavy riffs and rhythms) deserve a special mention.

If you´re familiar with the preceding releases by Macabre, it should come as no surprise, that the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. Especially drummer Dennis the Menace (Dennis Ritchie) is an incredibly skilled musician. There´s something very special about his drumming which drives the music forward most effectively. It´s like his drums roll and even the most awkward breaks and changes in pace sound natural when he plays them. His performance on this album cannot be praised enough. The guitar and the bass (which are both placed quite high in the mix) are also well played, but in addition to the great drumming, it´s the vocals on the album which take the prize. That part of the album is varied to say the least. That´s not unusual for Macabre, but it´s like they perfected the vocal part of their sound on "Dahmer". The vocals on the album varies from deep juicy growling, to brutal and aggressive growling, to high pitched screaming, to varies types of clean singing. The different types of vocals are often used to emphasize something in the lyrics, which is a slight stroke of genius to my ears.

So "Dahmer" is in every possible way a high quality release. The songwriting is varied and memorable, and the lyrical concept well chosen and executed, the musicianship are on a high level, and the Neil Kernon production is powerful, detailed, and raw. The perfect sound for Macabre´s music. In terms of musical development since "Sinister Slaughter (1993)", the band have taken giant steps and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

CATTLE DECAPITATION Homovore

Album · 2000 · Grindcore
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Homovore" is the debut full-length studio album by US, California based grindcore/death metal act Cattle Decapitation. The album was released through Three.One.G Records in 2000. It´s the successor to the "Human Jerky" EP from 1999. Despite not being more than about 3 minutes longer than "Human Jerky (1999)", "Homovore" is considered a full-length release.

Stylistically the 16 tracks on the 21:46 minutes long album are pretty raw and noisy grindcore (but also relatively varied and at times even quite creative) with politically charged and gory animal rights/anti-human lyrics. While song titles like "Open Human Head Experiments With Bleach Lacquer and Epoxy", "Colostomy Jigsaw Puzzle", "The Roadside Dead (Detrunked Stumpification Through Roadrash)", and "Bathing in a Grease Disposal Unit" do have a humourous touch to them, there are more serious meanings behind the words, than what the song titles might initially suggest.

Cattle Decapitation are a well playing act and the many tempo changes, breaks, and riffs/rhythms are delivered with great skill and conviction. The vocals by Travis Ryan varies from deep growling to high pitched screams and that part of the music is also delivered with conviction, although the vocals could have prospered from being a bit more intelligible, considering that the lyrics are actually worth reading.

"Homovore" is relatively well produced and while it´s certainly raw and noisy, it´s not a production where you aren´t able to hear details. So upon conclusion "Homovore" is a decent quality release by Cattle Decapitation and to my ears a natural progression from "Human Jerky (1999)" and also a step up in quality from that release. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

MESHUGGAH Destroy Erase Improve

Album · 1995 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.83 | 43 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Destroy Erase Improve" is the 2nd full-length studio album by technical thrash metal act Meshuggah. The album was relased through Nuclear Blast Records in May 1995. It´s the successor to "Contradictions Collapse" from 1991, although the two full-length releases were bridged by the "None (1994)" and the "Selfcaged (1995)" EPs. Since the release of "Contradictions Collapse (1991)" rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström has joined Meshuggah, making the band a five-piece. The change already happened before the recording of "None (1994)", so Hagström also appears on the two EPs.

"Contradictions Collapse (1991)" featured a technical thrash metal sound, but Meshuggah developed a heavier and more groove oriented approach to their thrash metal on the subsequent EPs and continue that direction on "Destroy Erase Improve". It´s a highly technical form of groove/thrash, featuring odd-metered staccato riffs and rhythms, strong jazz/fusion influences (some of the chord progressions, the drumming, and the Alan Holdsworth influenced guitar solos point in that direction), a generally cold and alien atmosphere, and Jens Kidman´s James Hetfield (Metallica) on steroids vocals.

"Destroy Erase Improve" packs a mighty punch and it´s overall a well produced album, featuring a powerful sound which suits the material perfectly. "Future Breed Machine" opens the album with an aggressive attitude, sharp riffs and rhythms, and an angry sounding Kidman in front, and that´s pretty much how it continues for the duration of the playing time. It´s bleak and aggressive, ultra technical groove/thrash metal, and the incredibly skilled band perform the music with the right amount of cold attitude and sharp aggression. The jazz/fusion influenced solos and guitar created atmospheric elements break the mood of the tracks once in a while, but other than that the listener is constantly pummeled by Meshuggah, who prove that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Personally I could have wished for a little more variation between the tracks, or a few more memorable parts or moments during the album´s playing time (the instantly recognisable vocoder part opening "Future Breed Machine" is an example of that), but "Destroy Erase Improve" is still overall a quality release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

NEAL MORSE Morsefest! 5015

Movie · 2017 · Metal Related
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Morsefest! 2015 is a live release by US musician Neal Morse. Morsefest! shows are without a doubt the most special Neal Morse shows that a fan could attend – a two day event with a different Neal Morse set each night. Morsefest! 2015 was released on either a 2x blu-ray or 4 x CD/2x DVD package in 2017. Strictly speaking it is The Neal Morse Band playing on the release – Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette & Bill Hubauer – but Morsefest! 2015 was released under just Neal Morse's name likely due to the event's focus on his albums ? (2005) and Sola Scriptura (2007).

While the focus is indeed on those albums, with ? played in full on night one and Sola Scriptura in full on night two, the set is varied with various extra tracks. The Neal Morse Band had released their debut album The Grand Experiment earlier in 2015 and that album also gets a fair airing across the two nights, particularly in the first half of night one with The Call, the title track and the limited edition bonus track New Jerusalem gets played, while Waterfall was featured on night two complete with some instrument changes for various band members. Three Spock's Beard songs are also brought out, Go the Way You Go on night one and At the End of the Day and Wind at My Back on night two, the latter two featuring Nick D'Virgilio first on drums then co-lead vocals. An edited version of Transatlantic's near eighty minute whole album epic The Whirlwind closes the second night, with further guest vocals by D'Virgilio and guitar by Phil Keaggy, who also makes an appearance on night one and was the support act for the event. Finally the band brings to the live stage for the first time a lesser known Neal Morse epic called A Whole Nother Trip, which appeared on his first solo album while still a member of Spock's Beard amongst what was otherwise a bunch of pop songs. There is also a cover of the song MacArthur Park, originally released by Richard Harris, which has been given the prog treatment by Bill Hubauer on challenge from Mike Portnoy. Neal Morse hates the song apparently and always swore he'd never cover it, but there you go. Hubauer sings lead on it.

The main draw to the Morsefest! 2015 live release is of course the full performance of two of Neal Morse's best known albums. ? is basically one long song in and of itself and is treated like the crowning piece of what Morse describes as a night of epics – a fair description when the shortest song is about seven and a half minutes long. For me personally the performance of Sola Scriptura is the key focal point of the two night show though. That's my personal favourite Neal Morse album, not to mention the one that really got me into his music. It's also one of his heaviest and most metal works which along with various parts of The Neal Morse Band's music gives a metallic edge to those otherwise symphonic progressive rock fuelled double concert.

Morsefest! 2015 is one heck of a show if you're into progressive rock. The scope is tremendous not just through the double show but each night's set is over two hours a pop as well. The amount of musicians on stage at one time goes far beyond the core band – far too many to recite in a review. Suffice to say there's a lot of people involved to pull this off. The sound and picture quality of the blu-ray release is excellent and you certainly get a lot of music for your money. The only fault with the set is that one listed bonus feature called Prog Jeopardy is completely missing from the release. Not sure what the story is there, perhaps it was planned and had to be cut for some reason and they forget to change the inserts before going to the press, who knows? But you weren't buying this for the bonus features anyway right?

There are several of the Morsefest shows released by the time of writing this review in September 2020 so which one holds the most appeal to each fan will of course be different. 2015 was a no brainer for me due to my particular love of Sola Scriptura. Someone else may think 2014's focus on Testimony (2003) and One (2004) or 2017's Testimony 2 (2011) and The Similitude of a Dream (2016) to be better options for them. Regardless any Neal Morse fan owns it to themselves to pick up at least one of these releases for his most special and exclusive concerts.

See all metal music reviews (old + new)

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
MEGADETH
Buy this album from our partners
Moving Pictures Hard Rock
RUSH
Buy this album from our partners
Powerslave NWoBHM
IRON MAIDEN
Buy this album from our partners
Dirt Alternative Metal
ALICE IN CHAINS
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Mohngang Pagan Black Metal
HORN
Buy this album from MMA partners
UUBBUURRUU Heavy Psych
UUBBUURRUU
Buy this album from MMA partners
Omniscience Metalcore
DEMATERIALIZE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Chroma Metalcore
ORPHIC
Buy this album from MMA partners
F8 Groove Metal
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Metal Online Videos

More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us

Buy Metal Music Online