The reviews are on a 5 star scale.
Propelled by strong melodies and a remarkable replay factor, As They Burn have delivered a record that manages to stand apart from their peers with Will, Love, Life. Even more remarkable; these Parisians are delivering their American debut.
Stunning and at times wonderful, the bounce of the rhythm and delivery of the electronics that are a subtle surprise have made even the harshest critic of this genre fall into disbelief. While juvenile at times, this record and this band are worth watching out for. Do not overlook this release.
Just weeks after Wartorn decimated eardrums, Southern Lord drop another fiery discharge of hardcore in the form of Baptists’ debut, Bushcraft. Given the signature Godcity Studios stamp, the spirited force of Baptists’ gritty, sludge-packed hardcore-punk has been confined in all its naked glory by Kurt Ballou.
Each song is entirely free of excess, with drummer Nick Yacyshyn rail-riding rhythms increasing the volatility of the opening four. “Still Melt” and “Soiled Roots” interestingly vary the bludgeon, and by the time “Abandon” comes to a halt it’s evident that the Vancouver-based Baptists have earned their place upon Southern Lord’s reputable hardcore-pulpit.
The Beyond - 'Forstbitepanzerf--k' (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Genre: Blackened Punk Take The Mentors, GG Allin, Darkthrone, and then toss the whole kit and caboodle into a blender. Out pops The Beyond, a thoroughly misogynistic outfit from Pennsylvania with, I’m sure, questionable at best hygiene habits.
Frostbitepanzerf—k is exactly as advertised: grimy blackened punk n’ roll played with an infectious messy enthusiasm. If the first sentence of this review is all you need to know what The Beyond are all about, then go for it. Just don’t show this one to your female significant other.
Black Boned Angel – 'The End' (Handmade Birds)
Genre: Drone/Noise/Experimental Metal
We'd all like to soundtrack our own funeral, which is exactly what New Zealand experimental musician Campbell Kneale has done on the aptly titled final album The End from his Black Boned Angel Project.
The album consists of three marathon parts, and Kneale and company work through pitch-black trawls, diving, as on all Black Boned Angel's albums, into vast pits of droning noise. The band have been, and will always be, remembered for their monolithic, all-encompassing, corpulent riffs. The End is replete with that weight, and wrapped in a requiem-like atmosphere. It’s as grim and intimidating a coda as one could hope for. RIP.
Botanist - 'IV: Mandragora' (The Flenser)
Genre: Black Metal
Botanist is a one-man black metal project, and as you can probably figure out from the title, IV: Mandragora is his fourth release. It's a concept album revolving around an army of mandrakes raised to wipe out humanity.
The music is very avant-garde, creative and unique, using hammered dulcimer instrumentation. One man black metal bands can be lo-fi and unsettling, and while there is extremity, some parts of the album are almost soothing. The production is good, and what gives the music an edge is the vocals. Tortured screams, croaky yells and ominous whispers cut through the atmospheric mid-tempo music, giving it a sense of urgency, and make the up-tempo parts that much more frantic.
Coldsteel – 'America Idle' (Stormspell)
Genre: Thrash Metal
After a 20-year hiatus, New York thrashers Coldsteel return with their new EP America Idle. Lyrically the band channel latter day Sacred Reich as they deal with the current anxiety of our American political system. Overall the band harkens back to the days of speed metal titans Intruder, Heathen and Toxik, but nowhere near the level of execution.
The lead guitar work in “Ashes To Ashes” and “Blood Secrets” is killer. Vocalist Troy Norr is a run of the mill thrash singer and is more consistent when his vocals are melodic like in the chorus of the title track. There are some bright spots, but overall Coldsteel are lacking the songwriting skills that so many of their thrash peers have mastered.
Pittsburgh natives Complete Failure might be a grind band first and foremost, but there are definitely some hardcore punk influences seeping through their third full-length The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault. And like an overstuffed Primanti’s sandwich paired with a pitcher of Yeungling, it’s a match made in heaven.
Complete Failure’s brand of grind isn’t concerned with getting its BPM as high as possible or screeching the listener into submission; a certain punk swagger lends heart and nuance to the band’s sound. To top it all off, drummer Mike Rosswog turns in one of the most dynamic performances in recent grind memory simply by beating the absolute hell out of his instrument and not relying too much on the blast beat.
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
Like a newborn Great White shark, Devourment’s Conceived In Sewage swims into the world an immediate danger, proving to be even more aggressive and predatory than their crushing 2009 release Unleash the Carnivore.
Migrating beyond the call of their guttural-slam stomping grounds, Conceived In Sewage bears witness to an informed Devourment, a truly wolfish and veteran death metal outfit. Gorged with punishing hooks and a wide and devastating production, record standouts include the inexorable “50 Ton War Machine” and the ultra-heavy “Parasitic Eruption,” hard evidence in proving that Devourment’s fourth full-length progeny is a Texas-sized serial killer.
Disperse - 'Living Mirrors' (Season Of Mist)
Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock
The Polish prog troupe Disperse return with their sophomore album Living Mirrors. It has all the typical elements of prog: unusual time signatures, extended instrumental breaks and complex compositions. The songs are painstakingly arranged, but are precise instead of sterile.
Disperse periodically venture into mellower '70s influenced territory, but balance it with heavier, modern sounding sections. It's a nice balance. On the down side, the five instrumentals/interludes introduce a few interesting elements like electronics, but for the most part don't really add anything worthwhile.
Edge of Attack – 'Edge of Attack' (Spread The Metal)
Genre: Power/Thrash Metal
Grande Prairie, Alberta might be the last place you’d expect to find a power metal band, but that’s precisely the locale giving rise to the rousing Edge of Attack. This quartet’s self-titled debut is quite a pleasant surprise. Replete with soaring female vocals and blistering leads, EOA bring bite to their power metal base with thrashy riffs and furious drumming.
Personal favorite “Rise Above,” like most of the album, is frustratingly catchy. Marrying that edge to the anthemic and fantastic nature of power metal (symphonic elements and all), they’ve created a punchy album even the frilly shirt averse can enjoy.