Friday, December 8, 2017

Morbid Angel "Kingdoms Disdained"

    After Morbid Angel’s 2011 album, “Illud Divinum Insanus,” received some rather negative feedback from fans and critics, there was a lot of talk in the metal press about how the iconic death metal band needed a strong follow-up. Their new album, “Kingdoms Disdained,” is quite simply a 100% grade A “death metal album.” Any bad feelings about the previous album disappear as your ears are decimated by the tremendous ferocity that can be heard on the new album.

    To begin, the departure of bassist/singer David Vincent and the return of Steve Tucker marked a positive shift, even though one cannot deny David’s contributions on albums like “Altars of Madness,” “Blessed Are the Sick,” “Covenant,” and “Domination.” Still, I felt like David Vincent needed to go and Tucker needed to come back. Just like when David left after “Domination” and Tucker came in for “Formulas Fatal to the Flesh,” the band was able to push forward into more brutal and unforgiving boundaries.

    I think the band really focused on coming up with a consistent and brutal release that pounds ferociously into your skull. Trey Azagthoth lays down some vicious guitar riffs along with these mind bending frantic leads to inject moments of savage musical chaos. New drummer Scott Fuller did a solid job hammering out some crushing drum tracks and provides a behemoth blast beat rhythmic backbone. Steve Tucker is without question a dedicated death metal warrior who unleashes one hellish vocal performance while also handling his bass parts with an unapologetic approach.

    Kicking the album off in a bombastic style, the first song, “Piles of Little Arms,” explodes out of the speakers for an unholy assault of extreme sounding carnage. I felt that this song established a solid foundation to capture my attention and build up anticipation for the following tracks. The second song on the album, “D.E.A.D.” takes listeners on another wicked ride through heavily distorted riffs of bold aggression along with destructive vocals provided by Steve.

    Out of the eleven songs on this album you find it difficult to really choose a favorite, but there are certain tracks that do stand out a bit more than others. For example, “Paradigms Warped,” is a mind twisting piece of death metal that reminds me of something you would have heard on, “Gateways to Annihilation.” Trey’s guitar playing is exceptional and I am always amazed by how he creates these unconventional sinister sounds with his guitar.

    Another killer track to highlight is, “Declaring New Law (Secret Hell),” which slows down the tempo for a less frantic sound and more mid-tempo approach. The very percussive sounding composition works quite well with the lyrical delivery and there are certain lines that get stuck in your head. The repetitive verse, “Torture any fool that does not submit…” establishes such a bellicose tone and strikes fear in the hearts of those who dare question what Steve Tucker is saying.

    Overall, there are multiple areas that I would like to express my feelings about how the band did on this album, however, I feel like it is time to wrap up this review and give my final thoughts. First off, Erik Rutan did a solid job recording this album, so going forward I think Morbid Angel should stick with him to avoid return to that weak industrial metal sound you heard on, “Illud Divinum Insanus.” Secondly, I do not believe this is by any means the greatest Morbid Angel album to date, but it sure is one of the most impressive releases to come out this year. Final point to make is that the line-up featured on this album was stellar together and history shows that when Steve Tucker is in the band we are guaranteed Morbid Angel will crank out quality death metal releases.

    In the end, fans win because you get a crushing new album from Morbid Angel and David Vincent wins because he can now focus on his cowboy music. Saddle up the horses Evil D, because with Tucker in the band I think you will be ridding around the open range for a while.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Element "Dusk"

    Fans of progressive metal and impressive cinematic music videos might want to check out what The Element is doing right now. The American based band’s new single, “Dusk,” is burst of intense sounding metal with a technical flare that provides the most optimal soundtrack for the new music video.

    “Dusk,” which is the first single off their upcoming album, “From Sand-Part II,” is just the beginning of what these metal musicians have in store for fans. Their upcoming album will be produced and mixed by the well respected heavy metal producer, Jens Borgen, who has done work for bands like Arch Enemy, Symphony X, Paradise Lost and Devin Townshend. The music video for “Dusk” was shot by, Tommy Merry, who seems to know how to capture the essence of a song through film.

    All around The Element demonstrates great promise with “Dusk” and the track is a strong first single. The main guitar riff delivers an impactful punch while the keyboard provides a haunting atmospheric touch at times. There are a variety of creative compositions and dynamic arrangements throughout the entire song. Also, the vocals were well recorded to really compliment the instrumental compositions. I personally enjoyed the guitar and keyboard solo section which is very reminiscent to that of Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Dream Theater and Rhapsody.

    In the end, if you are a fan of progressive metal and are looking for a band that does not cheaply throw something together, you need to check out The Element and their new single. I was quite impressed with the recording quality which I hope the band maintains on their upcoming album. Usually with prog metal I find bands get carried away with showing off how complex and technical they can write music. The Element stands out because they provide a solid balance of technicality and songwriting skills. Check out the video for the song below and you can buy the track via iTunes, Google Play, Beats, Amazon and CD Baby. Support the artist if you like their music!

The Element "Dusk" :

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mournful Cries "Debut Demo"

    Rising from the smokey filled confines of Iommi’s Vault, the music created by Mournful Cries will spread across the lands leaving behind haunting sounds of Sabbath like doom. The trio from Santa Rosa demonstrates their love of classic doom metal and Sabbath worship by crafting their own brand of pure no nonsense riffs of doom.

    I’ve know the members in Mournful Cries for a couple years now and I am quite familiar with their other groups. Drummer Alex Hernandez and guitarist/vocalist Luis Olguin played in one of my favorite sludge bands called Amnesia. Luis also plays bass in an awesome death metal band called Sepulchre which I recommend checking out. Bassist Matt Lasserre plays bass in a killer band called Scrape the Earth who I have seen live a few times.

    I enjoy hearing what new ideas the members in Mournful Cries have to bring to the table and this band demonstrates great promise on their debut demo. The two songs featured on the demo are, “Budlust” and “Evil Confessor.” The songs take on a variety of influences ranging from Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and of course…Black Sabbath.

    Both tracks are solid offerings of doom with plenty of world consuming riffs from the black voids beyond. The intro to “Budlust” conveys a prog rock like flare and builds into a distorted jam of behemoth riffs and seismic drum parts. The song’s entire vibe pulls you in from start to finish as Luis hammers away at each chord while Matt and Alex maintain a strong rhythmic backbone. I personally like “Evil Confessor” just a tad more than “Budlust,” because the music contains a harder and more aggressive tone. Also, Matt lays down an impressive bass part during the intro that is very reminiscent of classic Sabbath songs.

    If you are a fan of doom metal you need to be on the lookout for more loud distorted Iommi like jams from Mournful Cries. I believe what makes this band standout compared to a lot of your other doom acts and even young up and coming metal bands, is that these guys are massive fans of the style of music they play. Through their enjoyment of doom metal they are able to write some extremely solid pieces of music. So crank it up and drop out of life with bong in hand and follow the smoke to Mournful Cries wicked sounding riff filled lands.

Check out the entire demo below: 

Mournful Cries FB Page:

Mournful Cries Bandcamp:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Iron Griffin "Self-Titled EP"

    When listening to the music off of Iron Griffin’s debut EP release, you feel as though you are soaring on the back of a magnificent mythical beast through a valley of epic sounding metal with glorious riffs leading the way. The band captures that retro rock and classic metal spirit quite well to where you wonder if the band did not go back in time to record the album.

    Finnish musician Oskari Räsänen from the band Mausoleum Gate started Iron Griffin as a side-project, but looks to be talking it further with the release of the debut EP. He plays all the instruments on the EP and brought in singer Toni Pentikäinen to handle all the vocal parts. Iron Griffin may be a side-project, however, I believe the quality of music could one day evolve into a full band that will hopefully go on tour and release full-length albums.

    I am extreme impressed by the recordings and songwriting from Iron Griffin. The entire EP is well produced and the arrangements do not disappoint. The band’s sound reminds me of music from certain epic fantasy themed metal bands like Omen, Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road. You also notice that the sound of the recordings takes on a retro like quality that compliments the songwriting and the album’s theme very well.

    The opening synth and keyboard piece does a great job building suspense for the first song, “Message from Beyond.” There are some catchy melodic riffs and lead parts accompanied by a solid foundation of drums and bass. I think the bass tone conveys such a vibrant classic sound that adds so much to the overall sound. Toni’’s vocals provide an epic touch as he sings over the metallic grooving melodies.

    Following “Message from Beyond, “ is the victorious sounding track, “Metal Conquest.” The song features a fearsome bass line along with a strong main riff. When talking about creating a verse section that builds up to an epic chorus, Iron Griffin simply does not disappoint. The next song, “Journey to the Castle of the King,” starts out with a more slow tempo guitar riff and eventually explodes into a faster paced majestic sounding classic metal style. “Lord Inquisitor,” is the final song off the EP and contains some killer NWOBHM type riffs. I also noticed on this song how Toni can hit notes in a similar fashion to that of King Diamond which matched with the instrumental compositions sounds extremely amazing.

    After listening to Iron Griffin I have nothing to complain about, because the music did not disappoint and flowed with a certain synergy that I have not heard too often when reviewing albums from new artists. Oskari deserves a lot of credit along coming up with the concept for this release and will hopefully continue to work on more material. I definitely would like to see more music from Iron Griffin and I’m sure fans of classic metal will be checking this out once it is released. Lastly, I must point out how amazing the album art looks for this EP. I feel like I’m flying on the back of an Iron Griffin!

Check out the Iron Griffin bandcamp to get a digit copy:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lustre "Still Innocence"

    In a growing world where people will build housing developments without any consideration for the natural world, Lustre’s new album, “Still Innocence,” is an offering of sound to remind listener’s of the majestic powers of nature that we should appreciate more often.

    Lustre is a name in the world of atmospheric black metal that many fans of come to admire and consider to be one of the most innovative acts around. Whereas Summoning takes listeners away to the lands of Middle Earth, Lustre takes listeners on a journey through the natural world in vivid dreamlike fashion. The sole mastermind behind Lustre, Nachzeit, has established himself as one of atmospheric black metal’s most creative composers whose catalog is vast and full of impressive releases. “Still Innocence,” marks the Swedish based musicians 6th studio album and continues to explore the spiritual sounding synth landscapes of atmospheric brilliance.

    As with all Lustre recordings, you find yourself letting go of this modern world’s chaos and becoming one with the sounds of soothing atmospheric wonder. The drum arrangements matched with the main keyboard parts construct such an uplifting and harmonious sound. Opening the album, “Dreaded Still,” serves as the introduction to what will become a journey through the atmospheric sounding world given to us by Lustre. The next song, “Nestle Within,” brings about a sense of innocence amongst the cathartic musical environment.

    Where I live Fall is just beginning and the song, “Let Go Like Leaves of Fall,” happens to be a great soundtrack for the season. The overall tone is relaxing, cosmic and layered with solemn sounds to fill your ears. I highly recommend listening to the song while out for a hike, because you might feel a special connection with the natural world around you.

    Track number four, “Reverence Road,” is a longer piece that utilizes more guitar sound to create a wall of distortion that the keyboard follows along to with a trail of melodic notes. Lustre is known for writing long piece of music which contain many different layers and atmospheric structures. However, I would consider this track to not match up with some of my favorite Lustre songs such as “Amongst the Trees,” and “Echoes of Transcendence.” For this album though I do believe, “Reverence Road,” is a solid song when relating to the album’s overall theme.

    The final song, “Without End,” is yet another splendid piece of glorious sounding atmospheric music. You feel a sense of positive closure after an album that took you away from the insanity of a modern world so hellbent on forgetting that without nature our planet will become a massive heap of garbage.

    In the end Lustre once again brought to life the beauty of nature through atmospheric sounding compositions. Is this the greatest Lustre album to date? Open for debate of course, but I will say that this is one of the most well produced and enjoyable albums to come out this year. I believe from start to finish that if you enjoy atmospheric black metal, you will be intently listening to this therapeutic work of outstanding musical talent.

Preview Lustre "Nestle Within" below:

Make sure to order your copy of the album through Nordvis Produktion:

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Game Over "Claiming Supremacy"

    Game’s Over new album, “Claiming Supremacy,” is a thrash metal assault looking to make claim over the metal world by unleashing distorted riffs of headbanging ravenous fury. Also, I believe this could be the band’s best release to date, which is saying something because I do not think their previous releases are to be overlooked.

    I am quite familiar with these Italian thrash metal musicians as I remember reviewing their second album, “Burst into the Quite,” which was released through Scarlett Records. Ever since I reviewed that album I have reviewed every new Game Over release. On each new album I hear the band getting even better, especially pertaining to songwriting and musicianship. The band knows how to compose some catchy riffs along with vivid lyrical content that takes control of your metal mind.

    Out of the ten tracks you will not find one throw away song, because Game Over is not a band to write a generic piece of worship rubbish. As I said before, the band keeps building off previous releases and finds new ways to utilize their vicious and ravenous thrash sound. The opening instrumental piece, “Onward to the Blackness,” contains an eerie synth part like something from a John Carpenter film and then demonstrates the solid guitar talents that this band has to offer. The chord progression matched with the epic lead part towards the end made this one of the most well produced intro’s I have heard in a longtime.

   The second song, “Two Steps in the Shadows,” begins where the opening instrumental finished and explodes into a furious jam of riff insanity. There are some killer bass lines and the drumming adds such a devastating impact at times. Game Over’s vocalist lays down some raw shouts of unapologetic rage that compliment the vicious guitar parts. Track three, “Last Before the End,” hits your ears with some bombastic drumming and crushing riffs. The next song, “My Private Nightmare,” tears through more speed demon like thrash riffs and has a very old school thrash sound.

    The song, “Blessed are the Heretics,” is a song I have heard before when I reviewed the Ep by the same. That track was a great preview of what this album would sound like and I think the lead guitar playing on the song showed how Game Over is really coming along in terms of technicality. The songs “Eleven” and “Broken Trails,” are gritty cuts of thrash that make you just want to bang your head and run into the pit. Adding some variation to the album, “Shattered Souls,” is an instrumental piece of classical acoustic guitar. Game Over has done this before with the acoustic guitar composition thrown in on previous releases and I think it really shows how they are extremely talented musicians.

    Track number nine, “Lysander,” has a very raw sound and the chorus in the song is well presented by the vocalist with his unforgiving bold style of singing. Finishing the album in explosive thrash style is, “Show Me What you Got.” There are numerous catchy riff sections that you find stuck in your head once the song is over.

    After listening to Game over's new album, I am reminded why I keep reviewing each new release from these guys. The production was top notch, the riffs were killer and the music reminded you of old school thrash, yet was presented in a distinct and original manner. Game Over’s “Claiming Supremacy,” is an album to definitely check out and the band is sure to be releasing more material based on their past record. When it comes to new thrash metal music, the game is never over for Game Over...they just keep music coming!

Game Over Facebook Page:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

On Top "Top Dollar"

    Provocative album covers and some down and dirty eighties hard rock and metal music seems to be On Top’s formula. These Philadelphia rockers bring the loud guitar attack along with those songs that remind you of LA in the eighties and when Chris Holmes still had a liver that was sort of functional.

    This trio has crossed my path before with their previous EP appropriately titled, “Topless,” which featured the backside of a naked tattooed vixen. I do feel that their new EP, “Top Dollar,” is a slight improvement to where band is trying to break out of that generic hard rock and metal worship category and are climbing towards the peaks of being a strong act. Still, there are areas where I feel the band could improve.

    Now, the musicianship from this power trio should not to be overlooked. The guitar playing is exciting and the riffs on the new EP really grab your attention. Also, the production isn’t to shabby, especially the drum sound and bass tone. On Top’s sound is tight and the production for the album is definitely welcomed. On Top’s singer has a unique style that compliments the instrumental compositions by being less melodic and more ballsy with plenty of pissed off sounding attitude.

    The EP contains four songs of rock and roll fury with “Lovin’ the Devil,” “Walk the Walk,” “Everything,” and “This Way.” The band stays extremely consistent on each track and musically there is little variation. I guess you can take that as a positive if you are looking for a consistent and solid rock release, however, don’t expect some dynamic twenty minute epic if that is what you are searching for musically. I really enjoyed, “Lovin’ the Devil,” the most and the intro guitar lead was a great way to begin the song. The guitarist has a great tone and sort of steals the show by laying down plenty of killer riffs.

    Track number two, “Walk the Walk,” is a decent track and the lyrical presentation is strong. The singer sounds pissed off as if someone has taken his beer and his money then tricked him into signing a record deal where he has lost all the rights to his music. I thought track number three, “Everything,” contained a catchy main riff along with a feverish main rhythm. “This Way,” ended the album with yet another ripping hard rock attack and was really not much different is structure to the previous tracks.

    Overall, I am torn when deciding how to give a final assessment of this EP. I think if this was the first time hearing On Top I would not be as impressed, but because I have reviewed an EP of theirs before I definitely applaud the improvement. The guitar playing was taken to another level, which I think the band should build off of with their next release. Maybe incorporate some more variation into the songs and always work towards crafting songs with substance. In the end, these guys are doing a solid job and I look forward to their album cover pissing off those SJW feminist types. You never know, these guys might bring back the Sunset Strip days by releasing a killer album, although I don’t think Chris Holmes’s liver will ever return to normal.

On Top "Lovin' the Devil" :