Reviews

Record reviews

Stormzone – Death Dealer Review

Stormzone – Death Dealer Review

Neal Kay, for those who don’t know, is widely credited with discovering and championing Iron Maiden way back in the day. Well, if that wasn’t service enough to the metal world, now he has helped bring us Northern Ireland’s classic metal masters Stormzone and their new album Death Dealer. This is no small accomplishment because, quite simply, this album is an absolute masterpiece of classic metal and full to the brim with top quality metal anthems. Stormzone is a band deeply entrenched in the early NWOBHM style and composed of musicians like vocalist John “Harv” Harbinson, with ties to bands of that era (Sweet Savage, Fastway). All the trappings of the British metal invasion are here and fans of that sound and seminal masters like of Saxon and Grim Reaper will immediately hear it in the sound and attitude exhibited on Death Dealer.

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy Review

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy Review

Nevermore has always held a special place in the metal community with both fans and other bands alike looking up to and respecting them. It isn’t hard to see why they command this level of respect, with world-class guitarist Jeff Loomis and vocalist extraordinaire Warrel Dane both calling Nevermore home. Because of this high profile and superb talent, a lot is expected from Nevermore and for the most part, album to album, Nevermore have consistently delivered the goods. Therefore, the arrival of a new slab of metal from these guys is always a pretty big deal and after waiting five years since The Godless Endeavor, we finally get The Obsidian Conspiracy.

Ragnarok – Collectors of the King Review

Ragnarok – Collectors of the King Review

It’s about time someone took black metal to some new exciting levels. A music style can only go so far until it becomes somewhat stale, and for every album released, there are ten others that do the same thing – and almost none of the time is it markedly better. Black metal is no exception, and I have a lot of respect for bands that try something new and innovative. But there are some bands that don’t need to. Some bands, no matter how many albums they release of the same style, never grow stale and are always the best of the trade when it comes to the style of music they perform.

Lacrimas Profundere – The Grandiose Nowhere Review

Lacrimas Profundere – The Grandiose Nowhere Review

Alright all you self-loathing, gothic creepozoids and lovers of exquisite pain, step right up and get the perfect soundtrack for stalking your ex. Yes, it’s The Grandiose Nowhere by those Germanic gloom meisters Lacrimas Profundere. Album number nine shows these boys up to their usual dark tricks and giving you some hard charging, gloom infested rock n droll with plenty of misery for those who love the cold grip of melancholia. Lest you think that doesn’t sound like fun, I am thrilled to report this is a mighty rocking and rollicking goth-o-thon that makes you nod your head no matter how badly you want to sit and stare at the ground in misery.

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt pt. 1 – Ivory – Review

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt pt. 1 – Ivory – Review

One would assume that an Angry Metal Guy wouldn’t be handing out high scores willy nilly, something I seriously try to avoid doing. But apparently 2010 is a year filled with really fantastic albums by bands doing the things that, as a reviewer, and more specifically, as a music-lover, I have trouble not totally falling for. Pain of Salvation has never been a band that I personally fell for. Scarsick, the band’s 2007 release, was a record that I had issues with and I’ve had some personal gripes about Daniel Gildenlöw’s vocals on the older material (specifically his wannabe Mike Patton rappy/talky vocals). But, that said, Pain of Salvation has long been the darling of the progressive rock and metal scene, with legions of fans who love their technical prowess and pop sensibility.

Disdain – Leave This World Review

Disdain – Leave This World Review

Those well-versed in the metal arts may see a band named Disdain and expect a dose of brutal death metal or possibly some frostbitten and bitter black metal. In this case however, the name is quite misleading. Disdain’s debut album Leave This World reveals a Swedish troupe bringing a somewhat unique spin to the traditional power metal sound and sounding far more experienced and professional than you might expect. This may owe to the fact that these guys have been in existence since the late 90’s and at one time even included Nightwish’s Anette Olzon on vocals. I can already hear the chorus of power metal bashers out there (you know who you are) screaming about how much crappy power metal is already on the shelves these days and how there isn’t room for any more whether it’s good, bad or ugly. Well, doubters be damned! Disdain has managed a rare feat and rise above most of their peers with this release while managing to avoid the many pitfalls that doom lesser power metal bands.

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Well shiver me timbers, it’s a pirate metal concept album! Sure, Running Wild has been doing that since 1987 but can you ever really have enough pirate metal? Yarr, I think not me mateys! So it is with open arms I welcome Salt, the new album by Denmark’s Wuthering Heights. Salt is the band’s fifth release and although they began life in 1997 as a power metal unit, I am not exactly sure how to classify them now. They still have many elements of traditional power metal (fast, galloping rhythms, speedy yet melodic guitar work) but they have evolved into a far more progressive and unorthodox entity over time. So much so in fact, that yours truly couldn’t get into their past two releases because they were just too schizophrenic, scattered and disjointed. I will admit that after my initial few listens to Salt, I had exactly the same problem and was prepared to send this album down to Davey Jones’s Locker with a vicious cannonade along the lines of “ARRRRRR, she blows!!!!” Then slowly, the album’s buccaneer charm began to seep into my head and I started liking it (although at first I only liked parts of it and prepared to say it possessed merely “pieces of great, pieces of great”). However, after two days of soaking in the Salt, I have signed on for this expedition and am ready to pillage and quaff ale right along with Wuthering Heights.

Cynic – Re-Traced Review

Cynic – Re-Traced Review

I make no bones about it, I have a total love affair with Cynic. Long have I been a sucker for good progressive metal and Cynic is about as good as progressive metal gets. While I was a bit young to really have appreciated Focus when it came out, I re-discovered it later and fell in love with it. When Traced in Air came out in 2008 I pretty much fell over myself with joy. That record has maintained a constant place on my playlists since it was released and ranks among my top 10 albums of the last decade. So when I heard that they were going to re-do some of the tracks in different styles as an EP I was justifiably excited, but skeptical at the same time. I grew up in the age of the Nine Inch Nails re-mix album: I know what happens when jackasses mess around with an already winning formula. Nothing good.

Royal Jester – Night is Young Review

Royal Jester – Night is Young Review

Hate is a very strong word and perhaps it gets thrown around too casually these days. After all, hate is a very ugly, negative emotion and even the angriest of metal guys should strive to avoid it. With that said, I hate Royal Jester’s debut album Night is Young. Maybe that sounds harsh but it’s the sad truth. It isn’t the musical style that brings me to hate it. Royal Jester plays Euro power metal and I really like Euro power metal when it’s done properly. I even like some of what might be called “happy power metal.” In fact, it seems I have become the resident power metal geek around these parts and that’s why this review ended up in my lap. However, after sustained, repeated listens to this album with an open mind, and giving this young band from Sweden every possible benefit of the doubt, there isn’t much good to say about Night is Young.