The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Aeon Zen, Blockheads, Clamfight, Continents, Corsair, Deceptor, Denouncement Pyre, Fall City Fall, Fen, Giant X, Head Of The Demon, Holy Grail, In Solitude, Jorn, Kromosom, Koldbrann, Lightning Swords Of Death, Nervochaos, Nightfall, Pink Cream 69, Rotten Sound, Royal Hunt, Saille, Sammal, Septicflesh, Snakecharmer, Tellus Requiem, Thy Art Is Murder, Unburied, Void Of Sleep, Vomitor, Wartorn and Yayla.
The rating is on a 5 star scale.
Genre: Progressive Metal
British progressive metal act Aeon Zen’s third album Enigma is a broad collective of wonderful melodies and technical death metal that, while lingering with doubt, is intriguing. A peculiar aspect to this record is its lack of a cohesive definition in direction and purpose, yet this record keeps listeners involved.
It is a journey not only through the band’s impressive talent, but it is also into the broad spectrum of a heavy metal band not bound by limitations.
Blockheads – 'This World is Dead' (Relapse)
I’m not supposed to use vulgarity in these write-ups, but it’s really hard to describe how much This World is Dead rips without sounding like a complete potty mouth. This is heavy, unrelenting, and above all, memorable. Blockheads have rung in 2013 with an unforgettable offering of maniacal, crushing grind that sounds like it was forged in an underground doomsday bunker.
Some bands can waste away an entire career without offering anything as devastating as “Follow The Bombs,” just one of 25 tracks on this LP. The world might be dead, but thanks to this veteran French collective, grind is still very much alive.
Clamfight – 'I Versus The Glacier' (The Maple Forum)
Genre: Stoner Metal
I Versus The Glacier from New Jersey’s Clamfight is an honest and organic brew of hard rock and aggressive stoner metal, overall sounding a little further south than Jersey. There’s nothing overly original about them but that’s not the point.
Clamfight is all about the rock. Toe-tappin’, head-bobbin’ rawk. Warm tones and killer riffs combine their myriad influences into their own (fighting invertebrate) animal. The familiarity lends itself to appreciation when the sludgier moments of “Shadow Line” and “Age of Reptiles” etc. accent the blues tinged rock and roll with rough and raw vocals. Let the good times roll.
Continents – 'Idle Hands' (Victory)
It’s no small secret that the hardcore scene has rapidly become one of the most over-saturated heavy music genres, but fresh Welsh five-piece Continents are certainly an act that are head and shoulders above a lot of their contemporaries in almost every department.
With a sound lying between Terror and fellow Brits Architects, Idle Hands is an album packing a healthy amount of everything you’d want in a modern day hardcore record – big beatdowns, macho riffing, hoarse vocals and some pretty epic sections thrown into the mix too. With the right breaks, this band will be huge.
Corsair – 'Corsair' (Shadow Kingdom)
Genre: Progressive/Proto Metal
If anyone remembers the level of grandeur that Thin Lizzy once garnered from legions of fans; you’ll do well to get familiar with Corsair. Their progressive tinged proto-metal has been quite the revelation from Shadow Kingdom records, which seldom puts out new material.
From the vocals to the guitar harmonies, you’ll quickly be entranced by the sounds of the past, made possible by the trio of tracks “Chaemera,” “Falconer” and “Gryphon Wing.” If old school proggy metal is up your alley, you’d be hard pressed to beat Corsair.
Deceptor – 'Chains of Delusion' (Shadow Kingdom)
Genre: Speed Metal
Chains of Delusion, the new EP from UK barnstormers Deceptor will, pardon the expression, melt your face off. This speed metal trio bask in old school feel, both in style and production. The technical mastery of their frenzied gallop compels the listener to raise their fists and bang their greasy mops in unison with metal brethren.
Songs like “Heatseeker” do just that, the intended target being that place in your brain where songs get stuck. Chains of Delusion will have you sewing a Deceptor patch on your jean vest faster than you can say NWOBHM. We need more!
Genre: Black Metal
Australia’s Denouncement Pyre ring in the New Year on just the right foot for Hells Headbangers Records with their second album, Almighty Arcanum. It consists of well played and well written black metal with a clean sound, very catchy guitars with tons of great riffs, and subtle nods to melody.
Varied songwriting separates Denouncement Pyre from the multitude of other bands playing in the same style, and Denouncement Pyre compare favorably to other recent, similar bands such as Weapon.
After a couple of EPs and some road time alongside some fairly big names in the genre, the Canadian band Fall City Fall are unleashing Victus, their full-length debut. They have dual vocalists, but not the typical screaming/melodic singing duo. All the vocals are harsh, but there's a surprising amount of diversity.
Fall City Fall's music is diverse as well, mixing in mathcore to complicate and intensify the sound without losing any of the groove. Victus stands out in a crowded genre, a creative and engaging debut that's worth a listen for hardcore and metalcore fans.
Fen - 'Dustwalker' (Code666)
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
With British black metal acts Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone luxuriating in praise for their 2012 releases, fellow countrymen Fen have stepped up to take the lead in 2013. Fen’s third full-length, Dustwalker, continues their lengthy explorations of misty moors and murky greenwoods.
Acoustic passages, atmospheric whirls and whispering vocals are counterpointed and crushed beneath grotesque riffing and growls from the shadowy heath. Post-black metal, Albion folk and post-rock have strong roles to play throughout, and the magnificently expressive and textural arrangements make the album a richly evocative success. Dustwalker is sure to be an end of year candidate in 2013.
Giant X - 'I' (SPV)
Genre: Traditional Metal/Hard Rock
Giant X is a new band, but its members are veterans. Rock n' Rolf Kasparek and Peter Jordan from Running Wild have teamed up for I. While there are similarities to their other band, Giant X is more stripped down and steeped in influences from the '70s and '80s.
Tracks like "Don't Quit Til Tomorrow" hearken back to the heydey of arena rock, while "Badlands Blues" is a little grittier. "Rough Tide" has a bluesy vibe as well, while other tracks are more in the vein of stripped down '70s rock. Giant X aren't reinventing the wheel, it's just a couple guys enjoying making music paying tribute to their influences, and that attitude makes it enjoyable to listen to as well.
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