The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Agrimonia - 'Rites of Separation' (Southern Lord)
Genre: Post Metal/Sludge Metal/Crust
Gothenburg, Sweden's female-fronted Agrimonia have unleashed an epic full-length with Rites of Separation. With only five tracks, it clocks in just shy of a full hour of quality post metal, sludge and crust goodness.
Songs like 'Hunted' and 'The Battle Fought' are crushing and, at times, beautiful. The length of the songs allows the members of Agrimonia to venture into quite a few dark places, and with good results. All five tracks on Rites of Separation are extremely good. The band's musicianship is beyond stellar. The production is great; crisp and loud. Well done.
Genre: Experimental/Post Black Metal
Teethed Glory and Injury from Altar of Plagues is an intensely challenging listen. The unconventional song structures and idiosyncratic riffs deny the listener a chance to get comfortable. Torturous black metal screams and howls wrack the senses from the deepest recesses of hell’s dungeon.
A number of unexpected instruments take the album to atmospheric heights while deep frequency vibrations freeze the nerves, leaving you locked in place and unable to escape the disaffecting nature of the album. Teethed Glory and Injury is far from a casual listen, demanding the utmost attention for maximum gratification. It’s entirely unsettling and one of the most intriguing releases of the year.
Battle Dagorath – 'Cursed Storm of Ages' (De Tenebrarum Principio)
Genre: Black Metal
No war is fought without a great well of ambition, and California’s Battle Dagorath are certainly not lacking. Akin to their two prior full-lengths, Cursed Storm of Ages is a massive 100-minute album of windswept character and bitter black metal that rushes away from civilization, into the wuthering passes, howling its hurt with a maddening, if not completely pitiable, resolve.
Although the ambient sections remain a tad extraneous, the music on hand casts its listener into realms of a cold, convincing scope. If the album is not dragging you through the storm, songs like “Awakened by the Spell of the Wind” will find their ways to enchant you. A marathon of disturbing and rewarding black metal.
The Body - 'Master, We Perish' (At A Loss)
Genre: Doom/Experimental Metal
Providence doomster duo The Body have looked into the abyss, and the abyss has looked back into them, producing the very dark trilogy of songs on their new EP Master, We Perish. Combining experimental electronic sounds with ripping, screeching vocal passages and heavier than thou guitar tones, The Body have released something entirely new, and quite difficult to categorize. This is a good thing.
The songs 'The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash,' 'The Blessed Lay Down And Writhe In Agony,' and 'Worship' are scary enough to read, much less listen to. It’s a pretty horrific musical masterpiece. Again, this is a good thing. Master, We Perish should hold fans' interest until the next full-length comes lurking around the bend.
Bone Sickness - 'Alone in the Grave' (20 Buck Spin)
Genre: Death Metal
Better have a tissue ready to wipe the blood from your ears after listening to the death metal assault laid down on Alone in the Grave. Bone Sickness are treating their sound like the last decade of death metal never happened. Primitive rage, with nods to grindcore, they catapult into each song with the recklessness of a hobo at a buffet.
Though “Scraping the Bones” and “Strange Obsession” have a single-minded speed, “Submit to Decay” and the title track lace the music with mid-tempo grooves. Those enamored with ‘90s death metal will feel comfortable with the punishing antics of Alone in the Grave.
Coliseum - 'Sister Faith' (Temporary Residence)
Genre: Crust/Hardcore Punk
Listening to Sister Faith by Coliseum for the first time is like listening to Fugazi's Repeater or Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart for the first time. There's a passion on this record that has not been present on any of the band's past releases, at least in my opinion. It is almost like Coliseum has finally found the sound they've been searching for; their niche.
Sister Faith is full of catchy, spot-on songwriting from start to finish. The energy level is very high, maybe due in part to the songs' overall brevity; “Love Under Will” is the longest at five minutes, 22 seconds. This is hardcore doused with lots of old-school indie and punk rock. Pretty fabulous.
Genre: Progressive Metal/Heavy Rock
Ghosts of Proxima Centauri is Corsair’s second independent release and is being reissued by their current label Shadow Kingdom Records. The Virginia-based band turned a lot of heads earlier this year when SKR released their self-titled full-length, which was packed with dueling guitar harmonies all wrapped up in an epic ‘70s rock aesthetic.
Naturally the songs aren’t as developed on this six-track EP, but if you’re curious as to what a Dungeons & Dragons-themed Thin Lizzy album might sound like, you might want to give this a shot.
Famous Last Words – 'Two-Faced Charade' (InVogue)
Genre: Post Hardcore/Emocore
Two-Faced Charade is a concept album from Petoskey, Michigan's melodic post-hardcore/emo band Famous Last Words. The story unfolds over a dozen tracks and features a main character called Elise. The entire short story can be downloaded from the band's Facebook page.
The album was produced by Joey Sturgis of the band We Came As Romans, and sounds as good as any other radio-friendly (read: accessible) album out there. Soaring vocals, grand guitar lines, and theatrical keyboard and electronic work will appeal to fans of bands such as Black Veil Brides. Famous Last Words might just hit the big time with Two-Faced Charade.
Freedoms Reign – 'Freedoms Reign' (Cruz Del Sur)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Ex-Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini is back after a long absence fronting his own band Freedoms Reign. Arduini played on two of the most influential power/progressive metal albums: Night on Bröcken and The Spectre Within. Surprisingly, the songs on their eponymous debut are not in the style of his original band, but conjure up a flavor that mixes Black Sabbath and mid-tempo modern rock.
Vocally Arduini shines, as his voice captures that unique Ozzy tone with an added gruffness. “Shadows of a Doubt,” “Up from Down” and “Long Way” all shine with addictive melodies and slick guitar playing. Freedoms Reign sound like a band playing music from their heart rather than trying to fit into a particular scene and that is refreshing.
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Known just as much for their strong political beliefs as their aggressive melodic death metal, Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn’s seventh album Veto shows hints of fantastic modern metal, such as opening track “Godiva” and “Hunters Will Be Hunted”, but a lot of the record is weighed down by repetitive riffs and song structures.
Marcus Bischoff’s larynx shredding screams help bolster the album, but frustratingly for all the German’s fire and passion, Veto is a somewhat bland and forgettable release.
Rating: 2.5 Stars