Napalm Death, Sodom, Fulgora, Pizzahifive, Anaal Nathrakh, Demilich, Primordial, Early Graves, Mother Brain & More Added To Maryland Deathfest XIII Line-Up + More Bands Expected For Announcement Soon; Scheduled To Run May 21st - 25th 2015 In Baltimore, Maryland Across Multiple Venues + Tickets On Sale Now

Not long ago, the initial line-up for Maryland Deathfest XIII, including the likes of D.R.I., Metal Church, Triptykon, and Neurosis, was revealed. Now, an additional 15 bands have been announced to perform at the festival, some of them making exclusive appearances in the U.S.A. at ONLY Maryland Deathfest XIII. Now added to the line-up is Napalm Death, Sodom, Fulgora, Pizzahifive, Anaal Nathrakh, Demilich, Early Graves, Mother Brain, Water Torture, Martyrdod, P.L.F., Primordial, and Noxa. Definitely an AMAZING line-up so far, likely only to get better in the time before the festival, which is scheduled to run May 21st - 25th 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland at multiple venues. You can snag tickets and more info at http://www.marylanddeathfest.com/

ALBUM REVIEWS!; New Music From Overkill, Fallujah, Within The Ruins, Mutilation Rites, Crown The Empire, Fozzy, Dog Fashion Disco, Monolithe, Exxxekutioner, Ill Niño, Varga, Boneyard, Bastard Feast; July 23rd 2014

HOLA EVERYONE!

This week is filled with new music for us, including great new stuff from Varga, Mutilation Rites, Monolithe, Within The Ruins, Fozzy, and more! Plus the latest album “White Devil Armory” from thrash metal legends Overkill, plus the comeback album "Sweet Nothings" from the always sensational Dog Fashion Disco.

And finally; "The Flesh Prevails" by Fallujah. The internet has been going bonkers over this album recently, and Fallujah deserves every bit of that praise fyi. Don’t even listen to this review. Go buy “The Flesh Prevails”. It’s the best album of the year.

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"White Devil Armory" by Overkill

Thrash Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Of all the bands that emerged in the mid 80’s, Overkill seemed to have had the most consistent career, both in terms of their sound from album to album and their sales. Hell, they even managed to survive the 90’s, unlike some of their peers (cough cough Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-Lence). You’d think that almost 30 years since their debut record they’d have lost SOME steam though, and yet, “White Devil Armory” stands as proof that Overkill will forever rule the thrash metal genre. Much like recent albums “The Electric Age” and “Ironbound”, the album’s big highlight is the crisp sound and big dynamic hooks. The chants of ‘Armorist’ will likely be stuck deep in your head for a long time, as will the early-90’s Megadeth throb of ‘Bitter Pill’, the chunky thrash riffery of ‘King Of The Rat Bastards’, or the Iron Maiden styled gallops of ‘In The Name’. Bobby Blitz is the same as ever; a nasally punk with a love/hate vocal style, but one that fits the entirely thrash oriented music, and the band probably knows that best seeing as how Bobby’s vocals are the forefront. So yeah, the album is good. And yet, the music doesn’t have that same edge as previous works. There’s nothing here as grand as ‘Bring Me The Night’, or as relentless as ‘Electric Rattlesnake’, it’s just… good, and thats it. There’e nothing wrong with reliable thrash, don’t get me wrong, but don’t expect anything other than that.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"The Flesh Prevails" by Fallujah

Technical Death Metal/Progressive Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     It’s rare when something in tech-death is genuinely moving. We’ve felt it more often in recent years with seminal albums “The Aura” by Beyond Creation and “Coloured Sands” by Gorguts, but not quite to this extent. “The Flesh Prevails” is something else entirely, a new way of looking at technical death metal, or metal in general. It’s a marvel of musicianship, an advancjje in writing, and the first step towards an aesthetic change in tech-death since “Obscura”, or even “Focus”. After opening on a sensual synth and guitar harmony, the album explodes into some of the most passionate death metal put on the market in years, a trend that most certainly follows with the rest of the album; ‘Starlit Path’ explodes with barrages of riffs and complementing jazz-like solo’s, ‘The Night Reveals’ bounces with an eccentric subtle groove and Animals As Leaders-styled riffs and sweeps, and ‘Alone With You’ is a slow pulsing post-metal beauty, resembling new wave and new age music with female vocals and echoed drums and synths, before launching into the melo-dramatic chugs of ‘Allure’. As you can tell by my writing, and the many glowing reviews, the album succeeds with a mix of furious death and post-metal and progressive ideals, perfectly balancing the sounds to create simultaneously emotional and visceral music. Every person in the band pulls their weight, with vicious growls, an AMAZING rhythm section, which includes a bassist who isn’t shy to fight for lead, and some amazing dynamic between guitars, often dazzling with their range and honest emotion. “The Flesh Prevails” is an absolute beauty from start to finish, a record that will challenge the senses and stir every emotion in you. Fallujah have created the best album of the year, and a game-changer for not just tech-death, not just metal, but the entire spectrum of rock and heavy music.

Rating: 5/5 (Perfect!)

"Phenomena" by Within The Ruins

Deathcore/Technical Death Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Within The Ruins are a great example of how to take deathcore to new and interesting places. Their spin on the genre, not entirely different from Rings Of Saturn but different enough to stand out, is one that focuses on technicality instead of lyrics about oppression and hatred. Fucking yay (thats not exaggeration, im actually happy). There are still plenty of breakdowns, but (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) I like them here. Often breakdowns are coupled with sweeps, guitar flurries, and tons of sweet techy riffs, and followed by some massive percussion, throbbing bass, and some great deathcore gutturals. Take for example the wicked groovy tech-death rushes of ‘Enigma’, the death metal assault and subtle prog of ‘Gods Amongst Men’, or the shining guitar solo’s of ‘Hegira’. The writing has some great short bursts of tech that give a lot of character to the music, especially with the super tight sound mix, which at times gives off a strange but suiting neo-classical feel. Some of the deathcore tropes bleed through, but none of it hurts the album at all. “Phenomena” is a breath of fresh air for deathcore, showing off cool technical groovy aspects in the music and delivering a full and genuinely heavy album that tech-death and deathcore fans will both love.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Harbringer" by Mutilation Rites

Thrash Metal/Black Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     While on the surface Mutilation Rites bring to mind black metal, digging around shows that “Harbringer” embraces nearly every aspect of extreme metal, from thrash, death, sludge, and even some itty bitty doom bits here and there, and the contrast and fusion of everything together is what makes “Harbringer” such a fucking ripper. Hell, there’s even some arguable hardcore influence in the albums vocals, as the singer wails above the huge walls of metal. And believe me, the walls are indeed huge, evident by the fiery dynamic of ‘Gravitational Collapse’, the “Remission”-era Mastodon riffery of ‘Tactical Means Of Ourobouros’, and the proud and varied grooves of album opener ‘Black Pyramid’, which also immediately sets up the tone of the album with a true blaze. The instrumentation is powerful indeed, as is the albums chaotic style, but as noted, everything is balanced. There’s never an outright change in sound or character, everything is justified and has a specific role, and it all comes together into one flowing and abrasive sound. Mutilation Rites have a lot of heart and rage in them, and it’s on the forefront of “Harbringer”, demanding your attention and ready to strike if it doesn’t get what it wants.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways" by Crown The Empire

Metalcore

Released July 22nd 2014

     To say that I was unimpressed with Crown The Empire’s debut album is an understatement. Hell, I had pretty much forgotten about up until this album was tossed on my desk, and much like that album, the long-titled “The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways” is likely to be forgotten just as soon. While I’ll admit that the album is well produced and has a couple good hooks, notably the chorus of ‘Bloodline’ is pretty rad, its ultimately yet ANOTHER generic metalcore album, complete with all the breakdowns, open-tab riffs, introspective and abrasive lyrical themes, and auto-tuned clean vocals, the latter of which is unacceptable regardless of genre (I’m looking at you in particular ‘Rise Of The Runaway’). While electronica isn’t a huge part of Crown The Empire’s sound, it nevertheless makes its appearance every now and then, often just to make some extra noise and ‘create atmosphere’, and even narration makes an appearance on ‘Initiation’, though I’ll also admit that the track kinda makes up for it with some decent groove, in the vein of Slipknot’s ‘Psychosocial’. All in all though, despite some solid hooks and riffs here and there, “The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways” is just another copy-and-paste metalcore album. I’ll be forgetting this faster than their debut.

Rating: 2/5 (Poor)

"Do You Wanna Start A War" by Fozzy

Hard Rock/Alternative Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Quite honestly, I’m shocked Fozzy has lasted this long. Chris Jericho is a cool guy and everything, but far from a solid rock singer, and his band has always been average at best. “Do You Wanna Start A War” isn’t exactly a gamechanger for Fozzy with that in mind, BUT, it’s certainly more entertaining than a lot of what we’ve heard from him in the past. With this album, Fozzy is embracing the pseudo-industrial party rock of Rob Zombie, with the tiniest bit of influence from Sebastian Bach’s solo material and 80’s hair metal. ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ in particular shines with additional alt. metal influence with minor gutturals, electronic tinges in the opening, and a decent chorus to boot, and the title track as well has a bounce to it that brings to mind modern radio rock. One track ‘Lights Go Out’ actually takes a weird turn, resembling “The Path Of Totality”-era Korn with pop rock and electronic fills, but I think it’s an experiment that actually works for Fozzy, and is admittedly very catchy as well, and another fully embraces the glam aspect with Steel Panther’s own Michael Starr as a guest. The lyrics could use some work here and there, and Chris Jericho is not exactly a star vocalist, but “Do You Wanna Start A War” ends as a fairly harmless, and at times, entertaining rock album that shows Fozzy thankfully branching out just enough to warrant a listen.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Sweet Nothings" by Dog Fashion Disco

Alternative Metal/Avant-Garde Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Dog Fashion Disco is back? HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? WOW. Ok, so “Sweet Nothings”, their first album together since 2006’s “Adultery”, is pretty much every bit as weird as we’ve come to expect from… well, anything Dog Fashion Disco. But its fucking great, as it seems their time apart gave them just enough time to re-sharpen, re-focus, and re-think this whole thing. For those unfamiliar, the only comparison I can conjure is Diablo Swing Orchestra, simply because some of the fusions are so wild. Take for example ‘War Party’, a very political, mid-paced thrash style number with big hooks and a brass section to boot. Definitely weird, especially with the circus-like keyboards in the beginning and the un-conventional pattern of the hooks themselves. And thats not it; ‘Envy The Vultures’ has a hardcore-tinged alt. metal hammer with moody tones and some fucking wild guitar parts, ‘Tastes So Sweet’ is wickedly groovy with more horns and some longue-music inspired keyboards, which strangely make it sound a little like j-pop, and ‘We Aren’t The World’ is a genuinely creepy number with some fantastic lyrics and some awesome synths soaring overhead. The writing is incredibly varied to say the least, and yet the experimentation is so well balanced, and adds so much to the tone and emotion of the music. “Sweet Nothings” is a huge comeback for Dog Fashion Disco to say the least, and a sign of hopefully more great things to come.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Zero" by Monolithe

Doom Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Monolithe’s consistent brand of doom and death has always been a powerful one (need I remind you of the glory of “Monolithe III”), but “Zero” is slightly different. It’s more of a compilation rather than a standard studio album, consisting of Monolithe’s first 2 EP’s and a few exclusive covers. These EP’s have been available on the internet for a while, but this is apparently the first physical release as far as I’m aware, so this is the first time most of you will have heard this. Both EP’s played back to back to back are great to say the least, and every bit as doomy and pivotal as before. Of course this makes it a full release now that both EP’s, which let’s face it are 2 giant fucking songs, have a bigger sense of scale to them, and they flow surprisingly well together. It’s hard to pinpoint exact highlights with that in mind, but do not be discouraged; if you love brooding and melo-dramatic doom metal, this is absolutely for you. The extra tracks are great too, delivering more bittersweet and massive doom with mammoth riffs, pounding drums, and furious vocals. If you love Monolithe, or you wanna get to know them, “Zero” is a great thing to look out for.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Fear The Priest" by Exxxekutioner

Thrash Metal/Black Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     “Fear The Priest” is the kind of EP that makes “Bonded By Blood” look like over-produced fluff. A wildly raw piece of honest and abrasive thrash metal, with the spirit of punk and the dark prowess of first wave black metal to back it up, “Fear The Priest” is a great example of how to do retro-thrash RIGHT. Instead of re-hashing ideas like most of their peers (cough cough Bonded By Blood), Exxxekutioner take the entire genre back to its roots and add so many other little pieces, as if to create the one culminative 80’s extreme metal release. With that comes with very scratchy production, typical of the early work of Venom, Kreator, or Exodus to name a few, but some righteous riffs, screeching vocals, and some great subtle hooks alongside the blazing metal. Of course, there’s no doubt that those of you completely tired with retro-thrash in general won’t find much to like, as “Fear The Priest” is in many ways a very safe and predictable EP. However, it has a lot of energy deep within it that recent thrash albums have been missing, so I think it’s still work a look nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Til Death, La Familia" by Ill Niño 

Metalcore/Alternative Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Ill Niño haven’t done a single good thing their entire career, period. Infact, “Epidemic” made it on this blog’s very first WORST OF THE YEAR list back in 2012. With that said, “Til Death, La Familia” has ONE advantage over previous works; its not nu metal. Ill Niñohave finally decided to fully embrace metalcore and alternative metal, so instead of ripping off “Roots”-era Sepultura, they’re ripping off a mixture of “Dante IXX” and “Against”-era Sepultura. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the mopey and often incredibly immature lyrics that have plagued this band since the beginning, now arguably a bit more abrasive as a result of the metalcore influence taking full front, (ie, this line from ‘Not Alive In My Nightmare going ‘I am winning when I am killing you’). Musically the latin elements add nothing but extra percussion, or to be completely realistic, noise, and there’s no point knocking them on it at this point because they’re not listening, so let’s focus on the rest of the music; Like I said, its GREAT these guys aren’t playing nu metal anymore, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can’t write a tune. ‘Live Like There’s No Tomorrow’ is another boring party-core track, ‘I’m Not Your Enemy’ steals so much from Nonpoint and recent Asking Alexandria that its almost hilarious, and ‘My Bullet’ is the kind of junk that bands like Five Finger Death Punch would write to convince you that they’re ‘introspective’. Shedding their nu metal skin has ultimately done nothing but  show us how dry for ideas Ill Niñois, but on the bright side, this isn’t nearly as bad as “Epidemic”.

Rating: 1.5/5 (Bad)

"Return Of The Metal" by Varga

Heavy Metal/Progressive Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     YAY! Local Toronto metal! I’m not sure if “Return Of The Metal” implies that this is Varga’s RETURN (its certainly possible but I don’t know), but what does become clear evident is their loves, as they wear their influences directly on their sleeve, opening on a sample from a Bruce Lee film, even including a delicious ‘HI-YAH!’ before going headfirst into groovy heavy metal, with big hooks in the vein of Iced Earth or even “The Formation Of Damnation”-era Testament. The music leans to some interesting places to, hinting at prog metal in the dynamic of ‘Three Section Staff’, including some weird industrial-like flurries here and there. ‘After Life Comes’ hints at progressive tendencies at well in its opening and groovy riffs, and packs some awesome bass-work to boot, and ‘Evil Drifters’ rings with some great guitar and bass trade-offs, which of course build up some wicked harmonies as a result. The instrumentation is definitely a highlight, but vocals certainly carry their weight as well, opting for some great modern Accept-like hooks with power metal flair and classic metal range. “Return Of The Metal” is a very solid metal album, and while it may not be the most original, it still has lots of strong riffs and hooks to dig into. If this an apparent ‘return’ for Varga, it’s a damn good one.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Fear Of A Zombie Planet" by Boneyard

Deathgrind

Released July 22nd 2014

     You’ve gotta admire deathgrind and grindcore that TOTALLY indulges in all its tropes and stereotypes. Boneyard’s “Fear Of A Zombie Planet” is no exemption, even its cover looks like an old-school B horror film, and the rest of the album reflects that. ‘Rise Of The Dead’ is a “Symphonies Of Sickness”-era Carcass bomb that rages and thrashes constantly, ‘Carnival Of Terror’ is as raw and primal as it is deadly, and ‘Cannibals’ is every bit as abrasive and gore-hungry as it sounds. Of course though, repetition is the album’s sole problem, and unfortunately, it is a big problem. Songs tend to stick to their Carcass-inspired base, lyrics are all about blood and gore, and the music itself really isn’t all that endearing when you cut to the very core of it. I don’t blame entirely blame Boneyard though, the deathgrind genre’s conservative nature is just as guilty. If you’re familiar with the deathgrind genre, this is ultimately yet another album in the genre. Nothing remarkable, and fairly average. Certainly not bad, and trust me there are plenty of bad ones, but nothing worth remembering in the long run.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Mediocre)

"Osculum Infame" by Bastard Feast

Death Metal/Sludge Metal

Released July 22nd 2014

     Ignoring the more common slow and brooding recipes of sludge, Bastard Feast opt for something death metal-based, with sludge in the back, often just to make the riffs as fat and crispy as possible, which I should note is the definite highlight; the combination of death and sludge is absolutely infectious here, a powerfully heavy concoction with gutturals, pulsing rhythm, and some stirring leads, not to mention some overly brutal titles and lyrics to boot (‘Fields Of Black Cancer’? Jesus titty fucking christ that is a great title). Of course there is still some slow sludge here and there. Infact the track I just mentioned slows down big time near the end with some of the albums biggest riffs, and thats only the one track! Other tracks certainly deliver as well, like the scratchy blackened death of ‘Bloated City’, the abrasive jackhammer of ‘The Rats Through Our Veins’, or the pure Eyehategod meets Behemoth mystic sludge of ‘The Serpent Spoke’. Vocals are a highlight too, very icy and cold with some more black metal influence thrown in, but make no mistake, this is the fury and doom of death and sludge at heart. “Osculum Infame” has come to destroy you, fans of extreme metal should not ignore under any circumstances.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

OZZY OSBOURNE Unveiling Cover Art For Mystery Project

metalnationradio:

OZZY OSBOURNE Unveiling Cover Art For Mystery Project

Ozzy

Legendary BLACK SABBATH singer Ozzy Osbourne has asked his fans to “help unscramble Ozzy’s new cover art by using the hashtag #OzzyRules on Facebook and Twitter. The more you share the sooner it unlocks.” (more…)

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Just so you know folks, Blabbermouth.net has confirmed that this is a compilation, entitled. “Memoirs Of A Madman”..

Back in 2010, Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace frontman Jesse Leach told MetalSucks.net that he was working on a dub music side-project, now called AliKeN. Well, 4 years later it seems Jesse Leach has brought that back into the limelight with the release of “Pressure Dub”, an extremely ambient piece, bringing to mind some recent post-rock. To say it doesn’t sound anything like Killswitch Engage, is an understatement.

Personally, I’m interested in what dub music fans have to say, especially considering that I, along with many Killswitch Engage fans likely, don’t know a lot about this genre at all. Whatcha think?

Guitarist John 5 Announces Collaborative Album w/ Van Halen Frontman David Lee Roth, Supposedly Set For Release Next Year + Reflects On Previous Collaborations w/ Rob Halford, Desmond Child, Trent Reznor, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley & More; Talks About Upcoming Plans For A Live Streaming Concert Series w/ Special Guests

Well, a bombshell has been dropped on us! In a recent interview with One On One With Mitch Lafon 31, solo artist and Rob Zombie/ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 revealed that he has fully recorded and produced a collaborative record with Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth, which supposedly will be released in the very near future. Speaking of the record, John 5 said 'And its 11 of the greatest songs you'll ever hear, and its just me and Dave, and we had Greg Bissonette plays drums on it. And it's unbelievable.' even revealing the song-title "Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar & Grill". On top of that, John 5 reflects on some previous collaborations, including the controversial "Voyeurs" by 2wo featuring Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, as well as his plans for a series of concerts to be streamed live, with a series of un-confirmed special guests.

King Diamond releases statement regarding departure of Hal Patino

planetmosh:

King Diamond releases statement regarding departure of Hal Patino


Yesterday (19th July) King Diamond released the following statement on Facebook “Hal Patino has been relieved of his duties with King Diamond, for reasons very similar to why he was fired from the band in 1990. This will have NO negative impact on our upcoming shows whatsoever. On the contrary. KING”

This morning a much more indept statement hasYesterday (19th July) King Diamond released the…

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Well damn, that escalated quickly.
I guess the question now is, who will play for King Diamond on the upcoming tour.

So, it looks like the collaboration between former Megadeth members Nick Menza and James LoMenzo is kind of official now, as they’ve recorded a cover of "Motorbreath" by Metallica, with Sufiosa gutiarist and vocalist Davor Garasic. It’s actually a pretty sweet cover, arguably faster than the original.

Any thoughts on this apparent collaboration?

ALBUM REVIEWS!; New Music From Monuments, English Dogs, Hate Division, Suicide Silence, Betraying The Martyrs, Novembers Doom, United Nations, Volumes, Lazer/Wulf, Illuminate Me, Demonic Resurrection, Grave Digger, Devilskin; July 18th 2014

HOLA EVERYONE!

This week we’ve got new music from Volumes, Hate Division, English Dogs, Monuments, Illuminate Me, and more! Plus the latest work from death/doom pioneers Novembers Doom entitled “Bled White”, and "The Beast Of Left & Right" from Lazer/Wulf, which is apparently the first album that acts as a palindrome from start to finish… at least, the first as far as I’m aware of…

And finally, one of the most anticipated albums of the year; "You Can’t Stop Me" from Suicide Silence, their first album with ex-All Shall Perish frontman Eddie Hermida in place of the late Mitch Lucker. Definitely a lot on the line for Suicide Silence with this one, and a lot on the line for All Shall Perish as well, as Eddie Hermida was forced to leave in order to work with Suicide Silence so yeah…a lot on the line.

Anyways, enjoy! \m/

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"The Amanuensis" by Monuments

Progressive Metal/Metalcore

Released July 08th 2014

    “The Amanuensis” is slightly different from the countless other ‘djent’ styled albums sent out this week (I can’t believe I just wrote that but yeah there’s lots of djent this week), in the sense that Monuments understand that the chunky riffs aren’t the only things that matter. Where Monuments succeed the most is in their multi-layered vocals and hooks, like the huge scale of ‘Origin Of Escape’, and the great groove-laden riffs in the back emphasize every word, creating a great dynamic between vocal and instrumental parts. ‘The Alchemist’ brings in some more core, but much like ‘Origin Of Escape’, is heavy on the dynamic between vocals and instrumentals, as is the extremely chunky ‘Jinn’, and the middle eastern experimentation of ‘Garden Of Sankhara’. Admittedly not every hook works, even the track I just praised ‘Garden Of Sankhara’ has a fairly predictable verse, but it still has a lot of great ideas, and in case you haven’t noticed, vocals aren’t the only element of the music; the guitar-work and rhythm work is really great, with an awesome sense of timing and some cool jazz-like patterns at times, and everything comes together thanks to a stellar sound mix that knows what to highlight and when to highlight it. “The Amanuensis” is an example of what djent is capable of, and Monuments understand that more than any Meshuggah copy cat band out there today.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"The Thing With Two Heads" by English Dogs

Crossover Thrash

Released July 08th 2014

     The British hardcore veterans English Dogs are back with “The Thing With Two Heads”, though long-standing fans will notice that the band has gone a significantly thrashier direction, probably a smart move given how unrecognizable English Dogs brand of hardcore is compared to modern hardcore, but the result is nonetheless filled to the brim with punk rage, now with the added technicality that thrash allows. The guitar work as a result gets a huge boost, with ‘Turn Away From The Light’ packing shifting riffs and tons of riff variety, ‘Freak Boy’ packing an almost Exodus-like hook in its verse as well as huge guitar screeches, and ‘Planet Of The Living Dead’ surprisingly packing some NWOBHM styled guitar harmonies in its chorus. Of course everyone else certainly pulls their weight as well, with some great rhythm work and some just-as-surprising vocal work, now taking more use of more standard thrash metal vocals alongside the standard amateur vocal antics of punk. The fusion of all these ideas and styles is just enough not only to make English Dogs fresh, but to make this feel like a natural evolution for the band. Granted, a few tracks get dismissed as filler, notably ‘Hate Song’ , but that doesn’t stop the album from succeeding. This is definitely one of the smartest albums English Dogs has done, and I’m hoping we get to hear English Dogs continue to expand in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Order Of The Enslaved" by Hate Division

Death Metal

Released July 08th 2014

     With this sophomore album, Hate Division are showing a much more diverse and interesting side that wasn’t present before, allowing their influences to shine through just enough to give each track a surprising identity. ‘The Divine Reward’ for example is a slower, almost death n’ roll like number, bringing to mind the likes of Six Feet Under, but then there are tracks like ‘Pornography Of War’ and ‘The Final Exhalation’ that are more technical, and even groove-laden, with the latter track in particular bringing to mind Misery Index, or in its more technical moments, arguably “Obscura”-era Gorguts. Hate Division is pulling from a lot of different sources and it makes a huge difference both in the albums musical direction and with the pacing of the record itself, with softer passages thrown around via the likes of ‘Striken’ that break the natural monotony of extreme metal and offer a quick breather for the listener. Sure, “Order Of The Enslaved” is far from the most original record on the market, but it still has good ideas, and it brings of them together into one collective pot to create a surprisingly diverse album, which in case you didn’t notice, can be hard to come by in death metal, or the extreme metal spectrum as a whole.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"You Can’t Stop Me" by Suicide Silence

Deathcore

Released July 15th 2014

     I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out the position that Suicide Silence is in right now; the loss of such an iconic and dynamic frontman like Mitch would have spelled out the end of any other band, take for example Thin Lizzy or even Queen. But then again, Thin Lizzy lives on as Black Star Riders, and even Queen is on the road with Adam Lambert, so I suppose it’s only fair Suicide Silence get their second chance as well. With that in mind, lets get the obvious out of the way; Eddie Hermida is not Mitch Lucker. Deal with it coreheads. That aside, he is a great vocalist here, and arguably delivers one of his best performances to date, utilizing gutturals, screeches, and huge enveloping screams. Of course, the rest of Suicide Silence packs a punch as well, though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the groove metal and nu metal influence of “The Black Crown”. It seems that they’ve actually stepped back big time, and with the exception of pure death metal numbers like ‘Cease To Exist’ and ‘Control’, the latter of which featuring a menacing guest spot from Cannibal Corpse’s own Corpsegrinder, Suicide Silence seems scared to branch out. I understand why though; they want to figure out what type of band they are, just like how Killswitch Engage scaled back last year with “Disarm The Descent” when Jesse Leach rejoined. And of course, that doesn’t mean “You Can’t Stop Me” is bad, it just means that it’s a lot more simple. I would’ve preferred to hear a lot more of the death metal experimentation, because with Eddie at the helm they are ROCKING those numbers, but as it stands, “You Can’t Stop Me” is a solid comeback, and a testament to the integrity of Suicide Silence and the vision Mitch Lucker had for it.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Phantom" by Betraying The Martyrs

Deathcore/Symphonic Metal

Released July 15th 2014

     This sophomore from Betraying The Martyrs is a puzzle, and not in a good way. It seems they’ve confused technicality, progression, and flow with brief symphonics, constant fills, and sounds so over-produced they belong on an Amaranthe album. They’re under the assumption that simply creating noise is creating atmosphere, but the album has no timing, no anything. Take ‘Lighthouse’ for example; the track opens with a genuinely sweet choir, the perfect opportunity to create mood, even if a generic one, but after a mere few seconds, open tab riffs build up and consume any chance at emotion that the choir had, with the only so-called feeling and atmosphere instead delivered by brief pauses and average-at-best clean vocals in the chorus, with all the clipped chugs that deathcore is stuffed with. A lot, if not all, of the tracks do this. They’re more interested in being psuedo-technical and kinda symphonic rather than actually BEING technical and symphonic, and to make up for it, everything is wildly over-produced with extra riffs, clean harmonies, backup vocals, and keyboard pieces to fill up as much space as physically possible. To put it simply, Betraying The Martyrs don’t have a single original bone in their body, so they make up for it by briefly indulging in the bare minimum aspects of technical music to convince you that they’re ‘deep’ and ‘emotional’. Even their cover of ‘Let It Go’, a song INSANELY well known for its emotional impact and power, is reduced down to pretentious dribble, filled to the brim with synths, harmonies, and huge riffs that add nothing but static, and it doesn’t help that whoever was behind the mixing board was clearly trying to make this as compressed as “Death Magnetic”. Underneath the countless layers of icing is a terrible slice of deathcore, expecting your praise simply because it’s deathcore, and according to some people, that’s all you need to be, to be good. Don’t be one of those people.

Rating: 0.5/5 (Insulting)

"Bled White" by Novembers Doom

Doom Metal/Gothic Metal

Released July 15th 2014

     A forerunner of the death/doom subgenre of metal, Novembers Doom is very much the same as they were when they debuted, though now significantly smarter and more gothic metal than death metal oriented. “Bled White” in many ways is the culminative Novembers Doom album as a result, combining a lot of the ideas this band has become known for with the newfound progressive metal ideals previously heard on “Aphotic”. With that comes plenty of gloom, whether it be through the multi-layered gothic croons of ‘Heartfelt’, the bitter Type O Negative-like doom of ‘Clear’, or the slow build-up and dark emotion of ‘Just Breathe’. Musically these guys are at the top of their game, with massive riffs around every corner, stunning acoustic and slow pieces, and some great harmonized vocal work to boot. My only real complaint would be that the album is actually pretty long, as the tracks all reach around 6 or 7 minutes long, with a total 11 tracks, rounding out to an unusually long listening experience for the average listener. That aside, “Bled White” is a clear sign that Novembers Doom is still a great force to be reckoned with, fresh with ideas and stories to share.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"The Next Four Years" by United Nations

Post-Hardcore/Grindcore

Released July 15th 2014

     United Nations is a cut above the modern hardcore bands of planet earth in the sense that, they’re not hardcore; they’re a grindcore band that delve head first into post-hardcore, with a weird mix of power chords, wild tempo’s, cynical lyrics, and massive screeches.  They love to play around with ideas and that a lone is a huge pay off, evident from the insane ending of ‘Revolutions At Varying Speeds’, the hardcore infused Mastodon riffery of ‘Between Two Mirrors’, and the strange contrast between ambience and blazing punk in ‘Music For Changing Parties’. Some will argue that it’s a little all over the place, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a tad too frantic for my tastes, but it’s hard to complain when it’s so rare to see ANY core band even bothering to experiment musically. Of course, United Nations is also very sharp lyrically, with vague and subtle messages and ideas that really force you to think, very similar to the likes of Converge in a few senses, but also cracking whips at modern hardcore, with an extremely subtle reference to Phantom Of The Opera in ‘Serious Business’, as if to compare the seemingly different areas. The lyrical bite alone is enough to recommend, but combine with a weird and startling hardcore brew, and “The Next Four Years” becomes incredibly tough to ignore.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"No Sleep" by Volumes

Metalcore/Groove Metal

Released July 15th 2014

     “No Sleep” is ultimately a huge mixed bag for me, because it does a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong, but considering the obvious Meshuggah worship, it could’ve certainly gone elsewhere. So with that in mind; what does this album do right? For one, its sense of groove, and its melody. Clean vocals are average, but that doesn’t mean the hooks themselves aren’t solid, and when synced up with the groovy dynamic of the album, the whole thing becomes bouncy, and a joy to listen to. ‘Erased’ in particular has some great groove-work near the end of the track, and ‘The Mixture’ rocks a super djenty opening bass and riff that has some wild funk embedded underneath. Now, what about the bad? Unfortunately, the vocals and lyrics. It’s a shame that a band that manages to craft a lot of great catchy moments in the music can’t seem to the same lyrically and vocally, as the album opts for many of metalcore’s most generic themes and ideals, and vocally, the album ranges from barely average shouts to barely average clean vocals. And as noted before, its pretty tough to ignore the blatant Meshuggah worship. That said, if you are a big fan of djent, then there’s honestly no reason why you wouldn’t like this, but for me, the albums generic and repetive themes coupled with its lazy vocals, cripple its potentially decent music.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Mediocre)

"The Beast Of Left & Right" by Lazer/Wulf

Avant-Garde Metal/Progressive Metal

Released July 15th 2014

     I have no idea what this band is. At all. They’re weird, over-the-top, fast, dramatic, and have a great sense of vision and ambition. “The Beast Of Left & Right” displays that better than anything Lazer/Wulf could have ever put out, and does something that as far as I’m aware, hasn’t been done in metal before, or music at all; the entire album is a palindrome. That doesn’t mean the record plays in reverse after the middle though. They reverse and synch lyrics, riffs, beats, everything. It’s borderline impossible to accurately describe, which perhaps may this albums big problem. It’s simply TOO ambitious, and honestly confusing when you really start to think about it. Does that mean its bad? Absolutely not. The music here is so incredibly well arranged and cut, as evident by its theme, packed with hooks, big proggy chords and riffs, and over-the-top musicianship. The music alone is captivating because of its several unpredictable twists, and thankfully even that theme is reflected when the palindrome REALLY kicks in, but yeah… that palindrome. Maybe it’s just me, but I found the concept overwhelming and confusing, and there’s no doubt others will feel the same. HOWEVER, that doesn’t stop “The Beast Of Left & Right” from crafting some really great instrumental music, maybe even some of the best of the year.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"I Have Become A Corpse" by Illuminate Me

Metalcore/Grindcore

Released July 15th 2014

     Pay close attention ‘core-kids’ and Bring Me The Horizon copycat wannabee’s; THIS is how fucking modern hardcore should sound. THIS is what the genre so desperately needs. THIS is the album that traditionalist fans of the genre have been waiting for. Bringing in some thrash, some grind, some classic punk, and a boatload of sloppy core, Illuminate Me have created a vile and abrasive album that will likely do one of two things to you; scare you and weird you out completely, or scare you and rock your fucking mind. The former is probably more likely just because of how alienated core kids are from ACTUAL hardcore, but the latter is the appropriate response for sure. After opening on the almost Kvelertak-like subtle melodies and stringy hooks of ‘Voodoo Blues’, the album dives into a driving mix of grindcore and metalcore, evident by the roller coaster of ‘The Porcelain God’, the thrashing grind of ‘Apples To Whoranges’,or the straight up crusty sludge of ‘And I Will Never Die’. Musically these guys are top notch, playing around with speed, timing, groove, and subtle melody at every corner, but lyrically these guys shine. It actually reminds me a little of Pig Destroyer, since the lyrics are bitter and have a dark comedy embedded in them, and definitely reflects the albums bitter and dark music. Some guest performers can be found from members of Glass Cloud and The Color Morale, but Illuminate Me steal the show every second. Their cynical writing is smart and relatable, their music is smart and furious, and their overall dynamic is something hardcore punk has been missing for a long time. This is the best hardcore album of 2014. Period.

Rating: 5/5 (Perfect!)

"The Demon King" by Demonic Resurrection

Melodic Black Metal/Symphonic Metal

Released July 15th 2014

     Honestly, I’m not super familiar with Demonic Resurrection. I had never even heard of them until this album was put on my desk. After listening to “The Demon King” in full, I’m not super shocked I didn’t hear of them, as the album is cheesy as hell at moments, and lacking a real sense of professionalism in general. But lets focus on the good; this album has some great melodies and some great buildup. The execution of the harmonies in ‘Facing The Faceless’ is bold and dramatic, even if the sound mixing could be better, and the slow, broading riffs of ‘The Promise Of Never’ creates a gradual build-up with great payoff. Musically the album has some good ideas too, with cool riffs, drums, and some pretty decent symphonics to boot, though the latter as noted before can sometimes come across as cheesy, like on opening track ‘The Assassination’. The production of the album is weird too, as symphonics sound incredibly fake, bass seems buried in the mix, and the overall sound isn’t as heavy as it should be, lacking the impact needed to make this a really great album. Still, “The Demon King” has some great ideas, so who knows, maybe in the hands of a different producer, there’s a great album lying underneath.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Return Of The Reaper" by Grave Digger

Heavy Metal/Power Metal

Released July 15th 2014

    “Return Of The Reaper” is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from the likes of Grave Digger in this day and much, very much so continuing with what we heard on “Clash Of The Gods”, though it’s been dumbed down. The hooks and riffs aren’t as massive as they were before, a shame seeing as how that’s something Grave Digger always used to knock out of the park, and what we’re left with brings to mind a slightly better produced version of Judas Priest’s “Redeemer Of Souls”. But much like that album, “Return Of The Reaper” does have some good spots. ‘Tattooed Rider’ is a really cool steady rock track, ‘Road Rage Killer’ has some of the albums best guitar work and riffery, and ‘Hell Funeral’ has a very Sabaton-like feel that gives the track some added grit, and even the albums lesser tracks fall moreso into filler territory instead of genuine crap, with ONE notable exception; closing track ‘Nothing To Believe’ is a wildly over-the-top and silly power ballad, and its piano-heavy verses make Chris Boltendahl sound like the freak child of Dave Mustaine and Joakim Broden. Ultimately “Return Of The Reaper” is just kind of boring and uneventful, and as it progresses, even its better moments bleed together and fade into obscurity much like everything else offered.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Mediocre)

"We Rise" by Devilskin

Hard Rock/Alternative Metal

Released July 15th 2014

    There’s ultimately not a whole lot to Devilskin at the core, basically a blend of Hellyeah and Five Finger Death Punch groove and abrasive metal, but dumbed down with some obvious Paramore and Halestorm influences. Throw in some wickedly repetitive lyrics for Devilskin to drive into your skull, and there you go; “We Rise”. And I do mean repetitive. The amount of times ‘start a revolution’ is screamed into your ears by the time the track of the same name is done is fucking insane, and with zero variation in the chords or tone of the song, its basically a quick and dumb pop rock number, forgotten as soon as it leaves. ‘Little Pill’ has some subtle nu metal flavour, but it still falls victim to a predictable 4 chord format and one of the dumbest lyrics on the album (‘You, you’ll see, you never, have seen my world, unless you know its the world that you’re living in’… what the fuck does that even mean?), and ‘Until You Bleed’ is the kind of watery metal we heard on Avenged Sevenfold’s “Hail To The King”. Things almost look up when you see a title like ‘Elvis Presley Circle Pit’, but what you get instead is a slow and needlessly introspective pop rock number with enough open-tab chugs to make Chelsea Grin shit their pants. There’s nothing musically interesting or unique about this band at all, and even their vocalist fails to impress as songs re-use and steal hooks. “We Rise” is tired, boring, original, and extremely repetitive. Five Finger Death Punch fans will be wildly impressed, but the rest of you should waste your money elsewhere.

Rating: 1.5/5 (Bad)

"Too Loud (For The Crowd)" by Midnight

YAY! More flexi discs from Decibel Magazine! This one comes courtesy of Midnight, and features a raging Venom cover, taken from their 1985 album “Possessed” entitled “Too Loud (For The Crowd)”. As we’ve come to expect from anything Midnight, or Venom for that matter, its an abrasive number with lots of energy and big riffs, though Midnight’s take seems to be a bit punkier in tone, not that that’s a problem though. I think its great that Midnight chose a much deeper and lesser known track to cover personally, lord knows we don’t need more stuff from “Black Metal” shoved down our throats.

"Too Loud (For The Crowd)" will be packaged with the September 2014 issue of Decibel Magazine, but you can stream it here indefinitely. As for Midnight, their album "No Mercy For Mayhem" comes out August 19th via Hell’s Headbangers, and they just announced a few dates with Samhain and Goatwhore for late October.

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