Reviews

Record reviews

Dream Evil – In the Night Review

Dream Evil – In the Night Review

Step over, Manowar, the new Kings of Metal are in town. Sure, they’ve been around for a while, and they’re a little more tongue in cheek than Manowar is, but Dream Evil, with the release of their new record In the Night, have risen from the ashes (of a DVD release?) to take the crown for themselves in their mighty, viking fists! These Swedes have put forth a strong offering filled with skull-crushing riffs, ball-grabbing vocals and unabashedly cheesy-as-hell lyrics, that would make Snowy Shaw blush, in order to try to re-gain the glory of their mighty album The Book of Heavy Metal.

Aspera – Ripples Review

Aspera – Ripples Review

Progressive metal isn’t an easy place to be. Let’s face it, much of the world of progressive metal is a tussle between an old guard of old fans (the Neanderthals of Metal) who really like bands that sound like Dream Theater, Queensryche, and so forth, and then there’s kind of everyone else. It’s disparate, difficult to define and often pretentious as hell with little logic as to what is in fashion with which group. This is the natural outcome of genrefication, in my opinion, and part of that is a question of where a band can actually progress to. You’re either not heavy enough or you’re too heavy and you never please anyone. Few bands ever really manage to fall outside of these well-worn ruts in the road, but there are some fantastic bands in those ruts, Aspera is one of those bands.

Six Feet Under – Graveyard Classics III

Six Feet Under – Graveyard Classics III

Six Feet Under is back with the third installment in their Graveyard Classics series, and fortunately for us, this time they’re not covering AC/DC songs. I suspect that the majority of you either know what these things are about, have heard them, or just don’t care at all so I’m not going to spend tons of time on this, but Graveyard Classics 3 is a cover record from the groove oriented death metal band Six Feet Under. Barnes and crew have, this time around, elected a bunch of their favorite tracks from before they were in bands and have warped them into death rock tracks. The result being sort of cartoonish and silly: but mildly enjoyable at the same time.

Valkyrja – Contamination Review

Valkyrja – Contamination Review

Early in my tenure in 2009 I received a record that was being re-released by Metal Blade: Valkyrja’s Invocation of Demise, which was a release of an earlier record that was initially released in 2007 on Northern Silence Productions. There were several substantive complaints that I had about the record, which can be summed up as follows: there is nothing new and/or interesting here; it is repetitive and boring; the songs are hyper simplistic and despite being fast, don’t feel terribly heavy. The challenge, then, for Valkyrja to produce a record that I review better is to improve on these things (and since Valkyrja is out to prove themselves to me and me alone, they certainly will try… *cough*) with their new release Contamination.

Ihsahn – After Review

Ihsahn – After Review

Easily one of the most anticipated records of 2010 for me has been Ihsahn’s new offering. While I was a passing Emperor fan, really just a fan of In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk-era, I was taken by Ihsahn’s solo stuff. The Adversary felt fresh, progressive enough, a step away from the later Emperor material of which I wasn’t a fan, and it captured the sonic styles and textures that he was never quite allowed to explore while in Emperor. The record didn’t stick with me as I had hoped, while I listened to it occasionally it didn’t hold a steadfast position in my discography. On the other hand, angL blew me away. Probably the finest record of 2008, angL has maintained a steady place in the rotation and is a record that I’ve showed to dozens of people. Perfectly produced, perfectly composed and smartly written, angL contained everything that I wanted out of a new progressive metal record. So, of course, when I heard that Ihsahn would be releasing a new record in 2010, I became justifiably excited.

Annotations of an Autopsy – The Reign of Darkness Review

Annotations of an Autopsy – The Reign of Darkness Review

Every once in a while a record just jumps out at you and kicks your ass every which way. The originality, the brutality, everything that you want from death metal just hits you right in the face and leaves you dazed, but pleased. The Reign of Darkness, the sophomore release of UK death metallers (or deathcorers if you read the interwebs, though I’m inclined to just call this death metal) is not one of those records. And while it can be very difficult to write about just how good a band is or how bad a band is, I find the most difficult reviews to write the ones where you have to say “I don’t like it, but you might if this is your thing.”

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR Review

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR Review

Few bands will ever make their own mark on a genre of music. it’s just a statistical rarity. Someone once told me that there are something like 5 million bands on MySpace, if that gives you an idea of the breadth which exists when one is thinking in terms of how many musicians there are out there. Of those, most of them probably last longer than a year, never produce much of a demo much less get signed to a real label, and how many ever produce a real step forward into a new decade with a statement of great things to come? The chances of becoming a professional musician are basically NIL and then of the number that do, how many ever produce something that will be remembered and affect enough listeners to ever influence any? That number is even smaller. Orphaned Land is one of the few bands that will ever exact change in metal and they are doing so now with their new record The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR.

Mnemic – Sons of the System Review

Mnemic – Sons of the System Review

Mnemic has been around in the ether for a while but I’ve never given them a proper listen until now. The band has good promo, they’ve toured Europe twice with metal giants (like ’em or not) Metallica, they look like real metal dudes and they’ve got cred because a couple people I know compared them to Meshuggah back when they first came out. Unfortunately, Sons of the System sounds a lot less like Meshuggah and a lot more like Sonic Syndicate. This record is another convergence point for things that I’m not really keen on in the world of metal and I’ll give you a short run-down.

Things You May Have Missed: Kalisia – Cybion

Things You May Have Missed: Kalisia – Cybion

One of the most surprising records of this year for me and one that I’d sort of forgotten about until recently was Kalisia‘s epic concept album Cybion. Sold online as a single track for very cheap, this is one long-ass amazing progressive soundscape that probably shouldn’t be missed. These guys come from France which puts […]