Expenzer – Kill the Conductor (Review)

ExpenzerExpenzer are a Swiss Metal band and this is their début album.

This is modern Thrash Metal with a sound that’s somewhere between Darkane, Dew Scented and The Haunted. Indeed, the final song is a The Haunted cover.

The songs are well written and done in the classic verse-chorus style. This makes for easily digested Thrash songs that are quite catchy.

The songs are riff-heavy and are full of shredding licks, leads and solos. It’s mainly a heavy assault, but the band do insert the odd touch of melody here and there. They don’t do this often, so it’s noticeable when they do.

Kill the Conductor has a tight production, with all instruments sounding good. The drums pound away and the guitars rage and crunch. The solos have a fluid, flowing feel, which is something I always enjoy.

This is a decent Thrash Metal album that has a workman-like ethic of just getting down to it; no nonsense, no frills. The style works in their favour and Kill the Conductor is 49 minutes of gratifying Metal.

Revenge Division – The New Generation (Review)

Revenge DivisionRevenge Division are a Slovakian Metal band and this is their début album.

As the album title suggests, this is modern Metal but with a lot more earth and grit than is the norm.

Revenge Division have a rough and ready sound that’s nowhere near as polished as you might think for this kind of band. It adds a rustic charm to their aggressive Metal that wouldn’t be there had they opted for a more polished production.

The songs are halfway between Melodic Death Metal and a more modern version of the same. It’s almost Metalcore but I’m loathe to describe it as such as that genre tag has a lot of negative connotations, deservedly or not.

Modern Metal is a better descriptor than Metalcore really, but in either case it’s only part of their sound. A non-commercial Metalcore perhaps? Regardless, the Melodic Death Metal aspect of the music is prominent enough to be the main focus in many ways.

The vocals are quite varied, mainly featuring different types of growls and shouts as well as some higher screams. Cleaner vocals also appear – sometimes they share the same unpolished and rough texture that the music overall has, but sometimes, (first appearing on Satan’s Bride), they completely break from this and ring out pure and true, also with operatic female accompaniment. Quite unexpected but not unwelcome.

Decent riffs with lots of leads and solos abound.

For fans of Dark Tranquillity, Darkane, Withering Surface, etc.

 

Cold Snap – World War 3 (Review)

Cold SnapCold Snap are from Croatia and this is their third album. They play Modern Metal.

World War 3 is a surprisingly varied album for what it is. I was expecting a straight Metalcore band for some reason, and although they have this side to them there’s more to Cold Snap than just this.

Mix Metalcore with a bit of Nu-Metal and you’ll have an idea of what Cold Snap are attempting here. Elements of Korn, Disturbed, Slipknot and Machine Head can be heard.

After Nu-Metal effectively stopped existing, (as far as I am concerned), a very long time ago it’s actually quite refreshing to hear something like this again, especially when it’s actually done quite well and without the majority of the generic nonsense that plagued the style.

So as I was saying; Cold Snap have a fair degree of variety in their sound and don’t simply repeat the same formula every song. Similarities exist between tracks of course, as is the same for most bands who play one style, but within their chosen framework they do attempt to mix it up a bit.

The singer has a decent voice and doesn’t fall too foul of the various vocal pit-falls that this style can have. Overall he gives a good performance.

The band are at their best when they let the Euro-Metal influences come to the front. Sections of some of the songs have influences from bands like Nevermore, Darkane and Soilwork, and these are the most enjoyable parts for me.

It’s quite a nostalgic listen in some ways; it’s a familiar style but without being overly so, probably because I haven’t really listened to anything like this in a while. If World War 3 had come out about 15 years ago Cold Snap probably would have been quite big.

If Nu-Metal is a best-forgotten nightmare for you then this will probably not float your boat, but if you want to hear a modern take on it with a beefy, professional production then check out Cold Snap and see what you think.

For myself, this has definitely grown on me and I’ll be spinning this again in the future.

Mandatory – Catharsis (Review)

MandatoryThis is Austrian band Mandatory’s second album. They play Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore.

Mandatory play clean Melodic/Modern Death Metal with some Thrash elements thrown in.

Catharsis comes across as mixing elements of Lamb of God, Illdisposed, Darkane and Arch Enemy…kind of a cross between the European melodic style and the North American modern Metalcore style.

Their melodic sensibilities are finely honed and this is mixed in with heavier moments.

The vocals are mainly deep growls but some spoken word sections and melodious cleans are used occasionally too. These are kept to a minimum though and are not overused.

Mandatory’s sound is big, clean and crisp, as you would expect for a band of this ilk. The songs play out quite nicely and the slightly-longer-than-average length of the tracks mean that the band take the time to explore where and what they want to.

Have a listen.

Arcturon – Expect Us (Review)

ArcturonArcturon are from Switzerland and this is their latest EP. They play Melodic Metal.

With this EP they give us 4 tracks lasting a total of just under 17 minutes.

This is upbeat Metal with a modern slant and added keyboards/effects. Think Dark Tranquillity as well as bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Darkane, etc.

These four songs are well-written and well-presented tracks that are on the more commercial side of Metal but if you don’t mind that then there’s a good amount of enjoyment to be had from them.

The singer has a good voice and switches between shouting and singing with ease. It’s designed to promote emotive responses and as long as you’re amenable to the genre it does the job.

This is the kind of band I could imagine getting a good degree of success if they have the right backing/are in the right place at the right time/etc. They have this particular genre of Metal down pat and inject enough variety and personality into the formula to make it work.

Give them a listen and see what you think.

Insense – De:Evolution (Review)

InsenseInsense are from Norway and play a highly developed form of Modern Metal. They combine elements of multiple genres of heavy music, from Djent to Thrash to Sludge to Progressive Metal and others in between.

Well this is very nice indeed. Heavy, emotive and not afraid of striding boldly into territories avoided by a lot of bands.

The vocals are agonised cries, soft crooning, semi-cleans, powerful melodics, gruff shouting…essentially whatever the song needs; it’s a very personal and distinctive performance that immediately makes apparent the man’s talent. The moment his vocals make an entrance on the first track Part I- Conception I’m hooked straight away. This keeps up for the rest of the album and his vocals bleed charisma and character.

The music doesn’t slack behind either; none of the songs are especially long but every one of them seems committed to ringing out every last drop of emotion and feeling from the guitars. The tracks are all tightly focused balls of energy and in the hands of this clearly talented band there’s no need for longer songs – there’s absolutely no filler here.

Reference points? Wide ranging really; I can hear bits of In Flames, Fear Factory, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, Mnemic, Slipknot, Darkane, Nevermore…I could go on, but you get the idea; polished, diverse and heavy whilst retaining melodics and soul. A smattering of modern European Power Metal; a bit of Djent in the riffs; wildly energised heavy riffing; stirring and memorable vocals…so much about this recording can be praised.

The sound is suitably huge and massive with everything coming through crystal clear and every sludgy riff sounding crushing and effective.

Quite frankly this album is an absolute revelation. If you were to cut it open it would have the words QUALITY stamped all the way through it in big letters.

Heartily recommended; you need to get this album.

 

Scars Divide – Scars Divide (Review)

Scars DivideScars Divide are from Switzerland and play Melodic Metal/Metalcore with Progressive tendencies.

The riffs are melodic and meaty and don’t get reined in for safety purposes when they get a bit randy; rather they’re unleashed like the proverbial dogs of war and let loose to do what they may.

This is a key difference between Scars Divide and some of their more commercial cousins; Scars Divide are less concerned with opening in front of a big stadium, (although I’m sure they’re like to given half the chance), and more interested in creating modern Metal songs that entice, challenge and bludgeon.

It’s clear the band have an intimate relationship with their instruments and know exactly what they’re capable of. This is state-of-the-art Modern Metal that’s a refreshing change from all of the Djent/Lamb of God/At the Gates clones that seem to have been around forever.

The songs are inventive, interesting and above all Metal. Heavy guitars and a pummelling rhythm section keep things flowing nicely as the band get to work doing what they do best.

The vocals are impassioned and emotive without resorting to cleans or gimmicks, reminding of the Darkane singer on occasion.

Call me cynical, jaded, or whatever, but I am surprised at how good this is; I was expecting more Metalcore-by-numbers and I’m very pleased to be wrong. This is a premier league release that should hopefully see the band earning plenty of positive reviews.

Get in on the action while they’re still small, and help support a talented Metal band. This gets my vote.

Terminal Prospect – Redefine Existence (Review)

Terminal ProspectTime for a bit of Swedish Melodic Death Metal in the form of Terminal Prospect and their second album Redefine Existence.

At 11 tracks in 34 minutes, most of the songs are quite short and to the point. This is from the same school of Metal as The Haunted, early In Flames, Darkane, At The Gates, etc. and it’s better than you probably imagine.

The album starts with the high-pitched screams of the singer, whose vocals appear to be designed to scratch at the brain while the music batters your chest. He screams and shrieks his way through the songs in an effective manner, and it works particularly well when he locks into a rhythm with the guitars and they work together as one.

The songs are streamlined and full of melodic flourish, while still keeping the Thrash feel of the riffs alive and well. There are some nice guitar parts and the band have a vibrant feeling to a lot of the riffs. This vibrant feeling is important; it would be easy for a band like this to have tired-sounding guitars. Although it’s exceptionally hard for any group to have completely unique riffs, melodies etc., and Terminal Prospect don’t fall into this category, (as most bands don’t); at least they still sound young, fresh and full of life. There is no going-through-the-motions here, it’s all done for the love of Metal.

A quality album that is easy to digest and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. Recommended.