Reviews

Record reviews

Kalmah – 12 Gauge Review

Kalmah – 12 Gauge Review

It’s hard to imagine a modern metal without Finnish bands, isn’t it? These guys have been pushing the scene forward for quite a while after having burst onto it with such a forceful manner a decade (or more) ago. One of the bands that has been sadly overlooked in this process has been Kalmah. These guys, while popular, have often taken a back seat to bands like Ensiferum and Children of Bodom in the international scene. This is a shame, because at least The Black Waltz put everything that Children of Bodom ever put out to shame and they make some of the later Ensiferum stuff look pretty weak, as well. While For the Revolution was a pretty big letdown for many fans, Kalmah has returned in 2010 with a scorcher called 12 Gauge.

Dark Tranquillity – We Are the Void Review

Dark Tranquillity – We Are the Void Review

Dark Tranquillity is a living legend. Don’t kid yourselves: they’re a band that has managed to maintain their credibility in a scene where many of the bands that have stayed around have lost that credibility (see: In Flames). They have consistently put out good records, even into their less progressive era, that excite their fanbase and and attract new fans with their catchy melodies, creative arrangements and the energy of their music. There are, however, two sides to Dark Tranquillity’s music. The first is a fast, heavy melodic style of thrashy death metal that has long been associated with them and the Gothenburg death metal scene. The second, and the part that has long appealed to us personally, is the blackness and dark emotional content that borders on gothic metal. We Are the Void embodies both of these sides and may be the darkest album the band has produced since the much-maligned Projector.

Anima – Enter the Killzone Review

Anima – Enter the Killzone Review

I am not a trend hater. While the whole world has been hating on Deathcore for its tight pants and swoopy hair, I’ve been defending the fact that bands don’t have to “look like metal dudes” to make good metal. While jackass elitists are purging the genre from Encyclopaedia Metallum because they don’t like the trend, bands like Suicide Silence and Job for a Cowboy have shown that these bands can write killer riffs and produce solid records, even if they’re not stylistically something I’m a big fan of. Anima, unfortunately, is not so easy to defend.

Wulfgar – Midgardian Metal Review

Wulfgar – Midgardian Metal Review

The guys from Wulfgar and I have something in common: we both really love Amon Amarth. I mean, I’ve been an Amon Amarth fan since I first heard “Victorious March” all those years ago and I’ve just never looked back. I’ve purchased every one of their records since I started listening to melodic death metal and, let’s face it, I’ll probably keep listening to them for years to come until I’m old, bitter and bored with everything that I used to like (it’ll happen: then I’ll become Angry 12 Tone Jazz Guy). The difference between my love of Amon Amarth and that of the guys from this Swedish quintet is that I didn’t start a band…

Oskoreien – Illusions Review

Oskoreien – Illusions Review

Oskoreien is another one of those DIY projects that I was directed to which delighted me to check out. There was a time when you, as a metal guy, probably got friended by Oskoreien on MySpace, when the creator was in full-on promo mode. The tracks that I remembered hearing were very much in the Ensiferum / Wintersun kind of vein. Lots of sweep picking and sort of melodic death influences. So when I got my hands on the Illusions EP I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Borknagar – Universal Review

Borknagar – Universal Review

Borknagar is a class act and has been for a long time. Reaching all the way back to their first, self-titled release, this band has separated itself from the herd by being just plain more interesting and unique. Eventually they just separated themselves from the modern black metal scene altogether, heading towards more progressive pastures. Universal continues a trend away from the raw and simple towards the highly complex, dynamic and progressive—but the question is whether or not the band’s fans and general public will want to follow the band in this direction. Well, and whether or not where the band is leading is somewhere worth going. [Read the whole review here.]

Rotting Christ – Aealo Review

Rotting Christ – Aealo Review

There aren’t many bands that can claim something that Rotting Christ can claim: they have more buzz around the band now than they have ever had, and this is their 10th album. Now the hardcore, or the old school fans, will claim that they’re not nearly as good as they were “back in the day,” but I think the band has done a lot of development since the “old days” and really planted themselves firmly on the border of modern, mainstream metal. I mean, even their label is calling them just “dark metal” now, though I think there are some things that still hold them in the black metal category. Aealo is the follow up to the band’s 2007 masterpiece Theogonia, a record which lit their fanbase aflame and which saw the band broadening their appeal to new fans all over the world. It is fair to say that Rotting Christ has continued on the heels of Theogonia with Aealo, because the majority of the stylistic themes which ran through the previous album and made it great remain.

White Wizzard – Over the Top Review

White Wizzard – Over the Top Review

There is an interesting irony to throwback bands like White Wizzard and a lot of the other thrash throwbacks that are coming out right now, which is that at one point in time what these guys were doing was forward thinking. I know it’s hard to believe, in a world where metal is used to support stupid ideologies, backwards thinking or just generally brutish and retarded behavior, it’s hard to think of metal as progressive, but in 1980, metal was outside of the box. Bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were just cutting their teeth, Lars Ulrich was busy stealing their riffs and ideas and heavy metal was fresh, young, innovative and above all rebellious and really, really interesting.

Petrychor – Dryad Review

Petrychor – Dryad Review

I frequently complain about black metal these days. Partially this is because I think that a lot of post-black metal is fucking boring and partially ’cause the not-post-black metal is also fucking boring. In general, black metal is in a place where nothing really that interesting is going on. Sure, there are bands out there that are putting out good material, but for the most part the signed stuff is so-so and the classic bands are disappointing with new material and the state of the scene, in my opinion, is pretty sad. So I was pleasantly surprised to get turned onto this piece of art by the Californian do-it-yourselfer just called “T”. The project is called Petrychor and displays all of the things that I would hope to hear out of this budding scene sort of embodied in a single 3 song EP entitled Dryad.

Aeternam – Disciples of the Unseen Review

Aeternam – Disciples of the Unseen Review

Egyptian metal is apparently a genre now! I didn’t have any clue! I just thought it was kind of a thing that Nile did. And then it was Nile and Behemoth. And then it was Nile, Behemoth and SepticFlesh. And now it’s Nile, Behemoth, SepticFlesh and Aeternam! I think that counts as a genre! So, that’s pretty cool in and of itself. Oh, and it turns out that Aeternam is pretty cool themselves, leading to a generally all around happy feeling for a few fleeting moments before the general irritants that keep me so angry all the time come crashing back in.