SOS Metal Reviews: Tim Ripper Owens “Play My Game,” Blood Red Throne, We Insist!, Charetta, and more…

Amazon Tim Ripper OwensTIM RIPPER OWENS


After providing vocals for the most notable metal bands in the world for well over the past decade, Tim “Ripper” Owens finally steps out as a solo artist on his 12-track debut PLAY MY GAME. Bringing a mind-blowing cross-section of the metal friends he’s made along the way to the party (an impressive list that reads like a who’s who in the metal realm), Owens and associates dole out a lesson in traditional metal excellence with a modern edge (“No Good Goodbyes”). Channeling his former band Judas Priest and Dio as main sources of inspiration for his powerful vocals, the harbingering aura of “The Shadows Are Alive” and the wild caterwauls accompanying the extra-terrestrial pounder “The Cover Up” help Owens decisively cement his own identity while a surprisingly cohesive considering the vast array of hands in the mix multidimensional metal attack utilizes British metal swagger and American hard rock grit to get the job done (“Play My Game”). Despite the over the top six-string bravado of the likes of Craig Goldie, Doug Aldrich, and Carlos Cavazo leading the rhythm section towards a studio session feel, Owens’ powerful pipes and old world compositions ground this all-star affair long enough to strike a balance between sound like a musician’s clinic and a metal album with mass appeal. www.spv.deMike SOS



Ambitious UK upstarts The Boy Will Drown dazzle with a tenacious technical prowess on their debut 10-track offering FETISH. This group maintains a disjointed heaviness without relying on breakdowns, opting instead to steer their compositions with sharp dips in dynamics (“Akura Class”) and blistering speed-freak tempos (“Epilpleptic”). Elastic bass lines and coarse guitar riffs do battle while staccato percussion patterns flail away underneath a barrage of gruff and guttural death metal grunts, creating a stirring yet bit redundant metallic undertaking whose constant cacophonic clobbering becomes grating and repetitive, yet when interspersed with brief flashes of unorthodox musicality (“Dead Girls”) takes on as an admirable offshoot of Dillinger Escape Plan meets Psyopus by way of Poison the Well. www.earache.comMike SOS



So another two-piece guy-girl band comes to the forefront but before temptation to cry out in protest wins out (even if judging solely on aesthetics) don’t be fooled; Florida duo Dark Castle is the total antithesis to White Stripes in every way conceivable. From swapped-out band roles (whose female vocals are pretty spot-on foreboding, by the way) to the multi-faceted less is more rhythmic attack chock full of echo swirls, caustic distortion, and synth accoutrements, Dark Castle invites listeners to engage in vast levels of morass without a bass to be heard, sprouting an unanchored uneasiness prevalent throughout the eight-track, nearly 40-minute journey. Best taken in its entirety in repeated doses, SPIRITED MIGRATION is the end result of post-hardcore embellishments and doom metal devices gone awry by way of modern metallic psychedelica beaten into the brain. Almost as if Isis and Crowbar decided to jam out for fun, the combination of this act’s galactic scope and gigantic heft renders a sludge-ridden good time for those who enjoy a hearty helping of abrasiveness layered with ambient passages to help the lava go down smooth. www.atalossrecordings.comMike SOS



French progressive metal quintet Spheric Universe Experiment put their love of Dream Theater to the test on the unit’s latest nine-track endeavor UNREAL. Despite the band following a tried and true prog metal template and their obvious influences falling a bit on the cautious side, this squad delivers an enjoyable nine track excursion that exhibits an array of top notch musicians whose massive musical acumen, technical aptitude (special shout out to drummer Christophe Briand’s durable chops) and jam-ready know-how (“O.B.E.”) gets the job done with a slew of memorable moments that carry melody yet don’t skimp on the metal to boot (“Lakeside Park”). Solid yet not very groundbreaking, it’s unlikely that Spheric Universe Experience has the tools necessary to break into the mainstream, but UNREAL demonstrates that they can decisively hold their own amongst their prog metal peers. www.lasersedgegroup.comMike SOS



Pennsylvania sextet Father of Sin follows fashion and provides the creepiness as if they hailed from Transylvania, as this spooky squad references everything from the thrashing throb of Marilyn Manson to the malevolent pomp of Cradle of Filth on their latest endeavor GREATEST SINS. With one foot planted in a freshly excavated gothic industrial plot and the other in an avant-garde extreme metal niche, this troupe does an admirable job of pulling off a strand of heavy music without the services of a drummer, opting to use a drum machine to provide the thunder. Relying heavily on doomy metallic atmosphere cultivated from the Celtic Frost and Sabbath handbooks while making it palatable so the kids in the mall can join the black parade, subject yourself to the modern dread Father of Sins drums up. SOS




Former Melechesh bassist Al Carpathian Wolf’s one-man project Conspiracy rolls out its sophomore effort, an intriguing batch of death-thrash metal entitled CONCORDAT. Inducing melancholic malevolence while seamlessly meshing metal sub-genres, tracks like the Pagan-influenced “Faith” display the range of influence Conpiracy draws from while “Mentally Ill God” and “Last Veteran” dish out the barrage of dastardly riffs and venomous rasps that keep the head banging. Exhibiting a wide range of diversity yet raw as hell, Conspiracy also implements a slew of spicy guitar solos a la Kreator and Megadeth (“Limited to 666”) to prevent the overcast tremolo-picked blackened atmosphere from becoming redundant. This eight-track excursion renders a refined yet relentless listening experience containing metallic melody executed with a handsome dash of diabolic style. www.pulverised.netMike SOS



The French avant-garde rockers We Insist return with another ceiling-shattering collection on the 11-track THE BABEL INSIDE WAS TERRIBLE. Inhabiting the edge shared by like-minded boundary breakers like Tool, System of a Down and Queens of the Stone Age, this eclectic unit consistently pushes its music into strange and wondrous territories without sounding crammed in or forced. Thanks to a vast musical acumen and distinct overall sound highlighted by a raucous rock ‘n roll delivery spearheaded by a saxophone played through a guitar amp, this veteran squad embraces the luxury of total musical freedom without losing its backbone. Implementing a barrage of left of center rock hovering around the headier sphere of influence a la King Crimson and Mr. Bungle, We Insist will keep those who crave convention defiant music pleasantly occupied. www.mainstreamrecords.deMike SOS


Amazon Blood Red ThroneBLOOD RED THRONE


On their latest nine-track endeavor SOULS OF DAMNATION, Norwegian death metal mongers Blood Red Throne pay homage to the US death metal sound, channeling everyone from Morbid Angel to Cannibal Corpse. Solidly delivered with a proper portion of groove and technicality in place (“Demand”), there may not be a wide array of groundbreaking material present, but the band’s vitriolic onslaught is undeniable (“Prove Yourself Dead”). This veteran unit reaps the benefits of staying on a course without much variation, resulting in shaping its murderous musical machine to a well-oiled machine manufacturing enough face-breaking riffs, sinister growls and neck snapping double bass battering to satisfy the most rabid bloodthirsty cravings for death metal glory. www.earache.comMike SOS



NYC quartet Skum City keep the Big Apple’s punk rock fires burning bright with an authentic blast of contagious chaos straight from the LES gutter on the unit’s latest six-track 7”. Keeping the guitars crunchy, the tempos fast and dirty, and the singing sneering, tracks like “Don’t Worry About Nothin’” and “Hungry and Dirty” display a love of the hardcore punk spectrum a la DRI and Black Flag while the band’s self-titled anthem “Skum City” provides a visceral kick to the cranium as a divine group vocal chorus leads the charge. Raucous and in your face, Skum City’s colorful and confrontational punk rock stomp is certifiably scraped up from NYC’s grimy underbelly and delivered with the confident cadence of a band with the chops and aggression to pull it off. www.skumcity.comMike SOS

Amazon CharettaCHARETTA


Charetta is a NYC-based female fronted hard rock outfit whose latest nine-track effort DEFYING THE INEVITABLE is adorned with a barrage of heavy-handed and well-composed melodies whose tendencies to work within the confines of atmospheric metal falls somewhere between In This Moment and Lacuna Coil (“On The Line”). Featuring a skull-rattling bottom end crunch that combines Staind and Chevelle (“Stop the Cycle”) alongside a powerful female voice that proudly wavers in between breathy and bad-ass (“Too Far In”), this quartet’s ready for the radio modern hard rock is balanced with nasty riffs (“Love Your Lies”) and angelic vocal anguish (“So Convincing”, “Never”), passionately meshing driving grooves with overwhelming outpourings of emotion to create a refined album ready for mass consumption. www.charetta.comMike SOS

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