Archive for Metal

Watch Rock Documentary “Riphouse 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s”

Posted in Riphouse with tags on February 8, 2010 by gearsofrock

Watch Riphouse 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s

I have discussed and reviewed the thrash metal documentary Riphouse 151 on the Gears of Rock over the last year and just got word that it is now available in its entirety online. If you want to want to watch a good film with some good music then you should check it out. The debut film from Peter O’Brien that chronicles the rise and fall of a local metal band is “highly recommended and not to be missed.”

Read the review here

Review: Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned [2010]

Posted in Charred Walls Of The Damned with tags on January 27, 2010 by gearsofrock

Will 2010 be the strongest year of the decade for metal music? Typically, I try to refrain from being overly optimistic—and try to exercise some degree of caution—when making bold or what may seem as premature predictions. However, 2010 continues to amaze me with monstrous metal offerings; only several weeks into the new year and several seemingly landmark albums have been dropped. Charred Walls of the Damned continues this wonderful streak with a nine-track blitzkrieg of brutality on their self-titled debut.

The sound produced by Charred Walls of the Damned features an exceptional understanding of the classical methodology of heavy metal. By combining and highlighting the best components of thrash, power, and progressive this quasi-supergroup delivers a punishing assortment of songs, such as “Blood on Wood” and the opening track and first single “Ghost Town.”

Leading this effort is the percussive talent of Howard Stern personality Richard Christy, providing the band with an ever-important strong backbone. Not to say the vocals of the legendary Tim “Ripper” Owens are second-rate in Charred Walls of the Damned; his operatic range is an absolute necessity and priceless asset to the group.

Performing on the bass guitar is long time technical metal veteran Steve DiGiorgio while well-established metal producer Jason Suecoff provides the predatory lead guitar work.

The nine-track length of the album is ideal as the ferocity of the record is never given the chance to let up. This is a very classy move that even experienced bands forget to practice.

While the first half of the record crushes your balls in, some of the deadliest assaults are saved for the end (“The Darkest Eyes,” “Manifestations,” “Fear in the Sky”).

“In a World so Cruel” comes the closest to slowing down the album with its somewhat ballad-styled framework, that is until the progressive mastery sets in during the extended intro. It is on this track in which DiGiorgio’s work shines.

Charred Walls of the Damned is an excellent album overall. Christy may want to consider leaving Stern for a full-time supporting tour and Owens should probably make Charred his current primary focus. I cannot wait to see what 2010 brings us next…keep the madness coming!

Charred Walls of the Damned is Tim “Ripper” Owens (Vocals), Jason Suecof (Guitars), Steve Digiorgio (Bass), & Richard Christy (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Ghost Town”
  2. “From the Abyss”
  3. “Creating Our Machine”
  4. “Blood on Wood”
  5. “In a World So Cruel”
  6. “Manifestations”
  7. “Voices Within Walls”
  8. “The Darkest Eyes”
  9. “Fear in the Sky”


Track Review: Fear Factory “Powershifter” Mechanize [2010]

Posted in Fear Factory with tags on November 21, 2009 by gearsofrock

Update: Read the Mechanize full album review here

The new single “Powershifter” from Fear Factory is the most devastating and brutal tune in metal at the moment. The long awaited return of Dino Cazares on the guitars combined with Gene Hoglan’s drums most likely account for the powerfully aggressive rhythmic patterns that leaves the listener with facial blisters and a battered-in skull. Burton C. Bell continues to be one of metals greatest front men, alternating between his signature death grunts and trademark melodies.  The frenetic breakdown at 2:10 just rips and tears through flesh with pure ferocity. The new album Mechanize is due out February 9, 2010 on Candlelight Records and is promising to be the band’s best work since Obsolete and possibly Demanufacture, if “Powershifter” truly is an accurate representation of the new material –Meds

Fear Factory is Burton C. Bell (Vocals), Dino Cazares (Guitars), Byron Stroud (Bass), & Gene Hoglan (Drums).

Review: Age of Evil – Get Dead EP [2009]

Posted in Age Of Evil with tags on November 19, 2009 by gearsofrock

When the Age of Evil Get Dead EP arrived on my doorstep, the two cover tracks — Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind” and Judas Priest’s “The Hellion/Electric Eye” — immediately gained my attention. “This is going to be a killer disc,” I thought to myself. The band has a cool name, some teenage angst, and a sick taste in music, therefore how can this CD possibly fail?

The covers themselves aren’t half bad as the band consists of talented musicians, especially the lead guitarist Jordan Ziff. However, the original tracks are disappointing and lame, resulting in some mild and unfortunate hilarity.

Clearly, AOE worships Dave Mustaine and the early thrash giants of the 80’s as heard in their style, but the lyrics are just awful. “You think you’re tough, think you wanna die, well kiss my bullet then you’ll wonder why,” sings Jeremy Goldberg on “Get Dead.” Fascinating.

On a different song, the exact same topic, the words are, “you can run, you can hide, but in the end you are going to die.”

The band’s image does not seem to match the style that they are portraying. If they were trying to be for metal what Steel Panther is to glam, I would totally get it. But the band seems to be dead serious.

I would suggest that they keep making heavy music since they can play hard and fast. But come on, put some genuine emotion into the lyrical content, tell a story, and provide some sort of intelligent message. Yes, heavy metal can be thought provoking, just ask Dave Mustaine and Tom Araya.

Age of Evil is Jeremy Goldberg (Vocals/Guitar), Jordan Ziff (Guitar), Jacob Goldberg (Bass), & Garrett Ziff (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Cruel Intentions”
  2. “Get Dead”
  3. “Slave to the Grind”
  4. “The Hellion/Electric Eye”
  5. “Eye for an Eye (Live)”
  6. “Glimpse of Light (Live)”

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!

Review: Tombs – Winter Hours [2009]

Posted in SOS Metal Update, Tombs with tags on June 22, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon TombsNYC trio Tombs masterfully juxtapose metal subgenres to develop a blend of bleak yet menacing shoegazing sludge on the 10-track disc WINTER HOURS. Post-hardcore pondering and black metal brutality collide many times over on this stirring affair (“Filled With Secrets,” “Gossamer”), creating explosive waves of intense aggression laden with dense dollops of doom and darkness (“The Divide”). Channeling the corpsepaint contingent, the experimental voyager and the esoteric metal crew for inspiration, Tombs embrace each party’s unique sense of bombast without giving into genre excesses, resulting in this lean and mean 37-minute endeavor emblazoned with sweeping tempo changes and dramatic dynamics shifts (“Story of a Room”). www.relapse.comMike SOS

3.5 Stars

Track Listing:

  1. “Gossamer”
  2. “Golden Eyes”
  3. “Beneath The Toxic Jungle”
  4. “The Great Silence”
  5. “Story Of A Room”
  6. “The Divide”
  7. “Merrimack”
  8. “Filled With Secrets”
  9. “Seven Stars The Angel Of Death”
  10. “Old Dominion”

Review: From A Second Story Window – Conversations [2008]

Posted in From A Second Story Window, SOS Metal Update with tags on February 13, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon-from-a-secondWhile those who have followed From A Second Story Window since their inception may feel betrayed by the band’s recent  injections of accessible metal, this “Ohio-Vanian” quintet’s latest 10-track venture showcases a versatile outfit who demonstrate the wares to transform from smooth to savage at the drop of a hat (“Advancement Towards Nothingness”). Championing a somewhat cumbersome sound that wavers between slightly progressive metal and brooding metalcore, tracks such as “Monumental Reason” contain a cleanly sung melodic chorus that could have come from Taproot while “The Burning Bush” combines feral shouts with atmospheric fretwork for a Poison the Well-esque meets From Autumn to Ashes aura. The most noticeable aspect of CONVERSATIONS is the fluidity of the stylistic changes on cuts like “Severed Heads Open Minds,” where busy spurts of heavy but catchy grooves morph into crushing metal with gnashing death growls baring teeth. Intertwining 36 Crazyfists and Poison the Well with elements of The Red Chord, FASSW seamlessly stitch consonance and chaos together, reaching a new level of refined savagery along the way. -Mike SOS

Review: Dropclutch – The Reason [2008]

Posted in Dropclutch, SOS Metal Update with tags , , , on November 28, 2008 by gearsofrock

amazon-dropclutchUpstate NY quintet Dropclutch have incorporated the best moments from modern rock radio into their 10-track jaunt THE REASON. Heavy downtuned guitars, thunderous basslines, and tasty drum work fills out this unit’s Staind meets Godsmack by way of Seether approach on tracks like “Understand” and “Hollow,” while cuts like “Make Your Move” and “Over & Over” really hammer out the aggression a la Mudvayne. Armed with an accessible yet rumbling sound while demonstrating an endless array of bass and guitar chugging to keep the heads bobbing and the bodies grooving, there’s a place on your shelves between Sevendust and Nonpoint for Dropclutch’s latest fist-pumping release. www.dropclutch.comMike SOS

Review: Ascend – Ample Fire Within [2008]

Posted in Ascend, SOS Metal Update with tags , , on November 24, 2008 by gearsofrock

amazon-ascendDrone and doom collide with a refreshingly regal tone reverberating throughout on the latest offering from the titanic tandem Ascend. Featuring no strangers to things that creep in the night (Greg Anderson and Gentry Densely), AMPLE FIRE WITHIN is a six-track love affair with the slow and deliberate, meshing knee-buckling tempos, hefty guitars and left of center instrumental flourishes such as trombone and Wurlitzer (“Dark Matter”) with both obligatory and obscure textures rounding out its foreboding crush while unleashing the wrath of slithering cobras (“V.O.G.”). Aided by some interesting cameos (including Kim Thayil of Soundgarden) while boldly interjecting a broader musical scope into their weighty thump and thud, this well-decorated exercise in sheer excess provides lovers of massive ambience a shiny new toy to play with. www.southernlord.comMike SOS