L. Saunders

Alustrium – A Monument to Silence Review

Alustrium – A Monument to Silence Review

“Philadelphia’s progressive tech death architects Alustrium smashed out an album for the ages with their 2015 opus A Tunnel to Eden. The sophomore LP presented a kaleidoscopic, grand in scale masterwork of progressive and technical death metal, featuring serious instrumental and compositional chops, while possessing tons of heart and style. Despite being a little too bloated and ambitious for its own good, the pros far outweighed the miniscule cons to deliver a knockout punch. Punctuated by 2020’s strong Insurmountable EP, it has been a long time between drinks on the full-length recording front. Curiously slipping under the radar, Alustrium‘s third album, A Monument to Silence is now upon us.” Unquiet monuments.

The Absence – Coffinized Review

The Absence – Coffinized Review

“Everyone likes an underdog, and I am no exception. Garnering a solid profile over the years, Florida’s The Absence remain underappreciated purveyors of Scandinavian inspired melodic death, with a twist of Americanized thrash aggression mixed into the equation. Early albums, From the Grave and Riders of the Plague set a high standard, before a lengthy recording hiatus occurred between 2011’s Enemy Unbound and 2018’s comeback opus A Gift for the Obsessed, marking a solid return. Never ones to push the envelope, The Absence have managed to insert enough of their own character into a well worn style to escape stylistic limitations.” We all get Coffinized eventually, kid.

Distant – Aeons of Oblivion Review

Distant – Aeons of Oblivion Review

“Netherlands outfit Distant emerged on the scene with 2019’s Tyrannotophia debut, showcasing their self-proclaimed downtempo deathcore brand, with atmospheric stylings. While potential was evident, overall the album fell short of the mark, marred by monotonous writing and lack of interesting and dynamic arrangements. I missed their stopgap EP from 2020, but with two years having slipped by I plunge in with trepidation and hope to see if Distant have revamped their brand enough to sustain a deeper level of engagement.” Maintaining minimum safe distance.

Majestic Downfall – Aorta Review

Majestic Downfall – Aorta Review

“Unheralded veterans of the underground, Mexican misery dealers Majestic Downfall popped up on my radar when I reviewed their enjoyable fourth LP, …When Dead back in 2015. Somewhere along the line I overlooked their 2018 release Waters of Fate, so can’t attest to its quality. However, based on my sole previous experience with the band I eagerly jumped on the chance to reacquaint myself with their latest opus of crushing death-doom, entitled Aorta. Now don’t be fooled by the mere four tracks offered, as Majestic Downfall specialize in long form compositions, unleashing an ambitiously lengthy slab of Peaceville inspired gloom, tipping the scales at a whopping 68 minutes.” The heart of despair.

Helslave – From the Sulphur Depths Review

Helslave – From the Sulphur Depths Review

“When life is kicking you in the arse, death is a comforting antidote. Death metal of course, I’m not that fucking morbid. My prior experience with Italy’s Helslave is minimal, however, I’ve caught up on the Italian worshippers of Swedish death in whetting my appetite for their latest platter of old school splatter. After compiling an impressive slab of ’90s inspired melodic death on debut LP, An Endless Path, Helslave channeled some old timey Stockholm goodness on 2017’s Divination EP. Returning after an extended recording gap, Helslave continue channeling the classic, buzzsawing Swedeath brand on From the Sulphur Depths.” Tastes like burning.

Eyehategod – A History of Nomadic Behavior Review

Eyehategod – A History of Nomadic Behavior Review

“Legendary sludge metallers Eyehategod is another high profile and revered NOLA band from the wrong side of the tracks, carving out a punishing career of ugly, hateful, feedback drenched sludge, including genre classics, Take as Needed for Pain and Dopesick. Built upon foundations of immense hardship, personal pain, resilience, and rocky turbulence, particularly those of troubled frontman Mike IX Williams, Eyehategod returned with a self-titled comeback album in 2014, their first LP since 2000’s Confederacy of Ruined Lives. It was a solid return, staying true to the band’s gnarled roots. The passage of time and age shall not weary Eyehategod.” Transient ugliness.

Wolf King – The Path of Wrath Review

Wolf King – The Path of Wrath Review

“California’s Wolf King came bursting out the blocks with their impressive 2018 debut, Loyal to the Soil, a piece I covered during the annual Things You might Have Missed season. Armed with a seething attack, hybridizing extreme metal with blackened hardcore, solid riffs and chunky grooves, the album served up gnarly aggression and pissed off attitude in spades, boding well for a bright future. Now the band returns with sophomore LP, The Path of Wrath, upping the intensity and blackened quotient, while otherwise keeping the guts of the debut formula intact. Although slightly less sludge and rock riddled, Wolf King┬áset off vibes not dissimilar to German wrecking ball Mantar, a favorable comparison to my ears.” Wolves with grievances.

Yer Metal Is OIde: Alice In Chains – Alice In Chains

Yer Metal Is OIde: Alice In Chains – Alice In Chains

“Seattle rock legends Alice In Chains may not strictly qualify as metal, but they are widely regarded within the metal community, especially compared to the other big name bands of the famed grunge era, which tend to polarize metalheads. Perhaps it’s the blanket of sorrow and darkness enveloping their sound, coupled with the sludge and doom influences, that compliment their hard rock core and melancholic acoustic forays. Although Alice In Chains are still chugging along admirably to the present day, it was the band’s ’90s heyday and era with doomed frontman Layne Staley that remains the classic and defining era of the band.” Alice lives.

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.

Colossus – Degenesis Review

Colossus – Degenesis Review

“The year is in full swing and the flood of metal releases continues to overflow in the AMG promo portal. Of course there’s always an element of risk in blindly plucking albums from the portal. Unless I am feeling in a particularly risky or adventurous mood, I scout for releases that fall into my genre wheelhouse, and death metal tends to attract me like moth to flame. Especially after such a splendid year for the genre in 2020, the hope is for at least a handful of review assignments will throw up something special in 2021. The trio of musicians comprising freshly minted death metal outfit Colossus are equipped with background experience in the metal underground, via acts such as Lividity, Cryptic Fog, and Cereviscera. Despite being a new entity, basically the members are seasoned in the game, unleashing a debut album of brutal, technically proficient death.” The Colossus of Woes.