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Heavy Metal Album Reviews: March 25, 2014

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The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Ageless Oblivion, Ancient Ascendent, Assassins, Barren Harvest, Coltsblood,  Darkentries, Die Choking, Falls Of Rauros, Frozen Dawn, Geryon, Noble Beast, Panopticon, Rauhnacht, Restless Oblivion, Shores Of Null, Thou and Trigger Point.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Ageless Oblivion - 'Penthos' (Siege Of Amida)

Ageless Oblivion - 'Penthos'
Siege Of Amida Records

Genre: Death Metal
Nearly four years after their debut, the British band Ageless Oblivion return with their long-awaited follow-up. Penthos is the spirit of grief, lamentation and mourning, which sounds more apt for a funeral doom album than a death metal effort.

Ageless Oblivion add progressive touches to their brand of death metal, and there's some tortured singing along with the typical growls. In the slow sections of tracks like "The Midas Throat" you feel some of that lamentation, while the fast and heavy parts will crush your skull, giving you a reason to grieve and mourn.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Ancient Ascendant – ‘Echoes and Cinder’ (Candlelight)

Ancient Ascendant – ‘Echoes and Cinder’
Candlelight Records

Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
If you’re a fan of sweltering blackened thrash metal, Ancient Ascendant are for you. This album is definitely for you. Echoes and Cinder is extremely catchy and the production is tremendous. (Production by Dan Swano, of course it’s incredible). One of the most creative tracks on the album is “Patterns of Bane.” It’s not every day you hear acoustic guitars in a death metal song, and Ancient Ascendant without a doubt pull it off.

The tracks on this album tell a real story; almost every single one takes you on a ride through the waves of the mind. For fans of Hypocrisy, Enslaved and Skeletonwitch (only more creative) Echoes and Cinder is one of those albums with songs that’ll swiftly get into the blood and leave you wanting more.

Rating: 4
(Valerie LittleJohn)

Assassins – 'War of Aggression' (eOne/Good Fight)

Assassins – 'War of Aggression'
eOne Music/Good Fight Entertainment

Genre: Metalcore/Post Hardcore
One of the greatest things about music is that it is malleable. It can be molded (or bent) into any shape by its originator(s). Such is the case with Detroit’s Assassins. Their debut album War of Aggression is a mix of metal and hardcore, with heaps of pop sensibility thrown in for good measure.

While Assassins don’t break any new musical ground, the band has released a solid effort. Though there are no real standout tracks, the record is extremely cohesive as a whole. Surely it will be well received by its intended demographic.

Rating: 3
(JH Statts)

Barren Harvest - 'Subtle Cruelties' (Handmade Birds)

Barren Harvest - 'Subtle Cruelties'
Handmade Birds Records

Genre: Folk/Ambient
Jessica Way (Worm Ouroboros) and Lenny Smith (Atriarch) as Barren Harvest pair up for 11 tracks of forlorn folk/ambiance with Subtle Cruelties. Both musicians handle vocal duties, sometimes harmonizing in delicate fashion. The tenderness of the vocals extends to the wistful music, which forgoes percussion for synths and guitars. This is easy to get sucked into, for those wanting to be engulfed by quaint compositions and soulful whisperings.

The album is best experienced in one sitting, where the compact interludes fit in with the elegant, yet yearning, tunes. The excitement levels are low, but the dynamic moods thought up by the duo are perfect for a late-night listening session.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Coltsblood - 'Into the Unfathomable Abyss (Candlelight)

Coltsblood - 'Into the Unfathomable Abyss
Candlelight Records

Genre: Doom/Sludge Metal
Coltsblood worship spirit-crushing doom, the kind that is laborious in tempo and gargantuan in scope. The band’s debut gathers up all the despair the trio can muster into the constraints of an hour.

The reverberating beats of intro track “Valhalla Awaits” begin the descent down the abyss, where the light fades from above by the end of the 14 minutes of dissonance within “Beneath Black Skies.” “Blood” is an ill-advised shock of blasting metal, but other pacing deviations on “Ulfheonar” and “Grievous Molestation” work better. Listeners who like their music gloomy and raw will be impressed by Into the Unfathomable Abyss.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Darkentries – 'The Make Believe' (Retro Futurist)

Darkentries – 'The Make Believe'
Retro Futurist Records

Genre: Sludge Metal
Retro Futurist continue to make a name for themselves with their newest release The Make Believe by South Carolina's Darkentries. The band help themselves out with this debut 5-song EP and its devastating combination of sludge, doom and post-rock. Despite only forming in 2012, their sound seems fully realized.

Imagine being locked in a rubber room and your only means of escape is this album. Their sludgy persistence, devious melodies, earth-shattering doom, harrowing blackened vocals and shifting chaos balances the ethereal with the intense to slide within the crack or blow the whole place to pieces. There's nothing make believe about Darkentries.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Die Choking – 'Die Choking' (The Compound)

Die Choking – 'Die Choking'
The Compound

Genre: Grindcore
I hope you've got medical coverage because you're gonna need it after the beating you'll get from Philly grinders Die Choking on their self-titled debut EP. The trio of bassist/vocalist Paul Herzog (ex-Total F--king Destruction), guitarist Jeffrey Daniels (Burden) and drummer Joshua Cohen (Cop Problem) deliver a suffocating 5:45 on five blistering tracks.

The need for speed is insatiable. Any brief dalliances with speeds less than complete-annihilation are quickly wiped away. Die Choking work a fair bit of death metal into the grinder. Screeching guitars, tortured vocals and relentless percussion pummel you into the ground. I wouldn't put them in the same class as Gridlink just yet, but that kind of potential is there.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Frozen Dawn - 'Those Of The Cursed Light' (Xtreem)

Frozen Dawn - 'Those Of The Cursed Light'
Xtreem Music

Genre: Black Metal
Their icy sound might lead you to believe Frozen Dawn are from Scandinavia, but they hail from Madrid, Spain. Those Of The Cursed Light is their second full-length.

Their sound is heavily influenced by Dissection, along with second wave Norwegian bands. They inject plenty of melody alongside the extremity, and slow the tempo down periodically, providing a good amount of variety. It's nothing new or original,but has quality songs and is very well executed.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Geryon – 'Geryon' (Gilead Media)

Geryon – 'Geryon'
Gilead Media

Genre: Experimental Death Metal
Geryon are an experimental death metal duo consisting of Nick McMaster on bass and vocals and Lev Weinstein on drums. They're known for their work in Krallice, but Geryon is a very different beast. McMaster splits his bass signal to three different amps, filling out the full spectrum of sound from bass to middle to treble.

The style is a very mangled conception of the riff, stretching sounds to the breaking point with Weinstein's visceral percussion spurring him on. Add in McMaster's roar and we have a boundary-pushing EP of sinister and challenging death metal not to be overlooked in an easily stagnant genre.

Rating: 4
(Matt Hinch)

Noble Beast - 'Noble Beast' (Tridroid)

Noble Beast - 'Noble Beast'
Tridroid Records

Genre: Power Metal
From the frozen tundra of Minnesota emerge Noble Beast, who blend European and American power metal styles on their self-titled debut album.

Noble Beast has the trappings you'd expect from a power metal album: epic arrangements, sweeping melodies and bold guitars. The vocals are semi-operatic, delivered in a dynamic and sometimes over the top style. There are a lot of layered harmonies, giving it an even bigger sound. There are some really good songs, but a few go over that line between epic and cheesy..

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

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