CVLT Nation Releases Online Exclusive Black Sabbath Cover Album w/ Contributions From Highgate, Bog Oak, Monolord, Act Of Impalement, Aseethe, Keeper & More + All Covers Taken From "Paranoid" LP; Album Available For Streaming & Free Download Now + No Word On Physical Release

BOO YAH! The fifth in a series of tribute and cover albums assembled by CVLT Nation is here, this time tackling Black Sabbath’s masterful 1970 record "Paranoid". The album, entitled "Paranoid: The CVLT Nation Sessions", features the likes of IRN, Highgate, Bog Oak, Mourning Cloak, Keeper, Act Of Impalement, Aseethe, and Monolord covering all 8 original tracks, and its a fucking doozy. CLVT Nation has always put together some really great compilations, and this is no exception. "Paranoid: The CLVT Nation Sessions" is available for free streaming and download right here at http://cvltnation.bandcamp.com/album/black-sabbath-paranoid-the-cvlt-nation-sessions. At the moment, there are no plans for a physical release, and I personally don’t expect that to change. 

GWAR Announce New Frontwoman

restlesspress:

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Following the tragic death of former vocalist Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus), GWAR have announced their new frontwoman Vulvatron, who made her live debut at Riot Fest last weekend. Check out an announcement from the band and fan footage here by clicking “Read More” below.

Read More

OMG I am so down for this
And not just because I might find her to be extremely hot
…though for the record, she is.
LONG LIVE GWAR \m/

"Withering Waves" by Black Crown Initiate

After delivering the sensational “The Great Mistake” about a month back, it seemed “The Wreckage Of Stars” would be sensational. But then, Black Crown Initiate decided ‘no we need to rock some more socks off before we deliver this album so lets tease them with more new stuff’, and then yesterday dropped “Withering Winds” and in turn, rocked more socks off. This track is notably faster than “The Great Mistake” but still every bit as powerful and catchy with a soaring hook, some sweet acoustic parts, and some blazing tech-death riffery thrown in. There’s a lot of Opeth influence in here again, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.

So yeah, “The Wreckage Of Stars” is gonna be pretty sweet. The album is set for release September 30th via eOne Entertainment, and Black Crown Initiate will support the album first on a small club tour with Rivers Of Nihil, and then on a much BIGGER tour in mid October with the likes of Unearth, Darkest Hour, Carnifex, Origin, and I The Breather.

ALBUM REVIEWS!; New Music From Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Iron Reagan, The Contortionist, Anthrax, Ides Of Gemini, Slash, Texas In July, Motionless In White, Freak Kitchen, Black Moth, Abusiveness; September 16th 2014

HOLA EVERYONE!

This week is absolutely STELLAR for new music. Literally. Almost every album I got this week is great, and the list includes the likes of Texas In July, Black Moth, Iron Reagan, Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, and more! Plus the latest solo album from ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash entitled "World On Fire", again featuring Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy as well, and a killer live album from Anthrax, entitled “Chile On Hell”.

Finally, I snagged the sophomore record "Old World New Wave" from the fantastic Ides Of Gemini, the same brilliant bastards who brought us "Constantinople". I’ve been in love with this band since I saw them open for Ghost B.C. last year, and they’re still kicking so much ass. 

Anyways, enjoy! \m/

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"Sepultura & Les Tambours Du Bronx: Metal Veins - Alive At Rock In Rio" by Sepultura

Groove Metal/Death Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     When you get down to it, Sepultura, whether it be the current incarnation or the one with the Cavalera brothers, working with a percussion group makes so much god damn sense. The group has always been so heavily focused on percussion, and that focus translates so well to a live stage with Les Tambours Du Bronx, a French industrial act that is purely focused on drums, as the Brazilian metal assault that the band has always been known is amplified to a new level. Classic tracks like ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ and ‘Refuse/Resist’ are significantly bigger and bolder, and the classic native percussion of the former track is given some great subtle tweaks, and the result is monstrous, easily the best rendition of the song to date. Some of Les Tambours Du Bronx own original material is thrown into the mix as well, as well as a surprising The Prodigy cover that also sits well in the setlist, but there’s a notable absence of Sepultura’s more thrash-oriented material that is troubling. Granted, it certainly makes more sense to use the groovy death metal and nu metal numbers, but considering that I was sold a full-on collaboration of the two acts, I would have loved to have heard Les Tambours Du Bronx’s spins on some of “Arise” or even Sepultura’s recent album, or maybe even some original material, much like how Metallica collaborated with the San Francisco Orchestra back in the late 90’s. For what it is though, I stilled enjoyed these percussion experiments, and it’s more than a welcome addition to any Sepultura fans collection.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"A Skeletal Domain" by Cannibal Corpse

Death Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     I don’t think it would take a genius to figure out what kind of music Cannibal Corpse plays. Even without knowing ANYTHING about this band, you could take a wild guess as to what kind of band they are, and probably guess right. These aren’t the type of guys who’d run off on a world trip or a spiritual journey, and come back to write an introspective and inspiring rock opera; they’re a death metal band, and that sense of predictability has become reliable at this point, because let’s face it, this is STILL a winning formula for Cannibal Corpse. They indulge in the tropes and stereotypes of the genre and add some wicked groove dynamic and fiery guitar work to boot, all again guided by the monster of a frontman George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher. ‘The Murderer’s Pact’ is as groove-laden and twisted as the likes of Gojira’s ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’, ‘Sadistic Embodiment’ is a flury of classic death metal from start to finish, with manic Slayer-like guitar intro’s, and ‘High Velocity Impact Spatter’ is just as ridiculous and heavy as its title suggests, with no rough spots to be found whatsoever. Riffs are compelling and offer enough subtle melody to keep the momentum going, and the rhythm section never falls back, often storming the forefront of the sound with Corpsegrinder for an absolutely punishing hammer of death metal. Sure, maybe this isn’t the most original record to grace your collection, but it’s a blast nonetheless. It’s everything I expect and love from death metal, seasoned with the added insanity of one the genre’s finest.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"The Tyranny Of Will" by Iron Reagan

Crossover Thrash

Released September 16th 2014

     While I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the junk food and alcohol fueled party thrash of Municipal Waste, it’s definitely great to hear Tony Foresta, along with members of Darkest Hour and Cannabis Corpse, is still thrashing about with the likes of Iron Reagan. Whereas their first album was essentially a Municipal Waste re-hash, “The Tyranny Of Will” is sharper and more in line with hardcore punk in terms of aesthetic and execution, channelling the bitter lyrical wit of bands like Pig Destroyer, but opting for the outright crossover thrash of acts like Pasadena Napalm Division or even Suicidal Tendencies. There’s still Municipal Waste influence creeping in, but it works better here, evident by the whiplash-inducing hammerhead of ‘Miserable Failure’, the LITERALLY violent hardcore of ‘Eyeball Gore’, or the mid-tempo headbanging slock of ‘Four More Years’. The production saw a huge step up too, without compromising the raw garage rock sound in the guitar department, and the end result gives every riff a huge crunch and every cymbal a fat ring, making the already potent mix of thrash all the more abrasive. “The Tyranny Of Will” is a big step up for Iron Reagan, and a great album for fans of classic thrash and early hardcore punk.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Language" by The Contortionist

Progressive Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     “Language” once again see’s The Contorionist slowly but surely step away from their extreme metal roots into pure progressive metal, and with the exception of some deathcore rhythms and gutturals, I would dare argue this pure is pure progressive metal. Take for instance the ambience brought forward by the album’s multi-part title track, or the Deftones-like melodies and barrages of ‘The Parable’, both overflowing with huge progressive sweeps as well as some genuinely stunning melodies. Atmosphere is huge on this album, and its where the album succeeds even in its lesser moments, which I should note, there are very little of. The decision to tone down on deathcore was a damn smart one with that in mind, but the elements that are still here quite honestly come across as sloppy, and doesn’t provide the contrast that The Contortionist was likely aiming for. It’s a shame because as mentioned above, some of this is REALLY stunning stuff, and that extra layer peeled back could’ve made this a real star. Still, fans shouldn’t have any reason to complain. “Language” is still an incredibly powerful album, and The Contortionist’s most mature work yet, with fantastic musicianship, great atmosphere, and some passages that will actually blow you away.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"Chile On Hell" by Anthrax

Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     The lack of Anthrax live albums in our life is incredibly sad given how much fun their live performances are, which of course is exactly why its fucking fantastic that we’re getting one straight from the hot and sweaty mosh-pits of Chile, as the album showcases some of Anthrax’s best and most reactive performances in years. The setlist is part of that charm, opening on a slew of material from the iconic “Among The Living”, before delving into covers, rarities, and other hits, including a take on Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ for the encore, and the severely underplayed ‘Deathrider’. Joey, Scott, Frank, and Charlie are as powerful as ever, but the real highlight is Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais now taking the leads, especially considering this is his first official recording with the group. It’s nice to see he’s being conservative with the original material, sticking fairly close to the original riffs and solo’s, but at the same time, disappointing. After all, his work with Shadows Fall is GREAT (this guy is no fucking joke), and it would great to hear him put some a spin of his own on this material. But hey, this is still classic Anthrax in their classic form, and proof that they are still one of thrash’s deadliest bands. Here’s hoping we get to hear more out of Jonathan on the inevitable upcoming studio album.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Old World New Wave" by Ides Of Gemini

Doom Metal/Post-Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     “Constantinople” was a triumph like nothing else. An eerie, ambient, mystical, and genre-blending monolith that no occult rock band had even HINTED at beforehand. But of course, this is no regular occult rock band. This is Ides Of Gemini. “Old World New Wave” wisely opts for the same mixture of doom, post-metal, gothic rock, and super subtle black metal (the latter of which is notably less prevalent here), but in terms of atmosphere, the album almost feels bigger, grander. Take for example ‘The Adversary’, opening on a very brooding gothic rock riff, before jumping into a multi-layered chorus with huge doomy riffs battling for the forefront of the sound. It definitely still sounds like Ides Of Gemini, but it’s a lot bigger. The same can be said for ‘Fememorade’, a trippy pure doom number with odd time signatures bursting in every now and then, completely throwing off the creepy groove of the music, or on ‘The Chalice & The Blade’, emphasizing the cold and brittle influence from black metal with a slow droning base and some great harmonic vocal work. You can definitely tell that whoever produced this record gave Ides Of Gemini a nice kick in the rear and pushed them hard, as their brand of doom is pushed to emotional new heights, making the psychedelic and doomy tones of the album all the more effective. “Old World New Wave” is soothing, abrasive, and bittersweet from start to finish, expanding on the foundations of “Constantinople” to create a true beast. Well done guys.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"World On Fire" by Slash

Hard Rock/Heavy Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     Slash struck hard rock gold with 2012’s “Apocalyptic Love”, managing to bring a solid backing band in place of the revolving guest-list featured on 2010’s self-titled album, and striking out some of the best rock in some time, thanks in part to Slash’s heritage. To put it simply, it succeeded because it had the drive and spirit of early Guns N’ Roses (‘One Last Thrill’ in particular could have fit on “Appetite For Destruction”). “World On Fire” is a bit of a re-tread of that same basic spirit and idea, but I think even Slash now realizes what I mentioned above, as there’s tons of Guns N’ Roses influence everywhere, but with Myles Kennedy still technically fronting the band, we’re also seeing some Alter Bridge influence come into play. The influences seem to merge seamlessly on ‘Too Far Gone’, with a furious ‘Mr. Brownstone’-like riff and a sweet alt. metal hook, as well as the likes of ‘Wicked Stone’, which is eerily similar in form to Alter Bridge’s ‘Isolation’ with a bluesy base and an awesome surf rock-ish solo. I love the combination of the influences, as it leads to several huge hooks, as well as some of Slash’s best guitar work to date, each riff packed with melody and sweet rock n’ roll rhythm. It’s also nice to hear some great prominent bass work, coincidentally bringing to mind Duff McKagan on some tracks, again adding to the vibe of the album. Pessimists and people who stand among the crowd of metalheads who despise Slash won’t be convinced otherwise, but the rest of us can look forward to some great modern rock with no frills and lots of hooks.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Bloodwork" by Texas In July

Metalcore

Released September 16th 2014

     Texas In July have never been a huge force in the modern metalcore scene, despite some moderate success and a decent abundance of catchy tunes, but with the release of “Bloodwork”, there’s a part of me that thinks that will change. Here, Texas In July is embracing the hardcore elements that their peers often neglect, and adding in touches of influence from NWOAHM bands like Lamb Of God, and especially Chimaira. Take opening track ‘Broken Soul’ for example, as it opens on a flurry of modern thrash and groove riffs before launching into some short tech bits and a fiery breakdown, or following track ‘Sweetest Poison’, which packs some cooling winding guitar work and an absolutely MASSIVE alt. metal chorus. Whoever produced this record pushed these guys big time and it shows, through the passionate guitar work of ‘Decamilli’, the speedy hardcore of ‘Illuminate’, or the Whitechapel-esque rammer of ‘Defenseless’. New vocalist J.T. Cavey steals the show big time though, thanks to a spiraling vocal dynamic, ranging from hardcore shouts, gutturals, and huge clean vocals that have a wonderful rasp to them, added some much needed gruff to even the softer moments. Some tracks don’t hit quite as hard as others, but there’s no denying that “Bloodwork” is a massive step-up for Texas In July, musically and aesthetically.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Reincarnate" by Motionless In White

Industrial Metal/Metalcore

Released September 16th 2014

     Where “Infamous” suffered, was in the blatantly obvious Marilyn Manson worship, thanks in part to producer Tim Skold who worked on Manson’s big seller “The Golden Age Of Grotesque”. “Reincarnate” peels that back a little, revealing much more of the melodic metalcore the band became initially known for, and new influences come to form, creating Motionless In White’s most consistent album. But does that make it good? Well, to be completely fair, it’s definitely not a bad album. First off, if you already loved Motionless In White, you can stop reading now. You’ve likely already bought the deluxe edition and you know what to expect. The rest of us have to deal with a genuine lack of energy and emotion in the writing, as riffs and drums are TOO mechanical, and are missing that human element that makes metal music so enticing. Vocally the album is a tad more interesting; there is still plenty of Manson-esque whispers, but clean vocals tend to come off strong, even resembling Howard Jones in the title track’s chorus. A bump in the road comes to play via ‘Puppets 3 (The Grand Finale)’, which is basically a Cradle Of Filth knock-off, and not just because Dani Filth himself shows up. Synths blare, chants ring, and there’s plenty of out-of-nowhere black metal influence attaching to the metalcore chugs and lyrical whips. “Reincarnate” is more in line with their debut album, albeit a tad more focused and arguably refined, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of heart underneath the constant industrial flashes (and no, writing semi-introspective lyrics does not count as playing with some emotion).

Rating: 2/5 (Poor)

"Cooking With Pagans" by Freak Kitchen

Hard Rock/Experimental Rock

Released September 16th 2014

     Freak Kitchen’s tendency to be weird in weird ways continues with “Cooking With Pagans”, which is about as predictable as you can get with the experimental rock genre. These guys have been around since the mid 90’s, and we kinda have an idea of what to expect from them at this point; weird hard rock with weird timing and alt. metal-ish hooks. “Cooking With Pagans” is exactly that, but that hardly means it’s a bad album. The time changes, sound effects, and of course the great progressive guitar work, is all still very welcome as far as I’m concerned, whether it be on groovy modern rock tinges of ‘Professional Help’, the silly upbeat experimentalism of ‘Goody Goody’, or the Protest The Hero-like opening flurries of ‘Ranks Of The Terrified’. Vocally the album is less impressive, notably on ‘Sloppy’, as Mattias just doesn’t sound as ‘into it’, if you know what I mean. However, I’m almost willing to blame the sound mixing, as his guitar playing doesn’t reflect that same sentiment, as incredibly eclectic and experimental, offering up many sweet bits of technical melody. “Cooking With Pagans” is standard fare for a band like Freak Kitchen, but there’s a sweet charm in that sense familiarity that comes through, one that fans will still welcome with open arms.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Condemned To Hope" by Black Moth

Deathrock/Doom Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     Resembling a fucked up musical fusion of Black Sabbath and The Stooges, Black Moth indulge completely in occult rock ideals with tons of punk, hard rock, and even alt. rock thrown into the mix, creating a mystical and often haunting album that showcases exactly what this band is. For me personally, this is my first experience with Black Moth, but what a great first impression nonetheless, as Black Moth pounce out the gates and show their teeth, whether it be through the Metric meets Samhain doom of ‘Room 13’, the blackened punk rock swagger of ‘White Lies’, or the spacey stoner metal riffery of ‘Tumbleweave’, with the latter in particular packing a sweet melodic groove that will cripple you. The fusion of styles is not only inventive and unique, but works so well. The smooth mid-range indie rock vocals ooze out tons of bittersweet hooks, and when coupled with the huge doomy music, it becomes a weird and strangely sensual sound, perfectly reflecting the earthy, occult-obsessed aesthetic of the album. Every hook hits, every riff bangs, and every drum rings like a pulse in your ear. “Condemend To Hope” is as infectious and abrasive as any of the acts listed above, with the added fire and groove of pure Black Moth to bring it all together.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"Bramy Nawii" by Abusiveness

Black Metal/Death Metal

Released September 16th 2014

     Do not be deceived by the album’s atmospheric and natural opening; “Bramy Nawii” is an absolute hammer that refuses to be trifled with, and as deep and powerful as some of metal’s biggest and most epic bands. Imagine a mix of Celtic Frost with some Demolition’s Hammer and the slightest dash of recent Behemoth, and you MIGHT be close. The sound is honestly a tad overwhelming at first, but once you settle into the outright madness of it all, everything starts to sink in, and soon “Bramy Nawii” drags you along for an insane blackened ride. A certain amount of patience could be required, but its worth it to hear the grand film-like attacks of ‘Proces’, or the pure death metal indulgence of ‘Niezlomni’, the latter of which opens on a series of riffs so heavy that it sounds like Slayer on crack. The albums constant sense of despair is certainly something to admire, but credit absolutely MUST go to whoever produced this, for being able to contain, refine, and polish what would otherwise be pure blackened noise. Sure, nothing here is technically original, but it instead reaches out for everything you love about blackened death, and amplifies it. This album is a riot from start to finish, and a force to be reckoned with in the realms of extreme metal.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

The time has come. There is now, an official Slayer pizza.

According to Rice & Bread Magazine, the Slayer pizza comes with chopped fra mant toscano, soppressata, Cypress Grove ‘Lamb chopper’ cheese, house marinara sauce, a communion wafer crust, and an altar wine gastrique. To put it simply, this shit is sexy as flying fuck.

If you’re down for more info, check it out here; http://www.riceandbreadmagazine.com/the-slayer-pizza-the-only-way-to-eat-it-is-going-piece-by-piece/

"L’impasse" by Fuck The Facts

Are you ready to get some serious whiplash as a result of pure Canadian grindcore? Of course you are, you’re not stupid. Fuck The Facts has always been reliable for some great grind and death, and now they’re continuing the trend with “Abandoned”, the first in a series of indie releases through their own label Noise Salvation, giving us a taste of what to expect with the empowering “L’impasse”, delivering some sweet chunky riffs, huge blasts of hardcore, and enough guitar squeals to make Zakk Wylde piss his pants. Unff.

"L’impasse", and the rest of “Abandoned”, is set for official release October 01st via Noise Salvation. At the moment, Fuck The Facts only have ONE show scheduled, at Oswego Moose Lodge in Oswego, New York alongside Japanese Furnace, Dialysis, and Bleak. Here’s hoping we can get this expanded into a lil’ tour eh?

Apparently Portal is having a projection show alongside their set at Phil Anselmo’s upcoming Housecore Horror & Film Fest.

Apparently they felt the need to release this scary teaser.

Apparently I might need to change my pants now.

Fucking Portal man.

Fear Factory Announces Record Deal w/ Nuclear Blast Entertainment + Guitarist Dino Cazares Talks About Writing/Recording Upcoming Fear Factory Album, Working w/ Andy Sneap & Rhys Fulber, & Upcoming Knotfest U.S.A. Performance; Hints At New Material w/ Divine Heresy Despite Recent Controversy, Confirms New Asesino Material For 2015

In this interview with Jose Mangin from Liquid Metal, Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares reveals lots of juicy info regarding Fear Factory’s upcoming follow-up to 2012’s "The Industrialist", including a new record deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment! The new record, currently untitled, is being written now and will be produced and mixed by Rhys Fulber, who previously worked with Fear Factory on their famous "Demanufacture" album, as well as Paradise Lost’s 2002 album "Symbol Of Life", and Andy Sneap, known for his work with the likes of Carcass, Megadeth, and Testament. Dino Cazares also comments briefly on the recent Divine Heresy controversy, and the possible of new material with Divine Heresy and Asesino, both suspected for release after the upcoming Fear Factory album.

metalinjection:

ANDREW W.K. Defends Metal Perfectly to A Close Minded Girlfriend

"I really don’t want this stuff corrupting my boyfriend and making him change from the loving, positive person he is"

Click here for more

FUCK YES. Who would’ve thought that a pop punk singer would be telling a young girl to shut the fuck up and appreciate metal. Not me. But then again, Andrew W.K. is no ordinary pop punk singer.

(if you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, click the link and read this up.)

"The Swarm" by Unearth

Rejoice! Unearth is storming back with some new shit, and its as mosh-worthy as ever. In the last few years we’ve seen Unearth change a decent bit, and that’s all starting to culminate on “The Swarm”, an absolute ripper of a song with a huge death metal intro to kick things off, before ripping into classic NWOAHM grooves and neo-classical tinges. None of this is THAT new to Unearth’s sound, but its polished and refined as hell here. As usual, Unearth is making all their metalcore peers look like idiots. Good for them.

"The Swarm" is taken from Unearth’s upcoming "Watchers Of Rule" album, set for release October 28th via eOne Entertainment. Until then, you can also catch Unearth on a HUGE North American tour with a bunch of support from the likes of Darkest Hour, Carnifex, Origin, I The Breather, and Black Crown Initiate. Hell, some of the dates have King Parrot opening. Now THAT’S gonna be fucking sweet.

ALBUM REVIEWS!; New Music From Avenged Sevenfold, In Flames, Striker, Crimson Shadows, Lonely Kamel, Digitalife, Megaton Leviathan, Crucified, The Order Of Israfel, Project Arcadia, Steak; September 09th 2014

HOLA EVERYBODY!

This week we’ve got new music from the likes of Striker, Lonely Kamel, Steak, Crucified, Megaton Leviathan, and more! Plus the latest from Swedish melodic death metal fore-runners In Flames entitled “Siren Charms”, and the Napalm Records debut from local Toronto troopers Crimson Shadows entitled "Kings Among Men".

Finally, we snagged a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Avenged Sevenfold’s famed sophomore album "Waking The Fallen" to see if it was any different from the original AND to see how the album had aged after almost a decade of musical evolution and change. Not bad eh?

Anyways, enjoy! \m/

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"Waking The Fallen" (10th Anniversary Edition) by Avenged Sevenfold

Metalcore

Released August 25th 2014

     11 years later, Avenged Sevenfold have become as big in modern metal as the likes of Pantera and Slayer, but for reasons I’ve never quite understood. There were a few tracks here and there I liked, notably “Gunslinger” (seriously that song is under-rated as fuck), but this was never a band I could get into, even 11 years after the initial release of “Waking The Fallen”. This anniversary edition, post-poned from last year due to the release of “Hail To The King”, gave me a chance to revisit the album and as far as I’m concerned, not much has changed. M. Shadows rough vocals still reek of Phil Anselmo worship, the guitar work sticks to open-tab metalcore chugs, and every hook is as bland and in-affective as I remember. Maybe a new sound mix would’ve helped the album stand out a bit more, but with that said, I repsect Avenged Sevenfold for keeping the album true to its origins. The real highlight this time around though is the included bonus material, notably a whole bunch or raw alternate songs and demoes. They’re not ultimately different, but it’s certainly interesting to hear such a refined modern rock band in a much more primal form, and the live tracks in particular showcase the dynamic and energy that the band has recently become known for. “Waking The Fallen” hasn’t changed, for better or for worse, but the extra’s and new additions make it worth a quick nostalgia trip, and a great collector’s item for fans.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Siren Charms" by In Flames

Alternative Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     It’s totally normal for bands to change over time. People grow up, people change, and the music is directly affected (hell, look at what Metallica went through for fucks sake). Whereas some bands manage to persevere and maintain a fanbase, like Opeth or Mastodon, In Flames hasn’t had quite the same luck. “Siren Charms” likely won’t change that trend, though that doesn’t make it COMPLETE crap. For one, it’s strangely still interesting to hear In Flames continue to experiment here; ‘Everythings Gone’ has the groove of modern metalcore and the atmospheric tinges of early 2000’s Marilyn Manson,  ’Rusted Nail’ is a slick alt. metal romp with a big hook and some interesting industrial-drum work, and ‘Filtered Truth’ packs some of the album’s most diverse and interesting guitar work. What’s lost though, as a direct result of obvious experimentation, is focus, and while some of the ideas change, the execution remains the same, as songs tend to stick to a 4 chord base with some often strange vocal choices from Anders, often switching between weird Jonathan Davis-like whimpers and big metalcore gang shouts. It’s a weird and awkward execution that will confuse fans unless you’re TOTALLY into late 90’s metal, and the lyrics don’t help, settling for themes of love, depression, and abandonment. “Siren Charms” has SOME good ideas, but not to make the album entertaining, or even memorable. While In Flames previous works since 2000 haven’t been great per say, this is a new low. A tired, boring, and over-produced record that doesn’t entertain, even with its few sparks. To put it simply, it’s REALLY hard to believe these guys were forerunners of melodic death metal.

Rating: 1.5/5 (Bad)

"City Of Gold" by Striker

Heavy Metal/Speed Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     2012’s “Land Of The Lost” was a banger from start to finish, a great fusion of speed, Iron Maiden-like melody, and big hard rock riffs. “City Of Gold” in many ways is a re-tread, but hey, don’t fix what isn’t broken eh? There’s a tad more thrash this time around, but this is still Striker and they still rock, evident from the 80’s rock riffery of ‘Start Again’, the early Anthrax meets Armored Saint-power and stride of ‘All For One’, and the power metal-infused thrash gallops of ‘Rise Up’.  The album revels in all the great metal of the 80’s with just enough modern touches via influence from Holy Grail and Huntress, to create a flowing mix of pure undeniable heavy metal. The sound mix helps even it all out, but real credit obviously goes to the band Striker themselves, from the speedy dynamic riffs, to the fiery early power metal vocals. It’s definitely clear that not a lot of time may have been spent on writing, but again, that’s hardly a complaint. The focus is classic head-banging heavy metal, and thats what we get. If I have ONE complaint, its that perhaps the album isn’t quite as bloodthirsty and huge as “Land Of The Lost”, but that’s more of a nitpick than anything else, and shouldn’t discourage fans of classic metal from checking out “City Of Gold”.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Kings Among Men" by Crimson Shadows

Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     FINALLY. After a long agonizing wait, Crimson Shadows make their Napalm Records debut and get the chance to shine in full, with a completely refreshed and refined sound combining the melodic death of Amon Amarth, with the fast-paced power metal of DragonForce, to create one hell of a heavy metal album.  Crimson Shadows are quick to the punch, quicker than before, opening the album on a huge medieval0like intro before diving headfirst into righteous death metal riffery. Hooks are the ultimate highlight of the album though, each one grand and accompanied by some great harmonies via guitar and guttural vocals, evident by the dynamic power metal indulgence of ‘Maidens Call’, the blast beats and thrash-like rampaging of ‘Moonlight Skies & Bloody Ties’, or the pure fantasy and scaling twin leads ‘A Gathering Of Kings’. The majority of the vocals are delivered via Jimi Maltais again, and it’s his voice that direct and steals the spotlight constantly, sporting an almost Randy Blythe-like gruff and charisma that drives the point of the music home. With that said, equal credit must still go to vocalist Greg Roundings clean vocals, executed much better here than on previous recordings, and of course, how can I forget the band themselves, delivering constant riff, beat, and hook with not a single lapse to be found. I can imagine some would find the record repetitive, but even then, it’s hard to deny the amount of hard work and effort these guys put in, and harder to deny the quality of metal that comes out. Battle fucking hard dudes.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Shit City" by Lonely Kamel

Hard Rock/Southern Rock

Released September 09th 2014

     The lack of great ol’ fashioned rock in the market is a real shame. Granted, the likes of Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, The Winery Dogs and more have certainly helped fill the gap, but Lonely Kamel have come to stitch the gap completely shut. Ladies and gents, “Shit City” is classy southern rock at its sweetest and finest. It’s got the stoner rock groove of Monster Truck, but the soul and execution reeks of dirty biker rock, classic blues, and the grit and heart of American southern rock, in the vein of ZZ Top with the tiniest bit of influence from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s more recent work. ‘Is It Over?’ has a bluesy groove so catchy and thick it will actually invite earworms into your head, ‘Seal The Perimeter’ packs with psychedelic tendencies and a fat sludgy riff, and ‘BFD’ goes into full feel-good classic rock territory with a funky base and a crooning hook. All the tracks are decently short, never overstaying their welcome or dragging out, a smart decision considering that with all due respect to Lonely Kamel, this isn’t exactly the most original style or execution. But thats part of whats great about “Shit City”. It’s not trying to be big, bold, different, or anything. It’s a rock album through and through, combining the best bits of American rock into one hearty stew.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Nemesis" (Re-Release) by Digitalife

Metalcore

Released September 09th 2014

     This release from Digitalife has been kicking around for a few years now, but only now has international distribution thanks to Imminence Records. I can’t compare this to the original release, seeing as how I don’t have the original release, but I do know that THIS version perhaps should have stayed in Argentina where it came from, as Digitalife don’t seem to do anything aside from fit into metalcore norms with the occassional electronic effect in an attempt to convince you this is electronicore. Songs tend to stick to a mid-tempo base and come absolutely FLOODED with open-tab guitar riffs, to the point where they make Emmure look like Testament by comparison. Seriously, there’s a lot of chugging going on here, and the sound mixing is so bad that none of the chugs even pack a punch, and of course it doesn’t help that sometimes even the timing of the music off (notably in the opening of ‘In Front Of Our Eyes’, there’s a very awkward halt in the music before the verse kicks in). Vocals are horrendous too, ranging from muddy gutturals to some poorly cut clean vocals, that often come paired with an off-putting and unnecessary static. As noted before, there are very brief electronic parts, but none of them make an impact on the music and ALL of them are seconds long at the absolute most (one of them in ‘Lies Behind Glass’ honestly sound like something pulled from an 80’s pop song). “Nemesis” would be boring at best even with a solid sound mix, but once the other stuff comes into play, it just sounds a rushed and re-issued mess.

Rating: 1.5/5 (Bad)

"Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell" by Megaton Leviathan

Doom Metal/Drone Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     With the exception of genre innovators Sun O))), drone metal can be a very daunting and challenging genre as a whole, and while “Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell” from Megaton Leviathan is far from an easy listen per say, it stands out from the standard doom and drone because of the unbelievable flexibility and complexity of the music. To say this isn’t your standard drone metal is an understatement, as it comes packed with harmony, melody, and softer passages that are more along the line of post-metal or even progressive music. Hell, Anathema and Alcest influence manage to creep in from time to time, with huge atmospheric sections with some powerful synthwork and booming guitar work. Over 4 songs, Megaton Leviathan pummel out massive and emotional music, whether it be through moving introspective moments in ‘Here Come The Tears’, or the occasional straight-up weird experimentation of sections in ‘The Foolish Man’, opting for influence from Indian music. The sound mixing balances it out perfectly too, making everything clean enough to fully understand, but still with plenty of rough patches and brooding doom to keep the album big in scope and heavy as fuck. “Past 21“‘s only real flaw is that perhaps the tracks drag on for a bit, but this is still incredibly solid, and a breath of fresh air for a genre that is often stale, repetitive, and painfully slow.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"Dead Of Sleep" by Crucified

Crossover Thrash

Released September 09th 2014

     So who are Crucified?… I don’t know. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there about these guys, except that “Dead Of Sleep” is APPARENTLY a posthumous release, recorded by Crucified in 2011. After they bailed before the new material saw a release, the material was kind of lost and back and forth between owners, but now these tracks have been unearthed via “Dead Of Sleep”, a fiery EP of pure crossover thrash, with the added blackened hardcore of Trap Them and Ringworm, resulting in a absolute hammer from start to finish. The whole thing opens on title track ‘Dead Of Sleep’, which showcases everything terrifying about this band, with an almost Toxic Holocaust-like edge in its guitar work with the groove and attitude of pure hardcore punk, before diving into the varying thrash tempo’s of ‘Conduit’, and then the sludge-like tendencies of ‘Unworthy’, which packs some of the albums most crippling guitar work. Final track ‘Apathy’ plays out more like worship of old-school punk rock with some more of that sludge mentioned before, include some absolutely ferocious instrumentation that will spin your head. In the span of barely 10 minutes, these guys deliver horrifying crossover and hardcore, making me wonder not only how I haven’t heard of these guys before, but also how this is apparently their last release. At least they went out with a bang.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Wisdom" by The Order Of Israfel

Doom Metal/Stoner Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     Revelling in a powerful mix of Candlemass, High On Fire, and Saint Vitus, The Order Of Israfel strike with cold, groove-heavy, and earthy doom metal, with additional influence from gothic rock and traditional heavy metal to boot, creating one big brooding mix of classic metal. Where the album constantly shines is through its music, constantly shifting and turning from one spot to another, whether it be through the lengthy doom of title track ‘Wisdom’, the speed metal-like hammer of ‘The Order’, or the chunky stoner rock of ‘On Black Wings, A Demon’. Riffs just pummel out one after the other, with some of the thickest bass playing in years to boot as well, as bass almost fights for lead while guitar flails away. Vocals is where the albums gets sketchy, as vocals almost come across like a monotone Messiah Marcoline. Sometimes its fine, but tracks like ‘The Noctuus’ are brought down by the choice. On the contrary, when all goes according to plan the vocals are fantastic, particularly on the acoustic heavy ‘The Earth Will Deliver What Heaven Desires’. Sound mixing is great too, giving every note a delicious crunch, and showcases some really fantastic doomy drumwork as well. “Wisdom” is everything we love and expect from many corners of doom metal, all confined into one epic and powerful piece, one that doom metal fans would be stupid to ignore.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"A Time Of Changes" by Project Arcadia

Power Metal/Heavy Metal

Released September 09th 2014

     This latest from Project Arcadia see’s a new face in the band, Trail Of Murder/ex-Tad Morose singer Urban Breed, and while this doesn’t see a huge change in Project Arcadia’s sound or dynamic, I do think that his fairly clean sound fits the band extremely well. It becomes clear fast that the rest of the band agree, as Urban’s vocals are very often at the forefront of the band, like on ‘Beggars At The Door’, or ‘I Am Alive’. While his range doesn’t stretch super far here, his voice fits well, but it seems they still haven’t nailed music. Writing wise the album is extremely repetitive, to the point where a lot of the riffs will not only sound similar to other power metal songs you’ve heard before, but to other tracks on the album itself (both ‘Shelter Me’ and ‘Formidable Foe’ have a very similar base and pattern in the chorus that comes across as lazy quite frankly). Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bright spots; album opener ‘Here To Learn’, though certainly not unique, is interesting enough, with some cool guitar harmonies and a lot of needed speed, and ‘The Ungrateful Child’ is actually a great song, switching out the comfortable power metal for acoustic rock with latin tinges, as well as Urban’s best vocals on the album. “A Time Of Changes” is average-at-best power metal with a few sparks, hopefully a stepping stone for Project Arcadia to really step things up next time around.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Mediocre)

"Slab City" by Steak

Stoner Rock

Released September 09th 2014

     Stoner rock has become too big for its own good nowadays, as bands have become focused on big over-the-top psychedelic trips instead of writing tasty tunes. “Slab City” from Steak however is the opposite, a throwback of sorts to the early days of stoner rock with influence from occult rock and classic southern rock, coincidentally enough in the same vein as “Shit City” from Lonely Kamel, which also came out today (it’s even the same record label. Fucking wow). As typical with any stoner rock, the focus is that big fuzzy groove that emanates from the guitar, and Steak’s riffs deliver with hooks, static, and all the delicious gooey bits we expect from this genre, and plenty of blues and grit to boot. Whether it be through the Kyuss meets Dwellers soul of ‘Liquid Gold’, the sludgy biker rock of ‘Pisser’, or the Black Sabbath-like stride of ‘Hanoid’, “Slab City” consistently churns out riff after riff, and hook after hook, all of them just as simple and soothing as the last. You could argue perhaps the album is a tad generic, but I like the straightforward and down-to-earth approach of the album. It’s something that stoner rock has been lacking for the most part, and “Slab City” delivers it with a lot of heart. If you like good, classic, no-bullshit rock, this is absolutely for you.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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