The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Alastor – 'Out Of Anger' (Metal Mind)
Genre: Groove Metal
Somewhere along the course of their 20-plus year career, the Polish band Alastor morphed from a competent thrash group into a mid-paced groove metal band. Unfortunately, Out Of Anger is proof that the band should’ve stuck with their bullet belts instead of sounding like a second-rate Machine Head with cornball lyrics.
Sure, the musicianship is tight, but I assure you any temptation to mosh in your living room will die as soon as you hear new singer Mish Jarski scream out lines like, “No one can see me cry, or make the fear go away,” in a heavy Eastern European accent.
Genre: Melancholic Rock/Metal
Liverpool, U.K.'s Antimatter have released their fifth full-length studio album with Fear of a Unique Identity. Their first offering in five years, the record defined by the band as a concept album, an exploration of the potential pitfalls of a society that becomes homogenous to the point where conformity is considered a much greater virtue than individual expression. Band mastermind Mick Moss puts is an astonishingly emotive, yearning and devastating vocal delivery that is always beautifully melodic, even understated at times.
There are deep connections between Antimatter and fellow melancholics Anathema, but perhaps the clearest comparison to their sound is Katatonia. However, where Katatonia create a more structured, comforting exploration of longing and misery, with Fear of a Unique Identity Antimatter have become even more nebulous and mercurial, abandoning reason for emotion.
Desolate Shrine - 'The Sanctum of Human Darkness' (Dark Descent)
Genre: Death Metal
The audio equivalent of tripping ear-first onto a roaring belt-sander, the tracks churn in the murk as the sparks fly from the devil’s power-tool while it grates the cartilage down to the bone. Desolate Shrine crushes the light from the world, leaving ghouls to heave in the dark and guitars to keep the belt-sander turning.
The sound is down and lo-fi dirty, the words indecipherable, the songs viscerally grim. “Plane of Awake…” and “Pillars of Salvation…” exemplify the plodding pace and disregard for melody. The Sanctum of Human Darkness is sheeringly nasty death metal for connoisseurs who relish the promise of prosthetic ears.
Infernal Poetry - 'Paraphiliac' (Bakerteam)
Genre: Death Metal
The basis of Infernal Poetry’s sound on Paraphiliac is groove-infused death metal, though the band dabbles in technical musicianship and punishing deathcore at select moments. Their songs aren’t too serious, with song titles like “Barf Together” and “In Glorious Orgy” not meant to be handled with a straight face.
Quirky guitar work separates this from most of the death metal herd, though a few missteps (the sexualized undertones of the sample-heavy “The Miss-Treated”) stop Paraphiliac from becoming an absolute recommendation.
Joel Grind's Yellowgoat - 'The Yellowgoat Sessions' (Nimbit)
Joel Grind is the mastermind behind Toxic Holocaust. For many years it was pretty much a one man show, but recently has become more of a full band. Now Grind is going solo with The Yellowgoat Sessions. It's thrashy in places, but has more of a thrash n' roll vibe.
"Hells' Master Of Hell" is very Motorhead influenced, with even raspier vocals. Songs like "Foul Spirit Within" have a slower tempo and more ominous feel. The production is rough and raw with plenty of distortion, perfect for a project like this. Fans of Toxic Holocaust will definitely dig The Yellowcoat Sessions, as will those who appreciate down and dirty thrash-infused rock.
Megascavenger - 'Descent of Yuggoth' (Selfmadegod)
Genre: Death Metal
Megascavenger is the latest project from the prolific vocalist/guitarist Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, The 11th Hour, Revolting, Bone Gnawner, etc.). Descent of Yuggoth is the band's debut, an aggressive slab of Swedish death metal.
Johansson brings aboard several guests including Dan Swano (Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath), Paul Speckmann (Master) and several others. A solid album to begin with, all the guests add even more spice to the mix. Megascavenger definitely avoid monotony, moving from dense and suffocating sections to groovier parts with galloping riffs and a hint of melody. If you like Johansson's other bands you'll definitely want to check this out.
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Missing in action for five years, Mors Principium Est make a surprise return with their brand of Children of Bodom-style Finnish melodeath metal. The band is barely Finnish anymore, with a New Zealander and a Brit filling in the spaces of members past.
As nice as it is to have MPE back, they’re lacking that special nastiness that death metal needs to break through when incorporating melody. “Destroyer” comes close to an In Flames edginess, but ultimately the album is filigree and flourish that masks the ordinary content in the tracks.
Genre: Power/Thrash Metal
Germany’s Paradox, led by Christian Muenzner and co-guitarist Charly Steinhauer , helped pioneer the Wurzburg thrash-metal scene. Not Bay Area thrash, Paradox goes more for complexity and riff prowess on top of the double-kick speed-polka beats. Paradox fans may hear similarities to ‘Heresy’ from three albums back, but that’s not bad.
This latest album is excellent hyper-technical power metal with four great thrashers: “Slashdead,” “Brainwashed,” “Escalation” and “Day of Judgment.” 55 minutes long, Tales of the Weird shows experienced veterans schooling the youngsters on how to do power metal without getting cheesy and a fine production thrown in makes for an album worth owning.
Genre: Thrash/Groove/Death Metal
The anticipation for War of the Gargantua has been high, since it is Phil Anselmo's first solo foray. He has a full-length solo album coming out later this year. He shares the four song split EP with thrashers Warbeast, who are signed to his Housecore label.
Anselmos's songs are straightforward and intense, with "Conflict" a slab of black/death tinged extremity. "Family, Friends and Associates" is just as angry, but more musically diverse. Warbeast hold up their end of the split very well. "Birth of a Psycho" and "IT" are raw and edgy thrash with a thundering bottom end. Anselmo of course will get the lion's share of attention, and these two songs really whet the appetite for more of his solo stuff.
Could You Watch Your Children Burn is the second album from The Plot In You, and the first with new guitarist Derrick Sechrist (A Bullet For Pretty Boy). The band has stretched a bit musically from their debut, but still rely on metalcore staples like breakdowns and alternating harsh and melodic vocals.
Highlights include "Fiction Religion" and "Troll," which has an especially catchy chorus along with some bludgeoning breakdowns and industrial flourishes. The Plot In You spews a lot of anger and bile, but show an earnest side as well. It's a well-rounded metalcore release.
Recovery Council - 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' (Dot Ultra)
Genre: Hard Rock
The third album from New Jersey’s Recovery Council, Plan-Do-Check-Act, is a rather listless and feeble output. Suffering from less than stellar production, desperate vocals, and pretentious lyrics the album also fails to deliver choruses, a significant oversight that surely would have tied the record together, instead of leaving it with an unfinished quality.
With a few bright spots by way of musical execution, especially the rhythm section, there is absolutely nothing memorable from the experience of Plan-Do-Check-Act as a finished product.
Rectified Spirit - 'Rectified Spirit' (Demonstealer)
Rectified Spirit hail from India, and recently released their self-titled debut. It's an interesting combination of genres. Sometimes their music has a NWOBHM feel with extended solos and high-pitched melodic vocals. But they also have growling vocals and extreme sections with metalcore breakdowns.
Add to that some progressive touches, and you have a very diverse album. On paper it sounds odd, but Rectified Spirit manages to hold it all together, for the most part. They are at their strongest when combining progressive with a hard-edged traditional vibe, keeping the metalcore to a minimum.