Genre: Melodic Doom Metal
Formed in 1995 after a (temporary) break-up of Katatonia, Sweden's October Tide has released a dark, yet strangely accessible fourth full-length record with Tunnel Of No Light. This type of metal makes me think of ancient times. Don't ask me why. Maybe it is the mid-tempo chugging of the guitars, or maybe the majestic-sounding riffs and harmonies. It's the music, period.
Every sound and note is in its place. Nothing seems forced, except for the vocals. They are throat-shreddingly extreme with no clean singing. The album has great production as well. Tunnel Of No Light is a very good contemporary doom and gloom record. It’s most definitely one of the better of the genre.
Genre: Black Metal/Speed Metal
Pyrithion puts the fun back into suffering with The Burden of Sorrow. A veritable super trio, including As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis and Allegaeon guitarist Ryan Glisan, Pyrithion debut with this three song elongated single. Splashes of technical brilliance and toe-tapping hammer rhythms pour across tasty tracks centered on hatred and the victimization of the innocent.
“The Invention of Hatred” glimmers with breathless spite as the guitars swell and the vocals build their bile. “Rest in the Arms of Paralyzed Beast” gets downright playful but inevitably unloads its high-capacity magazine into the center mass of those head banging to the beat.
Reign of the Architect – 'Rise' (Pitch Black)
Genre: Symphonic Progressive Metal
Part one of a two-part concept dealing with the remnants of internal creation and destruction is the theme behind Reign of the Architect’s debut release Rise. Fifteen tracks are spread out over three different acts. At over an hour the record is bloated and overly long; they should have considered making the concept a trilogy of releases. It is a listen that demands your attention and focus.
The musicianship is outstanding and the compositions are layered and complex. Rise touches on a lot of different aspects, like on the beautiful ballad “Hymn to Loneliness,” death metal vocal styling’s in “Distant Similarities” and the progressive “Hopeless War.” There is so much talent on the record, but fifteen songs is too hard to digest.
Revel In Flesh – 'Manifested Darkness' (FDA Rekotz)
Genre: Death Metal
Manifested Darkness by Germany’s Revel In Flesh is one fierce barnstormer of an album. Heavily steeped in a classic Swedish death metal sound, the attack is unforgiving. Steamrolling the listener under their old-school tone and vocal delivery, Revel In Flesh revel in a dark and dense atmosphere.
Whether going full speed or pounding out huge chords at a variance of slower paces, Manifested Darkness is infused with the power inherent in this style. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before but that doesn’t mean it’s not immensely enjoyable when done right. And Revel In Flesh are definitely doing it right.
Senseless Beauty - 'The Belonging Endeavor' (Standby)
Genre: Metalcore/Post Hardcore
Hailing from Mason City, Iowa, Senseless Beauty return with The Belonging Endeavor, their third full-length. Their style is melodic, but there's also plenty of heaviness and harsh vocals.
The songwriting is good, with memorable hooks and clean singing to balance the metallic elements. Senseless Beauty's lyrics are positive and uplifting without being too trite or preachy. They periodically lean on metalcore cliches like breakdowns, which I suppose are helpful in a live setting, but the album is better when they stretch their creativity, such as "The Adulterer."
Skid Row - 'United World Rebellion: Chapter One' (MRI)
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
It's hard to believe, but Johnny Solinger has been the singer for Skid Row for about 14 years now, several years longer than Sebastian Bach was. They return with the EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One, their first new material in seven years.
Skid Row's sound in 2013 is pretty similar to their sound back in the day. The songs are melodic, but also heavy. Axemen Snake Sabo and Scotti Hill can still shred, and Solinger's pipes are more than adequate. The five songs on the EP are mostly hard rockers, with the requisite power ballad "This Is Killing Me." I have always thought Skid Row (with and without Bach) never got their due, and it's good to hear they are still around and making quality music.
Smohalla/Omega Centauri - 'Tellur - Epitome' Split (Duplicate)
Genre: Black Metal
The French avant-garde black metal band Smohalla teams up with the atmospheric Belgian/British duo Omega Centauri. Smoholla kicks off the proceedings and handle the first four songs, with Omega Centauri doing the final three tracks.
Smohalla plays music that is sometimes frenzied and ever-changing, but can also throw a curveball with songs like the mellow "O Deluge." No matter the tempo, it's always very creative. Omega Centauri are also very diverse, blending old school black metal with more ambient and atmospheric sections. It's an excellent pairing, although the closing 20 minute track with almost 10 minutes of silence tips is a bit much. I give Smohalla 4 stars and Omega Centauri 3.
This Misery Garden – 'Cornerstone' (Season of Mist)
Genre: Alternative Metal
A perfect hybrid of modern rock and the darker side of latter day Katatonia, Sweden’s This Misery Garden unveil their sophomore release Cornerstone. Also including a touch of Only Living Witness in their sound, the songwriting is the construction of bashing out mid tempo grooves. Another fantastic production by the in demand Jens Bogren elevates the record to another level.
Every song paints the perfect landscape of one drifting away on storm clouds. The choruses are huge and the songwriting is dynamic. The material is nurtured and care has been taken to push the songwriting envelope. The band is at its best on the moody “Siamese Again.” This Misery Garden has released a deep record that gets better with each listen.
Todtgelichter – 'Apnoe' (Code 666)
Genre: Post Metal
Moving away from traditional black metal, Germany’s Todtgelichter let loose their fourth album Apnoe. A haunting landscape of gorgeous melodies, dissonant guitar parts and thought provoking songwriting solidifies the band’s best release of their career. Combining a male and female vocal team, the dynamic between singers Chris and Marta is unbelievable. Chris utilizes clean vocals and harsh screams to add additional layers.
Marta’s voice is a cross between Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering) and Heather Thompson (Tapping The Vein). Todtgelichter hit their apex on opening crusher “Embers,” the dynamic “Lights of Highways” and the esoteric “Soil.” The chorus is to die for. Apnoe is full of melody and addictive, the biggest surprise so far of 2013 and highly recommended.
Tombstone Highway - 'Ruralizer' (Agonia)
Genre: Hard Rock/Metal
You might believe that Italy’s Tombstone Highway are straight out of New Orleans, Louisiana, such is the blend of Deliverance-era Corrosion of Conformity and Down that the band deal on their debut, Ruralizer.
Tombstone Highway also work a righteous cover of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” into the sequencing and commendably, this classic doesn’t outshine the band’s burly grooves that continuously tussle with H.M. Outlaw’s rawhide-rough vocals during standouts “Graveyard Blues,” “Ruralizer” and “Hangman’s Friend.” It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but if you enjoy hot-boxing yourself into the Sabbathian sounds of the Bayou, Ruralizer should catch your bloodshot eye.