The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Arabrot – 'Arabrot' (Fysisk Format)
Genre: Noise Rock/Post Punk
Gangway! The strange and the simple are traipsing up and down the self-titled sixth LP from Norwegian noise rock act Arabrot. And as the strange and the simple are wont to do, the band welcomes their audience with a sound that’s at once peculiarly warm and then terribly unstable.
Singer/guitarist Kjetil Nernes has as strong a quiver of riffs as he does a mouth, a hole from which he spews lyrics glinting with mad possession. Everything sounds frightful and deranged, but then the band routinely change face by injecting wanton drips of addictive hooks. Arabrot is different in the best possible way.
Black Magician – 'The Pursuivant' (Svart)
Genre: Doom Metal
Combining elements of doom with latter day '60s progressive rock separates the UK’s Black Magician apart from their peers. Following up their debut album with a stopgap EP The Pursuivant, the band offers a diverse affair filled with sludgy riffs, acoustic guitars and a menacing Hammond organ.
Featuring three songs, each one is diverse and radically different. The opening title track is straight up doom metal with a heavy emphasis on early Cathedral. “Grene Knyght” is a throwback British folk song with a brooding ambiance. The EP ends with “Black Henbane,” an up-tempo instrumental with an infectious rhythm and Jonathan Fletcher’s Hammond leading the way.
Bl’ast! – 'Blood!' (Southern Lord)
Genre: Hardcore Punk
Bl’ast! are a band whose roots lie within the well known California punk scene a band that hasn’t seen a proper release since 1989. Enter Southern Lord head honcho and Sunn O))) member Greg Anderson talking with original Bl’ast! Member Mike Neider talking about an old demo he had found; add a mixing job by Dave Grohl and then you have Blood!
Blood! represents ‘80s hardcore at its finest with Black Flag and Circle Jerks found throughout as well as Bl’ast!’s original material on full display. Add in the production job and it truly is bliss. If you even remotely enjoy hardcore punk, this album is for you. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better slab of this genre on the market today and the story is a tough one to top as well.
Carpe Noctem – 'In Terra Profugus' (Code 666)
Genre: Black Metal
Hailing from Iceland, Carpe Noctem create raw, apocalyptic and chaotic black metal with an emphasis on Nordic mythology and occult lyrics. Even though the band formed in 2005, In Terra Profugus is their first official full-length debut. The songwriting is complex and layered as there are only five songs on the recording, but the average length is over ten minutes per song.
Sung in their native tongue, this is a concept record that takes us on an otherworldly journey about discovering and exploring within and without the self. It is impossible to follow along with the concept as the lyrics are in Icelandic, but the music creates a mood and has a symbiotic relationship. Musically the riffs are jagged and cold as there is a lot of atmosphere alongside the nihilistic aggressive parts.
Church of Void – 'Dead Rising' (Svart)
Genre: Doom Metal
On their debut full-length Dead Rising, Church of Void draw clear influence from bands like Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus. They position their sound somewhere between fellow followers of the old school like Hour of 13, though with many modern doom flourishes and even stoner rock proclivities. While their sound has unquestionable depth and richness, it is not matched by the quality of the songwriting. The raw material is certainly there, but the structure does not match it.
The first half of the album is definitely the strongest. Things get more fractured and disorganized as the album progresses, with too many influences and experiments competing for the listener's attention and not enough unified structures and hooks. However, many of the tracks hold a great deal of potential, even the most flawed being shot through with bright moments, making Church of Void a band to watch.
Crossfaith – 'Apocalyze' (The End)
Japanese quintet Crossfaith make their global debut here, though they are veterans with an EP and two albums behind them. They’ve toured with an amazing array of big-timers and enjoy an extraordinary buzz. Rip the lead guitar from the traditional metalcore package, replace it with a cheesy video game keyboard that never varies from one song to the next, then add the standard screamola vocals, and Apocalyze is born.
Some songs especially worth a listen are “We Are The Future,” “Scarlett” and “Countdown.” Apocalyze was produced by Machine (Lamb of God). Play this loudly, it’s the only way to hear the lackluster guitars.
Eibon la Furies – 'The Immoral Compass' (Code666)
Genre: Avant-Garde Black Metal
UK’s Eibon la Furies' second album has to be one’s goblet of grog to enjoy. If not, the band is in trouble. Unconvincing, long-winded, devoid of riff or reason, the album is like a selfie of some poor wretch dressed up in Goth gear on his way to Comicon.
In fairness, the band behind leader Paul Sims, (Lord Eibon Blackwood to friends), performs a paycheck performance, though few modern releases hit the shelves with so many musical gaffes in it. The guitars were mixed as if they got in the way. The play-acting vocal is piercing and loud while seething with satanic Game of Thrones nonsense. Perhaps “The Vanguard” may interest those who fancy this stuff.
Emblazoned – 'The Living Magisterium' (Deepsend)
Genre: Black Metal
The Living Magisterium, the five song EP from Wisconsin’s Emblazoned, last heard from back in 2005, leads them to the same ring of hell where Arsis and Coffin Texts hang out. Precise, maniacal, stoked with the rancid coal fires of Stürmgewehr drums, tracks like “Extinction of Creation” and “Bound by Eternal Penance” are sooty and unforgiving.
The tracks vary between old school death metal and black metal that doesn’t mind stepping out of the coffin a little bit. Emblazoned have a chokehold on the format. It’s hopeful they get a demon’s pitchfork in the butt to finally release an actual album.
Genre: Death Metal
Four years after their full-length debut, Danish destroyers Ferocity return with The Sovereign. The are aptly named, as this is one ferocious album.
Ferocity's brand of death metal is sometimes brutal and dense with stifling blastbeats and crushing heaviness. Other times they are surprisingly catchy, grooving along at a mid-tempo pace. They also throw in plenty of technical moments. Kasper Wendelboe's vocals are the typical cookie monster style you'd associate with this style of death metal. An instrumental interlude halfway through gives a short reprieve before the pummeling resumes. Fans of brutal death metal will find plenty to sink their teeth into with The Sovereign.
Evocation – 'Excised and Anatomised' (Century Media)
Genre: Death Metal
I’m usually skeptical about EPs that consist entirely of covers, because let’s face it, metal covers typically suck. Well, color me surprised and impressed with Excised and Anatomised, the latest splatter platter from Swedish death dealers Evocation.
The five-track EP is like a veritable death metal gore curriculum as the band covers anthems and classics like Bolt Thrower’s “…For Victory” and Carcass’ “Corporal Jigsore Quandary.” Even the most jaded death fan will find Evocation’s dark, sludgier take on genre staples worth their time and money. The four second cover of Napalm Death’s “You Suffer” is also a nice touch. Death die-hards should act fast and buy the vinyl before it sells out.