The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Alghazanth, Barishi, Besegra, Dragonhammer, Hecate Enthroned, Ingested, Mad Hatter's Den and Valdur.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Alghazanth - ‘The Three-Faced Pilgrim’ (Woodcut)
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Finland’s Alghazanth have been a solid mainstay of the country’s black metal scene for more than twenty years, unabashedly playing symphonic black metal. Not too many bands are playing in this style anymore, as it was largely creatively spent 10 years ago.
Even so, Alghazanth forge ahead on The Three-Faced Pilgrim with a clean sound, fast riffs, blastbeats, and florid keyboards layered throughout. Very slick and thoroughly modern with a crystal clear production, Alghazanth do not bring anything new to the table, but merely offer up a better than average release in the genre.
Barishi - 'Barishi' (Self)
Genre: Progressive Metal
Vermont is not known as a hotbed for heavy metal, but that's where the progressive band Barishi hail from. They have just released their self-titled debut album.
Barishi has some typical prog moments with a '70s vibe, but they also take things to more extreme places. Tortured unclean vocals co-exist peacefully with lengthy mellow instrumental passages. Traditional melodic vocals are also used. A couple of songs have saxophone,which provides even more diversity. There are some lulls, but when they keep the intensity levels up, it's an interesting album.
Besegra - 'Infortunium' (Tridroid)
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
From the Canadian province of Ontario emerge Besegra, a band with a varied approach to extreme music. Their debut EP is Infortunium.
In addition to straight ahead death and thrash metal, Besegra incorporate progressive elements and even some neo-classical. The shift from one style to another can be jarring, and the musicianship of the prog parts doesn't quite measure up to the excellent death/thrash and neo-classical sections.
Dragonhammer - 'The X Experiment' (My Kingdom)
Genre: Power Metal
Dragonhammer's last album was released in 2004, and the Italian band returns with several new members and a new album, The X Experiment. One of the holdovers is vocalist Max Aguzzi.
The album is bombastic and melodic, mixing in progressive elements with power metal. The songs are well-written with big hooks and memorable choruses. Aguzzi has a very expressive voice and an impressive range. The keyboards are a bit cheesy at times, but in this genre that's not unexpected.
Hecate Enthroned - 'Virulent Rapture' (Inverse)
Genre: Black Metal
After a nine year absence, the British black metal band Hecate Enthroned return with a new album Virulent Rapture. Most of the lineup is intact, but they do have a new vocalist, Elliot Beaver.
The music on the album is sometimes punishing and dense, but mostly majestic and atmospheric. Beaver's vocals range from black metal shrieks to death metal growls. His potent vocals along with the interesting arrangements make it a welcome and worthwhile return for Hecate Enthroned.
Ingested – ‘Revered by No-One, Feared By All’ (Siege of Amida)
Genre: Brutal Death Metal/Deathcore
Manchester, England’s brutal deathcore outfit Ingested are back with the new four-track EP Revered by No-One, Feared By All, a continuation of their last album The Surreption that’s short on running-time, but high as a kite on frantic energy and bull-dozing double-kick drums. If the order of the day is spasticity and chugging by the boatload, then consider yourself sated, even if this EP is merely a fast-food fix.
While Ingested will definitely suit fans of a band like Suicide Silence, the group’s passion for tech-death and the occasional slammage makes this for a curiously enjoyable listen, although the screeching vocals, while adding a bit of nuance, still come off as puerile. As far as deathcore and its variants go, Ingested remain as one of the better examples.
Mad Hatter's Den - 'Welcome To The Den' (Inverse)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Welcome To The Den is the full-length debut from the Finnish band Mad Hatter's Den. Their style blends traditional metal with elements of power metal, progressive and even a little thrash.
The songs are very melodic and hooky and include plenty of guitar solos. There's a definite classic metal influence, with keyboards adding a different flavor. Sometimes they provide a '70s vibe, other times a modern power metal atmosphere. Vocalist Taage Laiho has a wide range, and is able to hit King Diamond-esque high notes.
Valdur – 'At War With' (Bloody Mountain)
Genre: Black Metal/Death Metal
Valdur hail from a small town near the Nevada border, entrenched in the Sierra Mountain Range, and eerily close to Death Valley; a place of brutality equal to their musical output. Touted as “the best black metal band in the United States that you've probably never heard of,” Valdur intend to make their presence known with the release of At War With, their striking third full-length album.
At War With consists of 10 tracks of inspired blackened death metal. Songs such as “Death Winds Will Cleanse” and “Hellish Dischord” should appeal to most fans of metal. Great stuff from a very hard working trio.