This week’s reviews include releases from Arcadea, Cavernlight, Chaos, CKY, Entrails, Impetuous Ritual, Khost, Mean Streak, Sharzall, Tombs, Ustalost and White Suns.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Arcadea – Arcadea (Relapse)
Two dudes with keyboards, one from Zruda and Gaylord, the other from Withered and Scarab, and one fella on skins from Mastodon, consist the makeshift psych-space project Arcadea. If one were haphazardly to coin their music ‘synth-gasmic Mastodon,’ one may be ridiculed to heights untold, but, alas, not entirely incorrect. Sure, the music on the band’s self-titled full-length debut bears a certain uncanny vibe, but this is to be expected when the tireless Brann Dailor sits behind the kit.
The frenzied and snapping pace of Dailor swings often into infectious grooves and funky rhythms bolstered by bassy synths that make songs like “Infinite End” and “Electromagnetic” go absolute and sure-fire supernovae. The trio’s penchant for waxing cosmic with sparkling synth-work and vibrant vocals adds further charm and intelligence requisite for such a mercurial release. While not all tracks are out of this world, the balance remains a unique work filled with more than a few stellar moments.
Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink from the Stream of Our Ache (Gilead)
It’s common practice for creative types to draw inspiration from what they know: life experiences, emotional states and whatnot. If that’s the case with Cavernlight and this record, then there’s a great burden on their minds that cascades into an unresolved darkness.
This doom-ridden bleakness endures, no matter if passages of subdued guitars or a cello/female vocals combination are employed. A band doesn’t use guest musicians from bands like False and Inter Arma and not expect a grim mentality in return. These five songs act as movements to a life teetering on the edge of decay by its own hands.
Chaos – All Against All (Transcending Obscurity)
There have been a few different bands named Chaos over the years. This one hails from Trivandrum, Kerala India, with All Against All their second album.
India is a long way from the Bay Area, but Chaos would have fit right in with that era of thrash. Slayer is an obvious influence. They are able to blaze along at maximum speed and intensity, but also dial it back into a tasty groove. There’s plenty of guitar wizardry, and the vocals are the typical thrash yells/shouts/growls. While not breaking any new ground, it’s a well-played homage to a great era of thrash with some of their own twists.
CKY – The Phoenix (eOne)
CKY rise from the ashes after an eight year hiatus with their follow-up to 2009’s Carver City. Grab your skateboard and ride along to a hook or two in this energetic return. This is the album the band didn’t have to make, yet they did, and their comeback has ignited their creativity enough to deliver a fine but short release that will surely keep the fans happy.
The Phoenix is packed with meaty riffs, engaging solos and the renewed vigor of CKY’s trademark sound. Songs like “Days of Self Destruction” and the zippy opener “Replaceable” bring back distant memories with an injection of modern freshness. The Phoenix marks a strong and triumphant comeback for these rock vets.
Entrails – World Inferno (Metal Blade)
Back in the early ’90s, Entrails were part of the explosion of Swedish death metal bands. They disappeared without ever releasing anything, but since reforming several years ago have been making up for lost time with numerous releases.
World Inferno is their fifth studio album, and first with new vocalist/bassist Tommy Carlsson and drummer Martin Michaelsson. They haven’t missed a beat, with Carlsson’s passionate vocal delivery fitting in well. The songs are extremely catchy with memorable riffs from Jimmy Lundqvist and Pontus Samuelsson. Atmospherics on tracks like “Insane Slaughter” add even more variety. It has modern production, but the album’s attitude is pure old school.
Impetuous Ritual – Blight Upon Martyred Sentience (Profound Lore)
Impetuous Ritual, the death metal destroyers from down under, return with Blight Upon Martyred Sentience. It’s the Aussie band’s third full-length, and just as crushing and unsettling as their first two.
The album is chaotic at times, with frenzied blastbeats and a breakneck tempo, but they are also able to deliver the extremity as a more moderate pace. The album is bookended by two lengthy tracks of around 8 to 9 minutes each, with most of the rest of the songs more streamlined in the 2 to 4 minute range. It’s a relentless album, with ambiance providing a bit of an auditory cushion at times, but the darkness is never more than a moment or two away.
Khost – Governance (Cold Spring)
The Khost is not clear. With their latest effort Governance, the British duo deliver an experimental album that explores numerous styles.
They don’t follow typical song structures. The compositions have lengthy mellow and ambient passages, while others are more intense and industrial. The common thread is tempos that range from slow to plodding. The vocals are mostly unintelligible growls, but ethereal female singing on “Subliminal Chloroform Violation” provides an interesting contrast. It’s not for everyone, but if you have an open mind and some patience, you’ll be rewarded.
Mean Streak – Blind Faith (Rock Of Angels)
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Mean Streak. The Swedish band released their first three albums in two year intervals, but it took four years for Blind Faith to emerge.
They play traditional metal that approaches power metal on the uptempo tracks. Straightforward melodies and singalong choruses abound along with frequent guitar solos. Vocalist Andy La Guerin has a lot of versatility, delivering a bluesy midrange most of the time, but as the tempo increases, so does his power metal style upper register. The legendary Max Norman (Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne) produced, and he helps give the album an ’80s attitude without sounding dated.
Sharzall – Black Sun (NRT)
Sharzall are from Slovakia, and Black Sun is their debut album. Their style can be described as gothic metal, but they incorporate a few other influences as well.
The songs are dark and melodic with ample atmospherics. The gothic vibe sometimes gives way to traditional metal/hard rock. The vocals will be polarizing. Rony Rage has a unique d sound that is not the typical crooning, smooth style of gothic metal. His voice is rough and gruff, although he does sing melodically from time to time, such as on “Love Is On The Ground.” He’s an expressive vocalist that gives Sharzall a distinctive identity.
Tombs – The Grand Annihilation (Metal Blade)
Brooklyn’s Tombs are a band that should be in your cassette player, hissing like a snake after the 60th replay. Dig out the neck brace. Cervical discs will pop after the head-bang provided by “Black Sun Horizon” and “Cold.” And cold it is, dark and dispiriting like a fortnight in chains. There is a chill wind that wafts between the groove and monotonic vocals.
Hints at melody in the draught of moonlight splintered by spider webs drift up like ghost dances escaping the block chord and thunder. Experimentation usually means another foul twist on Rush, but in Tombs there is a purpose for the trip to another cold world. A near great album hampered by a couple too many songs beyond the finish line. Still, Tombs are worth the indulgence and the Tylenol for the neck strain.
Ustalost – The Spoor of Vipers (Gilead)
Yellow Eyes have steadily become one of the top acts in the NYC black metal scene, and their vocalist/guitarist Will Skarstad gives great recognition to his own talent with The Spoor of Vipers, the debut album from his Ustalost side project.
This entire band is on his shoulders, from the airy bass lines to the spiritless synths. An unpolished production and equal balance between all instruments bolster the intimidating figure the music imposes. Each song is titled with a roman numeral, with no fade outs or cuts between tracks. This design leaves one unable to keep away, emboldened to let the album take an impressionable hold.
White Suns – Psychic Drift (The Flenser)
Metal citizens live in a kingdom of noise, and nothing comes closer to complete chaos than White Suns. Put your TV on an empty station, turn the volume up to transistor detonation, focus on the neighbors fighting about their finances, and you are halfway to the experience found on White Suns’ Psychic Drift.
The New Yorkers place no limits on aural damage. Slam poets on Adderall swim in a collage of found sounds, like samples from hell’s choir practice and a chain reaction accident of screeching synthesizers. There’s no melody, no guitars, no songs, nothing here but tortured, abysmally noxious aggravated assault. If you have a taste for soul mutilation, White Suns will complete you.