After their triumphant return in 2010 with “Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants”, today we have Nightfall and their less inspired latest release “Cassiopeia”. Just when one thinks a band is back in full swing, they release an album that feels more forced that natural. Don’t get us wrong, “Cassiopeia” is a solid album but it feels like the band had it on the closet for 6-7 years and sounds a bit outdated for today’s standards.
Opening with “Phaethon”, the band delivers solid riffing that reminded us of Gothic/Doom/Death Metal albums from the mid 90’s, the period when Nightfall was at their prime. Paired with subtle keyboard hints and solid growls, the band sounds pretty powerful but after a few tracks it just gets old. The speedups of “Oberon & Titania” and other songs take away a bit from the linearity of this release, but ultimately are not enough to keep us interested on the songs as we were for the band’s previous release.
In the ‘meh’ category, today we have Gloria Morti and their fourth full-length release “Lateral Constraints”. Labeled as Melodic Death Metal, this band plays something more in the veins of Zyklon, The Wretched End, and similar bands. Their sound while refined and very technically proficient gets very boring very fast, thus making this release as great filler content for an evening washing your car.
Opening with the crushing “Lex Parsimoniae”, the band very quickly sounds exactly like Zyklon and immediately gets very repetitive. We understand that the musical style is a bit repetitive, but this band takes it further with almost each track sounding like the previous one. There are indeed some standout songs with great atmospheric elements such as “Our God Is War” but as soon as this one is over, the band returns to deliver some more copycat riffs.
Delivering powerful doses of Swedish Death Metal, today we have Aeon and their fourth full-length release “Aeons Black”. In these days when we are plagued by shitty Deathcore bands and kinds trying to pull-off Technical Death Metal and failing miserably, it is quite refreshing to listen to sheer Death Metal brutality the Swedish way with meaty hooks and destructive riffs. The band sticking to their guns delivers quite an exquisite extreme experience, the way that Death Metal should be to begin with.
Quickly throwing the first punch with “Still They Pray”, the band does a solid job in combining technical skills with catchiness. The instantaneous wall of sound created by the band can be comparable to what Zyklon and now The Wretched End are capable of outputting. The drumming is intense as hell and the riffing is totally crushing, making them a force to be reckoned with.
Jumping on the whole Cascadian/hipster Black Metal / Post-Black Metal movement, today we have Metal Blade and one of their latest signings Downfall of Gaia. The German band plays a very well-constructed Black Metal with lush atmospheric elements, but with a very traditional instrumental core. While the band is actually pretty good at what they do, they are still nowhere near as excellent as main competitors Wolves in the Throne Room, and even lesser known bands like Fell Voices, Woman is the Earth, etc.
Opening with the atmospheric “[Vulnus]”, this album quickly delivers the traditional lush guitars of said style of music. The drumming and overall pace of things is very adequate and this song feels crushing, but at the same time filled with melody. The wall of sound created on the first track nicely blends into “Drowning By Wing Beats”, another song that starts with very emphasized drums that are quite good and slowly moves into faster and harsher territories. The vocals are quite fitting for the style, and sometimes it reminded us of the intense delivery of bands like Sun Worship (also from Germany).
As one of the most ridiculously epic Progressive releases of 2012, today we have Between the Buried and Me’s “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”. As one of the most unique and non-conforming bands in the American Metal scene, BTBM has been constantly changing over the years, but with this release they have reached the pinnacle of their career and produced and album that won’t easily be equaled, let alone surpassed.
Mixing their own brand of Progressive Metal with some harsh elements, most of the core-crap is totally gone, the band delivers completely hypnotic tracks that will puzzle some, and amaze most. Opening with the Cynic-like “Goodbye to Everything”, the band starts hinting at a very sonically pleasing release with the instrumentation and excellent production values. This is immediately felt present with the Dream Theater-esque “Astral Body”. Borrowing from progressive greats like Yes, DT, Magus, etc., the band truly makes these influences their own and shapes them in their own weird ways to craft very intricate and engaging songs.
After being impressed (in a good way) by their previous release “The Powerless Rise”, As I Lay Dying returns with another cookie-cutter Metalcore release that might please the crowds of Mallcore kiddies, but not the Metal veterans. Having developed excellent songs for their previous album, it is kind of a bummer when a band waters down their music for the sake of record sales and pleasing crowds. As I Lay Dying has some musical chops, but in this release they just opt for the easy way out and deliver eleven tracks full of fluff that surely have a bunch of high-school kids cheering for them.
While we have outgrown our hatred for Metalcore, we still hammer releases devoid of creativity and this is one of them. Since the opener “Cauterize” the band opts for a weird mixture of Scar Symmetry-meets-Soilwork approach that really sounds like the band is trying to be somebody else. The clean vocals are pretty ok, but the way they are used is already Scar Symmetry’s forte, and when you add breakdowns to the mix… it just makes us want to vomit.
In the category of musical porn, today we have Trioscapes and their ridiculously technical (and equally intoxicating) debut release “Separate Realities”. The band formed by Dan Briggs (of Between the Buried and Me), Walter Fancourt on tenor saxophone/flute, and Matt Lynch on drums, is out to conquer audiences with their intoxicating mixture of Prog Rock, Fussion, and Psychedelic Rock, all packed into a funky sexy package that will get you laid guaranteed.
Open with the Yes-esque “Blast Off”, the trio delivers a pretty impressive dance between instruments since the first second. The percussions are outstanding and they are very precise to offset the sexy saxophone lines. The bass line is nothing short of extraordinary, making us wonder with is Dan playing with Between the Buried and Me, and not a better band ($$$).
With Cannibal Corpse returning this 2012 with an impressive release, ex-CC member Chris Barnes the folks at Six Feet Under fire back with the hyper groovy “Undead”. After the lukewarm “Death Rituals” back in 2008, it is nice to hear that Six Feet Under is still capable of delivering a solid album with plenty of meaty hooks and excellent chugging sections.
Opening with the powerful “Frozen At the Moment of Death”, the riffing immediately stands out due to its timeless DM vibe. The drumming is pretty hectic and Chris Barnes vocals perfectly fit the bill. While the raw power he had in the past is not there anymore, he can still deliver excellent growls by DM standards. Aside from the meaty hooks presented in tracks like “Fromaldehyde”, “18 Days”, “Molest Dead”, and “Blood on My Hands”, the slow groovy vibe that SFU constructs around their songs is what makes them standout in the scene.
The constantly morphing Job for a Cowboy (JFAC) have taken 4 years between full-length releases and with “Demonocracy” they keep getting closer and closer to the Technical Death Metal genre with this release. Many people give shit to this band from leaving the Deathcore category, but their slow transition has been quite interesting and something to admire since they are bringing with them plenty of fans that otherwise would never dabble with Tech DM bands.
Opening with the commanding “Children of Deceit”, the band makes a huge statement with its brutal and technical approach. The drumming is furious, the riffing is very well crafted, and the bass guitar track is almost up to par to something that Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence, ex-Obscura) would come up with. The ups and downs in this song are very well crafted and don’t feel too Deathcore-ish to us.
Bouncing back from the lackluster “Evisceration Plague”, Cannibal Corpse returns with 40 minutes of pure Death Metal that will catapult them back on top of the genre. Pummeling through 12 tracks, the band will surely surprise you with their renewed energy and crushing songs that will have you head banging in minutes.
Breaking the listener in with “Demented Aggression”, the guitar riffing is furious and well-paced, the drums are pretty solid and the growls/screams perfectly balanced. Immediately we noticed that the production is crystal clear and with a very balanced mix, everything clicks without anything being over powering. With “Sarcophagic Frenzy” the album speed pick up a bit more and the pounding bass guitar line begins to shine. The meaty hooks and chugging guitars make “Scourge of Iron” a very powerful song, nicely keeping the momentum going in this album.