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.

Ferium – Behind the Black Eyes (Review)

FeriumThis is the second album from Israeli Death/Groove Metal band Ferium.

Ferium’s début album Reflections was a lively and enjoyable album that mixed Death and Groove Metal in just the right amounts.

The first thing about Behind the Black Eyes that strikes me is that it’s a far more focused effort than their début; the total playing time, total number of songs and individual track lengths have all been pruned, showing a band who have gained experience in the last few years and have trimmed away the fat to leave a lean, aggressive Metal machine.

The band essentially employ the same format as they did previously – heavy riffs and groovy beats interspersed with elements of modern Metalcore and underscored by a Death Metal base – but this time it’s tighter and more direct. That’s not to say there’s no depth of songwriting here, rather, the band are now closer to the style they clearly want to play and are playing it as they know how best to do; with angry brutality and poised aggression.

The singer growls and barks his way through the tracks. He seems to have improved on his already very satisfactory earlier performance and on this latest release appears to have settled into his role even more comfortably than previously. His voice is quite versatile, with his many different vocalisations all intent on maximising aggression.

All of the songs are well written and demonstrate a band coming into their own. Interesting and nuanced riffs rub shoulders with simpler bruisers, resulting in satisfying songs that may take a direct approach but provide enough content so as to be worth returning to over time.

Well, Reflections was good, but this is better. Well done Ferium.

Highly recommended for fans of Whitechapel, Gojira, Lamb of God, Job for a Cowboy, Thy Art Is Murder, Meshuggah, etc.

Intensive Square – Anything That Moves (Review)

Intensive SquareIntensive Square are a Technical Metal band from the UK. This is their début album.

This is Technical Metal played with a love of both complexity and crushing rhythms. There’s a Hardcore side to the band that’s combined with a firm Metal base, resulting an album that combines elements of such diverse bands as Botch, Converge, Johnny Truant, Meshuggah, Circle Takes the Square, Pyrrhon, Today Is the Day, Scarlet, Frontierer, Sikth, Periphery and many others.

Featuring a splenetic vocalist who has a vicious screamed shout, these songs provide a satisfying ear-bashing while also catering to those who like a bit of technicality and complexity with their beatings. It doesn’t go too far down the complexity route though, as there’s plenty of big rhythms and grooves provided to get the listener moving and jerking around the place in strange movements.

The album lasts 45 minutes and provides a meaty feast for anyone into this kind of thing.

Give them a listen.

Mano Humana – Sombras (Review)

Mano HumanaMano Humana are a Metal band from Chile and this is their début album.

Mano Humana play modern Metal that fuses aggressive Thrash Metal with the cold machinery of Meshuggah and the groovy heaviness of Soulfly.

The harsh shouted vocals are barked out in quite an abrasive, anti-social way. Mano Humana are not really on the commercial end of the Metal spectrum at the best of times, but these vocals really tip them over the edge into harsher territories. In my mind, of course, this is only a good thing.

Occasionally the brutality shifts up a gear too, and the vocals descend into deep growls and the entire thing is one hair’s breadth away from Death Metal at these points, recalling some of Brujeria’s work.

There’s some interesting parts in the music, with the band trying out all manner of different ideas to keep things from becoming formulaic as they tear through the 45 minute length. They take the time to add plenty of experimentation with the bass and guitars to their songs, resulting in relatively long tracks, (for the style), that keep their core Thrash Metal from becoming dull or one-dimensional.

This willingness to go that little bit further for some added depth ensures that Sombras is a more enjoyable listen than I was expecting, based on what most bands who can be described as Groove Metal offer.

Sombras is a very good listen and much more of a grower than you might think for the style. It’s brutal, heavy and full of good ideas and riffs.

Highly recommended.

Voros – Diseased Deity (Review)

VorosVoros are a Death Metal band from Australia and this is their début album.

If heavy Death Metal with good riffs and pacing is your thing then look no further. Voros feature a thorough approach to Death Metal that sees them take the Classic style and infuse it with a modern energy.

Believe it or not, but Diseased Deity covers a lot of bases;  Death, Thrash, Progressive, Technical and Modern Metal are all thrown into the blender and feed into this Death Metal feast.

The vocals are savage shouts full of anger and hatred which seem to lash out of the music like diseased barbs. The singer has a touch of the Meshuggah about him, giving his voice a different edge to that of the normal Death Metal vocalist.

The songs are well-written and see the band showing off what they do, whether it’s riff-hungry, mid-paced Thrashing, faster complexity or blasting destruction.

I like the combination of older and modern influences that give this a feel of Lamb of God and Gojira conspiring together to cover Morbid Angel, Death and Immolation tracks. It’s a really good way to approach this album; modern fire with tried-and-tested Old-School steel. On Diseased Deity it all comes together perfectly and the songs are an interesting, varied and engaging vision of what the band want to achieve.

The various influences work together very well to produce an album that takes from several different styles, with the band having enough skill and talent to make it all their own. Diseased Deity is very impressive and these songs have both immediate appeal and longevity of delivery.

This is a great find. I recommend you get hold of this immediately.

Dawn of Azazel – The Tides of Damocles (Review)

Dawn of AzazelDawn of Azazel are from New Zealand and play Death Metal. This is their fourth album.

Dawn of Azazel play Progressive Death Metal with enough brutality to keep people happy.

They have a very satisfying production with the guitars sounding heavily distorted and full of fuzz. Combined with the blasting drums and vocals it’s a good solid sound.

The vocalist has a the kind of shouted growl that’s forceful and savage. His voice tears out of the music with fury.

Their music is a wonderful combination of the Progressive, Modern and Brutal Death Metal subgenres, so much so that there’s a lot on offer on The Tides of Damocles.

A multitude of inventive riffs and interesting ideas are tried and tested throughout these 10 songs. It’s an impressive melting pot that the band create and they forge it into a cohesive attack over the course of just over 48 minutes.

The guitars are a highlight for me as they lead the assault and you never quite know what they’re going to do next. That’s not to imply that they’re a hyper-chaotic Techdeath mess, far from it; it’s just that Dawn of Azazel pour so many different riffing styles into the mix that you might be listening to a Morbid Angel section at one point only to have it change into something Meshuggah-inspired, or maybe a riff Immolation would be proud of.

Ultimately though it all flows together quite naturally and The Tides of Damocles is a very striking record.

Yes, I look forward to listening to this more and more over the years and getting to know it really, really well. This one’s a keeper.

In Love Your Mother – The Great Ape Project (Review)

In Love Your MotherIn Love Your Mother are from Switzerland. The band play short blasts of heavy Metallic Hardcore that takes parts of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, System of a Down, Mastodon and Tool; Mathcore meets Progressive Metal.

Most of the songs here are angry and heavy but they also have a Progressive Metal edge to them so occasionally branch out into softer areas where clean vocals replace the harsher shouts; all of which is compressed into songs that are typically about the 1 or 2 minute mark, on average.

Although the album is 30 minutes long, the changeling nature of the tracks and the fact that there are 18 of them mean In Love Your Mother are a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of band. Although you could probably make a similar claim for countless Grindcore bands, the difference here is that In Love Your Mother are a much more varied proposition.

It’s an enjoyable release that benefits from a loud volume and thorough listen.

It’s heavy, it’s good, it rocks. Give them a try.

Redemptor – The Jugglernaut (Review)

RedemptorThis is the second album from Polish Technical Death Metallers Redemptor.

A brief Classical intro segues into frenetic technical mayhem with blastbeats, guitar craziness and harsh growls dominating the airwaves.

The band are controlled chaos with lots of ideas and sounds harnessed into their arsenal of impressive musical wizardry.

Take a band like Gorguts as your starting point, throw in a bit of Iniquity and Meshuggah and the starting blueprints are in place for a band who are not destined for mediocrity.

They have a skilled drummer and the songs are very percussive. The remaining musicians are also suitably talented and if it wasn’t for a good grasp of dynamics and some well thought out songwriting the songs could easily collapse in on themselves in a frenzy of technicality; this is avoided though by judicious use of restraint and energetic riffs.

They allow a bit of Jazzy, seemingly free-form experimentation to creep in on occasion, although I imagine it’s far more thought-through than it sounds. It does the trick though.

Quality Death Metal with depth and character.

Frontal – Death Eaters (Review)

FrontalFrontal are from France and play Techincal/Progressive Modern Death Metal.

Imagine Meshuggah if they had more of a Modern Death Metal influence; add in a bit of Technical Thrash and this is the area that Frontal inhabit.

The songs are technical, angular and also remind of Devolved only without the Industrial influence, (and blast beats). Another description I suppose would be Progressive Deathcore, which sounds like an oxymoron, but only if you assume all Deathcore is stupid, (it isn’t).

The colliding riffs and obscure melodies will no doubt put some people off, but just as many will take to this easily and lap up the heavy, militaristic Technical Thrash that the band offer.

The vocalist has a good pair of lungs and for the most part spends his time using them to shout out lyrics in a throaty roar.

This is music that lacks subtlety but is still nuanced and complex. Although the riffs come thick and fast the band allow them to congeal on occasion to produce a stirring section or emotive passage, before fracturing once more and falling away in different directions all at once.

Definitely a grower. A good album that will probably suffer from premature dismissal by a lot of people, which is a shame as there is a lot to like here. Give them the time to show you what they can do.

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.