Reviews

The Haunted – Unseen Review

The Haunted – Unseen Review

I’m sure most know the history of The Haunted and how they formed from the ashes of the legendary At The Gates. Despite my love for At The Gates, I never fully understood the stellar press and support The Haunted received and always felt they were one of the most overrated bands on the planet. Eventually they started to drift toward a more metalcore style and I lost the limited interest I had in them. Now they’re back with album seven Unseen and they’ve left their thrash days in the dust, probably for good. Instead, they deliver a strange, directionless mess of experimentation, emo angst, nu-metal and alt-rock. It’s clear they’re writing only for themselves and could care less what their fans expect or hope for at this point. While that’s admirable from an artistic perspective, when the results are this tedious and uninspiring, it’s both tragic and cringe-inducing. No matter how brave and creative they want to be, at the end of the day they should still be striving to write good music and they seem to have forgotten that here.

Zero Illusions – Oblivion Review

Zero Illusions – Oblivion Review

As the metal universe impatiently awaits releases by the biggies like Amon Amarth, Symphony X and the Godly Amorphis, we metal reviewers have to make due with what’s available and try to conceal our girlish glee over the impending major releases. Unfortunately for the Steel Druhm, today’s selection didn’t do much to distract my geekish anticipation for what lies ahead. For consideration is Oblivion, the second full-length release by Swedish heavy metal/hard rockers Zero Illusions. Formerly known (to very few) as Pain and Passion and billed as a progressive/power metal unit, there’s apparently a lot of buzz in the Swedish underground around these gents as the next “big thing” [Though it’s fair to point out that said buzz may be entirely fabricated by the band’s bio which hails them as the next big thing and describes how everyone is talking about it. – AMG]. After repeated listens to Oblivion, I’m at a loss to understand either the progressive metal tag or the overall buzz. I’m quite sure these guys won’t be the next big or medium size thing out of Sweden and while Zero illusions isn’t going to blow the lid of any metal scene, it’s a respectable though somewhat forgettable slice of straight forward, traditional metal with pronounced AOR hard rock influences.

Assaulter – Boundless Review

Assaulter – Boundless Review

An extreme metal super-group from down under? Intriguing eh mates? Assaulter is a slightly blackened thrash band featuring S. Berserker, formerly of Destroyer 666 on guitar, bass and vocals and Peter Hunt, formerly of Razor of Occam on drums. For the Australian extreme metal scene that’s pretty super indeed. Boundless is their second album under this moniker and it’s a hefty slice of good old fashioned thrashing lunacy with enough black metal and Middle Eastern influences to make them stand out from the likes of Legion of the Damned and their modern thrash brethren. After never hearing of these guys before, this impressed me enough that I felt compelled to track down the debut as well and I feel on solid ground saying they’re onto something here sound wise. It’s not reinventing the blackened thrash wheel or doing anything truly revolutionary but this is still some solidly ugly, brutal stuff and well executed at that.

Subrosa – No Help for the Mighty Ones Review

Subrosa – No Help for the Mighty Ones Review

I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy. Sure, I’m angry and a tad dogmatic at times, but I’m certainly not unwilling to engage in new ideas or to follow along with people when they do innovative things. But one trend, or musical movement if I’m going to be polite about it, in the metal underground that I just have never been able to get on board with is sludge or funeral doom. As I’ve said before, I just get bored. My attention span isn’t up for this stuff. There is a mind-numbing simplicity that I think you can only appreciate if you’re really stoned and I, frankly, don’t touch the stuff.

Burzum – Fallen Review

Burzum – Fallen Review

This post was removed because Varg Vikernes is a terrible human being. If you were unaware of this, now you know. Armed with that information, I encourage you to not support Burzum or any Nazi band. The reason this is important is because financial support for neo-Nazi groups often comes via the white power punk and metal music scenes and, therefore, cutting off financial support to these bands may be a meaningful way to counteract the ability to organize.

Strident – Oath (From Chaos to Glory) Review

Strident – Oath (From Chaos to Glory) Review

So apparently there’s this burgeoning metal scene in South Africa. How fucking cool is that? We already ran a review from scenesters Crow Black Sky, A Walk with the Wicked and Heathens and now we get the first proper self release from unsigned Cape Town heroes Strident. Playing what they describe as “epic South African power metal,” these gentlemen are out to show the rest of the world that true metal runs deep in the African earth. This is indeed power metal in its purest form and clearly influenced by the likes of Manowar and Rhapsody of Fire (together again, ain’t that sweet AMG?). Needless to say, with those guys as primary influences, you can expect things to get mighty cheesy real quick and that’s exactly how things go down here. Sporting an album cover suitable for the next Brutal Legend video game, their debut Oath (From Chaos to Glory) throws every power metal and true metal staple, stereotype and standard at you in a manic fury. It’s fun, funny and cringe worthy in equal measures and sets a new standard for the phrase “hugely over-the-top.” Whether you like it or not has a lot to do with your overall lactose tolerance and sense of humor.

Assassin – Breaking the Silence Review

Assassin – Breaking the Silence Review

It’s old folks week at the Angry Metal Guy offices. That’s because I, Steel Druhm, am officially old and I’ve been tossed assignments for Tankard, Jag Panzer and now, Assassin, the long running, though unproductive German thrash troupe. Along with the aforementioned Tankard, Assassin was part of the German wave of thrash that hit in the mid 80s. Also like Tankard, these guys were in the back of the pack, far behind luminaries like Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. Their 86′ debut The Upcoming Terror was solid, reminded me of a poor man’s version of Artillery (who were amazing on their first two albums by the way) and some even considered it a cult classic. Their 88′ follow up Interstellar Experience was actually less than stellar and passed without much fanfare. After that there was a long period of inactivity due to equipment theft and they didn’t resurface until 2005’s The Club which was uninspiring to say the least (flaming coyote poo to say the most). Now they’re back with album four, Breaking the Silence and a nifty looking cover featuring the return of those bad ass tanks from their debut. So, did these gents fare better than those booze-hounds in Tankard whose album I only just defiled via review? Has the worm turned for these stoic thrashers or was their reformation as unfortunate an idea as wasabi flavored gummy bears? All these questions and more shall be answered so read on intrepid metal fans.

Jag Panzer – The Scourge of the Light Review

Jag Panzer – The Scourge of the Light Review

Jag Panzer has been an American metal institution since the early 80’s and they’ve always been a band that you could rely on to clobber you with enormous, powerful, top-notch heavy metal of the traditional school. They’re also the original American power metal act. Their take on power metal being far different than the textbook European approach, Jag Panzer were always much heavier, tougher and had more balls than the Helloweens, Gamma Rays and such of the Euro-school. Built around the mammoth, masculine and powerhouse vocals of Harry “the Tyrant” Conklin, the Panzer sound was always hard-edged, large and much closer to the NWOBHM style of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. After a wait of nearly seven years since 2004’s Casting the Stones, The Panzer finally rolls again and we get album eight (nine if you count the long shelved Chain of Command opus), The Scourge of the Light. Was it worth the long wait? Does Moonsorrow piss in the snow? [Was the Pope a Nazi? – AMG] Of course it was worth it! Scourge is a welcome and mighty return to the metal throne by Jag Panzer and they brings us ten new slices of old school metal glory.

Tankard – Vol(l)ume 14 Review

Tankard – Vol(l)ume 14 Review

Wow, back in the day when the first few Tankard albums stumbled into the light like a wino from a dark alley, I never imagined these guys would be around very long. While amusing, they were the essence of a third tier act and didn’t stand out all that much even in the heyday of thrash. Well, since I now find myself reviewing album fourteen by these alcohol fueled Germanic thrashers, I would say I was pretty wrong about my initial impressions. While these guys were never in the same league as Sodom, Kreator or Destruction they still managed to become an enduring and productive minor league team. Unlike their bigger peers in the German thrash scene, Tankard was always silly, tongue-in-cheek and largely wrote on the few topics they knew best: drinking, partying and alcohol. Since I myself was a hard partying youth, I casually enjoyed their Chemical Invasion and The Morning After releases for their good humor and frantic pace. After that they dropped off my radar and only in the past week did I start getting to know the Tankard again. Although the goofy, “anything goes” feel is still there, the music and writing doesn’t hold up like I remember it. Once the nostalgia factor wore off, things started tasting a little skunky.

Evergrey – Glorious Collision Review

Evergrey – Glorious Collision Review

Doom metal is theoretically designed to make you feel sad and sorrowful. Some of it does the trick, some doesn’t. Oddly, the band that always manages to kill my happy happy joy joy moods completely and utterly isn’t even a doom act. Instead, its “dark metal” masters Evergrey. These guys have made their bones writing increasingly depressive, raw and emotionally crippling music and here on their eighth album, the sorrowful Swedes still haven’t picked up their prozac prescriptions. Yes, Glorious Collision is another massive dose of buzzkilling, fetishistically downcast heavy metal that will make you feel bad about yourself, others and life in general. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? Well, I doubt anyone will ever argue that Evergrey makes good times music and no, they aren’t much fun to listen to. They are however, very good at what they do and they craft some excellent and beautifully tragic music with powerful feelings.