The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Formerly This Twilight City, the band now known as Apparitions release their debut album Kiss Me Sleeping. They rework some older material along with writing some new stuff.
The band describes themselves as "pop metal," but it's really just metalcore and post-hardcore with an industrial tinge. The songs have a lot of electronic elements and pop melodies along with screaming vocals, more aggressive sections and breakdowns. The melodic vocals are very earnest, fairly high pitched and heavily processed. There are some interesting moments, but nothing new or groundbreaking.
Arkona – 'Decade of Glory' (Napalm)
Genre: Pagan/Folk Metal
Fans of pagan and folk metal should find much vodka-induced enjoyment with Decade of Glory, a massive live album by Russia’s Arkona that harbors nearly three hours of music. Recorded at the P!PLE concert hall in Moscow, and accompanied by a choir, a string quartet, and other guest vocalists, the band scorches through 31 songs in grand and energetic fashion, rearing a fulsome sound that accentuates Arkona’s knack for beauty and power.
With such a mammoth collection of songs, Decade of Glory remains a bit overwhelming. Less a welcome mat for folk/pagan greenhorns, the album operates more as a stupendous gift to their devotees where everything from Masha Arkhipova’s diverse vocals to the band’s trademark eclecticism, merges lavishly.
Birth A.D. – 'I Blame You' (Unspeakable Axe)
Genre: Punk Metal
This Austin trio touts its roots in three letter thrashers like D.R.I, S.O.D, C.O.C, but truth be told this album is distilled punk, recorded in the tradition of ‘throw the sliders up, give us a couple mikes and don’t twiddle any of them knobs.’
Sociopathic and served up in hateful scoops under three minutes, except the mega-opus “Burn LA,” at over 4 minutes, the thrash makes sporadic flashes through the monotone three chord compositions and snarling puke-on-you punkiness. Birth A.D. hates L.A. and everyone else, too.
Blaak Heat Sujaa - 'The Edge of an Era' (Tee Pee)
Genre: Stoner Metal
The French trio Blaak Heat Sujaa now calls Los Angeles home and it's obvious the laid-back vibe of California has rubbed off on their new album The Edge of an Era. The slam poetry of the opening track is unexpected and abrasive compared to what follows, but ultimately it works.
Eastern-influenced melodies swirl around Kyussian tones like tendrils of smoke from burning incense. The comparisons to OM don't end there as circular riffs and half-chanted vocals amplify the psychedelics of their desert rock groove. The sun is hot but the music is chill, man. For fans of desert/stoner rock, I can't recommend this enough.
Code of Silence – 'Dark Skies Over Babylon' (Mausoleum)
Genre: Melodic Metal
Code of Silence are the pet project of Eden’s Curse producer Paul Logue, who also co-writes every song on their debut Dark Skies Over Babylon. He meticulously chose the musicians he wanted to develop his vision, a concept record based on the legendary tales of the Knights Templar.
Guitar player Ben Randall is jaw dropping. His acrobatic shredding leads are intense and are an absolute highlight on the record. Singer Gus Monsanto of Adagio and Revolution Renaissance fame does an excellent job combining hard rock sensibilities with some over the top power metal vocals. At times the songwriting gets a little sappy, but they nail it on the moody title track and the amazing shredfest “Knights of the Crimson Cross.”
Deathchain - 'Ritual Death Metal' (Svart)
Genre: Death Metal
Finland’s Deathchain are not quite what they appear to be at first glance. One look at their moniker (and the fact that each of their albums features either the word ‘dead or ‘death’ in the title), and you’d think to yourself, “Straightforward death metal.” That may have been true on earlier albums, but Ritual Death Metal is a different animal.
Deathchain employ a rather strange amalgam of semi-progressive yet brutal death metal intertwined with angular riffing, weird time changes, and even quiet moments of melody. The result is original, but less than compelling due to songwriting that doesn’t quite live up to the band’s own lofty expectations.
Genre: Heavy Rock/Metal
Fate Is Your Muse from Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil To Pay is a raucous affair. They take the groove and attitude of solid, ballsy hard rock and amp it up a little, adding crunchier guitars and a weightier low end. Steve Janiak's vocals sound much like Todd Lewis of the Toadies but Janiak has more rasp and clenched-fist grit.
FIYM serves up a bevy of ridiculously catchy licks over a multitude of lyrical topics far headier than the bikers, babes, and beers you'd expect. (Although I'm sure there were plenty of beers to be had.) Bottom line: You'd have to be in a coma not to toe-tap and head-nod with a foolish grin along with Devil To Pay.
Enabler - 'Shift of Redemption' (Think Fast!)
In the name of all the deities, real or imagined, above and below, why did I overlook Enabler until now? If last year’s All Hail The Void is half as good as their new EP Shift of Redemption, I did myself a serious disservice. Same goes for any fan of crunchy, in-your-face metallic hardcore with surprising depth.
The first three tracks lay down an aural battering of Swe-death tonality, visceral percussion and the kind of hardcore scream that starts riots. On “Fallselflessly,” the final track, Enabler opt for a slow-grind approach, showcasing brutal bass before morphing into a more upbeat, Torche-esque version of themselves. Don’t wait any longer!
Genre: Fantasy Power Metal
Gloryhammer are the new side project from Christopher Bowes of Alestorm fame. Their debut album Tales from the Kingdom of Fife is a fantasy concept story about wizards’ dragons in an alternate medieval Scotland. Reminiscent of early Rhapsody, the songwriting is bombastic, grandiose and epic. Fans of fantastical power metal should eat this up.
The musicianship is outstanding as there are sweeping guitar solos, pummeling double bass drumming and operatic vocals. This is perfected in the ten-minute plus “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder.” Vocalist Thomas Winkler fits the music perfectly and takes you into the story. At times a tad formulaic, this is a solid debut that is carried by excellent musicianship and powerful vocals.
Genre: Instrumental Metal
Members of the Polish blues band Krzak teamed up with members of the metal band Sepsis to form the unique new group Krzak Experience. It's an instrumental album combining elements of both bands.
The songs are definitely metal at their core, but have a lot of bluesy guitar. In addition, they incorporate a violin as the main melody. That makes Krzak Experience's self-titled debut much more distinctive than the average instrumental band. The violin and guitar are the focal point, trading off melodies and licks, sometimes harmonizing and other times soloing. There is some fatigue, but they do a pretty good job of maintaining interest and changing things up.