Ratings are on a 5 star scale.
All Pigs Must Die – 'Nothing Violates This Nature' (Southern Lord)
On Nothing Violates This Nature, All Pigs Must Die distill the very essence of hatred in the form of blistering blasts of metallic hardcore. It’s violent. It’s angry. And if you’re interested in any heavy strain of music, it’s pretty much essential listening.
Yes, the band is made up of members from The Hope Conspiracy, Bloodhorse, and most notably, Converge. No, APMD should not be considered a side project by any means. Once you get your eardrums blown out by crushing anthems like “Bloodlines,” you’ll understand why. Have Trap Them, Nails and All Pigs Must Die ever been on the same bill? If so, I’ll never forgive myself for not being there. If not, can someone make that happen? Now?
Armed For Apocalypse - 'The Road Will End' (Ironclad)
Genre: Sludge Metal
Four years after their debut, Armed For Apocalypse return with The Road Will End. It's a riff-fest of sludgy goodness. The songs are raw and devastatingly heavy, with enough melody to avoid total suffocation.
They are able to gallop along at breakneck speed, and slow down to a glacial pace, sometimes on the same song. "The Well" is an apt title, because the guitars on the song are tuned down so far they might as well be underground. And after all the heavy and aggressive sludge, they wrap things up with the pretty acoustic instrumental "Ends Meet." Armed For Apocalypse are a talented crew, and hopefully won't wait as long for album number three.
Baroness – 'BBC Live at Maida Vale' (Relapse)
Genre: Sludge Metal/Rock
Bittersweet in its place before the bus accident that crippled the band, the four song EP BBC Live at Maida Vale is the Baroness that shall never be again. The recording is earthy, as ochre as the EP’s album cover. “Take My Bones Away,” so familiar and more than ironic, ripples with muscular energy. Highlight, “Cocainium,” is less effect-laden, rawer than the album version.
In its midst, the smoky Genie of a great band stands confidently, arms crossed. Fragmented in half now, Baroness must find a new road, as only destiny directs all traffic.
Black Tusk – 'Tend No Wounds' (Relapse)
Genre: Sludge Metal
Black Tusk are yet another band cut from the Savannah, GA cloth and their overall sound fits in well with the Kylesa mold. Gruff vocals and distorted, sometimes fast riffs make for a fun listen.
This 6 song EP shows Black Tusk off well and is a great taste of what the band offers between albums and can be seen as a jumping off point for the next full length. “Enemy Of Reason” alone should tell you why you need to pay attention to this up and coming band and soon.
Body Stuff – 'Body Stuff' (The Path Less Travelled)
Body Stuff is the new solo project from Curran Reynolds, drummer of both Wetnurse and Today Is The Day. An urgent and uncomfortable record, it straddles the line between exploratory sludge, experimental noise, and even a weird bit of pop, like someone stuck Fair No More, Joy Division and Torche into a Magic Bullet.
The rhythms have a slow, menacing crawl that raises hackles and causes goosebumps, while the fat, warm and wooly guitar tone threatens to soothe and swaddle – or possible smother. Reynolds vocals, an authoritative and clear warble, often seems like the most solid thing in Body Stuff's musical landscape. Somewhere between heat haze and full-on hallucination, Body Stuff is a great record for when the edges of your world start melting.
Counterparts - 'The Difference Between Hell and Home' (Victory)
Hamilton, Ontario’s Counterparts dangle from the hanger in the category locker devoted to melodic hardcore. On their latest album The Difference Between Hell and Home, Counterparts make a pass at hardcore but walk right by melody. Great musicians who’ve been unfairly neglected after releasing their debut Prophets, there was hope in Counterparts fan-land that this album would turn heads. Not so much.
“Witness” may rock the VFW Post 796 stage, and might tempt the unfamiliar with an impulse buy, but the entire album sounds like wall-to-wall “Witness.” Eventually the album might reveal greater depth, but it’s going to take umpteen listens to let it do so.
Dischordia – 'Project 19' (Rogue)
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Dischordia’s debut record Project 19 is a collection of solid, yet very unpredictable progressive death metal tracks. It's a very forward thinking death metal album that evolves into an array of tracks that bounce from a band that executes their and talent towards a rather impressive result.
Project 19 will appeal to those who enjoy death metal with no boundaries, and it's a strong debut from a band that is sure to garner attention.
Grandexit – 'The Dead Justifies The Means' (Lifeforce)
Genre: Death Metal
Starting their career under the band name Vicious for thirteen years, Sweden’s Grandexit have re-launched their vision with The Dead Justifies the Means. The debut record has many feels as the band dabbles from death metal to progressive rock. It's a unique combination of The Black Dahlia Murder meets Mastodon.
The band does an excellent job of creating different atmospheres with their songwriting. The combination of utilizing varying riffs and vocals does a tremendous job of balancing aggressiveness with accessibility. “Box of Glass” is a whirlwind of aggression utilizing blast beats and driving guitar riffs. Standout track “Judgement of the Wicked” balances fast tremolo guitar picking with an almost folk influenced chorus.
Genre: Progressive Metal
As Australia’s premier progressive band, Karnivool have taken their time between releases, with Asymmetry being their third full length in a sixteen-plus years career. Rather than being a collection of songs, this is truly an album, and the musical journey created from the tracks deserves to be experienced in an uninterrupted sitting.
It is also full of light and shade, from the open, textural spaces of “We Are” and “Float” oft punctured by stabbing metal riffs and pounding drums on numbers like “The Refusal” and “A.M. War”. Asymmetry is a record that requires multiple listens, but with each repeated spin another layer of sonic brilliance is revealed.
Lord - 'Digital Lies' (Dominus)
Genre: Power/Traditional Metal
Originally a solo project, Lord became vocalist/guitarist Lord Tim's main band after the demise of the long-running Australian power metal band Dungeon. Digital Lies is Lord's fourth full-length.
The album has a lot of traditional power metal elements, from bombastic guitars to soaring vocals, but there are twists and turns as well, such as the spoken word parts on the title track. Songs like "Point Of View" and the instrumental "Because We Can" are thrashy, with galloping riffs and some nice solo work. There are epic tracks as well, such as the 8 plus minute "The Last Encore." For power metal fans not familiar with Lord, they are well worth checking out.