Subliminal Fear – Escape from Leviathan (Review)

Subliminal FearThis is the third album from Subliminal Fear, an Italian metal band.

This is modern metal that takes its primary influences from a combination of the cybermetal styles, (Fear Factory, Mnemic), and melodic groove metal, (Soilwork, In Flames, etc.), alongside a pinch of djent and industrial.

With this in mind, the band operate in the more commercial realm of the style, rather than on the heavier end as some bands do when incorporating these influences, (for the most part at least; that’s not to say the band can’t be heavy or more extreme when they want to). The songs work well in this context though, with the band’s clean vocal harmonies being Continue reading

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Bent Sea/To Dust – Ascend/Descend – Split (Review)

Bent SeaThis is a split release between Bent Sea and To Dust, both of which play grindcore and both of which feature a plethora of members/ex-members of bands such as Aborted, Megadeth, Soilwork, Napalm Death, (Bent Sea), and Abigail Williams, Vintage Warlords, Humanity Is Cancer, Grave Plague, Fountain of Piss, Severed Remains, The Black Dahlia Murder and Phobia, (To Dust).

Phew. As you can see, there’s a lot of experience here.

The first half of the split is provided by Bent Sea, who give us almost 10 minutes of state-of-the-art ferocity. Continue reading

Karnak Seti – The Distance That Made Us Cold (Review)

Karnak SetiKarnak Seti are from Portugal and play melodic/groove metal. This is their third album.

The Distance That Made Us Cold is an album that bursts out of the speakers with a strong and confident sound, polished to perfection but not lacking in some underground grit when the songs need it. Continue reading

Mindshift – Horizon (Review)

MindshiftThis is the second album from Swedish Metal band Mindshift.

Mindshift’s latest album is 56 minutes of downtuned aggression in the Metalcore style that pushes the tried-and-tested style of heavy verses and melodic choruses, à la Atreyu, Killswitch Engage, Soilwork and the like.

The singer’s harsh voice reminds me of the singer of Atreyu, and he provides a good performance for the most part. The clean vocals do what they’re here to do, with decent melodies and hooks, some of which are really quite tasty.

The songs are, overall, a bit heavier and more aggressive than some that play this style, which I like, although the radio-friendly choruses clearly show their aspirations.

Although this style has been done to death, with some catchy choruses and good songwriting this is still an enjoyable release if you’re partial to the style. I probably would have loved this about 10-15 years ago. Nowadays I still quite like it, mainly due to the fact that it’s done well and sticks to basic song structures that are as familiar as they are pleasing in their simplicity.

Despite all of the things that are stacked against a band playing this style, I like that Horizon doesn’t play it completely safe and doesn’t just take the easy option of completely regurgitating stuff that’s been done a million times before. This is mainly down to the guitars and clean vocals – the former sound like a lot of consideration has gone into their structuring and layout, while the latter really do add a lot to the tracks and are performed with a passion that’s apparent.

There’s some good riffs and emotive melodies knocking about here too, and the electronic component to their sound is infrequent and used lightly, adding what is needed to the songs without getting in the way.

Ultimately Mindshift have put together an album that is easy to sit back and enjoy. The decent riffs and vocals do their job well and the songs pass by in a quite personable way. I can easily imagine myself listening to this a few more times in the future, despite a slightly over-long playing time.

Have a listen and check them out.

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.

Fall – The Insatiable Weakness (Review)

FallThis is the début album from US Progressive/Melodic Death Metallers Fall.

Featuring a strong sound, this is an album full of emotive Melodic Death Metal that is enhanced by keyboards and Progressive Metal tendencies.

There’s a bit of everything on here, from highly melodic guitars, to blasting drums, to liquid guitar solos, to introspective refrains, to Modern Thrash workouts.

The vocals vary from shouted growls to soaring cleans. Both are performed extremely well and very professionally.

With a beguiling mix of heaviness and catchiness, The Insatiable Weakness combines the hooks and passion of the European Metal scene with the heavy delivery and modern sheen of the American, resulting in an album that takes equal parts from both.

Fall make the type of music that bands like In Flames, Soilwork, (whose drummer features on this album), Darkane, Dark Tranquillity, et al, are so well-known for and add a Progressive/darker Extreme Metal edge to it. For anyone that enjoys the more commercial side of Melodic Death Metal, but favours more heaviness and extremity in their music, then The Insatiable Weakness is for you.

Highly recommended.

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

Caelestia – Beneath Abyss (Review)

CaelestiaCaelestia are from Greece and this is their second album. They play Melodic Metal.

Well this is interesting. Superficially another Gothic/Operatic European Metal band, there’s actually more to Caelestia than that.

They combine elements of that sound with Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal to create an altogether more interesting beast than what you, (or me), might have been expecting.

The album is a mixture of these aforementioned styles, meaning that Beneath Abyss is not a listen that gets stale. This is a bigger than normal compliment actually, considering how easy it is for Gothic Metal bands to be quite generic. But of course, this is where the other influences come in.

Another very positive thing about the band is the main female vocals; the singer has a strong voice that definitely has her own personality stamped onto it and manages to avoid simply aping some of the bigger female vocalists out there. She has a versatile and powerful voice that oozes professionalism and quality.

Her voice is joined by choral backing vocals and harsher male shouting, as well as a guest spot from the singer of Soilwork.

These are enjoyable songs and the combination of the European Metal styles into one package gives Caelestia an identity of their own that differentiates them from the majority of their peers who play similar styles of music. It also lends the songs more depth than they’d otherwise have if the bite of the Melodic Death Metal or the musicality of the Progressive Metal were removed.

A very good listen. Check them out and see if you agree.

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.

Arcturon – Expect Us (Review)

ArcturonArcturon are from Switzerland and this is their latest EP. They play Melodic Metal.

With this EP they give us 4 tracks lasting a total of just under 17 minutes.

This is upbeat Metal with a modern slant and added keyboards/effects. Think Dark Tranquillity as well as bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Darkane, etc.

These four songs are well-written and well-presented tracks that are on the more commercial side of Metal but if you don’t mind that then there’s a good amount of enjoyment to be had from them.

The singer has a good voice and switches between shouting and singing with ease. It’s designed to promote emotive responses and as long as you’re amenable to the genre it does the job.

This is the kind of band I could imagine getting a good degree of success if they have the right backing/are in the right place at the right time/etc. They have this particular genre of Metal down pat and inject enough variety and personality into the formula to make it work.

Give them a listen and see what you think.