The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from AC Angry, Altitudes & Attitude, De La Tierra, Hexis, The Isolation Process, Magenta Harvest, Skull Fist, Suicidal Angels, Waldefluster and We All Die Laughing.
The reviews are on a 5 star scale.
AC Angry – ‘Black Denim’ (Dust on the Tracks)
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
After making waves on the European stage supporting acts like Astral Doors, Uriah Heep and Black Label Society, Saarbrücken, Germany’s AC Angry have released their debut full-length album Black Denim, a record that’s slight on attitude yet surprisingly jacked up on boozy vibes and catchy refrains.
In spite of his occasionally daft lyrics, lead vocalist Alan Costa has a crisp, naturally charming voice, and while Stefan Kuhn’s lead guitar work is smooth, Black Denim seems to be no more than a showcase for Costa and his bad boy bravado. Still, songs like the title track and “It’s Good to Be Bad” should please fans of greased-up power rock.
Altitudes & Attitude – ‘Altitudes & Attitude’ (Megaforce)
Genre: Heavy Metal
The self-titled debut recording of Altitudes & Attitude features legendary bassists Frank Bello and David Ellefson of Anthrax and Megadeth fame. Bello and Ellefson contribute the songwriting and the majority of the guitar and bass playing. The three tracks that comprise their debut EP are diverse and show off the writing range the duo can achieve.
Guitar virtuoso Gus G. makes an appearance and shreds all over the up-tempo “Here Again.” This song represents what Bello and Ellefson achieve in their respective legendary bands. Gus’ guitar work is stunning and a great addition. Bello handles the vocal duties on the recording and despite his lack of range, his performance has an endearing quality. “Tell the World” features a tender heartfelt performance that builds into an addictive chorus.
De La Tierra - 'De La Tierra' (Roadrunner)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Da La Tierra are a Latin American supergroup of sorts, with members including Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser, vocalist Andrés Giménez (ex- A.N.I.M.A.L.), bassist Sr. Flavio (Los Fabulosos Cadillacs) and drummer Alex González (Maná).
Their self-titled debut covers a range of genres, but the one constant is Kisser's excellent riffs. You'll hear elements of thrash, groove metal, traditional metal and even a little doom and 'core. The lyrics are in Spanish and Portuguese, giving it an even more distinct flavor. It's heavy and melodic, a diverse and intriguing debut.
Hexis – 'Abalam' (Halo of Flies)
Genre: Black Metal
Welcome to the soundtrack to your annihilation. Abalam from Copenhagen's Hexis flattens and scorches the earth with the power of a nuclear warhead, yet it's completely devoid of light. It's an all-consuming, swirling vortex of darkness and depravity laying waste to everything sane.
The foul stench of charred and decaying flesh hangs heavy in the air creating and atmosphere of eternal death under the most unsettling of circumstances. Abalam is both cataclysmic and claustrophobic. Groaning feedback and searing guitars hold court with battering percussion and spectacularly evil vocals to create a massive and intense apocalypse of defilement. Everything is pain and death, and it's terrifyingly pleasurable.
The Isolation Process - 'The Isolation Process' (Version Studio)
Genre: Sludge/Alternative Metal
An eclectic mashing of sludge, alternative, and progressive metal makes up The Isolation Process’ eponymous first effort. A trio from Sweden, the band has the appropriate amount of harmony and heaviness working with each other. The first handful of songs are top notch, with catchy riffs dominating “Visions” and a moody aura contained within “Underneath It All.”
The album trails off in its last few songs, save for the chunky guitar in the otherwise-banal closer “Nothing to Collect.” This self-titled debut has its moments, especially in the excellent first half, but doesn’t finish up in the same exciting fashion.
Magenta Harvest – ‘Volatile Waters’ (Inverse)
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
I both admire and pity bands that still try to make a splash in the ‘scene’ when melodic death metal is their main weapon of choice. Sure, this particular subgenre has proven itself to be remarkably flexible but the caveat here is that it should be left in the hands of capable (i.e. forward-thinking) musicians. Failing that you get The Jester Race #2487302012. Fortunately for us, Magenta Harvest’s debut proper Volatile Waters largely bucks this trend.
It is standard melo-death, but it doesn’t feel like it. Surprisingly heavy, imbued with a few choice vocal harmonies and a few tasty grooves, these guys can give Mors Principium Est a run for their money in the darker melo-death sweepstakes. Choice cuts: the swirling “Spawn of Neglect” and hypnotic dirge of “Carrion of Men”.
Skull Fist - 'Chasing The Dream' (NoiseArt)
Genre: Traditional Metal
The recording of Skull Fist's sophomore album was delayed a few months for a pretty metal reason: vocalist Jackie Slaughter broke his neck while skateboarding. He is healed, and the Canadian band's latest effort Chasing The Dream has been unleashed.
It's a retro-sounding album, chock full of big hooks and frequent guitar solos. Most of the material is arena ready, with singalong choruses and memorable melodies. Slaughter has a wide vocal range and is able to hit some really high notes. His high notes actually sound similar to another guy named Slaughter, Mark Slaughter.
Suicidal Angels - 'Divide and Conquer' (NoiseArt)
Genre: Thrash Metal
Greek re-thrashers Suicidal Angels return with their fifth full-length, Divide and Conquer. Even though they are from Greece, their sound is straight out of the Bay Area circa the 1980s.
Their sound is heavily influenced by bands like Slayer, Exodus and Metallica. Even though there's not a lot of originality, the album is well-written and the songs are heavy and well-written. It has both short slabs of galloping thrash and more epic and varied songs.
Waldgeflüster - 'Meine Fesseln' (Bindrune)
Genre: Black Metal
Waldgeflüster’s third album is packed with the lengthy, adventurous black metal the band has been composing since their inception. The typical tremolo-picked massacre is fleshed out with subtle acoustic splendor. There’s a smattering of Agalloch and early Alcest in the songwriting, but it’s not blatant or outright.
Though Meine Fesseln is over an hour long, it doesn’t feel like a burden to get through. A collection of guest musicians, including Panopticon’s Austin Lunn and Vukari’s Johan Becker, enhance the material. A few songs in the middle drag, but Meine Fesseln overcomes that and acts as a strong start to the new year for those who love unconventional black metal.
We All Die (Laughing) - 'Thoughtscanning' (Kaotoxin)
Genre: Extreme Progressive Metal
Thoughtscanning is an intriguing bouillabaisse of genres melting one into another over the course of what is essentially a 33 minute fever dream. We All Die (Laughing), the French-Bulgarian duo of Déhà and Arno Strobl, have joined their obscure backgrounds and wicked intelligence to handcraft a premium experience for the adventurous. Every tool imaginable has gone into their fiery treatise on depression and self-loathing.
A clarinet appears from nowhere, David Gilmour twinned tablature and gigantic layers of chorused French guys glue together the pieces that may have been messy needlework without their vision. It’s Opeth, Pink Floyd, Anathema, Insomnium and a vile hatred of Christmas rolled into a black and blue marble of emotion.