With the current Thrash Metal revival, it is quite sad to hear bands going on their last hurrah with very mediocre releases. This is 100% the case for Schmier and company with a very uninspired “Spiritual Genocide”. Bands like Accept, Kreator, and Death Angel have managed to evolve over time and incorporate some more ‘modern’ elements into their sound, Destruction on the other hand has managed to stay exactly the same for the last 10 years.
Opening with the insipid “Exordium” this album instantly feels like the last few of the band. Tracks like “Cyanide” and “Spiritual Genocide” are typical Thrash Metal songs that sound like they arrived 10 years too late. The riffing is predictable and the vocals are so-so, there is a lack of viciousness and aggression here, and bands like Kreator and Death Angel are now clearly superior to this band that peaked years ago.
Aging perfectly with time, today we have Death Metal legends Suffocation and their latest opus “Pinnacle of Bedlam”. As one of the first bands to mix technical elements into Brutal Death Metal, the band continues refining their skills and delivers ten killer tracks that put all the copycat kiddies to shame. For over 38 minutes, this release is guaranteed to rock you off your seat and induce a headbanging trance immediately.
Wasting no time, “Cycles of Suffering” explodes with crunchy riffs and crazy guitar leads all packed around hyper fast drumming and powerful deep growls. With Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais leading the riffing attack, “Purgatorial Punishment” is the quintessential Suffocation track that will immediately make your head start spinning with its raw power and unparalleled catchiness.
Sweden’s psychedelic hard-rockers return with another intoxicating dosage of classic rock with trippy stoner elements that made them so good in their excellent “Hisingen Blues” release. With such a massive appeal, this band has been resonating in most indie musical circles and has reached success up to the level of getting a spot to play on Bonnaroo and opening for Motörhead in Europe. In this new release the band continues to rock out with very emotional and mellow songs that take the band closer to musical Nirvana.
Opening with the warm and fuzzy feeling of records from the 70’s, the band delivers instant classic “An Industry of Murder” and the funky “Slow Motion Countdown”. Both songs are filled with solid guitar work and very emotive vocals. The band also excels at bringing the mood a tad low just before lifting spirits with more intense tracks like “Seven Seven” and “Endless Night”.
The queen of Metal Doro Pesch is back with yet another killer release that comes very close to trumping Accepts “Stalingrad” as the top Heavy Metal release of 2012. Doro is one of the most active and fan devoted musicians in Metal and the collection of heavy hitting hits delivered in “Raise Your Fist” is a true treat for anybody that has been following her since her days with Warlock.
Opening with the heavy-hitter “Raise Your Fist In The Air”, Doro sets the bar very high which such an energetic and catchy song. We can totally picture thousands of people raising their firsts and going crazy with this epic anthem on a live festival show. While ALL the songs in this release are excellent, the next highlight comes under the name of “It Still Hurts”, a power-ballad duet with none other than Lemmy from Motörhead. While we don’t get to hear his traditional raspy vocals, we still get a pretty unique and different side of his talents alongside Doro, what more can we ask for.
Greatly improving on their already impressive 2011 release “Edge of the Earth”, today we have Sylosis and their latest album “Monolith”. In this eleven track beast of an album, the band further refines their killer ‘Melodic Thrash Metal’ sound with even better crafted songs and heaps of killer guitar riffs. The band’s mastermind Josh Middleton has done a great job in crafting a very unique sound that is familiar to Metal fans, but it is also completely different from everybody else in Metal.
Setting a melancholic mood with the opener “Out From Below”, Sylosis quickly delivers the usual dosage of Thrash Metal riffs that nicely transform into brilliant melodic passages, particularly the brilliant closing to this song. There are a few hints of ‘Modern Metal’ included in tracks like “Fear The World” and “What Dwells Within” that give the band a Gojira kind of edge, not bad, but maybe alarming in the future.
After blowing us all away with the excellent “Axioma Ethica Odini”, Enslaved returns with another excellent release that builds up on their previous albums and further refines their sound. With their very Progressive sound, the band has managed to expand the reach of the Black Metal genre into new and uncharted territories, and “RIITIIR” is the perfect vessel to explore these waters.
Continuin the “Axioma…” vibe, “Thoughts Like Hammers” features intricate guitar work perfectly adorned by several singing styles. The chorus section of this track is magical, both musically and vocally. With such a very well-directed aggressive sound, the band perfectly fuses in their Progressive elements with the harsh vocals and pounding drums unlike any other band we’ve heard. Moving into funkier and more melodic territory, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” nicely keeps the album flowing with excellent guitar work, a wide variety of vocals, and a very mellow tempo.
The Swedish Psychedelic rockers of Witchcraft are finally back after five years since their last release, with a heavy hitting album titled “Legend”. In this highly anticipated release the band delivers nine tracks of excellent Psychedelic Rock that will propel them back into the top ranks of this re-emerging genre. Labeled as one of the bands that propelled the revival of the genre back in the mid 2000’s, Witchcraft shows their musical quality in every compelling song that they present in this release.
Featuring a heavier sound since the opener “Deconstruction”, the band delivers powerful Doom-ish riffs that are nicely adorned by Magnus Pelander’s excellent vocals. The Psychedelic vibe is immediately present with the funky guitar work and the drumming nicely rounds things up. Things really pick-up with the super catchy “It’s Not Because Of You”, indeed a very well-crafted track that features excellent vocals, intricate guitar work, and a super catchy chorus section. There is no doubt that this track is the indisputable first single of the release.
After the half-assed “The Formation of Damnation”, Chuck Billy and company return with what is probably the best Testament album since “The Legacy” (well… maybe “Low” for us). With “Dark Roots of Earth”, the band gets the excellent drummer Gene Hoglan back and together with the mastermind behind the production of some of the best albums in the past few years, Andy Sneap, they deliver nine amazing Thrash Metal anthems with a splash of modern elements, but nothing too flashy or fancy to divert from the main genre.
Blowing the listener away with the high-octane “Rise Up”, Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick deliver a powerful riffing onslaught that we haven’t heard in quite a while from Testament. Chuck Billy’s vocals are as always very traditional and James Hetfield sounding. Stepping things up with “Native Blood”, the drumming finally resonates with some excellent sections in the songs chorus part. The weird mood changes in “Dark Roots of Earth” make this song sound like something that Megadeath would have released back in the “Youthanasia” era, but with better guitar solos.
Continuing with their high-spirited Folk Metal music, today we have Korpiklaani and their latest opus titled “Manala”. Cranking out thirteen songs (including the bonus track) of uber catchy music, it is very cool to see that the band kept the creative juices flowing and managed to deliver another excellent album one year after the release of their previous one. Featuring a darker (and probably deeper) edge to their lyrical concept, the band has crafted a release that will surely please most of the older fans of the band and while not featuring their traditional ‘drinking song’, the cheerful spirit of the band is equally present in this release.
“Kunnia” gives way to this release with the typical up-beat Folk approach that has made the band world-know and has kept them as one of the best in the genre. The singing is very well crafted and nicely fits every mood transmitted by the band. The instrumentation is excellently selected and never abused, allowing the hard-rocking sound of the guitars to be enjoyed without any distractions. Things get a bit more powerful with “Tuonelan Tuvilla” thanks to the heavy guitars, with the violin nicely complementing them.
Our initial impression of the latest ‘Rhapsody’ (Luca Turilli’s incarnation of it) is HOLY SHIT. The man has shown over the years that he is a brilliant musician and with the ridiculously over the top “Ascending to Infinity” he answers to all the skeptics a big: I am Rhapsody. Featuring nine brilliant tracks of Symphonic Metal, this is one of those albums that you need to hear at least 100 times to fully discover all the little details and brilliance behind it.
After the epic mood –setter “Quantum X”, things blow up with the playful “Ascending to Infinity”. In this track, the guitars are flowing, the orchestral arrangements are very classical sounding, but Alessandro Conti’s vocals steal the show. Coming from the relatively unknown band “Trick or Treat”, this new singer delivers every single line to perfection. The over the top feeling is not saturated as with other overly ambitious bands, and the tempo changes are very well crafted.