This week’s reviews include releases from Atriarch, Dawn Of Disease, Devil Electric, Empyrean Throne, Hundred Suns, Incantation, The Lurking Fear, Motograter, Olde, Paganizer, Pyrrhon, Shooting Guns and Subservience.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Atriarch – Dead As Truth (Relapse)
Portland’s Atriarch describe their music as “doom-soaked deathrock,” which is an apt description. Their fourth full-length Dead As Truth, is deliberate and bleak.
The songs take a while to get up to speed, building intensity and anticipation until they reach maximum efficiency. Tempos range from molasses slow doom to moderately paced sludge. Lenny Smith’s vocals are passionate, utilizing everything from singsong to a melodic baritone to screaming. They blend lengthy tracks like the nearly 8 minute opener “Inferno” with more streamlined songs in the 4 minute range. From the deliberate “Void” to the frantic “Repent,” it’s a varied journey through doom, sludge, black, noise and even a bit of post punk.
Dawn of Disease – Ascension Gate (Napalm)
German death metal quintet Dawn of Disease waste no time continuing their ongoing path of destruction after last years Worship the Grave, returning with fourth full length Ascension Gate. “Akephalos” is one of the more brutal assaults with an old school killer hook dragging you through the thrash and blast groove, as is the excellent “The Growing Emptiness,” which continues the brutality of the albums second half with deep chugging riffs and solos bleeding through a hailstorm of drum fills and heavy percussion.
Nine minute epic “Mundus Inversus” closes the album with style, shifting from emotive melodic death metal to more intense hyper-blasts while stunning string-work signals the end with doom-bringing portents. Ascension Gate is a close to flawless melodic masterpiece.
Devil Electric – Devil Electric (Kozmik Artifactz)
Devil Electric have their hands wrapped around the doom thing. There is a very committed feeling to these songs that gives them extra energy. The songs are certainly downtrodden in nature and feature a rollicking vibe that is hard to avoid. The guitar riffs are thick and juicy. The overall feeling of the album is really dark and suits the band’s needs perfectly.
I like how the female vocalist fits in with the proceedings and enhances the outfit as opposed to dragging them down. The music here is traditional in style, similar to Black Sabbath and Candlemass. Though this type of music has been done to death, Devil Electric does their best to bring their own style to the table. While this isn’t the most original thing in the world, it’s well done enough to be worthwhile.
Hundred Suns – The Prestalis (New Damage)
Hundred Suns are a new band featuring a lineup of veteran musicians. The trio includes frontman Cory Brandan (Norma Jean), guitarist/songwriter Chris LeMasters (ex-Dead & Divine) and drummer Ryan Leger (ex-Every Time I Die).
And while there is some of the emotion and earnestness of metalcore, Hundred Suns are more hard rock with influences of grunge, alt rock and prog. They have the accessibility and catchiness of the typical radio friendly rock band, but incorporate more esoteric influences of groups like Deftones and A Perfect Circle that give their songs a distinctive flair. On paper the pedigree of these three musicians looked like a good fit, and in reality they mesh extremely well and deliver a very promising debut.
Empyrean Throne – Chaosborne (Cleopatra)
After an EP a few years back, the California band Empyrean Throne re-emerge with some lineup changes and their full-length debut Chaosborne. It’s an ambitious effort, a concept album about a medieval Templar knight.
It’s black metal with a lot of symphonic elements and some death metal as well. It’s extreme and intense, but also atmospheric and cinematic. Chaos gives way to regal black metal before diving back into the abyss. The arrangements are good, with the two part “Haereticus Stellarum” especially strong. With the album clocking in at more than an hour, it’s a bit too long. Still, there are enough ebbs and flows to keep things interesting.
Incantation – Profane Nexus (Relapse)
The legendary Pennsylvania death metal band Incantation have returned to their original record label, Relapse, for their latest release. Profane Nexus is their eleventh full-length studio album.
Nearly 30 years into their career, Incantation continue to deliver first rate death metal. From crushing death to mid-tempo groove to deliberate doom, they weave an intricate tapestry of extremity, anchored by the growls of John McEntee. The heaviness is never in doubt, and they also supply a plethora of catchy riffs that contrast the aural devastation. From the one minute blast of “Xipe Totec” to the six minute closer “Ancients Arise,” Incantation put on an impressive display of death metal devastation.
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave (Century Media)
Tell someone deep into Swedish death metal that the album they are about to listen to features two members from At The Gates (Tomas Lindberg and Adrian Erlandsson) and one from God Macabre (Jonas Stalhammar, and in an instant, curiosity takes over. That’s the draw to The Lurking Fear’s malicious debut album, Out of the Voiceless Grave.
Considering the icons at the helm of this project, it’s no surprise that their music is swift and trimmed to the basic fundamentals. The rawness that bites from every instrument may be a bit unexpected, a further callback to the genre’s early days. Until the itch of a new At the Gates record is remedied, Out of the Voiceless Grave provides relief.
Motograter – Desolation (EMP)
14 years after their debut album, Motograter are back with their sophomore full-length Desolation. Their debut album featured Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch) on vocals. They’ve had a lot of lineup changes over the years, and guitarist Matt “Nuke” Nunes is the only member remaining from their glory days.
The alt metal band plays songs with a metallic crunch and industrial flavor along with radio-friendly hooks and melodies. Vocalist James Legion blends melodic singing with harsher styles. He has a wider range than Moody, with his style more reminiscent of Disturbed’s David Draiman with a hint of Ozzy. Produced by Ill Nino guitarist Ahrue Luster, it’s a strong return that old school fans will appreciate, but will also draw a new generation of followers.
Olde – Temple (STB)
Man, do I wanna love me some Temple, the sludgy second full-length release from Canadian stoner/doom quintet Olde. It’s as heavy as a backwoods boundary wall and just as caked with dirt and grime. Vocalist Doug McLarty’s voice is fittingly rough and inebriated-sounding for the music, and their simplistic style of hammering home big groovy riffs is all but impossible to ignore.
But then why does Temple feel like such a chore to listen to? This quick review could certainly be categorized as ‘user error,’ but Olde’s methodology within the sludge-doom genre feels strangely lethargic and unremarkable. The band prove they can throw haymakers with tracks like “Subterfuge” and “Maelstrom,” but Temple routinely sounds like it’s going through the motions half-asleep. Marijuana may be a requisite here.
Paganizer – Land Of Weeping Souls (Transcending Obscurity)
The veteran Swedish death metal band Paganizer have been very prolific recently. In 2016 alone they issued four EPs and a split. The current incarnation of the band includes founding vocalist/guitarist Rogga Johansson and longtime drummer Matthias Fiebig along with a couple of newer additions.
There are no surprises here, just 10 slabs of first-rate old school Swedish death metal. They vary the tempo and intensity to avoid monotony, with quality riffage and a beefy production. The album blazes by in under 35 minutes, delivering quality musicianship and excellent death growls from Johansson. Even with their plethora of recent releases, the level of quality remains high, whether they’re grooving or galloping.
Pyrrhon – What Passes For Survival (Willowtip)
To say New York avant-garde extremists Pyrrhon push the envelope on their third full-length What Passes For Survival is an understatement. They shove, kick and propel that envelope into orbit.
No matter what kind of chaotic, experimental roads they venture down, they avoid the musical crash and burn. Technical wizardry, constant tempo changes and varied vocals make it a challenging but compelling and rewarding listen. From one minute blasts of extremity like “The Unraveling Part 3: Live From The Fresh Corpse” to the 12 minute closer “Empty Tenement Spirit,” Pyrrhon take the listener on a ride that’s unhinged, unpredictable, unorthodox and unforgettable.
Shooting Guns – Flavour Country (RidingEasy)
Saskatoon, Canada’s Shooting Guns have developed quite a cult following here in the Great White North, with multiple award nominations for their prolific work over the past seven years. Flavour Country is their third LP, adding to their catalog of EPs and movie soundtracks.
The band plays an engaging style of what is best described as psychedelic krautrock, with the seven band members making enough noise one doesn’t even notice the absence of a vocalist. The driving, high-energy rocker “Ride Free” is the outlier here, with the focus more on doomy atmospherics as on “Vampires of Industry” and the title track. Layered, nuanced, and engaging, Flavour Country is an album that you can easily lose yourself in.
Subservience – Forest of the Impaled (Black Bow)
After a series of self-released EPs, Subservience have gathered eight songs together for their first full-length release, Forest of the Impaled. This is a riffs-driven album, with limited guitar solos, though “In Depravity They Dwell” finishes out with a sharp one.
The supercharged riffs signal a no-nonsense affair, as the music stays aggressive from the onset, unable to break away from this frazzled state. A grim piano melody acts as an intro and outro to the excellent closer “Descend into Despair,” the only real pivot from the norm the band takes on their otherwise humdrum debut album.