Camouflaged Albums with Ninja-like Abilities
Approaching years end it occurs to me, like many others I would presume, that there just isn’t enough time in the day. Take for example the fact that this year has been a stellar year for extreme music. Sure, I’ve compiled my list, much like many others, but it’s taken me up until now to glimpse what could well be deemed merely the ‘tip of the iceberg’ (just the ‘tip’ – you say!?)
A virtual mountainous landscape of metal remains clear of the passage between my ears, so what better way then to attempt to wrap up 17′ with a handful (but, how big are your hands? I hear yelled coyly from the bleachers) of releases that could well have placed on many a list if only they were consumed, perhaps released, a little ealier in the year..?
Without further ado and another tedious trip down diatribe lane, I give you…
Belphegor – TotenRitual (Sweden)
Release – September/15/2017
Nuclear Blast America
Belphegor somehow manages to fill the void that Morbid Angel created with the ultra-hyped release Disdained Kingdoms.
Everything is present that I hoped might have been in the MA album. The drums are on point, tight and display varied octopus like rhythms, they don’t drown the overall mix, as was my major complaint with the MA album, but add just the perfect amount of ‘Oomph’. Guitar riffs and passages hint at diabolical realms but don’t suffocate the listener. The brutalness is there as too is a certain grandiose presence.
Overall an album that shows, in my opinion anyways, Belphegor hitting their prime delivering calibre of a quality that old and new fans alike will greedily devour.
The King is Blind – We are the Parasite, We are the Cancer (UK)
Release – October/13/2017
A wicked mixture of influence and style drives this album. Hardly a straightforward ‘death’ release doom, thrash, grindcore, crust , punk and hints of industrial and sludge elements are tossed into the mix to make this album stand apart from its peers. Several acts flash across the cortex as the album plays out, based on the tracks musical vibe including At the Gates, Carcass, Napalm Death and oddly also Ministry on account of Steve Tovey’s vocal style at times being similar to Al Jorgenson.
Karl Willets from Memoriam (formerly Bolt Thrower) lends his vocal presence on one of the albums more notably brutal tunes. Although it’s the first two tracks that yank the listeners attention deep into distractionville. In my case I was assembling a DIY shelf unit (the kind that invoke all manner of curses to accompany the labor that goes with) and managed to transform it into something altogether unrecognizable. Thanks gents!
Overall a listening experience that may well broaden the mind whilst giving the neck one hell of a workout.
SnakeyeS – Metal Monster (Spain)
Release – November/25/2017
If you can get past the cover and it seeming wanting to offer the listener content with a melodic death edge you can have a lot of fun with this album. Admittedly I’m not normally a fan of speed/heavy metal but this delivers with undeniable quality. The vocals are outstanding in a Halford-esque manner but the percussion and track structure are what drive the album into ultra listenable territories. Think Iron Maiden mixed with Judas Priest hesvyetsl sensabilitieswith the occasional Overkill, Sacred Reich and Fight agression and you’ll be in the same ballpark. Apart from only a few moments this album will have you tapping your limbs and nodding your skull throughout it’s entirety.
Highly recommended for fans of speed/NWOBHM and more traditional heavy metal.
Chainsaw – Filthy Blasphemy (Greece)
Release – October/28/2017
Hell’s Fire/Vulkan Records
This is filthy, raw, blackened thrash that any fan of vintage Kreator especially will salivate over. Ranging from ultra fast, Under the Guillotine esque speed to slower fast with tempos that will still drive the listener insane this album delivers in a big way. Seriously how can one not like this album, with track titles like Storm of Vomit the intrigue is initially peaked the album thankfully doesn’t disappoint.
Don’t let this pass album you by its a stunning example of the resurgence of thrash that demands respect.
Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (USA)
Release – October/20/2017
I’m not normally a fan of progressive rock. I can honestly say that I’ve never made it past more than a few songs by either Dream Theater, Planet X, or Rush but this however, for some reason, held my interest. Of course there’s moments of extreme technical wankery, but that’s to be expected as many of the members past accolades read like an inductee list for the hard rock Hall of Fame (if there was such a thing). Influence and styles range from early Dream Theatre (obviously as Mike Portnoy was a long time member), mid era Deep Purple (keyboard heavy which I’ll admit, alongside Rainbow material around the same era, is one of my musical guilty pleasures) and hard rock ala Dokken. My appreciation of this shows both my age and diverse musical taste in metal/rock music there’s not a growl or blast beat to be found anywhere in here but sometimes that’s exactly what the mood desires.
If you’re up for something melodic, full of complexity and depth, thats musically eye openong with ultra catchy rhythms and outstanding clean vocals with fantastic range then give this a shot. Consider it a pallette cleanser, if you must.
Pallbearer – Heartless (USA)
Profound Lore Records
Anyone else notice my mistake? Yeppers, Heartless was released in March. Perhaps my metal radar needs fine tuning. Anyhows, because this has appeared prominently on an unfathomable amount of year end lists and the bands material has nothing but great things spoken about it I thought I’d give this at least a cursory listen.
Its instantly utterly easy to see why people are liking this as much as they are. The style is very easy to listen to and lose oneself in. Devoid of growls and vocal brutality the music has huge potential to appeal to a wide audience. Classical riffs and cleverly crafted track structures encompass the entirety of the emotional spectrum taking the listener on quite the exciting journey through the album’s length. Heartless isn’t devoid of diversity either. Cruel Road shows Pallbearers willingness to dip into Mastodon type territory while still sticking with the classical doom roots they’re known for. Exhibiting elements of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and a wide range of other influence Pallbearer have crafted a style that’s dustinctly theirs and an album that’s dangerously close to being deemed a masterpiece. Perhaps it’s time for me to sift through their past works.
Seek this out folks, oftentimes hype is merely hyperbole, in this case however it’s warranted as Heartless is outstanding.
Hideous Divinity – Adveniens (Italy)
Release – April/28/2017
Unique Leader Records
With 17′ being such an amazing year for metal it’s no wonder that some albums managed to slip across the radar undetected, Adveniens is just one such release.
Hideous Divinity have painstakingly crafted an opus thats tight, brutal (though doesn’t in any way sacrifice melody) and bears a mixture of undeniable influence (ranging from Nile, Morbid Angel, Vader, Suffocation and a slew of others) that combine brilliantly making for a audio experience that’s extremely difficult not to appreciate.
Exquisite production holds this stunning collection of tracks together but not so tightly that each instrument isn’t given room to breathe. The drums in the overall mix are supreme and give rise to the suggestion of truly inhuman abilities. Let’s not, however, forget the percussion and vocals the entire concoction is seamless, executed to perfection, invoking spastic limb movement where before there was mere atrophy.
If your favorite band has done nothing but dissapoint (no names) turn your attentions towards this release but be prepared for it delivers.
Keep a neck brace handy!
Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi (USA)
Release – July /21/2017
Nuclear Blast Records
Fast as something unfathomably out of control plunging down a silly downwards gradient and as technical as an iPhone’s operational manual (in latin) Decrepit Birth
always delivered when it comes to tech death showcasing progressive elements. Maturing with each and every release Axis Mundi adds another chapter of epic greatness to a discography that albeit short, three full lengths to their credit, doesn’t scrimp on calibre or quality.
The Axis Mundi ‘experience’ offers a great deal to keep the listener on their toes, enthralled, oftentimes tipping the hat to other acts who have tried their hand at or choose to dwell in the same arena. Pestilence and Cynic come to mind although Decrepit Birth oftentimes elaborate on what many might perceive the direction the music will take and lead the listener into wildly imaginative realms. These meanderings don’t always work (for me) but they serve to lend the album a mind expanding edge (much like the awesome album artwork) as is very much the case with any DB album you’re likely to lay your ears upon.
In conclusion, this isn’t the finest Decepit Birth album to date but it remains wholly consumable snd exhibits extraordinairy musical attributes which aren’t in the slightest bit disappointing.
As an added bonus there’s also three outstanding covers (Orion – Metallica, Desperate Cry – Sepultura and Infecting the Crypts – Suffocation) that feature the DB ‘touch’ to break up the album nicely.
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King (Sweden)
Release – October/20/2018
Metal Blade Records
Sorcerers last outings was an album I enjoyed very much so when I happened upon their newest I was eager to dive in with digit at the ready. For those who are unaware Sorcerer play epic doom with smatterings of traditional heavy and speed metal and an emphasis on melody with emotional vocals. Think early Candlemass/Tony Martin era Black Sabbath song structures with poignant riffs complemented by grandiose Dio -esque vocals and added atmosphere only then will you be somewhat close.
Originally formed, partly, by Johnny Hagel (of Tiamat fame) in 1988 the band have had quite the history though have never gotten the credit I believe they so rightfully deserve.
The Crowning of the Fire King with its unforgettable nature, solos that will toss the listener back a few decades and outstanding traditional soaring vocals courtesy of Anders Engberg, will certainly advance them the audience they warrant.
Devoid of filler the album runs into mammoth lengths encompassing ten tracks that showcases traditional doom at its finest the calibre of which I’m sure Messiah Marcolin and Snowy Shaw would wholeheartedly approve of. If you’re inclined to enjoy this genre this is a fantastic jumping on point in discovering Sorcerer and thus truly is an album you can lose yourself in.
An outstanding example of traditional doom that you don’t want to let pass you by.
Well, that’s about it for this diverse installment, as always my appreciation for making it this far down the page.
Until next time.
Your slave to audio extreme, diverse and often overlooked.
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