This week’s reviews include releases from Arduini/Balich, Benighted, Eve To Adam, Ex Deo, Invasion, King Woman, Mordbrand and Suicide Silence. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Arduini/Balich – Dawn Of Ages (Cruz Del Sur)
Fates Warning founding guitarist Victor Arduini has teamed up with Argus singer Brian “Butch” Balich to form Arduini/Balich, whose lineup also includes Freedom’s Reign drummer Chris Judge.
Their debut album Dawn Of Ages has the doom influences of Argus along with progressive tendencies reminiscent of Fates Warning combined with traditional metal stylings. The songs are epic (up to 17 minutes long), delivering thick riffs and lengthy instrumental sections. Following the expansive original songs are three covers: Uriah Heep’s “Sunrise,” Beau Brummels’ “Wolf Of Velvet Fortune” and Black Sabbath’s “After All (The Dead).” It’s an ambitious album, a bit too long, but ultimately rewarding.
Benighted – Necrobreed (Season Of Mist)
The first minute of the record is the gentle interlude “Hush Little Baby,” then the devastation begins. Bludgeoning blastbeats alternate with more moderate grooves, blending brutality with brief glimpses of melody and downright catchy riffs before the beatdown resumes. It’s an effective style, making for a songs that are varied and extreme. The vocals are diverse as well, ranging from deep, gurgling death metal growls to high pitched shrieks.
Eve To Adam – Odyssey (Rocktagon)
The electronic influences of Zardonic can be heard on the album, but Baskette’s modern rock sensibilities make sure their sound still has rock radio appeal. That’s definitely the case, with a plethora of possible singles. The album is packed with anthemic, uptempo rockers along with more moderately paced songs and the requisite ballad “Chasing Ghosts.” Songs like “Day Drinkin'” are tailor made for crowd singalongs. It’s not groundbreaking, but is certainly is enjoyable.
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars (Napalm)
Ex Deo were formed by Kataklysm’s Mauricio Iacono back in 2008 to play symphonic death metal with lyrics inspired by Roman history. After briefly splitting, they are back with The Immortal Wars, their third full-length and first since 2012.
It’s a cinematic album with symphonic sections and a lot of atmosphere, augmented by heavy guitar and harsh vocals from Iacono. Guitarist J-F Dagenais did an excellent job on the production, seamlessly blending aggressive metal with grandiose orchestration. The songs are very well constructed, and the lyrics are interesting, especially for history buffs, covering Roman legends like Hannibal and epic battles.
Invasion – Destroyer Of Mankind (Abyss)
War metal! You hear that phrase, and you immediately think of bands such as Bolt Thrower and Hail of Bullets, bands that sit near, or at the top, of death metal as a whole. But, there’s a whole other side to war metal, one that’s grittier and not nearly as polished. Bands such as Nocturnal Fear, early Enthroned, Impiety, and Indiana’s Invasion sit side by side at this level with a rougher approach to the riffing, tempo, and production. Invasion waste no time on Destroyer of Mankind, the band’s fourth album, and homage to all things World War II.
The guitars have a tendency to blister, the tempo is generally fast, the bass is loud, and the production is abrasive. Numerous samples are included to spice up the history lesson as you’ll be treated to FDR’s “day of infamy” speech, a call to war by Hitler, and instructions on how to hit the beaches at Normandy. Most of it is done in a satisfactory fashion, but Invasion are a much better band when just blasting away, rather than slowing things down occasionally to add some crunch. While sticking with the abrasiveness, Invasion end up a pretty good staple of the subgenre.
King Woman – Created In The Image of Suffering (Relapse)
Slow and plodding with ethereal vocals, on Created In the Image Of Suffering, San Francisco’s King Woman lay out their foundation from the get go so that there is no question as to what this band is about. Atmosphere seems to be the most integral piece of the band’s collective DNA. Kristina Esfandiari is a talented frontwoman who would draw comparisons to Windhand vocalist, Dorthia Cottrell. However, when it comes to song structure, many songs are just a bit too long for their own good, with album highlight “Worn” being a song for the band to build off of.
King Woman stand on the precipice like similar bands before them such as the aforementioned Windhand as well as Royal Thunder and SubRosa. Once they find their niche there is no doubt that they can click in their own unique way.
Mordbrand – Wilt (Carnal)
Since they emerged in 2010, the Swedish death metal trio Mordbrand have been prolific, releasing at least one split, EP or full-length every year. 2017 finds them unleashing their second-full length album Wilt.
While their style is fairly straightforward, it’s not monotonous because they vary the tempos and intensities. From deliberate crushing sections to moderate death metal grooves to dense, blastbeat driven brutality, they have every spectrum covered. Per Boder’s vocals are ominous, yet understandable. With each release Mordbrand’s chops get better, and they are a band to keep and eye (and ear) on for death metal fans.
Suicide Silence – Suicide Silence (Nuclear Blast)
With 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me, Suicide Silence‘s first album with vocalist Eddie Hermida, getting mostly positive response and becoming their highest charting album to-date, it would have been easy to continue down that path. However, the deathcore stalwarts have gone in a completely different direction on their new, self-titled album.
It’s an experimental album, but one that also has a lot of accessible qualities. They brought aboard producer Ross Robinson, and you can hear influences of previous bands he’s produced like Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit and on a track or two, even The Cure. There are plenty of heavy moments here along with more clean vocals than ever before from Hermida. He gives a varied performance ranging from crooning to singing to passionate screams. While not every experiment works, Suicide Silence take a fearless leap forward on an album that will be polarizing, but you have to give them credit for attempting to expand their musical horizons.