In Vain – Currents (Review)

In VainThis is the fourth album from Norwegian progressive/melodic death metal band In Vain.

In Vain offer us 42 minutes of progressive death metal with a melodic death/black metal edge. It’s a well-received offering, and Currents is a satisfying and well-written album. Continue reading

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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

Oracles – Miserycorde (Review)

OraclesOracles are a metal band from Belgium, this is their debut album.

Featuring current and ex-members of Aborted, System Divide and Dimlight, as well as guests from current and ex-members of Black Dahlia Murder, Scar Symmetry, Nevermore and Arch Enemy, this is a release that’s something a little different and backed up by a wealth of experience. Continue reading

Winterhorde – Maestro (Review)

WinterhordeThis is the third album from Israeli melodic/progressive Black Metallers Winterhorde.

Winterhorde use melodic Black Metal as a base to launch their epic brand of music from. On this base, they build firm structures of progressive Metal and symphonic/orchestral enhancements, all of which work together to produce Maestro, an Extreme Metal extravaganza.

If you combine elements of Black Metal with bands like Dimmu Borgir, Borknagar, Vintersorg, Arcturus and Nevermore, you’ll have a good idea of where Winterhorde are coming from. Continue reading

Stigmata – The Ascetic Paradox (Review)

StigmataStigmata are from Sri Lanka and this is their fourth album. They play Heavy Metal.

Wow, okay, so here we have a bit of everything from Death to Nevermore to Iron Maiden. The band play technical and involving music that’s as varied as the influences suggest, all within the overarching template of Heavy Metal.

At 58 minutes in length, and touching on a wide-range of Heavy Metal bases, there’s a lot going on here.

It’s clear that the band are Hellishly talented and have grand ambitions for their art. Frequent musical sidesteps are taken so that you never quite know what’s just around the corner. Some of the playing on this release is jaw-dropping.

Full of grand melodies and even grander ambition, The Ascetic Paradox is a wild ride through various corners of Heavy Metal’s map, paying tribute to the greats while also spinning the threads of the Metal fates to their own ends.

The vocals are equally as varied, taking in everything from shouts, slithering screams, cleans to air-raid siren howls.

The production is a little uneven in places – I could do with the guitars feeling a little fuller and larger, but it doesn’t spoil the songs, just doesn’t let them reach their full potential I feel.

This is very impressive, but I feel would benefit from being re-recorded and tightened up in a few places. Don’t let this put you off though as Stigmata have produced an album that wins more than it doesn’t.

A flawed masterpiece.

Rectified Spirit – The Waste Land (Review)

Rectified SpiritThis is the second album from Indian Metal band Rectified Spirit.

The band play Thrash Metal with a modern edge and both Progressive and Power Metal influences.

Clean vocals that are reminiscent of the singer of Nevermore are twinned with harsher screeching shouts that recall the singer of Soilwork if he had a less-deep voice. There are lots of very memorable melodies and the singer has considerable vocal talent.

Musically the band’s songs take a modern view on aggressive Thrash which they then add Progressive/Power Metal flourishes to. The resulting tracks are very enjoyable and have a lot to offer the discerning Metal fan.

The Waste Land is a well-written slab of Metal and owes equal debt to both the American and European Metal scenes, taking cues from both and combining them effectively into their own identity.

The band know their way around their instruments, but this is never at the expense of the songs themselves. There are boatloads of decent riffs that are arranged well; the band firmly concentrate on their songsmithing and the album greatly benefits from this focus.

This is a quality release with a lot of mileage in it.

Greensleeves – Inertial Frames (Review)

GreensleevesGreensleeves are a Brazilian Progressive Metal band and this is their second album.

This is quality Progressive Metal with a proper Metal edge. The band aren’t afraid of being a bit heavier than the norm and the songs make the most of this, mixing the forthright nature of Metal with the wandering, exploratory Progressive edge of the style.

If you like bands such as Dream Theater, Threshold, Pagan’s Mind and Nevermore then Greensleeves should be your thing too.

The singer has a really, really good voice; coming off somewhere between the singers of Pagan’s Mind and Nevermore his voice rises to the challenge again and again. Frequently the weakest link in bands such as this is the singer and I’m very pleased to say that isn’t the case here.

The songs are very well played, as you would expect for a band in this genre, and there are plenty of leads and solos to satisfy. I should compliment the chunky rhythms also; as mentioned previously they’re heavier for the norm and certainly bring out the Metal aspect of their sound.

Decent melodies and layered harmonies combine with thick guitars and melodic know-how to create exemplars of the style.

There are 12 tracks in total and they’re all composed so that the album as a whole is a very good listen. At over 72 minutes in length it’s a long listen but one that’s very rewarding.

I’ve really enjoyed listening to this and will continue to do so again and again in the future.

Definitely one to check out for your next Progressive Metal fix.

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.

Sarpedon – Anomic Nation (Review)

SarpedonSarpedon are from Norway and this is their début album. They play Progressive Metal.

This is sharp Progressive Metal with charismatic vocals that lead the way. Think a band like Nevermore for a quick and easy comparison; Progressive Metal with an emphasis on the Metal.

The music is solid and full of expressive leads and solos. Good rhythmic riffing and dependable drumming underscore everything, but the vocals are definitely the focal point.

Powerfully sung, they have a theatrical quality to them that imbues every song with character and personality.

The music is both technical and melodic as well as featuring a slight Blackened edge that colours some of the riffs now and again. The inclusion of blast beats and the styling of the band logo means that Sarpedon have a definite Black Metal feel to them; like a Black Metal band with clean vocals in places – akin to Vintersorg, for example

The songs are definite growers; repeated listens reveals hidden depths to the music whilst the vocal hooks and harmonies further borrow into your subconscious.

A recommended listen; give Sarpedon the time to get to know you and get inside your skull.

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.