Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake (2016)

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As one of the most awaited Thrash Metal releases of 2016, today we have Testament and their latest opus “Brotherhood of the Snake”. As one of the originators of the Bay Area Thrash movement, Testament seems to only get better with age as this album delivers over 45 minutes of no-holds-bared Thrash-tastic music.

Opening with the intense album title track, the band quickly fires the first round with blistering drumming and crushing riffs. Paired with Steve DiGiorgio’s intricate base guitar line, this song fires on all cylinders and delivers a hectic opening that will instantly raise your pulse. The intricate guitar work of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick brilliantly shines on killer tracks like “The Pale King”, “Seven Seals” and the amazing leads of “Neptune’s Spear”, which almost make this track, be more along the lines of Power/Progressive Metal bands.

Amaranthe – Maximalism (2016)

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Making a triumphant return in 2016, today we have Amaranthe and their latest opus “Maximalism”. Being one of the most polarizing bands in Metal, you either love or totally hate the band. We took a bit of warming up to the band, but with time we have grown to appreciate their efforts in bringing two different worlds together in a very bombastic and creative way.

The album opens with the startling “Maximize”, a track which features all the traditional staples that have made Amaranthe world known: catchy vocal melodies, hip beats, and an addictive chorus section. The band has never denied their Pop/main stream influences and “Boomerang” is a pretty good example of this, regardless of the growls or heavy guitars.

Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016)

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Djent wizards Meshuggah return with their first release in four years titled “The Violent Sleep of Reason”. While we never been huge fans of the band, tons of our readers and friends always continue to rave over the band’s polyrhythmic exploits and the acrobatic merits of the band’s intricate music. In this release, the band delivers nearly 60 minutes of music split in ten tracks that while heavy and punishing, and indeed more diverse than some of the band’s earlier material, still not quite our cup of tea.

As the release opens with pummeling tracks like “Clockworks”, “Born in Dissonance” and “MonstroCity”, we clearly appreciate the technical prowess of Fredrik Thordendal and company, but can’t quite get into the music. The songs are different from each other, but they somewhat still feel very similar thanks to the guitar work and the music time signatures. Other tracks like
By the Ton”, go as far as reminding us of a more technically engaging version of Static X or Powerman 5000.

Neurosis – Fires within Fire (2016)

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Leveling everything on their path, today we have Neurosis and their devastating release “Fires within Fires”. Unleashed after a period of high activity from the band which saw them tour the world with handpicked 30 years anniversary shows, this release delivers over 40 minutes of soul crushing music. Featuring five songs, the album will satisfy any follower of the band and “power of the riff” connoisseurs.

Ripping things wide open with the relentless riffing of “Bending Light”, the band starts on a high note with massive walls of sound and the signature Neurosis vocal attack. Going into more hypnotic territories with the tribal-influenced “A Shadow Memory”, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till continue their riffing onslaught in this punishing song. The atmospheric elements, courtesy of Noah Landis, in “Fire is the End Lesson” make this track one of our favorite ones.

Fallujah + Between the Buried And Me + Devin Townsend Project - 10/05/2016 – The Regency - San Francisco, CA

Kicking off the post-summer touring cycle in the North America, this week we had a killer tour package with Technical Deathcore Northern California outfit Fallujah, Progressive Metal/Rock outfit Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM) and the legendary Devin Townsend. Having seen BTBAM back in December 2015, we are psyched to hear them play their epic “Coma Ecliptic” album in its entirety during this show. Fallujah delivered a very impressive album this 2016, and we are quite psyched to see if their complex sound translates live.

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour (2016)

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As one of the premiere Power Metal bands in the world, Finland’s Sonata Arctica needs no introduction. Arriving early October 2016, the band unleashes their ninth full-length release appropriately titled “The Ninth Hour”. Filed with eleven tracks and around 60 minutes of high-octane music, the band is at the top of their game and delivers the levels of epicness that fans expect from them.

Opening with the dynamic “Closer to an Animal”, the band starts in typical Sonata Arctica fashion with playful guitars and keyboards and the signature Tony Kakko voice. The album continues with excellent over the top tracks like “Life”, the brilliant “Fairytale”, and the mellow “We Are What We Are”, which adds medieval/folk music influences into the mix.

Hanging Garden – Hereafter (2016)

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For fans of highly melancholic and atmospheric music, today we have Hanging Garden’s latest opus “Hereafter”. Perfectly continuing their musical journey into more Atmospheric Rock territories, this Finnish band has come a long way since their crushing Death/Doom Metal days. Featuring 21 minutes divided in five tracks, this release delivers highly melancholic music filled with great guest vocal appearances, perfect for any fans of the band or highly atmospheric music.

Opening with the heavy riffs of “Penumbra”, the band complements the clean vocals of Toni Toivonen with the crushing growls of guest singer Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun). This track is quite melodic and yet delivers some crushing riffs and heavy moments. Continuing with the heaviness, “Sirkle of Onan” keeps things heavy thanks to a firm pace and Victor Wegeborn’s Post-Metal styled vocals.

Armed Cloud - Obsidian Desert (2015)

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Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have extremely promising Progressive Metal outfit Armed Cloud and their debut release “Obsidian Desert”. Featuring over 57 of music, this release is both engaging a very technically proficient, showcasing the band’s songwriting skills and instrument abilities. Recommended for fans of bands like Circus Maximus, Ayreon, and Pain of Salvation, this release will keep you entertained for a while.

Opening with the playful title-track, the band instantly sets a very mellow mood filled with intricate details. This song showcases Daan Dekker’s excellent vocals and the tight percussions of Rico Noijen. Getting a good vocalist is vital for Prog bands and Daan does a great job in pieces like “Wound Healer” and the dramatic “In your Mind”.

Heaven Grey – Manuscriptum (2016)

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Six years after their brilliant sophomore release “Falling Mist”, today we have Heaven Grey’s latest opus “Manuscriptum”. As one of the hidden Baltic gems of Gothic/Doom Metal bands (Frailty is another one), the band delivers nine excellent tracks of melancholic music which show the band’s musical evolution over the years.

Opening with the dramatic atmospheric intro of “Insomnia”, the band nicely settles with some melancholic riffs and very well crafted tempo changes. This track perfectly sets a very mellow and depressive mood that is nicely enhanced by the excellent clean vocals of the band’s new singer Artūrs Fishers. Mixing clean and harsh vocal styles, tracks like “Drown in My Shade” and “Sirds Balss” showcase a perfect balance and great complementarity between the styles.

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