The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Alterbeast, Bl'ast, D-A-D, Dodsferd, Hark, I Exist, Iron Savior, Lorna Shore, Menace, Mother, Nocturnal Breed, Order Of Isaz, The Prestige, Riotgod, Savage Messiah, The Socks and Stormwarrior and Years Since The Storm.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Alterbeast - 'Immortal' (Unique Leader)
Genre - Death Metal/Tech Death
Are you a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder, dear reader? If so, you are going to love Immortal, the debut full-length from Sacramento death squad Alterbeast. Vocalist Cam Rogers channels his inner Trevor Strnad on every high-pitched scream and bellowing growl, while guitarists Rusty Cornell and Andrew Lamb grind their fretboards down to a fine powder over eight tracks of superlative technical death metal.
After last year's disappointing Everblack, I'd even go so far to say that Alterbeast pull off The Black Dahlia Murder sound better than The Black Dahlia Murder. They lose some points for obvious lack of originality, but give these dudes some more time to craft their own sound. Immortal is a sign of great things to come.
Bl'ast – 'The Expression of Power' (Southern Lord)
BL’AST! have always had an uncanny ability to take me back to my early youth, when nothing mattered but skateboarding around my neighborhood and listening to records in my room. The re-release of The Power of Expression, creatively renamed The Expression of Power, is a wonderful gift to anyone who has ever been a fan of this band or old hardcore in general. Anyone hearing BL’AST! for the first time with this release will be hooked. This is straight forward, to-the-gut hardcore that’s absolutely perfect in every way.
This album has both the original tracks as well as the alternate “Track Sessions” included on the release. Brad Boatwright at Audiosiege remastered all of the original material. The physical copy of this record will definitely be worth picking up, it’s a triple LP that includes a 28-page booklet featuring both liner notes and photos of BL’AST! So get in the time machine and depart back to simpler times.
D-A-D – ’30 Years of Hits’ (AFM)
Genre: Hard Rock
To commemorate a career that spans a remarkable thirty years, Denmark’s D-A-D unleash a best of collection spanning their complete catalog. 30 Years of Hits is two discs with thirty songs selected from the bands discography. They mix the dirty rock ‘n’ roll of Aerosmith with the pop sensibilities of Soul Asylum.
This is the perfect starting spot for someone to get acclimated to the band's unique quirkiness that infiltrates their songwriting. The material is presented chronologically and one can hear the progression the band makes as the material becomes more sophisticated and mature. D-A-D have proven over time that they have a knack of writing straight simplistic catchy hard rock songs.
Dodsferd - 'The Parasitic Survival Of The Human Race' (Moribund)
Genre: Black Meta/ Crust
Greece’s Dodsferd have always been all over the black metal subgenre map with a myriad of releases over the last decade or so. Most of the time, they concentrate upon ice cold, razor thin black metal, but really hit their stride when founder Wrath reveals his punk roots.
The Parasitic Survival Of The Human Race harks back to 2007’s Cursing Your Will To Live, blasting forth with a mix of black metal, crust, and a touch of black n’ roll. The result is a rollicking album with a Misfits cover to cap it all off.
Hark – 'Crystalline' (Season of Mist)
Genre: Heavy Rock
So Jimbob Isaac (ex-Taint) has a new band called Hark. Their debut Crystalline will blow your socks off and that's all there is to it. The trio (Nikolai Ribnikov – bass, Simon Bonwick – drums) slam the listener with almost an hour of gutsy and groovy heavy rock.
Isaac's riffs stick like glue whether churning, doomy, sludgeoning or rife with noise rock angularity. His vocals are diverse with ample force and an eye for rock melodies. Ribnikov and Bonwick shine as well, bringing power and weight. Hark hit the mark for fans of Torche, KEN Mode, Mastodon and killer riffs.
I Exist – ‘From Darkness’ (Prosthetic)
How many Aussies does it take to write sludgy hardcore? Six, according to I Exist. That may seem excessive to some, but if six members is the secret to the contagious energy of From Darkness – their Prosthetic Records debut – then I’m not one to argue.
Mixing the bloody-knuckles hardcore of Ringworm with Howl’s metallic crunch and Down’s bluesy allure, From Darkness’ thirteen anthems kick you ‘til you’re toothless and drag you through the mud, then buy you a beer because you have impeccable taste in riffs. If you’ve been waiting for someone to write party sludge, wait no more.
Iron Savior – ‘Rise of the Hero’ (AFM)
Genre: Power Metal
Formed back in 1996 as a side project for Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) and Thomen Stauch (Blind Guardian) alongside producer Piet Sielck, Iron Savior blasted onto the scene with a few initial incredible releases. With only Sielck remaining, they are back with their eighth studio release, Rise of the Hero. All of the classic power metal elements are firmly rooted in place that has defined their career to date.
Vocalist Sielck is reminiscent of Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch with his wide range and utilization of vibrato. His melodies are addictive and flow efficiently with the music. The speedy “Thunder from the Mountain” has a thrash inspired riff before the singalong chorus explodes. When they increase the tempo, Iron Savior are on top of their game and shine. Rise of the Hero is another solid release in a career that has been consistent.
Lorna Shore - 'Maleficium' (Density)
Lorna Shore are one of the select few deathcore bands doing the oft-maligned genre some justice. Sure, the young group aren’t treading any new paths, but they’re also not trying to rip off every other band in the scene.
Between the blastbeats and punishing breakdowns - which are delivered at a crushingly slow pace - the occasional black metal inspired tremolo-picked minor chords, and hellish shrieks spice things up on tracks like “Godmaker” and “Accumulatory Genophage.” It's a more than solid debut release, and hopefully their first full length can keep the creative momentum going.
Menace – 'Impact Velocity' (Season of Mist)
Genre: Hard Rock
Impact Velocity is the debut album from heavy rockers Menace. They are the brainchild of Napalm Death's Mitch Harris, but this is about as far from grindcore as you can get. But what's the point of a solo project if it's not different?
Menace are a much easier listen than Napalm Death. Harris sings cleanly with a good sense of melody. Strings embellish the varied guitar cadences and industrial-ish synths. It can feel like a mix of the softer sides of Ozzy and Fear Factory that develops intensity as it progresses. It's a thoughtful album not easily appreciated on its surface. You have to dig.
Mother - 'A New Life' (Rock Your Mother)
Genre: Hard Rock
After releasing their debut album a couple of years back, the New York/New Jersey band Mother return with the EP A New Life.
The five tracks combine hard rock with influences of '90s grunge/alternative rock. The songs are hard-hitting with excellent guitar work and numerous solos. Nick Fargo is a dynamic vocalist, and the band has a big, beefy sound perfect for pleasing crowds at outdoor rock and metal festivals. Hard rock is a crowded genre, but Mother have the chops to stand out.