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February 2008 Best Heavy Metal CDs

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After getting off to a moderate start, February was a really strong month. 3 CDs received 4.5 out of 5 ratings, and picking the number one slot was difficult. There were also several 4 star CDs released this month, making it a month with a lot of depth. That bodes well for the rest of 2008. Here are my choices for the best heavy metal CDs released in February 2008.

1. Hate Eternal - 'Fury And Flames' (Metal Blade)

Hate Eternal - Fury And Flames
Metal Blade Records
Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/producer Erik Rutan has recruited an entirely new Hate Eternal lineup for their latest CD. Coming onboard are Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster along with second guitarist Shaune Kelley and drummer Jade Simonetto. Fury And Flames is dedicated to Jared Anderson, Rutan's close friend and former bandmate who passed away in 2006.

Fury And Flames is an unrelenting barrage of crushing death metal devastation. The songs are monstrously heavy and brutal, played with great technical skill. The dual guitars sound great, and Webster is a virtuoso on the bass guitar. In death metal the drums are especially important, and Simonetto's style is fast and thunderous.

2. Warbringer - 'War Without End' (Century Media)

Warbringer - War Without End
Century Media Records
War Without End takes you back to the old school, with giant riffs and lengthy shredding solos. It's raw and aggressive, but also very catchy and memorable. Warbringer is obviously inspired by classic thrash bands, but aren't a carbon copy of any of them. Instead you'll hear influences of many different bands in their sound, including Slayer, Metallica, Testament, Exodus and many others.

John Kevill is Warbringer's vocalist, and he's a good one. From growls to screams to shouts, his angry and emotional vocals deliver lyrics about war and violence. There are also several gang shoutalong choruses. War Without End is an excellent debut, and Warbringer has the potential to be one of the leaders of the new wave of thrash metal.

3. Brain Drill - 'Apocalyptic Feasting' (Metal Blade)

Brain Drill - Apocalyptic Feasting
Metal Blade Records
Brain Drill plays insanely fast technical death metal/grindcore. Apocalyptic Feasting features lightning fast and razor sharp riffs played at warp speed. Brain Drill's musical virtuosity and technical skill is amazing. It's not often you talk about a band's bassist, but Jeff Hughell plays a 7 string bass and uses a 10 finger tapping technique that allows him to play incredibly fast.

Musicianship will only take you so far, you must also have the songs to back it up. Otherwise, after a couple of listens you lose interest quickly. Brain Drill has succeeded on that front as well. The songs, while not melodic, have catchy riffs and a decent amount of diversity.

4. Biomechanical - 'Cannibalised' (Earache)

Biomechanical - Cannibalised
Earache Records
Biomechanical combines progressive, power, traditional and thrash metal with cinematic elements, which creates an intense and varied soundscape. The songs are dense and aggressive with thick thrash riffs and very technical and complex musicianship. The wall of sound approach can make it difficult to take in everything that's going on, but upon repeated listens you'll notice more and more of the myriad pieces that the songs are built upon.

John K is the main songwriter and vocalist for Biomechanical, and he combines harsh and angry screams with melodic power metal style singing. Brutal, progressive and technical, Cannibalised is an extreme metal tour de force, both pulverizing and mesmerizing.

5. Sculptured - 'Embodiment' (The End)

Sculptured - Embodiment
The End Records
Embodiment is progressive death metal with complex and epic songs. Sculptured masterfully combines melody with experimental and dynamic progressive elements. The 5 tracks on the album clock in at 40 minutes, which is the optimum length. The length of the songs give plenty of time for everything to unfold and showcase the band's musical chops and songwriting chops. But before things devolve into self-indulgence the album is over.

The vocals are mostly death metal growls, but there is some melodic singing as well. Embodiment excels at exploring many different tempos and textures. From slow, retro-sounding rock to aggressive pummeling metal, this is a CD that will engage and mesmerize discerning metal fans.

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