Archive for the SOS Metal Update Category

SOS Metal Reviews: Nile “Those Whom The Gods Detest,” Scar Symmetry, Slayer, and more…

Posted in Nile, SOS Metal Update with tags on January 8, 2010 by gearsofrock


Those Whom The Gods Detest is the sixth studio endeavor from South Carolina’s technical death metal mavens Nile. Blisteringly brutal as previous works while maintaining the band’s trademarked Middle Eastern influence both lyrically and musically, Nile’s flurries of dastardly twin guitars and consistently jaw-dropping percussion work remain the envy of every death metal outfit, as this band’s inimitable prowess raises the bar of extreme metal once again for other bands to try and attain (“Kem Khefa Kheshef”). Fortifying their colossal attack on the cranium by interjecting smatterings of memorable vocal lines that you will surprisingly find yourself shouting in the shower (“Kafir”) while implementing a fair share of dynamic downshifts and mid tempo chugging riffs into their ruthless arsenal to assist listeners to latch on a bit easier than before (“4th Arra of Dagon,” “Iskander Dhul Karnon”), Nile ascends to the forefront of the metal world with a stunning 10-track display of renewed aggression tweaked with just enough differences to stand out way ahead of their peers and slightly ahead of their already lauded catalog. amazon.comwww.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


Explosive UK punk troupe The Eruptors return with a scalding 14-track offering on Seduce And Destroy, playing their raucous brand of punk rock as if it were a collegiate-sized tutorial in kicking ass. Despite a couple of these tracks appearing on this tumultuous trio’s previous albums, they contain a similar devil may care attitude that fits right in with the new material’s sinewy swagger and gritty traditional feel, completing the band’s mission to rock your face completely off of your skull. Meshing infectious bits of street punk (“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!), chunks of rock ‘n roll rabble rousing, and a volatility of something freshly escaped from the garage (“Tow the Line”) spiked with a newfound bad boy hard rock spirit, the down and dirty amalgamation employed by The Eruptors simultaneously channels the essence of Cock Sparrer, The Misfits, Motley Crue, and Motorhead to create a supercharged sojourn chock full of a true sense of danger that proudly proclaims this act as the real deal. www.theeruptors.50megs.comMike SOS


Unbelievably, no band used this name before in death metal prior to this Swedish (surprise) squad of hardened veterans, as Mr. Death is a pretty basic yet effective moniker. This quintet’s 11-track debut (recorded at the seminal Sunlight Studio) prescribes a brazen death metal assault that captures almost to the point of paying tribute the definitive old school sound championed by the likes of Dismember, early Entombed and Grave. There’s nothing flashy or excessive to be found on this terse and thunderous release, as songs like “Black Blood”. “Misery’s Womb” and “Combined Agony” exhibit the furiously fuzzy ferocity straight outta Stockholm whose gruesome grooves and slash and burn style rings out with familiar yet ass-kicking conviction. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS


Swedish metal unit Scar Symmetry return after lead singer Christian Alvestam’s abrupt departure with not one, but two singers in tow on their fourth album Dark Matter Dimensions. This now sextet’s 11-track offering showcases an outfit who keep things moving along without skipping a beat despite their inner turmoil, as both new growler Roberth “Robban” Karlsson and clean throat Lars Palmqvist suit the bill and make a respectable clean/harsh vocal duo while the technically gifted musicians behind them hammer away with the mechanically-inclined complex mix of power metal and melodic death metal with emphasis on guitar gymnastics (“Radiant Strain”) that they’ve been lauded for since their inception (Sculptor Void,” “The Consciousness Eaters”). While Alvestam’s absence is apparent, the new guys do an adequate job of assisting Scar Symmetry rebound with a solid if somewhat unspectacular offering whose clinical feel and formulaic approach stays the course, not really gaining ground but picking up right where previous release Holographic Universe left off. amazon.comwww.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


The latest album by Chicago quartet Raise the Red Lantern is an eponymous eight-track offering ripe with shredding metal chops, prolonged prog-metal jams with the right balance of bombast and grandiosity, and a off-kilter melodic edge that could be passed as merely a surrogate for acts such as Baroness or Pelican in haste. Upon closer inspection however, this unit’s 80’s thrash metal roots become apparent thanks to some gnarly guitarwork as well as a homage-like bass solo seemingly to Cliff Burton (“Deliver Us/ Deliverance”), while a predilection to intertwine progressive sludge metal a la Kylesa with New Wave of American Heavy Metal like Killswitch Engage can also be found smashing its way within tracks like “Oracle”. Comprised by members of Yakuza and Emperor Custom Cabinets and recorded by Windy City metal guru Sanford Parker, Raise the Red Lantern features an impressive cast of hands on deck whose penchant for pushing the envelope falls in line with many of the bands they’re constantly compared to, significantly spicing up their sumptuous stoner rock stew. www.atalossrecordings.comMike SOS


Shocking Providence, RI outfit White Mice get as whacked-out as possible without losing musicality on their latest release (the band’s 20th) Ganjahovadose. This oddball trio’s 10-track smorgasbord of reckless sonic excess is not for the squeamish or prudish, as this act’s crude and unrepentant demeanor via the defamatory album artwork aiming its rage against religion and song titles like “Placenta the Crotchtower” are every bit extreme as the hypnotic stoner rock pounding meets cold industrial metal clangs and bangs thrown into their chaotic centrifuge of metallic venom (“The Narcomacaul-eeekalcoholicost”). Assaulting eardrums with an intriguing setup of gargantuan bass and drum rhythmic explosions, destructive electronic manipulations, and humorous dialogue samples without a trace of guitar allows the incessant harsh barrages of wild and warped grooves (“The Ape-Caca-Lips”) to infiltrate hips before scrambling headspaces. Known just as much for having an outrageous stage show where the trio performs in horror movie mice men garb as they are for their diabolical black metal vitriol meets ambitious anarcho-punk rock musical output, this eccentric unit’s dark noise rock aesthetics and sludge-ridden evilness reveals a startling wealth of tightly-wound depravity, fueling their technically intense soundtrack’s mission to make a stark impression. www.20buckspin.comMike SOS


Handful of Hate are a blasphemous black metal band from Italy whose fifth disc You Will Bleed doles out a relentless demonic assault dripping with evil intent. While the unit’s malevolent rhythmic strikes, atmosphere draped in despair, and piercingly glacial riffs are diabolical and durable, those fully immersed in the world of darkness can find this squad’s by the book song structures a bit too commonplace, as it sticks to a tried and true established gameplan a bit too stringently to overly excite an already tough to please underground metal sect. Nonetheless, this band blend of violating lyrics and volatile vocals with shards of sinewy guitar riffs explodes with serpentine fury and work to get the blood pumping, while the percussion’s hardware abuse is definitely a cut above the normal black metal mixed bag. You Will Bleed isn’t going to change your miserable existence, but it is definitely worth a spin if you’re looking for a reliable source for expressing your hatred for the world by. amazon.comwww.cruzdelsurerecords.comMike SOS


Childhood buds and Long Island trio Exemption return with a six-track encounter entitled HARMONY OF THE SPHERES, a robust release that thrusts this unit’s kicking and screaming cosmic blues metal into parts unknown. Featuring a healthy dollop of wailing guitars whose modern shred and classic soul mix one part Hendrix and one part Dimebag, a restless chameleon-esque frontman comfortably fluctuating between punk yowls and barbaric wildman screams, rhythms from all walks of heavy music from Warped Tour punk to cock rock to freewheeling rawk to sludge metal, and a penchant for penning unorthodox compositions (“I Wanna Die”), Exemption provide a bountiful cornucopia of aggression garnished with lush dynamics you’d expect from Muse (“Bleeding Blue”), an impressive sense of hard rock history, suspenseful songwriting, and triumphant genre juxtapositions. Exemption’s black-lit world of wonder renders a solid collection of multi-influenced off-kilter metal that routinely takes roundtrip galactic voyages into the void. www.mtheadrecords.comMike SOS


Hypocrisy touched down from their recent forays into space long enough to compose a batch of volatile tracks reacquainting the masses with their early traditional death metal feel and the end result is VIRUS, arguably the band’s most punishing album to date. This veteran Swedish unit features a revamped lineup under the guide of acclaimed metal producer and performer Peter Tagtgren that adroitly balances melodic mega-chorus gloss, menacing modern death metal roars, an abundance of nifty guitar leads and a decisively more raw vocal delivery cramming evil yet technical metal into “Warpath” and “Compulsive Psycho” with an impious immediacy. Seemingly more varied than prior offerings, Hypocrisy’s disparate tempo-shifts go from raging black metal to moody Pink Floyd without losing an ounce of brutality, as the double kick drum remains busy and the guitars ring out sinister throughout. This 11-track installment’s amalgamation of alternating aggressive atmospheres showcases a surprisingly broad range of death metal derivations for Hypocrisy more akin with the music Tagtgren produces from behind the board with a heaping helping of the stellar solos and contagious heaviness ardent followers have grown to love, making this release essential for diehards and something interesting to check out for the casual metal spirit.   www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


Raucous Montana trio Tonight We Ride play unapologetically over the top bar punk that recalls straightforward and snappy yet loose cowpunk at its best and sappy punk rock at its worst, falling somewhere between impassioned and clichéd on their 11-track Of The West. Setting tales of drinking and carousing to a countrified rock ‘n roll beat that channels everyone from Blink-182 and Offspring to Supersuckers and Dropkick Murphys, Tonight We Ride’s inebriated rowdiness assures an abundance of frat boy bonding sessions and hell-bent for bender kicked up heels by the dozens, as their simple yet effective melodies, cool interludes (“Prelude to Hell on Earth”) real life drama inspired lyrics (some of which beg for audience call and response), and scratchy vocal projections give this disc an edgy Against Me quality that trumps the serious case of modern rock redundancy that manages to seep through . While there are a few cuts that emit a blatantly unoriginal quality (“For Richie Rowe”), this squad’s passionate pursuit of storytelling via their modern prairie punk approach contains an outlaw rawness and backbeat swagger to keep the party hopping, the dance floor busy, and the drinks flowing. SOS


Buzzworthy Brooklyn metal troupe Wizardry proudly recreates the barbaric pomp and circumstance of the pre-hair metal ‘80s era on their crunchy yet ominous eponymous seven-track affair. Steeped heavily in doom and classic metal genres, this troupe’s chalice-raising ruckus is influenced by the likes of Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, early solo Ozzy, and Candlemass in both musical style and dramatic feel. Wizardry’s well-versed sinister stew packs an authentic punch whose throwback fur and makeup exterior add a fitting texture to their music, yet easily could be mistaken as some sort of hipster irony by the uninformed. Those in the know however will totally appreciate this unit’s stark attention to metallic musical detail and comprehensive understanding on how to create a properly foreboding atmosphere necessary to pull this specific strand heavy music off correctly, a task that Wizardry nails straight away with lengthy murky instrumental interludes and oodles of histrionic effects on the guitars and vocals. Adorned with flurries of formidable guitarwork with murderous virtuoso solos and a versatile rhythm section whose boisterous presence and granite-solid chops keep the doom oozing and the thrash galloping, some may cry foul from the spectacle of it all, but Wizardry’s level of camp never surpasses their sensational musical acumen, making their quest for the metal grail one every self-respecting metal fan can respect. SOS


NYC quintet Diablo Royale’s latest hard-hitting effort entitled Greedy Dogs cuts to the chase and delivers a potent and polished hard rock affair. This Big Apple squad’s seven-track offering brandishes an barrage of brash guitarwork (“Beholder”), rough and ready driving rhythms and whiskey-drenched vocal soul (“Promised Land”) to comprise this circuit fave’s visceral strain of meaty melodic hard rock that keeps girl’s hips shaking and guy’s fists in the air (“Remedy”). Containing a striking balance of timeless commercial appeal and balls to the wall attitude, Diablo Royale’s blazing twin guitar assault, uncompromising crunch and down and dirty hard rock swagger captures the grittiness of their hometown with a bevy of hooks ready to rock the masses. www.diabloroyale.netMike SOS


Known of late as much for endless legal battles and inner turmoil as their stark musical catalog, Norwegian black metal veterans Gorgoroth’s latest affair Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt puts this ever-changing revolving door lineup back at the forefront to claim the flag for despondent metal supremacy. Only guitarist Infernus remains for those with the corpsepainted lineup card at home, reforming the band with both old (notably returning ex-vocalist Pest) and new soldiers for Satan to continue the quest to spread evil across the globe. Implementing an increase in dynamics, most notably trading in the incessant hyperspeed of the Gaahl/ King Ov Hell version for a varied volatile tempo assault, this excursion executes its nefarious and nihilistic nuances with technical prowess and the classical feel of the band’s early works. Equally adept at building bonechilling atmospheres (“Rebirth”) as well as composing raging yet surprisingly melodic tunes a la Enslaved (“New Breed”), Gorgoroth’s latest collection of chilly clamor launches a message of triumph from the newly-empowered Infernus while providing longtime fans a return to form of sorts whose consistent sinister disposition carries this 35-minute experience through Hell and back. amazon.comwww.regainrecords.comMike SOS


Sacrilegious Austrian black/death metal mavens Belphegor have rapidly returned to the frontline with their latest nine tracks of nihilistic aggression titled WALPURGIS RITES: HEXENWAHN merely one year after their last offering BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE. This contemptuous unit wastes little time in doling out another batch of woebegone wickedness, as this particular batch of bastardized anthems is cut from the same cursed cloth in many areas and stays the course in so many ways, it may as well be labeled as part 2.  There are some alterations though, as Helmuth and company do lend their collective rasps and cackles to Satan with a greater sense of melody, showcasing the group’s demonic diatribes and fleeting rhythmic batterings spewed forth with a tumultuous tunefulness not heard on previous records. A barrage of dastardly death metal solos, churning slow riffs a la Morbid Angel and a bevy of shockingly explicit lyrics remain the core components of what makes this squad tick though, displaying an immediate evil soaked up from “Destroyer Hekate” and the utterly outrageous “Hail the New Flesh”.  Belphegor is still a band in transition, as lineup shakeups have plagued the last few excursions, yet this godless group trudges on with a trademark intensity and the bona-fide brash and scornful overtones guiding their ascent from the pits of the netherworld to concert halls worldwide.  www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


The fertile rock ‘n roll soil of Ohio has brought the music world many eclectic bands through the years (no wonder it’s the home of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and Tin Huey is no exception, as this post-punk meets new wave by way of artsy rock outfit’s collection of live and studio recordings entitled BEFORE OBSCURITY: THE BUSHFLOW TAPES demonstrates. Cutting their teeth in the same scene as bands as Pere Ubu and Devo, Tin Huey took full advantage of the vast resources at their dispose from the funky use of rock horns and clever female/ male tradeoffs to an underlying pop sensibility and quirky sense of humor propelling fearless streams of musical explorations. Tin Huey never caught a big break besides wooing critics, ultimately falling flat in the commercial market and fading out of national favor back into the regional circuit. Thankfully Smog Veil picked up on this Steely Dan by way of Zappa 14-track release of odds and sods chock full of the type of forward-thinking compositions, college level creativity and off-balance atmospheric shifts that display a band way ahead of its time worth checking out for those who enjoy rock music complex with a shot of strange. www.smogveilrecords.comMike SOS


While the third release by Irish thrash metal troupe Gama Bomb album contains a solid array of well-done retro thrash, the bigger story regarding Tales From The Grave is that the entire available is available to anyone (providing they provide their email address) on the web absolutely free. No red tape, no kidding. Label Earache Records (check out their official site for info) takes a risk here that can be viewed as either revolutionary or completely asinine, but regardless of the business arrangement between band and company, this breakneck 12-track offering fires out endless streams of whiplash riffs, lightning fast rhythms and histrionic screams that efficiently emulate the thrash metal onslaught of yesteryear. Liberally applying methods and practices from the likes of Overkill, Exodus, Gwar, and Nuclear Assault to compile their chaotic mix of heaviness and speed, this unit’s fantasy land meets sci-fi by way of B-movie kitsch lyrical subject matter delivered with an over the top vocal performance gives Gama Bomb a whimsical edge that helps keep the fun flowing, even when things get a bit redundant or too close to their influence’s comfort. If you dig Municipal Waste and have worn out your Violence cassettes (yes, some people still have them), then get into the 21st century and download this album and be ready for this release’s frantic frolic to thrash you until your neck is sore and you can’t thrash no more. amazon.comwww.earache.comMike SOS


New Jersey punk metal trio Fight Amp increase their intensity threshold tenfold on sophomore effort Manners And Praise. Anchored by a pronounced bass assault whose bombastic offerings propel a cathartic hardcore riff-fest falling in between Unsane, The Hope Conspiracy, and a kaleidoscopic blend of the dissonant end of the Am Rep repertoire, this unsettling unit’s viscous viciousness intertwines Hessian hardcore heft with syrupy sludge metal, developing a garishly loud, noisy and ugly 13-track din whose foundation-shaking sonic attack defiles virtually any structure that unwisely tries to contain it. Armed with a chugging metallic undercurrent while wound with an explosive anxiety-stricken aggression thanks to a dominant drum and bass rhythmic drive, Fight Amp’s complete caustic coarseness bridges the gap between metal, hardcore, and punk with an abrasive abundance of seething anger, making this disc a perfect accompaniment while traipsing along the path of destruction. www.translationlossrecords.comMike SOS


NYC quartet Gods Green Earth dishes out a dastardly dollop of debauchery courtesy of the squad’s three-song sampler. Not for the easily offended, this unit’s bawdy blend of stoner metal shuffle, heavy metal guitar hero-dom, and cringe-worthy and racy lyrical content fleshes out the best of the worst in rock ‘n roll excesses, pulling no punches while comprising an outlandish Clutch meets Pantera by way of 2 Live Crew vibe perfect for a wild night out on the town.  Crude and crass yet totally kick ass thanks to a workmanlike rhythm section, whiskey soaked vocals, and blazing fretwork with a live show as decadent as their songs suggest, Gods Green Earth brings out a Bacchanalian spirit whose rough around the edges stature embodies rock ‘n roll at its most primal. SOS


On their 11-track eponymous effort, Bay Area quartet Walken offers a tumultuous ride through an array of metallic genres, comprising a forward-thinking yet hellacious hybrid sound. Combining an ingrained Death Angel meets Testament thrash metal know-how with gallant swigs of epic metal, nimble classic metal interludes, soaring instrumental passages, a smoldering death ‘n roll churn, and jagged shards of punk metal sludgery, this crew’s versatile crossover metal fricassee employs a multitude of atmospheres from doom-laden to d-beat, ultimately doling out an adventurous listen chock full of top-notch twin guitarwork, a powerhouse percussive presence, and massive waves of brazen bottom-end bass striking a middle ground somewhere in between Intronaut, Between the Buried and Me, and Baroness. Soulful, heavy and raw, this foursome skillfully delivers a well-versed form of savagery with a tenacious technical edge while retaining an aggressive undercurrent of seething metal and hardcore, keeping everything just askew enough to warrant multiple listens in order to catch all of the dynamic sweetness Walken brazenly injected into their sophomore release. www.walkenroll.comMike SOS


Eschewing the lifestyle demands of the album, tour, and repeat cycle of metal warrior-dom by disbanding his musical projects, enigmatic guru of heaviness Devin Townsend took his time away from the grind to recharge, reconnect, and enjoy his family. Now achieving a balance which included getting fully clean and sober, an inevitable comeback was realized, and latest collection Addicted is the second installment of the four-part series of albums by this prolific metal artist, showcasing his newfound musical paradigm’s direction. Discernibly throbbing and upbeat throughout yet fortified with the trademark Townsend soul-stomping wall of sound (think more Sevendust and Static X structures with parts of Swedish melodic metal strewn in), this 10-track disc’s affable approach flexes its melodic muscle with an electric energy that radiates an buoyancy illuminated by vocals from the stellar Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering, who lends her unmistakable charm and grace to a surprising majority of this affair, most notably on the pop-metal sensation “Bend It Like Bender!” and the rousing closer “Awake!”. While ending song titles with exclamation points seems a bit pretentious, it further accelerates an overall feeling of celebration, acting as an extra ingredient that assists the shared exhilaration of the heavy guitar, massive keyboard presence, and tremendous production value smorgasbord. Never predictable, Townsend’s flowing creativity coupled with a focused sense of clarity warrants the excitement that resonates from this album, giving adventurous metal fans everywhere something to sink their teeth into. amazon.comwww.hevydevy.comMike SOS


Avant-garde NYC metal duo Ruby Bullet return with a complex and compelling five-track EP entitled Splitting Heirs.  This unit refutes traditional song structures in favor of an unorthodox fusion of artsy left of center heaviness that maintains an oppressive metallic density and a deep seeded sense of darkness while blasting off into advanced musical explorations (“One”). Thanks to a flawlessly fluid bass and drum connection known for its quirky time signatures, the band’s rollicking rumblings and sinewy shape-shiftings drive cuts like “Machine” with the pronounced rhythmic presence on full wallop, combining a startling blend of blunt force and skilled musical interplay. The pair’s odd cluster of funk, jazz, Goth, and prog metal fronted by an edgy female melodic vocal once again delivers an adventurous selection that simultaneously summons the cathartic powers of Tool, Led Zeppelin, Rush and Tori Amos, effectively fusing dynamics and dramatics.  www.rubybullet.comMike SOS


Independent desert rock quartet Dali’s Llama make good in their quest for a heavier sound on their latest stoner rock smattering Raw Is Real. This unit’s eighth self-released offering features ex-Kyuss bassist and desert rock guru Scott Reeder behind the board once again, resulting in a sharper yet discernibly more snarling presentation of this brazen squad’s amalgamation of unadulterated attitude, swampy smoothness, galactic guitar missions, and robust rhythm section phrasings. Thanks to a gruffer vocal showing and a deliberately array of darker riffs and melodies coming to the surface (“Grump”, “Raw is Real”, “Eve’s Navel”), this 10-track endeavor’s accentuated air of aggression champions a rash of noticeably heftier tones yet Dali’s Llama’s staple set of hypnotic groove goodness, free-form jam sensibilities and syrupy sweetness (“Always”, “Fluids”) remain intact, fortifying this band’s viscous and visceral foundation while rounding out arguably the most well-crafted album this genuinely passionate act has released thus far. www.dalisllamarecords.comMike SOS


Daunting Massachusetts metal squad Ichabod celebrate its 10th year as a despondent doom-laden musical force with an appropriately labeled eight-track ode to the year the world is supposed to end entitled 2012. This crafty quartet creates waves of cosmically mighty riffs and meaty melancholic meanderings that dole out a smorgasbord of stoner-metal fury not unlike an amalgamation of the superlative sludge of Eyehategod and the freewheeling ferocity of Today is the Day ripe with heavy 70’s jam-rock jamboree sensibilities (just check out the flute in “Gentlemen of the Choir”), a teeming Clutch-like confidence and oodles of psychedelic tricks and treats, going as far to include a sprawling yet electric 10-minute sonic touch-up of Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song” to give an indication of this collective’s intent to explore into the outer limits. Bolstered by swirls of black hole melodies that fall somewhere between Crowbar and Acid Bath carefully stacked to form an unorthodox yet durable left of center metal foundation able to hold attention spans through song lengths that creep past the five-minute mark, this haunting offering provides a foreboding stoner metal soundtrack to the apocalypse, laying down the blueprint to humanity’s last hurrah with a chilling tone gravely burying the planet in a cloud of smoke through a viscous wall of sound. SOS


Canadian punk rock veterans DOA cut to the chase on their latest release Kings of Punk, Hockey And Beer. This 13-track affair, featuring many previously released tracks by this staple act, ties together their loves via some clever liner notes into a cohesive raucous sing a long collection perfect to get incoherent by. If you can’t tell a slap shot from a slap chop or prefer bubbly to brew, you’re best off skipping this one, but if you’re a diehard blue-seater or enjoy a pint or 10, there’s little here you can deny stomping your feet and getting your drink on to.  www.suddendeath.comMike SOS


The Red Chord leans toward a back to basics approach chock full of unabashed savagery on the group’s latest 12-track offering Fed Through The Teeth Machine. Interchanging a bulk of the experimental elements from prior record Prey For Eyes for an amplified amount of gutwrenching grindcore goodness and destructive death metal (“Embarrassment Legacy”), this adventurous unit has significantly increased its level of intensity beyond the usual catastrophic noise-laden rawness taken from a multitude of extreme metal genres stance. Thanks to furious fits of spastic guitars equally in tune with Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse (“Demoralizer”) and schizophrenic drums doctored with arrays of insane intermittent time signature switches (“Face Area Solution”), this Massachusetts metal machine celebrates 10-years of metal service (and first release as a quartet) with its spiraled out of control dissonance bolstered with melodic progressive metal passages (“Hour of Rats”, “Sleepless Nights in the Compound”) and an advanced sense of muscular musical technicality leading their off-kilter charge. www.metalblade.netMike SOS


The latest release by Slayer finds the thrash metal titans as ferocious as ever, pulling off a convincing return to fleet-footed glory on the 11-track World Painted Blood. Armed with chaotic spurts of aggression (“Psychopathy Red”, “Unit 731”), violent hardcore punk tendencies (“Public Display of Dismemberment”) and haunting mid-tempo menacings (“Playing With Dolls”), this disc recaptures the classic feel of Seasons in the Abyss and Reign in Blood in clever yet familiar inflections, fully supporting the evil aura concocted by the dual shredding of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman ripping through Tom Araya’s raging vocal flurries and punishing bass poundings and Dave Lombardo’s blasts of masterful percussive madness. Fueled by a seething anger audible in Araya’s impressive impassioned grab you by the jugular vocal performance and the overall rapid-fire musical output, Slayer proves to still be a measuring stick for the extreme music world by laying down a triumphant album after two decades plus of sticking to their guns and remaining a dark and diabolical underground metal monster that consistently churn out slabs of dependably depraved heaviness. www.slayer.netMike SOS


Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

SOS Metal Reviews: Austrian Death Machine “Double Brutal,” Whiplash, Evile, and more…

Posted in Austrian Death Machine, Evile, SOS Metal Update with tags on December 6, 2009 by gearsofrock


When will it end? Tim Lambesis returns with his brand of Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation metal with Austrian Death Machine’s double album aptly titled Double Brutal. The first disc contains 13 new metal jams served with a wink and a nod thanks to the subject matter and the rapidly getting stale Ahhnold vocalizations while the second disc tackles a slew of material from bands such as Megadeth, Metallica, and The Misfits. Supercharged with a slew of guest guitarists whose spicy solos downright save this beaten to death formula of dreadful skits in between songs with paint yourself in a corner topics, the time is ticking on the relevance and overall funniness of this project, yet it does manage to illicit a couple of chuckles in between flashes of crossover metal durability (“Who Told You You Could Eat My Cookies?”). Despite exhibiting twice the muscle and might as the last disc, Austrian Death Machine’s tired act is growing staler by the minute and losing steam just as fast. amazon.comwww.metalblade.comMike SOS


From the opening “Hail Satan” invocation heard on “Into the Desolate Halls of Death,” Swedish trio Die Hard showcases that they don’t mess around while maintaining a solid old school death metal vibe which effortlessly revisits mantras and tones from the left hand path’s most incendiary offerings. Channeling the likes of Celtic Frost to Entombed on the 10-track Nihilistic Vision, this disc strikes with straightforward battering ram percussion (“Fed to the Lions”), crushing guitar riffs and a gruff vocal evilness, shaping this excursion’s descent into the abyss to be palatable for those who choose darkness. Yielding a raucous array of metallic fury that gets the blood pumping and the axes swinging (“Bloody War,” “Death Chasing the Flock of Mortals”), Die Hard follows the glory days of death metal template to perfection to create an unholy direct line from old to new. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS


Resilient NYC rockers Imposter Syndrome continue the daunting mission of churning out edgy tunes brimming with grace on Rose Colored Sabotage. This five-track presentation illuminates this quirky quartet’s superb command of the signature jagged melody over sinewy groove concoction while Kristen Persinos’ silky smooth vocal style alluringly delivers intricate interpersonal lyrical content with arresting conviction (“Rose Colored Sabotage”). Possessing the comfort zone to crank guitars up and dig into a grunge groove (“Plastic Wrap”) as easily as slip back into an alt-rock meets Pink Floyd smorgasbord (“Black, One Sugar”), Imposter Syndrome’s shadowy aura and impressive musical dexterity fosters the lost art of organic composition that sets them apart from the pack, as this release aptly displays the tools necessary to build sturdy songs that progress to satisfying ends. www.impostorsyndrome.netMike SOS


Kirby Krackle is a niche band of the highest order, sitting on the tip-top of the pop culture bubble with their knack for developing songs custom made for geeks of the globe to break hearts and save damsels in distress to. This self-professed delicious nerd rock duo joins forces to rid the world of evil with a top-secret blend of acoustically driven adult alternative rock for the sci-fi sect. Fueled by an unbridled passion for the worlds of both comic books (“Marvelous Girls”, “One of the Guys”) and video games (“Naked Wii”, “Up, Up, Down, Down”), this Pacific Northwestern tandem’s whimsical delivery and comical tones assists the good time feel to sustain through this entire 10-track affair. While this eponymous offering is sure to go over the heads of those not in the know (the lyrics are teeming with insider references galore), Kirby Krackle have put together a smart and fun album meshing the wares of Barenaked Ladies, Bowling for Soup, Weezer, and Sugar Ray for fanboys and industry folk alike to sink their teeth into. www.kirbykracklemusic.comMike SOS


The best thrash didn’t always come from the Bay Area, as cities both home and abroad also had a stake in the white high top and bullet belt game as well. Count New Jersey metal trio Whiplash in as one of the acts that walked amongst regional heavyweights like Overkill and Anthrax back in the day who have returned after a long hiatus armed with a 10-track release that makes references but doesn’t relive their salad days. While Unborn Again doesn’t aim to replicate the golden era, it does contain a solid array of catchy tracks that fall in line with the output of similar bands from the old school who’ve returned after a considerable length of time. Trading in trademarked white-knuckle velocity for newfound groove-laden crunch on cuts like “Swallow the Slaughter” and “Firewater,” Whiplash takes it down a notch with a simplistic and direct approach packed with an organic feel and a genuine snarl that many modern bands have a tough time establishing. Coming back to the scene with some alterations to their sound yet still able to summon the chops to throw a breakneck tempo down when necessary (“Pitbulls in the Playground,” “Feeding Frenzy”), the latest release by Whiplash may not be your older brother’s thrash metal, but it will do the trick for diehards who remember the band from their early days.  www.pulverised.netMike SOS


Nine blasphemous blasts of charred metal arrive via French veteran troupe Temple of Baal on the unit’s latest offering Lightslaying Rituals. Exhibiting a primitive and punishing aggressiveness necessary to be considered lethal (“Vectors to the Void”) and a dastardly demonic wrath that effortlessly emits an authentically heartfelt sense of hatred (“Death Cult”), this disc dexterously melds black metal atmosphere and death metal brutality with flashes of thrash metal tumult to create a contemptuous sonic whirlwind glacially steeped in ‘90s extreme metal notoriety (“Black Sun of the Damned”). While those who’ve been around the block have heard the likes of this before from everyone from At the Gates and Entombed to Absu and Celtic Frost, the expert production, contagious songwriting (“Hate is My Name”) and overall disdain carried across the album captures a modern misanthropist vibe for the new age of underground to feast upon. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS


Ironic how an album that virtually transcends metal’s hardline traditional nuances in nearly every capacity winds up on one of the globe’s premier metal labels, yet such is the case with the latest offering by St. Louis outfit Lye By Mistake, the unit’s first without a singer. By opting to go the instrumental route, this technically proficient trio’s sophomore effort channels expected progressive metal with shards of Dream Theater, Rush, King Crimson, and Death amongst others fingered and deciphered from chaotic cacophonies like “Stag”. Yet this band is not in the least bit content with merely replicating glories of their peers, as the jaw dropping prowess, surprising sense of malleability and blistering playing ability showcased throughout the course of its eight-track duration veers into uncharted areas on numerous occasions without trepidation, pulling hunks of heavy higher minded goodness out along their free form fusion discovery mission (“Vanguard to Nowhere”). While the unconditioned may receive an instant migraine upon impact, Fea Jur is an album custom built for the listener prepared to explore and be taken aback with the virtuosity of three musicians at the top of their creative and performance peaks. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Polish black metal troupe Furia unleash a sinister seven-track affair whose blistering black metal assault is peppered with elements of forward-thinking metal to create a subversive musical entity whose merit lies far beyond their demonic inclinations. Equipped with rounds of angst-stricken vocals (with lyrics strictly in Polish) reminiscent of fellow purveyors of expansion Shining over atmospheric interludes, glacial guitars directly stripped from the works of the masters of the genre, foreboding militaristic marching rhythms, and an overpowering sense of bleakness oppressing the entire collection, Furia’s genuine disdain for mankind ascends from the catacombs long enough to obtain the required amounts of fresh blood to carry out evil’s bastardized biddings. www.lettheworldburn.orgMike SOS


UK thrash metal upstarts Evile’s sophomore effort Infected Nations is an undeniable nine-track homage to the Golden Age of thrash that digs deep to excavate inspiration from some lesser known acts besides the Rushmore-esque Big Four. There’s a hearty smattering of Annihilator, Kreator, and Bay Area bashing that you can almost swore you heard from the likes of Vio-lence or Forbidden before pervading through the brazen Megadeth-like twin guitar explorations (“Now Demolition”, “Devoid of Thought”) as well as a discernibly thicker sound and slower pace than previously employed by the band (“Metamorphosis”) that manages to keep the head banging and the attitude intense while the band forges into a different subset of thrash metal waters. Rendering a mixed bag of B-list influences and lengthy tracks whose running times lend to spells of atmospheric meandering, this disc is a far cry from their debut yet definitely puts the band into a whole new light, fortifying their latest metallic mission with ambition that helps to fuse the elements together as well as help their thrash under the microscope approach escape full collapse. amazon.comwww.earache.comMike SOS


The Gates of Slumber’s spot on presentation of the NWOBHM and doom style shines on their fourth release Hymns of Blood and Thunder. This Indiana trio skillfully channels the creeping vibes of Candlemass, early Trouble, and St. Vitus to create a viscous wall of sound complete with brooding guitar solos (“The Doom of Aceldama”), thunderous drums (“Beneath the Eyes of Mars”), and a vocal warble that trembles with an authentic dollop of old school grit. Showcasing a dastardly sense of dynamics, this unit convincingly pours out hypnotically thick riffs and calculated rhythms a la Cathedral (“Descent into Madness”) yet can still break into a balls out heavy dirge a la anything Wino (“The Bringer of War”) a Dio-era Sabbathian double time chugger (“Chaos Calling”) and veer into ‘70s classic heavy metal territory without losing an ounce of gloom (“Age of Sorrow”). If you have a hankering for a solid slab of despair, this monolithic 10-track cornucopia of calamity may sound at times like a repeat but ultimately is a hard album to beat.  www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Bombastic and brainy, A Storm of Light’s sophomore effort Forgive Us Our Trespasses yields an intriguing potpourri of dynamic post metal nuances for those who enjoy latter day Isis or the galactic side of Mastodon. This Brooklyn unit’s sci-fi heavy headphone friendly 10-track offering supplies a wealth of epic and ethereal vibes thanks to a masterful balance of bold instrumentation and spoken word interludes a la Today is the Day, adding rich keyboard overlays and female vocals into their stoned and sprawling monolithic compositions, allowing them to unravel in the name of righteous exploration, not self-centered exploitation. Painting a picturesque model of an apocalyptic future while a host of special guests from the avant-garde metal sect make their impact via cameos (Jarboe, Lydia Lunch), ASOL’s unorthodox sense of ambiance could benefit from some self-editing down the road, but it does develop an advanced approach to gloom and doom metal that is downtrodden enough to fit in yet distinct enough to branch past the norm. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS


The term supergroup is tossed around these days like a football during a tailgate party but if there’s one band that deserves the moniker, it has to be the fearsome foursome known as Shrinebuilder. This top-secret quartet comes into the light and features the talents of Wino, Scott Kelly, Dale Crover, and Al Cisneros. If you are unfamiliar with any of these guys and their pedigree, please stop reading this now and bone up on your history. For those who vigilantly follow metal’s underground scene, this is your go-to mini-album of the year, an eponymous five-track offering reportedly recorded in three days whose imminent strike and psychedelic overtones take on a life of its own without abandoning the roots from which it came, sounding as if four admirals have taken equal charge on one massive battleship’s course through the seas of an alternative world. Chock full of doom metal lethargy, swirls of stoner rock goodness, and oodles of avant-garde metal ambiance, this unit has made an album that transcends the usual bullet points and can be summed up in one word: awesome. Get this now and become enchanted with your new favorite band. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS


Unapologetic crust punk attitude colliding with raging old school thrash metal is what rejuvenated UK troupe Hellbastard bring to the table on their latest release The Need To Kill. Throw an unorthodox sense of whimsy and a steadfast metallic assault into the picture and watch the cacophony of crossover chaos commence, complete with the occasional oddball banjo interlude trapped inside a tumultuous Exodus-esque groove dripping with plundered punk charm just for the hell of it. Keeping the listener on their toes with flurries of rapid-fire riffs and blasting rhythms channeling the vibes of Entombed, Suicidal Tendencies, Sacred Reich, Discharge and The Haunted, this disc provides a shining example of unsanitized underground metal at its most boisterous and visceral. amazon.comwww.selfmadegod.comMike SOS


Calling his modern blend of music “mutant jazz”, acclaimed San Francisco guitarist John William Gordon contrives a fiery fusion that deftly combines jazz and rock auras on latest release Technot. This 10-track eclectic exhibition throws down a dazzling and dizzying instrumental smorgasbord showcasing both Gordon’s smoking six-string benedictions with the rest of his trio’s solid chops propelling a smoldering experimental take on traditional standards and practices. Imparting a world music exercise for outer space, Gordon and crew consistently display a vigilant virtuosity that commands attention while their free-form jams like “GVOL” and “Back Room Flow” convey the proper atmosphere needed which increases the headspace in order to wander.  www.johnwilliamgordon.comMike SOS


A reissue of Cleveland cult post punk unit Easter Monkeys and their seminal album Splendor of Sorrow comes courtesy of Smog Veil, whose 15-track release digs deep to unearth as much of this revered squad’s recorded history as possible. Featuring a host of bonus tracks and a DVD of a performance taken from a 1982 show at the Agora, this band’s unique darkened no frills punk rock approach and pomp-less and meandering yet hard hitting psychedelic fits featured a pre-Pere Ubu Jim Jones (who really stands out here) and truly showcased a band whose imbued underground status and trailblazing scope definitely deserves a spin or two for the subversive rock lover in us all. www.smogveil.comMike SOS


Aussie dance-rock team Mojo Rising meld the best elements from both the excessive ‘80s commercial front a la INXS and Duran Duran and the manufactured funk-driven thump of bands like Maroon 5 and the cheeky balladeering of acts like Hootie and the Blowfish together to form this duo’s five-track offering Feel What You Feel. Decorated with a dash of blue-eyed soul worthy of more than a good night out on the town that helps an overall sense of authenticity to peak out from the Pro Tools sanitizer, this slickly produced effort makes up for its near deal-breaking lack of lyrical depth with a slew of dynamically charged grooves inside of well-arranged compositions bound to make a dance floor hopping. Mojo Rising’s blend of middle of the road rock and pop goes down smooth and keep spirits high for certain, but for those who keep a keen interest in the mainstream music machine, this disc is bound to sound all too familiar to make it worthy of spins beyond a random good night out on the town. SOS


Post-hardcore trio Elder makes a passionate return with their latest six-track endeavor Reflect. This Philadelphia-based troupe once again provide the proper balance of lush loud-soft dynamic shifts and old school DIY hardcore awareness on songs like “Friendly Fire” yet demonstrate an abrasive edge in 1:27 with the scalding tune “Vultures”. Throw a pinch of posi-core posturing, a dash of cosmic math-rock riffage and a hearty hunk of purposeful yet slightly grating screamo vocals into the mix and this squad’s boisterous bevy of fluid fluctuations are bound to score big with both the disaffected youth of today who happily lap up third-hand experience along side disillusioned adults who never let go of the underlying principles. amazon.comwww.forgeagainrecords.comMike SOS


Mongrel reveals a no nonsense raucous punk/metal dimension on their five-track excursion Revenge. Brimming with street punk savvy and dripping with inner city contempt, this Massachusetts quartet’s aggressive attitude is reminiscent of a hybrid of Circus of Power, Scatterbrain, and Black Flag, as they maintain a melodic side while spewing venom with reverence to the early days of the punk and hardcore scene on cuts like “Butterknife Suicide” and  “Catharsis.” Direct and to the point, Mongrel’s frantic pace with attention to hooks projects a rowdy and rebellious aura perfect when elevating the level of madness is at the top of the to-do list. www.mongrelband.comMike SOS


Utah noise metal mavens Gaza return with a crushing 14-track sophomore effort entitled He Is Never Coming Back. Scouring the bottom of the metal barrel, this sludge-infused squad lay down a relentless barrage of disfigured rhythms, heaving vocals, and viscous dissonant riffs that protrude from the speakers like molten lava from a volcanic eruption. Unsettling and downright ugly at times, this disc melds the abrasiveness of Unsane with the technical prowess of Today is the Day to comprise a caustic metal cacophony armed with an authentic sense of anger and dread that will leave even the most hardened metal listener a bit shaken up. www.blackmarketactivities.comMike SOS


Even though Canadian modern metal crew Threat Signal have undergone a significant amount of lineup changes within their relatively short life span, it has served as merely a minor deterrent from releasing their self-produced sophomore effort Vigilance. This 13-track juggernaut endorses the piledriving and ultra-pasturized processed sound of bands like Fear Factory (whose Christain Wolbe Olders produced their first album) and Soilwork with loads of Swedish death metal elements a la In Flames and American metalcore structures from the likes of Shadows Fall (“Another Source of Light”) and Killswitch Engage (”Through My Eyes”) strewn in the mix with a smidgen of melodic nu-metal providing the arena-filling sing-along choruses that assists this band’s crossover appeal (it doesn’t hurt that lead singer Jon Howard bares an uncanny vocal similarity to Chester from Linkin Park either, depending on who you ask). There’s no question that Threat Signal is a talented band with a penchant for writing a catchy song that packs a damaging heft behind it (“In Repair”), but attentive metal fans have repeatedly heard much of the excellently executed brazen attack heard on Vigilance before from numerous other acts in not so different forms, rendering this disc as a solid yet non-essential album.www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


Italian Goth-metal troupe Lacuna Coil scoops the remaining portion of their original sound out of their repertoire and inserts a streamlined pop-metal sheen a la Evanescence in its place on the squad’s latest album Shallow Life. Produced and co-wrote by song doctor extraordinaire Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Good Charlotte), this collaboration results in decisively less metal with an upgraded electronica-like façade firmly in place where vocals (mainly Cristina’s) are the order of the day. As for the rest of the music, it may as well be damned, as the overall sanitized presentation sans an incessant use of keyboard and space filling synth elements used for Hollywood movie soundtrack atmosphere barely allows guitars enough room to flesh out colossal choruses heard on cuts like “Not Enough.” Championing a subdued and simplified form of songwriting to appeal to a broader audience, Lacuna Coil’s latest endeavor is far from a departure for the band and actually can be argued as a logical step in the band’s sound, but buyer beware; it abandons the band’s intrinsic sense of darkness in favor for a glossy and overpowering beam of bright light, leaving the unit to merely mingle in the shadows when they formerly ruled the roost. amazon.comwww.centurymedia.comMike SOS


North Carolina’s Black Skies summon the might of Southern sludge metal on the trio’s aptly titled six-track sojourn Hexagon. This squad’s undeniable admiration for Black Sabbath also weighs heavy on their multi-influenced yet easily pegged mix of steamroller swing, as gloomy guitar crunch a la Trouble, filling-rattling bass explosions, tasty yet durable percussion, and a grizzled vocal delivery not unlike High on Fire round out this outfit’s stoner rock on steroids aura. Supplying a cavalcade of gigantic grooves and lumbering rhythms oozing with the kind of hypnotic riffs that sound so familiar yet still warrant multiple hits of the repeat button, Hexagon is a perfect addition to your collection of molasses-infused metal, best propped alongside the likes of Alabama Thunderpussy, labelmates Eyehategod and Weedeater for logistical reasons. www.imbetterthaneveryonerecords.comMike SOS


Cleveland, OH avant-garde garage punk pioneers Pere Ubu made the type of music that bucked trends, shunned spotlights, and kept the mainstream as far away as possible throughout their career of cult status and latest offering Long Live Pere Ebu is no different. This unit, formed back in 1975, is an acquired taste for certain, as the music of Pere Ubu is an ever evolving medium that consistently presents a challenge to the ears, exploring art punk’s outer most reaches with innovative arrangements, quirky vocals, oddball instrumentation and an absurdist’s viewpoint at the forefront, This time around, the band comes full circle, interpreting the much-maligned Alfred Jarry surrealist play they take their name from into a working musical form, a task which renders an off-kilter old time serial radio version of the production (which Pere Ubu brought to life in a UK theater) chock full of David Thomas and company’s trademark protean fractured musical detachments and provocative audio juxtapositions. Best experienced uninterrupted in its entirety and definitely not for the easily offended, Pere Ubu’s tackles this ambitious and somewhat nostalgic endeavor with an ambient panache as only a band of their caliber can muster. www.smogveilrecords.comMike SOS


Cleaning out closets and revamping older works, the Woodstock-based prog rock troupe 3 trudge their poppier side through modern sensibilities and the outcome is Revisions. While this band is usually known to champion a hybrid style that works from a progressive rock foundation and branches beyond usual limits, this release relies on a laid back borderline coffee house aura throughout its duration, definitively applying a contemporary stamp on these 11 tracks, some of which date as far back as 1998. Acting more to tie loose ends together to help early works sound more relevant, while 3’s musicianship (especially Joey Eppard’s breathtaking fretwork) is unquestionably masterful, this offering of alterations seems as more of a contractual obligation than a proper disc, making this incongruous step for the band a treat to appease longtime fans as well as a chance to reel in those who prefer the unit’s softer side. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Produced by Kurt Ballou, the sophomore effort by New Hampshire’s The Network meld noise metal and mathcore mayhem on the 10-track Bishop Kent Manning. This coarse and caustic collection of tracks string together a tale of a televangelist on his death knell, yet the suffocated and strained screams and strangled vocals barely reveal anything but utter chaos, further backed by a dastardly attack of thunderous percussion, granite smashing bass, and abrasively angular guitar work. Channeling unbridled rage like many of the bands who have graced the God City complex before them, The Network’s furious and ferocious assault does let up in spots to issue a quick breather (“Corpse Paint”), but overall bestows an oppressive sonic crush where barrages of brutal and belligerent modern hardcore converge. amazon.comwww.blackmarketactivities.comMike SOS


Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

SOS Metal Reviews: The Black Dahlia Murder “Deflorate,” Leaves’ Eyes, Midnight Fistfight, and more…

Posted in Black Dahlia Murder, SOS Metal Update with tags on November 12, 2009 by gearsofrock


The Black Dahlia Murder returns with a terse homage bountifully bursting with Swedish metal influence with their unique blackened thrash twists embedded within on their 10-track, 34-minute collection Deflorate. Showcasing swift jabs of focused aggression with a familiar brutality behind it all (“Eyes of Thousands”), this Michigan troupe’s delectable twin guitar tandem craft some niftily nefarious solos (“Throne of Lunacy,” “Necropolis”) while Trevor Strnad’s varied vocal approaches continues to spew venom although exhibiting a tad more restraint than usual, allowing the unit’s trademark maniacal melodic side to commandeer the bastardized blitz (“I Will Return,” “A Selection Unnatural”). Despite claims by some who lament about the band being a bit stagnant (“interchangeable” seems to be a buzz word flying around regarding this band’s output), TBDM continues to dole out a brutishly consistent strain of metal that does a stellar job of unleashing the beast in us all. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Canadian cripplers Despised Icon continue to outshine the majority of peers from the deathcore pool as the troupe’s latest 10-track offering Day of Mourning aptly displays with both a vitriolic viciousness and a durable grip on both Hatebreed hardcore and Dying Fetus death metal firmly intact (“Day of Mourning”). Despite a solid yet somewhat surprisingly atmospheric one-two punch closing out the affair (“Entre Le Bien et Le Mal,” “Sleepless”) and a tremendous percussive performance courtesy of Alex Pelletier whose blazing speed, relentless battering, and dastardly doses of dexterity make a serious bid for this squad to be thrust into the upper echelon of extreme metal, this sextet’s undeniably blistering array of mosh-friendly riffs and ripping twin vocal attack at times come off stock and formulaic (going so far as ripping themselves off from previous works), ultimately falling prey to the maligned genre trappings similar acts often get lambasted for. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a modern take on heavy music and can withstand the done to death breakdown-happy parts, Despised Icon’s latest does get the job done while demonstrating this act’s leadership position in deathcore’s day-glo trenches. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS


NYC metal trio Circadian Skizm unleashes a brutal barrage of progressively inclined extreme metal on the squad’s latest four-track excursion. Featuring two studio cuts and two lesser-quality live tracks that provide an adequate feel for the unit’s live show yet drag the collection’s vibe down considerably, this act incorporates an unorthodox concoction of early forward thinking death metal tones a la Death with a steady stream of off-kilter metallic mayhem to forge the type of menacing heaviness that keeps the listener engaged with headbanging delight while slightly uneasy as to what’s to come. If you like your metal bruising with an unsettling tint, this band delivers. www.circadianskizm.comMike SOS


Now in their 10th year as a band, Evergreen Terrace confidently dole out an unashamedly hybrid melodic hardcore onslaught on fifth album Almost Home. This audacious Florida-based outfit’s scathing screamo, Warped Tour punk rock, and tough guy metalcore collisions yield a myriad of hook-laden crushers whose infectious bite manages to comfortably combine the wares of Death By Stereo, Fall Out Boy, All That Remains, and Comeback Kid (4,8). But don’t discount this troupe’s thunder just because some of their songs contain parts that make your girlfriend swoon, because underneath lie plenty of chunky chuggers and moshpit movers that keep the floor occupied in a constant state of flow (9). While Evergreen Terrace’s stylistic balance may not appease all, this troupe’s latest album is sure to please the more open-minded sect of metal fans with modern sensibilities. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Armed for Apocalypse features former members of California metal units Will Haven, Ghostride, and The Abominable Iron Sloth, so those familiar with the sheer sonic sludgefest employed by those acts will have no problem embracing Defeat, as this disc demonstrates logical sound progressions emanating from those particular starting lines. This eight plus a bonus track (a rousing cover of “Tempatation’s Wings” by Down”) endeavor is a soulshaking affair equipped with a dark heaviness explosively fusing a set of menacing vocals, cavernously churning guitars, devastatingly deliberate doom-laden rhythms (“You Are Alive When They Start To Eat You”), and crushing basslines to comprise a merciless and malevolent melodic metal assault (“Torch Light Search For The Dead”). Constructing a viscous wall of sound that steamrolls your senses, Armed for Apocalypse stomps you to the ground without a shred of remorse, making this wallow in the mire a crucial purchase for those who enjoy their music lurching and downtrodden. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


New Jersey deathcore mob Abacinate’s album title projects the notion that this band might be a pirate metal troupe, but after one listen of this quintet’s dastardly mix of downtuned death metal crunch and slam-worthy staccato, that idea is dispelled right quick. Decked out with flurries of six-string acrobatics and potent percussive pounding aplenty (“Rife with the Stench and Squalor”), Abacinate exhibits an uncanny knack to gracefully blur lines between tough guy hardcore and death metal by throwing in an authentically ass-kicking cover of Sepultura’s “Nomad” as well as utilizing rounds of gang vocals in “Shake the Spot” as welcomed reprieves from beleaguered formulas. While this type of metal can get tiresome both physically and mentally, this squad’s innate ability to throw down burly breakdowns or simply blast away as needed assists this group’s righteous mission to destroy all in their way without losing an ounce of street credibility. www.abacinate.netMike SOS


Swedish death metal squad Sanctification return with their latest nine-track excursion Black Reign. This unit, who boasts members of Dark Funeral, In Battle, and Demonoid in their ranks not to mention production by the team of the Tagtgren brothers and Dan Swano, adopts a decisively Americanized approach a la Deicide and Morbid Angel with leanings towards an old school influence by such luminaries as Entombed, Bloodbath, and Grave to diabolically fulfill nightmares across the globe (“Storm”). Complete with relentless deluges of low-pitched vocal growls a la latter day Cannibal Corpse (“Hear This”), a salvo of crushing blast beats, and rapid-fire rounds of muscular fretwork manning the helm (“Black Reign”), this disc juxtaposes two of the more scathing death metal styles together to form a juggernaut of a release that ardent supporters of early underground metal will gleefully bang their head to. www.pulverised.netMike SOS


Sweden rarely fails when it comes to churning out mass quantities of quality death metal, and the latest endeavor by raging quintet My Own Death once again proves the theory to be true. This seething squad’s sophomore effort Necrology nary shows a sign of slump, as these macabre metal merchant’s blend of gore-inspired subject matter, fast-paced rhythmic frenzy (“Age of Torment,” “Carnal Revelations”), punishing grooves, bellicose vocal bellows, and thrash-y twin guitar assault of menacing riffs and tasty solos yields a warmongering fury from the opening strains of the march-like “Awaiting Death” right until the last note of “Incineration” is played. Brutal and bludgeoning, this disc delivers the goods with all of the delectable devastation a solid death metal release should. www.pulverised.netMike SOS


Eclectic Australian rock troupe Karnivool returns with a mixed bag EP that previews the unit’s new sounds in addition to revisiting old ones on the four-track Set Fire To The Hive. This quintet’s forward-thinking approach immediately brings to mind a combination of System of a Down, Dredg, and Incubus, as Karnivool’s hard rock hooks, unorthodox melodies, and left of center arrangements (just check the horns on “Roquefort” as an indication of what to expect) switch from furious to fragile in the blink of an eye, all with a captivating vocalist skillfully tying the entire grandiose offering together. Exuding the capability to stretch rock music’s boundaries past normal limits, Karnivool’s stopgap presentation provides an ample overview of how this band works. SOS


Brooklyn, NY by way of Poland quartet Gwynbleidd establishes a name for itself on the prog death metal front with the release of Nostalgia. Despite an obvious Opeth inspiration infused either purposefully or merely by design, this unit champions a grandiose presence, wondrous compositional flow, and epic songwriting techniques that work in symbiosis to form a refined eight-track affair custom made for those who appreciate the sounds of sweeping and majestic metal with a sinister growl spearheading the movement (“Thawing Innocence”). Fleshing out intriguing dynamic twists without losing an unwavering density that keeps the album’s pace brisk notwithstanding lengthy arrangements and the mood ominous and foreboding, this album’s lush acoustic interludes woven into waves of somber and reflective melodic death metal deftly hammers home a solid sense of metallic melancholy.  While the sound-alike references this act is bound to face may be a dealbreaker, this squad’s elegant sense of musicality and masterful manipulation of the death/doom/folk metal triad reveals an enjoyable listening experience for those who like to adventure with ambient metal. www.blackcurrantmusic.comMike SOS


Black metal isn’t just coming from normal channels anymore, as Australia’s Pestilential Shadows demonstrates with a mutual blast of the cold and bleak temperance shared amongst their northernmost peers This unit’s latest elegiac eight tracks of evil titled In Memoriam III Omen features a feral battering of twin guitarwork to guide the affair into black metal’s murky depths and pits of despair on cuts such as “Of Loss And Suffering Inherit” and the ethereal instrumental “Ecclesia Moriendi”. Everything else from authentic production values to the vitriolic vocals is not only solid, but a cut above genre specifications, stamping menacing mid-tempo numbers such as “Beautiful Demise” with the right measure of glacial isolationist tendencies and significantly somber musicianship for a hearty combo of melancholy and mayhem (“With Serpents I Lay “). www.pulverised.netMike SOS


New Jersey metal merchants Anticosm and Annunaki join forces for a six-song split of unadulterated power and malevolent metallic fury. Up first are Annunaki and their pristine blend of dark thrash-infused melodeath leaning slightly towards the Swedish side of the spectrum a la The Haunted and Dark Tranquility. This act’s controlled chaos rips skulls apart on cuts like the vehemently blackened “Blunt Scapel Extraction”, whose wailing whammy bar abusing guitar solo slays with barbaric stealth. Anticosm closes out this malicious melee with a lesser produced yet similarly spirited blend of metal, as this unit’s bold warrior look (complete with fur and spikes) is accompanied with a sinister stream of traditional power metal, black, and groove metal evoking the wares of bands ranging from Goatwhore to Three Inches of Blood on “Necrolepsy Slumbershock”. Sharing a common interest of interpreting modern nuances into old school extreme metal templates, this split disc steers listeners past crowds straight to a place in the underground where hellacious hybrids reign supreme. & SOS

amazon leaves eyesLEAVES’ EYES: NJORD

Symphonic metal sextet Leaves’ Eyes return with Njord, a sweepingly orchestral offering perfectly crafted for a theatrical production. Led by the powerhouse vocals of Liv Kristine and adorned with an enormous wall of music encompassing everything from waves of singing choirs and world beat woodwinds (“Irish Rain”) to effective beauty and the beast vocal tradeoffs and killer melodic death metal underpinnings (“Emerald Island”), this disc dramatically delivers with an over the top grandiosity considerably less fluffy yet decisively more consistent than previous works. Fans of Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, and Nightwish will have little problem diving headlong here, as this 12-track disc goes above and beyond the call of duty with providing a refined and robust symphonic/goth/folk metal platter. www.napalmrecords.comMike SOS


A staggering dose of genuine soulfulness spews from the latest eponymous four-track offering by Amy Lynn and The Gun Show, so much so that you could probably get away with conning friends into believing this disc is a remastered collection of gems from days gone by. This nine-piece band champions a bevy of stylistic tricks from Phil Spector’s patented Wall of Sound technique while lead singer Amy accompanied by a proficient duo of backup singers push the Supreme-esque approach to the moon and stars on cuts like the dynamically shapeshifting “My Only One.” Making the most from having the luxury of having nine musicians working in unison, Amy Lynn and The Gun Show produce an organically enriched musical experience that sizzles with snappy melodies and shimmying rhythms where modern pop sass, old school AM radio R&B and classic soul collide. www.amylynnandthegunshow.comMike SOS


Displaying a dastardly dichotomy of tumultuous technicality and savage bludgeoning, the latest nine-track offering from veteran unit Faust demonstrates the barrage of intense and involved guitar runs, unearthly vocal growls, blazing tempos and cascading melodies that helps to round out this seasoned crew’s multifaceted evil attack (“Carnal Beattitude”). Emitting a enriched and refined aura while blasphemously blasting the masses with the type of hellaciously hate-filled vitriol heard on cuts like “Golden Wine Countess”, this band pounds out aggression with a sense of progression at the forefront of their blistering assault, interchanging dynamic musical interplay with dramatic atmospheric swings that masterfully captures the wicked grace and grave glory of the pioneers of death metal in their heyday. www.paragonrecords.orgMike SOS


Louisiana sludge trio Power Pellut mix Am Rep style vocal barks with a slew of fuzzed out Eyehategod-esque viscosity to comprise its eponymous six-song swampy sojourn. Solely released on 180g vinyl and limited to a 500 copy run, this uniquely presented offering specializes with an amps cranked to 11 ballistic rhythmic explosiveness seemingly derived from endless hours of jamming in the studio with the bloodshot intent to crush all in its path firmly at the forefront of the mission.  Not unlike fellow purveyors of dissonance such as Melvins, Unsane, and Black Sabbath, Power Pellut’s purge to plod provides a skull-rattling good time for those who choose to take their metal with a side of ugly. www.imbetterthaneveryonerecords.comMike SOS

amazon midnight fistfightMIDNIGHT FISTFIGHT: THE MAIN EVENT

NYC’s Midnight Fistfight recall a time when denim and leather was the uniform and the attitude was fast and loose on their Sunset Strip soaked five-track debut The Main Event. Equipped with a gritty guitar tandem whose nimble fretwork and on the money Guns ‘n Roses and Skid Row by way of AC/DC and Faster Pussycat riffs (“My Cocaine”) gel with lead vocalist Dan Pyro’s Dionysian lyrical double entendres and credible cock rock delivery (“Booze & Bitches”), earning this offering an all access pass back to the glory days of arena rock and hair metal’s excesses and successes. SOS


Austin, TX punk quintet Krum Bums return with its high-energy attack and sinister snarl fully intact on Same Old Story. This six-track affair authentically exudes punk’s rebellious nature without sacrificing melody on cuts like “Sons of Nothing” and the street punk sing-along “No Apologies” while cranking up the heat in true Krum Bum fashion on the rapid-fire “Coliseum,” satisfying all ends of the genre’s spectrum with an angst-ridden  punk-metal powderkeg ready to explode. www.tkorecords.comMike SOS


Polish blackened death metal troupe Throneum exhibit a nefariously necromantic blend of Celtic Frost, Possessed, Sepultura, Entombed, and Obituary on their nine-track descent into the catacombs entitled Deathcult Conspiracy. Raw and relentless, this disc’s fitting murky production, maniacal and ferocious vocal performance (“Rituals of Fire and Sulphur”) evil arrangements (“His Shadow”) and sturdy guitar riffs and fills are far from groundbreaking yet hypnotize with a catastrophic cadence whose blasphemous brutality and unabashed underground approach is bound to earn points for those who choose to embrace the sunless universe (“Wizzard’s Testimony”). www.paganrecords.plMike SOS


A histrionic strand of sorrowful and forlorn progressive metal comes courtesy of seasoned sextet While Heaven Wept and their latest disc Vast Oceans Lachrymose. This veteran unit’s six year in the making melancholic collection features discernibly less epic doom than previous works while showcasing pervasive Dream Theater-esque melodic flair with Fates Warning-like lengthy instrumental passages. The band stunningly pulls off this graceful shift in styles without completely extinguishing their once dominant doom-laden flame (“Living Sepulchre”), surely a relieving thought for longtime followers. Boldly using the wide array elements in their vast arsenal to form a grandiose strain of majestic yet somber metal falling squarely between Katatonia and Solitude Aeternus, While Heaven Wept display elegant and forward-thinking metal at its best. www.cruzdelsurmusic.comMike SOS


Proud to proclaim a breakdown band they are not, Dallas, TX squad The Destro instead opt to unleash brutal barrages of thrashy and sludgy death metal on latest release Harmony of Dischord. Containing nine-tracks of non-stop teeth-gnashing groove-laden metallic goodness, this quartet strikes with Carcass-esque precision (“Angel Killer”), dastardly deathcore rage (“Thorns of Truth”) and a boatload of southern-fried by way of Sweden downtuned guitar licks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a jam between Exhorder, Meshuggah, Exodus and Down (“Mouth of the Heretic”). Yielding a one-dimensional yet utterly punishing entity, this troupe pushes levels to the brink of disaster (“Persistence of Ignorance”) truly revitalizing an extreme aura back into modern extreme metal. www.metalblade.comMike SOS


Alison Chesley uses her creativity, an effects board or two and a cello to make music on Helen Money’s sophomore effort In Tune. This captivating and unique offering dishes out nine unorthodox compositions whose brooding metallic base and overcast experimental flourishes rival those championed by the current crop of post metal acts (“Untitled”) and wouldn’t sound out of place as a score to a quirky indie flick (“Waterwalk”). Uneasy by design and deceptively chilling yet hauntingly memorable (“Too Heavy”), this disc exhibits the sonic might, foreboding darkness, and crushing heft a cello is capable of when put into the hands of a performer with an adventurous mind, a boundless spirit, and a rock ‘n roll soul. www.tableoftheelements.comMike SOS


The wildly eclectic two-man rock ‘n roll machine known as Dyse turns discordant punk upside down with the avant-garde 11-track Lieder Sind Bruder Der Revolution. This German duo’s fearless songwriting tactics, sensational use of loud/soft dynamics, tightly wound hardcore guitars (“Supermachineeyeon”), and raucous robot metal outbursts (“Shop Sui”) are likely to be ravished by those who can’t get enough Queens of the Stone Age or Refused. Cuts like “Dysenfischdyse” feature vocalizations salaciously switching between whimsical and brutal while the sinewy swagger of “Trick” and the majestic “Baubaubau” is doused with triumphant trumpets to spice this unit’s bottomless barrage of spastic schizophrenia. Possessing the kind of unbridled passion and boundless ambition that fosters repeated listens, Dyse’s latest release is a perfect choice for disaffected listeners who clamor for their heavy music to go beyond genre norms. www.mainstreamrecords.deMike SOS


Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

SOS Metal Reviews: Arch Enemy “The Root Of All Evil,” Behemoth, GWAR, & More…

Posted in SOS Metal Update with tags , on October 4, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Arch EnemyARCH ENEMY


Metal mavens Arch Enemy have excavated some of their favorite cuts from the first three non-Angela albums, rehearsed (and in some instances rehashed) the hell out of them and went to the studio and laid down new versions to comprise their latest 13-track endeavor The Root of All Evil. While re-recording previous works long finished seems like a copout to some and sometimes irks loyal fans as taking a cheap and easy route, such is not the case here thanks to Team Amott’s unbridled pristine interpretations of classics (“The Immortal,” “Dead Inside”) brimming over with a voracious vigor whose exhilarating electricity renders the closest thing to the energy of a live show you can get with headphones plugged in. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS




Ohio metal troupe The Crimson Armada give it up to God while playing a fierce style of new school death metal on their 10-track endeavor Guardians. Following the structures and musical template of The Black Dahlia Murder a bit too closely (“Desecrated”), this band makes up for the blatant borrowing with barrages of tasty technical twin guitar shreddery (“A Filthy Addiction”) and healthy dollops of deathcore breakdowns interspersed (“The Final Words”). Nonetheless, this quintet’s furious yet familiar strain of modern extreme metal aims for a colossal collision of Hot Topic mall rats and Christian metal bible-thumpers. Let the games begin. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




Job for a Cowboy have raised the ire of purists and caught a lot of heat from stalwart death metal fans for being the media darling poster boys for the modern death metal movement, yet Ruination showcases the band making musical strides away from their maligned deathcore roots, sprouting towards a discernibly old school death metal approach. This 10-track excursion in extremity exhibits an unadulterated Vader/Suffocation/ Morbid Angel/ Cannibal Corpse vibe and you’d be hard pressed to find anything that resembles “core” on this offering. Instead, it sounds as if this fast-rising Arizona quintet shut off the hype machine long enough to pay close attention and take stringent notes while trekking the globe with some of the genre’s elite outfits, resulting in piecing together their own interpretations of the works of the aforementioned elite acts (amongst others), even going as far to implement apocalyptic slow-churned down tempo elements (“Ruination”) and Lamb of God-esque melody into their scalding stew (“Regurgitated Disinformation”). Changing key members also doesn’t hurt to freshen up the mix, and with a new drummer and guitarist in tow, this squad’s sound has morphed into a meaner and nastier entity, as tracks like “Lords of Chaos,” “Summon the Hounds,” and “Detonate and Exterminate” demonstrate this crew’s beefed-up brutal nuances in full assault mode. Haters will still pontificate and run the band down for their shortcomings, but the fact remains that Job for a Cowboy is breaking away from the trappings of their earlier endeavors by embracing a face-ripping death metal retread sound that, while far from groundbreaking, puts the band in a position to justify all of the attention they’ve received. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




A sinewy yet soothing dose of hypnotic Hesher rock comes courtesy of NYC outfit Dogs of Winter, whose debut full-length From Soil to Shale renders an exquisite nine-track rock excursion teeming with a loud and clear yet down and dirty elegance. This trio serves up a veritable stoner rock smorgasbord bursting with crafty nuggets of raucous rock ‘n roll audacity and well-placed off kilter alternative metal techniques (“Flesh to Stone,” “Ghost”). Bridging the oceansized gap between the grassroots metal of Baroness, the keep you guessing tendencies of Faith No More, and the hard hitting tunefulness of Foo Fighters, this unit’s fluid musical interplay and standout soulful vocal harmonies (“Beneath the Fold”) yield hybrids of muscular hard rock with brazen hooks, throbbing rhythms, and sly lyrical content that embody an earthy vibe as if whittled down from endless late night studio session jams. Showcasing lean and mean arrangements with an abundance of floating rhythms abound (“Anathema”), Dogs of Winter is poised to satisfy your sweet tooth with their batch of voluminous and voraciously addictive rock ‘n roll. www.lapdanceacademy.comMike SOS


Amazon BehemothBEHEMOTH


Polish death metal mavens Behemoth unleash another blasphemous barrage of blackened death metal on the unit’s latest affair Evangelion. Intense from end to end, this nine-track offering renders a blistering batch of unholy mantras over a noteworthy demonstration of relentless percussion (“The Seed Ov I”) while a menacing mix of guitar and bass explosions pummel your skull (“Defiling Morality Ov Black God”) and shakes you down to your soul (“OV Fire and The Void”). Crisper and more fluid thanks to the talents of Colin Richardson behind the boards, Behemoth’s massively malefic tones and ominous grooves sound bigger, badder, and burlier than before (“Shemhamforash”), thrusting this troupe from the roots of the underground to the surface of the extreme metal bubble with all the malcontent and dastardly elements intact necessary to destroy the hapless in their path. Strap yourself in and prepare for the oncoming onslaught courtesy of this evil outfit. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




The hard living Delaware punk quintet The Hated are a grizzled lot whose latest five-song sojourn clocks in at just shy under 10 minutes and demonstrates the right way to play hard nosed street punk. Drinkin’ for a Living is a pogo-friendly free for all armed with a fast and loose style (“Barfight”) reminiscent of acts such as the bouncier side of Black Flag and Cock Sparrer at their most anthemic (“Troubled Oi”). Adorned with a fiery selection of compact tunes that help build confidence necessary to mix it up at any time, The Hated do the punk scene proud by heartily embracing an authentic style that any fan of real punk rock can’t resist. SOS




One-man Dutch experimental black metal project Gnaw Their Tongues eerily creep into the subconscious with latest release All the Dread Magnificence of Perversity. Adorned with an odd array of swirling instrumentation pieced together as if scoring a horror movie, ominous synths, sci-fi spoken word samples, blackened atmosphere, and whizzes of bleak industrial noise dominates GTT’s ethereal soundscape. This nine-track affair makes a serious bid for most vile and desperate cinematic soundtrack since Fantomas thanks to a cavalcade of chilling shrieks and compellingly edge of your seat musical movements that guide the way through the murky and shadowy paths taken on tracks such as “The Stench of Dead Horses on My Breath and The Vile Existence in My Hands.” Depraved and devious (just check out the disturbing bloodsoaked artwork of female captives in different stages of mechanical bondage), this is a perfect album to throw on loop at the house during trick or treat time to set the mood, scare the hell out of the neighbors, and dismember bodies to. www.crucialblast.netMike SOS




American female fronted metal quintet Echoes of Eternity return with their sophomore effort, the nine-track disc As Shadows Burn. Displaying a capable handle of both progressive-minded Euro metal nuances and the dreamy Goth metal sound, this troupe exhibits the capability to switch between menacing (“Descent of a Blackened Soul”) and galloping (“Letalis Deus”) at the drop of a dime while the twin guitar assault shreds with the melodic mind of a blend of Mercyful Fate, Arch Enemy, and Megadeth (“The Scarlet Embrace,” “Funeral in the Sky”). If you’re a sucker for sterile but sweet vocal harmonies over a durable and rousing yet retread metal backdrop a la Nightwish yet clamor for more hard nosed delivery, Echoes of Eternity has everything lined up ready for you to dive into. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


Amazon AuguryAUGURY


The progressive metal tag is often overused to describe bands, yet there’s really no other way to accurately depict the music of Canadian unit Augury. Returning after a five year absence and undergoing significant lineup changes, Fragmentary Evidence reveals an outfit weaned on ‘70s prog rock expansiveness, traditional classical music structure, and jazz improvisation as much as the forward-thinking death metal of Death and Suffocation and the black metal straight from Norway. This squad’s intense and unique intricacies blend virtuoso guitar playing with rhythmic gymnastics under the barbaric rants from a slew of guest vocals, making an exhilarating listening experience for even the most finicky of technical death metal heads. Featuring a standout bass guitar performance that sweepingly takes the lead over much of the album while equipped with an innate acumen that invites an oppressive atmosphere and blistering barrages of shredding to coexist in perfect harmony (“Jupiter to Ignite”), Augury’s blend of jaw-dropping musicianship and harrowing brutality renders a marvelously malevolent spectacle where adventurous metallic minds will readily get lost in (“Skyless”). www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS




Swedish squad As You Drown cross-pollinates an old school death metal spirit with seeds from the deathcore tree on their nine-track debut Reflection. This quartet’s concoction of severe savagery over a barrage of bludgeoning modern tones is seemingly redundant and yields a far from earth shattering result, even conjuring comparisons to Bury Your Dead and the like upon first listen. Yet don’t count this act out just yet, as dastardly discernible characteristics from the unsurpassed brutality of Suffocation to the technical tenacity of Meshuggah take flight after a few spins (“Swallow,” “Ashes”) to give As You Drown’s punishing presence a way more well rounded appeal than that of their peers. Focusing on demolishing everything in its path with an unstoppable sonic crush whose impressive exhibition of power is capable of widespread damage (“Driven by Hatred”), Reflection proves to be a extreme metal exercise in relentlessness which stands solid amongst the countless metal troupes who employ similar devices. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




Polish quintet Cryptic Tales latest album is 13 years in the making, making this veteran outfit’s latest seven-track VII Gogmata of Mercy the extreme metal version of Chinese Democracy…minus the dramatics apparently. This troupe’s symphonic black metal styling contains punchy melodies (“Set the Unholy Icons Free”) and robust guitars (“Valley of the Dolls II”) that stays in step with Old Man’s Child and Cradle of Filth, yet with drums way high in the mix throughout the disc’s course, it’s hard to ascertain a continuous sense of atmosphere while constant pounding is abound. Nonetheless, Cryptic Tales follow blueprints while making artistic additions well enough to pull off a sturdy long awaited follow-up laden with a bevy of the necessary nefarious instrumental ingredients interspersed with an oddball sense of humor (just check out their cheeky promo pictures as an indication of this) that should garnish this band attention from the corpsepainted contingent. www.empire-records.plMike SOS




The Few Against Many is a progressive melodic death metal troupe that boasts former members of Satariel, Torchbearer, Angel Blake, and ex-Scar Symmetry frontman Christian Alvestam in its ranks. This Swedish quintet’s debut SOT demonstrates a hellacious hybrid of symphonic black metal, melodic death metal, and a tenacious technical prowess whose scope is way darker and oppressive than when we heard Alvestam last, as tracks like “Heresi” bleed through the speakers with Dark Tranquility-esque fury while “Skapelsens Sorti” explores a shadowy symphonic side with lyrics sung in Swedish (only two songs here are sung in English by the way, proving that as long as the voice sounds evil, it’s all good). Providing a discernibly darker departure with a slew of new and intriguing sounds creeping in unheard on previous works, The Few Against Many make their mark with a solid array of nefarious melodies (“Brand Mark”) via SOT. www.pulverisedrecords.comMike SOS




Good time thrashers Municipal Waste bear down from the carefree kill the keg beer swigging ways to produce their fourth installment of speed and power in the form of Massive Aggressive. As cliché as it sounds, this Virginia quartet’s latest 13-track attack is the album where this troupe has “matured”, but fear not loyal fans, they haven’t gone soft in the least; in fact, the ‘Waste is as dangerous as ever, churning out the cavalcade of blistering breakneck riffs with all the vicious velocity your body can handle with the impetus of the bastard child of Suicidal Tendencies, DRI and Exodus (“Acid Sentence”, “Mech-Cannibal”). The departure comes mainly in the lyrical content, a place where the unit’s trademarked crack a beer and chug whimsy has all but disappeared (sans “Horny for Blood”), replaced by a barrage of horror movie retellings (“The Wrath of the Severed Head”), disaster scenarios (“Wolves of Chernobyl”), and fighting the powers that be (“Upside Down Church,” “Divine Blasphemer”), fitting in perfectly with the crew’s menacing riffing, high pitched vocal yowl, and ripping rapid-fire drumming. Meshing chaotic hardcore punk leanings (“Media Skeptic”) with hearty dollops of mid-paced chugging into their high-energy tumultuous thrash metal approach (“Massive Aggressive”), Municipal Waste’s latest album showcases a sinister sharpening of their skill set while the band implements some new tricks into their arsenal that when combined make a template for what a lean and mean crossover metal record for the 21st Century should sound like. www.earache.comMike SOS




Despite only one original member remaining in the fold (guitarist Tommy Niemeyer for those keeping score at home), incendiary Seattle splattercore pioneers The Accused manage to capture the extreme essence from their salad days on the group’s latest 14-track endeavor The Curse of Martha Splatterhead. Reinvigorating the masses with a fire at all cylinders slash and burn style that bequeaths them crossover hero status alongside the ranks of DRI and Suicidal Tendencies (“Scotty Came Back”), this release relentlessly slams your head against the wall from start to finish with a barrage of twisted vocal angst (“Splatter Rock II”), thunderous rapid fire thrash metal percussion (“Bodies are Rising”), raucous punk metal guitar melodies (“Hemline”), and gore-driven horror movie intensity throughout the entire affair, making this album a raw treat chock full of the unapologetic hack ‘em up and drag ‘em out metallic goodness this band helped spawn. www.southernlord.netMike SOS




Toledo, OH sextet Blood of the Prophets blend the best elements of modern metal to comprise their three-song eponymous release. Led by a versatile menacing growl and a bountiful array of nifty fretwork with an obligatory dose keyboard overlay to add a harrowing chill (“Awaiting Death”), this act confidently straddles the line between the heavy handed approach of Chimaira and the histrionic path of melodic black metal to create a maelstrom of metallic fury whose familiar strains of aggression are bound to get the pit involved. SOS




Your Demise is a bruising UK quintet whose angry bursts of melodic metal-tinged hardcore falls in line with the most recent works of Agnostic Front, Gallows, and Comeback Kid on the 14-track Ignorance Never Dies. Rendering a refreshing concoction of Hatebreed-esque pit stompers (“The Clocks Aren’t Ticking Backwards”, “Nothing Left But Regret”) featuring a scalding mix of vicious vocals, a standout bombastic bass guitar whose performance deserves an award (“Burnt Tongues”), chunky riffs galore, and rhythmic beatdowns (“TF”), the only misstep here are the electronic dub interludes dispersed in between the mauling mayhem of cuts like “All I Never Want to Be” and “Black Veins”, coming off a bit overindulgent and misplaced. But when taking on this album as a whole, Your Demise’s supple fury (“Blood Ran Cold”) maintains the immediacy of slamming grooves chock full of punk spirit and hardcore heft, so all can be forgiven for their branching out and throwing some chill out moments in, as you’ll definitely need them to catch your breath anyhow. www.earache.comMike SOS




Intergalactic metal warriors Gwar celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band in style (just check out the homage to Kiss from the album’s cover) with a discernibly thrashier approach on Lust in Space. Retaining the outrageous stage antics and witty lyrical subject matter (“Metal Metal Land”) that put them in the collective conscience of the metal scene, Gwar’s 11th studio offering (produced by Devin Townsend no less) is a meatier musical entry, providing the listener an impressive arsenal of durable guitarwork (“Let Us Slay”) and solid metal anthems (“Parting Shot”, “Damnation Under God”) to go along with the band’s undeniably unique presentation. Cohesively tying everything together to form a solid release where the chops are as sharp as the whimsical delivery, Gwar’s latest cosmic treat is a raucous and fun-filled metal excursion chock full of headbanging humor. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




New Jersey metalcore titans Burnt By the Sun have sadly decided to call it a day, but at least they’ve graciously given us a mammoth farewell in the form of their explosive 10-track swan song Heart of Darkness. This menacing menagerie of metalcore mayhem impressively recreates the cult unit’s seething delivery after a six-year hiatus with trademarked edgy songwriting twists cemented into a brash barrage of tumultuous technical metal colliding into chaotic and confrontational hardcore perspectives masterfully captured via Mike Olender’s vitriolic and venomous bark. This is not your run of the mill Hot Topic metalcore, kids; this is the real deal from seasoned veterans that get the job done with a proficient combination of brutality, integrity and expedience, providing the necessary nastiness that lunges from the speakers with an insatiable wrath to destroy. www.relapse.comMike SOS




Cock rock for the 21st Century, Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar return with the group’s latest offering Beg For It. A hodgepodge homage to heavier end of hair metal a la Love/Hate and Kix, this 12-track affair’s jarring juxtaposition of contemporary tones with pop metal priss (“Hope for a Normal Life”) is tailor-made to rock soccer stadiums (“Nervous Breakdown”) thanks to the mind-numbing enormity of the choruses, not to mention the presence of both a gritty and grizzled rock singer and nifty fits of glistening guitar (“Beg for It”). If you’re pining for a modern slant on glam metal’s glory days or really miss 1988 that much, Hardcore Superstar sufficiently scratches the itch but don’t expect much more. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS




Make sure your attention span is fully intact when popping in the latest one-track, 40-minute endeavor from ambitious French metal septet Overmars, as Born Again tries patience and slows momentum with its methodically torturous pace and unsettlingly haunting passages of dastardly drone and doom-laden dramatics that unmistakably shares common ground with avant-garde metal’s usual suspects such as Isis and Neurosis. Almost as if providing a soundtrack for an inescapable nightmare, this unit’s bleak industrial interludes and trance-inducing elements are bolstered by a three-prong vocal attack (two guys and one girl), each with distinct characteristics stamping unique eeriness to the redundant lyrical textures. Not only do the nuances of sludgy post-metal, dirge-like ambience, and black metal atmosphere join forces here, they work together in a sinister symbiosis to crush your feeble soul while exerting an excruciating display of darkness and despair custom made for those who call the catacombs home. www.crucialblast.netMike SOS


Amazon Along DeathTHE BLACK


Harkening back to an era where black metal was at its most unfettered, Swedish trio The Black take a nefarious no-nonsense approach on their scathing eight-track offering Alongside Death. Serving a malicious hunk of meat and potatoes black metal with a cavalcade of eerie riffs, chaotic blasts, and feral vocal utterances leading the charge, The Black murkily impart direct derivations from the Mayhem and Satyricon playbooks (“Dead Seed”).  Despite the complaints about the unit’s simplicity, it’s that same dialed-back delivery which allows for the squad’s diabolical aura to permeate from “A Contract Written in Ashes,” making an enjoyably authentic slab of demonic darkness for those who have stayed troo. www.pulverised.netMike SOS




Returning after a four-year layoff with a completely revamped lineup, revered Portland, OR troupe Subarachnoid Space dole out five mainly instrumental tracks of space-laden psychedelic guitar freakouts from the bleak end of the black hole on this galactic group’s latest offering Eight Bells. This veteran troupe keeps the riffs cosmic and the atmosphere dark (“Akathesia”) while providing an acidic blend of trippy effects, Hawkwind-esque heft, and fluctuating moodswings with a hard rock soul, yielding a stellar set of shadowy explosions (“Hunter Seeker”) which should find no problem fitting snugly between your Fucking Champs and Explosions in the Sky discs. www.crucialblast.netMike SOS




Brooklyn NY’s Liturgy sparks an interesting debate for the ardent black metal fan to lament over; can a band who openly and wholeheartedly disregards black metal’s trademarked norms yet punishes ears with a similar array of blistering elements passed down from the genre’s elite really be considered black metal? Surely this discussion is bound to go the distance, but rest assured this fresh-faced as opposed to corpse-painted troupe will be too occupied transcending their abominable aural assault through opaque intervals of twin guitar tremolo runs to care about looking the part. Adorned with an unintelligible bestial shriek that fits the music perfectly and solidified with an octopus-esque percussive performance that whirls at breakneck velocity and never misses a beat, this collection of volatile metallic shredding gives props to Burzum, Darkthrone, and Ulver while implementing smidgens of hipster influence within its classically cacophonic crackles and bastardized buzzing to keep the haters hating and the vibe raw, yet maintain a global scope (“Track 7”) which permits an escape from their frosty forest to peruse the vast metal landscape for inspiration before making their solemn sojourn back to the wild. www.20buckspin.comMike SOS




Seasoned NYC juggernaut Funkface hits hard with a soulful hard rock stance on their eight-track endeavor Your Politics Suck. Taking the listener back with the immediacy of Bad Brains while mixing in a flurry of Living Color-esque hard rock with flourishes of harder-edged ska and punk, this quintet displays a unique energy where both old school values and new school tones collide yet coexist in heavy harmony. www.funkfacenyc.comMike SOS


Amazon HarvestmanHARVESTMAN


Harvestman is the third musical offering from prolific post-metal artist Steve Von Till (Neurosis) that essentially captures one man’s journey through sound. Waves of synths and guitars crash along drone rhythms while a rash of unorthodox instrumentation yields a cosmic cacophony jarringly juxtaposing hallucinogenic rock and abstract noise. Despite the music’s trance-like build-ups peaking to reach grand crescendos, Harvestman retains a disciplined tranquility that emphatically echoes the earthy sentiments of the music’s natural surroundings yet still manages to break away and take rocket ship rides to outer space (“The Hawk of Achill”). www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS




UK psychedelic metal merchant Aurora returns from a trip in the time machine to present their third offering, the euphoric eight-track journey entitled Aurora. A galactic odyssey containing all the space rock swagger, prog-rock peel-outs, and crazy keyboard whizzes and swirls your brain on drugs can potentially handle, Litmus’ bromantic worship of Hawkwind is appalling but totally forgivable because of their authentic interpretation of both the energy and the experimental spirit. Further channeling Yes, Monster Magnet, and Pink Floyd into the mix also doesn’t hurt, as this band’s ability to effortlessly blast off into the universe’s farthest reaches is a boundless entity that renders a elated listening experience for all who crave an escape. www.riseaboverecords.comMike SOS




How’s this for a resume? Tenet is a supergroup started by Jed Simon comprised by members of Exodus, Strapping Young Lad, Forbidden, and Dark Angel. While imposing and impressive on paper, this troupe’s ferocious batch of oppressive thrash metal beatings is for real and delivers with a dastardly snarl that damn near guarantees this all-star quintet an automatic ascension to the genre’s upper-echelon. Sovereign is a nine-track thrash metal tour-de-force whose startlingly seething approach (thanks most notably via an insanity-laden over the top vocal performance from Steve Souza), endless rounds of resonant crushing riffs, and permeating vibes of genuine destruction all work together to form brutal barrages of Grade A thrash metal. Churning out the kind of vibrant volatility that the permutation of some of the genre’s elite should be, Tenet present a triumphant neck-snapping affair thrash fans new and old will adore. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS




Schizophrenic Swedish sextet Diablo Swing Orchestra intertwine crushing metal a la System of a Down with oodles of oddball flare that combines heavy-handed metal menacing with a jump-jiving dose of 1940’s-era ragtime and swing with a span the globe sound. Throw in a bothersome barrage of over the top male/female operatic twin vocals and cap it off with a smorgasbord of surreal stylistic switches accompanied by a cavalcade of old time instrumentation destined to induce listener dizziness to round out this twisted yet enchanting offering. If you can stand your metallic attack with a lot of left of center influences, you won’t find a more ambitiously avant-garde release than Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious, making it a must-have for the adventurous sect who wouldn’t feel out of place busting out The Lindy in the pit. www.lasersedgegroup.comMike SOS




A cold and bleak strain of black metal emanates from Sweden’s Valkyrja in the form of the nine-track endeavor Invocation of Demise. Originally released in 2007, this sinister offering showcases intense layers of hellacious havoc this band wields with thunderous drums, tremolo guitar runs, and diabolic vocal projections sounding startlingly full and clear for a black metal recording. Paying homage to the pioneers of the genre without sacrificing their own unique twists and turns on cuts such as the sprawling “The Vigil”, the menacing “Plague Death” and the mammoth “Purification and Demise”, Valkyrja’s grim trajectory demonstrates the capability to switch up tempos from blast to crawl without losing an ounce of evil while channeling the gauntlet of black metal atmospheres with an effigy of demonic elegance standing tall throughout. www.metalblade.comMike SOS




The firm death metal grip of Vader returns to terrorize the world once again, as this stalwart Polish unit returns with the 11-track Necropolis. This disc yields a few surprises (such as an overall emphasis on brevity that gives the entire affair a brutal boost as well as a dramatic and dynamic closer with “When the Sun Drowns in Dark”), yet Vader has achieved status as one amongst a handful of bands who consistently deliver the goods while developing a brand of neck snapping pulverizing metal that they can truly call their own (“Blast”, “Anger”). Armed with the blistering speed, vitriolic vocals, and knockout punch arrangements that have made them a mainstay in the extreme metal scene (“We Are the Horde”), despite all but one original member remaining, Vader manages to not only retain its signature sound but stand out in the vast sea of other metal acts, a testament to both the band’s devastating approach and relentless passion to its craft. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS




Focusing on the more pleasant end of the NWOBHM spectrum, Los Angeles revisionist metal mob White Wizzard harkens back to a more hard-rock based form of metal in the vein of Thin Lizzy, early Def Leppard and UFO on their seven-track excursion High Speed GTO. Songs about cars and girls with balls and bite are so pre-1985, yet this quartet pull off the authenticity of the era with a suitcase full of beer and some snappy rhythms (“Celestina”), flashy guitar licks, popping bottom-end (“March of the Skeleltons”) and creamy vocal melodies that stick in your head whether you like it or not. While their pop sensibilities may prove to be a bit too polished for the average metal fan, this act combines hard-edged hooks with arena metal enormity for an undeniably innocuous listening experience perfect for cruising the boulevard with the top down to. www.earache.comMike SOS



2009 NYHC

Raw and unapologetic, Mugs tear rooms apart with an unadulterated hardcore punk stance with strains of thrash metal looming underneath. Direct and confrontational, this quartet’s motto of ”Blunts, Broads, Beers and Boards” is played to the hilt on songs like “Work”, the snotty and snarling “I Get What I Want”, the Metallica farce of “Jaws” and the skater anthem “Board 2 Death”. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to demolish things to, seek this one out, as they champion the drunken debauchery of the likes of Murphy’s Law and No Redeeming Social Value rather well. SOS


Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

SOS Metal Reviews: Voivod “Infini,” Sonata Arctica, Danko Jones, Goatwhore, and more…

Posted in SOS Metal Update, Voivod with tags , on September 13, 2009 by gearsofrock
Amazon VoivodVOIVOD
Finishing up where Katorz left off, the final round of posthumous musical output from deceased guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour has arrived in the form of Infini, a 13-track collection dutifully piecing together the remainder of the compositional odds and sods D’Amour left behind on his laptop before succumbing to cancer in 2005. The rest of Voivod had the tough task of not only grieving over a lost comrade, but rifling through material to draw up a tangible release as well, an undertaking the remaining members administer admirably. Spearheaded by Jason Newsted’s punchy production and roaring bass guitar rumblings (“Treasure Chase”, “From the Cave”), songs like “Volcano” rip out with a Motorhead punk-thrash vibe, while “Krap Radio” demonstrates the bands disdain via the troupe’s trademark slanted slash and burn style. Paying homage to a fallen friend, Infini is an inspired affair that fondly closes a chapter in this band’s legacy. www.voivod.comMike SOS
Jagged NYC quartet Tournament showcase a boisterous indie rock clamor with an acute metallic swagger on their 10-track offering Years Old. Unreservedly borrowing from the playbooks of Jesus Lizard and Melvins with traces of scathing punk strewn in for good measure (“Intake Controller”), tracks like “Smokelore” display melodies buried under walls of jaded guitars while the volatile man on fire vocal delivery guides scrawling guitars and rumbling rhythms through “Washcloth” and assists the brutal Helmet-esque low end tidal wave crashes on “Walking Negative Man” and “Snuff News”. Propelled by well-measured doses of heaviness and a disjointed sense anxiety cranked to the max, Tournament properly portrays what a dirty by design brand of balls out rock ‘n roll outfit should sound like. www.forcefieldrecords.orgMike SOS
Queens, NY quintet Pitfight keeps the unbridled NYHC spirit close at hand on their eponymous seven-track sojourn, hammering out menacing chunks of aggression laden with burly breakdowns and hostile gang vocals. Songs like the Madball-esque “The World” and “All Hell Breaks Loose” (not the Misfits song) include the ingredients necessary to elicit a sea of flailing arms and windmill fisticuffs while the SOD meets Entombed feel on “Night of the Living Death” injects a dollop of punk metal attitude into the mix. Most in-tune with the urban metallic end of the hardcore spectrum chock full of chugging guitars and vocal abrasiveness, Pitfight delivers a solid hardcore-styled kick to the skull. SOS
16 tracks of multi-faceted grindcore chaos come courtesy of Minnesota trio Ambassador Gun and their latest release When in Hell. Hyper and hostile, this troupe keeps up a relentless rapid-fire pace while furnishing their blistering Napalm Death meets Nasum assault (“So Pristine”, “Population Control”) with a plethora of contagious riffs exploding from the speakers and a stirringly vitriolic twin vocal onslaught whose apocalyptic imminence pounds through your cranium and sticks in your head long after the disc’s 28 minutes have run out (“When in Hell”, “Delorean”). Startlingly melodic with a punk rock precipice without sacrificing a lick of savagery (“Taylor Reign”, “Ignorance is This”), When in Hell is a triumphant affair specially crafted for well-rounded speed freaks and genre mashers to adore. SOS
Veteran Dutch death metal mongers God Dethroned return with Passiondale, a harrowing 10-track frontline account of the little known horrors from one of the most deadly battles of World War I done over a scintillating modern death metal backdrop. Intertwining storytelling devices from other genres such as Viking metal to properly give reverence to the subject matter at hand, this quartet’s direct and durable warmongering delivery and blackened Swedish metal assault is equipped with a few surprises such as touches of clean singing (“No Survivors”), interludes adorned with keyboard-enhanced doom laden reflection (the triumphant “Poison Fog”) and a cohesively binding instrumental outro (“Artifacts of the Great War”), yet still packs the pulverizing punch expected from this seasoned unit (“Under a Darkening Sky”). Falling a bit on the short side yet not before succinctly fleshing out detailed accounts of the massive massacre, God Dethroned has whipped up a stunning portrait from one of the most notorious atrocities in modern history. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
Italian female fronted nu metal comes courtesy of circuit vets Exilia, whose latest offering My Own Army slaps pieces Otep’s metallic rage, Lacuna Coil’s stealthy songwriting and My Ruin’s audacity together to form a solid but formulaic strand of rock. Teeming with a bevy of textbook modern rock twists that commercial radio craves with a punchy songwriting acumen that skillfully skirts the line between mainstream rock and action movie metal (“I’m Perfect”), this 12-track release falls prey to nu metal cliché quite a bit (“Far From the Dark”, “Magnolia”) yet redeems itself thanks to a brazen vocal performance whose tough and throaty delivery keeps attention spans alert under the generic brooding atmosphere. www.exiliaweb.comMike SOS
Instead of following the usual metal sound from the bands of their home state a la Killswitch Engage and Isis, Massachusetts crew Ravage masterfully capture an early 1980’s metallic vibe, channeling everyone from Mercyful Fate and Grim Reaper to Judas Priest (whose “Nightcrawler “ they cover) on the retro quintet’s debut disc The End of Tomorrow. This 12-track ode to traditional metal comes fortified with over the top rousing choruses (“Damn Nation”) and the sort of rollicking freight train musicianship you’d expect from the likes of Armored Saint, Metal Church, and fellow retread act 3 Inches of Blood (“The Shredder”). Tracks such as the meaty “Freedom Fighter” and the histrionic power metal-esque title track burst at the seams with an abundance of galloping rhythms, whammy bar solo trickery, evil riffage, and an unrestrained vocal attack whose wailing pipes are bound to expunge posers quicker than a hiccup. Steeped in classic wares, Ravage goes back to the formative days of NWOBHM, Bay Area thrash, and European power metal to create their inspired and cohesive assault on your ears. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
NYC outfit The Defibulators import the down home sounds of truck stop country, bluegrass and honky tonk to the Big Apple on their provocative 17-track affair Corn Money. Any band that has its own coloring book has to be a guaranteed hoot, and this raucous septet is just that, embodying southern fried swing with just the right touches of tear in your beer country (“Your Hearty Laugh”), ragtime frolic (“Honey, You Had Me Fooled”), and whacked out mountain music (“X-mas Ornament”). Armed with hyperactive fiddle, stacked male-female vocal duels, jug and washboard accoutrement, knee-slapping melodies, and guitars whose twang cry out for a two-step (“Dum-Dum”, “Go-Go Truck”), this unit’s punkified take on old-time music turns Americana on its head with a bawdy and bodacious delight. www.thedefibulators.comMike SOS
A bleak and desperate seven-track doom fest arrives thanks to Oakland’s Laudanum. The Coronation is a dreadful and discordant offering lumbering with an uncomfortable aura, as this quartet drum up an ominous affair draped in piercing horror movie ambiance (“Apotheosis”), noise metal clatter (“Wooden Horse”) and mechanized industrial nuances (“In Obscura”) while a devastatingly destructive sludge metal attack akin to molten lava oozing from a volcanic explosion rears its head and clears room for nefarious vocal growls and howls, binding the entire excruciating 50-minute excursion together. This disc’s foreboding atmosphere and woebegone wares are custom made for an impending full-on global collapse. www.20buckspin.comMike SOS
Finnish power metal quintet Sonata Arctica returns with a punchy pomp-filled endeavor titled The Days of Gray. Blending cascading commercial metal hooks with soaring progressive metal prowess into their lush yet visceral keyboard-heavy Euro metal approach (“Juliet”), this squad’s sixth release demonstrates a band well-versed in sweeping dramatics (“The Dead Skin”) and poignant balladry (“As If the World Wasn’t Ending”) as well as cranking out darkened over the top orchestral metal (“Zeroes”) while sneaking in a bit of homeland folk metal (“Flag in the Ground”) for good measure. Melodic and full of zest, The Days of Gray bridges the gap between Dream Theater-esque flash and Blind Guardian-like durability, providing an abundance of rousing metal moments for those who prefer a more elegant design in their metal. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
Laying down a concrete 70’s retro rock feel that you can’t help but groove to, Firebird’s fifth installment of classic hard rock Grand Union serves up a winning amalgamation of tooth-bearing hard rock and muscular blues in its journey across the hard rock timeline. Spearheaded by unlikely extreme metal luminary Bill Steer, the whiskey soaked guitars, thunderous bass and drum rhythmic interlocking, and sinewy compositions echo bell bottom heaviness from bands like Cream and Free (“Lonely Road”) while “Release Me” pairs up AC/DC and Deep Purple for a bloozy hard rock tour de force and “Fool For You” displays this power trio’s cleverness by turning a James Taylor song into a sizzling bongo-filled blues rock free for all. Dirty riffs collide with dashes of organ and harmonica (“Worried Mind”) accompaniments with a pulsating vibe straight from the arena rock glory days throughout, assisting Firebird ‘s triumphant throwback aura to fully encumber your rock ‘n roll soul. www.riseaboverecords.comMike SOS
Swiss troupe Shakra deliver a hard-hitting hard rock offering on Everest, the unit’s seventh full-length album. This quintet exhibits a modern slant on a discernibly 80’s metal foundation, as the influence of bands like Dokken (especially guitar wise) can be heard throughout the 12-track duration. Hooks on cuts like “Love & Pain” and “Dirty Money” mix the wares of Kix and Udo while “Insanity” displays a righteous Euro metal flare with a hearty dollop of Sunset Strip biker grit, kind of what a merger of Love/Hate and In Flames would sound like. Taking the everyman no frills rock from Tesla and slapping a set of BLS-sized balls on the frame, Shakra’s throbbing bottom end and steadfast dedication to hard rock melody make this album a solid album to throw on while cruising down the highway with the top down. www.afmrecords.comMike SOS
Japanese stoner rock band with a liking for the tales of serial killers a la death metal band Macabre (all of their song titles are named after one) Church of Misery pour on a plethora of teeming lava riffage (“Blood Sucking Freak”), gravel-throated yowls and Black Sabbath bass and drum worship on the seven track Houses of the Unholy. Stocked with a sludge metal swagger and a stoner rock heft that swings as hard as it strikes, songs like “Shotgun Boogie” kick up the jams before the oppressive pentatonic pummeling and creepy bullhorn vocal intro of “The Gray Man” stomps your head against the curb. Channeling everything from COC to Cathedral to Sleep and Weedeater while carving out its own niche into the heavy metal tree of woe, Church of Misery showcase a catchy yet perilous collection of maddening metallic maneuvers slow cooked to savor every last drop of diabolical umbrage. www.riseaboverecords.comMike SOS
A posthumous re-release of comes from recently disbanded Bay Area death metal unit Light This City, whose debut The Hero Cycle gets the reissue treatment. Recorded while the band was still in high school, this 10-track endeavor sounds a bit undercooked overall yet burns with the fires of an upstart band fueled by a youthful reckless abandon following a paint by numbers Swedish death metal blueprint. Hardly essential but interesting for completists and rabid fans, this disc showcases a fine display of nubile aggression from a band’s humble beginnings. www.prostheticrecords.comMike SOS
Amazon Danko JonesDANKO JONES
Veritable Canadian hard rock trio Danko Jones strays a few degrees away from the raucous all guns blazing design that gave them their reputation to make way for a much more streamlined and less dangerous change of pace on latest effort Never Too Loud. Opting to draw from the squad’s favorite classic rock nuances to comprise this 11-track affair, tunes like the more than ever Thin Lizzy-inspired “Ravenous” and “City Streets” maintain the trademark grit this European circuit favorite is known for and sophomoric romps “Let’s Get Undressed” and “Still in High School” quench perpetual teenage fantasies as only rock ‘n roll can fulfill, yet the slick Kid Rock-esque ballad “Take Me Home” misses the mark, sounding a bit too polished and contrived from a band that thrives on energy and rock ‘n roll rebellion to churn out. The album’s best moment however is the deliciously deliberate stoner rock direction the six-minute plus track “Forest for the Trees” takes, which boasts not only an undeniable hypnotic groove but boasts a pair of blockbuster guest vocalists in the form of John Garcia and Pete Stahl, who alongside Jones form a monsterous vocal stoner rock triad that is worth the price of the disc alone. Following the lead set by heroes AC/DC and Motorhead in providing consistence while digging deeper to display their roots, Never Too Loud is an album that will perplex some fans as it will take a few listens to fully absorb the changes, yet it is still armed with all the necessary elements to absolutely satisfy everyone who is about to rock. www.badtasterecords.seMike SOS
French metalcore unit Darkness Dynamite pulls influence from a bevy of reliable high profile sources to compile the by-numbers blend of metallic ferocity heard on this quintet’s 11-track endeavor The Astonishing Fury of Mankind. While this squad won’t be praised for reinventing the metal wheel any time in the near future, they do craftily salvage scraps from cutting room floors of their peers, piecing feral chugga-chugga blasts from the deathcore sect, off-kilter song structures a la fellow countrymen Gojira (“Immersion Inner-Nation”), raging knuckle-breaking hardcore, and creamy melodic choruses from Soilwork (“15$”) and In Flames (“Hell Eve Hate”) together to form a bruising yet uneven batch of disjointed juxtapositions that emit a much-needed fresh scent yet seem a bit malnourished to make a perfect fit. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
Four ambitious Chicago guitarists (most notably one of the dudes from Pelican) team up to present Chord, a drone project whose dedicated scope aims to “exploit and explore the depth of a single chord.” This four-track affair radiates with doom-like ambience, discovering sumptuous soundscapes within the unit’s self-imposed limitations that resonate with hypnotic beauty and sweeping splendor. While this disc would render a tedious experience for the laymen, aficionados of bands such as Earth and Sunn 0))) will have no problem fully embracing this far-out release bursting with tone and texture. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS
Harkening back to traditional black metal’s blistering and bastardized roots, Italian trio Malfeitor presents their sophomore effort in the form of the blistering 10-track Incubus. Vigilantly following the wares of  Dark Funeral and Gogoroth, tracks like “Typhonian Gods” features a crisp black metal crush and “Void of Voids” maintains a menacing black metal tempo while “Down With Me” provides the album with a proper kickoff of tremolo picked guitar blasts and demonic vocal rasps manning the hellacious helm. Supplying a significant amount of catchy riffs and tasty hooks into their cauldron of despair, this act’s carefully constructed black metal bashings do not boast originality yet showcase an unabashed admiration for the movement’s Norwegian and Scandinavian progenitors, making this release a dependable and solid foray into the abyss. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS
Is deathcore still a dirty word amongst the metal sect? If so, no one has told Las Vegas quintet Molotov Solution, whose scalding 11-track endeavor portrays the nuances from the much-maligned genre with brash sociopolitical bite and a penchant for clever composition that falls prey to redundancy at times yet manages to hover a cut-above of the rest of the gang. The Harbinger is an album laden with malicious guitars runs (“Only the Dead”), threatening rhythmic bashings (“Corpus Imperium”), and a gamut-running vocal presence reminiscent of Despised Icon and Misery Signals yet at times remains on the treadmill a bit too long, taking easy chugga-chugga shortcuts to reach familiar bass-dropped moments of volatile nirvana a la every other damn band in the deathcore bunch (“Rule By Secrecy”). Nonetheless, this act seems to have a firmer handle on bludgeoning listeners into submission and throw enough intriguing treats into its mix to warrant massive moshpit activity as well as repeated listens. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
Slow churned sludge-ridden droning doom comes courtesy of veteran British monolithic metal troupe Moss, whose subtle and simplistic yet excruciatingly lethargic 40-minute excursion Tombs of the Blind Drugged reveals a viscous display of tortured vocals over a plodding and punishing musical backdrop despite containing only four tracks. Consisting of three new tracks and a curious doom adaptation of Discharge’s “Maimed and Slaughtered”, casual metal fans are sure to find this unit’s minimalist approach and significantly sluggish pace difficult to deal with, but for those cursed with firsthand knowledge of pain and suffering, this is the soundtrack of your life. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
Amazon GoatwhoreGOATWHORE
NOLA’s nefarious blackened metal squad Goatwhore returns with another smattering of evil in the form of a hellacious hybrid of metallic fury entitled Carving Out the Eyes of God. This diabolical 10-track display of demonic aggression is armed with a discernible degree of thrash metal mannerisms (“Shadow of a Rising Knife”) but maintains the trademark menacing black metal gallop (“In Legions, I Am Wars of Wrath”) this quartet is best known for. Once again produced by extreme metal guru Erik Rutan, this disc teems with a rabid rapid-fire six-string ruthlessness (“Apocalyptic Havoc”) and benefits by another chalice raised to the netherworld performance by vocalist Ben Falgoust, whose crisp yet malevolent raspy roar leads the impious charge from the bowels of Hell to the Earth’s surface. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
New York death metal masters Suffocation triumphantly return to the forefront of the game they basically created with the unit’s sixth full length offering Blood Oath. Retaining the veteran squad’s trademarked (and much plagiarized) combination of hulking atmosphere, jarring tempo shifts, raw barbarism, and awe-inspiring chops, this 10-track presentation crushes your cranium with a lethal display of intricate death metal insanity. Throwing out fierce fireballs of jolting staccato grooves (“Images of Purgatory”), tumultuous and technical percussion, complex twin guitar chaos (“Cataclysmic Purification”), seething growls telling depraved tales, and in a rarity for death metal, a rumbling bass whose pulverizing low-end and vicious plucking is not only audible but virtually leads the charge (“Pray for Forgiveness”), Blood Oath is yet another powerful presentation which admirably adds to Suffocation’s glorious extreme metal legacy. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
French troupe Eryn Non Dae brazenly throws conventional boundaries out the window on their debut affair Hydra Lernaia, opting to steer its brand of crushing metal through the same filters as fellow countrymen Gojira. Heavy on the atmosphere and off-kilter time signatures with a terse low-end snap dominant throughout, if you could imagine a somewhat awkward amalgamation of Neurosis, Meshuggah, and Mnemic, this quintet’s blend of sheer sonic bludgeoning with their bleak outlook on humanity seeping into the music as a sixth member constantly gnawing at your brain fits the bill most accurately. Despite a lack of memorable hooks to latch onto, Eryn Non Dae’s weighty offering provides the right quantity of jarring experimental lapses and provocative metallic moments to draw in those who enjoy their heaviness with angularity. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
One of the first true bands that merged modern urban blight with metal, NYC metalcore pioneers Merauder sticks to its guns in their comeback bid, returning with a sinister slugfest on the 11-track GOD IS I. Stocked with a smorgasbord of the unit’s trademarked battering riffs intertwined with all of the nasty nuances acquired from inhabiting in the bowels of the Big Apple for over two decades  (“Never Surrender,” “Built on Blood”) Merauder’s cautious yet chaotic approach appeases the diehards, churning out a myriad of malicious metal riffs over jackhammer rhythms adorned with the raucous roar of longstanding member Jorge Rosado bellowing as belligerently as if it were 1996 all over again (“God Is I”). Ferocious and ready to reclaim their spot at the top of the metalcore mountain, Merauder deliver a passionate old school tutorial chock full of the blend of harbingering hostility they helped put on the map.  www.regainrecords.comMike SOS
Undaunted in their approach to bring the truth to light, Tampa, FL unit SWWAATS burst out the gate with brutish volatility, a nihilistic outlook, and a rabid death metal meets grindcore method whose rapid-fire technicality goes for the jugular (“Of Worms, Jesus Christ and Jackson County Missouri, “Cattle”). This sextet’s 13-track debut endeavor (produced by the renowned James Murphy) devastates with an intriguing presentation of baleful barrages of blast beats accompanied by arrays of chugging guitar goodness (“Despot”) resonating the utter chaos of a world in disrepair (“Automated Oration And the Abolition of Silence”). This act also pays close attention to society’s ills, highlighting global decay via their confrontational and suggestive lyrics, making serious pitch for exposing conspiracies and sounding off as a wake up call for all humanity to heed (“A Path”). SWWAATS provide a solid and thought-provoking hybrid of pummeling death metal and piledriving grindcore armed with burly breakdowns for the tough guys and mindblowing dynamics for those who demand more than the norm from their extreme music. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
Featuring former members of Through the Eyes of the Dead, Graves of Valor play a standard form of death metal on their 11-track debut Salarian Gate. Despite a majority of redundant compositions that rarely climb above the median, this squad exhibits a seething selection of steamrolling chops (especially drum-wise) that lunge out the speakers to grab you by the throat (“The Clever Ape”). Durable but predictable, Graves of Valor possesses a wicked death metal gallop (“To Breath Blood”, “Suffocation of the Last King”) and can undeniably blow doors down when running at full capacity (“Pestilence”), yet display a think too much in the box mentality on this disc that renders only a few memorable moments. www.relapse.comMike SOS
Amazon AntigamaANTIGAMA
Polish powerhouse quartet Antigama return with a vengeance on their aptly titled 16-track excursion Warning. This exercise in extremity is teeming with the unit’s crushing amalgamation of grindcore blasts, blistering guitars, and anguished vocals (“Empty Room”, “Preacher’s Pray”), as this prolific squad pour on the punishment without a shred of remorse (“War”). Also included is another round of the band’s boundless experimentation, as Antigama’s now-patented unorthodox jazz atmosphere musings allow for short breaths in between the onslaught (“Paganini Meets Barbapapex”) while the adventurous percussive demonstration (“Lost Skull”) assists the overall release to resonate with an oddball brutality that distances this troupe further from the grind ‘em up and spit it back pack. Unrelenting and stark, Antigama stir up a callous and calculated blend of off kilter aural carnage that fans of grindcore will find hard to resist. www.relapse.comMike SOS
Breaking away from band life (Rotten Apples most recently) to get her solo groove on, Northwest by way of NYC songstress Dejha Colantuono secures her game by providing a rash of refined tunes intact with a firm grasp of rock dynamics on Tea and Vodka. This 11-track offering boasts the punchy production skills of Matt Bayles, fully capturing Colantuono’s versatile vocal delivery audible on the quirky jangle of “Poolside”, the Bjork meets PJ Harvey electro creep of “Something With You” and the smoky “Miss Fortune” while properly doing justice to bouncy guitar rock on cuts like “Anxiety” and “Color Blue”. Showcasing pop sensibilities built into a wider musical framework, this disc showcases a seasoned vocalist whose eclectic mix of rock-based music elicits a dash of soul straight from the heart. www.madmeowmusic.comMike SOS
A frenetic exhibition of gruesome grindcore comes courtesy of Switzerland’s Mumakil, whose keep it real 27-track, 36-minute exercise in brutal brevity boldly pick up where grindcore masters Nasum untimely left off. From the opening strains of “Brothers in Slavery”, this foursome kick down the door and go ballistic, injecting a hearty dose of death metal into their lightning-fast tempos for an extra kick guaranteed to peel the paint off the wall and cause your immediate neighbors to phone the authorities (“Useless Fucks”, “Barbecue in Bhopal”). Strangled vocals projecting bile everywhere, dizzying riffs whose succinct savagery calls to mind Napalm Death (“Daily Punishment”), and incessant drum explosions combine forces to create a devastating batch of quick blows to the skull that will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped in the ring with a champion prizefighter. www.relapse.comMike SOS
A Southern metal supergroup gone Swedish death ‘n roll, the quintet known as Birds of Prey churn out another raucous swampy sludge-ridden offering in the form of their third release The Hellpreacher. Ensconced in filth both lyrically (whose depraved storyline would make one hell of a movie) and sonically with a barrage of ripping blackened riffs (“Taking on Our Winters Blood”), blistering rhythms, and a bellicose lead bellow narrating the gruesome tale, Birds of Prey do a fine job of streamlining the wares of Goatwhore, Entombed, and Eyehategod into a wickedly bludgeoning bundle of southern fried death metal (“False Prophet”). Featuring Erik Larson, Ben Hogg, Dave Witte, Summer Welch, and Bo Leslie, this amalgamation of metalheads from below the Mason-Dixon have developed quite the macabre concept album. www.relapse.comMike SOS
Strap yourself in and dial back the time machine to the early 1970’s in order to fully embrace Astra’s eight-track, 78- minute journey The Weirding. This San Diego quintet does a marvelous job excavating classic sounds and vivid instrumentation from the psychedelic sunshine acid days when Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath were the latest craze, nailing down the majestic bass and guitar tones with a muscular but not overpowering presence perfectly (“The River Under”). Armed with a bountiful serving of Mellotron sprinkled with woodwinds enhancing the heady riffs and grandiose arrangements, Astra takes their time to build exhilarating monuments of sound straight from archival prog rock blueprints left behind by Hawkwind and Yes (“Ouroborous”). Chock full of lush melodies and tantalizing musicianship stimulating the type of shimmering jams that yield an authentically cosmic listening experience, if you remember a time when music was allowed to be pure and unfettered by industry nonsense and commercial pressures, this disc is essential. SOS
Another old school death metal assault arrives via Hail of Bullets, the Dutch side project from members of Asphyx, Houwitser, Gorefest, and Thanatos in the form of a six-song EP showcasing this unit in both the studio and live setting. While the studio tracks are solid, dripping with the vintage death metal decay that draws comparisons to greats such as Death and Bolt Thrower (especially on the surprising reworking of Twisted Sister’s “Destroyer”), it’s the live cuts on this short and sweet sojourn where this quintet shines brightest, as the gravel-throated delivery of Martin van Drunen commandeers the voracious crowd through death metal’s murky underbelly with the passion and power necessary to summon the masses to revolt. Despite being a stopgap offering, Hail of Bullets bestows a nice mix of odds and ends before unleashing a fresh batch of menacing metal. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
As if the band name and album title haven’t hinted enough, Bone Gnawer is a death metal unit that features the blood-curdling know-how of Kam Lee in its ranks. This splatter flick obsessed affair contains 10 tracks of chophouse death metal in tune with the glorious vibes from both the seminal Tampa scene and its Swedish counterpart as cuts like “Hammer to the Skull” and “The Lucky Ones Die First” strike with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Armed with a simplistically sick template of blood soaked grunts over galloping death metal with an air of catchiness, Bone Gnawer’s straight ahead blood and guts approach conjures up countless comparisons to Cannibal Corpse, both in attitude and sound, making this disc hardly an essential purchase, but a vile amount of fun for those who like a little horror in their metal. www.pulverised.comMike SOS
Featuring three-quarters of bruising NYC hardcore veterans Everybody Gets Hurt, Red Eyed Devil crashes through the gates with a menacing four-track debut. Retaining the seething hostility of their former outfit with a rash of beatdown breakdowns while implementing some nifty fretwork fireworks into the mix (“LOV”), this troupe’s modern take on brutality screams nasty from start to finish and renders a surefire way to successfully jumpstart a circle pit anywhere its played. SOS
American black metal unit Eyes of Noctum stick to the Hot Topic black metal paradigm closely both in look and in sound on their 11-track offering Inceptum. Led by Weston Cage (who goes under the name Arcane here), son of Hollywood megastar Nicolas Cage, this sextet’s debut was recorded in Sweden (!) by metal guru Fredrik Nordstrom and features “appearances” by seasoned metal players Snowy Shaw and Hellhammer, both of whom apparently handled percussion duties when the band’s sticksman couldn’t cut it. Expect a garden-variety glossed-over keyboard-heavy Cradle of Filth meets Dimmu Borgir meets (enter Norwegian black metal band name) attack here, adorned with the symphonic accoutrements (“Eyes of Noctum”) and haunting melodic interplay (“Thy Fire Within”) ripped straight from the charred playbooks of their close at hand influences. www.eyesofnoctumofficial.comMike SOS
Angst-ridden and teeming with grit, Year of Severed Ties showcases a multitude of rock ‘n roll wares from NYC singer/guitarist Kim Rose. This 12-track offering supplies a significant array of hard rocking hooks (“Escaping Me”, “Reason Behind You”) that fall smack dab between the cathartic vibes of Evanescence and the refined edge of Incubus, complete with a slew of monstrous skin bashing (“Unjust”) and a vitriolic vocal delivery by a lady whose not gonna take it anymore. Laying down steadfast streams of punchy guitars over a rock solid rhythm section (“Broken Frames”), this disc exhibits Rose’s adoration for the harder side of ‘90s alternative rock with enough modern rock sensibilities that make for a well-rounded listening experience (“Made”). www.kimroseonline.comMike SOS
KK Null is one of the many projects emanating from the experimental mind of prolific Japanese noise monger Kazuyuki Kishino. His latest foray into the genre is a nine-track, nearly 50 minute offering entitled Oxygen Flash. Chock full with earsplitting skree, industrial strength electronic clanging, hypnotic delay, massive reverb invocations, and the type of white noise feedback that will drive your neighbors and pets insane, each track only goes by a number, further distancing this endeavor from resembling anything remotely accessible. This disc is most definitely for the most ardent of adventurous ears. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS
The neo-thrash movement still shows it has some gas left in the tank thanks in part to contributions from bands such as Wisconsin’s Lazarus AD, whose Metal Blade re-release of the unit’s 2007 offering The Onslaught nails the classic formula down pretty impressively. Sounding at times like the perfect blend of Death Angel and the newer incarnation of Exodus, especially vocally (“Damnation for the Weak”), this quintet embodies the bullet belt attitude, flashes the meaty yet slick chops (“Last Breath”), and sounds as ornery as a veteran band such as Kreator (“Revolution”) while integrating modern metal tactics into their airtight locked in a capsule from 1988 overview to make for a righteously retro yet intriguingly fresh sounding thrashing good time. www.metlablade.comMike SOS
Infernal Stronghold essentially are a black metal band by design, yet they trade typical genre uniforms in for a nasty punk rock disposition, giving their 10-track release Godless Noise the intriguing twist necessary to stand out. Fortified with a feral black metal bark (“Crippling Blasphemous Persistence”) and grindcore-esque bursts of rhythmic nihilism (“Buried by Grime and Crust”), this troupe’s combination of blistering speed, unorthodox angularity, and chaotic compositions tap into metal’s subterranean universe but arrive under a much different precipice, helping this Pennsylvania quartet spit out jagged shards of hate that have as much in common with Propagandhi as Satyricon (“ A Dog You Call God”, “Curb the Trend”) Infernal Stronghold has created a solid hybrid whose unique take on black metal excels with a bastardized but brutal integrity. www.forcefieldrecords.orgMike SOS
Excavated from the nefarious catacombs of Hell (also known as their old studio tapes), Satanic Blasphemies is a collection of three early demos from Swedish death metal squad Necrophobic. Containing nine tracks of uncompromising buzzing, this disc provides a glimpse of the formation stages of demonic death metal with a nice remastering job and in depth liner notes illuminating key aspects of this diabolical crew’s malevolent start to their mission. Resonant with a feral ferocity and bursting with an exuberant sense of evil, this disc will appeal to both genre completists and dark thrill seekers alike. www.regainrecords.comMike SOS
Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

SOS Metal Reviews: Napalm Death “Times Waits For No Slave,” Death By Stereo, Minsk, Warbringer, and more…

Posted in Napalm Death, SOS Metal Update, Warbringer with tags on September 1, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Napalm DeathNAPALM DEATH


Pioneering grindcore unit Napalm Death continue their trademark trail of wreckage, willfully destroying everything in their way with lethal rounds of speed and a rabid sense of aggression on Time Waits For No Slave, the British troupe’s 14th studio endeavor. Exhibiting the ravenous thirst for domination they’ve built into every face-splitting blast beat, crossover metal interchange, and skull-caving breakdown lovingly churned out since their inception in 1981, Napalm Death is one of the few bands that have a broad enough scope to pull off balancing finite consistency with experimental growth spurts, flat out refusing to rest on a decorated extreme metal pedigree or glories of their blueprint back catalog. Instead, this incendiary foursome opts to kick up the intensity and lunge at the jugular with a vintage voracity fueled by the danger and dread they’ve carried since their salad days. Look no further for an album that will blow your head clean off, as Time Waits For No Slave provides a tantalizing mix of grind, death, thrash, and punk as only Napalm Death can deliver. www.centurymedia.comamazon.comwikipedia.comMike SOS




A revisiting of the Swedish old school death metal style seems to be thriving as of late, and countrymen Axis Powers is making sure the revival stays strong as heard on their sophomore nine-track excursion Marching Towards Destruction. Relying on the wares of the pioneers from the genre for their crushing servings of sinister sonic bliss, this quartet’s retro metal renaissance resonates with the feral fury and devious cadence of early Entombed, Bolt Thrower, and Grave, nailing each ear-splitting guitar riff, rollicking bass line and mangled growl with the menacing malevolence of the originators fully intact. Eschewing metal’s modern virtues for the sake of whipping up a dastardly display of metal the way Mom used to make, Axis Powers provides an unsurprising yet uncompromising listening experience bursting with the distinguished tones of early death metal’s dissonant anguish www.pulverised.comMike SOS




Italian quintet Incoming Cerebral Overdrive’s eight-track endeavor complementarily exhibits this audacious outfit’s well-versed variety of avant-garde hardcore a la Dillinger Escape Plan and Poison the Well. Exuding mighty metalcore premonitions laced with a cathartically scream-y set of vocals, spastic time signature shifts, and a hodgepodge of hellacious guitar tones ranging from ear-splitting to bottom-scraping, this band’s slanted sensibilities yield a dizzying array of volatile tunes armed with spiky transitions, sludge metal tendencies and a dash of cosmically-induced prog-rock noodling for a daring and daunting listening experience. www.supernaturalcat.comMike SOS


Amazon Death By StereoDEATH BY STEREO


Orange County hardcore punk bastion Death By Stereo have made a career of taking chances and changing up their sound, so there’s no surprise that the stalwart act’s fifth full-length disc, the 15-track Death Is My Only Friend continues the trend. Pulling further away from their hardcore punk roots (associating itself more with a modern metallic approach a la Atreyu and AX7 these days) yet retaining the simmering intensity regardless how far the group has traveled off the starting line of the journey, their well-tread lead guitar heavy style and fist-pumping group vocal anthem paradigm remains a huge part of the music’s makeup much to the chagrin of old-schoolers (“Welcome to the Party,” “I Sing for You,” “The Ballad of Sid Dynamite”). The disc does include its fair share of clunky head-scratching moments however, as piano ballad “Forever and a Day” and the awkward stab at radio rock on “The Last Song” comes off contrived and out of place, but ultimately Death By Stereo redeems itself by laying down a satisfying smattering of the hurried punky hullabaloo that put this band on the map in between moments of well-earned but shaky attempts of artistic liberty (“We Sing Today for a Better Tomorrow”). www.serjicalstrike.comamazon.comwikipedia.comMike SOS




One-man progressive metal machine Tosin Abas is the main brain behind Animals as Leaders, a project whose eponymous 12-track excursion daringly thrusts into the far reaches of the metal spectrum, encompassing a progressive metal edge with a slew of decadent fretboard nuances with all-inclusive jazz-fusion tendencies. Doing all the bass and guitar (both 7 and 8-string) tracks himself, Abas creates a world engulfed in lush soundscapes aimed to beguile the listener as a rich array of technical intricacies dually derived from the foundation of both jazz and metal pours out of the speakers. Armed with flurries of enthralling expansiveness, this affair fosters the ambitious musical spirit of a virtuoso player a la Vai and Malmsteen whose first-rate chops never get in the way of its composition’s flow, while displaying a lack of the typecast clinical residue which results in the invigorating feeling of refreshed fluidity this release exudes. www.prostheticrecords.comMike SOS




Hungarian modern groove metal merchants Ektomorf’s latest effort What Doesn’t Kill Me is a plodding installment of utterly unoriginal down-tuned new school heavy music. Are they aware that Sepultura and Soulfly have already written half of these riffs and vocal lines? Simultaneously beating the rap-metal horse to death while grinding the nu metal movement to a halt by rendering a virtual line for line reprisal of all things Cavalera, Ektomorf’s uninspired homage properly radiates a solid slab of rage; shamefully it’s not their own. www.regainrecords.comMike SOS


Amazon MinskMINSK


Minsk’s third full-length offering serves up a transcendent smorgasbord of post-metal garnished with a masterful blend of styles and flavors. This Chicago, IL quartet channel the spirit of early Genesis, Voivod, and Mastodon to form sonically rich music laden with a cosmically charged left of center progressive metal edge, thrusting this fearless foursome’s pummeling pops of sinister sludgery and episodes of ethereal abrasiveness into realms reserved for the elite of the metal adventurers and the ensuing tolerant followers. Issuing an aura of uncanny uneasiness via the help of exotic compositions and intoxicating instrumentation, With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone wields a power derived from a blend of Minsk’s multitudes of non-metal influence, unrepentant waves of oppressiveness and foreboding musicianship, captivatingly holding attention spans with a mix of skull-splitting scintillation best heard under black light. Epic and intense, Minsk delivers huge here. www.relapse.comamazon.comwikipedia.comMike SOS




After a four-year slumber, Dimmu Borgir guitarist Galder resumes his prolific solo project Old Man’s Child with the release of Slaves Of The World. This Norwegian’s nine-track aural assault contains an obligatory dose of symphonic metal complete with keyboard flourishes and dastardly vocal growls, yet there’s also strong elements of death and thrash metal (“Unholy Foreign Crusade”), allowing songs like “On The Devil’s Throne” and “Saviours of Doom” to delve into more sadistic and sinister territories. Maintaining a grandiose vibe that simultaneously spews epic and evil visions (“Ferden Mot Fienden’s Land”), those who despise high-end production will shun this disc immediately, but for those who don’t mind some cracks of light seeping through black walls of despair, Old Man’s Child steadfastly delivers another well-manicured collection of black metal blasphemies. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS




Featuring four members from Canadian cripplers Kataklysm, Ex-Deo (rounded out by members of Martyr and Blackgard) focuses on The Roman Empire as the subject matter for this sextet’s incendiary offering Romulus. Masterfully harnessing melodic death metal’s majestic overtones, this 11-track affair bids few surprises yet crushes with a menacing mid-tempo pace, recreating the epic history of the events behind the world’s greatest civilization’s rise and fall along the way. Sturdily built from a proper blend of cavernous chugging guitars, purposeful keyboard accoutrements, and ferocious vocals that accurately narrate the gory glories from the beleaguered battlefields, Ex-Deo’s intriguing slant on Pagan metal renders a cohesive metal attack whose distinct cinematic scope and orchestral instrumentation radiates with the freshness that saves this disc from being cast as just another side project and is worthy for those who enjoy metal at its most sweeping and regal. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS


Amazon WarbringerWARBRINGER


Los Angeles metal troupe Warbringer churns out an authentically replicated form of the best from thrash metal’s guilded age on the squad’s sophomore effort Waking Into Nightmares. Emulating the fury and power of every Testament riff, Overkill tempo acceleration, Baloff vocal pattern, and Slayer drumbeat as if their own, this quintet’s tried and true array of speed and heaviness (“Shadow of the Tomb”) coupled with a rousing ability to stay the course yet still knock out their own unique blend of searing compositions and rebellious subject matter that gloriously screams 1987 Headbangers Ball all the way. Complete with a snarling Kreator-esque guitar tone (“Scorched Earth”) yielding only to the rich classic metal influenced breaks and interludes peppered throughout (“Nightmare Anatomy”), Waking Into Nightmares is an excellently rounded 10-track disc laden in apocalyptic atmosphere and chock full of unquestionably volatile thrash metal virtue. www.centurymedia.comamazon.comwikipedia.comMike SOS




German quintet The New Black purposely channels a hard rock from North America appeal on their eponymous debut disc. Sounding like a hybrid with Nickelback’s hooky choruses and commercial flair, Black Label Society’s fretboard gymnastics, and Hellyeah’s sinewy swagger, this outfit’s mammoth whiskey-fueled guitar chugs and piledriving bottom end is solidified with a metal cowboy appeal that fans of Shinedown will appreciate (“Why I Burn”) and a modern hard rock sound tailor made for action sports highlight reels (“Wound”). While some derivation from the blueprint would knock this disc out of the park, all of The New Black’s ass-kicking elements are in place and uncoil at the right times to offer a listening experience for the gym or the pub that won’t disappoint. www.afmrecords.comMike SOS


Amazon Grief of WarGRIEF OF WAR


Japan’s Grief of War embraces a conglomeration of Bay Area thrash signatures, Germanic rapid-fire tempos and Sepultura-esque intensity (“Disorder”) as evident via the trio’s latest endeavor Worship. Despite the squad’s honorable homage to the battering riffs (“Into the Void”), dive-bomb friendly solos (“Built My Brain”), skull-jolting rhythms, and Kreator-esque seething-mad vocal shouts of yesteryear, Grief of War’s retread is sturdy but a bit too unimaginative, ultimately lacking that intangible spark necessary to place them into the realms of thrash metal’s upper echelon, yet maintains a solid undercurrent of visceral aggression that can easily find a spot somewhere between Nuclear Assault and Death Angel along the grand sonic spectrum. www.prostheticrecords.comamazon.comwikipedia.comMike SOS




NYC underground mainstays Iconicide celebrates 20 years of causing a ruckus from below with their subversive mix of NYHC chaos, anarchistic rock tendencies, lo-fi metal belligerence, and caustic punk abrasiveness on Bout Fucking Time. This 10-track affair explores this nonconformist squad’s dastardly mix of snarling guitar riffs, furious drums, and rabid vocal rants, sounding as if unearthed from the catacombs of the abyss (“Name Your Price,” “Biochipped”). Crustily non-PC and completely unapologetic, Iconicide’s slanted sociopolitical stance and unadulterated utter reckless abandon is intentionally sloppy at times and drips with every undesirable nuance of the Big Apple, rendering a welcomed reprieve from the cleanliness and clarity of modern music that sonically socks you in the jaw with the shock of a suckerpunch from behind. www.iconicide.comMike SOS

SOS Metal Reviews: Necrophobic “Death to All,” Sworn Enemy, Delain, Unholy, and more…

Posted in Emery, Necrophobic, SOS Metal Update on August 26, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon NecrophobicNECROPHOBIC


With song titles like “For Those Who Stayed Satanic” and “Celebration of the Goat,” it’s pretty evident what to expect from Necrophobic’s no-frills eight-track audio sacrifice to Satan Death To All. Blistering black metal a la Dissection exalting Beelzebub is precisely what’s on tap from this veteran Swedish squad, complete with a garden variety permutation of dastardly vocal rasps, abrasive dynamic shifts, belligerent blast beats, and tremolo-picked demonic guitars propelling the entire offering (“La Santisima Muerte”). Supercharged with a sinister spirit brazen with an apocalyptic attitude holding tight at the core, chalk up another dark mark in the black book of blasphemy for Necrophobic, as this band continues to spread its message of disdain while providing a fitting soundtrack behind it all. www.regainrecords.comMike SOS




After sticking it out for over a decade, NYC hardcore metal troupe Sworn Enemy return in top form with a ripping thrash-heavy monster of an album that pulls no punches entitled Total World Domination. Again choosing to work with Tim Lambesis, this quintet’s relentless assault on the ears is bolstered as always by Sal Lococo’s gargantuan vocals yet this time twin guitar work that digs deep from the Exodus and Destruction songbooks accompanies the pummeling to mercilessly take you down and out for the count (“On the Outside”). Imagine the intensity of Municipal Waste without the frivolity colliding with the clobbering tactics of Madball and Earth Crisis and you’ve got the template for this NYHC-bred unit’s latest barnburner, as choice cuts such as “Still Hating”, “Ready to Fight” and “Run for Shelter” provide the adrenaline necessary to demolish everything in the way throughout the course of the day and showcase that this band proudly holds onto its roots with an unwavering aggressive as ever mindset leading their charge. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS




Connecticut progressive metal mavens Mile Marker Zero display a unique smattering of familiar influences on their eponymous 10-track affair. While footprints from acts like Queensryche, A Perfect Cirtcle, Dream Theater, and Fates Warning are scattered throughout the album, this quintet manage to forge their own sound from the same rich prog launch pad thanks to exhilarating musicianship and tantalizing composition twists within a shadowy atmosphere sandwiched somewhere between Opeth and Porcupine Tree (“Passive”). Showcasing the capacity to both wail away on a dime as well as show restraint (especially on the vocals) when needed (“Crimson Red”), this group of classically trained musicians make the most of their pedigree by portraying an impressive array of delicate melodies and ethereal dramatics without losing basic hard rock insight, taking songs like “Peril Aerial” to new and exciting places without falling prey to usual prog rock excessive pomp and superfluous trappings. www.milemarkerzero.comMike SOS

Amazon DelainDELAIN


Female fronted symphonic metal fans have a new band to love and their name is Delain. This Dutch quintet’s sophomore effort entitled April Rain contains the standard heavy guitar and angelic vocal combination (“Go Away”) throughout its entire 12-track duration, giving similar bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation (whose ex-keyboardist Martun Westerholt formed Delain) a run for their money. Embracing the recognizable sounds from the aforementioned while bolstering their take with guest vocals by Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala (“Control the Storm”) and some compelling cello work (“On the Other Side”), Delain finds the fine balance between mainstream pop music melodies and progressive metal tendencies (“Start Swimming”) with solid production values, catchy songwriting and a slew of sugary choruses at their command to create this larger than life Goth metal experience. www.thelasersedge.comMike SOS




Crushed Neocons is an eclectic nine-track presentation by German trio The Antikaroshi that straddles the line between post-hardcore and post-rock with oodles of jazzy edges. Jaded guitars drenched in delay (“Cruiserwait”), mighty bass rumblings and adroit percussive work converge to form hypnotic rhythms with a pervasive free-from jam sensibility flowing in and out of the rollicking jolts and rest stops on cuts like “Fistful” and “Contradiction”. An abstract non-singer stream of consciousness vocal delivery and a general flair for the off-kilter assist unorthodox arrangements like “Baskerville” and “Pes” to contort into weird and wondrous soundscapes that borrow as much from the DC hardcore scene standouts as they do forward thinking bands that go above and beyond constraints of the norm a la Refused and Sunny Day Real Estate. Championing an angular and hard to pin down yet easy to sink into style, this exercise in experimental rock may prove to be too far-reaching for some, but for those who enjoy a space shuttle mission to the Moon should heed this prime opportunity to get on The Antikaroshi’s rocket ride. www.southern.netMike SOS


Amazon Elwood EmissionELWOOD EMISSION


NYC’s Elwood Emission is Lucy Kalantari’s one-woman electronic project jam-packed with soul-bearing crooning to a harsh industrial rock soundtrack. The callous vocal and disorted ukuleles that start off “The Invitation”, develop an unsettling sensation furthered by the cross between Alanis Morrisette and Shiny Toy Guns influenced vocals and angst-ridden subject matter (“Despicable”) displayed. Ode To The Ego also throws in snippets of Tori Amos-like catharsis (“Divine”) into the mix, giving this six-track sojourn into Kalantari’s darker side a fair share of lush yet eerie attributes that ambitiously push tracks like the scintillatingly sultry “Run” from the shadowy recesses to the spotlight. www.afewlittlenotes.comMike SOS




Canadian punk hardcore band Alexisonfire has grown considerably from their humble screamo upbringing judging by their latest 11-track release Old Crows/Young Cardinals. Perpetually altering their sound with every release, this album’s switches may prove the most daunting, as the unit’s unique three-tiered vocal delivery has been radically tinkered with, nearly dropping all the squad’s trademark high-pitched wails for a more common yet genuine (and way less grating) earthier punk rasp. While songs like “No Rest” and “Heading for the Sun” get a discernibly gruffer makeover across the board, Alexisonfire builds intensity with the acumen of a unit who has been around the block a few times with the excellently placed keyboards on “The Northern” delving into considerably more brooding states of mind than previously visited. Alexisonfire seem to have comfortably outgrown their former selves in some aspects, even going so far as to proclaim the change in song on “Old Crows”, a maneuver that undoubtedly insures losing diehards in droves. But for those who choose to stick around, thisToronto troupe’s escalating sense of self and collected post-punk output reminiscent of bands like Thrice solidifies this disc by celebrating the exploring new avenues without pandering to the pressures of commercial success. www.vagrant.comMike SOS




Syracuse, NY quintet Unholy are no strangers to the scene, as this group features members of Another Victim, Santa Sangre, and Path of Resistance, not to mention hail from one of the hotbeds of ‘90s metallic hardcore. And even though obvious and unmistakable traces of hometown influences All Out War and Earth Crisis are very detectable everywhere across this unit’s brutal chugfest , Unholy savagely spreads its wings to implement sinister spoonfuls of Swedish and American thrash metal elixir to their seething hardcore skeleton, a move that gives this squad a ferocious quality that while far from original, portrays all the necessary bone-crushing nuances to render a pleasingly pummeling experience non-withstanding(“The Followers”, “The Blinding Light”). Adorned with scathing guitars solos and a simple yet effective approach that rarely drags despite the telegraphed compositions, if you could imagine the merger of Terror, Bury Your Dead, Entombed and Machine Head, then you can envision the rock-solid onslaught brought on from this bruising bunch’s 10-track discharge, perfect for those that demand more from their mosh metal. www.prosetheticrecords.comMike SOS


Amazon Emery in shallowEMERY


Christian rock quintet Emery returns with a bang, rediscovering their former selves with a renewed sense of purposed on their fourth full-length In Shallow Seas We Sail. Fine-tuning their screamo tendencies with an increased sense of incense (“Cutthroat Collapse”) and a streamlined melodic edge (“Dear Death Part 2”), this outfit’s latest 13-track endeavor beefs up Emery’s output in nearly every category. From solid twin-vocal interplay (“Inside Our Skin”) and torrid rhythmic undercurrents (“In Shallow Seas We Sail”) to unabashed heaviness (“Butcher’s Mouth”) and a penchant for hooky yet refined choruses, this squad’s delectable dichotomy of fragility and ferocity fits snugly between Dredg and Thrice, placing Emery in the upper echelon of the new breed of alternative punk while finding its biggest influence from within. www.toothandnail.comMike SOS




Brooklyn, NY quartet Wrench tear through speakers with the finesse of an old school Bay Ridge brawler, showcasing an abrasive amalgamation of the sheer sonic furies of Carnivore, Madball, and Pro-Pain on their six-track release. Subtle as a blunt object to the skull yet bouncy enough to keep the head bobbing, Wrench comes equipped with a vicious vocal bark reminiscent of Helmet at their most caustic, a gutwrenching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea bottom end that rattles fillings and a procession of slamming Biohazard-esque grooves all working as one to hammer this crew’s brawny bullet points home. This recharged veteran unit’s creates a viscous wall of 90s crossover metal perfect for throwing a fist in the air or throwing down in the pit to. www.wrenchnyc.comMike SOS