This week’s reviews include releases from Battle Beast, Cnoc An Tursa, Edenbridge, Mord’A’Stigmata, Morta Skuld and Vermilion Whiskey. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (Nuclear Blast)
Songs like the hard driving title track are melodic, but pack plenty of punch. The opening song “Straight To The Heart” is anthemic and memorable with a singalong chorus. Noora Louhimo is a versatile vocalist, equally adept on swaggering rockers or soaring ballads. The arrangements have plenty of atmosphere, but they are guitar driven and arena ready.
Cnoc An Tursa – The Forty Five (Apocalyptic Witchcraft)
Four years after their debut, the Scottish band Cnoc An Tursa are back with The Forty Five. It’s a concept album about the 1745 Jacobite uprising where Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to take the British throne from King George II.
The songs are lengthy with complex arrangements blending symphonic, black and folk metal. The polished songs are given their edge by the harsh vocals. The songs are larger than life, perfect for the historical topics they tackle. There are dense and extreme black metal parts along with soaring symphonic sections, though the pomp and circumstance sometimes overshadows the riffs and hooks.
Edenbridge – The Great Momentum (SPV)
The Austrian symphonic metal band Edenbridge have been around for nearly two decades now, with the anchors being songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Langvall and vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher. That’s still the case on their latest effort, The Great Momentum.
Grandiose symphonic metal with orchestra, choir and driving guitars is at the core of the album, with quieter acoustic moments and mellow sections providing diversity. Guest vocalist Erik Martensson, who also appeared on 2013’s The Bonding, duets with Edelsbacher on the ballad “Until The End Of Time.” There’s also a second disc of instrumental versions of the album’s songs to dig deeper into the arrangements.
Mord’A’Stigmata – Hope (Pagan)
On their previous album, 2013’s Ansia, Mord’A’Stigmata‘s compositional style moved toward fewer, lengthier songs per album. That’s also the case on Hope, with its four tracks in the 9 to 12 minute range.
It’s more challenging to hold the listener’s attention for that long, but Mord’A’Stigmata have no problem doing so. The Polish band play a creative brand of post black/avant-garde metal that does take time to unfold, but is ultimately rewarding. Shifting tempos and intensities lead the listener through areas of darkness, but as the album title signifies, there are beacons of light as well.
Morta Skuld – Wounds Deeper Than Time (Peaceville)
After splitting back in 1998, the Wisconsin death metal band Morta Skuld were reformed a few years ago by founding vocalist/guitarist Dave Gregor, who brought aboard all new members. Wounds Deeper Than Time is their first album since 1997.
With song titles like “Hating Life” and “Scars Within” giving, the lyrical approach is sometimes bleak, but the music is not. They play traditional death metal with an ominous groove and heavy riffs from Gregor and Scott Willecke. Gregor’s death metal growls are clear and understandable. They remain true to their old school origins while not being confined to a retro style.
Vermilion Whiskey – Spirit Of Tradition (10 South)
From deep in the bayous of Louisiana come Vermilion Whiskey and their latest album Spirit Of Tradition. It mixes southern sludge with doom and hard rock.
You’ll hear Sabbathian riffs mixed with Corrosion of Conformity and Down influences, topped with more accessible hard rock in the vein of groups like Black Stone Cherry. The bluesy, whiskey-soaked vocals from Thaddeus Riordan are effective, but it’s guitarists Ross Brown and Carl Stevens that steal the show with clever riffs and flawless tones. It’s a streamlined album clocking in at under 30 minutes.