2021

Hellsword – Cold Is the Grave Review

Hellsword – Cold Is the Grave Review

“Like most blackened speed metal bands, Hellsword channels classic acts like Venom and early Bathory to form the base of their sound, but they also take a few steps into thrash territory, occasionally sounding a bit like debut-era Slayer. Hellsword are just now delivering their debut full-length despite forming way back in 2009, and this extended time together shows in their songwriting maturity.” Blades and Beelzebub.

Kadabra – Ultra Review

Kadabra – Ultra Review

“I used to listen to, and enjoy, heavy psych a lot. I’m beginning to wonder, however, whether the onset of mid-life (not yet a mid-life crisis, please note —emphasis on yet) may have biologically hindered my ability to enjoy the genre. I keep picking it up for review, perhaps in the hope of recapturing some younger version of myself, and steadily continue to dole out 2.0s or 2.5s. And while a low score a day, keeps the Angry Boss Ape away, it’s not very good for the soul, you know? So, I approached Spokane, Washington’s Kabadra more in hope, than expectation, of finding something for me.” Olde world problems.

Manfrea – Noire Review

Manfrea – Noire Review

“Novel genre mixes are always fun. I thought I had one of those when I grabbed Noire, sophomore effort from Moscow musicians Manfrea, from the bin. Blackened metalcore, it said. Russia seems to have developed a penchant for experimental, envelope-pushing metal, so it’s only natural my thoughts went to bizarre concoctions of Trivium and Darkthrone and the question how two such disparate genres could possibly mix. My esteemed colleagues immediately shot down such ruminations when I pondered these questions aloud, by proposing the suspicious half of this amalgamation might be more along the original, non-melodic metalcore line, which would make the figurative distance between genres considerable shorter.” Near and Noire.

Tumba de Carne – Decatexis // Perpetuo Altar

Tumba de Carne – Decatexis // Perpetuo Altar

“After maybe 300 reviews, I’d estimate I’ve locked up several kilobytes of server space recommending artists work with Colin Marston. As a result, I of course take full credit for all the bands that line up to record with him and receive a small monthly stipend from the Menegroth budget. But not every band has to take that advice, and since my kickback is limited by studio throughput, I’m in the market for another producer to praise/shake down. That’s where Argentina’s Tumba de Carne come in.” Tumba thumper.

Unto Others – Strength Review

Unto Others – Strength Review

Unto Other’s Mana was the critical darling of 2019. It was number three on the List to End All Lists here at AMG.com and it was widely considered brilliant. So, how’s a band supposed to live up to unexpected success? Do they have the Strength to avoid the sophomore slump.

We Butter the Bread with Butter – Das Album Review

We Butter the Bread with Butter – Das Album Review

We Butter the Bread with Butter have gone full circle, entering 2021 with the same original lineup as when the duo first spawned in 2007, plus one adorable doggo. I’m not sure how that happened, but at least their secret formula remains intact. Electronic dance music and deathcore renew their vows on Das Album, drumming and bassing to and fro, trapping me beneath the weight of a stout breakdown or whipping me around a stupid catchy chorus.” I can’t believe it’s still Butter!

Signs of the Swarm – Absolvere Review

Signs of the Swarm – Absolvere Review

“If any band has cursed history, it’s Signs of the Swarm. Seemingly the hub of the most garbage human beings in the history of deathcore, more allegations plague these Pittsburgh natives than breakdowns. Sexual assault allegations beleaguer former vocalist CJ McCreery and former bassist Jacob Toy, while physical abuse accusations mar former guitarist Cory Smarsh. Smartly, the group has distanced itself from these individuals, showing integrity in spite of its streak of scumbags. Continuing as a trio, Absolvere is no step down in brutality, energy, or most importantly, quality.” Away from the maddening swarms.

Skepticism – Companion Review

Skepticism – Companion Review

“Autumn brings about a slow but captivating decay of leaves turning colors and dying, falling to the ground in a beautiful, somber reminder that life can change in a matter of years to a matter of seconds. So, with the passing of the seasons, now is a great time to pour a glass of your favorite spirit, sit in front of a fire, and partake in Companion, the sixth full-length by legendary Finnish funeral merchants, Skepticism.” Of doom and ice.

Seven Spires – Gods of Debauchery Review

Seven Spires – Gods of Debauchery Review

Seven Spires released their second full-length album Emerald Seas, the prequel to their debut album Solveig, in February 2020. In tragic fashion, the four Berklee College of Music graduates scrapped their tour because of the global pandemic. Instead of wallowing in sorrow, the band wrote nearly 80 minutes of glorious new music, a true testament to their fervent love for the crafts of songwriting and musicianship. I raved about Emerald Seas in TYMHM last year, and let’s just say that my expectations were high for Gods of Debauchery.” Gluttony of goods.