Heavy Music Album Reviews: Week of January 13, 2017

This week’s reviews include releases from Accept, Chrysalis, Draugsol,  Lo-Pan, Memories In Broken Glass, Nightwish and more. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Accept - Restless & Live

Nuclear Blast Records

Accept – Restless & Live (Nuclear Blast)

A couple months ago, former vocalist Udo Dirkschneider released a double live album of Accept songs from his era of the band. Now the current lineup of Accept unveil the DVD/2CD release Restless & Live, with the DVD/Blu-ray recorded at the 2015 Bang Your Head Festival in Germany. It’s the first live release since Accept reformed in 2009 with vocalist Mark Tornillo.

Restless & Live includes tracks from the three Tornillo albums such as “Stalingrad,” “Teutonic Terror” and “Stampede” along with their all-time classics like “Balls To The Wall,” “Midnight Mover” and “Fast As A Shark.” The 18 song DVD an energetic and well-played show that effectively captures the Tornillo era of the band. The  two CDs (which are also available separately) collect 27 songs from various European shows during their 2015 tour.

Rating: 4

Chrysalis - ReminderChrysalis – Reminder (Self)

Reminder is the third album from the California band Chrysalis, who worked with producer Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Pantera) this time around. The band explore many different styles and influences on the album.

The opening track and single “My Eternity” is a hard rocker with lyrics based on on the novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and features guest vocals from Brigitte Roka. The rest of the album runs the gamut from modern metal to experimental to gothic. It’s diverse and wide-ranging both musically and vocally, while still remaining cohesive.

Rating: 3

Draugsol - Volaoa Land

Signal Rex

Draugsol – Volaoa Land (Signal Rex)

Iceland must have more black metal bands per capita than anywhere else in the world. With the country’s population at just over 300,000 people (about the same as Aurora, Colorado), they have a plethora of talented bands. You can add Draugsol to that list.

While their debut album Volaoa Land has plenty of traditional black metal elements, they also incorporate interesting parts such as an extended guitar solo towards the end of “Formaeling” and other unique moments that provide diversity. Acoustic sections shift to dense black metal before easing into a moderate groove. It’s a promising introduction.

Rating: 3.5

Lo-Pan - In Tensions

Aqualamb Records

Lo-Pan – In Tensions (Aqualamb)

A little more than two years after their last full-length, Columbus, Ohio sludgesters Lo-Pan return with a new EP, the five track In Tensions. While their fuzzy stoner metal sound is still there, they’ve increased the rock influences.

The songs on the EP are anthemic and downright catchy. Thick riffs, mostly upbeat tempos and memorable melodies make for an accessible yet heavy handful of songs. Jeff Martin’s vocals are his strongest and more varied to-date. The quality of these tracks whets the appetite for the band’s next full-length.

Rating: 3.5

Memories In Broken Glass - Enigma Infinite

Hammer Forged Records

Memories In Broken Glass – Enigma Infinite (Hammer Forged)

The Texas prog/djent band Memories In Broken Glass have been around for several years and released a few EPs, but Enigma Infinite is their full-length debut.

It’s a dynamic release that ranges from mellow prog to intense metal. The songs are streamlined, in the three to four minute range, but MIBG pack a lot into each track. Catchy melodies, technicality and atmosphere result in a compelling album. Vocalist Saul Castillo alternates death growls, hardcore yells and melodic singing for even more variety.

Rating: 3.5

Nightwish - Vehicle Of Spirit

Nuclear Blast Records

Nightwish – Vehicle Of Spirit (Nuclear Blast)

Nightwish are a band that deliver larger than life albums, concerts and videos. That’s also the case with their new DVD/CD Vehicle Of Spirit. Instead of putting out a simple concert, they decided to put together a massive package that includes two concerts on DVD and CD along with a plethora of bonus material.

The core of the release is two shows recorded during the tour for their 2015 album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. One was filmed at London’s Wembley Arena and the other at Tampere Stadium in their native Finland. While the set lists are similar, there are a handful of songs on each that do not appear in the other. The extras include other live songs, a backstage documentary and an interview with Richard Dawkins. There’s a ton of material, delivered with Nightwish’s showmanship and flawless musicianship and a powerhouse vocal performance from Floor Jansen.

Rating: 4

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