The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Asomvel - 'Knuckle Duster' (Bad Omen)
Genre: Heavy Metal
The British band Asomvel has been around for about 20 years, but Knuckle Duster is only their second full-length. It's their first album since frontman and band co-founder Jay-Jay Winter was killed in 2010. The band has regrouped from this terrible tragedy and emerged with an excellent release.
Their sound is simple and straightforward, reminiscent of another British trio you might have heard of called Motorhead. The songs are catchy, rollicking, raw and mostly up-tempo. New vocalist/bassist Conan fits in well, and Lenny Robinson's guitar prowess is front and center with some ripping solos. Enjoying Knuckle Duster is easy; just turn it on, turn it up and repeat as necessary.
Austere – 'Withering Illusions and Desolation' (Eisenwald)
Genre: Suicidal Black Metal
When no hesitation marks mar the victim’s wrists, Austere’s classic reissue of their debut will fill the cramped room as police break in the door to perform a welfare check. The Australian duo of Desolate and Sorrow recorded this in 2007 only to have it wither into under-promoted oblivion.
With Eisenwald, the album gets a bona fide release. It’s a significant achievement for the down under death and despair scene. Burzum is spoken here. Heartbreaking blurs of guitar progressions evolve while vocals try to shout away the pain against left-ear only drums. At ear-splitting levels, despair bares its teeth.
Close Your Eyes - 'Line In The Sand' (Victory)
Genre: Melodic Hardcore
Even though Line In The Sand is the third album from the Texas band Close Your Eyes, it's also a new beginning. It's their first release with new vocalist Sam Ryder. They combine silky melodies with aggressive guitars and a hardcore sensibility.
There are some strong songs on the album, such as the title track. It has really good aggressive vocals, memorable riffs and a catchy chorus. When they emphasize the more melodic elements, like on the radio friendly "Frame and Glass," Ryder's distinctive accent gives it a unique spin. They transition smoothly between heavy, metallic hardcore and accessible rock, and the lyrics impart a positive message.
Deep Swell – 'Love Of The Angler' (Weathermaker )
Genre: Hard Rock
Deep Swell are a West Virginian band that includes Clutch guitarist Tim Sult. The band is fronted by front woman Briena Pearl, who will remind listeners of Christine Davis (Christian Mistress) and Rosalie Cunningham (Purson) as she maintains a melodic voice that has essential rock appeal.
The album also includes some wonderful moments reminiscent of The Police and Rush as it can be borderline dub reggae. It's a strong album with mass appeal to lovers of rock and something a bit different.
Doyle – 'Abominator' (Monsterman)
Genre: Punk Metal
The Misfits are clearly one of the most influential punk bands of all time. Their early records defined a genre and catapulted them to legendary status. Long time guitarist Doyle has now released his debut solo record Abominator, and it is a perfect hybrid of metal and punk. Staying true to his roots, song topics include murder, disembowelment and necrophilia.
Cancerslug singer Alex Story handles the vocals and wisely incorporates his own style and doesn’t try to imitate Danzig’s approach. Lead single “Valley of the Shadows” has a driving metal riff blended with an addictive chorus. Abominator is worlds ahead of what The Misfits are currently doing. Doyle has captured the spirit of the classic Misfits sound while adding the metal elements of solo Danzig.
Doyle Airence – 'Monolith' (Lifeforce)
Genre: Post Hardcore
Doyle Airence are from Paris, France, where art and music are culturally ingrained in the DNA. Experimental metalcore interlaced with atmospheric keyboards in place of the generic breakdowns and sautéed in a reduction of screamo may help to describe the 11 tracks on Monolith.
The tracks swing from post-rock melancholy to screeching vocal blasts to incredibly heavy guitar violence. Monolith doesn’t sound like anything that flies off the Best Buy racks. It’s intriguing to listen to the influences here, from The End to Devil Sold His Soul, but Doyle Airence are definitely their own beast and Monolith its roar of exotic fury.
East of the Wall – 'Redaction Artifacts' (Translation Loss)
Genre: Progressive Metal
Redaction Artifacts, the latest mind-twister from East of the Wall could take some getting used to for some listeners. Expertly blending progressive metal with mathcore, noise and djent, EotW take a circuitous and unpredictable route to accomplish their goal.
They keep the listener constantly off balance with tracks ranging from the acoustic ballad title track to the 10 minute epic “Noir Filter.” Complex arrangments see Coheed & Cambria type prog nestled snugly with Meshuggah-style djent and gnarly noise rock. Few bands can pull together the gap from beastly to beauty so well, but East Of The Wall wrap it all up in epic fashion.
The Flower Kings - 'Desolation Rose' (Inside Out)
Genre: Progressive Rock
Longtime Swedish prog rockers The Flower Kings specialize in what they call “symphonic rock,” a style that incorporates jazz, rock, classical, soundtrack music and pretty much anything else you can think of. The result is a rich, intricate blend that owes serious debts to Yes, Supertramp and early Genesis.
Lyrically, “Desolation Rose” tends toward the positive and spiritual, with passionate entreaties for the listener to love, accept and understand one another. Soaring melodies and singer Hasse Froberg’s lilting voice contribute to the uplifting feel of the music.
(Karen A. Mann)
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Lingua Mortis Orchestra are the symphonic side project of longtime German metal band Rage. Their debut record LMO is the perfect outlet for brilliant guitarist Victor Smolski to show off his skills as an arranger, composer and musician. The live orchestration of the Spain and Belarus Orchestra’s works seamlessly with the complicated metal riffing that Smolski employs.
The majority of the vocals and lyrics are handled by Rage frontman Peavy Wagner, who brings his unique talent of creating unforgettable chorus melodies. LMO is a concept record based on the true story of the medieval town of Geinhausen and their tales of hunting witches. This is a must have for fans of Rage and the bonus tracks of classic Rage songs “Straight To Hell” and “One More Time” work flawlessly with the new material.
Mutation - 'Error 500' (Ipecac)
If you need someting strange and (sometimes) beautiful in your musical life, check out the second full-length from Mutation, Error 500. Mutation are the brainchild of Wildhearts frontman Ginger, and features former Wildhearts members as well as an all-star lineup of artists such as Mark E. Smith, Merzbow, Shane Embury (Napalm Death) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs). Together, the group has unleashed an impossible-to-categorize album. It has a bit of everything; from frenetic and crushing riffs to blast-beats to group screaming to clean singing and more.
This is not an album for everyone. Some will love it, others will hate it. It is, however, a testament to what a group of talented individuals are capable of achieving in a recording environment. Try it out for yourself.