This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Ardours, Besvarjelsen, The Contortionist, Eradikator, Grima, The Last Martyr, Lord Gore, Pathology, Phobia, Roxy Blue, Sparrows, Suicidal Angels and Trench Warfare.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale. For more information on our writers, go here.
Ardours – Last Place On Earth (Frontiers)
Ardours are a new band formed by Tristania singer Mariangela Demurtas and producer/multi-instrumentalist Kris Laurent. Tristania’s Tarald Lie wrote the lyrics and handled the drum duties for Last Place On Earth.
Like Tristania, Ardours have a gothic flavor, but theirs mixes in more rock influences. Songs like the title track have a lot of atmosphere, but also ripping guitar solos. They blend electronics, heavy riffs and catchy melodies on songs such as “Design” and “Therefore I Am.” Uptempo tracks are balanced by more moderately paced ditties like the organ heavy “The Mist” and “Truths.” It’s a quality debut with memorable songs and impeccable production.
Besvarjelsen – Frost (Blues Funeral)
Frost is the third EP from the Swedish band Besvarjelsen, whose name translates to “conjuring.” It comes n the heels of last year’s full-length debut. The album includes five tracks clocking in at around 27 minutes.
The band utilizes a plethora of styles ranging from doom to stoner to psychedelia with influences of everything from classic rock to punk. The songs transition from thick, heavy doom to melodic stoner rock. Lea Amling Alazam’s vocals range from ethereal to bluesy to aggressive, matching the songs that constantly shift tempo and intensity. It’s an album that should appeal to fans of numerous genres.
The Contortionist – Our Bones (eOne)
The second EP review this week, this one from the progressive/avant-garde group The Contortionist. The four track EP Our Bones follows up 2017’s full-length Clairvoyant.
The EP is brief (14 minutes), with opener “Follow” the best song, alternating heavy parts with melodic sections. “All Grey” is a quiet, introspective acoustic song, and the EP closes with a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.” They don’t do anything new with it, using the same arrangement and delivery as the original. Fans of the band will appreciate the fresh material as they await a new full-length, but it certainly isn’t essential.
Eradikator – Obscura (Divebomb)
Obscura, the third full-length release from the British band Eradikator, puts a different spin on thrash. The songs have a groovy feeling that is hard to ignore and makes the album sound different from your normal thrash release. The second song “Poison to Sorrow” injects some melody into the band’s sound effectively. The result is one of the most memorable tracks on the album. There are also songs like “Haunting,” “Eyes of Old,” “I Want to Believe” and “The Siren Song” that have more subtle moments. There is always something original to listen to with each track.
Elsewhere, there is a thrash crunch that is welcoming and appealing. The songs bring an old Metallica flavor to the mix and this is appreciated as there is a definite nod to that band. There is an addition of groove to that template to make for a release that has some variety. This is some of the best thrash I’ve heard this year along with the new Death Angel. There is just enough variety to make for a consistently thrilling release that evokes some thrash metal memories.
Grima – Will Of The Primordial (Naturmacht)
Siberia is known for its brutal winters and extreme climate, but there’s also a lot of beauty and tranquility there. The Siberian atmospheric black metal duo Grima bring those extremes to life in musical form on their third album Will Of The Primordial.
Opener “Siberian Sorrow” incorporates some folk flavor alongside the icy guitars and melancholy atmosphere. Lengthy compositions like the 9 minute “Shrouded In Darkness” give the band plenty of time to explore a variety of sounds while maintaining interest throughout. A couple of instrumentals provide additional atmosphere while not extending the proceedings too much, with the album coming in at under 50 minutes. Will Of The Primordial is a dynamic and emotional release.
The Last Martyr’s Creatrix is an EP stacked with potential hits; singles that would receive ample airplay on satellite radio. The Australian band deals out catchiness like it is in limitless supply. These are songs that charge up with inspired vocals leading to a gratifying chorus that is easy to hum along to after a few listens.
The closing title track is the most metalized tune on Creatrix and breaks slightly away from the radio-friendly nature of the other four songs. The descriptor going around for this band is “melodic metal,” which is a nice way of saying “easy to consume metal.” Not everyone will find this to be their fancy, but those who aren’t chained to the vilest forms of metal will hear the shiny future The Last Martyr could have.
Lord Gore – Scalpels For Blind Surgeons (Everlasting Spew)
Lord Gore’s “Pungent Stench” has waffled through the mountains of Portland, Oregon for over 20 years. However, Scalpels For Blind Surgeons is only their third full-length and first in fifteen years. Featuring former and current members of Engorged, Frightmare, Ritual Necromancy, Blood Freak, Fornicator and Torture Rack, the band not only understand how to create death metal caked in gory grind, they hold dominion over these sounds. No limb seems safe from the down-tuned, buzz saw guitar sound.
While the speed and pick action of guitars animate much of the album, down-tempo harmonies are inserted ideally. “The Crawling” brings to mind the foreboding notes of Autopsy. “Million Maggot March” also doesn’t betray its title. “Spare Parts” conveys early death/thrash sounds reminiscent of Rigor Mortis and Possessed. Besides the squealing, gargling vocals that sometimes underline the album (nothing out of the ordinary for this style, though), listeners will gleefully experience the frontal lobotomy that is Scalpels For Blind Surgeons.
Pathology – Reborn To Kill (Pavement)
California crushers Pathology have had some lineup changes since their last release in 2017. Reborn To Kill is the first Pathology album for vocalist Obie Flett (Inherit Disease), guitarist Daniel Richardson (Condemned) and bassist Ricky Jackson.
The new faces don’t change their brutal brand of death metal. The tracks are short and sweet, inflicting maximum damage in a minimal amount of time. Songs like “Frothing At The Mouth” have ample groove, while tracks such as “Dragged Into The Cave” are dense and relentless. Flett delivers a varied vocal performance, with gurgles, growls and screams. Veteran drummer Dave Astor is the engine that keeps the extremity flowing with power and creativity. It’s a punishing album, with songs like the instrumental “Empathy Ends” providing a brief reprieve.
Phobia – Generation Coward (Willowtip)
Phobia have been involved in the grindcore scene since 1990, though they aren’t given the same sort of prestige from many that bands like Pig Destroyer or Brutal Truth get. Maybe it was the revolving-door lineups or having a difficult time carving a niche in a packed genre; either way, Phobia have kept on going with vocalist Shane Mclachlan as the lone original member. Generation Coward is their latest release, another dizzying EP of politically charged grind.
According to Metal Archives, Generation Coward is their tenth EP, added to the abundance of splits and full lengths they’ve done. Proficiency has never been a weak point of Phobia, and these 13 songs whiz by in under 16 minutes. For as long as they’ve been around, Phobia remain determined to keep moving, undeterred by the changing music landscapes or whatever trends are in vogue.
Roxy Blue – Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
Only 27 years after their debut album was released, the hard rock outfit Roxy Blue are here with their self-titled sophomore studio album. The band have changed up their sound a bit this time around (which, after more time than I’ve even been alive, makes sense), bringing a heavier, punchier performance that makes for the perfect summer party album. Realistically, Roxy Blue’s choice to change up their sound rather than trying to rehash Want Some was a good move; this shows that the band has grown, not only musically but also in taste, and this brings a lot of heart to the album.
Of the band’s original members, three of four have returned for this second effort with support from their new guitarist, the shredtastic Jeffrey Caughron (ex-Jasmine Cain, ex-Every Mother’s Nightmare). While most of the tracks are fairly energetic and upbeat, there is a bit of variety to be found, such as in the ballad “How Does It Feel.” Although I usually listen to much heavier stuff than this, Roxy Blue is a super solid album and is worth attention from metalheads and rockers alike.
Sparrows – Failed Gods (Sound Anxiety)
For their third album Failed Gods, the Canadian post hardcore band Sparrows decided to take a different approach. They switched studios and producers, capturing some of their heaviest and darkest material to date.
That heaviness and darkness is balanced by melody and light. Some, like “Repose” and “No One Gets Past Four” lean more toward the latter, while others emphasize the former. Sparrows transition smoothly between chaos and traditional structures. Cathartic songs such as “Worship Song” co-exist peacefully with mellow numbers like “An Expiry, In Years.” It’s a roller coaster of passion and emotions of all kinds.
Suicidal Angels – Years of Aggression (NoiseArt)
One of the most prolific bands in recent years in the Greek metal scene are Suicidal Angels. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, they have returned with their seventh studio album Years of Aggression, and are ready to present what they are proficient at: thrash metal!
On Years of Aggression, Suicidal Angels merge the music of bands like Exodus and Overkill into a structure that was heard on previous albums. But as with Division of Blood, Suicidal Angels have incorporated melodies into their groovy guitar riffs to completely escape the crushing and savage atmosphere of their early albums. Although Years of Aggression does not offer anything unique and surprising and does not reach the level of the band’s flagship albums, it is a vibrant release. It gives off the smell of ’80s thrash metal which satisfies thrashers enough to reserve a place for Suicidal Angels’ patch on their battle vest.
Trench Warfare – Hatred Prayer (Transcending Obscurity)
Trench Warfare play a style of black/death metal described perfectly in the Texas band’s name. Each track on their debut full-length Hatred Prayer blows a similar war horn to bands such as Revenge, Conqueror and Blasphemy. “Sate Thy Lust,” “Spare No Wrath,” and “Decimate Legions” are an all out smashing machine of satanic might and blasphemous bellows.
Tony Goyang’s heavily distorted guitars and Lee Fisher’s blasts animate this doomsday celebration. Jay Gorania’s voice has a classic death metal feel recalling John Tardy and early David Vincent. Gorania doesn’t rely on effects, but utilizes them to make his voice nightmarish in places such as the reverberated “New Lord,” which culminates in a spooky delay. Although much of the album works on speed, certain tracks recall down-tempo death metal masters Incantation and Immolation (hear “Astral Projection”). Trench Warfare offers a powerful debut in Hatred Prayer. The band achieved a mix in the vocals and guitar that pulverizes yet isn’t lost in murk.