The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Brutality Will Prevail, Diabulus In Musica, Edge Of Thorns, Ferium, For The Fallen Dreams, Graves At Sea, The Graviators, Invertia, Ormgard, Satyress, Tiger Flowers and Trollfest.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Brutality Will Prevail - 'Suspension Of Consciousness' (Siege Of Amida)
On their fourth album Suspension Of Consciousness, the Welsh hardcore band Brutality Will Prevail have a new vocalist, Louis Gauthier. They don't miss a step, delivering a blistering dose of hardcore with some elements of doom.
Some tracks are short, simple and hard-hitting. Others are more expansive, with more atmosphere and diversity. The tempos range from glacial doom to frantic hardcore. The bass is turned way up in the mix, which though effective, is fatiguing at times. There is ample melody, but as always, brutality has prevailed.
Diabulus In Musica – ‘Argia’ (Napalm)
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Spain’s Diabulus in Musica merge a lot of genres into their songwriting, which makes for a diverse listen. With their third release Argia, the band explores classical, opera and gothic elements. They combine a more traditional beauty and the beast style gothic band like old Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania with the pop elements of Within Temptation.
Vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez has an unbelievable range and is incredibly skilled by utilizing all assets of her voice. At times she is overly operatic, which is a slight distraction from the heavy riffing. The guttural vocals performed by Gorka Elso are a tad thin and don’t add enough depth to the material. The inclusion of some thrash guitar riffs is their best attribute and separates them from their peers.
Edge of Thorns – ‘Insomnia’ (Killer Metal)
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Taking their name from one of Savatage’s brilliant releases, Germany’s Edge of Thorns have much more in common with Running Wild and Grave Digger sonically. On their third release Insomnia, the band blends traditional metal riffs, blazing double bass drumming and outstanding memorable vocal lines to full effect. Seven years between records has the band sounding better than ever.
Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheepers lends his huge pipes to the infectious “Metal Unity,” a roaring anthem that will be incredible on stage. Vocalist Dirk Schmitt utilizes a raspy voice that brings visions of Rock ‘n’ Rolf (Running Wild) and Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger). Lead guitarist Dave Brixius is downright amazing; his use of classically inspired leads is jaw dropping.
Ferium - 'Reflections' (Transcend)
Genre: Death Metal
Reflections is the full-length debut from Israel's Ferium. It's a brutal and punishing effort, chock full of intense guitar. You'll also hear some metalcore elements like pinch harmonics and breakdowns, and some tech death as well.
The album is at its best when it stays away from the 'core elements and sticks to groove-heavy death metal. Vocalist Tiran Ezra utilizes a lot of different deliveries, from guttural growls to throat-shredding screams, all of them aggressive and extreme. The musicianship is first-rate throughout, but the songs are more technically impressive than memorable.
For The Fallen Dreams - 'Heavy Heart' (Rise)
For The Fallen Dreams' latest album Heavy Heart finds the band with some different members. Vocalist Chad Ruhlig, who appeared on their 2008 debut album, returns following the exit of Dylan Richter. Andrew Tkaczyk also returns as a session member.
There's plenty of hard-hitting metalcore with harsh vocals from Ruhlig. Most of the tracks have no clean singing, with only a few having melodic vocals. Those duties are handled by guitarist Jim Hocking, who does a serviceable job. FTFD have had a revolving door lineup, but this one is pretty strong, especially with Ruhlig's return.
Graves at Sea – 'This Place Is Poison' (Eolian Empire)
Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Portland, Oregon’s Graves at Sea are back with the three song, twelve inch EP This Place Is Poison. On the title track, Graves at Sea borrow from the classic Eagles tale “Hotel California,” using the lyrics “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave.” You will not want to check out of their crusty, tormented hotel.
I am a huge fan of 1970s era Black Sabbath, so I was very eager to listen to the covers of “Orchid” & “Lord of This World.” They do not disappoint. “Orchid” is barely recognizable as the acoustic ballad it is, and Graves at Sea turn the original five minute plus version of “Lord of This World” into a thirteen-minute & thirteen-second blackened monster of epic proportions.
The Graviators – ‘Motherload’ (Napalm)
Genre: Stoner Metal
Toking from the same haunted bong as early Black Sabbath, Motherload – the third full-length from Swedish stoner metal sorcerers The Graviators – conjures Iommi’s spirit from ‘71 for 76 minutes of occult rock and stoner doom.
With shades of Iron Butterfly’s hard-edged psychedelia fluttering into the mix – like in the fiery closing epic “The Druid’s Ritual” – the album’s a loving pastiche of vintage rock and metal that ultimately feels even longer than its bloated duration, and could use a trim. But for those seeking riffs and reefer madness, here’s the soundtrack to your wake and bake.
Invertia – 'Another Scheme of the Wicked' (Ohm Resistance)
Genre: Industrial Black Metal
It takes a lot of nerve to turn a genre like black metal inside out. But that's just what Invertia have done with Another Scheme of the Wicked. This industrial black metal duo pulled the guts out of black metal and stuffed them in the robot body of industrial metal. The album is five original tracks and then a remix of each.
The guitars absolutely shred. The drum programming is eye-poppingly insane. The vocals are deathened black, speaking with a social consciousness and a fair bit of sampling. The remixes bear little resemblance to the originals, but even I thought they were cool. (Justin Broadrick does one!) Very brave and very good.
Ormgard – 'Ormblot' (Forever Plagued)
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Forever Plagued Records have licensed Ormblot by Ormgard from Scythe of Death Productions for its first official CD release. Ormgard being the one-man band of a Swede by the name of Orm, one can expect evil, scathing and raw black metal. And that's what you'll get for the most part.
Ormgard use all the requisite speed and tortured vocals to create sinister and searing black metal. However, symphonics course their way through, enhancing the drama with soaring grandiosity. The instrumental tracks are mostly symphonic, but they don't turn the hard-edged listener away. It's a deeply personal sounding album worth checking out if this style interests you.
Satyress - 'Dark Fortune' (Self)
Genre: Doom Metal
There is no shortage of quality bands from Portland, Oregon, and you can add Satyress to the list. Their debut album Dark Fortune blends doom and stoner metal with occult rock.
The songs are mainly uptempo, with fuzzy guitars and a retro vibe. Jamie LaRose is the band's vocalist, and she sings with a dramatic flair that fits the crushing riffage. The album is dark and dense, but also melodic. This genre is growing increasingly crowded, but Satyress have enough distinctive qualities to stand out from that crowd.
Tiger Flowers - 'Dead Hymns' (Melotov)
Genre: Metallic Hardcore
After releasing an EP in 2011, New York City's Tiger Flowers are back with Dead Hymns, their first full-length.
The songs alternate bursts of extremity with mellower sections, then back to the extremity. Songs like "Suicide Giants" have slower tempos, while tracks such as 'Cruisin' Til The Wheels Fall Off' barrel along at a much faster pace. You'll hear elements of bands like Converge in their cathartic delivery and ebb and flow style. From subdued melodies to chaotic noise, this album runs the gamut of styles, many times within the same song.
Trollfest - 'Kaptein Kaos' (Napalm)
Genre: Folk Metal
The long-running Norwegian folk metal band Trollfest return with their sixth studio album Kaptein Kaos. It's a rousing effort, combining guitars with folk instruments, brass and saxophone.
Vocalist Trollmannen has a frantic and raspy style that adds a bit of an edge to the melodic and catchy music. There are some pretty heavy parts that ease into happier sections, and Trollfest even get experimental at times. It's a wild ride from goofy to menacing and everything in between.