Chad’s Heavy Music Reviews: Week of October 21, 2016

This week’s new reviews include releases from 40 Watt Sun, Auroch, An Autumn For Crippled Children, Destrage, Icethurs, Kix and Korn.  The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

40 Watt Sun - Wider Than The Sky

Radiance Records

40 Watt Sun – Wider Than The Sky (Radiance)

Genre: Atmospheric Rock

Five years after their debut album, the U.K. trio 40 Watt Sun re-emerge with Wider Than The Sky. They went the independent route, releasing it on their own label.

The album is more expansive than their debut. While both have five tracks, Wider Than The Sky is nearly 20 minutes longer. The epic 16 minute opener “Stages” is a somber song with soulful vocals from Patrick Walker, who has a definite similarity to Michael Stipe (R.E.M.). “Another Room” is even slower, but still manages to be engaging even at a snail’s pace. It’s a mellow and reserved release, and in today’s fast-paced instant gratification world it’s nice to be able to slow down and savor an introspective album like this one.

Rating: 4

Auroch - Mute Books

Profound Lore Records

Auroch – Mute Books (Profound Lore)

Genre: Death Metal

The Canadian band Auroch put the power in power trio. Their third full-length album Mute Books is a crushing slab of death metal.

It’s not a non-stop extremity fest, however. In addition to stifling brutality, there are periodic mellower sections that allow the listener time to breathe before the cacophony resumes. Those ebbs and flows make for a jarring, but compelling listen. The band’s technicality is impressive, but so are the freer-flowing parts.

Rating: 3.5

An Autumn For Crippled Children - Eternal

Wickerman Records

An Autumn For Crippled Children – Eternal (Wickerman)

Post Black Metal

The enigmatic An Autumn For Crippled Children continue their prolific ways. Eternal is the sixth full-length they have released since their debut in 2010, along with three EPs.

Their sound remains post black metal with a lot of shoegaze influences. The atmospheric and melancholy music is contrasted by vocals that are passionate, black metal style screams. It’s an interesting combination, and although it can get repetitive at times, AAFCC manage to keep things interesting.

Rating: 3

Destrage - A Means To No End

Metal Blade Records

Destrage – A Means To No End (Metal Blade)

Genre: Progressive Metalcore

On their fourth full-length album A Means To No End, the Italian quintet Destrage took a slightly different approach. They focused more on the songwriting and less on some of the musical acrobatics.

There’s still plenty of technicality and twists and turns, but they augment quality songs, making for an album with much more staying power and depth. Those songs range from melodic and catchy to groovy and intense with a combination of singing and screaming vocals. They even utilize slide guitar on a couple of tracks including “Not Everything Is Said.”

Rating: 3.5

Icethurs - Unlocked Door

Bud Metal Records

Icethurs – Unlocked Door (Bud Metal)

Genre: Pagan/Folk Metal

Unlocked Door is the debut album from the Moscow- based band Icethurs, who incorporate an interesting melange of genres.

There’s galloping thrash on songs like “Compotator,” while tracks like “Gift” utilize industrial elements. However, the main style of the album is folk/pagan metal. Ekaterina Loky’s melodic singing is augmented and contrasted by harsh vocals. They are a versatile trio who can pull off a lot of different styles, but they shine the brightest when the folk elements are at the forefront.

Rating: 3.5

Kix - Can't Stop The Show: The Return Of Kix

Loud & Proud Records

Kix – Can’t Stop The Show: The Return Of Kix (Loud & Proud)

Genre: Hard Rock

In 2014, Kix released Rock Your Face Off, their first new album in almost 20 years. Can’t Stop The Show: The Return Of Kix is a documentary chronicling the making of that album.

In addition to band members and producer Taylor Rhodes, many others are interviewed including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Eddie Trunk, Shannon Larkin (Godsmack) and Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), who took lessons from Kix frontman Steve Whiteman as a teenager. It’s an interesting look at the process of a band making a new album that will also appeal to fans of their classic material. In addition to the DVD, there’s also a CD included with live versions of a dozen songs, including “Blow My Fuse” and “Cold Blood.”

Rating: 3.5

Korn - The Serenity Of Suffering

Roadrunner Records

Korn – The Serenity Of Suffering (Roadrunner)

Genre: Nu Metal

Korn have been one of metal’s most successful bands, garnering numerous platinum albums and top 10 chart positions. Their momentum shows no signs of slowing with their 12th studio album The Serenity Of Suffering.

There are plenty of heavy moments on the album as Korn balance some of the elements of their early material with more modern and complex songs. The arrangements are creative, but there are still plenty of catchy hooks and melodies. Jonathan Davis delivers a varied performance, utilizing a plethora of styles including some vicious scatting on “Rotting In Vein.” Slipknot’s Corey Taylor guests on the ominous, electronic-tinged “A Different World.” It’s a satisfying album that should appeal to Korn fans old and new.

Rating: 4

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