Uta Plotkin's incredible performance sits at the heart of Cauldron Of The Wild's palpable solemnity. Her voice—by turns plaintive, raw and hypnotic—imbues Witch Mountain's Southern-tinged doom with the kind of hard-times honesty attributable to iconic singers such as Billie Holiday or Janis Joplin. Plotkin’s power and fluency cannot be understated; her superlative vocal talent saturates the album with soulful authenticity.
Cauldron Of The Wild is flawless. Amp-fusing riffs, kaleidoscopic solos and corpulent tones abound, sludgy dissonance haunts the alcoves, and there's a thickness and weight that evokes '70s heavy rock at its finest. If you're searching for metal with a tangible sense of gravitas, here it is in abundance.
Eremita is a continuation of the progressive and experimental course as set on its illustrious predecessor, but it’s altogether quite a different animal. Where After is marked with a very dark and desolate atmosphere Ihsahn’s latest offering is more melodic and progressive in nature. “The Paranoid” and “The Grave” contain plenty of aggressive bursts, but the emphasis is clearly on adventurous arrangements and jazz-inspired musical twists and turns.
Ihsahn described the song material on Eremita as some of his most spirited to date. In terms of ambition, scope and adventurism that’s certainly the case here. This is also the record where he truly severs all ties with his black metal past. Some may lament this, but I admire Ihsahn’s craving to try new elements. This album is still one of the musical highlights of this year.
Gojira has advanced and improved over the years, establishing a trademark sound while continuing to push musical boundaries. That sound is fully intact on L’Enfant Sauvage, but the band refines and simplifies what they have done up to this point. It makes for a more streamlined and focused effort. Shifts and changes within songs is something Gojira does extremely well, and is what helps make their music so compelling.
L’Enfant Sauvage is a very cohesive album. Gojira is unpredictable and multi-faceted with continuous twists and turns, so that is quite an accomplishment. Melody, brutality, atmosphere, top-notch musicianship and most importantly quality songs abound on L’Enfant Sauvage. Bien fait!
The two previous Mnemic albums were a bit underwhelming, in my view. Both certainly have their moments, but as a whole both are not cohesive in terms of overall quality and songwriting prowess. However, Mnemesis is a much more spirited and streamlined effort. I don’t know whether this has something to do with some recent lineup changes, but Mnemic are definitely back with a vengeance.
Mnemics’s trademark fusion of Deftones, Meshuggah, Fear Factory and Devin Townsend is still very much intact and the band’s fondness for unconventional twists and turns shape tracks like “Transcend,” “Junkies On The Storm and the title track. Another key feature is the great balance between more soothing and melodic songs and crushing scorchers. These songs are beautifully accentuated by Guillaume Bideau’s (ex-Scarve) versatile vocals.
Now a lean, muscular three-piece, Dying Fetus has had plenty of time to settle in to their new dynamic. Their strong, productive collaboration has yielded one of their best records, a refinement of their sound and conceptual vision. Reign Supreme is just as aggressive and hook-laden as fans have come to expect, executed with a well-oiled and finely-tuned precision.
Reign Supreme balances being a mature and sophisticated refinement of the band's sound without coming across as too polished or distant. Dying Fetus still provide their listeners with a physical, deeply cathartic release, and remain a fulfilling example of top-notch American death metal. Dying Fetus are at the top of their game with this record, which is sure to thrill old fans and gain them even more new ones.