The rating is on a 5 star scale.
Acrimonious- 'Sunyata' (Agonia)
Genre: Black Metal
Sunyata is the second album from Greek black metal outfit Acrimonious. Their sound is typical of the black metal genre, though they spice up their songs with acoustics, Gregorian chanting, and keyboards.
Most of these are contained to the final minutes of a few particular tracks, though songs like “Black Kundalini” don’t bother with anything other than tremolo-picked riffs and gravely vocals. The seven and eight-minute lengths drag out the more conventional material, but Acrimonious put in a good performance on Sunyata.
Genre: Progressive/Power Metal
Germany’s Alpha Tiger prove yet again that an album needs to be digested before you can see its true genius. With their second album Beneath The Surface, Alpha Tiger embody the soul of early Fates Warning and Helloween. Singer Stephen Dietrich sounds eerily like a young John Arch.
The band really hit their stride on “Waiting For A Sign” and “Beneath The Surface.” The choruses are infectious and the latter is a melodic rager. It is great to see young guitarists play their instruments; there’s astonishing melodic playing all over this release. The back end isn’t as memorable as the strong first half. At times the songs get a little long and would be better served edited.
Genre: Occult Rock
The difference between Ancient VVisdom's debut A Godlike Inferno and their new album Deathlike is night and day. On their first offering the band lurked in the sinister dusk, but Deathlike signals dawn and a rebirth—the sun rising on past balefulness.
Blending acoustic instrumentation and flashes of hot-wired guitar, Deathlike is less overtly macabre and infernal than the band's debut, but lyrical morbidity still reigns. Tracks like "Death or Victory" and "Far Beyond Good and Evil" retain the band's grimness, and while a prophesying, hypnotic acoustic thrum underscores all, rays of reawakening light shine down.
Anger As Art – 'Hubris Inc.' (Old School Metal)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Featuring former members of Abattoir, Anger As Art bring us Hubris Inc., a ripping thrasher of an album. For the most part, the album is loaded with super catchy riffs (typical thrash) but other than being fun there isn’t much that stands out. The drummer does a good job of keeping time and the vocals are serviceable but well suited to thrash. (Let’s just forget about the Betsy Bitch guest vocals. Please!)
The latter half is a little more dynamic with some decline in overall tempo, yet it still seems overly long. At 55 minutes it shouldn’t, but a little editing wouldn’t hurt.
Attacker - 'Giants Of Canaan' (Metal On Metal)
Genre: Power/Traditional Metal
Originally formed back in the early '80s, Giants Of Canaan is the fifth album from New Jersey's Attacker. It's their first release with new vocalist Bobby "Leatherlungs" Lucas (ex-Seven Witches). Attacker's sound is firmly rooted in the '80s, with blazing guitars and elements of thrash.
Lucas lives to his nickname. His range is amazing, although his style takes some getting used to. There's a lot of Bruce Dickinson influences in his voice and a hint of Dio, although he sometimes takes it even higher, closer to King Diamond territory. The songs are well-constructed, but could use a few more memorable hooks. It's a solid retro power/trad album.
Bloody Hammers – 'Bloody Hammers' (Soulseller)
Genre: Doom Metal
America’s Bloody Hammers are here to put their stamp on the doom genre with the release of their impressive self-titled debut. With a little dab of Witchcraft and Fireball Ministry, Bloody Hammers don’t focus on how slow and heavy they play, but more on their songwriting. Lyrics are dripping in occult themes that suit the atmosphere perfectly.
By incorporating simplistic riff rock accompanied by lead singer Anders Manga’s gifted ability to write an amazing melody, they hit the mark on “Fear No Evil,” “The Witching Hour” and the moody “Say Goodbye To The Sun.” If they can expand their lead guitar playing, their songwriting is so strong that their debut should catapult Bloody Hammers to the top of the genre.
Cortez - 'Phoebus' (Throatruiner)
The Swiss trio Cortez (not to be confused with the Boston stoner band) makes a whole lot of noise for a band with only two instruments. Eschewing a bass player, the band creates a barreling wall of sound propelled by layers of raw, seething guitars, in lockstep with furious bashing and panicked vocals.
The music occasionally subsides, like a retreating wave, only to crash back down on the listener again. With 10 songs, including four that clock in at more than 5 minutes each, Phoebus can be a bit overly long. A little culling would have sharpened it considerably.
(Karen A. Mann)
Endezzma – ‘Erotik Nekrosis’ (Agonia)
Genre: Black Metal
Six years since the release of their E.P. Alone, Norway’s Endezzma finally unleash their full-length debut Erotik Nekrosis. Plagued by constant setbacks including the untimely death of guitarist Trondr Nefas, it has been an uphill battle, but well worth the wait. Their stripped down raw black metal sound is a great throwback to the beginnings of the genre.
Leadoff track “Junkyard Oblivion” is a blistering piece that has a combination of cold riffs, blast beats and throaty raspy vocals. While combing frantic double kicks, tremolo guitars and an eerie piano piece, “Soulcleansing” is a great way to change up the pace. Erotik Nekrosis is a great combination of bringing the essence of early black metal with a modern production.
Genre: Death Metal
Combining melodic death metal with keyboards and orchestration, Finland’s Gloria Morti are ready to unveil their latest bludgeoning Lateral Constraint. The songwriting is filled with crushing riffs, thought provoking lyrics and some remarkable drumming. They are talented enough to stand out in the abundance of death metal bands over-saturating the scene.
Starting with a Slayeresque acoustic intro, “Sleep, Kill, Regress, Follow” comes pummeling in with a killer groove before blasting into an addictive chorus; a true highlight. The orchestration and the tremolo guitars in the chorus of “The First Act” is a moment of death metal perfection. At times the material can be monotonous, but overall this is a solid release from a band that has finally found their sound.
Genre: Death Metal
Much like fellow Polish groups Behemoth and Vader, Hate’s brand of metal falls nicely between the realms of death and black metal, with an onslaught of blastbeats and sinister riffs coating most of the band’s eighth full length, Solarflesh.
Frontman ATF Sinner’s roar is punishing, and while the music admittedly isn’t the most original or diverse, tunes such as “Endless Purity” and the Eastern tinged title track show that Hate, over twenty years into their career, have still know how to serve up an evil record with ease.
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