Reviews

Record reviews

Blaze Bayley – Promise and Terror Review

Blaze Bayley – Promise and Terror Review

I must say that, if you don’t already know this, I have been anticipating this record since I heard of its release. Sure, things have been busy around here, but I even managed to slip in a few listens to the record in spite of the heavy schedule of listening that I’m forced to adhere. Written and recorded in the aftermath of one of the most terrible tragedies in Blaze’s life, and really in the life of a neophyte band trying to break its way into the music scene on the strength of independent promotion and raw, hard work, and non-fashionable music, Promise and Terror has the chance to show the medal of this band and to testify to the absolute spine of one Blaze Bayley. While The Man Who Would Not Die was a record that was written in the face of the adversity from the outside world and sounded, frankly, like a big aural “fuck you” to all uninterested parties, Promise and Terror has a different role to fill.

Sigh – Scenes From Hell Review

Sigh – Scenes From Hell Review

Let me start with the a territory that isn’t very comfortable for many in heavy metal: orchestrations. Heavy metal has seen many variations on the classical orchestration in many different subgenres. Neo-classical metal, like the wanky stuff with Yngwe or Symphony X, has long bragged about the influence of baroque and classical music. Bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Epica do things that sound like they should be straight out of a movie score and black metal even has a symphonic sub-genre, most notably filled by Dimmu Borgir, whose symphonics have gone over the top in the last few years with the addition of Mustis (though we’ll see what happens now that he’s gone). Never before in my tenure of heavy metal listening have I heard orchestrations used in a black metal record to such effect as they have been used on Sigh’s new record Scenes from Hell.

The Kandidate – Until We Are Outnumbered Review

The Kandidate – Until We Are Outnumbered Review

The Kandidate wasn’t what I was expecting. Like a mix of thrash metal and Agnostic Front, these Danish metallers have produced an album to which I am utterly blase. As Angry Metal Guy, it is my job to have really strong opinions about things one way or another, but instead I listen to this album and I just.. don’t hear much that I want to come back to. On the other hand there’s not much to dis. It’s just an all-in-all mediocre record by a band I’ve never heard before.

Overkill – Ironbound Review

Overkill – Ironbound Review

“Overkill is still around?” That was my first thought when I received this promo. See, this band is definitely a part of my childhood, being a huge a fan of the record I Hear Black when I was at the tender age of 11, but they were never a band that I ever followed with any religiosity. No, Overkill never managed to make it into my early thrash pantheon, despite the fact that I remember loving that album. So it was with great interest that I put on this album, not really know what to expect at all given everything. I mean, it’s been a lot of years and bands, in general, do not age well. And, after asking around, I’d heard that Overkill hadn’t aged very well, either.

Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned Review

Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned Review

Charred Walls of the Damned has two distinct honors from the get-go: not only is it the longest band name EVER, but it’s also the first thing in which excellent drummer Richard Christy has surfaced in since going to the Howard Stern show and leaving American power metallers Iced Earth in the dust. I think everyone was wondering when he was going to jump back into metal, myself included. It’s hard to imagine that the former Death and Iced Earth drummer was just going to leave everything behind. Given his background it was only a matter of time. And not just his background: homeboy has contacts, too! He brings with him the mighty Jason Suecof, mostly known for his production (Trivium, Luna Mortis, God Forbid and so on), but who is also a fucking wicked ass guitar player (seriously, dude can shred). On bass, of course, is the mighty Steve DiGiorgio who played with Christy in Iced Earth and Death. How can this project possibly lose?

Troll – Neo Satanic Supremacy Review

Troll – Neo Satanic Supremacy Review

Troll is the side project of former Dimmu Borgir bassist current The Kovenant vocalist Nagash (aka Lex Icon), but it also has the honor of being the first project he was ever involved with at the very young age of about 14. However, after the band fell apart it soon became his solo project and has gone through some various incarnations over the year. If one were to give Neo-Satanic Supremacy a cold listen, one would not every know that a major transformation had taken place in the band’s history. No, instead one would assume that Nagash had quit Dimmu Borgir to produce this very record. Because, well, frankly it sounds like the band circa 1998.

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.