Spiritual Beggars

Vokonis – Odyssey Review

Vokonis – Odyssey Review

Vokonis have been on my radar for a few years now. I jumped in when their debut, Olde One Ascending, was rereleased in 2018, and liked it enough to review their third album, Grasping Time, right here back in 2019. As I found out after purchasing their second release The Sunken Djinn, Grasping Time was a slight step back. It was still a fun record, and the trio came up with many great moments, at times displaying a real knack for catchy riffs and progressive arrangements, but it just seemed like that magic formula was still eluding them. When word of Odyssey came out late last year, my first thought was “Damn, that is spectacular cover art.” Then the inevitable follow-up: “I hope the music holds up.” Thankfully, it does.” Homeric.

The Quill – Earthrise Review

The Quill – Earthrise Review

“Man, what a milestone for The Quill. Not a lot of bands, even many of legendary status, survive long enough to see the release of their 10th album, but here we are. Not that I can say I’ve been following the band since its inception. For one, I wasn’t born yet in 1986. For two, my first brush with the band was their last release, Born From Fire, which I reviewed all the way back in 2017. At the time, I much enjoyed their style of straightforward proto-metal, but more than an hour of this style is a lot for any band, especially when a portion of it is spent on subpar material. Have the Swedes hired an editor this iteration, or are we going into overtime once more?” Dad patrol.

Earth Messiah – Ouroboros Review

Earth Messiah – Ouroboros Review

“Gothenburg three-piece Earth Messiah are also going old school with their full-length debut Ouroboros. The Swedes’ downtuned, heavy stoner-rock sound is ripped straight out of the late 1990s and follows on from a solid two-track demo, Nocturnal Thoughtgrinder, which they put out in January 2018. A full cycle of the seasons (and a record deal with Argonauta Records) later, are Earth Messiah reborn or stuck living in the past?” Stones and time.

Voodoo Circle – Raised on Rock Review

Voodoo Circle – Raised on Rock Review

Voodoo Circle make Steel and I yearn for the olde days, when we would sit on the veranda in our trailer park, drinking hobo wine out of pickle jars, listening to mixtapes of Blue Murder, Whitesnake, Great White, and the Scorpions. It was a simpler time: hairspray-soaked blues metal dominated the scene, and there were four main lyrical topics: love, bad love, dirty love, and sex. You can’t get away with that in today’s climate, but that won’t stop Voodoo Circle from trying.” Sex is love.

Arch Enemy – Will to Power Review

Arch Enemy – Will to Power Review

“It’s a ritual most metalheads born in the 80’s have participated in. At some point, that guy who got into metal a few months before you did comes up to you, brandishing a discman, and says: “You gotta hear this, there’s a band with a chick who can growl!” In 10% of the cases, he’d have Kittie or Otep with him, but most of the time he’d be talking about Arch Enemy, the melodic death metal band whose primary distinguishing feature is having a chick who can growl.” Growlers, man.

The Quill – Born From Fire Review

The Quill – Born From Fire Review

“Seeing the number of debuts and sophomore albums in our promo bin can be a little depressing. It seems to suggest most bands don’t last beyond the early stages. Maybe these young bands are ripped apart over squabbles about the musical direction, or bickering over how to divide the piles of money and groupies, or simply life happening and leaving no room for 9 months of touring per year. Not so for The Quill, a Swedish ‘heavy rock’ group that has been active since 1990 and now have Born From Fire, their 8th album, loaded into the trebuchet.” Flowing prose or writer’s block?

Insatia – Phoenix Aflame Review

Insatia – Phoenix Aflame Review

“The promo selection at AMG is a brutal process. If you are late to the game, all the good stuff has been picked by the vultur- I mean, my colleagues, and your choices are reduced to black metal, metalcore or symphonic metal (which nearly always means Nightwishcore.) I was late this time, and Jorn help me, I picked symphonic power metal album Phoenix Aflame completely blind. I recall my last thought before my own private hell was unleashed: “Can’t be worse than Akoma.” The early bird gets the Wormrot.

Mothership – High Strangeness Review

Mothership – High Strangeness Review

“Feast your eyes on that cover! There be breasts, beasts and planetary bodies. If there was ever a piece of truly van worthy art, this is that thing. As impressive as the art is, this here is a music review site, or so I’ve been told. That requires me to delve into the sounds Mothership deliver on their third album of 70s influenced stoner rock curiously titled High Strangeness.” Could the music ever match that glorious cover art?

Opeth – Sorceress Review

Opeth – Sorceress Review

“It’s funny to think about how long it has been since the golden age of Swedish metal. In the mid-to-late ’90s and early aughts, Swedish bands were atop the world. Now venerable legends were young, hungry and novel. 1995 saw the release of Slaughter of the SoulThe Gallery and Orchid, while the following year graced us with Morningrise and The Jester Race. And when I got into Opeth in 1998 I was swimming in a veritable ocean of amazing Swedish records. Despite my love of the band, I would have laughed if someone had suggested that Opeth—the guys who couldn’t write a song shorter than 10 minutes—would be the most successful of the bunch in 20 years. Maybe it’s obvious in retrospect. Opeth was the band with the broadest opportunities for evolution. They have shown that consistently in their long career. Record after record they evolve; sometimes for the better and sometimes not. But they have always been forward thinking and—given their recent moves into merch and their own imprint—clever.” But is the new album good?