Wingless – The Blaze Within (Review)

WinglessWingless are a Polish metal band and this is their second album.

So strongly do I associate Poland with death metal, than upon seeing the album cover of The Blaze Within I immediately jumped to that conclusion with Wingless. Well, you know what they say about books and their covers… Continue reading

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I, the Betrayer – 7 (Review)

I, the BetrayerI, the Betrayer are a Norwegian metal band and this is their debut EP.

This is the first EP from this new band, although as there’s over 30 minutes of material here, it’s actually longer than some albums. Continue reading

Ghost Season – Like Stars in a Neon Sky (Review)

Ghost SeasonGhost Season are a modern metal band from Greece. This is their debut album.

I enjoyed their 2014 EP Ghosts Like Her, so it’s good to see the band putting out their first full-length release.

However, a lineup change, including a new singer, mean that the Ghost Season of 2017 is a different beast to that of their first EP. Continue reading

Tenth Amendment – Conviction (Review)

Tenth AmendmentThis is the second album from this US Metal band.

Tenth Amendment play modern Metal with groove and aggression. Back in the 90s when this kind of thing was just called either Metal or Hardcore rather than groove Metal or Metalcore, (usually due to how the band looked more than anything else), bands like Pantera, Fear Factory, Machine Head, Merauder, Skinlab and Pro-Pain we all staples of my CD collection, and Tenth Amendment very much remind me of that time.

Coming across as a combination of the aforementioned bands, we get song-based aggression with an industrial undercurrent that leans towards the heavier end of the spectrum. The album is very riff-based and there’s a purity of intent inherent in this kind of approach.

Continue reading

Systemhouse33 – Regression (Review)

Systemhouse33Systemhouse33 are a Metal band from India. This is their latest album.

Their previous release Depths of Despair was an enjoyable, albeit brief, romp through all things heavy and modern, and Regression continues the theme but ups the stakes.

At a slightly longer 30 minutes in length, the band have further refined their blend of modern Metal and Metalcore/Hardcore/Death Metal influences into a potent blend of muscular aggression.

The singer has a harsh snarl that fits well with the music and doesn’t allow for any compromise. He plainly means business and I like what he’s selling.

The songs chug, rumble and bludgeon their way through the playing time and there’s a decent amount of catchy riffs and heavy melodies involved.

Although I liked Depths of Despair this is an all-round more cohesive, focused and superior release; perfect for when you want some heavy, crushing, upbeat, groove-based music. Without too much extremity, but also without going the other way into commercial, sanitised waters, Systemhouse33 have hit the right spot and Regression is actually a positive move forward.

For fans of Lamb of God, Meshuggah, Whitechapel, Skinlab, Machine Head, Testament, Merauder, etc.

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.

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.