Chad’s Heavy Music Reviews: Week of September 23, 2016

This week’s reviews include releases from Allegaeon, Almah, Dysrhythmia, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, Neurosis, Saint Vitus and The Sword. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records

Allegaeon – Proponent For Sentience (Metal Blade)

Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Allegaeon‘s fourth full-length album Proponent For Sentience is also the first for new vocalist Riley McShane (Son Of Aurelius, Continuum). He had big shoes to fill, but steps in effortlessly both vocally and lyrically.

The musicianship, epic arrangements and science-based concepts of past albums are intact, with the band adding some orchestral elements that add even more depth and atmosphere. Brutality, technicality and melody along with a potent vocal performance from McShane make this one of Allegaeon’s strongest efforts. They wrap up the proceedings with the Rush cover “Subdivisions,” heavier and more orchestral than the original, but keeping the melodic vocals.

Rating: 4

Test Your Metal Records

Test Your Metal Records

Almah – E.V.O. (Test Your Metal)

Genre: Power Metal

The Brazilian band Almah have had some lineup changes since their last album, switching drummers and one of the guitarists for E.V.O..

Vocalist Edu Falaschi (ex-Angra) remains, and he has a powerful voice with a lot of range. The music is soaring power metal with some prog and hard rock influences. It’s a concept record based on the evolution of people during the new era the world is about to live. It’s called “The Age Of Aquarius,” also the title of the opening track. There’s plenty of diversity here and a lot of catchy songs power metal fans will appreciate.

Rating: 3.5

Profound Lore Records

Profound Lore Records

Dysrhythmia – The Veil Of Control (Profound Lore)

Genre: Progressive Metal

It has been four years since the last Dysrhythmia album, which isn’t a surprise as its members are busy with numerous other bands. Bassist Colin Marsten is also in Behold The Arctopus, Gorguts, Krallice and Withered, among others. Guitarist Kevin Hufnagel is also in Gorguts, as well as Sabbath Assembly. The trio’s latest album is The Veil Of Control.

The instrumental songs are technical and progressive, ever-shifting in tempo and texture. Groovy prog, intense metal and mellow sections make for an album with plenty of variety. Instrumental music has a limited audience, but those who appreciate the genre will find plenty to sink their teeth into.

Rating: 3.5

Party Smasher/Cooking Vinyl

Party Smasher/Cooking Vinyl

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra – Broken Lines (Party Smasher/Cooking Vinyl)

Genre: Hard/Progressive Rock

The unusually named supergroup Giraffe Tongue Orchestra has a lineup that includes William DuVall (Alice In Chains), Brent Hinds (Mastodon), Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan), Pete Griffin (Deathklok) and Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta). Juliette Lewis (Juliette And The Licks) contributes backing vocals. Broken Lines is their debut album.

The album runs the gamut from the anthemic opener “Adapt Or Die” to the progressive “Crucifixion” to the danceable “Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” to the ballad “All We Have Is Now.” With the talent gathered for this album, it’s no surprise that the songwriting and musicianship are top-notch. While the songs have some elements of their members’ bands, they manage to create their own identity and sound.

Rating: 4

Neurot Recordings

Neurot Recordings

Neurosis – Fires Within Fires (Neurot)

Genre: Sludge Metal

When a band like Neurosis, who have an outstanding three decade track record, release a new album, expectations are bound to be high. With their eleventh studio effort Fires Within Fires, Neurosis meet those expectations.

It’s an album of contrasts, alternating thick, sludgey riffs and reserved, ambient sections. The five songs are mostly in the 7 to 8 minute range, giving them plenty of room for dynamics and sonic exploration while remaining sharp and focused. “Broken Ground” begins with Scott Kelly crooning before the song ratchets up in intensity, and his vocals go back to their usual raspy edge. The album ends with the mostly subdued “Reach” that amps up the intensity in the last minute or so, wrapping it up on a high note. Fires Within Fires is an immersive and mesmerizing album with flawless musicianship that shows why Neurosis are such an influential and important band.

Rating: 4.5

Season Of Mist

Season Of Mist

Saint Vitus – Live Vol. 2 (Season Of Mist)

Genre: Doom Metal

Their last studio album from the legendary Saint Vitus was 2012’s Lillie: F-65. Live Vol. 2 was recorded on the tour for that record. The lineup for the 2013 European festival headlining set includes vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez.

Three of the eleven songs are from Lillie: F-65, with the remaining tracks taken from throughout their career. They play two songs from 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, including set opener “War Is Our Destiny.” The hour long show wraps up with the title track from 1986’s Born Too Late. It’s an excellent performance, and good to have a show from this era of the band preserved for posterity.

Rating: 3.5

Razor & Tie

Razor & Tie

The Sword – Low Country (Razor & Tie)

Genre: Acoustic

The Sword‘s 2015 album High Country saw their sound evolve away from doom and more toward hard rock. Those songs are revisited on their latest effort Low Country, which features acoustic versions of tracks from High Country.

10 of the 15 songs from that album get the acoustic treatment on Low Country, with most of the arrangements very sparse and understated. “Early Snow” is an exception, a rousing number with a bouncing bass line and uplifting horn section. It’s interesting to hear how the unplugged songs differ from their electric arrangements, though fans of acoustic and folk music can enjoy the album without ever hearing the originals.

Rating: 3

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