Tribulation

Crippled Black Phoenix – Ellengæst Review

Crippled Black Phoenix – Ellengæst Review

“I’ll open this review with the sentence I used to close my last Crippled Black Phoenix review: Crippled Black Phoenix are a band I want to like more, but the material continues to fall short of their potential. And with that thought the band’s latest album, Ellengæst, was bestowed upon me, giving me several weeks to think about how I’d be going in with high expectations and coming out feeling like I’d only eaten half a meal. A quick scan of the promo material did raise an eyebrow: the size of the band has been cut in half (CBP have always been immersed in drama), and there are a number of interesting guest vocalists as a result.” Crippled but dangerous.

Transcendence – Towards Obscurities Beyond Review

Transcendence – Towards Obscurities Beyond Review

“Riffs are really fucking important. It’s my job around here to write an additional seven hundred-ish words on top of “riffs good” or “riffs bad,” but when it comes to metal music, riffcraft is always my priority. It’s only when the riffs fail to stand out that first impressions require a deeper dig; if the “what” of the music fails to satisfy, perhaps the “why” can provide some solace. And that’s where California’s Transcendence vexes me.” Vex Arcana.

Begrafven – Dödsriket Review

Begrafven – Dödsriket Review

Dödsriket is Begrafven’s debut LP following a demo in 2013. Consisting of Ursus (guitars and vocals) and Maturz (bass and drums), Begrafven plays a fairly traditional blend of old-school Scandinavian second-wave black metal and melodic, less intense black ‘n roll. While the approach is by no means original, there has been a lot of demanding, atypical black metal recently, and if you’re like me, you sometimes just want some good ole fashioned, meat and ‘taters fare.” Black n’ tater.

Vampire – Rex Review

Vampire – Rex Review

“When we last heard from Swedish vampires, err… Vampire, they impressed me in 2017 with their Castlevania II/80’s inspired With Primeval Force, and although it didn’t crack my Top Ten(ish) that year, it still worms its way into my listening sessions on a continual basis around these parts. I was beginning to worry that the merry (undead) quintet would lay dormant, so imagine my surprise when the higher-ups threw Rex at my lap and told me to get on that shit, pronto.” Rex the necks.

Cloak – The Burning Dawn Review

Cloak – The Burning Dawn Review

“If you listened to Cloak‘s debut back in 2017, you know exactly what to expect from The Burning Dawn. If you don’t already know of Cloak, they play an accessible brand of black metal that feels like it was written in a scenic wasteland, evocative of dust and dusk, the scent of clean air and the sight of bloodred sun (cue Adam Burke).” Controlled burn.

Idle Hands – Mana Review

Idle Hands – Mana Review

“Remember Spellcaster? I don’t, but Doc Grier loved their final album: Night Hides the World made his 2016 Top Ten(ish) List. After burning the fuse at both ends, however, the band folded. Now three-fifths of Spellcaster have regrouped as Idle Hands, led by bassist Gabe Franco (who switches to guitars and vocals here). Franco brings with him guitarist Sebastian Silva and drummer Colin Vranizan, and the lineup is rounded out with Brandon Hill on bass. Be warned, though: this is not Spellcaster 2.0. Gone are the almost-thrash, pure metal sounds of that band, as well as the Iron Maiden and Iced Earth influences. Idle Hands aim for something much different, plucking influences from the opposite end of the spectrum and assembling them into a fairly unique sound.” Devil’s Workshop now hiring!

Ketzer – Cloud Collider Review

Ketzer – Cloud Collider Review

“If any band are poised to make a comeback, it’s Ketzer. Back in 2009 the German quintet burst onto the scene with their Satan’s Boundaries Unchained debut, which essentially sounded like the best album Desaster never wrote. I can hardly even mention Boundaries without wanting to blast it at ear-splitting volumes and to this day it remains one of my favorite blackened thrash albums of all time. Sadly, 2012’s Endzeit Metropolois was altogether weaker, while 2016’s Starless was an Illud Divinum Insanus-level atrocity that showed the group unsuccessfully attempt to rip off the goth rock style of Tribulation‘s The Children of the Night.” Don’t call it a comeback.

Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within Review

Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within Review

“I’m trying to be stricter with my scores so far this year, and in the process I’ve done a lot of thinking about what makes a great record… well, great. I could boil it down to some nebulous combination of songwriting, riffs, and melodic personality, but solid fundamentals aren’t enough. Those qualities alone would only result in an AMG 3.5 without that all important je ne sais quoi; the kind of elusive talent which enables moments that explode with vibrancy, reminding us why we are alive. And Wormwitch? Man alive, they’ve got it.” The early Wormwitch gets the Elitist.

Slægt – The Wheel [Things You Might Have Missed 2018]

Slægt – The Wheel [Things You Might Have Missed 2018]

“When I was a pimply-faced, mullet-headed teenager-cat, I loved watching bands I followed grow and develop their trademark sounds over time and across albums. I did so with equal parts glee and trepidation. On one hand, it’s cool to see bands take their collective influences and morph them into something completely their own. On the other hand, some morphed themselves into a rather comfortable box to grow complacent inside of, settling into a familiar niche that, while successful, doesn’t allow much wiggle room for progression without alienating their fanbase. Case in point: while Denmark’s Slægt.” Evolution is tricky biness.