Reviews of the latest heavy metal albums, including releases from Andy Winter, Boarders, Chariots Of The Gods, Circle II Circle, Deep Purple, Dreamshade, Gruesome Stuff Relish, The Resistance, Resolution 15, Rivera/Bomma, Shakra and Vorum.
The rating is on a 5 star scale.
Andy Winter is the keyboardist for several groups including Winds and Sculptured. On Incomprehensible he has put together an all-star lineup of vocalists including John Haugm (Agalloch), Lars Nedland (Borknagar), Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom), Heidi S. Tveitan (Star Of Ash) and many others.
Even with all the different vocalists, the songs on Incompehensible flow together well. They have some metal elements, but are more in the rock/prog/post-metal ballpark, although many other genres are mixed in as well. It's sometimes experimental, other times traditional, but always compelling and interesting.
Boarders - 'R-Existence' (Roxx)
Genre: Thrash Metal
In addition to releasing their own music, the Italian band Boarders are also a Megadeth tribute band. And although R-Existence is thrash, don't expect a Megadeth clone. While vocalist Egidio Casati can sound like Mustaine at times, he has a wide vocal range and busts out some Halford-like falsetto from time to time.
While thrash is the dominant genre, R-Existence also has progressive influences along with plenty of melody and groove. Originally self-released last year, the Roxx Records edition has several bonus tracks. Fans of everyone from Megadeth to Voivod to Dream Theater will find common ground on this album.
Chariots Of The Gods - 'Tides Of War'
Genre: Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
Chariots Of The Gods have been around for a few years, and the Canadians are now releasing their full-length debut. Tides Of War combines thrash riffs with melodic death metal. Their music is very melodic, but the harsh vocals add edge and aggression.
The musicianship is first-rate, with a dual-guitar attack that is extensively showcased with plenty of solos. The production from Glen Robinson (Queensryche, Annihilator) is also excellent. Chariots Of The Gods are a band with a lot of promise, and their debut will certainly appeal to thrash and melodic death metal fans.
Genre: Power Metal
With five albums behind them, Circle II Circle get back to basic beer-commercial power metal while adding alt-rock experimentation. The first half of Seasons Will Fail finds Circle II Circle reasserting their heavy musculature, yet leaves only a scant memory that "Diamond Blade" wasn't half bad.
Zak Stevens uncorks a whopping vocal performance on "End of Emotion." The song and the vocal are the highlights of the album. Stevens is consistently good throughout and the band does it best with mediocre material.
Genre: Hard Rock
They may not be technically metal, but Deep Purple helped spawn the genre. If you're interested in metal history, you must have some Deep Purple in your collection. Live In Paris 1975 sounds surprisingly good for an album recorded almost 40 years ago. It has been remastered and remixed, giving the sound all the heft and power it delivered to the audience in Paris.
The 1975 lineup of Deep Purple included David Coverdale (Whitesnake) on vocals, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Glenn Hughes on bass, Ian Paice on drums and the late great Jon Lord on keyboard/organ. The set for this show included their biggest hits including "Smoke On The Water," "Space Truckin," "Highway Star" and "Hush."
Genre: Modern Melodic Metal
Cinematic and emotive, The Gift of Life is a notably crisp and clean metal album – adjectives that aren't frequently attached to examples of the genre. With this pop-influenced and hooky record, Dreamshade are clearly striving for something palatable and anthemic, and rooted in an extremely contemporary aesthetic.
Gruesome Stuff Relish – 'Sempiternal Death Grind' (FDA Rekotz)
Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore
I like my death grind as old as the rotting corpse of Carcass’ Symphonies Of Sickness and Spain’s Gruesome Stuff Relish deliver. They take a nod from fellow countrymen Haemorrhage and blast away your eardrums with excellent grind and even the occasional guitar solo.
Whether it be the creepy “S.O.S” or “End Is Near,” the band’s riffs combined with a clean production make them standout from the pack. So if you want to get a taste of the macabre and great guitar tone and sound from beyond the operating table, Sempiternal Death Grind will whet your appetite quite well.
The Resistance - 'Rise From Treason' (Armoury)
Genre: Death Metal
Featuring former members of In Flames and The Haunted, The Resistance has death metal royalty going for them right off the bat. Their debut EP Rise From Treason takes its cue from mid-to-late ‘90s Swedish death metal.
These four songs crackle with an old-school vibe, though the band is not content with retreading across sacred musical ground. This EP should win the favors of those metal fans who love to reminisce about the days of classics like The Jester Race.
Resolution 15 - 'Svaha' (Self)
Violins are not a common metal instrument, but are used in genres like folk. It's not often you hear them in thrash, and even rarer that it's used instead of guitars. That's the case with Resolution 15. Svaha is more than a novelty or oddity, it's a solid prog/thrash album.
Intense galloping thrash alternates with mellower moments and progressive elements. As a big U2 fan, I was a bit skeptical of their "Sunday Bloody Sunday" cover, but they put their own spin on it while leaving it somewhat recognizable. Svaha is a compelling and unique ride with a lot of twists and turns.
Genre: Melodic Metal
Rivera/Bomma take their name from vocalist John Bomma (ex-Hades) and guitarist Rod Rivera. Mike LePond from Symphony X is their bassist. Infinite Journey Of Souls is the third full-length from the New Jersey Christian metal band.
The band's sound is melodic metal with progressive and power metal influences. The songs are intricate with extended instrumental sections and a lot of solos from Rivera, who is an outstanding guitarist. Bomma sings with a lot of vibrato, and there's a hint of Ronnie James Dio in his voice. It's a diverse album with quality musicianship, although the production could be a bit better.
Genre: Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
Powerplay is the ninth album from the long-running Swiss outfit Shakra. Their albums have straddled the line between metal and hard rock, and this one leans a little more towards the metal side of the scale.
Packed with potent riffs and searing solos, Powerplay has a classic sound that is more timeless than retro. Vocalist John Prakesh has a bluesy voice with a lot of power and his style is very emotive. If you like mainstream, straightforward metal/hard rock with a lot hooks and memorable melodies, you'll dig Shakra.
Vorum – 'Poisoned Void' (Dark Descent)
Genre: Death Metal
Finland is a country not extremely well known for their contributions to death metal, but to those who have paid attention bands such as Demigod, Mordicus, and the best known example Amorphis (now a progressive metal band) have laid quite the foundation for many bands to follow.
Vorum and their debut Poisoned Void hopes to attain the level of brutality that many bands before them had, yet ultimately falls short. The slow and crushing pace is great, but there is not a really strong distinguishing characteristic here. Solid, but if you are looking death metal it may be best to start elsewhere.