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Heavy Metal Album Reviews: December 3, 2013

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The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Angelica, Beastmilk, Blood Mortized, Cult Of Fire, Eat The Gun, Eye Of Solitude, Human Fortress, I Exist, Immortal Bird, Indoctrine, Iron Dogs, Kuolemanlaakso, Mutoid Man, Persekutor, Rabbits, Ringbearer, Silent Voices, Starsoup, Sun & Sail Club and Truth Corroded.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale. 

Angelica - 'Thrive' (Frontiers)

Angelica - 'Thrive'
Frontiers Records

Genre: Hard Rock
Angelica Rylin is the singer for the Swedish band The Murder Of My Sweet, and Thrive is her solo effort. It also features guest appearances from musicians like former In Flames guitarist Jesper Stromblad and Magnus Karlsson from Primal Fear.

The songs are very melodic and accessible with singalong choruses and some electronic elements. Many tracks are very mainstream, with others having a hard rock influence. If you're looking for something extreme, this isn't the album for you. But if you're into melodic hard rock with giant hooks, this will fit the bill just fine.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Beastmilk – 'Climax' (Magic Bullet)

Beastmilk – 'Climax'
Magic Bullet Records

Genre: Rock/Post Punk
Imagine the Misfits, Interpol and Nick Cave somehow gave birth to a post-punk baby. Encased in all the goo and the gunk would be a little band called Beastmilk. Now imagine that glorious band released a record called Climax. Well, they have, and it is easily one of the year’s best—and catchiest—albums to date.

From the beginning of “Death Reflects Us” to the final notes of “Strange Attractors,” the album is a 10-track voyage through reverb-drenched rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock. It took me back in time. Suddenly I was young and sitting on my bedroom floor just…listening. Nothing else mattered. Sublime.

Rating: 4
(JH Statts)

Blood Mortized – 'The Demon, The Angel..' (Chaos)

Blood Mortized – 'The Demon, The Angel...'
Chaos Records

Genre: Death Metal
The retro death metal craze seems to be showing no signs of abating, with most of the heavy hitters (Demonical, Tribulation, Entrails) having released albums this year, and good ones at that. Blood Mortized join the fray with The Demon, The Angel, the Disease, an album that doesn’t deviate from the script but gets the job done.

Ditching the overt filthiness of previous works in favor of a more melodic and doom-encrusted aesthetic, a lot of classic Bolt Thrower and early Katatonia influences are discernible here, with the melancholy vibes of “I Leave with Hate” providing effective counterpoint to the buzzing brutality of something like “In the Black Flames of Desolation.” Not a game-changer, but definitely one of the more measured retro DM albums out there.

Rating: 3.5
(Neil Pretorius) 

Cult Of Fire - '????' (Iron Bonehead)

Cult Of Fire - 'मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान'
Iron Bonehead Productions

Genre: Black Metal
At first glance, the album cover art and the album title  'मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान', written in Sanskrit, would lead one to think that Cult Of Fire are from India. Not so; they are from the Czech Republic with members culled from Death Karma, Maniac Butcher, and a few other acts from the country. Cult Of Fire are light years beyond any of these bands, though, with a pleasing and sophisticated approach to mildly symphonic black metal.

Early Emperor and Dimmu Borgir seem to be influences, as Cult Of Fire employ lots of fast riffs, a high-pitched production, and plenty of bombast into their songwriting. South Asian influences do appear in the form of ritualistic chanting and a sitar in the final track, a woefully underused instrument in metal. Cult Of Fire establish a name for themselves with this release.

Rating: 4
(Dave Schalek)

Eat the Gun – ‘Stripped to the Bone’ (SPV)

Eat the Gun – ‘Stripped to the Bone’
SPV Records

Genre: Hard Rock/Alternative Rock
Aside from the obvious double-entendres, Germany’s Eat the Gun play a very unambiguous brand of alternative rock on their fourth long-player, Stripped to the Bone. The trio have found success on the international stage in the past, and the entirely accessible and radio-friendly rock found on this release should guarantee them even more. Playing hooky anthems and bobbing grooves seem to be their forte.

With that said, stringent metal fans will need to seek elsewhere for their daily dose. This particular rock is pebble smooth, and while its toe-tapping qualities should cater to angsty teenage girls, Stripped to the Bone is more guilty pleasure than metal ass-kicking. With that said, “Apocalyptic Blues” and the single “Loner” are pretty catchy.

Rating: 3
(Evan Mugford)

Eye of Solitude – ‘Canto III’ (Kaotoxin)

Eye of Solitude – ‘Canto III’
Kaotoxin Records

Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Broken up over six acts, Eye of Solitude’s latest release Canto III is a complex concept record based around Dante’s Inferno. Over 66 minutes of music is a lot to take in, but the band does an amazing job of mixing genres and creating diversity. It's a mixture of death, black and doom all enhanced with an Opeth like atmosphere.

Vocalist Daniel Neagoe has a complex voice that showcases many emotions. His guttural vocals are beyond brutal and delivered with extreme power. He utilizes at least four distinct voices throughout. It is mind blowing that this material was written in just a year, as the maturity on display is consistent with an experienced band. A battering ram of a release the record is intense with tremendous depth.

Rating: 4
(Dan Drago)

Human Fortress – 'Raided Land' (AFM)

Human Fortress – 'Raided Land'
AFM Records

Genre: Power Metal
This is the kind of limp-wristed power(less) metal you get when, in the pursuit of said genre’s knack for melodrama, a band opts for incessant vocal harmonies instead of riffs. Or speed. Or grit. It’s like Lord of the Rings without Aragorn. I mean, if your lyrics glorify battle then at least apply some common sense by letting the actual music roar a bit, you know?

Human Fortress’ Raided Land simply has no heft to it, and while they were clearly aiming for the grandeur of Dragonland, they only manage to come across as an even more insipid Mob Rules or Astral Doors.

Rating: 2
(Neil Pretorius) 

I Exist - 'From Darkness' (Prosthetic)

I Exist - 'From Darkness'
Prosthetic Records

Genre: Sludge Metal
I Exist’s third album will spread a cloud of darkness over your holiday season. From Darkness is a solid way to suck the life out of any upbeat situation with its draining heaviness. To the band’s credit, their sound is versatile, as evident by the hardcore-tinged “Lightning Curse” followed two tracks later by the sludgy “Sorrow On Hill 105.”

The whole album moves at that pace, keeping the music crisp and lacking in much downtime. A few ideas lack full execution, but it’s forgiven thanks to the piercing riffs dominating songs like “Tear Down The Crucifix” and the title cut.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Immortal Bird - 'Akrasia' (Closed Casket)

Immortal Bird - 'Akrasia'
Closed Casket Recordings

Genre: Death/Black Metal
Thrawsunblat drummer Rae Amitay is the backbone behind Immortal Bird’s first EP Akrasia. She pummels the hell out of the drums, and her venom-laced, raspy screams are unnerving. These four songs border around cutthroat death and black metal, though “Akratic Seminar” incorporates melodic vocals and acoustic guitars.

It’s apparent how together the songwriting is, and each song has something unique to offer. The straightforward aggression of “The Pseudoscientist” is matched by the back-and-forth tempos of “Ashen Scabland.” Akrasia doesn’t get by on brutality alone, even though it easily could have, and puts Immortal Bird in position as a band to keep a close watch on.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Indoctrine – 'Unto the Fall' (Inverse)

Indoctrine – 'Unto the Fall'
Inverse Records

Genre: Melodic Black/Death Metal
An EP that oscillates wildly between inspired and insipid, Unto the Fall is somewhat serviceable Dissection worship at best and poor Corporation 187 style melodic death/thrash at worst. Of course the former is a band often imitated but rarely matched, so I can’t really hold it against Indoctrine for falling way short of the mark.

Indoctrine have potential though, as the grandeur of the piano-driven intro and the anguished melodies of “Fall” ably show, but the dithering delivery and flat second half of the EP consigns it to mediocrity.

Rating: 2
(Neil Pretorius) 

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