Reviews

Record reviews

Messiah – Christus Hypercubus Review

Messiah – Christus Hypercubus Review

“Formed in 1984, their first two albums—1985’s Hymn to Abramelin and 1986’s Extreme Cold Weather—have been cited as classics of the proto-death/thrash era, before they split up in 1995. Messiah then stepped through time to their reformation in 2018 into a far more convoluted world of metal, thanks to the ever-increasing emphasis on sub-genres, trends, and streaming. Messiah’s response was to ignore all that hubbub, holding fast to their aggression of yore as they released the well-received comeback album Fracmont in 2020. 2022 unfortunately saw the untimely passing of Messiah’s original vocalist Andy Kaina, but an undeterred Messiah pressed on and are now set to dish out another beating in the form of Christus Hypercubus.” New age Messiah.

Bokassa – All Out of Dreams Review

Bokassa – All Out of Dreams Review

“On the surface, the perceived lethargy of stoner metal doesn’t seem like a natural match for the reckless energy of punk. But the two genres have been roommates since college and still bunk together regularly. The soundtracks of Jackass and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater mixed them up freely, and bands like Clutch and Fu Manchu have plenty of popularity on both sides of the fence. When I saw Rise Against in March of 2011, they brought Coliseum, who fused stoner, hardcore, and punk into one. So I wasn’t particularly surprised at Bokassa’s self-appointed genre of stoner punk. I was more surprised, and apprehensive, at Lars Ulrich of all people giving them the seal of approval.” Big friends, dumb punks, and stones.

Nemedian Chronicles – The Savage Sword Review

Nemedian Chronicles – The Savage Sword Review

“Storytelling is intrinsic to the passage of knowledge from generation to generation. Within our steel-forged corner of the multiverse, a few subgenres tackle storytelling overtly: most often prog but also, as is the case today, power metal. Coming into this review, I was under the impression that the story of Conan the Barbarian was confined to the plot line of an old Arnold movie—I couldn’t have been more mistaken. The Hyborian Age is a sprawling prehistoric world designed by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, set between the fall of Atlantis and the rise of traditional history. Enter French band Nemedian Chronicles and their 70-minute slab of sword and sorcery, ripped straight from the pages of Howard’s tales.” Swords, hordes, and chords.

Ponte del Diavolo – Fire Blades from the Tomb Review

Ponte del Diavolo – Fire Blades from the Tomb Review

“Having spread the spectrum of their influences across a few EPs, Ponte del Diavolo reigns in the fettering ambience and shriekier black metal extremes of their formative work for this debut full-length. In this regard, these witchcraft-worshipping Italians come across like a punk-edged, tremolo riff-informed Sabbath Assembly, with mic-echantress Erba del Diavolo capturing the same essence of cult-fearing warble that a fervent Jamie Meyers possesses.” Tomb knives.

Far Beyond – The End of My Road Review

Far Beyond – The End of My Road Review

“In 2016, Far Beyond’s A Frozen Flame of Ice felt like a big deal. The sophomore outing of one Eugen Dodenhoeft saw his budding solo project, having originated as rough-hewn symphonic black metal, blossom into massively ambitious melodeath with a pioneering work of post-debut Wintersun knock-offery. It’s a somewhat clunky effort, but a lively and lovable one, and one whose charms have prompted several return visits over the last decade. While impressive and novel for its time, many a band has since come knocking at the sauna door.” Road closure.

Darkest Hour – Perpetual | Terminal Review

Darkest Hour – Perpetual | Terminal Review

“How deep is your backlog of albums you intend to give a full spin sometime, but you never get round to it? I couldn’t even begin to tally mine. One of the albums that has languished in this limbo is Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora, the previous release from melodeath veterans Darkest Hour. I remember liking the slice I tried, but with so much to listen to and so little time I failed to give it my full attention. Grymm sure loved it, though, and in his absence, I was more than happy to step up and finally give the band the attention they deserved from me.” In the darkest hour, we cried more, more, MOAR!

Vircolac – Veneration Review

Vircolac – Veneration Review

“Sometimes a promo one-sheet actually does its job and gets you incredibly curious to hear something. That was the case with Ireland’s unusual death metal act Vircolac. I had no knowledge of them, but the one-sheet made it sound as if I had to hear their sophomore release Veneration or risk missing out on something unique and special. Steel hates missing out on something good as much as the next Viking gorilla so I grabbed it and stashed it in the Jungle Room. The trials and tribulations began soon thereafter.” Faulty venerator.

Tvinna – Two – Wings of Ember Review

Tvinna – Two – Wings of Ember Review

“As I sit down to write this review, it’s occurring to me belatedly that I’m not fully sure how to describe the music I’m sitting down to describe. The four members of Tvinna, in their sophomore full-length album, demonstrate that they are many things. They are European, with members hailing from Germany and Switzerland. They are experienced musicians, with members in Eluveitie, Solarcycles, and Faun. They are well-read and well-researched, presenting in Two – Wings of Ember an album that is entrenched in folk tropes and rich in both history and mythology.” Two wings, one band.

Stygian Crown – Funeral for a King Review

Stygian Crown – Funeral for a King Review

“The clamor of zhangu, taiko, ahuli, tabor—even the timpani in a modern orchestral context—the steady hammering of the battlefield finds a comfort, an attachment to the mallet metronome of such simple instruments. In memory of sorrow, the rhythm of death metal through one of its most bass-rumbling pioneers, Bolt Thrower, finds that war-like march not just in pounding kicks but also weighted guitar harmonies and bass-throttled grooves that stir the warrior’s heart. Stygian Crown in their idiosyncratic expression of the metal arts embodies in part that low-end fueled, sword-rattling thunder. But as the title Funeral for a King may imply, and as the Steel One himself has explored before, Stygian Crown doesn’t just riff, they doom. Oh, do they doom!” Crown Thrower.