Boundaries – My Body in Bloom (Review)

Boundaries - My Body in BloomBoundaries are a metal/hardcore band from the US and this is their latest EP.

Boundaries are heavy. Like, crush your skull into a bloody pulp heavy. Add to this the fact that they can also write a good song, and you have a pretty damn satisfying EP. Continue reading

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I Am – Life Through Torment (Review)

I AmThis is the debut album from US deathcore band I Am.

Life Through Torment is 28 minutes of aural thuggery that blends groovy heaviness with savage extremity.

Mixing 90s styled metalcore with elements of modern deathcore, this is Continue reading

Forty Winters – Rotting Empire (Review)

Forty WintersThis is the second album from US metalcore band Forty Winters.

This is metalcore in its original, hard-as-nails metallic hardcore incarnation, before the advent of sing-along choruses and radio-friendly unit shifters. Forty Winters mean business, and they’re here to stomp all over your breakfast.

This is angry music for angry people doing angry things. If you get off on bands like Hatebreed, Himsa, Thy Art Is Murder, Suicide Silence, Walls of Jericho, Darkest Hour and the like, then this should be Continue reading

Walls of Jericho – No One Can Save You from Yourself (Review)

Walls of JerichoWalls of Jericho are a US Hardcore/Metalcore band and this is their fifth album.

I haven’t encountered Walls of Jericho since their 2004 album All Hail the Dead, which I really enjoyed. I’m not too sure why I never got any of their subsequent releases, but at least I’m finally catching up with them again now, a mere 12 years later…

Coming from a very fertile time in Hardcore/Metalcore history, Walls of Jericho continue to play the kind of heavy, angry music that’s so effortlessly pit-friendly and easy to move to.

The singer’s angry snarl appears to have gotten even gruffer over the years since I last heard her, and on this newest album she sounds on fire with her aggressive delivery. It’s interesting, as on some songs she varies her style a bit and when she screams a little higher in places she sounds more like her old self. Which do I prefer? Honestly not sure. Her deeper voice has more drive in it but her higher one has more personality. Ultimately both do the job nicely, just in different ways.

The songs are compact and belligerent, echoing the style of fellow bruisers Hatebreed, Terror, Born from Pain, etc. only with Walls of Jericho adding their own spin on things. They seem absolutely designed to be played in a live environment, with every riff tweaked to provide maximum mosh-pit action.

Featuring a plethora of heavy, chunky riffs and enough breakdowns to snap a leg to, this is a record that’s easy to get along with.

The last track Probably Will is completely out of place and out of sync with the rest of the album, showing a definite different side to the band and the singer in particular. It’s great to hear and a great song, but as it’s so different to everything else on here it almost shows large chunks of the rest of the album in a bad light as it has much more depth and nuance than anything else on this record. The key word in that last sentence, though, is almost, as the material is strong and confident enough to stand on its own when compared to its softer side.

Overall, this is a strong return for the band after an eight year absence, and No One Can Save You from Yourself is definitely a recommended listen for when you want to feel energised and firmly want the cobwebs blown away in the morning.

Equaleft – Adapt & Survive (Review)

EqualeftEqualeft are from Portugal and this is their début album. They play Groove Metal.

This is modern Metal with a modern Thrash edge and a love of all things heavy and chuggy. Think Lamb of God, Sepultura, Hatebreed, etc. and you’ll be on the right lines.

Having said that though, Equaleft are definitely at the heavier, less-commercial end of the Groove Metal spectrum. It’s clear that the band’s main focus and passion lies with the heaviness and the Metal, which is only to be encouraged of course.

The vocals are angry and flit between throaty shouts and raspier screams. I like that they’re quite relentlessly aggressive and the vocal assault does well to keep up the intensity throughout.

This is a very riff-oriented release. Now, where most bands of this ilk fall down is by an over reliance on done-to-death Metalcore riffs and too many breakdowns. Pleasingly, Equaleft don’t overplay this aspect of their sound and instead mainly concentrate on beating the listener’s skull in with brutal riffs and heavy guitars that are more 90’s Metal than 00’s Metalcore.

Another couple of areas that set them apart are those of speed and melody; they can put their foot on the accelerator when needed and also inject some melody into the proceedings. Both aspects stop the album from becoming a one-dimensional riff-fest and allow for some increased dynamics. And they also allow the heavier parts to sound even heavier, which is never a bad thing.

This is a very promising début. Groove Metal can be a tricky thing to master and Equaleft are well on their way to high levels of proficiency with this release.

Recommended.

Mass Punishment – Proving Ground, Vol. 1 (Review)

Mass PunishmentMass Punishment are from the US and play Thrash/Groove Metal. This is their début album.

Mass Punishment play their Metal with an overdose of muscle and with reference to the big hitters of the scene – Pantera, Machine Head, Sepultura, Hatebreed, etc.

This is Metal that takes no prisoners as it relentlessly stalks the battlefield for targets. On the surface of things it seems that a band like this might not have much to offer other the listener than some brawny riffs and angry anthems, but on closer inspection Mass Punishment surprise by having a lot more to them than just the basics.

For a start, the song lengths are longer than the norm for this type of music, with the average track spanning the 5-7 minute marks. This means that the band never rush themselves and give themselves the space to demonstrate what they can do.

So, amongst the brutality and heavy riffs, spread out across these song lengths, what makes Mass Punishment better than mere Pantera rip-offs?

A few things, actually. Let’s have a look –

  1. Passion and integrity. They may be inspired by some of the masters but they are definitely doing their own thing.
  2. Songwriting skills. The guys know how to write an enjoyable song. Lots of them.
  3. Metal. Their songs also incorporate elements of a cleaner Metal style that’s not quite Power Metal but certainly isn’t pure brawn and muscle. Think Old-School Anthrax with soaring vocals meets a bit of a more Euro-Metal style. There’s no Melodic Death Metal, Gothenburg-style or anything like that; this is more melodic Thrash I suppose, but one from the finest pedigree and history.
  4. Modernity. The band know how to incorporate some of the heavier and more extreme advances in Metal that have occurred since the mid/late-90s, which I think is Mass Punishment’s spiritual home. Influences from the best that Slipknot and Metalcore have to offer are incorporated where necessary. But only the good stuff.
  5. Diversity. This is no one-trick pony. For every face-shredding part there’s the also nuance and subtlety; they have struck a good ratio between the two. They know how to rage and destroy but they also know how to inject melody and light into their attack. Just listen to The Desert Rogue.

All accounted for, Mass Punishment successfully take the Metal template that was established over 15/20 years ago and completely own it as their birthright.

I need to mention the singer as well. A band like this needs a charismatic, personable vocalist who is diverse and intense enough to match the power of the music. Thank fuck they have this, otherwise Mass Punishment would be an exercise in wasted potential. Phew.

This is a very holistic, complete album. Each song has its own identity, purpose and place on the album. It’s a great thing to hear.

Well, I’ve been hugely impressed with this. Considering the height of the bar in this style I haven’t heard Groove Metal done so damn well in ages. I really hope that this band can get some much needed exposure to the wider Metal scene as Proving Ground, Vol. 1 has a lot to offer any Metal fan.

Had they been born decades earlier when this style was at its height they would no doubt be huge. Having said that; Mass Punishment, and the music they represent, are still very relevant and more people would do well to listen to them.

Top work.

Undermine the Supremacy – Ashes (Review)

Undermine the SupremacyUndermine the Supremacy are from Australia and this is their début EP. They play Metalcore.

After an atmospheric, expectation-building intro the first track, (and title track), starts and it’s actually heavier than I was expecting. It’s almost Deathcore in places. Almost, but not quite.

It’s groove-based and relies on heavy riffs and melodic interludes to propel the songs forward, as is common in Metalcore, but it’s more extreme than a lot of the more commercial-edged bands that populate this scene. It’s less Killswitch Engage and more Lamb of God; less concerned with anthemic choruses and more concerned with flattening everything with heavy rage.

The vocalist is quite the beast, with his voice being much more extreme than the norm for this style. It adds a layer of real bite to the tracks.

The constant level of aggression on display here is good to see and the band are clearly into what they’re doing. Also pleasing is their avoidance, (mostly), of some of the more obvious riffs that usually make up Metalcore. Okay they’re never going to be described as innovative but they don’t fall into the trap of being generic either, which is no mean feat for a genre such as this.

Fans of Lamb of God, Chimaira, Hatebreed, etc. take note.

Check them out and see if they can reduce you to ashes.

I Will Tear This World Apart – IWTTWA (Review)

I Will Tear This World ApartI Will Tear This World Apart are from Norway and play modern Metal.

The band rage and tear their way through these 9 tracks, concentrating on keeping things heavy and groovy while providing a memorable basis for a good old fashioned headbang.

I hear snippets of Earth Crisis, Hatebreed and even a bit of Sick Of It All in places, so these should serve as starting reference points.

This release boasts a state-of-the-art sound that accentuates every piece of aggression that the band throw out.

The singer is angry and there are no niceties here that might otherwise see the band straying into the dreaded commercial pastures. Instead, we get modern Metal played with passion and fire with elements of both Thrash/Melodic Death Metal and modern Hardcore vying for top position, all the time watched over by the Metal Gods who like things just plain heavy.

The majority of the songs hover around the three minute mark; long enough to make their mark but not long enough to lose interest in what they’re doing.

I Will Tear This World Apart successfully combine the trappings of Metalcore with the song know-how of Thrash and the aggression of Hardcore.

An enjoyable romp through the mosh pit.