Ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Blackout – 'We Are Here' (Self)
Blackout might seem like the umpteenth band from Brooklyn, but this crew of Melvins loving doomsters are out to prove they too are different. From their King Buzzo vocalist to the sludgy sections of riffs the band is straight out of Bullhead.
We Are Here doesn’t click right away, but after about moving in neutral for about 5 minutes the band showcases their power on "Amnesia," which is surely what you should be feeling if you have ever heard "If I Had An Exorcism." It's a solid debut for a band that has plenty of upside.
Cult of Erinyes – 'Blessed Extinction' (Code 666)
Genre: Black Metal
Following the same epic and random path as Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, Belgium’s Cult of Erinyes explore the unpredictably cold aspect of black metal. With the release of their sophomore album Blessed Extinction, the band cements their authenticity and songwriting prowess. The record is overflowing with fast picked tremolo guitars, blazing double kicks and guttural vocals that reach inhuman levels.
“Jibaku” is a lesson in how to create a stunning atmosphere while utilizing stark contrast. The song blends a straightforward black metal song with a jazz inspired breakdown that showcases guitarist Corvus’ ability. “Dissolve Into the Stars” is the epitome of angular cold black metal riffing. A chanting like vocal melody is blended with a black metal rasp punctuated by another stunning guitar lead.
Eden’s Curse – 'Symphony of Sin' (AFM)
Genre: Progressive Metal
With the release of their fourth album Symphony of Sin, the UK’s Eden’s Curse have unearthed unknown Serbian vocalist Nikola Mijic to front the band. With the addition of Mijic, they sound reenergized and focused. At over an hour in length, the band explores different genres from progressive to pop metal.
The title track leads off the record and is a tour-de-force. Clocking in at just under eight minutes, the song creates an epic atmosphere with the use of a 46-piece symphony orchestra. Produced by Pink Cream 69 and Unisonic bassist Dennis Ward, sonically the record is outstanding. The band members are all incredible musicians and are each showcased throughout.
The Last Ten Seconds Of Life - 'Invivo [Exvivo]' (Density)
Invivo [Exvivo] is the sophomore full-length from Pennsylvania deathcore merchants The Last Ten Seconds Of Life. Their approach to the genre is a bit different from the norm.
Breakdowns are an integral part of 'core music, and you'll hear plenty of them on this album. But TLTSOL play them at a glacial speed. It's a marked contrast to the faster, groove-laden verses and choruses. It's a unique approach, and sets them apart from the masses. It's also better for the neck, since you'll be head banging in slow motion during the breakdowns. The vocals on the album are excellent, with bile-ridden gurgles and angry barks.
Meek Is Murder- 'Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters' (Self)
Meek is Murder up the intensity on their sophomore effort, which lacks the melodic tendencies of their debut Algorithms. The anger that seethes through “Paper Hands And The Desert Sea” and “More Always More” is tangible. The band melds hardcore, noise, and grind into a vicious package that comes in under the length of most EPs.
The final two tracks stretch the band’s sound out a la “Garbage Collector” off the last album, though with a much rawer technique. Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters is a raging burst of emotional fury that’s worth investing time in.
Monolithe – 'Monolithe IV' (Debemur Morti)
Genre: Doom Metal
French doomsters Monolithe explore a fairly ambitious musical wasteland. They focus on the origin of Mankind. Monolithe I started their conceptual cycle in 2003 and continued through Monotlithe II and Monolithe III. A year after Monolithe III, Monolithe IV drops. The four albums consist of a single track each averaging 52 minutes Long. Beethoven’s entire Ninth Symphony is 72 minutes long. Beethoven wasn’t bad. Monolithe is transcendent.
No band in history has accomplished such a living, breathing, ever-evolving masterwork about death. Monolithe IV is an enveloping experience, a massive metal meditation told through the genius of Sylvain Bégot and band. Interludes interrupt the monologue of massed guitars, strings, growl and DM drums, but they are only hitches in this magnificent funeral march into eternity.
Prospekt - 'The Colourless Sunrise' (Sensory)
Genre: Progressive Metal
As you might guess from the spelling in the album title, Prospekt are a British band. The Colourless Sunrise is their full-length debut.
Their brand of prog blends heavy guitars and melodic choruses with symphonic elements and a lot of atmosphere. There are a lot of up-tempo tracks, but they vary the pace as well. The arrangements are also varied, sometimes using extended solos and jams, but other times inserting a quick solo before the vocals return. Speaking of vocals, Richard Marshall does an excellent job. He has a fairly high-pitched voice, but uses a wide range of vocals. The album is a bit long, but it serves notice that Prospekt are a promising new prog band.
Ra – 'Critical Mass' (Sahaja)
Genre: Alternative Metal
Los Angeles’ Ra took rock radio by storm with the release of their debut record nine years ago. They have built an impressive catalog since and are hoping to find the same success with their latest release Critical Mass. It has been five years since they released a full-length record, and the break was a well deserved one as the band sounds re-energized.
Ra do an excellent job of exploring different genres of music and not relying on the same formula for every song. The band hits it stride when the tempo is increased and the guitars are cranked, like on “Awake” and “Supermegadubstep.” Vocalist Sahaj Ticotin can do wonders with his voice and the diversity he brings to his melodies separates Ra from their peers.
Reflections – 'Exi(s)t' (eOne/Good Fight)
Genre: Progressive/Experimental Metal
The opening moments of Exi(s)t from tech-core wizards Reflections don’t prepare you for the trick that hits you around the 1:23 mark of opener “Exit.” The gentle tones are obliterated by some serious Meshuggah worship.
This talented group of musicians bend the conventions of rhythm and timing the same way those Swedes do, as well as garnering similarities to the “Sumerian-core” scene. Back-snapping staccato riffs and fantastic fretwork keep the listener off balance. Intensely personal, yet positive lyrics round out the album. If you like the Meshuggah/tech-deathcore scene you can’t really go wrong here. It is pretty crazy, though.
Seremonia – 'Ihminen' (Svart)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Doom Metal
Finland’s Seremonia (Ceremony) are a female-fronted psych-rock quintet, and Ihminen, meaning ‘human,’ is their sophomore effort. Similar to other acts like Purson, Blood Ceremony, or Black Moth, the band have a ‘70s-inspired and occult-riddled sound, dabbling with tempos that range from languid to bubbling.
Unfortunately for the band and their listeners, Seremonia are playing back-up on a roster steeped with groups that are simply more enchanting. Noora Federley’s vocals, which are sung in a clean Finnish, are often eerie, but they’re rarely as hypnotic as one would hope. The riffs are far too familiar and the album seems entirely too long. Only those with a penchant for lo-fi nostalgia should seek.
So Hideous - 'Last Poem/First Light' (Self)
Genre: See Below
For most bands, a genre description is pretty easy. The reason I didn't list one for So Hideous is because they encompass so many on their latest effort Last Poem/First Light.
Black metal is one genre they definitely explore, especially their vicious, emotional vocals. But you'll also hear mellow, piano driven instrumental sections that are almost relaxing. A live orchestra is also used on the album, providing great atmosphere and a ton of depth. Shoegaze, post metal, blackened hardcore, post hardcore and even classical are other descriptions you can use for parts of the album. No matter how you describe it, the bottom line is that Last Poem/First Light is a very compelling, challenging and well done album.
Tigertailz - 'Knives' (Scarlet)
Genre: Hair Metal
The long-running Welsh hard rock/glam metal band Tigertailz return with the EP Knives. The band has seen a lot of lineup changes, including last year's exit of long time vocalist Kim Hooker. Guitarist Jay Pepper is the lone original member.
Even though most of the band is new, Tigertailz retain their classic sound. You'll hear melodic songs with huge choruses and a power ballad or two. The opening track "Shoe Collector" gives a nod to AC/DC's "Back In Black," actually playing a part of the song before returning to their own composition. Just like most '80s hair metal, it's sometimes over the top and cheesy, but that's what fans of the genre expect and love.