Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

“2021 will see the release of a wealth of albums written and recorded during the COVID pandemic. This phenomenon will likely impact records in a myriad of ways. Some will directly reflect the times in concept, lyrics or atmosphere. Others may benefit from bands having additional time stuck in lockdown together to hone their compositions. In the case of Evergrey‘s 12th album Escape of the Phoenix, the latter appears to be the case.” Firebirds, energy weapons.

The Generals – To Hell Review

The Generals – To Hell Review

The Generals are a Swedish quartet from Åmål, releasing two full-lengths and a split since their 2002 formation. 2009 debut Stand Up Straight and 2013’s Blood for Blood were both solid slabs of Wolverine Blues mimicry that, despite their simplicity, had no need to fix what wasn’t broken. To Hell, the first effort since 2013, continues and capitalizes upon its “death metal-cigarette with a rock ‘n’ roll filter” aesthetic with chunky riffs, blazing solos, pissed-off barks, and a Swedeath buzzsaw tone that commands respect.” Hell ain’t a bad place.

Paranorm – Empyrean Review

Paranorm – Empyrean Review

“This may be their debut full-length, but Uppsala’s Paranorm are no spring chickens in the thrash game. According to legend — and the band’s social media accounts — Paranorm was formed by three high school friends on a hot summer night in 2007 to the sound of Megadeth‘s Rust in Peace blasting from the stereo. After an initial run of a demo and a couple EPs, the band has been quiet for the last seven years. What could they possibly have been doing during such a long break from writing? If Empyrean is any indication, they spent the time searching for, discovering, and studying some powerful relic that confers ancient, arcane knowledge of the five magics of metal mastery, because this record is a progressive thrash metal monster.” Paranormal ratings.

In Tormentata Quiete – Krononota Review

In Tormentata Quiete – Krononota Review

“What a profoundly odd band In Tormentata Quiete is. Plenty of Italian bands are grand, pompous, cheesy, and theatrical, but few do it like this one, sporting three vocalists in a range of styles but remaining light on orchestral elements. Their first foray into the halls of AMG was shot down with a 1.0 from Grymm for being unstructured and containing baffling, out-of-place elements like rap breakdowns in the middle of their semi-symphonic avant-garde drama metal. Their second, Finestatico, earned them a 3.5 from yours truly, seemingly fixing everything its predecessor did wrong. Krononota sees another change of the guard in the vocal department, but can they maintain the high standard of before?” Pomp in a weird place.

Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning Review

Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning Review

“The dreaded sophomore slump is always a concern after a band bursts out of the blocks with a stellar debut. Expectation and pressure mounts, at least from a fan perspective. In the case of the mysterious Suffering Hour, 2017’s debut LP, In Passing Ascension, created a deserved underground buzz and well and truly placed Suffering Hour on the map as a band to keep a close eye on. With just the intervening Dwell EP in 2019, Suffering Hour took their time in fine tuning and honing their signature sound in preparation of unleashing The Cyclic Reckoning.” Vicious cyclic.

Age of Woe – Envenom Review

Age of Woe – Envenom Review

“Five years ago, Swedish doom peddlers Age of Woe threw down their second album, An Ill Wind Blowing, and I will always associate that album with another ill wind that blew through my home: Hurricane Matthew. Just like the latter ill wind battered and bludgeoned its way through the Bahamas, Haiti, and most of Florida, the former Ill Wind battered and bludgeoned my eardrums with some pretty hefty and sludgy doom goodness. Now with Rotten Sound‘s Keijo Niinimaa replacing longtime guitarist Gonzo Incognito, they’ve come back to batter and bludgeon me once more with Envenom.” Woe hammer.

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde Review

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde Review

“Just about a year and a half ago, I shocked the world by covering Humanity’s Last Breath‘s sophomore record, Abyssal. Djenty deathcore is not normally in my wheelhouse, but every once in a while, I get a craving for something über heavy. I really liked a lot of what I heard on Abyssal. Humanity’s Last Breath paint horrific scenes using an crushingly bleak sonic palette, and when things clicked on Abyssal, it shook the very ground. But as much as I loved most of what the band did on that record, it felt like it could have used some trimming to sharpen the impact. When I heard that followup Välde was scheduled for a February release, it immediately landed a spot on my most-anticipated albums of 2021 list.” Next to last breath.

Magoth – Invictus Review

Magoth – Invictus Review

“Thankfully, all the other writers have me around to do write-ups of actual good music. At first, this review was a TYMHM piece. But, ‘thanks’ to Covid, Magoth‘s November 2020 release is now a February 2021 release. Which, in my opinion, is even better. It’s now a chance for Invictus to have a proper release and a proper review. This is fitting, being that this German quartet, who bleeds Naglfar and Watain, might have released their best album to date.” Magoth infestation.

Tragedy in Hope – Sleep Paralysis Review

Tragedy in Hope – Sleep Paralysis Review

“Firstly, the vocal techniques applied to Sleep Paralysis happen to be fairly androgynous, which adds mystique to the project. Secondly, Sleep Paralysis feels very much like a concept album, dealing with a wide spectrum of mental and emotional distresses, including actual sleep paralysis. Drama bleeds all over this album, and Sasha often takes on multiple roles, both male and female, in the service of each segment in the story. My third and final discovery complicates matters.” Bedtime worries.