Alright, we’ve been out a while and need to maintain a strict publishing schedule, which means I’m going to nail some quick hits to the wall and then you’re not going to get to hear much more about these records.
1. Spawn of Possession // Incurso [Relapse, Out March 12th/13th]: Spawn of Possession is back with a new record filled with killer riffs, technical technicality and a whole host of death metal goodness. What stood out for me is that these songs are goddamned *long*. The majority of tracks are longer than 5 minutes and there are two 8 minute plus epics. And it’s worth it. The riffs are addictive, the grooves (when they show up) rule, and neo-classical epic “Apparition” that closes the album is on my “best song of the year” playlist. 4/5
2. Heidevolk // Batavi [Napalm Records, Out March 3rd in Europe]: I loved these guys’ last one, and Batavi is no let down. The music is fun, catchy as hell and I love the vocals. Dutch is a weird language, sure, but the choirs of clean vocals that layer every track really make me stoked. I guess the big problem with the record is that it sounds like everything else they’ve released. While that’s good in some ways (if it ain’t baroque…), it does get a little more difficult to keep from moss gazing after a while. Still, fans of folk metal, harmonies and powerful song writing should probably give this a listen. 3/5
3. Christian Mistress // Possession [Relapse, Out February 28th]: In the search for its soul, heavy metal has begun producing bands like Christian Mistress and Steelwing and others who are producing sort of NWoBHM records that sound like they were recorded—literally—during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. This works for some, but Possession lacks what Iron Maiden had in spades: songs that made you want to bang your head, sing along and drink a beer. There are moments here and there, but all-in-all the melodies leave me cold and the songwriting is underwhelming. Not sure what the fuss is about. 2/5
4. Barren Earth // The Devil’s Resolve [Peaceville, Out the 13th of March]: After being won over by the band’s debut, I guess I had high expectations for the follow up. The band’s formula of mixing Opeth and Amorphis with the vocals of Swallow the Sun (this guy sounds just like him! Oh wait…) mean that it’s hard to go wrong with this Angry Metal Guy™. And of course delivers as expected. Filled with orientalish melodies and plenty of catchy melodic death metal, this Finnish super group avoids producing a lackluster follow up to a masterful debut—but has trouble living up to the glory of Curse of the Red River. Still, I think I did give that one a 5. And this one ain’t too far behind. 4/5