The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Altar Of Betelgeuze, Cannabis Corpse, Depicting Abysm, Exhumed, Ghoul, Iron Reagan, Leatherwolf, Nausea, Nigromante, Run After To and Suffering In Solitude.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Altar Of Betelgeuze - 'Darkness Sustains The Silence' (Memento Mori)
Genre: Stoner Metal
Obviously influenced by early Black Sabbath, Finland's Altar Of Betelgeuze play a traditional style of stoner/ doom metal somewhere in between The Gates Of Slumber and the mid-period of Corrosion Of Conformity. Heavy riffs with a great deal of catchiness are piled on top of a slow to mid-paced tempo that periodically reaches a gallop, and a gruff approach to the vocals completes the package.
Completely unoriginal in every way, fans of the style will enjoy Darkness Sustains The Silence, but less than stellar songwriting relegates Altar Of Betelgeuze to the second tier, at best.
Cannabis Corpse/Ghoul – 'Splatterhash' (Tankcrimes)
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
It was just a matter of time before two bands like Cannabis Corpse and Ghoul came together for a split. Both bands take things a little less than serious, but are still seriously good. Cannabis Corpse's marijuana-themed death metal is in fine form on their two tracks. “The Inhalation Plague” and “Shatter Their Bongs” rip their way through somewhat ironically high-energy death metal with brutal effectiveness.
Hooded miscreants Ghoul ply their splatterthrash trade with equal fervor on “Inner Sanctum,” a galloping ripper with some cool effects and “Spill Your Guts” is as eviscerating as you'd expect. Get on this.
Depicting Abysm - 'Immersion' (Naturmacht)
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Immersion is the debut album from the Russian duo Depicting Abysm. The album has an ocean theme, with lyrics inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Descending into the Maelstrom” and the Russian poet Semyon Nadson.
The four songs are epic in scope. The first track is mellow and introspective, an introduction to what is to come. Vocals and the black metal influences kick in on the second song "Descent," a majestic composition that also has a lot of aggression. The album has a lot of ebbs and flows, just like the ocean that inspired it. It's a diverse blend of the beautiful and the extreme.
Exhumed/Iron Reagan – 'Split' (Tankcrimes)
Genre: Death Metal/Thrash Metal
Exhumed and Iron Reagan, both riding high off of strong 2013 releases (Necrocracy and Worse Than Dead respectively), have put their best foot forward to break down the door with a split of two of the most fun bands around.
The combination is exactly what you expect from these bands, with a few covers such as Exhumed covering Minor Threat’s “Seeing Red” and Negative Approach’s "Ready To Fight." The whole thing barely tops 11 minutes and makes for a fun split that will spin and spin as long as these two bands exist.
Leatherwolf - 'Unchained Live' (Nil8)
Genre: Traditional/Power Metal
The long-running American band Leatherwolf returns with the live album Unchained Live. It's their first release since 2007's New World Asylum. Three of the five current Leatherwolf members have joined since that album, but longtime vocalist Michael Oliveri remains.
Even though they have been around for three decades, Leatherwolf have only released five studio albums. Unchained Live goes all the way back to their 1983 self-titled debut, and also includes material from their latest album. The current lineup is tight, and Oliveri's potent voice has held up well. It's a good stopgap album as fans await a new studio release.
Nausea – ‘Condemned to the System’ (Willowtip)
Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore
BOOM! Like a bomb detonating with no warning or disinclination, Condemned to the System blasts every inch of the eardrums and guts from the first song to the final blow. The first track “Freedom of Religion” will punch you right in the stomach. As your innards are being forced backwards in an aberrant position the catchy hooks will force your diaphragm to expel for air, making it difficult to breathe. The rest of the album repeats that process over and over, with songs like “Hate & Deception” and “F--k the World” standing out.
This is a band and an album for fans of old school/classic grindcore like Napalm Death, Repulsion, and Terrorizer. This is definitely one of those albums you don’t want to sit on…put the needle to the vinyl and let it ride. Side note: Nausea haven’t released a full-length album in 20 years and it was definitely time to break the silence.
Nigromante – ‘Black Magic Night’ (Shadow Kingdom)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Eight years since their last demo, Spain’s Nigromante are releasing their debut full-length album, Black Magic Night, a testament to the undying ways of the early 1980s and an interesting concoction of Venom’s NWOBHM wrinkles and Witchfinder General’s pension for sleazy occult rock.
Black Magic Night harbors more than a few hooky refrains and bassist/vocalist Ángel Muñoz’s voice is appreciably distinct, gravelly and gruff, but likewise an acquired taste to be sure. With its stanch riffs and worn patina, the album would fit cozily in any biker bar, but its yesteryear consistency does little more than camouflage it amidst a dense heavy metal jungle.
Run After To - 'Run After To/Gjinn and Djinn' (Shadow Kingdom)
Genre: Doom Metal
If you have heard to Run After To, you are a true doom metal fan. The obscure Italian band released a 1985 demo and 1988 EP before disappearing. Shadow Kingdom Records has resurrected the long-forgotten Run After To and Gjinn and Djinn for a new generation.
There are some cheesy keyboards, but the songs are good. The band played mostly uptempo songs on the EP that straddle the line between trad and doom. Even though the production quality is marginal on the demo, the songs are stronger and doomier, such as the Sabbathian "Visions." It's an interesting blast from the past, more for doom completists than the average fan.
Suffering In Solitude - 'A Place Apart' (Domestic Genocide)
Genre: Black/Post Black/Experimental Metal
Scientists have calculated that we're in the most depressing week of the year, which makes A Place Apart the perfect companion to that less than happy news. The debut from the trio Suffering In Solitude emphasizes the suffering.
The album alternates between lengthy somber and melancholy instrumental sections and harsh black metal with shrieking vocals buried deep in the mix. The two styles come closer together on the album's final track. It's interesting, but could be even better. The production on the black metal parts is lacking, and doesn't give enough bite and edge to contrast the dreamy and depressive instrumentals.