Mercenary

Damnation Angels – Fiber of Our Being Review

Damnation Angels – Fiber of Our Being Review

“Will things ever return to normal? And, if they do, what will ‘normal’ look like? Sometimes it takes every fiber in my body not to lash and scream out at this stupid fucking world. Though the homeless are multiplying outside my bedroom window and even the friendliest people I know look broken down, everything’s fine. So fine. If the apocalypse is truly upon us, it’s fitting that the Damnation Angels will guide us to the flames. So, forward march. Let’s enjoy this new hell with every Fiber of Our Being.” Morale fiber.

HateSphere – New Hell Review

HateSphere – New Hell Review

“If anything can be said about HateSphere, it’s that they know how to please their fans. Though many of us crave a bit more diversity across a fifteen-year career, the fact that HateSphere drops consistent album after consistent album every couple years is enough to please (almost) anyone. HateSphere‘s consistency is the result of founding guitarist Peter Hansen and his continued navigation along the course set by 2001’s self-titled debut.” And it’s always tough to know if consistency is a virtue or not.

Raunchy – Vices.Virtues.Visions. Review

Raunchy – Vices.Virtues.Visions. Review

“There are three things you need to know in regards to Raunchy: 1) I’ve had an unhealthy love affair with them since stumbling across Wasteland Discotheque back in 2008; 2) they have the most misleading band name ever; and 3) never say “can I get Raunchy?” when asking for their promo.” We call that a micro-aggression, and we only tolerate macro-aggressions at AMG. HR awaits!

Hibria – Silent Revenge Review

Hibria – Silent Revenge Review

“There are a lot of good bands down there in South America and they always seem to pop up out of nowhere and surprise you. Brazil’s Hibria did just that with their 2004 Defying the Rules debut, which rocked a type of heavy power metal quite similar to Riot‘s Thundersteel mixed with classic Euro-power like old Helloween. It was surprisingly mature and polished for a debut and had a number of great songs that earned permanent playlist rotation. Their Skull Collectors follow-up was solid enough, but I didn’t think much of the Blind Ride platter released in 2011. I feared they were in the classic Dimishing Returns Death Spiral and hoped they could find a way back to the glory of that awesome debut.” Nothing is worse than a promising band caught in a creative death spiral! Can Hibria avoid disaster and guide the ship back to the promised land of power metal? Steel Druhm is on scene and it was clearly the wrong week for him to quit sniffing glue.

Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days Review

Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days Review

Mercenary is a band that’s given me fits over their career. I was very much taken with their fusion of melodic death, power-prog and metalcore on early albums like Everblack and especially The Hours That Remain. Architect of Lies lost some of the charm the older stuff had and didn’t hit me as hard, but it was still decent. However, things really fell apart on their 2011 Metamorphosis release which came across like a generic mix of emo/screamo metalcore and pop. I wrote it off to the massive line up changes the band was weathering at the time and there were a few decent tunes that gave hope they could regain their footing on subsequent releases. Despite this half-hearted optimism, the eternal Law of Dimishing Returns suggested their best days were behind them and I wouldn’t find much to praise on their new album.” Can Mercenary get themselves back on track or is this another nose dive into metalcore hell? Steel Druhm has thoughts and conclusions.

Darkane – The Sinister Supremacy Review

Darkane – The Sinister Supremacy Review

Darkane is a band is that has been somewhat overlooked over their fifteen plus year career despite some solid output. Born in the second wave of Swedish melodic death metal, they were strongly influenced by the likes of At the Gates, Dark Tranquility and Soilwork. They made their bones crafting, thrashy, technically impressive death with plenty of melody and references to the “Gothenburg sound” and albums like Rusted Angel, Expanding Senses and Layers of Lies were enjoyably intense assaults on the listener full of vicious riffs and harsh vocals, all sugar-coated with slick, technical prowess. Unfortunately for the band, their birth more or less coincided with the explosion of metalcore bands equally influenced by the Swedish melo-death sound and Darkane quickly got lost amid a sea of crappy core.” Can these melo-death mongrels re-establish themselves after a five year hiatus or is it too little too late in a genre that has began to dry up?

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

As a young boy I learned a really important lesson at the hands of one of my favorite bands, Europe. Sure, you laugh, but I was and it was the ’80s, so I was well within my rights to listen to Europe. In 1984, Sweden’s very own, very popular foray into glam rock released a record called Wings of Tomorrow. The album cover was simple. An armored bird of prey, in profile against a red planet cradled in a vast blanket of stars, ready to attack an unseen foe. Five-year-old me was in awe. My unconstrained imagination transported me into space with this mighty, ironclad hawk, to fight futuristic wars. This set the stage for a magical listening experience and the record is still one of my favorites. When I finally got around to The Final Countdown something important had changed: the cover was five poofy haired dudes in space. No suspension of disbelief, no imagination, just Swedish glam rockers in space. And the record? Well, it had one great song… and in retrospect a lot of stinkers. At that moment, an important seed of distrust of bands with their own pictures on the cover of a record was instilled in me. If a band isn’t creative enough to come up with a cool record cover, that band probably isn’t creative enough to write really good music.

Illnath – 4 Shades of Me Review

Illnath – 4 Shades of Me Review

“Prior to 4 Shades of Me, their fourth full-length, Danish metallers Illnath had similarities to bands like Taiwanese Chthonic, South Korean Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, and the the non-Asian Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. The evolution that is 4 Shades of Me led them to drop the keyboard and symphonic sparkle, instead giving up their inner Illnath and adopting a virtually unrecognizable aggressive approach resembling the melodic blackened side of Dark Funeral. While I was intrigued to spin this album and waited for it with some anticipation I also had a seed of trepidation lurking in the pit of my stomach that 4 Shades of Me would have the same meh, lack of power and spark as Third Act in the Theatre of Madness.” I’m not sure what surprises me more, that Madam X actually has heard of the band Illnath, or that she actually knows their discog inside out? Looks like she’s the person to tell you whether or not you should be check out their new record Four Shades of Me.

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe has three vocalists. Just let that sink in for a while. From what I can tell, not one of those vocalists plays an instrument. Instead, they found three “attractive” people to do vocals for them. The first is a woman, who sounds like a pop singer (think E Type) and who I guarantee you cannot name a Slayer record. The second is a screamy dude. He’s got a beard (’cause he’s tough and angsty, you see) and he screams, but not too much (he must be very, very, very bored on stage). And then there’s the ‘power metal’ vocalist (Berg from Dream Evil) who’s just as over-produced as the chick vocalist and is there to get 14 year old girls all silly over his perfectly groomed dreadlocks. Behind them are several soulless session musicians (from Mercenary, Dragonland and Engel). Though, frankly, this is a band that is functionally made of session musicians, since integrity seems to be lacking.

Mercenary – Metamorphosis Review

Mercenary – Metamorphosis Review

Well, we can’t be expected to love everything that comes out this year, although it seems at times like we have been. Although I really enjoyed the earlier releases by Denmark’s Mercenary (especially 11 Dreams and The Hours That Remain) and was looking forward to this release, the massive upheaval that led half the band to flee after 2009’s Architect of Lies has clearly taken its toll. After losing their drummer, keyboardist and singer, they were forced to retool and regroup and I’m sad to report that the 2011 incarnation of Mercenary is only a shadow of what it once was. While their sound always had elements of the dreaded metalcore style, it was merged with many other influences and thereby rendered tolerable. On Metamorphosis, they’ve emerged from their cocoon as a full blown metalcore-melo-death butterfly, just like the eight million others out there (I know the cover shows a phoenix but this is way closer to butterfly, trust me). Gone is the intriguing blend of death, power, thrash and progressive metal that graced their earlier material. Gone is that special something that made their songs so impactful and addictive. Now it’s generic metalcore with poppy, radio friendly choruses all day, all night. While fleeting moments of the old sound can be heard here and there, overall this is a very different entity and to these ears, a much lesser one. In fact, this is inferior to their previous work in every possible way.