Inner Sanctum – Legions Awake (Review)

Inner SanctumInner Sanctum are an Indian Thrash/Groove Metal band and this is their début album.

After a rather cinematic opener, Inner Sanctum reveal themselves in their full glory as Thrash/Groove Metal with some Death Metal influences included for added impact. Think the mid-00s-type NWOAHM, only with a darker, more classically Death Metal side to it that emphasises the European Melodic Death Metal heritage of the American style.

The album boasts a sexy, professional sound that’s polished and strong.

The singer has a gruff voice that shouts out with the best of them, occasionally including some semi-cleans that remind me of some of Darkane’s work in places.

The songs are well-written and it’s clear that these tracks have been constructed with care and enthusiasm. The Thrash and Groove influences never take over or embrace the mediocre side of both styles; Inner Sanctum play their brand of heaviness with vibrancy and passion. They deliver everything on here with skill and it’s clear that the band have the talent to succeed.

Legions Awake is a strong collection of songs that make a good impression and showcase a band who really know what they’re doing. If they were American and picked up by a large music label then they would get very far indeed, I think. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, so make sure you support them – bands like this deserve it.

For fans of – Pantera, Lamb of God, Chimaira, Shadows Fall, Darkest Hour, Legion of the Damned, Kreator, Arch Enemy, Testament, etc.

Veil of Deception – Tearing up the Roots (Review)

Veil of DeceptionVeil of Deception are a Metal band from Austria. This is their second album.

This is Groove Metal with a Thrash edge, in the vein of Pantera, Sevendust, Breed 77 and mid-phase Anthrax, mixed with a bit of an Alternative Metal approach.

Heavy riffs and lighter leads form the bedrock of the band’s sound. Their approach is a little different to the average Groove Metal band though, eschewing the more Modern Metal approach and instead incorporating elements of Classic and Heavy Metal into their sound.

The singer is a great example of this – he has a cleaner, more Heavy Metal style than you’d probably expect from a band of this ilk. It adds an authentic edge to the music, as well as a good Rock sensibility on occasion.

Well, this is quite an unexpected turn of events. There I was, expecting Metalcore, (based on the cover, logo and band description), when what I actually got has more in common with 90s Alternative Metal than 00s Metalcore. It’s a welcome change of pace and the band are to be commended for not taking a more obvious route with their style.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any issues with Tearing up the Roots; overall the songs are enjoyable slabs of Metal, but the songwriting could do with a bit of tightening up in places.

All in all, this is an enjoyable release though; one that makes me feel a bit nostalgic in places too. Not many bands play this kind of thing any more, as it’s too Classic Metal for the Modern Metal crowds and too groove-laden for the Classic Metal crowds. It’s an interesting release and it certainly gets better with repeated spins as the riffs, melodies and vocals work themselves into your brain.

Not bad at all. Check it out.

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Aktaion – Throne (Review)

AktaionThis is the début album by Swedish Metal band Aktaion.

This is sharp Melodic Metal that combines high-energy aggressive Melodic Death Metal with more restrained and emotive choruses. Elements of Thrash and Progressive Metal also raise their heads, (only to bang them all the harder). Continue reading “Aktaion – Throne (Review)”

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.

Corecom – Crawling Under The Heavy Foot Of Addiction (Review)

CoecomCorecom are a Sludge Metal band from Bulgaria and this is their début album.

Lazy, lost, despondent…the woe and rejection…the struggles of life and everything within…Corecom are here to remind you that negativity can be a physical force.

But there’s more to just Corecom than mere misery and Sludgy Eyehategod worship; they’re also in touch with their inner Hardcore band and their brand of Sludge is infested with semi-upbeat Hardcore-esque sections that seem to be fashioned from the murk of the deepest Sludge. This is more No Anchor than Eyehategod.

Corecom also have groove. I mean big groove. The kind of groove that got people bouncing all over the shop before Nu-Metal made it distinctly uncool. Corecom are reclaiming it and drenching it in Sludge so that no-one else wants to touch it.

Southern riffs, Hardcore-vibes, Doom-workouts and Stoner sections abound, as well as some pseudo-Grunge and Pantera/Crowbar influences. Corecom sound stuck in a timewarp in some ways, as Crawling Under The Heavy Foot Of Addiction sounds like it should have been released around 1999. This is not a bad thing at all, as this was a time when there were lots of innovative and interesting bands rearing their bruised, ugly heads.

Varied and catchy songs are Corecom’s speciality and this release is a very complete one; songs are just that, and each track has a part to play holistically in the overall makeup of the album.

Pain-inflicted vocals with no small amount of variety and character run through the songs like rodents infesting the ruins. The singer has a distinctly non-standard voice and this goes for the music too; it might take a song or two to acclimbatize but once you do Corecom have a lot of character and personality to offer.

This album makes me feel both impressed and nostalgic. It’s definitely one you should have a listen to.

Dead Earth Politics – The Queen of Steel (Review)

Dead Earth PoliticsDead Earth Politics are from the US and play modern Thrash/Groove Metal.

This is southern-tinged Modern Metal in the style of Lamb of God, et al, only with a slightly more Metal twist and some nice melodic choruses. Look at the album cover. Look at the song titles. There is no weak pseudo-Metal here.

Said melodic choruses are not of the sickly, saccharine variety; instead they’re all about the Metal and owe more to Pantera than the more modern Metalcore clones.

The riffs are good and the songs have plenty of energy. The band also don’t shy away from solos, which is always a welcome thing to hear.

The vocals are modern Metal shouting, combined with the aforementioned cleans with some even verging on Power Metal territory. Almost.

I’ve seen this band described as a cross between classic Metal and New American Metal and I think this description fits. Either way this short 3 track EP has the songs to play in the big leagues and is clearly the result of talented minds.

An enjoyable EP, and if they can harness this energy and songwriting finesse then whatever upcoming album they may be working on should be well worth a listen. Based on this release I’m looking forward to what they do next.

A modern take on fantasy Metal? Works for me.

Infected Society – Get Infected (Review)

Infected SocietyInfected Society play a modern form of grind that nonetheless harks back to a golden age of grindcore where grinding was more than just about speed; swagger and attitude counted for something.

This EP is very short but packs a punch. Four original songs that certainly leave their mark on the listener, and two covers. The original songs are catchy and diverse, and recall Groinchurn at their punky, grinding best. No 20-second-wonders here – each track has thought put into it and feels crusty but fresh, ready for the challenges ahead. As a taster for a full length some time in the future this does its job perfectly.

The two covers are by Napalm Death and Pantera. Wearing their influences on their sleeves, Infected Society pay homage to their heroes with honour.

One of the most noticeable things about this release is the energy levels – this is frantic and frenetic stuff. That’s not to say it’s sloppy of course, not at all; the band are obviously extremely enthused about what they’re playing. This comes through in the music and it’s a joy to hear. This is not tired music-by-numbers – this is fresh and exciting.

Very short but very worthwhile. Seems about time now for an album!