Nader Sadek – 'Living Flesh' (Self)
Genre: Death Metal
Living Flesh captures the inaugural performance of Nader Sadek’s In the Flesh project. It features a number of death/black metal veterans, most notably Cryptopsy’s Flo Mournier on drums.
The set consists of the whole of In the Flesh’s content performed in (almost) reverse order, which means the amazing “Nigredo in Necromance” is played near the start of the set. That track alone is worth the price of admission. It’s transcendent. The spectacular performance is masterfully translated to both the album and DVD, especially Mournier’s brilliant drum solo. After seeing/hearing Living Flesh, you’ll wish you were there.
Old Wounds – 'From Where We Came Is Where We'll Rest' (Glory Kid)
The debut full-length by Old Wounds, From Where We Came Is Where We'll Rest is defined by both its chaos and sense of world-weariness. Off-kilter and encumbered, their noisy, angular hardcore is full of sharp edges and very little mercy. From Where We Come… is occasionally bleak in tone but never helpless, preferring frantic resistance and fury, a moltov cocktail lobbed into an army of riot cops.
It is defined by a sense of imbalance, always falling over itself and seeming to come undone The hooks get their barbs in deep in the muscle and drag the listener along. Somewhere between concise and cleaving, this record is a solid debut from a band obviously hungry and out for blood.
The Phantom Carriage – 'Falls' (Throatruiner)
Genre: Black Metal/Hardcore
Falls is the second album from French group The Phantom Carriage. On Falls, we find an interesting mix of modern black metal and hardcore. Two worlds one would not necessarily think of together, yet TPC manage to do just that with some proficiency. However, the blend is not exactly smooth.
When in black metal mode, the band is actually quite good (channeling a Krallice vibe) and likewise when bruising the listener with hardcore bravado. But the transitions between the two are very abrupt at times and can even be messy (“Mistake & Fixes”). I say drop the hardcore and they may have something.
Pristina - 'Hopeless Godless' (The Path Less Traveled)
With a title like Hopeless Godless you know you're probably not in for a shiny, happy album. The Connecticut band Pristina's second full-length is indeed laden with darkness and despair.
Brendan Kane Duff's anguished vocals are front and center. They are mostly unintelligible, but his emotions clearly convey the song's direction. Pristina's relentless sound eases up briefly on songs like "The Immoralist" before returning to a dense, pummeling metallic hardcore. It's an acquired taste, but fans of bands like Converge should dig it.
Red Rose - 'On The Cusp Of Change' (Scarlet)
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
For their sophomore album, the Israeli band Red Rose brings aboard Orphaned Land drummer Matan Shmuely. On The Cusp Of Change was produced by Tommy Hansen, who has worked with power metal stalwarts such as Helloween and Jorn.
Keyboards provide a variety of different atmospheres throughout the album, from Middle Eastern to jazzy to symphonic. There's a lot of diversity on the album, although it tends to get a bit cheesy and over the top in places, a common pitfall in the genre. The musicianship is excellent, and there's no doubting the conviction and passion of this power/prog band, it just needs to harnessed a bit better.
Ruins - 'Place Of No Pity' (Listenable)
Genre: Black Metal
Speed and the ever ominous intensity of rapid fire drumming and smoked throat vocals are the signature of Place of No Pity, the latest offering from Tasmania’s Ruins. Moments of punk influence creep in, with foreboding melodies, yet the overwhelming redundancy of the songwriting makes this record a decent, yet onerous listen.
The playback factor is missing, as is the ebb and flow of great records. Strength is found in the outstanding musical execution that no doubt will pique an interest in future releases from this band. For now, though, Place of No Pity is a record that is too much of a ‘play it safe’ release.
A Story of Rats - 'Vastness & The Inverse' (Trilinguistic Other)
Atriarch's Garek Druss and friends walk the funeral march with synth beds infinitely deep, disturbingly slow tom beats, spectral voices floating through the gothic murk as if driven by the chill slipping through the baubles of ancient chandeliers.
Only two tracks populate this 38 minute long LP, but A Story Of Rats probe the invisible depths of the spare, the unsung and the microtonically inferred. In these two soundscapes, despair sings its lullabies. Its voice is as liberating as a suicide in the rain.
Genre: Black Metal
At first listen Switzerland’s Vuyvr seem like a straightforward black metal band, but when the layers are peeled back there’s a lot more that is uncovered. Touching on post rock and adding thick as tar riffs to the standard blast beats and tremolo picked riffs gives their debut release Eiskalt a refreshing take on black metal.
Eiskalt grows stronger as it goes on. Vuyvr break down the listener and you start to understand the subtle nuances that they explore. In fact, the band thrives more when they shift away from the formulaic black metal sound and expand their horizons. It’s a solid debut and if they utilize their strengths and move away from the traditional black metal sound the follow up will be superior.
Within The Ruins - 'Elite' (eOne/Good Fight)
Genre: Progressive Deathcore
One of the more unique and interesting acts in the deathcore sub-genre, Within The Ruins’ third full length Elite can be a bit repetitive at times, but guitarist Joe Cocchi and drummer Kevin McGuill are masters of their respective instruments.
The musicians keep things interesting by packing the album with harmony filled licks and impressive fills and grooves, and while there are a few nondescript tracks on the release, tunes such as “Feeding Frenzy” and “Absolute Hell” make Elite a strong record.