The reviews are on a 5 star scale.
Apparitions - 'Kiss Me Sleeping' (Indianola)
Formerly known as This Twilight City, they changed their name to Apparitions as their music became heavier and darker. The band describes themselves as post-hardcore/pop metal, but these ears hear a lot of metalcore elements like breakdowns and alternating clean and harsh vocals.
The songs on Kiss Me Sleeping are heavy, but the melodic singing adds a lot of accessibility. Electronic elements help add a little uniqueness, but their sound is still similar to a legion of bands in the genre. However, their songwriting is good, and if their live show can capture the energy and emotion of the album, they'll be on the right track.
Archon – 'Ouroboros Collapsing' (The Path Less Traveled)
Genre: Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal
'Inevitable to end this way/Void/Crushes/Magnificent,' sing vocalists Chris Dialogue and Rachel Brown as they trade clean despair with raspy doom. Five musicians circle the ritual ring of repetitive sorrow alit in the dying embers of tragedy's certainty.
Slow drones and muted drums, baleful bass, guitars and keyboards are intermingled in Electric Wizard haziness. Chrome Waves epic, Archon embrace every bleak shade the mind can imagine. On Ouroboros Collapsing, they bring subtle pastels to their withering onslaught and scars to the listener's psyche.
Athelstan - 'The Ride' (Seven Kingdoms)
Genre: Traditional Metal
Athelstan is half of the British duo Forefather, and The Ride is his debut solo album. Five of the songs are instrumentals, with the other two having vocals from the other half of Forefather, his brother Wulfstan.
The musical style of the album is pretty traditional, with bombastic guitars and a lot of melody. There are some piano sections and progressive influences as well. "Enchantment" (Bewitched)" is very cinematic with some mellow sections. The challenge of so many instrumentals is to hold the listener's interest, and these songs definitely do.
Centurian – 'Contra Rationem' (Listenable)
Genre: Death Metal
What once was, is yet again, or something like that. Dutch death metallers Centurian have been resurrected from the ashes of Nox to release their first album in 12 years with Contra Rationem.
Comparisons to Deicide are inevitable, but Centurian may have the speed advantage as they plunge headlong with visceral brutality and modern technicality into a half hour of light speed riffs and furious percussion. And an unholy duo of growls and shrieks spew forth a barrage of blasphemy. Contra Rationem is an impressive and hard hitting return from these death metal veterans.
Demented - 'Across The Nature's Stillness' (Klonosphere)
Genre: Death Metal
The French band Demented returns with their sophomore effort Across The Nature's Stillness. After a Middle Eastern tinged intro, the death metal kicks in.
Demented follow the genre template pretty closely, and the drums are high in the mix, adding some potency. They change things up enough to keep it interesting, like on "Psycho Pomp," a slower and crushing track. They even bring in some female vocals for the interlude "Innefable Mysticism," which are very effective. The guitar work is good throughout, and it's well done slab of death metal.
Denied - 'Let Them Burn' (Sliptrick)
Genre: Traditional/Power Metal
It has been five years since the last album from Denied, and the Swedish band introduces several new members on Let Them Burn, including vocalist Johan Fahlberg (Jaded Heart). The band mixes several styles into their sound, which is based mainly in traditional and power metal.
Denied's music is melodic, and Fahlberg is a great addition. He's versatile and has a wide range, able to pull off power ballads, mid-tempo songs and even heavier thrashy tracks like "Constant Rage. The dual guitar attack of Andy Carlsson and Chris Vowden shines throughout with potent riffs and soaring solos. Both the songwriting and musicianship on Let Them Burn are excellent.
Genre: Power Metal
Adopting a latter day Judas Priest style of power metal, Argentina’s Helker unleash their latest opus Somewhere in the Circle. It is no surprise that Primal Fear’s Mat Sinner produces and shares co-writing credit as Primal Fear’s sound is all over the record.
This is a solid release for fans of classic straightforward metal. A highlight is the melodic “Begging for Forgiveness,” as ex Judas Priest singer Ripper Owens and Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheepers share lead vocals. One cannot deny the heavy influence of Ronnie James Dio on vocalist Diego Valdez, but Helker could reach greater heights if he used Dio as an inspiration instead of trying to clone his style.
Genre: Progressive Metal
Coverin' Thoughts' is the debut album from the Italian band Karnya. They blend '70s influenced prog rock with modern progressive metal and add a few electronic and classical flourishes. The '70s elements don't make them sound retro at all, more of an homage to their influences.
Vocalist Riccardo Nardocci, who is also the guitarist, is the star of the show. He has a rich tone and sings with emotion without being melodramatic. He also has a powerful set of pipes that shows off a wide range. There are a lot of memorable songs, but a few could use more hooks and be tightened up. Coverin' Thoughts is a promising debut from a talented band.
Maegi - 'Skies Fall' (Kardanadam)
Genre: Power/Progressive Metal
Maegi is the solo project from Turkish singer Oganalp Canatan, vocalist for Dreamtone and Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki's Neverland. Skies Fall is his solo debut, and includes a plethora of guest vocalists.
Canatan is a talented vocalist in his own right, and really ups the ante by bringing in well-known singers like Tim "Ripper" Owens, Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger) and Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle). It makes for a varied album that still has cohesion. A few electronic flourishes help further differentiate Skies Fall from the typical prog/power metal album.
Genre: Stoner Metal
Three years after their last release, Mustasch return with Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven with singer and founder Ralf Gyllenhammar handling the production duties. Already successful in Europe, Mustasch deserve a breakthrough in America on the strength of their new material.
Gyllenhammar steals the spotlight with his chewed on glass perfect vocal performance. Lead single “The Challenger” is epic and a sing along anthem that will have me banging my head for years to come. A perfect blend of Fireball Ministry and Corrosion of Conformity the band nails it. Clocking in at just over 35 minutes, Mustasch make every moment count and don’t overstay their welcome.