Genre: Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal
After releasing a full-length album last year, the Swedish one-man project Lustre returns with a compilation. Lost In Lustrous Night Skies collects five songs that previously appeared on tapes or EPs. And even though there are only five tracks, it clocks in at almost 40 minutes.
Lustre's music consists of lengthy instrumental and ambient passages punctuated by black metal rasps buried deep in the mix. "Echoes Of Transcendence" is an instrumental with a lot of electronic elements and little if any metal. In fact, most of the album is pretty mellow and without a lot of traditional structure. If you've enjoyed Lustre's previous material and/or dig the ambient style of black metal, you may want to check this out.
Odd Dimension - 'The Last Embrace To Humanity' (Scarlet)
Genre: Progressive Metal
Mankind is heading into a dark period of isolation on the new concept album from Odd Dimension, The Last Embrace To Humanity. Progressive metal without the excess, the Italian group’s sophomore album is a strong follow-up to their 2011 debut Symmetrical.
The hallmarks of the genre - the proficient guitarist, extended keyboard solos, soaring melodic vocals - all make an appearance. The softer-toned tunes in the middle don’t have much pop, but the punchy “Far From Desire” and acoustic bliss in “The New Line of Times” raise up the album’s value. Odd Dimension has earned a bright new spot in progressive metal thanks to The Last Embrace To Humanity.
Orchid’s Curse – 'Words' (Diminished Fifth)
Eastern Canadian metal is really making waves lately, much of which is released by Diminished Fifth Records. Their latest is Words by Orchid’s Curse. It’s been a while since I’ve been deep into metallic hardcore, but to these ears, Words breathes new life into a stale genre.
Vocalist Josh Hogan screams bloody murder over a slew of catchy riffs and classy solos leaning more to the metallic than the hardcore and is devoid of “good cop” vocals. (Think Killswitch Engage without the sensitivity) Words takes aim at organized religion and our fake society with intelligence. Cast off the shackles and slam into Words.
Pretty Maids – 'Motherland' (Frontiers)
Genre: Hard Rock/Melodic Metal
Danish legends Pretty Maids never achieved the success they rightfully deserve. Their latest release Motherland is another heavy melodic masterpiece. Ronnie Atkins is an amazing soulful singer who seems to get better with age. Like all Pretty Maids releases, the songwriting is outstanding and every song is remarkably strong.
The first single “Mother of All Lies,” “Why So Serious?” and the title track show the band perfecting their heavier side, while “Sad to See You Suffer,” “Bullet For You” and the excellent “Wasted” are the perfect counterbalance and show off their melodic essence. Jacob Hansen’s production is crisp and jumps out of the speakers. 30 years into their career, Motherland finds Pretty Maids unbelievably at their creative peak.
Trollfest - 'Brumlebassen' (Napalm)
Genre: Folk Metal
You've got to love a band who sings about trolls and drinking. The latest opus from the Norwegian band Trollfest is Brumlebassen. The saga of the troll village continues in the album's concept, introducing the title character, who is a beekeeper.
Trollfest play upbeat folk metal that's rousing and entertaining, but still heavy. The vocals are fairly high pitched, and more like screamo than you'd expect from folk metal. It takes some adjusting to, but longtime fans of the band will eat this up, or should I say drink this up. And who knows, maybe vampires and zombies will fade from favor and trolls will be the next big thing!
Genre: Doom Metal/Hard Rock
Ex-Pentagram and Place of Skulls guitarist Victor Griffin's latest project, In~Graved, contains exactly what you'd expect from the famed riffmaster: buzzing doom riffs, plenty of 70's guitar-slinging swagger, and soulful, blues-soaked vocals.
Joining Griffin on the album is a roll call of metal gods—including Trouble's Jeff Olson on Hammond Organ—to tear through slow-grinds of vintage weighty rock ("Late for an Early Grave"), stoner jams ("What If…") and psychedelia-laced fuzz ("Fading Flower"). Heavy, and endlessly grooving, In~Graved is reminiscent of Griffin's past but it shows no sign of any unimaginative retreading of steps. Big, bold and brash, In~Graved is essential and engaging doom played expertly.
Voodoo Circle – 'More Than One Way Home' (AFM)
Genre: Hard Rock
The brainchild of Voodoo Circle is Primal Fear and Silent Force’s guitar prodigy Alex Beyrodt. A throwback to the glory days of Whitesnake, their latest release More Than One Way Home also includes in its ranks Pink Cream 69 vocalist David Readman and Mat Sinner of Sinner and Primal Fear fame.
Beyrodt is the standout here as his guitar playing is awe-inspiring. The blues inspired “Tears in the Rain” and the gorgeous “Cry for Love” are so good they will have you dreaming of Tawny Kitaen. It is one thing to be influenced by a band but Voodoo Circle wrote and recorded the missing Whitesnake album and in the process lost any identity they might have had.
Genre: Brutal/Technical Death Metal
Brutal death metal meets sci-fi worship on Wormed’s second album, Exodromos. A prequel to 2003’s Planisphaerium, Exodromos continues the space-driven exploits of their debut album. There’s some ambitious story woven throughout Exodromos, but the pig grunts and deep bellows make it hard to keep up with. Ambient noise breaks up the forceful grab bag of technical riffs supported by crushing rhythm work.
Most songs stick to similar sounds, though closer “Xenoverse Discharger” is a death metal tour de force. More material like this would have elevated Exodromos above its current middle-of-the-road status.