The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases by Acheron, ADX, Agiel, Anarchos, Aurora Borealis, Bast, Battleaxe, Bleeding Fist, Colossus, Destrage, Ektomorf, Hammercult, I Am Heresy, Kayser, Kuolemanlaakso, Mount Salem, Nothing, The Overseer, Prizehog, Profezia, Ready Set Fall, Suffer In Silence, Vanishing Point and Wolves Like Us.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Acheron - ‘Kultes Des Hasses’ (Listenable)
Genre: Death/Black Metal
Didn’t Acheron call it quits a couple of years ago? I guess not. At any rate, Vincent Crowley and crew return with a very catchy album that improves upon the quality of Acheron’s last few albums prior to their hiatus. Crunchy, riffy death metal with good songwriting and thick production gives Kultes Des Hasses a very solid foundation, resulting in a good return to form.
The songwriting tends to peter out a bit towards the conclusion, but fans of Acheron will, undoubtedly, be pleased by Kultes Des Hasses.
ADX - 'Ultimatum' (Verycords)
Genre: Speed Metal
The French band ADX have been around since the early '80s, with a couple of hiatuses. 3/5 of the original members,including vocalist Phil Grelaud are still in the band for their latest album Ultimatum.
Their sound has that classic metal vibe, with a shredding dual guitar attack. There are plenty of blazing solos and extended instrumental sections showcasing the great guitar work. The lyrics are in French, and ADX may not be familiar to a global audience, but if you're into old school traditional/speed metal, they are well worth checking out.
Agiel - ‘Dark Pantheons’ (Deepsend)
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal
New York’s Agiel released a pretty good semi-brutal death metal album called Dark Pantheons Will Reign on Unique Leader Records back in 2004, and then promptly dropped off the map. Agiel’s return with this similarly titled EP is not exactly anything to get excited about, though.
Agiel have changed their style, a change that’s for the worse with overbearing, keyboard driven symphonic death metal that comes off as a poorly thought out collision between Dimmu Borgir at their most egregious and Fleshgod Apocalypse.Agiel are nowhere near the quality of either of those bands.
Anarchos - 'Descent Into The Maelstrom' (Vic)
Genre: Death Metal The Dutch band Anarchos are a new entity, but their members have experience in other underground bands, which shows on their debut effort Descent Into The Maelstrom.
There's a lot of variety. Anarchos go from frenzied, rocket-fueled tempos to mid-tempo grooves to glacial, almost doomy sections. There are even brief glimpses of black metal. The shifts and changes are smooth, the musicianship expert. The 5 song EP is a precursor to their debut full-length later this year.
Aurora Borealis - 'Worldshapers' (Xtreem)
Genre: Black/Death Metal
The long-running Maryland band Aurora Borealis return for their seventh album Worldshapers. Conceptually, it continues where their last album Timeline: The Beginning and End Of Everything left off.
The band alternates between traditional, blastbeat driven black metal and groovier death metal influenced sections. There's plenty of extremity,especially in the vocals of Ron Vento, but there's ample melody as well. They do a nice job of varying tempos, going from slow-paced ominous death metal to galloping thrash to frantic black metal.
Bast - 'Spectres' (Burning World)
Genre: Black/Doom Metal
From the underground of London, the blackened doom metal trio Bast slither to the surface with their potent debut album Spectres.
Regal atmospheric doom with giant downtuned riffs transforms into faster black metal and back again. Bast make those transitions seamlessly, which gives them a more distinctive sound than the average doom band. The songs are long, with the longest being the nearly 12 minute instrumental "Psychonauts." It's a compelling debut that takes a few listens to fully absorb.
Battleaxe – ‘Heavy Metal Sanctuary’ (SPV)
Genre: New Wave of British Heavy Metal
Never gaining the recognition they deserved, Battleaxe formed in the early '80s with the explosion of the NWOBHM scene. They released two classic albums in the early '80s and then disappeared from the scene. 30 years later they are back with their third full-length release Heavy Metal Sanctuary. Original vocalist Dave King is joined by fellow founding bassist Brian Smith and two new members.
Staying true to their original vision, the band relies on King’s melodic vocals, ripping guitars and straightforward up-tempo riffs. Tracks like “Hail to the King,” “Too Hot for Hell” and the title track capture the band at their best. It is remarkable how they are able to capture the essence of their first two albums. In the vein of Saxon and Accept, Battleaxe remains one of the best-unsung bands in one of metal’s best time periods.
Bleeding Fist - ‘Death’s Old Stench’ (Moribund)
Genre: Black Metal
Slovenian black metal war machine Bleeding Fist return with a fix-up compilation of previously unreleased material. Recorded in fits and starts between 2011 and 2013, Death’s Old Stench contains twelve tracks of mostly unremarkable material of varying quality.
The most important thing about this release, however, is that it marks the return of Moribund Records after a rather long hiatus. Hail Moribund Cult!
Colossus - 'Lobotocracy' (Klonosphere)
Taking technical precision and matching it with groove-infused modern death metal is a valuable asset to Colossus on Lobotocracy. Two vocalists trade off hoarse screams; however, the real value comes on the musical front. Surprisingly, it is the bass guitar that is the standout instrument, most notably on “Worst Clone Award” and “Seize My Final Breath.”
Breakdowns are prevalent, though not in a generic one-note fashion. There aren’t many rest spots, as this is a punishing ride all the way through. The last few tracks are too drawn-out, but there is a fair share of promising attributes on Lobotocracy beneficial for the band’s next release.
Destrage – 'Are You Kidding Me? No.' (Metal Blade)
Genre: Experimental Metal
Sit down with the new album from Italy's Destrage and you'll find fast and technical guitar work, a fun demeanor, hammering breakdowns, prog noodling, soothing melody, tight, crunchy rhythms, bombastic horn and string grandiosity, and Chemical Brothers techno breakcore intensity. And that's the first track! Are You Kidding Me? No.
Then you're subject to nine more tracks of stylistic mish-mash. Put death metal, metalcore, Linkin Park, Mindless Self Indulgence, Finger Eleven, nu-metal, bouncy riffs, chunky breakdowns, arena rock swagger, growling, Lynn Strait insanity, glam, Mexican horns and acoustics in a blender with the lid off. Something's gotta stick. I'm not kidding.