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New Heavy Metal Album Reviews: May 20, 2014

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The latest heavy metal album reviews, including releases from Aetherium Mors, Boris The Blade, Castle, Comet Control, Hell, Infernal Curse, Infirmary, Konkeror, Landskap, Metal Inquisitor, Mordbrand and Tusmorke.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Boris The Blade - 'The Human Hive' (Siege of Amida)

Boris The Blade - 'The Human Hive'
Siega of Amida/Century Media Records

Genre: Deathcore
Named after a character in the 2000 Brad Pitt/Jason Statham movie Snatch, Boris the Blade are a deathcore quintet from Melbourne, Australia. The Human Hive is their full-length debut.

Their music is technical and extreme, a well-oiled machine of anger and destruction. The songs are dense, but still have a decent groove along with all the usual deathcore elements. The 10 songs fly by in just over 30 minutes, and the band adds in atmospheric touches on songs like "Atrophy" that helps add some diversity.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Castle - 'Under Siege' (Prosthetic)

Castle - 'Under Siege'
Prosthetic Records

Genre: Heavy/Doom Metal
The word that best describes Under Siege, the third release from San Francisco classic metal trio Castle, is power. This release is overflowing with powerfull riffs, powerful hooks and especially powerful vocals, thanks to singer/bass player Elizabeth Blackwell. Sounding stronger than ever, Blackwell belts out each song with angry abandon.

Classic fist-pumping melodies are the order of the day here, with a slight element of doom to keep things interesting. Standout tracks include “A Killing Pace” and the sinuous “Pyramid Lake.” Things bog down a bit with “Powersigns,” but pick back up again with “Labyrinth of Death and “Temple of the Lost,” before ending strong with “Evil Ways.”

Rating: 4
(Karen A. Mann)

Comet Control – ‘Comet Control’ (Tee Pee)

Comet Control – ‘Comet Control’
Tee Pee Records

 Genre: Psychedelic Metal
Comet Control might have had difficulty unplugging their Quest for Fire pedigree, but Comet Control yanks that connection and stands on its own as a psychedelic statement crafted by the some of the best musicians in the genre.

The five piece led by Andrew Moszynski, highlights Chad Ross and Nicole Howell’s downplayed vocals throughout in ways that Kylesa and Jefferson Airplane fuse to enhance the chemical colors of lysergic dream state. From the enchanting melodic guitar in the wonderful “Blast Magic” to the time-warp visit of underground sixties rock on the shamelessly entitled “The Soft Parade,” Comet Control is a view through a window pane into the haze of futures passed.

Rating: 4
(Todd Lyons)

Hell - ‘Trilogy’ (Pesanta Urfolk)

Hell - ‘Trilogy’
Pesanta Urfolk

Genre: Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal
If you missed out on getting the ultra-rare first edition cassette and second edition vinyl versions of Hell’s first three releases, Pesanta Urfolk has your answer. Trilogy, a four-LP picture disc box set will include vinyl versions of the band’s I, II and III releases as well as a poster and an insert, housed in a heavy box.

That’s an appropriate repackaging for this mysterious Salem, Oregon mostly one-person project. Each Hell release to date has been a dense fog of pure, soul-crushing heaviness, with elements of drone, ambient noise and black metal, all housed with carefully crafted extras.

Rating: 4.5
(Karen A. Mann)

Infernal Curse – 'The End Upon Us' (Iron Bonehead)

Infernal Curse – 'The End Upon Us'
Iron Bonehead Productions

Genre: Black Metal
The Argentinean skies must burn red with hellish flame as the earth cracks open to reveal the darkness of the abyss each time  the mighty heathens Infernal Curse take up their instruments. Their newest occult-filled EP The End Upon Us is the group’s newest, and proves to be good, sacrificial filler between studio albums.

The four-song EP features three originals and a cover. Every track is filled with solid riffs and frenzied dive bomb solos. Blackened, thrashy, and noisey, The End Upon Us delivers the evil goods. The only distraction: enough reverb/echo to kill a goat or two.

Rating: 3.5
(JH Statts) 

Infirmary/Aetherium Mors - 'Split' (Bindrune/Eihwaz)

Infirmary/Aetherium Mors - 'Split'
Bindrune Recordings/Eihwaz Recordings

Genre: Death Metal/Black Metal
Infirmary originally formed back in the early '90s, and reformed a few years back. This is their debut release. The U.S. death metal band shares the split with the British outfit Atherium Mors, whose full-length debut was released in 2012.

Each band gets four tracks. Infirmary are straight ahead old school death metal. The songs are raw and groovy, and portend well for a future full-length. Aetherium Mors have more of a black metal vibe with raspy vocals, but also add elements of thrash and death metal. Their songs are extreme, but also varied and dynamic. Both bands deliver excellent performances.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Konkeror – ‘The Abysmal Horizons’ (Lacerated Enemy)

Konkeror – ‘The Abysmal Horizons’
Lacerated Enemy Records

Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Initially released in 2012, The Abysmal Horizons, the full-length debut from Detroit progressive death metal band Konkeror, is getting another shot at the ever-bloated metal market thanks to Lacerated Enemy Records. With Clark Ashton Smith-approved themes, this quartet, composed of three ex-members from melodic death band Iliad, have created a substantial first effort that shines with skill and thought-process.

The Abysmal Horizons is a multi-headed monster that’s able to mar the lines between melody and savagery. The result sounds impossibly mature for a debut, even if the band still need to seek a way to create more memorable songs, in spite of how artfully dynamic they may well be. A gem hidden no more.

Rating: 3.5
(Evan Mugford) 

Landskap – ‘I’ (Iron Bonehead)

Landskap – ‘I’
Iron Bonehead Productions

Genre: Psychedelic Heavy Rock
I read an interview with Landskap in which bassist/rhythm guitarist Frederic Caure (SerpentCult, Thee Plague of Gentlemen) said he didn't know why people labelled Landskap as doom. That could be because roughly half of I sounds like doom.

The first tracks on each side of the LP are pretty heavy and Sabbathian with a lot of organs and silky smooth vocals. The second tracks though get dreamy and highly psychedelic. Groovy and light-headed heavy rock takes the LP to soaring heights. Hearty solos and spiralling riffs take you back in time to freer days. It’s a perfect blend of filthy and fulgent so doomsters and psych-heads alike can get along.

Rating: 3.5
(Matt Hinch)

Metal Inquisitor - 'Ultima Ratio Regis' (Massacre)

Metal Inquisitor - 'Ultima Ratio Regis'
Massacre Records

Genre: Traditional Metal
They have been around since the late '90s, but Ultima Ratio Regis is only the fourth full-length from the German band Metal Inquisitor.

It's old school traditional metal with prominent guitars and a diverse vocal performance from El Rojo. The songs have an edge, but also a lot of melodies and hooks and numerous solos. They have flown under the radar, but if you like classic metal in the vein of bands like Maiden, Priest, Diamond Head or Grave Digger, Metal Inquisitor are well worth checking out.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Mordbrand - 'Imago' (Deathgasm)

Mordbrand - 'Imago'
Deathgasm Records

Genre: Death Metal
They have released several EPs and a couple of splits, and now the Swedish trio Mordbrand ("arson" in Swedish) are releasing their full-length debut Imago.

Mordbrand unleash old school Swedish death metal, but also add in other elements like crust and a black metal touch here and there. The guitar work is excellent, the drumming top-notch. The vocals are the typical death metal growls with a few twists and turns for variety. Guitarists Eric Cutler (Autopsy) and C.C. DeKill (Gravehill) make guest appearances.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Tusmørke – ‘Riset Bak Speilet’ (Svart)

Tusmørke – ‘Riset Bak Speilet’
Svart Records

Genre: Folk Metal
Pagan folk metal outfits like Tusmørke stumble out of the Norwegian woods in the droves. Some are interesting, like Hexvessel, but few are very good. Tusmørke try to stand out from the bearded, pointy-capped crowd not by making great music, but rather by provoking those curious about them.

That’s where the metal part comes in because it is not to be found in Riset Bak Speile, Or, Birch Behind the Mirror, for the non-Nynorsk among us. Their sound is Jethro Tull flutes struggling against rectal-itch drums while accompanied by beer hall vocals. It’s neo-political polemics in renaissance-faire disguise. “Black Swift” and the title track are worth a listen, maybe.

Rating: 2
(Todd Lyons)

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