The latest heavy metal albums reviews, including releases from Barghest, Fiends At Feast, Lecherous Gaze, Moab, Profetus, Scare Don't Fear, Sinistrous Diabolus, Stars In Stereo, Taatsi, Tesla, Tragic Death, Under the Church, Vassafor and Wo Fat.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Barghest – ‘The Virtuous Purge’ (Gilead)
Genre: Black Metal
A euphoric cyclone of black metal awaits a listener with Barghest’s latest album. Their under polished debut laid the brickwork for this superior follow up. Though opener “Our Last Night On Earth” teases a foreboding doom trek ahead, the collapse of that tempo into unbridled brutality proves otherwise.
The band finds comfort in abysmal music, and there’s little escape from it. The title track is twisted bliss, while the seven-minute instrumental “My Own Grave” keeps the blast beats away until the final moments of the song. The Virtuous Purge has Barghest stepping up their wrathful songwriting with tense, gripping results.
Fiends at Feast/Tragic Death – ‘Purgatory Rites’ (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
California’s Fiends at Feast and Wisconsin’s Tragic Death paired up for the split Purgatory Rites, a complementary melding of two bands with equally keen ears for melodic blackened death. Fiends at Feast take the split’s initial four tracks by the throat with a temperamental brand of occult death. Blackened influence emerges in the form of banshee vocals and swarming riffs, but the vibe, vocals, tempo changes, and killer rhythm section impart this half of Purgatory Rites with much concussive impact.
The final three cuts by Tragic Death are impressively conceived. Hard-hitting with coats of driving icefall, a track like “Suffer the Salvation” is a wasted landscape, jutting like a mixture of Immortal and Dissection while “Withering Youth” is an even vaster outing that borders on a black metal adventure. As partners in war, Fiends at Feast and Tragic Death take no prisoners with Purgatory Rites.
Lecherous Gaze – 'Zeta Reticuli Blues' (Tee Pee)
Genre: Hard Rock/Stoner Metal
A barroom brawl broke out. It lasted about 34 minutes leaving nothing but broken glass, chairs and bones. It was soundtracked by Zeta Reticuli Blues, the newest from Bay Area boogie rockers Lecherous Gaze. Guitarist Graham Clise (Witch, ex-Annihilation Time) and co. sure serve up a greasy plate of burnt rubber riffs that will reverberate in your head long after the hangover is gone.
Their brand of bluesed-up rock reeks of times gone by (‘50s-‘70s) and feels like the spawn of Motorhead and Chuck Berry. Vocalist Zaryan Zaidi channels Rob Zombie gone full on rockabilly. High energy, whiskey-throated, sleazy, bluesy hard rock rarely sounds this good and the cover of “Baby, Please Don't Go” is killer!
Moab - 'Billow' (Scion AV)
Genre: Psychedelic/ Doom Metal
The latest album in Scion AV's free download series is Billow, the sophomore release from California's Moab. You can check out the album via Scion's Soundcloud page.
Moab alternate between '70s tinged psychedelic and down-tuned doom. They keep the tempos generally fast and the melodies catchy. Tracks like "Nothing Escapes" are more toward the rock side of the spectrum, while songs like "Said It Would" slow down the tempo and crank up the heaviness. It's a nice balance between trippy rock and doomy metal.
Profetus - 'As All Seasons Die' (Svart)
Genre: Funeral Doom
If you're looking for something happy and uplifting, As All Seasons Die probably isn't the way to go. The third full-length from Finnish doomsters Profetus is bleak, but beautiful.
After a somber intro, the full weight of doom kicks in. The songs move at a crushingly slow pace, the atmospheric music accentuated by deep, low-pitched growls. There are only three songs plus the intro, and they are lengthy, with the longest clocking in at over 15 minutes. It's an album that's heavy when it comes to the music, and also in the emotion expressed through that music. A lot of albums in this genre tend to go on too long, but at just over 36 minutes, it's long enough to transport you to the cold Scandinavian landscape, but won't give you frostbite.
Scare Don't Fear - 'From The Ground Up' (KBB)
Genre: Rap Metal/Metalcore
Scare Don't Fear are the first signing to KBB Records, the label started by Asking Alexandria's Ben Bruce. Their sound combines rap metal with 'core elements and electronica.
That combination is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but if you liked '90s nu-metal, you might want to give it a listen. It blends that style with modern hip-hop and metalcore stylings. The songs are fairly catchy, and I can see where there's certainly a market for Scare Don't Fear among rap metal and hip-hop fans, but it will be a tough sell for many metalheads.
Stars In Stereo - 'Leave Your Mark' (Hundred Handed)
Genre: Hard Rock
Leave Your Mark is the sophomore album from L.A.'s Stars In Stereo. Their music is radio-friendly with big hooks and catchy melodies, but also has plenty of intensity and attitude.
Vocalist Bec Hollcraft has the versatility to deliver that attitude when required, like on the title track, but she's also able to sing with a lot of nuance and emotion on mellower songs. She has the showmanship and power of modern rock, but there's also touches of '90s alt rock sensibilities. From heart-tugging ballads to electronic-tinged rock to arena ready anthems, it's a wide ranging and diverse album.
Taatsi – ‘Season Of Sacrifice’ (Forever Plagued)
Genre: Black Metal
It’s fitting that a Finnish band sets the tone for an EP that is the perfect soundtrack for a midnight listen in a candlelit room. That’s exactly the mood Season Of Sacrifice sets.
The chilling ambience of the well composed songs contains enough atmosphere that it is difficult to generalize these two songs, which stand apart on their own right. A well delivered debut from Taatsi, it provides enough anticipation for what their future releases.
Tesla - ‘Simplicity’ (eOne)
Genre: Hard Rock
Simplicity is the seventh studio album from hard rock band Tesla, who have sold over fourteen million records worldwide. I’ll be honest with you, I have not heard a new song by the band since "Edison's Medicine" from 1991s Psychotic Supper, so I was eager to hear how the band sounded 23 years later.
Sporting four out of its original five members, including vocalist Jeff Keith, who still sounds great by the way, Tesla tear through 14 tracks of mostly high energy rock and roll. Simplicity is definitely more killer than filler. Check out the songs “Ricochet,” “MP3,” “Time Bomb” and “Flip Side” for proof of this.
Under The Church – ‘Under The Church’ (Pulverised)
Genre: Death Metal
Emerging from the ashes of Swedish band Nirvana 2002, death metal maniacs Under The Church have arrived and are more than ready to destroy you. Drummer/guitarist Erik Qvick and bassist Lars Henriksson are the two carry over members, adding master growler Mik Annetts to complete the trio.
Under The Church is made up of seven head bobbing, gut wrenching tracks dripping with chaos and death. From the sick, opening assault of “Denial Of Death” to the final skull crushing devastation that is “Back To The Grave,” Under The Church is death metal done right. Do not miss this demented slab of divine evilness.
Vassafor / Sinistrous Diabolus - ‘Split’ (Iron Bonehead)
Genre: Black Metal
Vassafor and Sinistrous Diabolus, two acts from New Zealand with member connections to one another, team up for a split LP. Any release from Iron Bonehead is going to be at least good, and this split is no exception with three long songs of murky, atmospheric black metal enhanced by moments of doom and death metal.
Vassafor are up first with two tracks consisting of plenty of fast riffing on top of blastbeats that periodically downshift into a dirge. Muted vocals complete the package. Sinistrous Diabolus are quite similar with one long track, but have a much slower and doomier vibe to their music. A few effects enhance the atmospherics, completing a nice split.
Wo Fat – ‘The Conjuring’ (Small Stone)
Genre: Sludge/Stoner Metal
Forget the fuzz, swim through all the smoke and listen close to one very heavy stoner album. The title track is impossibly heavy for even a Wo Fat album, almost taking the fun out of the buzz. “Beggar’s Bargain” comes along about the time the groove medicine slams your skull and brings a goofy grin to your face.
Black mamba songs with long guitar solos slither in one ear but not out the other. The slam and jams never sound like Sunday afternoon improvisations. The Wo Fattys reach electric heavy blues and psychedelic plains burnished in the golden green of metal sunshine. Let the final track, “Dreamwalker,” take you with them.