вторник, 31 януари 2012 г.

Malefice - “Awaken the Tides” Review

England’s Malefice are back with their catchy brand of death metal with the release of their second album through Metal Blade Records “Awaken the Tides”. Although there seems to be some argument over how exactly to categorize Malefice; I’ve seen them described as ‘death metal’, ‘heavy metal’, ‘deathcore’ and ‘thrash metal. For this website’s sake we’ll just make it simple and call ‘em ‘melodic death metal‘. Anyway, these guys are great. I know that sounds fairly succinct, but it’s true! This was my first opportunity to sample Malefice and I will definitely list them as one of my favorite metal bands of 2011.
Malefice blends different subgenres of metal and they do it damned well; which is why I’m assuming it’s so hard to classify them. Although they can be a little too poppy for me at times (as in tracks “Minutes” and “The Day the Sky Fell”), the rest of the album fucking rocks. If you don’t like the title track “Awaken the Tides” from the new Malefice album, then you won’t like the rest of it.

Outrage (Germany) - "Go To Hell" Review

In the early 80's, a one of the first bands from the blackened thrash metal movement appeared, the German outfit known as Outrage. Of course, blackened thrash metal led the way for what we all know as Black Metal. These pioneers of metal joined together in 1983 and remained in the underground for several years. They split in 1988 and reformed in 2004.  Now, in 2011 these German metallers bring us a a release in the vein of raw blackened thrash entitled "Go To Hell". Although these are not new songs, they are new recordings of selected classics from the band's past.
Staying true to their sound and leaving out modern day techniques, "Go To Hell" takes us on a journey through the band's tremendous past. The drums are raw and the guitar is heavily distorted. Throughout the album you will find alternating melodic rhythms with brutal riffing and heavy bass lines. The vocals are especially tremendous. The raspy, deep, and vile style of frontman, Frank P. "The Voice Of Hell", gives the album it's intensely classic blackened metal touch. 
Overall this is a fantastic release and those who enjoy classic blackened thrash will definitely want to pick this one up.

Mord’A’Stigmata - "Antimatter" Review

This Polish-based post black/avant garde metal band focus their songs primarily on misanthropy and spirituality. Formed in 2004, this is their second release after considerable changes in their 8 year history.
This album is very special, in that it uses the innovation of the avant garde not to detach itself from its fans, but to ingratiate itself deeper. The use of different vocal effects – such as slowing down the vocal, speeding it up, changing pitch, etc. all contribute to the uniqueness of this work. 
It’s a very hard listen first tine round, but it is on the second and subsequent listens that it becomes easier to take in and digest. It’s varied and technical, with solid work from each of the members. The instrumental is tight, with the odd guitar squeal over drums being a main element of their music. The lyrics are varied, as are the vocalist’s talents. It goes across his whole range from the screechy screamo, to the normal, and then into the deep dark depths vocally. 
It’s black metal roots shine through, in the way some of the songs are performed, but without the screechy unintelligible lyrics. This is a really nice diversion within the genre, and shows not only a black metal background, but the ability to twist and change what is heard, subverting expectations.

събота, 28 януари 2012 г.

Bleeding Through to Release “The Great Fire” January 31st

Bleeding Through is back with their 6th full length entitled The Great Fire which hits stores January 31st. Already at legacy status years ago, Bleeding Through continues where they’ve always been: fast and heavy. Their no bullshit approach has always been appreciated by fans and critics. Never succumbing to trends or gimmicks, Bleeding Through will always be true to the underground metal scene.

Listen to “Faith in Fire” 

Here’s the tracklisting for The Great Fire:
  1. The March
  2. Faith In Fire
  3. Goodbye To Death
  4. Final Hours
  5. Starving Vultures
  6. Everything You love Is Gone
  7. Walking Dead
  8. The Devil And Self Doubt
  9. Step Back In Line
  10. Trail of Seclusion
  11. Deaf Ears
  12. One By One
  13. Entrenched
  14. Back To Life

Dodecahedron - "Dodecahedron" Review

As the original crop of black metal legends fade out or move on to new sounds, it’s up to a new generation of grim musicians to keep the banner waving. While many have merely imitated the sound, just enough of them actually hold true to the ideals of the genre and take the style further into new territory. Simultaneously jarring and harmonious, the debut offering from Dutch act Dodecahedron runs along the razor thin edge between two worlds and strikes all the right chords to be a properly disturbing black metal release that isn’t overly derivative.
The self-titled effort is billed as post-black metal, and that’s a nebulous enough term that it may or may not actually fit the music. Anyone seeing that particular genre identifier definitely shouldn’t think they are in for an ambient or atmospheric trip along the lines of something like Falloch, however. There may be some calmer sections here and there, but “Dodacehedron” is pretty uniformly crushing for its duration.
If the music was to be compared to the output of any other band, it would have to be Deathspell Omega, as the album is strongly in the same sort of spirit as the “Paracletus” release, even if the delivery ends up a bit different. The focus is on amazingly heavy yet completely discordant sounds, but there’s still an underlying melody that occasionally comes to the forefront. When they do appear, the melodic aspects don’t disappoint and are appropriately unhinged and bizarre, of course. Dodecahedron’s vocalist spits out his screams and shrieks like death curses at his enemies, as this is straight up spiteful music with a grudge that just won’t let go. Alternating between frantic blast beating black metal and music with a more measure pace that goes past eerie into frankly unsettling territory, these songs are a constant assault on the senses that can leave a listener disoriented.
“Dodecahedron” creates the sort of feeling that one can’t help but imagine was experienced by the first terrified religious parent to be exposed to unholy black metal in all its fury. This is music for people who like to be actively disturbed by their metal. These guys have a direct line to the darkness of the human soul, and they aren’t afraid to share it.

Highs: A tight balancing act between totally discordant and eerily melodic, all while being massively heavy.
Lows: The space themed interlude track doesn't perfectly fit the mood of the rest of the album.
Bottom line: Massively heavy and slightly disturbing black metal that hits the right balance of discordance and harmony.

"'Dodecahedron' creates the sort of feeling that one can’t help but imagine was experienced by the first terrified religious parent to be exposed to unholy black metal in all its fury."


The 11th Hour - "Lacrima Mortis" Review

If Swedish doom legends Candlemass had a manic depressive bastard child with Finland’s Insomnium it would sound a little something like Dutch band The 11th Hour. Outside of the soulfully depressing musical effort of “Lacrima Mortis,” the more surprising fact is that it is the work of largely one man, Ed Warby (who sings and plays guitar, bass and drums). Warby has the uncanny knack of making you enjoy sadness and despair so such that you couldn’t even consider suicide, as death would only prevent you from listening to this even more.
“Lacrima Mortis” is a sonic masterpiece that should be in the collection of any fan that considers him/herself a fan of epic doom metal. The music so effectively captures the overwhelming emotion of depression that anyone who hasn't experienced it could instantly feel pain and those who have could easily identify.
In front of the slow deliberate riffs that practically weep with sorrow, Warby flashes his incredible dead on impression of Candlemass/Solitude Aeturnus singer Robert Lowe. Juxtaposed to the beautiful rich clean singing are the death growls of session vocalist Pim Blankenstein (Beyond Belief/Officium Triste). Blankenstein’s vocals with Warby’s riffs are a convergence that would make the most bubbly personality sob with despair. With each successive listen, I have visions of being slowly suffocated under a truck as it inches ever so slowly on top of me crushing my chest.
To explain each of the album’s seven songs on an individual basis would be like recanting each despondent year of a seven year era of anguish. Suffice to say that they are slow, dripping with tears and fresh from a funeral for a grave with no name, only this may be one funeral you wouldn’t want to be skipping out on! The grim beauty of “Rain On Me,” the “Cry From the Crypt”-esque riff of “Tears of the Bereaved” and the quiet interludes in the middle portion of “Reunion Illusion” are but mere glimpses of brilliance that permeate throughout this gorgeous album. These pieces, along with perfect use of keyboards and violins (“Nothing But Pain”), all wrapped inside breath taking production have me declaring that Mr. Warby has risen to the level of “super musician.”
Listeners expecting enticing and uplifting songs need not apply for “Lacrima Mortis.” However, those who truly appreciate excellent doom metal that is as much a sonic listening experience as it is an emotion altering one, The 11th Hour is sure to rise to the top of your doom metal collection.

Highs: Overwhelmingly emotional and crushing doom beauty
Lows: The average song length of 7.5 minutes could prove too much for some.
Bottom line: The only reason to attend a funeral for a grave with no name: sorrowful doom is so uplifting!

"[Ed] Warby has the uncanny knack of making you enjoy sadness and despair so such that you couldn’t even consider suicide, as death would only to prevent you from listening to this even more."

Kambrium - "Shadowpath" Review

Some releases just hit me at the right place and the right time. Kambrium’s debut full length “Shadowpath” is the breath of fresh air in the sea of metal released on a monthly basis. Although I may have come to the party a bit late on this one (it having been self-released in June 2011 prior to signing with Massacre Records), I haven’t heard a band this interesting since the first time Epica graced my ears. With such a mashing of styles, had I heard this earlier, it would have been one of my top picks for 2011.
Hailing from the land where great metal lives, Germany, Kambrium has been kicking around the scene for the past six years before landing the contract and debut re-issue with Massacre. The style is so hard to pin down: with a whole lot of progressive, a healthy dose of both power and hyper-fast black metal, a dash of extreme and clean, death and black metal style singing, Kambrium simply cannot be contained. The band is highly talented and certainly loves showing it off. For those up and coming bands that wish to learn a lesson in perfect keyboard placement, you need to listen to “Shadowpath.”
Let’s take the album’s best song “A Sinner’s Remorse” for an in depth analysis. The band weaves a cacophony of styles comprised of the best elements of melodic death, power, progressive, and classical. The song begins a slow ascent to madness, erupting into symphonic power metal with crushing riffs and clean (albeit, not the best) vocals before settling in for a bit of melo-death. Just when you think you can pin the band’s sound down, the song twists and turns, even converting to a cover of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony smack dab in the middle. The result is pure excitement and it stands as one of the best metal songs of all time.
In other notable tracks, the band scales the boundaries of incredible melodic brutality (“Among the Lost,” “Thanatos,” “Feuer Gegen Feuer”), fires off ultra-catchy riffs (“Arming for Retribution”), creates power/death ballads (“Hollow Heart”) and produces epic opuses like “The Eye of Horus” (which is almost as great as “A Sinner’s Remorse"). If you fancy Epica or Insomnium with a seasoning of Dissection, this release screeches out to you.
The only downside is that like most death metal vocalists, Martin Simon’s vocals can be a bit grating on the skull, especially when he varies from guttural to screech in the same song. Fans of the extreme side of metal will scoff at this as a “downside,” but it wouldn’t hurt to hear a little more clean singing to provide balance. On the other hand, Simon is a much better death singer than clean.
Kambrium presents a new face of genre-bending metal, one filled with melody, brutality, and overall excitement. “Shadowpath” is definitely an album to remember and one that should establish the band as one of metal’s finest!

Highs: Highly exciting metal with a indefinable style (or styles).
Lows: The album needs a bit more balance vocally by adding more clean vocals.
Bottom line: Kambrium strikes a blow to those attempting to define metal styles blazing a "Shadowpath" to exciting new boundaries.

Psycroptic - "The Inherited Repression" Review

Four years is an eternity in the music world, and it's hard to believe that it's been that long since Psycroptic released “Ob(Servant).” Thankfully, Psycroptic has managed to avoid stagnating in the time away from the studio by putting out the band's best release to date. Let's face it, everybody who followed Psycroptic prior to them being signed felt that “Ob(Servant)” was a disappointment. But now in 2012, Psycroptic has managed to make an album that actually one-ups “Symbols of Failure” in every conceivable way, while avoiding all the mistakes “Ob(Servant)” made. “The Inherited Repression” may be debuting early in the year, but it may very well be the best metal album of 2012 by the year's end.
Moreover, Psycroptic is showing off a whole new side to the band that I didn’t know existed before. “The Inherited Repression” is an incredibly thrashy tech death album. Everyone knows that the Haleys can create an incredibly technical album full of riff salad and covered with awesome dressing, and while “Ob(Servant)” tried to balance shred with songwriting with mixed results, “The Inherited Repression” is an incredibly well written, even catchy album that really gives Psycroptic its own identity in the crowded tech death genre. They've already written “The Scepter of the Ancients” and “Symbols of Failure,” so there’s no need for them at this point to revisit the past when they're now breaking new ground in an absolutely exhilarating way. Yes, Psycroptic still show off their chops, but they're now bringing a lot more substance into their music that will hopefully gain them a whole new audience. The new Psycroptic may not be focused as heavily on shredding, but Joe Haley's riffwork is incredibly complex and intricate.
Jason Peppiatt's vocals are also improved. No longer alternating between high screams and low growls like on the last two Psycroptic albums, Peppiatt is now using a mid-range bellow more than anything else and expanding his range within that style, rather than alternating between styles as often as possible. The result is a much more focused experience that is nowhere near as disjointed as previous albums were. Also, Peppiatt no longer sounds as hoarse as he did on “Ob(Servant).” His voice sound so much healthier and more natural this time around, and it looks like he's finally found a style that's no longer emulating Matt Chalk, but is more his own. While some may claim that this is no longer Psycroptic, the band (and Peppiatt's vocal chords) are better off for it.
“The Inherited Repression” is in many ways a more diverse, thrashy and experimental - sometimes even groovy - version of Psycroptic that will get this band a lot more attention than their previous albums did, and actually gets better with repeated listens due to all the little details littering this album. While Psycroptic is now more Nile than Brain Drill, they're able to put in some seriously catchy parts to their songs, like the ending of “Become the Cult.” “The Inherited Repression” is an album that's certain to stick with me for a long time, and if the rest of 2012 is anywhere near as awesome as this, I'll be a very happy man until 2013.

Highs: Greatly improved songwriting, without losing the band's chops, Peppiatt's improved vocals, actually catchy and not just by tech death standards
Lows: Long-time fans may dislike the loss of Peppiatt's low growls
Bottom line: A change of direction for Psycroptic, albeit a very welcome one

"'The Inherited Repression' is an incredibly well written, even catchy album that really gives Psycroptic its own identity in the crowded tech death genre."

Aborted - "Global Flatline" Review

I've always felt that brutal death metal as a whole was a genre that never reached its potential. For every Suffocation or Fleshgod Apocalypse, there are two dozen bands who are content to chug on single notes and perform off-time blast beats with no respect for songwriting. Thankfully, Aborted has managed throughout the band's career to avoid the worst aspects of the genre, while giving fans everything there is to love about it. Between lyrics straight out of a 1970's Italian exploitation flick and heavy riffing, Aborted has always been way ahead of the band's peers, to say nothing of the songwriting ability of band mastermind and sole original member Sven de Caluwe.
“Global Flatline” is still very much a continuation of Aborted's previous work, showing off Sven's unique vocal patterns, unconventional, but always interesting, song structures and B-cinema sound clips. In short, it's another Aborted album, which is very much a good thing. Those worrying need not fear, as not much has changed from the lineup changes, except for the level of musicianship greatly improving. “Global Flatline” fully cements Aborted as one of death metal’s elite, and there hasn't been a collection of brutal death metal songs this catchy since Cannibal Corpse’s “Kill,” or possibly even Suffocation's “Pierced From Within.”
Jason Netherton of Misery Index and Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder, among others, provide guest vocals, which really help Aborted expand their sound without breaking out of their comfort zone. It goes to show exactly far the band has come in terms of diversifying its sound. The best part about the guest vocals is that they aren't anything that Sven couldn't pull off live, while still making the album sound collaborative, rather than just including random guest spots. This is ultimately what brutal death metal should be, and the rerecording of “Nailed Through Her Cunt” really shows how much Aborted has not only refined their sound, but has always been awesome.
This is the kind of album that knows how to use blast beats tastefully (i.e. not using them all the damn time) and really gives off a sense of, dare I say it, class to death metal. While not a finely-aged wine, it's still way more Franziskaner than PBR; something that the masses can enjoy, with enough quality for the elite to take pleasure in it.

Highs: Catchy riffing (especially in “Of Scabs & Boils”), complex songwriting, more guest vocals than a rap album
Lows: Some of the material was copied from the band’s previous EP and another track was taken from “Engineering the Dead”
Bottom line: "Global Flatline" is more refinement than revolution, not that that's a bad thing.

"Aborted has always been way ahead of the band's peers, to say nothing of the songwriting ability of band mastermind and sole original member Sven de Caluwe."

Woods of Ypres - “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light” Review

Woods of Ypres = David Gold. One cannot exist without the other. Since David put the band together in 2002, they have been consistently improving with each album. This latest release, “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light”, is by far their most polished and well-written album to date. It features that unique and melodic doom metal sound that’s caused Woods of Ypres to stand out, and David Gold’s vocals/lyrics sound better that ever. If you’ve never listened to Woods of Ypres, think of Type O Negative but with a more modern doom metal sound.
“Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light” is almost perfect. My criticisms of the album are extremely minor and picky though (so I won’t go into them). With David’s tragic passing, it gives his sorrowful and death-themed lyrics even more potency, which at some points caused this reviewer to admittedly tear up. This is the kind of doom metal I want to hear: disturbingly beautiful vocals accompanied by melodic/distorted sludgish riffs, ambient orchestral layering, with lyrics that focus on life’s inherent theme of suffering, occasioned by a little light at the end of the tunnel. Themes of nature, relationships, work, and death make up most of this album, with my favorite tracks being “Traveling Alone”, “Alternate Ending”, “Lightning and Snow”, “Finality”, and “Kiss my Ashes Goodbye (part 1)”.
Woods of Ypres aren’t for everyone though, and if you don’t want to be emotionally compromised by an album, then don’t listen to “Woods 5″. But if you’re curious at all, please pay tribute to David Gold’s memory and at least sample the track I’ve provided below. I severely recommend “Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light” by Woods of Ypres.


The late David Gold penned a song called “Finality” on his last Woods of Ypres album, “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light.” On the track, Gold exclaims, “Though we leave the world apart, I, still went peacefully, quietly, with you, still firmly in my heart. I will wait forever. I wait...,” as the track then ends with over a half-minute of silence. We reserve a moment of silence as a way to pay homage and remembrance to those who have passed. Gold might have been using this section as a way to remember his wayward lover, but it has taken on a different meaning with his death. Now, every time one hears the sound of silence, this listener will be reminded of Gold.
Death, whether metaphorical or literal, made its cold presence felt throughout the lyrics of Woods of Ypres’ former albums, and this abstract idea occurs with great frequency on this album, much more so than “Woods 4: The Green Album.” Songs such as “Death is not an Exit,” “Finality,” and both parts of “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)” ask existential questions about the nature of our relationship with death. Is there an afterlife (“Death is not an Exit”), does God exist and do I perceive this force or person in the same light as others (Travelling Alone”) and does love live on after our light burns out (“Finality” and “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)”)? These ideas have weighed heavily on the minds of humanity before the advent of civilization, but knowing Gold has received his answers envelops the album with a chilling synchronization.
As seen on the four previous albums, Gold’s musical output surely upholds his morose and morbid feelings. While Woods of Ypres offers track-by-track stylistic surprises, the group’s essence falls somewhere between Katatonia and Type O Negative. Gold bends his voice in many directions, from black metal-type shrieks to poppy harmonies, but the vocal technique that stands out the most is his deep, Peter Steele-like drones. The treble-wavering guitar tones made famous by Katatonia appear throughout the album, but are most obvious on “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide),” “Silver” and “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye).”
From the flute-like instrument on “Travelling Alone” to the piano on “Alternate Ending” and “Finality,” keyboards play a crucial role in defining the album’s feeling of lonesomeness. Much like “Woods 4,” “Woods 5” is very much a mood album. One can sleep to the album or sit back and soak up the atmosphere and beautiful harmonies. However, keeping with the theme of past recordings, the group tempers slow paces with fast tempos and passages that fall somewhere in-between. Blazing picks and blurring drum sticks describe the blackened approach taken on “Adora Vivos” and “Lightning & Snow,” but do not define these tracks. Both tracks show a dual vocal approach and the latter track goes through phases of rich, keyboard-generated atmosphere.
David Gold went out not turning his back on his fans. He went out creating the best album of his short career. “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light” shares a common thread with its predecessor, but unlike “Woods 4: The Green Album,” Woods of Ypres has completed an album that doesn’t lose its momentum towards the end. The future of Woods of Ypres is uncertain. If this is the end, then the band and their fans can take comfort knowing the band created their best piece of musical art.

Highs: Atmospheric, fantastic vocals, great style changes, and existential lyrics.
Lows: "Woods 5" takes a certain mood to enjoy.
Bottom line: The best album of their career. A must have for fans of goth, doom and melodic black metal.

"The future of Woods of Ypres is uncertain. If this is the end, then the band and their fans can take comfort knowing the band created their best piece of musical art."


Macabra - "Blood-Nurtured Nature" Review

This is a 90’s styled death metal band, featuring none other than acclaimed artist Mark Riddick, who plays all instruments and is accompanied by vocalist Adrien "Liquifier" Weber (aka Lord Genocide?!). The nature of this beast is clear, as I opened this review with such a statement, from the opening tune ‘Life is the Symptom’ you get a taste of what I really like, classic death metal. Although, duplication may be called into question leading into the second track ’Fragments of Torpor’, the opening riff is very similar to the first track, listen hard, I know its different but to the casual listener? Hey, does it really matter, this is good stuff.
The guitar tone is haunting, dirty and precise, the vocals hit their mark without any hesitation or any lack of power, and the mix is rather good as I would come to expect in this genre and day and age. ‘Hominal Peel Diggers’ has a groove, a blast of speed, a blueprint of 90’s US and European Death metal. Modern touches in the guitar techniques surface to shatter any disrespectful comment on originality anyone may have, in truth, this is as good as it gets, I certainly prefer this genre to Riddick’s previous brutal death metal incarnations. 
There is no denying this is a solid release and Riddick is an acclaimed musician and artist, but I wonder if there could be more life in these songs if there were more writers involved, from my files I have no such information regarding writers, hence, I stand by my comment. However, pondering questions aside, any fan of pure organic early 90’s death metal before the technical geeks got involved in the genre should really check out this effort.

Stillborn - Los Asesinos Del Sur Review

Hailing from Poland, Stillborn are a Death/Black metal horde whom simply blow away some of the big hitters from their native country. Judging by ‘Hymn of Destruction’, you can hear a Behemoth influence, an earlier incarnation of them that is. There is thundering cavalcade of sound hitting your receptors. The tacks lengths are pretty much spot on, I cannot stand groups that go on and on with the same riff and melody just for the sake of it. Stillborn hit you hard then leave you for dead, ‘Diamonds of the Last Water’ dutifully emphasises this. 
One thing I also find appealing is the artwork, it’s not your standard black and white devil worshipping contender for art attack, it has a little soul, a little mystery and the way the bands logo is morphed into the colours works rather well to my eyes. Other things that work well is the consistent level of furious musicianship, without the need to go overtly technical, or far beyond necro, the mix of death and black metal sits perfectly balanced, in some quarters you even gain a bit of groove. ‘Los Asesinos del Sur’ (loosely translated to ‘The Assassins of the South’ is the longest track on the release, at over 6 minutes I am expecting something a little different. This is personified with tempo changes from a slow build up to a near SweDeath riff experience until the speed really up’s the mood whilst poking through a little more of their blackened influence, but in this quarter, the change from black to old school death is seamless, I have to commend the level of musicianship and the arrangement. 
Breeding many a killer, certainly no filler, Stillborn (Pol) really have their musical cross genre nailed to a tee. ‘Los Asesinos del Sur’ is both aggressive, entertaining and on the whole, a very good place to spend your time and money.

Sphere - Homo Hereticus Review

Rooted in a mix of old school and brutal death metal, Sphere are from Poland, often a country associated with promising death metal bands, and Sphere are no couch potato either. Twisting the very fabric of musicianship coupled with pure brutality, these gents hold dear much of their forefathers in musician’s terms have fought fro from relative obscurity. The links of Vader and Behemoth have helped somewhat, but it is more the former mixed with say Immolation’s speed and Deicide’s riffing precision that makes ‘Homo Hereticus’ a healthy buying option.
But, I really don’t like pig squealing vocals, this is mixed in certain quarters, this is a shame because for me there is no need for Sphere to do this, the music is brutal enough, especially the remainder of ‘Third Scent Carcass’. Double bass thunder and blast beat speed mixes with a few of your more expected death metal entities, groovy in places whilst infrequent pitched artificial harmonics give some atmosphere amongst its chaos. ‘Grave’s Cold Darkness’ has an old school feel, wonderfully groovy, powerful and the vocal delivery matches the speed changes from the drumming perfectly. There is a good balance between technicality and the arrangements that Sphere produce, it’s heart-warming not to hear a constant barrage of riffs, Sphere emphasis is on “songs”, very much a group product rather than individual headline opportunities. When you hear something like ‘Devils Reunion’ and the war machine that is ‘Beyond Madness of Gods’, this justifies just that little bit of excitement, a little wonder, but ‘Homo Hereticus’ is a solid effort and well worthy of your time and investment, every bit of ‘Homo Hereticus’ is competent and precise Death Metal.

четвъртък, 26 януари 2012 г.

New song from SOULFLY

"World Scum", a brand new song from SOULFLY, is available for free download for 48 hours at this location. The track comes off the band's eighth album, "Enslaved", which will be released on March 13 via Roadrunner Records.

Vildhjarta - Masstaden

Century Media Records is one of the greatest record labels right now because of bands like Vildhjarta. This 7-piece progressive metal act hail from Sweden and were a brutally pleasant surprise the first time I listen through their first studio release, “Masstaden”. I had never heard of Vildhjarta before and was surprised to hear a ridiculously tight and refined progressive metal sound with a healthy dose of djent to boot. Not everybody knows the term “djent” so I’ll define it real quick: djent refers to a specific palm muted guitar distortion sound that was popularized by Meshuggah, so basically djent groups possess an obvious Meshuggah inspiration.
  “Masstaden” is an almost flawless debut from Vildhjarta. It contains wickedly atmospheric guitar melodies which are quickly obliterated by wonderfully heavy and technical metal riffs that always require me to crank up my stereo’s volume as loud as the speakers can take. I included the video for track 4, “Benblast”, but pretty much every track is amazing. Vildhjarta have two vocalists, one with low death growls and the other with low screams, which I think may be a bit overkill since one vocalist would work just as well. Then they’ve got 3 guitarists, which makes sense, especially when they’re playing live. The Vildhjarta instrumentation is really the heart of this album as they brilliantly accompany the odd-time signatured breakdowns, eerie synth, and chaotic guitar riffing with the punishing punch of bass and drums. However, they’ve got some groove metal riffs scattered throughout the album that I could’ve done without, which is why I can’t give them a 5 out of 5. Regardless, I hope this positive review of “Masstaden” helps to expose the brilliant musical minds of Vildhjarta.

Mastodon - The Hunter

Mastodon can be described as heavy, disorienting, progressive, and deeply rhythmic. With The Hunter, one word that has eluded their portrayal is now at the forefront of their sound: catchy. This album has unbelievable accessibility and groove, and while old-school fans might be up in arms about it, Mastodon will have no trouble recruiting hordes of brand new fans. Before even listening to the album, it’s clear that things have changed. The album art, band logo, and track lengths all point to a departure from the band’s previous choices. But never fear, this is not a Heritage situation. Even though Mastodon is taking a sizable creative risk, it’s not nearly as polarizing as Opeth’s 70’s throwback extravaganza.

The music has been stripped down to something far more bare bones and rock oriented, with infectious choruses and relatively simple structures. It will remind listeners of a twisted doom cousin of Foo Fighters at times, and this is definitely a good thing. Mastodon performed Crack The Skye in its entirety more times than necessary, which left many fans hating each and every proggy second of it. With The Hunter, the songwriting is still heavy as ever, but far more concise than Mastodon’s last album. The album doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially lyrically, and as a result listeners will find themselves smiling as they headbang along to the album's crushing riffs. Although The Hunter is thoroughly enjoyable, there are a couple of things that kept it from deserving a perfect "10".

One qualm many will have with this album is its production. Songs like “Dry Bone Valley” and “Octopus Has No Friends” were completely void of grit, and a rougher, less “perfect” mix would have given the songs a bit more edge. Another issue is more a matter of taste. Mastodon’s narrative quality has always been admirable, and each of their previous albums wove an intricate story, with tracks effortlessly interlaced. The Hunter is not a conceptual work. There’s a bit of a space theme, sure, with tracks like “Blasteroid” and “Stargasm," but it’s nothing close to a tale like Leviathan. While this album is undoubtedly music to blast through your headphones, the crushing walls of sound present on albums like Blood Mountain have been left in the past.

“Black Tongue” is the first track, and marks the first steps down a very different path for the band. Those who have a firm investment in Mastodon’s signature progressive sound will not be pleased, but if they’re able to step away and appreciate the album for what it is, and not what the band’s name has come to represent, they will likely find themselves engrossed by some aspect of The Hunter. “Curl of the Burl” is reminiscent of a sludgier Queens of the Stone Age coupled with Mastodon’s own unique spin. The bizarrely titled “Bedazzled Fingernails” is one of the most interesting tracks on the album, and the closest thing to Mastodon’s previous sonic sensibilities.

Mastodon may be able to connect with dismayed fans in a live situation better than on the recordings, which are clean and precise almost to a fault. The art and videos the band has produced are killer and will lend themselves to a captivating show. Is this enough to hold the interest of those listening to the album sans supplemental material? That’ll have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

All complaining aside, The Hunter is one of the top albums of the year. Marketable hard rock with progressive influences doesn't always have to leave fans feeling pissed off. Yes, this has “radio darling” written all over it, but so what? I’d rather hear this played on constant rotation than what’s been polluting the airwaves as of late. A couple of the tracks fail to resonate since they are meant to function independently as opposed to contributing to a bigger picture, but that's splitting hairs given the overall quality of the record. Closing with “The Sparrow”, a melancholic and atmospheric piece replete with soothing vocals and driving percussion,The Hunter cements itself as an admirable addition to Mastodon’s discography.

Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory

If you ever find yourself losing faith in death metal, thinking that something you once devoted your black t-shirt clad existence to has been taken over by a bunch of swoop haircut-sporting, skinny jeans wearing, ironic mustache growing pre-teen wastes of DNA, look to the old schoolers. They will show you the way. Like Autopsy before them, Exhumed is back to reclaim death metal for all that is right with the genre with its first full album of original material in seven years, “All Guts, No Glory,” a gory slab wrested from the primeval days of metal of death.
From the outset, as the album steamrolls in with the eponymous intro track, an instrumental number with layered whammy dives and mid-era Carcass galloping gore, it is plain as a congealed cadaver that Exhumed hasn't come back to pull any artistic 180s. This is the same exulted Exhumed we remember from days past. The dual vocal attack of guitarist Matt Harvey and bassist Leon del Muerte is as potent and dripping with putrid slop as ever, and the songs are a combination of the aforementioned Carcass, General Surgery, and Exhumed's own brand of tech gore interspersed with Harvey's solos that are as fluid as an ever-flowing stream. Of course, that tongue-in-exit-wound sense of humor is still there as well. The album rips along with “As Hammer to Anvil,” followed by song cum T-shirt slogan “Your Funeral, My Feast,” on which Exhumed speeds and powers through rivers of gore in a jet-propelled military precision vehicle. The music is dense and overwhelming, but precise, reveling purely in the blood-soaked insanity.
Then there are those trademark Harvey harmonized leads and rhythm sections, with his unmistakable tone, huge and crystal. The key to Exhumed's sound is in the layers—the vocals and the guitar tracking are stacked like spare parts in the morgue on songs such as “Through Cadaver Eyes.” Soaring bridge leads and solos with Euro influences and hints of such disparate players as Ralph Santolla and even the Amott brothers can be heard. Drummer Danny Walker hits near gravity blast levels of speed on “Death Knell,” as del Muerte and Harvey rip through rapid spit vocals, the low end countering Harvey's mid-range drip.
The band stitches together variations and makes the songs flow naturally, rather than trying to stuff 250 pounds of emulsified tissue into a 200 pound body bag. “Distorted and Twisted to Form” is pure gore punk fun, all guts and attitude that go together to create the anthem of the album that will have pits a circlin' and choruses shouting. The long layoff did no damage, and may have even done some good. The gurgling, brutal scream at the end of “I Rot Within” seems to be Harvey's way of exorcising half a decade away from the band he birthed in his mid-teens. Then listen and learn, oh ye blast fiends of the future, and despair at the years of leg punishing practice it will take to reach the level of proficiency heard on “Dis-assembly Line.” This amount of intensity is tough to match, and doesn't let up for a second. The vocals strangle every instant, unwilling to let go, except when there is a tasty morsel of horror-inspired solo on the table.
I could go on and on, but all you really need to know is that you know what you're going to get with Exhumed, and the getting is good. This is pure gore virility, spreading its seed. Few shredders have the instinct and ability of Harvey in death metal today, and have the benefit of being paired with such uncommon brutality in the vocal department in the form of del Muerte. “All Guts, No Glory” is utterly revolting in all the right ways, but doesn't just sit back and rely on disgust. The songs are tight and structured, with no lag or filler. The album simply lunges for the kill, and carries it out in the sickest, most bizarre, inhumane, unusual, and cruel way imaginable.
Highs: Exhumed are back, hungry, vicious, and unrelenting.
Lows: No gripes, just gore.
Bottom line: Another old corpse crawls out of the grave to show the rest how it should be done, always.

Vallenfyre – A Fragile King

2011 might as well be dubbed the year of Swedish Retro Death. Band after loathsome band has burst from the underground to pay rancid homage to genre legends like Entombed, Dismember and Grave. Despite the sheer volume of the stuff, Steel Druhm has remained supportive and for the most part, the trend hasn’t worn out its welcome. Now we get Vallenfyre‘s debut full length from a veritable death metal super group featuring members of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Cradle of Filth. With such a pedigree, it shouldn’t be too surprising when A Fragile King has everything you would reasonably expect from a Swedish death album. It’s chunky, thick, nasty and vile. It’s an ode to all things Entombed with a sizeable injection of Celtic Frosty goodness as well. At times, its so much like the immortal Left Hand Path it’s uncanny, yet it also brings in plenty of dire dirges to shake things up. This MOFO was conceived in unholy sin, birthed in ungodly filth and raised on bloody carnage. There’s a guitar sound heavy enough to fracture your vertebrae and vocals so grisly they’ll disturb the deranged. But, you rightly ask, is it actually good? Oh yes, it’s really good! This is unapologetically retro and doesn’t strive for innovation but it nails home the tried-and-true Swedish sound with the subtlety of a Panzer division. How this will sit with you depends entirely on your tolerance for more Swedish death. If 2011 has fed you all the old-time death you can stomach, move along and I won’t think less of you. If not, belly up to the death buffet and chow down on this meatloaf of the damned.
As soon as the guitars roar to unlife in opener “All Will Suffer,” you know you are in for a harrowing experience. The basic Sunlight Studios guitar tone is there but sounds even more murky and raw that it did back in the salad days of the style. The tempo is slow to mid-paced and the riffing will remind old-timers of the pummeling might of Celtic Frost. One hell of an opener for sure. “Desecration” ups the speed and throws in creepy, slithering riff patterns and mournful, forlorn solos not unlike those heard on the first Entrails album (listen at 3:57 for a very moody, glum example). Elsewhere, songs like “Cathedrals of the Dread” and “Seeds” feature super doom riffs  of Trouble and Saint Vitus proportions accompanied by raucous death metal. “Seeds” in particular works very well as a creepy, doom-death gem. Numbers like “Black Siberia” and “The Divine Have Fled”  go right for the classic Entombed playbook and get it pretty close to perfect. At no point are things technical, progressive or clean. It’s all raw, dirty and crushingly heavy. The writing is crisp, the songs all have memorable aspects to them and there’s plenty of variety in tempo and dynamics.
The guitars are the guts of Vallenfyre and the ridiculously heavy riffing is admirably rendered by Hamish Hamiliton Glencross (My Dying Bride) and a gentleman simply known as Mully. The tone is gigantic,   hideous and the riffing will give   you the sensation of being run over by an armored column, which later backs over your corpse just to be dicks. Gregor Macintosh’s (Paradise Lost) death croaks are low, phlegmy and very convincing (this album is his attempt to work through some personal tragedy and loss). His bellowing, along with the relentless sledgehammer riffing will cause you to feel a touch of bell’s palsy in and around the facial area (it’s just a partial paralysis). The production is solid, nicely raw and basically serves to amp up the guitar buzz to insane levels of sonic abuse. It’s distortion for distortion’s sake and I never argue with that (it’s death metal, after all).
At the end of the day, there’s a shelf life to the whole Swedish death retro wave and its expiration date is drawing ever nearer. I love the sound, I love the style and I really enjoyed most of the retro releases this year, including this one. But, even I can’t handle the volume with which this stuff is currently propagating. However, I have no hesitation recommending this platter of plague and pain. It’s brutal, skull cracking music done by vets of extreme music, for fans of extreme music. Ponderous man, fucking ponderous.

Zebulon Pike – Space is the Corpse of Time

One of the simplest facts about Zebulon Pike is that they are a band based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After that, things become much more complicated, as they engage in a genre of music that can only be described as auditory mad science. Formed in 2002, every single one of their albums has been a brain-demolishing piece of experimentation: And Blood Was Passion in 2004, The Deafening Twilight in 2006, and Instransience in 2008. With each release, they have become more dense, more intelligent, more volatile. Space Is the Corpse of Time continues this progression, spiralling out in a universe of it’s own making.
Their band name comes from an American historical figure, an officer and an explorer after who also leant his name to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. This is extremely fitting for a band that goes about the process of writing an album as though they were launching an expedition. Listening to Space Is the Corpse of Time is an act of discovery, as if the band were feeling their way through a new musical landscape. Listening to to depth and sparkle of “Echoic Worlds” is like watching from spaceship windows as starts are born and galaxies accrue.
Space Is the Corpse of Time is incredibly complex and littered with musical references. In fact, it is possible to treat the listening experience as a game of spot-the-influence. A chugging riff here will evoke Meshuggah, then an eerie and caustic atmosphere will conjure Bloody Panda, and then the avant, anxiety-inducing drumming will call up YOB. Masters of skillful combinations, Zebulon Pike combine a classic rock aesthetic pioneered by bands like King Crimson with an experimental jazz spontaneity, prog rock complexity and Mike Patton-esque genre-defying energy. But with all the name-dropping, all the references that Zebulon Pike inspires, at the end of it they are, most of all, themselves. Their aesthetic is singular. They are a cyborg of a band, a plasma, marrying the organic and the electric, futuristic instrumentation with a very human heart. No matter how many times the nebulous “Powers of the Living” morphs into a new musical shape, it retains a curious, pensive emotional tone, like a touchstone.
There is much that sets Zebulon Pike apart from their peers, but a key component of the success of this album is the intelligence, the deliberateness with which they deploy various tones and techniques. Every tremulously clean tone and grating bit of feedback, every bit of blazing speed or anguished slowness is carefully chosen and incorporated at precisely the correct moment. There is a moment in “Spectrum Threshold” when a passage with sludgy guitars suddenly clears, gentles, and the entire piece transforms. There is something part science and part magic about this style of composition, a kind of alchemy that takes base elements and handles them just so, combines them at just the right time and in the right proportions and suddenly, somehow, there is an overflow of liquid gold.
Zebulon Pike should be way, way more famous than they are. A band of brilliant composers with an equal mastery of contemporary classical and heavy metal styles, they consistently crease genre-defying, brain-melting music that is as transcendent as it is pleasurable to listen to.  Give Space Is the Corpse of Time a listen, let it put down roots in your mind, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Ritual (USA) - The Resurrection

After trudging through band after band with the same name, I finally caught up with the one I needed. This US-based black metal band have been together for nearly 20 years (with the same members, except for one change in vocalist very early on) and have been bringing their brand of evil and hate filled black metal to the masses. This is their fourth full-length album and the first on their new label, after a hiatus of nearly ten years. 
This album is decidedly different from the start, with a reliance on instrumental track favoured over nonsensical lyrics. However, when the vocals do kick in, they are more understandable than is usual for death metal, so this is another welcome change. The instumentals are more melodic than death metal, with slofter, slower guitars against a less frenetic drumbeat. The vocals are within the vocalist’s range yet still play about within it. He doesn’t push himself too much, which Is nice to hear. 
The first track sounds very much like it should have been in the soundtrack for The Crow. This change of death metal into a more melodic gentle form is obvious in the guitar hooks and solos. Instead of going full-throttle they slip and slide around each other, either using echoing or doubling of the sound to create depth rather that cacophonous noise. 
This change from the norm makes this a very easy to listen to album, and without the harshness it lets it be moee open to listeners who may not necessarily like the harsh guitars of death metal.

Illogicist - The Unconsciousness Of Living

Illogicist has been quite a favorite in the Brutalism archives as they've been featured more than once with raving reviews about how close this band is to being the resurrection of Death with a modern touch. Indeed, the music from 'The Unconsciousness Of Living' sounds like Chuck Schuldiner is back shrieking into the microphone, and as far as the instruments go there is a much more technical, progressive flair to it, showing that Illogicist are always taking a step forward rather than back and trying to rehash things from the past, taking an easy way out rather than putting out fresh, new perspectives. So that should be reason enough to already respect this album. Tracks like "Ghosts Of Unconsciousness" feature simple, yet driving rhythms that just crush right along like most Death Metal does. It isn't until the later tracks like "Perceptions..." where one starts to hear the more technical work as one guitar leads with a highly melodic solo all throghout the track with the bass tapping away in the background much like how someone might hear from the work of the recently soloed Evan Brewer. This is more along the line of Cynic as far as most Metal fans might consider.
"Misery Of A Profaned Soul" features some of the best guitar solo work the band has to offer yet. Building upon itself, every moment of the song makes it the standout track on the album as it churns along, mostly letting the instruments do the talking rather than having the vocals overtake everything. In the end, most fans might notice that Illogicist didn't jump too far in the experimental pool to make 'The Unconsciousness...' greatly different from their past efforts. However, what they did do was make a collection of strong, catchy offerings that may all be somewhat similar, but with few or no faults at all. This is definitely worth checking out for those who like Technical Death Metal that isn't too cookie cutter with mathcore solos and deep growls and with plenty of melody involved so it can also feel like well done Thrash. Illogicist are not trying to re-invent Death, but rather continue the strain they began that changed Death Metal forever.

Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma

The most unique black metal I've ever heard. If a Greek black metal cave dweller murdered the singer of a 60's psychedlic rock band and took his place you would get Hail Spirit Noir. Two members from Transcending Bizarre? make up this astounding two piece. This is mastered by Jens Bogren that also worked with Opeth, Katatonia, and Amon Amarth. It was mixed at Lunatech Studios which worked with Rotting Christ. When you finish listening to this you'll understand why they chose to use both of these avenues.
In "Mountain Of Horror" the guitar tone and keys give it that great vintage psychedelic rock sound. At times I feel like I'm listening to a black metal version of Can. So inspiring to hear someone mesh these styles together so cohesively. "Let Your Devil Come Inside" has some unique clean vocals that slightly remind me of Micheal Akerfeldt. The violin in this track really sets the mood. "Kill your mother while your still in her womb"... haha what a ridiculously awesome line. The drums are an eclectic mix of styles that fit each mood of the music perfectly. He knows when to be intense and other times reserved with tones of feel and syncopation. "Against The Curse, We Dream" is one of those progressive tracks that draws your thought process out. "When All Is Black" is like Opeth meets a jazz symphony with a mix of clean and wretched vocals. At the end of "Into The Gates Of Time" there is ambient pond noise for almost three minutes. Unique idea that is well placed on the album and is relaxing. The large swell of the hum of insects and amphibians at night is entrancing and cleansing. Throughout the album there is a wide variety of vocal styles. There is also a handful of fantastic rock solos pitter pattered throughout the record. Any true guitar lover would fall head over heels for this record. Even the bass tone and riffage is spot on.
Once again I must reiterate that this is the most unique forward thinking black metal record out there. I'll go as far as to say this is one of the most unique albums ever.

Day Of Execution - Dead Burning To Ashes (2012)

Now, this is what I call killer oldschool death metal album! Day Of Execution come from Varna,Bulgaria and "Dead Burning To Ashes" is their first CD unleashed upon mankind via the Polish label Brewery Prod. The first thing that makes impression after the music starts is the excellent production - all instruments sound heavy and powerful and every riff or drum beat can be easily heard. But the good compositional ideas is what really matters to me and Day Of Execution have plenty of them.
After the short spooky intro, the album bursts out with "Vortex Of Flesh" - a track that begins in the mid-tempo Asphux-like death metal and ends with Deicide-ian blastbeats and double vocals. Day Of Execution's frontman Svetoslav Vasilev is a monster behind the mike - his roars are deep and furious yet you are able to hear the words that are coming out his throat. "His Ghost In The Morgue" present some Swedish death/thrash elements entwined in the dense wall of brutality. The following "Rot With Me" reveals the skilfully playing of the two guitarists Ivaylo Mladenov and Ivaylo Gradev - their melodic riffing reminds me of the later Carcass albums (the "Heartwork" album in particular). Good words should be said also for the tight rhythm section in the figures of Plamen Petkov (drums) and Momchil Karamichev (bass). The title track "Day Of Execution" is a brutal death/grind attack which is followed by "Evil Dead Nemesis" which is a track in the vein of Bolt Thrower enriched with some deep grunts more typical for the gore/grind bands. The last two tracks are "Warriors Of Uruk" which is slow,crushing and with some decent guitar leads,and the final of this remarkable album which is a cover of the Bolt Thrower's classic "Cenotaph".
In case you are looking for a qualitative band able to combine the best elements from European and US oldschool death metal scene - look no further! Check out Day Of Execution - you can hear some of their music and purchase their debut album at the site of Brewery Prod. "Dead Burning To Ashes" is one solid slab of smashing death metal with brutal but also groovy tracks. Good albums like this one are not very common thing today so this band really deserves your attention!

                                                                                                         AUTHOR : TSVETAN RACHEV

вторник, 24 януари 2012 г.

Lamb of God - "Resolution"(2012)

Even as a staunch supporter of Richmond’s metal titans Lamb of God, their last album Wrath simply didn’t compare to their previous releases. The aggression was there in spades; it just sounded more like a b-sides collection to Sacrament than anything else. The band had found themselves at a huge crossroads in their career – fade into obscurity like countless other New Wave of American Metal bands, or continue to remind all other metal bands why they’ve been one of the most successful acts in the genre’s recent history. With Resolution, Lamb of God is undoubtedly back. The album is dripping with groove, unrelenting drums, and one of the most confident-sounding albums in the band’s career. 
Right off the bat, the band instantly obliterates any and all riffs from their past album. “Straight for the Sun” shows the band delving into sludgier territory, resulting in the heaviest riff since 2003’s “Vigil”. Entering soon after this is vocalist/current presidential candidate Randy Blythe, showing that his vocal cords have only toughened with age. Blythe’s vocals are even more guttural than before, while still being one of the more understandable screamers in metal today. You’ll also get a few “sung” choruses in songs like “The Number Six”, harkening back to Pantera’s Phil Anselmo.
From a musical standpoint, Resolution is a mosher’s wet dream; crossover-thrash riffs intertwine with ripping guitar solos and the band’s token half-time groove. It’s a formula the band has long used to great success, and while this may seem to raise some eyebrows from the skeptics, fear not! Lamb of God aren’t just repeating themselves, but rather expanding on a sound that is now undeniably theirs. “The Undertow” showcases one of Mark Morton’s best guitar solos to date. “King Me”, the band’s longest song to date, shows the band delving into …And Justice For All-esque prog-metal while also being backed by an orchestra. Songs like “Invictus” and “Terminally Unique” even experiment with a mathier approach in the song’s chorus, courtesy of Chris Adler’s absolutely dominating drum performance. While these newer elements may not please die-hard fans of the band just looking for a reason to hop into another circle pit, there’s still loads of that (“Cheated” is a mosher’s delight). The band’s first single for the album, “Ghost Walking” is everything fans have come to expect from Lamb of God. Hell, even the opening riff does sound quite a bit like “Redneck”.
One of the best qualities about Resolution is its sense of balance. Lamb of God knows what their fans expect from them, but still continue to push the envelope and not fall into homogeny like the Shadows Falls and Killswitch Engages of the world. In a new age of metal flooded with groove-junkies and djent-clones, Lamb of God show they can get as technical as the rest of them, but make a song that will get stuck in your head on the first listen alone. Resolution has renewed my love for this band, and should please any old fans as well. The first awesome metal album of 2012!
Rating – 8.5/10


Lamb of God has forged a career that has had them labeled as one of the premier acts in American metal, and they have backed it up ever since they trampled into the mainstream’s sights with 2004’s “Ashes Of The Wake.” Every album since then has had to live up to the benchmark set with “Ashes Of The Wake,” and “Resolution” is no different. The band’s sixth record has them going back to a rawer production after the mixed reaction to “Wrath,” while juggling their old, groove metal sound with a couple of interesting diversions. “Resolution” is almost exactly what any Lamb of God fan would expect at this point; whether that’s a bright spot or a criticism depends on one’s opinion of the band’s catalog.
After over a decade of constant performing and writing, Lamb of God’s ruggish groove metal is like second nature. So it’s not a surprise that a majority of the tunes on “Resolution” are well-rounded. “Desolation” is destined to be the band’s new live anthem, with its shouty chorus having the capacity to translate to a crowd of beer-swilling, rowdy metal heads. “Guilty” smacks the listener in the ears with a lead pipe of dissonance, and the band makes sure not to temper their rage for a moment of brevity.
“Resolution” is another chapter in the evolution of the band as musicians. Every album since “New American Gospel” has seen some level of improvement, whether in the riffs or vocally. Guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler continue to work on handing out tight harmonies and an influx of guitar solos. The rhythm is still integral to the cataclysm of noise, especially the precision assault doled out by drummer Chris Adler. Randy Blythe’s vocals are feeling the effects from years of screaming, though his piercing tones find a way to rip on the government and human fallacies with force.
As songwriters, the bands finds the most worth in pulling back from the easily obtainable groove metal and challenging their formula. “Straight For The Sun” takes a page out of the sludge/doom genre. It’s compelling and one of the heaviest songs the band has done to date. The ambitious “King Me” dabbles with orchestration and operatic female vocals, while having an epic presence missing from songs like “Reclamation” and “Beating On Death’s Door.”
It’s reassuring to hear Lamb of God not satisfied with belting out 10 or 11 version of “Laid To Rest” every album, but the band holds back on “Resolution.” Every time the band tries something new, like “Straight For The Sun,” they revert to their groove metal haven. Having one song with a molasses-like tempo that could build to a fresh dynamic, and then not following up on it for the remainder of the album, is disappointing. The presence of 14 songs - the most on any Lamb of God album so far - is also a drag on the album’s pace, especially once it heads to the hour mark.
For Lamb of God, “Resolution” marks a turnaround from the underwhelming “Wrath.” It’s crushing metal by five guys who have been tolling it out since 1999. Experimentation has never been a rousing feature before, but the instances they are used (acoustic intro on “Ghost Walking,” the aforementioned “Straight For The Sun” and “King Me”) turn out to be the most memorable songs. “Resolution” will make the fans happy, and leave the detractors pissed off as usual.
Highs: Groove metal sound still hits hard, a few twists to the standard formula, another strong performance by guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler
Lows: Drags on the last few songs, seems like the band holds back from stepping into new territory, Randy Blythe attempts to sing on "Insurrection"
Bottom line: An improvement over the uneven "Wrath," though it's more of the same from Lamb of God.
Rating – 8.5/10


Lamb of God was one of the first metal bands I truly loved. As The Palaces Burn and Ashes of the Wake blended aggressive riffs, furious lyrics, and enviable musicianship in a way few bands could match. Even though their subsequent albums seemed to pale a bit in comparison, I still found certain tracks and moments to thoroughly enjoy. My appreciation for this band is massive, which is what makes Resolution disappointing to me. It’s more of the same in a lot of ways, and the risks that are taken don’t fully live up to their potential. While it’s not a huge step down from their last record, the pitfalls from Wrath seem to be exacerbated throughout Resolution instead of being, well, resolvedResolution does not live up to its name, and at its worst, it plods through mostly uninspired riffs, formulaic lyrics (the worst of any Lamb of God album, hands down), and predictable structures. At best, Resolution does not stray far from the beaten path established over the band’s tenure, and there’s enough hostility and energy to keep die-hard fans occupied.

There are redeeming aspects to take into account, but they are not enough to completely save this album. While it’s less glossy and commercial than Sacrament, it falls short in comparison to the rest of the band’s discography in almost every aspect. It’s Lamb of God, after all, so they’re still trying to sound like Pantera, but when they push the tempo of certain tracks, there are flickers of sonic evolution. Unfortunately, Chris Adler’s drumming has become unbelievably predictable, and while he will always be one of my absolute favorite drummers, I miss the innovation and groove that used to be at the forefront of his playing. It’s partially the production; the drums almost sound programmed, and the snare is buried in the mix while the China cymbal drowns out lower frequencies. I won’t say that I’ve “outgrown” Lamb of God by any means, but my connection to their music was created through their older material, and the newer content has failed to resonate as deeply. Resolution represents the pinnacle of this realization, as much as it pains me to admit.

The album begins with a sludgy and powerful riff (“Straight for the Sun”), supercharged by one of Randy Blythe’s signature screams. It’s a hell of an opening, and the vocals are superbly visceral, grabbing the listener by the throat. Then there’s a somewhat awkward drum solo of sorts, leading into “Desolation”. One of the better tracks of the album (but containing some of the worst lyrics of any LoG song ever), it features a very standard Lamb of God feel without sounding too stale. The guitar tone on the record is phenomenal, and Mark Morton and Willie Adler demonstrate their incredible chemistry and ability time and time again.

Resolution continues fairly unsurprisingly, before the band completely rips itself off with “The Undertow”. It’s a mixture of every signature trick in the LoG book, and while it goes down smoothly enough, it’s laughably unoriginal. Next up is the appropriately titled “The Number Six” (guess which track it is?), which features some of the only audible bass on the record, as well as the irritating repetition of the painful line, “You’ve dug your own grave”. There’s much better range in the dynamics on this track, although the transitions between quiet spoken-word interludes and thundering walls of sound are somewhat awkward.

The rest of Resolution neither compels nor alienates, sticking to typical arrangements one would expect from the band. “Terminally Unique” doesn’t exactly live up to its name, but it’s damn heavy and the guitar work is exceptional. “To The End” contains a thrashy and upbeat riff with some fun pinch harmonics, and it provides a change of mood without sacrificing the immensity of sound that Lamb of God is always striving for. The closing track, “King Me” is a unique piece of work, but their bizarre foray into symphonic metal is a creative risk that does not come to fruition. The string patches sound like they crawled forth from the depths of MIDI hell, and they distract from the harmonic structure rather than improving it. I fully believe that if better sounds had been used, I would be a much bigger fan of this track. As it stands, they screech and strain against the guitars, causing uncomfortable dissonance. Even though it doesn’t quite deliver, I appreciate Lamb of God for pushing against its own conventions, and perhaps future experiments will yield more positive results.

So, this isn’t Lamb of God’s best work. Not by a long shot. But it’s not a travesty, either. Despite exploiting their own blueprints in an attempt to expand their empire, there’s still a part of me that believes Lamb of God isn’t down for the count. Resolution may cost them a few fans, but it is not nearly as polarizing as recent releases from bands like Opeth and Mastodon. Maybe that’s part of the problem: If Lamb of God takes larger risks, perhaps they’ll be able to reap greater rewards. Listeners have loyally fed off the band’s formula for the past decade, and the taste is getting stale. Here’s hoping that their next album will take full advantage of the band’s talent and fortitude, without abusing their brand.
Rating : 6,5/10  

 official site : http://www.lamb-of-god.com/