Holdeneye

When you wield the 4hammer, every album looks like a nail.
Feanor – Power of the Chosen One Review

Feanor – Power of the Chosen One Review

“Much like the Wizard album I reviewed a couple of months ago, this promo was assigned to me by Lord Protector Steel Druhm himself. Not only that, but the Argentina-based Feanor shares vocalist Sven D’Anna with their Germanic brethren in Wizard. Wizard‘s latest was a fun and empowering romp through beer-soaked heavy metal lands, and given that my mental health has been under some strain lately due to work circumstances, I thought that some cheesy déjà vu might be just what the non-Grier doctor ordered. Let’s see if Feanor can put the metal in my head again.” Irresponsible power.

Bewitcher – Cursed Be Thy Kingdom Review

Bewitcher – Cursed Be Thy Kingdom Review

“I’ve given out a 4.0 or twenty-one in my time, but this is the first time that one of 4.0ldeneye‘s highly 4.0nored 4.0nies returns 4.0me for yet another s4.0t at glory. Just under two years ago, Portland, Oregon’s Bewitcher released Under the Witching Cross, their sinister sophomore platter of blackened speed metal tunes, and I still haven’t been able to locate my socks after the resulting off-blowing. That record was oozing with attitude, and every track was a killer. I was stoked to hear that the band had been picked up by Century Media for follow-up effort Cursed Be Thy Kingdom.” Cursed by great expectations.

Horndal – Lake Drinker Review

Horndal – Lake Drinker Review

“Art always has a theme, even if that theme is not having a theme. Consciously or unconsciously, the theme informs the art, and never the twain shall be separated. But sometimes the thematic elements of a piece of art transcend their medium, taking on a life all their own and looming so large that it can be difficult for a critic to properly evaluate the piece. I’ve found this to be the case with Swedish band Horndal. Named for the small industrial town where some of its members were born and raised, Horndal is the sound of a town lamenting its own demise. Their debut album Remains told the story of the closing of the local steel mill and of the devastating and dehumanizing aftermath for the citizens of Horndal, and sophomore record Lake Drinker tackles the struggles created when tech monstrosity Google purchased huge tracts of land near the town in order to build massive server facilities.” Home is where the hurt is.

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm Review

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm Review

“Wow. Thrash is kind of having a year, folks. There are large swaths of the metal community who feel that the fires that heated the furnace in which all great thrash was forged went out decades ago, while others feel that those flames still sputter and cough and produce a great record every now and again. Well, something about a worldwide shutdown secondary to a pandemic seems to have stoked whatever embers remained within that furnace into a raging inferno, because the first quarter of 2021 is basically littered with quality thrash releases of a variety of styles. Therefore, I didn’t hesitate to pick up Bionic Swarm, the debut record from Dutch thrashers Cryptosis, a band who’d like to throw their hat into the progressive cyber-thrash ring with Paranorm.” 4 Swarm to wengeance.

Hevilan – Symphony of Good and Evil Review

Hevilan – Symphony of Good and Evil Review

“If you are one of the poor souls who’s managed to follow my pedestrian music journalism career, you know that I’m a hopeless Nevermore weenie. There’s just something about the way they combined immense, progressive, down-tuned riffing with powerful, operatic vocals that is incredibly pleasing to my ears. I was therefore absolutely defenseless against the promo blurb that touted Hevilan guitarist Johnny Moraes as having appeared in Warrel Dane’s live band, as well as on the late Nevermore singer’s posthumous solo release, Shadow Work.” Good times, bad times.

Enforced – Kill Grid Review

Enforced – Kill Grid Review

“Oh man, have I been excited to get my hands on this one. In 2019, I happened upon the promo for At the Walls, the debut record from Richmond, Virginia crossover thrash act Enforced. The album was a combination of previously-released demo and EP tracks with some newer material, and while this may have resulted in some minor consistency issues, that thing riffed hard, riffed often, and barely missed my 2019 year-end list. The thought of a follow-up record written in one, cohesive go was tantalizing, and my excitement only grew when I heard that Enforced was picked up by Century Media last year. But at the same time, when a raw, passionate band moves to a bigger label, I always get a bit nervous.” Dying on the grid.

Reaper – The Atonality of Flesh Review

Reaper – The Atonality of Flesh Review

“It was just over one year ago that I wrote about mysterious Swedish duo Reaper and their debut record Unholy Nordic Noise. A viciously irreverent mixture of first-wave black metal, speed metal, and crusty HM-2-laden punk, the record saw the band going boldly where many bands had gone before and successfully delivering a short and sweet platter of simple, yet satisfying blasphemy. The disgustingly croaked vocals combined with the musical style to give me the impression of Abbath taking a bath with Bathory‘s Bathory, and the resulting sound was as cathartic as it was entertaining. Well, these guys seem to believe that more is more, so they wasted no time in following the debut up with The Atonality of Flesh.” Tone up that flesh for summer.

Malice Divine – Malice Divine Review

Malice Divine – Malice Divine Review

Malice Divine is the brainchild of classically-trained Toronto musician Ric Galvez. The self-titled record finds Galvez handling the entire creative process and all of the performances with the exception of the drums. Known primarily as a lead guitarist in the Toronto scene, Galvez was excited about the opportunity to indulge in a solo project. But old habits die hard, and Malice Divine glistens like a guitar fan’s wet dream. Galvez combines the melodic blackened death sounds of Necrophobic and Dissection with the emotive soloing and progressive song structures of Death and the technical majesty of Wintersun.” Malice in Meloblackland.

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.

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.