Record o’ the Month

The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis Review

The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis Review

Well, after months of pimping this record (a lot) for everyone and bugging promotional people for copies of it and so forth, I finally have The 11th Hour’s follow up to the masterful Burden of Grief which hit home with this Angry Metal Guy in 2009. As a guy who has never really been a huge doom fan, I can say that Burden of Grief was an eye opener on several levels. First, it’s safe to say that the songwriting was fantastic. Slow, dirgey and depressing, but never wandering into the areas of mind numbing dullness that other doom bands reach (it must be my Angry Metal Attention Deficit Disorder). But also, the record contained deeply personal lyrics, haunting clean vocals and a concept that made the whole record sit together in a way that few other albums do. Indeed, Burden of Grief is easily one of the best albums I own and so, I guess, that and all the anticipation made the danger that I would be disappointed high. But this isn’t just about psychology, either. There is also a thing called “sophomore slump” for a reason. Burden of Grief probably had a lot longer to percolate than Lacrima Mortis did and was coming from a different place both psychologically and in the time line of Ed Warby’s career. With partner in crime Rogga Johansson unable to record vocals, it’s safe to say that this record could have really lost a step.

Battle Beast – Steel Review

Battle Beast – Steel Review

So there Steel Druhm was, sitting with a promo entitled Steel by the unknown Finns called Battle Beast. A quick perusal of the song titles made it clear they graduated Summa Cum LOUDLY from the Manowar School of Song Namery, as the numerous mentions of “metal,” “steel” and “iron” attest. The cover features a lion man fighting a robot as drawn by a ten year old at metal summer camp. Despite my renowned power metal geekdom, I felt a sense of dread and apprehension as I pressed play. Well damn it all if this thing isn’t full of surprises. Steel is a raging slab of frenetic, over-the-top 80’s metal worship that ladles out heaping helpings of thick cheese sauce and demands that you take seconds. Raging twin guitars, heroic solos, uber dramatic song structures and the vocals, Dear God the vocals!! The singer has a huge set of lungs and an even bigger set of balls which are frequently stuck in a vice! From gravelly, rasping shouts, air raid siren screams and superior singing, he can do it all and its so damn metal it kills my neighbor’s lawn. Imagine my shock to find out there are no balls to put in the vice because the HE is actually a SHE! That’s right, Nitte Valo is a true metal queen and she’s flat out brilliant on this album. However, unless you love the classic sounds of 80’s metal (think Grim Reaper, old Grave Digger, Accept) mixed with a smattering of power metal, this will leave you running for the door but quick. It revels in all the cliches and idiocy of that era and these folks certainly aren’t trying to be the next Opeth. You still with me? OK, stay with me.

Falconer – Armod Review

Falconer – Armod Review

hate Falconer. Okay, that’s not really true, but I have never liked Falconer, let’s put it that way. I first got wind of these guys with the publication of their second album Chapters of a Vale Forlorn and I was very unimpressed. Since then I’ve heard a things here and there, and nothing convinced me away from my previous conviction. I didn’t think what I heard was particularly good, nor did I think it was particularly interesting. In spite of the fact that I’m a huge fan of guitarist Stefan Weinerhall and drummer Karsten Larsson’s previous project Mithotyn (an absolutely underrated band), the power metal tinged Falconer never did anything for me at all.

That is, until I heard Armod.

Belphegor – Blood Magick Necromance Review

Belphegor – Blood Magick Necromance Review

I’m pretty sure loads of people were waiting for this one with baited black breath. Well, the wait is over and Austrian black/death mongers Belphegor have exceeded expectations to unleash a truly monstrous opus of blasting and burning to blight and ravage all the lands. Prepare thyself for one of the more intense, epic and fucking GREAT blackened death metal albums to come around in a while. Taking the best of both the black and death metal genres and stitching them together into a tentacled, writhing mass of gelatinous evil, Belphegor has created one mercilessly heavy yet strangely melodic beast with Blood Magick and Necromance and in the process, eclipsed the entirety of their past works (no easy feat since their previous releases were very good indeed [note: very good (3.5) is indeed the rating I gave Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn – AMG). In case it didn’t come across, I love this album!

Solefald – Norrøn Livskunst Review

Solefald – Norrøn Livskunst Review

Solefald is just a cool band and they have been for a long time. I first got into their stuff with the epic Red for Fire: An Icelandic Odyssey which came out in 2005 and that record has maintained a standard place in my discography because of its amazing blending of black metal, progressive metal and rock and unique Norse sounds. While I was not equally as impressed with Black for Death and I’ve been a bit hit or miss on some of the band’s older material, I’ve always appreciated the band’s unique approach to the music they produce and their intensely creative outputs. Nothing they have put out has really disappointed me, it’s just a matter of being more or less into it.

The Crown – Doomsday King Review

The Crown – Doomsday King Review

Comebacks. They ain’t so easy to pull off. For every band that produces a glorious reunion album there are four that crash, burn and damage their legacy. Earlier this summer we were blessed by an unexpectedly great reunion album from Accept and now Sweden’s The Crown have pulled off an equally monstrous comeback with Doomsday King. This is their first since 2006’s Possessed 13 and first with new vocalist Jonas Stalhammar (God Macabre) stepping in for Johan Lindstrand. However, make no mistake, this is The Crown of old and they’re storming with menace and out for blood! This is such a furious thrash/death assault that it’s hard to believe these guys were out of action for so long. Whatever they were doing during their down time, it obviously pissed them off and now they need to hurt somebody.

Demiurg – Slakthus Gamleby Review

Demiurg – Slakthus Gamleby Review

When I was doing my interview with Ed Warby last November, I reached the end of the review and he mentioned that I hadn’t asked about Demiurg. Embarrassed, I admitted that I hadn’t heard Demiurg and was quickly informed as to its nature. To paraphrase Warby (who plays drums in this band, in case you didn’t know that) this is the “Rolls Royce” among vocalist Rogga Johansson’s bands and a real juggernaut of Swedish death metal. He hooked me up with a copy of The Hate Chamber, the band’s second record, and I was duly impressed. The band, made up of Rogga (Bone Gnawer, Paganizer, Ribspreader, The Grotesquery), Dan Swano (maybe you’ve heard of him), Johan Berglund (This Haven, The Grotesquery) and Ed Warby (The 11th Hour, Gorefest, Hail of Bullets, and more), has come back in 2010 with a new take on their already well-developed and unique sound.

Iron Thrones – The Wretched Sun Review

Iron Thrones – The Wretched Sun Review

Those of you who have been reading Angry Metal Guy since the beginning will remember that I lauded heavy praise on a Minneapolis, Minnesota based band called Iron Thrones last year after I downloaded their record (for free) and had myself a little Angry Metal Hernia. The band was incredible. Like some kind of unholy cross between Opeth and Jesus… or whatever. I promptly declared the record amazing, gave it five stars and then took a cold shower. In any case, Visions of Light, the debut, still ranks as the best unsigned act I’ve ever heard and I have had very, very high hopes for the follow up record, The Wretched Sun, which will be self-released on the 27th of July after the very talented band went and won the No Label Needed contest and got sent to a pro studio.