Friday, April 29, 2011

Video: Hostile - No Salvation

British melodic screamcore outift Hostile, whose ranks include bassist Alex Hill (son of Judas Priest bass player Ian Hill), have released a video for "No Salvation". The song appears on the band's K.K. Downing-produced debut album Eve Of Destruction.

For more info: MySpace

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Rancor - Release The Rancor (2010)

Rancor [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Release The Rancor
(2010)
self-released

Formed over a decade ago in Madrid, Spain, Rancor is a band whose members unabashedly emulate the glorious early days of thrash on their debut long-player Release The Rancor. The ten songs offered here fall squarely in the realm of Testament, Exodus, early Metallica, and the like, giving retro-thrash fans everything they want from the style without drifting off onto contemporary tangents.

Like so many other bands that work hard at paying tribute to their influences, Rancor sticks to the formula and sacrifices ingenuity for the sake of energy and skillful execution. Guitarists Ricky and Vasco lay down plenty of stylized riffs at a pace that moves along at a pretty fair clip, though I'd stop short of calling Release The Rancor a blistering album. A knock I have against the disc is the pacing of the first half, as there's little to differentiate the first three tracks from each other, but by "From Warrior To God" Rancor begins to mix up the tempo and introduce more variety to the riffs. "Twist The Knife" is a song that serves as the best example of what Rancor is capable of, opening with a strong rumbling bass line from Serra and finding just a bit more menace creeping into Ricky and Vasco's riffs - not to mention a pretty wild solo. The song also finds frontman Dani adding a little more character to his thrashy style, an aspect that definitely warrants further exploration on Rancor's next effort. Don't get me wrong, he delivers the goods in a formidable, gritty performance throughout the album, but exercising his range a bit more will only add depth and increase the band's staying power.

With songs like "Twist The Knife", the somewhat doomy "Drag You To Hell", and the flailing "Zombie War" - all prototypical thrash anthems that genre fans crave - Release The Rancor is for sure a solid album custom-made for those of us who have fond memories of the original Bay Area sound. Not groundbreaking, at times a little repetitive, but an enjoyable listen nevertheless.


Track Listing
1Wounded Wolf4:36
2Violent Dreams3:35
3Soul Chamber4:58
4From Warrior To God4:34
5Programmed Lives5:19
6Rancor3:48
7Twist The Knife3:47
8Drag You To Hell6:22
9Incompetent3:40
10Zombie War4:28
Total Runtime45:07





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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Video: Gandhi's Gunn - Going Slow

Italian stoner rock outfit Gandhi's Gunn has posted a video for the song "Going Slow", which appears on the band's 2010 debut full-length Thirtyeahs.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Monday, April 25, 2011

Video: The Poodles - I Want It All

Swedish hard rockers The Poodles have posted a video for the song "I Want It All". The track comes off the band's fourth studio album, Performocracy, due out in May via Frontiers Records.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Video: Enbound - Combined The Souls

Swedish power metal outfit Enbound has posted a video for the song "Combined The Souls", a track that appears on the band's soon-to-be-released debut album And She Says Gold.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Video: Poisonblack - Mercury Falling

Poisonblack, the Finnish Gothic metal outfit fronted by ex-Sentenced vocalist Ville Laihiala, has posted a video for "Mercury Falling". The song  appears on the band's forthcoming fifth album Drive.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Twisted Tower Dire - Make It Dark (2011)

Twisted Tower Dire [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Make It Dark
(2011)

North Carolina's Twisted Tower Dire, for those unfamiliar with the band, formed in Virginia in the mid-1990s in response to the extremely anti-metal attitudes that infested the music industry at the time. We all know the story of heavy metal's retreat into the underground of American popular culture, so it makes little sense to reopen those wounds. Yet, while many bands faded from the scene, Twisted Tower Dire sought to take the industry head on with their brand of traditionally-inspired metal mayhem and wave the flag of true metal squarely in the face of the grunge movement. Now, seventeen years later, having overcome multiple line-up changes and the tragic death of their original singer, the band remains as committed as ever to carrying on the standard defined by the legends of old such as Judas Priest, Saxon, and of course Black Sabbath. Though only the band's fifth studio full-length and with a five-year gap between it and its predecessor, Make It Dark is nevertheless a worthy addition to Twisted Tower Dire's retro-lutionary catalog.

The most significant question that TTD fans may have regarding Make It Dark is what impact does new frontman Jonny Aune have on the band's sound. Tony Taylor was, after all, a formidable classic metal singer. As crucial to TTD's sound as Taylor was, I feel that Aune takes the band's punch up a couple of notches with a style that is wider-ranging and significantly less polished than Taylor's. Aune doesn't routinely exercise the upper limits of his range, instead choosing to hover in a mid-ranged shout, but when he reaches - such as on the intricate "Beyond The Gate" - he nails the notes with ease. Working in concert with some rousing gang choruses, the vocal aspect of Make It Dark is a solid win.

Songs like the contagious "Mystera", the bass-heavy title track, and the chuggy "White Shadow" exemplify Twisted Tower Dire's take on traditional metal, delivering the noodling solos, melodic twin-guitar riffs, strong bass lines and thundering fills by the ton. "The Stone", which increases the pace just slightly from the rest of the album, has some very nice swirling riffs from guitarists Scott Waldrop and Dave Boyd, but the track that stands out the most is "Torture Torture". The anthemic vocals and infectious riffs are simply killer. There's nothing revolutionary on Make It Dark, and thank the Gods for that! The only time the band alters their formula - and it's just a slight alteration at that - is on the album's closing track "Beyond The Gate". The riffs here have a slightly more progressive sound to them, as does the pacing of the song, all of which perhaps hints at a future direction the band might be heading in.

Make It Dark is a strong album from start to finish that is a must-have for any fan of traditionally styled heavy metal. A running time of less than 40 minutes may draw some complaints, but the punch packed into this album more than makes up for its brevity.

Track Listing
1Mystera2:41
2Snow Leopard5:35
3The Stone4:45
4Make It Dark4:16
5White Shadow4:31
6The Only Way4:01
7Torture Torture3:41
8Beyond The Gate8:14
Total Runtime37:44



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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Video: Pain - Dirty Woman

Pain, the Swedish outfit led by producer extraordinaire Peter Tägtgren, has posted a video for "Dirty Woman". The track appears on the band's upcoming seventh album You Only Live Twice.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Midnattsol - The Metamorphosis Melody (2011)

Midnattsol [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
The Metamorphosis Melody
(2011)

Featuring Liv Kristine's (Leaves' Eyes) younger sister Carmen Elise Espenæs behind the mic, Norway's Midnattsol is often - and unfairly - presented as a Gothic/folk metal band having much in common with Liv's former and current outfits. I find that nothing could be further from the truth, excepting the family ties of course, with Midnattsol instead having more in common with power metal bands like Falconer and recent Elvenking. The Metamorphosis Melody, Midnattsol's third long-player, occasionally hints at folk and Gothic influences, but is by and large a fairly straightforward power metal affair that fans of Nightwish and Epica will find pleasing.

Throwing Liv Kristine's name around when promoting Midnattsol also has the added side-effect of misleading those unfamiliar with Espenæs' vocal style. The two sisters are truly night and day when it comes to voice, with Espenæs possessing a throaty, operatic style absent the wispy, ethereal upper range that her sister is quite famous for. Still, Espenæs' performance is perfectly suited to Midnattsol's epic, somewhat somber sound. Guitarists Alex Kautz and Daniel Droste (who has recently left the band) work hand-in-hand with keyboardist Daniel Fischer to put together songs that are quite lush, rather symphonic, and satisfyingly well-written. Rarely does the band venture into speedy territory, though, instead preferring to focus on well-paced tracks that are punctuated by somewhat dreamy interludes that allow Espenæs to showcase her talent.

The Metamorphosis Melody is not entirely without folk or Gothic influences, though they are brief. "Goodbye", a strong acoustic ballad, is the most folksy song on the disc while the medieval melodies and strong finish of "A Poet's Prayer" make it an album highlight. "Forvandlingen", with crushingly majestic riffs and a Middle Eastern flair to the leads, gives the album a shot of Gothicness in an attempt to satisfy fans of the style. The remainder of the album is well-written and skillfully executed, though little could be considered to be remarkable. "The Tide" has a very nice guitar tone going on during the latter half of the song, and "Kong Valemons Kamp" is a nice up-tempo head-bobber with some interesting vocal layers during the choruses, but even repeated listens generate little in the way of staying power. The album is solid and enjoyable, for sure, and the only real gripe I have is that Birgit Öllbrunner's bass is hardly ever heard, but I can't help feeling like The Metamorphosis Melody was a bit of a let down.

If you ignore the hype surrounding The Metamorphosis Melody (and Midnattsol in general, for that matter) and accept the album for what it is, you'll find it to be an above average power metal album that fans of style will certainly want to explore further.





Track Listing
1Alva1:46
2The Metamorphosis Melody5:54
3Spellbound5:25
4The Tide4:35
5A Poet's Prayer5:34
6Forlorn4:51
7Kong Valemons Kamp6:36
8Goodbye3:32
9Forvandlingen6:55
10Motets Makt5:23
11My Re-Creation5:23
Total Runtime56:36



Search eBay for The Metamorphosis Melody:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday - April 19, 2011

A couple of interesting releases top the list of new albums hitting the streets this week. Enjoy.

The Best of Week 16, 2011:

Cruachan: Blood on the Black Robe
(Candlelight)
Irish folk/black metallers Cruachan return with Blood on the Black Robe, their sixth studio album. This one marks a return to the more aggressive, raw black metal that defined the band's earliest work, though folk melodies and traditional instrumentation abound. Read the Harvest Moon Music review.

Taletellers: Radicalizer
(Metalville)
Straight-up heavy rock is what Germany's Taletellers is all about. Their third release, Radicalizer is a solid album that will appeal to fans of Dio, Accept, Judas Priest, and the like. Not groundbreaking, but immensely enjoyable.






And now the rest:
Blut Aus Nord: 777 Sect(s) [ black metal ]
Cynthesis: DeEvolution [ prog metal ]
Duff McKagan's Loaded: Taking [ hard rock ]
Graveyard: Hisingen Blues [ stoner rock ]
Haeresiarchs of Dis: In Obsecration of the Seven Darks [ black metal ]
The New Black: II: Better In Black [ hard rock ]
Sylosis: Edge Of The Earth [ technical death metal ]
Symfonia: In Paradisum [ power metal ]
Winds Of Plague: Against The World [ deathcore ]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Video: Yggdrasil - Bergtagen

The long-running Swedish folk metal outfit Yggdrasil has posted a video for "Bergtagen", a track off of their upcoming third full-length album Irrbloss.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Leaves' Eyes - Meredead (2011)

Leaves' Eyes [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Meredead
(2011)
Napalm Records

Fronted by the captivating Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull and comprised of members of the German death metal outfit Atrocity, Leaves' Eyes has steadily climbed to the top of the folk metal ladder since debuting in 2004. With traditional Scandinavian melodies as the basis for their music, Liv and husband Alex Krull delivered the Norse-themed lyrics in a compelling beauty-and-the-beast style. While not an entirely innovative concept, Leaves' Eyes far surpass their peers in songwriting ability and so were able to easily outdistance themselves from the pack. With each album, the folk influences and symphonic tendencies have increased. The trend continues on the band's fourth studio album, Meredead, for what is perhaps their most engaging and complete release to date.

Anyone at all familiar with Leaves' Eyes, or Theatre of Tragedy for that matter, knows that Liv is one of the top female singers in the world of metal today...perhaps ever. Her performance on Meredead is as strong, lilting, and mesmerizing as you'd expect. This album finds Liv exploring a more operatic style, however, at times taking the band's sound in a Nightwish sort of direction. "Étaín", for example, is a very bombastic track that also features vocal contributions from Liv's younger sister Carmen Elise Espenaes.

The shift to more symphonic stylings is slight, however, with the medieval folk melodies reigning supreme. Liv leverages her native Norwegian on some of the tracks, such as "Sigrlinn", while Old English is introduced on a couple of traditional songs. "Kråkevisa", which translates to The Crow Song, is a medieval Norwegian ballad that focuses on Liv's lilting vocals. "Nystev", another traditional Norwegian tune, features a rousing folksy beat and quite lush choral contributions.

The use of a choir is another way in which Meredead differs vocally from previous Leaves' Eyes works, but perhaps the most obvious change is the almost complete absence of Alex's voice. It's not until the highly symphonic "Sigrlinn" when the gruff, gurgling male vocals make an appearance and even then they are used sparingly. Alex returns on "Empty Horizon", but has dropped the harshness for a clean style that works quite well within the Leaves' Eyes framework. The final track, a very Blackmore's Night style duet called "Tell-Tale Eyes", is the only other instance where Alex's vocals are heard.

Meredead is very much an evolution in the Leaves' Eyes saga, with songs like the beautiful rendition of Mike Oldfield's "To France" and the highly contagious "Velvet Heart" standing out amongst an entire album of magnificent songs, and tracks like album opener "Spririts' Masquerade" evoking images of distant shores through tactful use of the fiddle and uilleann pipes. Fans of folk, Gothic, and symphonic metal will unquestionably want to get their hands on what is sure to be a top album of 2011.



Track Listing
1Spirits' Masquerade6:30
2Étaín3:59
3Velvet Heart3:43
4Kråkevisa4:35
5To France4:39
6Meredead5:21
7Sigrlinn8:49
8Mine Tåror er ei Grimme2:55
9Empty Horizon4:57
10Veritas0:50
11Nystev4:41
12Tell-Tale Eyes3:57
Total Runtime54:56



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Friday, April 15, 2011

Video: Maligno - Shine

Mexican doom rockers Maligno have posted a video for the song "Shine", which comes off the band's soon-to-be-released third album The Funeral Domine.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Glen Drover - Metalusion

Glen Drover [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Metalusion
(2011)

Although Canadian guitarist Glen Drover's name became widely known in metal circles for his short (one-album) stints with King Diamond and Megadeth in the early aughts, the output from his own band Eidolon has been the talk of prog metal aficionados for nearly two decades. With Metalusion, his debut solo album, Drover emerges from the shadows of the bands he's contributed to and rightfully establishes his talent on his own merits. A collection of metallized jazz-fusion compositions, five of which are Drover originals, Metalusion manages to avoid the extreme guitar virtuoso wankery that puts off many listeners and is, as a result, a rather engaging instrumental album.

Drover is joined on his solo endeavor by a bevy of metal heavyweight guitarists as guests, including Chris Poland (ex-Megadeth), Vinnie Moore (UFO), Steve Smyth (Forbidden), Fredrik Akesson (Opeth), and Jeff Loomis (Nevermore). Collectively, their contributions to Metalusion add significant sizzle to what is already a solid lesson on six-string acrobatics. "Ground Zero", which features both Poland and Moore, gets the album started with strong leads that aren't too jazzy or experimental, yet clearly establish Metalusion as more than a paint-by-numbers exhibition. The track also features a nice piano accompaniment from Jim Gilmour, and it's this sort of arrangement that keeps the album from drifting off and becoming just about the guitars. One of the factors that makes Metalusion so enjoyable is that the guitars never really upstage the rest of the instruments in the five Drover originals. Instead, each song is highly melodic, rich, and imparts feelings of considerable mellowness over which Drover's guitar ebbs and flows. These songs are ideal for putting on the headphones (or putting in the ear buds) and simply tuning out the bustle of the world. "Colors Of Infinity", with some of Drover's most emotional solos, stands out as a highlight along with the very atmospheric "Illusions Of Starlight".

As you would expect, Metalusion's most progressive moments are to be found on the cover tunes originally penned by Al Di Meola, Frank Zappa, and Jean-Luc Ponty. Drover ups the metal ante on these fusionistic works, though still holds very true to the originals. The Middle Eastern themed riffs of "Egyptian Danza" lend a few worldly moments to the album, though the cover of Ponty's "Mirage" (which features Nevermore's Jeff Loomis and a huge rhythm sound from bassist Paul Yee and drummer Chris Sutherland) is by far the most enjoyable non-Drover composition. The two Zappa tracks that close out Metalusion find Drover at his most unrestrained, with some wild solos and quite a bit of funk to the riffs.

I'm not a fan of prog, instrumental albums, or guitar virtuosos. Metalusion is, therefore, an album that I shouldn't like. But Drover has skilfully put together an album that is truly a sum of all its parts, with strong keyboard contributions and a prominent rhythm section, and not just a stage on which to boast his very obvious six-string talent. Open-minded metal fans of every ilk should explore what surprises Metalusion has to offer.





Track Listing
1Ground Zero7:39
2Frozen Dream5:12
3Egyptian Danza5:58
4Colors Of Infinity5:15
5Illusions Of Starlight4:51
6Don't Let The World Pass You By6:27
7Mirage4:44
8Ascension4:31
9The Purple Lagoon0:58
10Filthy Habits5:06
Total Runtime50:41



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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Video: Leaves' Eyes - To France

Leaves' Eyes, the outfit formed by vocalist Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull (ex-Theatre of Tragedy) and featuring members of Atrocity, has released a video for their cover of Mike Oldfield's "To France". The song appears on the band's upcoming releases Meredead, due out in North American on May 3rd via Napalm Records.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday - April 12, 2011

This week is even more dismal than the last, with the new releases being far from notable - with one exception.

The Best of Week 15, 2011:

Pentagram: Last Rites
(Metal Blade)
Legendary American metallers Pentagram bring back their classic, Sabbath-inspired sound - as well as long-time guitarist Victor Rgiffin - on Last Rites. The band's first studio album in seven years, Last Rites is certainly not groundbreaking but will surely please all fans of the old school.







And now the rest:
Between The Buried And Me: The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues [ metalcore ]
Conflicted: Never Be Tamed [ power/prog ]
CypherSeer: Origins [ power metal ]
Indian: Guiltless [ blackened doom ]
Last Chance To Reason: Level 2 [ prog metal ]
Red Fang: Murder the Mountains [ stoner rock ]
Rot In Hell: As Pearls Before Swine [ metalcore ]
Summon the Crows: One More for the Gallows [ death metal ]
Victims: A Dissident [ metalcore ]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Video: Routasielu - Soturi

Routasielu, the Finnish melodeath band led by Before The Dawn's Tuomas Saukkonen, has released a video for "Soturi". The song appears on the band's recently-released debut album Pimeys.

For more info: WebsiteFacebook

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Acquisitions for March 2011

March was a pretty diverse month as far as additions to The Collection go, though nostalgic back-fills were the majority of my purchases.

Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit (2010)
I've been a fan of Oregon's Agalloch since first being exposed to their 2002 opus The Mantle. Even so, I never managed to add a single one of the band's releases to my collection - until now. Marrow of the Spirit seemed as good a place as any to start, since it is a very recent release. Agalloch truly are masters of their niche, blending majestic soundscapes with muted aggression for a very mellow, mournful listening experience.

Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)
Here's one of those nostalgic back-fills I was talking about. This album, among others, was in heavy rotation during high school and quite a number of memories are associated with it. That being said, when I spun it again after picking it up for cheap on eBay the one memory that came back the strongest was that I really didn't like this release. It has two songs on it that are very cool, with the title track being one of the best hard rock songs to come out of the latter half of the '80s, but most of the album sucked. I suppose I have a little bit of buyer's remorse with this one, but it does belong in my collection if for no other reason than as a cassette replacement.

Dropkick Murphys - Going Out In Style (2011)
As I said last month, Dropkick Murphys sit atop the list of my favorite Irish punk outfits and picking up their latest release was a no-brainer. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Going Out In Style is a raucous affair that is definitely one of the band's strongest albums to date.

The Gathering - Nighttime Birds (1997)
I've been a fan of The Gathering since their debut Always. The doom/death of their early days soon gave way to a much more Gothic sound featuring the lovely voice of Anneke van Giersbergen, one of metal's best female singers. Though recent years have seen the band venturing off into strange new territories that would definitely not be considered metal, Nighttime Birds falls squarely into their Gothic period. I managed to pick this one up in a 2-disc limited edition that features cuts from the EPs that book-ended the release of the album.

Lizzy Borden - Deal With The Devil (2000)
Good ol' Lizzy Borden. One of the most underrated metal acts of the '80s, Lizzy dropped four full-lengths before being victimized by the grunge movement. Deal With The Devil is the band's comeback album and it holds true to their original sound. Definitely a worthy addition to my collection, and something every fan of classic '80s metal should be aware of.

The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre (1997)
I'm a fan of these guys, what can I say? Their style of pop-punk is catchy, enjoyable, and at times amusing. 1994's Smash was my introduction to the band, as it was for many of us, and though I had steadily added their albums to my collection I somehow missed this 1997 follow-up. eBay helped remedy this oversight, leaving only a couple of the band's earliest releases vacant from my shelves.

Poison - Native Tongue (1993)
This is sort of a semi-embarrasing acquisition, but I've said before that hair metal is one of my guilty pleasures. Native Tongue was one of the two Poison releases not already on my shelves (the other being Crack A Smile...), but two bucks dropped at Half-Price Books took care of that little oversight. On this release, the guys took on the ultra-bluesy sound that was all the rage among the commercial metal/rock outfits at the turn of the decade, and the result is the weakest Poison album of the lot. Still, I'm a completist so there it is.

Ratt - Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)
I abhor greatest hits albums. In my mind, these compilations exist only to generate cash flow from fans too lazy and/or half-hearted to go out and buy the albums that contain the songs they love so much. Yet, a couple have made it into my collection during what must've surely been dark and depressed days. For whatever reason, I thought replacing my Ratt cassettes with the singular Ratt & Roll 81-91 was a smart move. I regret it, and I am ashamed. Picking up Invasion of Your Privacy is the first Step in my recovery.

Woods of Ypres - Woods 4: The Green Album (2009)
Until this album got an American release, I was only vaguely aware of their style of blackened doom. Woods 4 takes the band in a decidedly Gothic direction that bears a lot of similarities to Charon, Type O Negative, and recent Tiamat. If you're at all a fan of those bands, I recommend checking this one out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Vintersorg - Jordpuls (2011)

Vintersorg [ MySpace ]
Jordpuls
(2011)

Sweden's Vintersorg, led by the prolific Borknagar frontman Andreas Hedlund, is renowned for delivering genre-defying albums that capitalize on a skillful combination of folk music, black metal, and progressive rock. Four years since Vintersorg's last album, which received mixed reviews from the metal community, Hedlund is back with Jordpuls - an album that will easily make its way into my Top Ten list for 2011.

Jordpuls is one of those releases that is so full of subtleties and nuance that it's practically impossible to write a concise review that would even begin to do the album justice. Aggressive black metal elements intertwine with progressive tendencies in a truly symbiotic way, as folkish - even New Age - traits filter through at every twist and turn. Hedlund's harsh black metal rasps, which are less enjoyable than his clean singing, are used effectively only where appropriate. Jordpuls is instead dominated by layered crooning, which reminds me a bit of Heri Joensen of Týr, and an almost '70s AOR style of vocal harmonies. This may put off purist black metal fans, but will almost certainly enrapture fans of more melodic forms of heavy metal. The choruses of "Världsalltets Fanfar" and "Klippor Och Skär" are irresistable, as are the sweeping harmonies of "Mörk Nebulosa".

The skillful guitar work of Mattias Marklund, the only other full-time member of Vintersorg, is also impressive as complex prog riffs dissolve into pure tremolo fury before fading away in an acoustic haze. Much of Marklund's riffing is bolstered by a strong keyboard/synth presence, creating moments that are often majestic and always memorable. Such interplay is most exemplified on "Klippor Och Skär", one of Jordpuls' most progressive and expressive tracks, and on the outstanding "Palissader", which is the song that I feel best blends the aggression, melody, atmosphere and grit that Vintersorg is known for. Other outstanding tracks include "Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall" and the mellow "Eld Och Lågor", with its remarkably expressive solo.

As enjoyable as it is, Jordpuls does have faults. The programmed drums aren't necessarily notable, and at times (such as on "Klippor Och Skär") sound rather flat. There is also an occasional over-reliance on progressive tendencies that derails the mood, but that probably has more to do with my personal feelings towards the style than any songwriting missteps. Those two very minor gripes aside, Jordpuls is an album that effectively conveys the beauty and fury of our natural world - topics at the core of Hedlund's creativity.

I've spun this album numerous times and still find little quirks that escaped previous listenings. To fully appreciate Jorpduls, it quite simply must be listened to.



Track Listing
1Världsalltets Fanfar5:25
2Klippor Och Skär6:14
3Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall4:32
4Mörk Nebulosa5:23
5Stjärndyrkan5:08
6Skogen Sover5:55
7Vindögat4:35
8Palissader5:29
9Eld Och Lågor4:14
Total Runtime46:55



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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Video: Cauldron - All Or Nothing

Canadian retro metallers Cauldron have posted a video for "All Or Nothing", a track which comes off of the band's latest album Burning Fortune.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: Aenygmist - Creation Born Of Trauma (2010)

Aenygmist [ MySpace | Facebook ]
Creation Born Of Trauma
(2010)
self-released

Aenygmist is an all-female black metal five-piece from the Canadian province of Quebec whose debut album, Creation Born Of Trauma, provides an interesting glimpse of a band that has considerable potential. The Kittie, Dimmu Borgir, and Cradle of Filth influences are easily identifiable in the band's mid-paced, atmospheric sound, but repeated listens do reveal flashes of innovation that hint at what Aenygmist is capable of.

Frontwoman Vanessa Lapierre Chevarie, a latecomer to the lineup, is a considerably versatile vocalist and one of the elements that will help Aenygmist differentiate themselves from the horde of similarly styled black metal bands. From stark shrieks to deathly growls to operatic singing, Vanessa delivers a remarkable, multifaceted performance. Her vocals are often layered, with ethereal clean singing nicely complimenting her angered rasps, giving tracks like "Élixir" and "Internal Hemorrhage" ample staying power.

The skillful riffs of six-stringers Marie-Audrée Houle and co-founder Roxane Labonté are another area where Aenygmist shines. While the tracks are, for the most part, deliberately mid-paced, there's considerable tremolo put forth as well as the occasional staccato riff that is so common to the genre. "Clandestin" and "Paroxysme" are the tightest tracks in regard to the guitars, with diverse pacing and some punchy leads - though the best solo of the album appears on standout track "Élixir". Behind the kit, drummer Joannie Gagnon puts together a solid performance, her double-kick being quite prominent on "Interférences" and "Clandestin". Jessica Pion's bass guitar was, unfortunately, mostly buried too deep in the mix to be a factor. I suspect that has more to do with the fact that Creation Born Of Trauma was recorded on a shoestring budget than anything else, however.

Although some of the songs towards the end of the album seem to be overly chaotic and somewhat meandering, Creation Born Of Trauma remains a solid debut release that will appeal to fans of atmospheric, semi-melodic black metal. Keep an eye on Aenygmist.


Track Listing
1Élixir8:11
2Paroxysme5:27
3Clandestin5:25
4Rest In Peace6:17
5Head In Poisened hands5:45
6Interférences6:23
7Internal Hemorrhage6:59
Total Runtime44:27







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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday: April 5, 2011

Not a whole lot happening this week in terms of notable releases, though there are a couple that should entice you to crack open your wallet.

The Best of Week 14, 2011:

Vicious Rumors: Razorback Killers
(Steamhammer/SPV)
Long-running American power metallers Vicious Rumors are back with their tenth studio album. Razorback Killers is a solid slab of no-frills metal that fans of Iced Earth and Jag Panzer will want to have in hand.

Vintersorg: Jordpuls
(Napalm)
Swedish Viking/folk metal champs Vintersorg are back with a seventh album of progressively-leaning blackened anthems. Sung entirely in Swedish in both clean and harsh vocals, Jordpuls finds folk melodies paired with modern complexities for a listening experience that will satisfy a large number of metal fans.




And now the rest:
Asking Alexandria: Reckless and Relentless [ metalcore ]
Assassin: Breaking The Silence [ thrash ]
Blood Freak: Mindscraper [ grind ]
Burzum: Fallen [ black metal ]
Dodheimsgard: 666 International [ industrial ]
Glen Drover: Metalusion [ prog metal ]
Kampfar: Mare [ black metal ]
Power Quest: Blood Alliance [ power metal ]
Sons of Season: Magnisphyricon [ prog metal ]
Thinning the Herd: Oceans Rise [ stoner rock ]
Vains of Jenna: Reverse Tripped [ hard rock ]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Video: Within Temptation - Shot In The Dark

Dutch symphonic/Gothic metallers Within Temptation have released a video for the song "Shot In The Dark", which appears on the band's recently released fifth studio album The Unforgiving.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Video: Becoming The Archetype - The Magnetic Sky

Atlanta metalcore outfit Becoming The Archetype have posted a video for "The Magnetic Sky", which comes off the band's recently released fourth album Celestial Completion. I normally don't post metalcore videos, but I find this one to be pretty cool since I am a D&D nerd and the kid is wearing a Wildcats t-shirt.

For more info: MySpace | Facebook

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review: Havok - Time Is Up (2011)

Havok [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Time Is Up
(2011)
Candlelight Records

The glorious resurgence of '80s thrash has been churning out quite a number of retro outfits over the past couple of years, all clambering to revitalize one of metal's most identifiable and storied sub-genres. Inevitably, the justifiable comparisons to Testament, Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Exodus, etc. etc. are made as each new album hits the streets. Some bands dutifully ape these metal legends while others strive to add just a bit of contemporary style to that familiar old-school sound. With Time Is Up, their second full-length album, Denver's Havok manages to skillfully invoke the Bay Area ghosts while adding just enough modern touches to avoid being dismissed as a clone.

If I had to sum up Havok, and Time Is Up, in one word it would be intense. These four Coloradans can shred, strum, flail and kick like metalheads possessed, and Time Is Up is all the more stronger for it. There are no ballads on this album, nor are there any atmospheric interludes or lame breakdowns. From the opening chords of "Prepare For Attack" to the final cymbal crash of the title track, Time Is Up is a relentless assault of pure thrash metal. Do not expect innovation here, for Havok do not consider themselves trendsetters. Do, however, expect to be whipped into a headbanging frenzy by Reece Scruggs' swirling solos and David Sanchez' throat-shredding vocals.

While Time Is Up is consistently relentless, there are a couple of tracks that remain in memory long after the album has completely victimized you. "Fatal Intervention" finds Scruggs and Sanchez (who also wields a six-string) infusing a little more melody into their riffs. Though the song still sails along at a blistering pace, some of the riffs have that classic chug to them that thrash fans of old have come to know and love. There's an Iron Maidenish twin-guitar attack to open "D.O.A.", and you'll find yourself mindlessly chanting the chorus of "Killing Tendencies".

Bolstered by a robust production courtesy of none other than James Murphy, Time Is Up is a pure thrash album that every fan of the style absolutely must have in their collection.



Track Listing
1Prepare For Attack4:09
2Fatal Intervention4:40
3No Amnesty3:42
4D.O.A.3:56
5Covering Fire4:27
6Killing Tendencies5:44
7Scumbag In Disguise4:46
8The Cleric4:58
9Out Of My Way3:32
10Time Is Up4:12
Total Runtime44:06



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