The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Abysmal Torment, Anti-Mortem, Archspire, At Radiogast's Gates, Beneath, Cainan Dawn, Centurion, Cloak Of Altering, Coldwar, Dead In The Manger, Empty, Existance, Exorcism, Floor, Forest of Tygers, Fu Manchu, Ikillya, Infestus, Kublai Khan, Lake of Tears, Manilla Road, Martyr Defiled, Mekong Delta, Portrait, Schammasch, So Hideous and Twitch of the Death Nerve.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Abysmal Torment - ‘Cultivate The Apostate’ (Willowtip)
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
Malta’s Abysmal Torment have taken huge strides over their last few albums with increasing technicality, crisp production, and spot on musicianship. Cultivate The Apostate sees Abysmal Torment fully realizing their potential with a top notch brutal death metal album.
Coming across as a collision between Cannibal Corpse and, say, Aborted, Abysmal Torment play fast, technical brutal death metal with tempo changes, songwriting variation, and the occasional breakdown. Unlike Aborted, however, Abysmal Torment deliver deep seated vocals and wisely avoid any flirtations with deathcore.
Anti-Mortem - 'New Southern' (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Hailing from the prairies of Oklahoma, Anti-Mortem bring elements of hard rock, heavy metal and southern groove to their debut album New Southern.
The songs are heavy, yet catchy with giant riffs and memorable choruses. Vocalist Larado Reno has a rasp in his voice and a swagger in his style. The band sounds like they are influenced by everybody from Pantera to Lynyrd Skynyrd to their fellow Oklahomans Hinder. They blend modern and classic sounds into a concoction that should appeal to a wide range of heavy metal and hard rock fans.
Archspire – 'The Lucid Collective' (Season of Mist)
Genre: Technical Death Metal
I hope you've got a bib handy because The Lucid Collective is a face-melter. The second full-length from these Vancouver extreme-ophiles is jam packed with the kind of technicality dreams are made of. Sometimes technicality can run away with a band, but Archspire doesn't sacrifice songwriting in the slightest.
Archspire control the chaos and craft tunes for the everyman, not just mega-musicians. There's brutality and slam elements forced through sickeningly salacious shred and machine gun percussion. The vocals keep up the pace with a union of Nathan Explosion, Corpsegrinder and Travis Ryan. It'll knock you off your chair, not bore you into walking away from it. The production is outstanding, capturing and cultivating every razor sharp detail.
At Radogost's Gates - 'Reflection of a Lunar Eclipse...' (HPGD)
Genre: Black/Death Metal
They have been around for more than a decade, but Reflection of a Lunar Eclipse in the Stained Mirror of Time is the Serbian band At Radogost's Gates' first album.
It's a diverse blackened death metal album. Some tracks are blast beat driven and fast, emphasizing the black metal side of their sound. Other songs are slower and more grandiose with death metal elements at the forefront. 'In Hourglass Shaped Hands" is a standout track, mellow and ballad-like at times, intense and extreme at others. The songwriting is excellent throughout, and they do a nice job of mixing styles and tempos.
Beneath - 'The Barren Throne’ (Unique Leader)
Genre: Death Metal
Unique Leader Records specializes in brutal death metal, and Iceland’s Beneath are an easy fit for the label’s roster. The Barren Throne, their second full-length album, is completely unoriginal in just about every way, though, from the music, to the cover art by Raymond Swanland, to the band logo, you name it.
But, Beneath know their way around the genre with lots of fast riffs, growled vocals, all out blasts, etc. The musicianship is good and hints of progressive influences and melody make a few appearances, particularly deep in the album, with some slower passages and acoustical guitar. The result is a good, if rather typical, death metal album.
Cainan Dawn - 'Thavmial' (Osmose)
Genre: Black Metal
They are from France, but Cainan Dawn have spent a lot of time listening to Scandanavian second wave black metal bands. That's evident in the sound of their second album Thavmial.
Oppressive blastbeats and somber atmosphere periodically relents for brief moments of near ambiance, before the extremity resumes. The songs are long, generally ranging from 7 to 10 minutes. That leaves room for plenty of instrumental sections punctuated by vocals deep in the mix. It's nothing new or original, but Cainan Dawn execute the genre playbook effectively.
Centurian - ‘Of Purest Fire’ and ‘Choronzonic Chaos Gods’ (Hells Headbangers)
Genre: Death Metal
The Netherlands’ Centurian sound nothing like their Continental death metal brethren. Although sharing members with Severe Torture, Centurian sound as if they crawled out of the early South American scene with a messy form of death metal similar to that of Brazilian bands such as Abhorrence, Rebaelliun, and even early Krisiun.
Fast but sort of sloppy riffing, percussion somewhere between sloppy and technical, and vocals taken from Glen Benton’s playbook are what you get from Centurian. Hells Headbangers Records is reissuing Centurian’s eight song demo Of Purest Fire and the first official full-length album, Choronzonic Chaos Gods, in various formats. Get on board.
Cloak Of Altering – 'Plague Beasts' (Crucial Blast)
Genre: Industrial Black Metal
Plague Beasts, the blistering third full-length from Cloak Of Altering, is an all-out assault on the senses. It is the aural equivalent of being electrocuted in a bathtub, or sliding down a rope made of razor blades. It is industrial black metal at its bleakest. Pure corrosion. Necro-industrial madness.
The dark genius behind the music is Dutch noisemaker Maurice de Jong, or Mories, as he is more widely known. He's been involved with such projects as Gnaw Their Tongues, Mors Sonat, Seriom, and more. Plague Beasts is his best personal work to date,.his blackened masterpiece. Pick it up. Your ears will not thank you.
Coldwar – ‘Pantheist’ (Candlelight)
Genre: Death Metal/Hardcore
Cited as a death metal band, Dublin’s Coldwar may have more in common with the latest metal-infused hardcore pedigree roaming the underground. The quintet play a burly, rhythmically fired-up brand of death not too distant from bands like Pro-Pain or even Kataklysm. Their fourth LP, Pantheist, is a bit long, yet surprisingly impactful.
Driven by themes normally associated with black metal or grindcore, vocalist Trevor Mclave’s gravelly roars spew enmity, and amid all the crunching riffs, Coldwar wisely add bits of melody and varying grades of tempo. Mclave’s misconstrued tats will probably earn this album a bit of scorn, but the open-minded will find a different take on death that might inject some life into their stereos.
Dead in the Manger – 'Transience' (20 Buck Spin)
Genre: Grind/Black Metal
The mysterious entities known as Dead in the Manger have pulled from the ether six tracks of atmospheric blackened grind for their debut MLP Transience. No names. No faces. No where. Only the reflections of their souls rippling through the space between.
Ethereal and depressive atmospherics surround the sinister intent of their black/grind hybrid. Racing riffs and piercing tremolos compete with inhuman (nonhuman?) percussion and terrifying black metal shrieks. Dead in the Manger achieve their goal of unseating the listener from their comfort into the pit of madness and despair. Who's to blame for this harrowing slice of ill will we do not know, but the prospect of a full-length is cause for trepidation. You have been warned.