Reviews for the week of May 4, 2018 include releases from Anthrax, Archelon, Dimmu Borgir, Lik, Manacle, QFT, Shinedown, Stone Deaf, Thrashist Regime, Wolvhammer, The Word Alive and Zero Theorem.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Anthrax – Kings Among Scotland DVD (Megaforce)
Last year on the European leg of the For All Kings tour, Anthrax recorded a DVD in Scotland, at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom. It included them playing their classic 1987 album Among The Living in its entirety.
The first part of the set combined classic songs like “A.I.R.” and “Madhouse” with tracks from For All Kings. They then played all the songs from Among The Living, although not in the exact order as the album, before closing with “Antisocial.” The second disc has two documentaries, each in the 25 minute range. One is a behind the scenes look at the show and tour, the other features gear, with band members and their techs talking about the instruments and other gear they use on stage. The video and audio quality of the DVD is excellent, and the playing of Among The Living will make this one fans will want to add to their collection.
Archelon – Tribe of Suns (Sludgelord)
British newcomers Archelon bring a similar vibe to Neurosis on Tribe Of Suns, their first full length. They bring a noticeable amount of power and energy to the table and it shines through quite nicely. The songs reflect Neurosis like qualities throughout and have a similar tone to them. This is shown through the trance-like qualities of the tracks and reflects a nice post metal vibe. The band seems like they’ve had good practice on their EPs because the songs are nicely developed.
Though this style has been done before, Archelon bring forth their own unique viewpoint and provide an interesting slant to the proceedings. There isn’t much originality present and this is the part of the recording that brings the score down slightly. This is a vintage post metal album with a nice sound and production values that is held back a bit by a vibe that has been done many times before. Regardless, fans of post-metal will find much to like here and should definitely seek this out.
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian (Nuclear Blast)
Nearly eight years after their previous studio album, Norwegian symphonic metal pioneers Dimmu Borgir return with Eonian. For nearly a quarter century they’ve blended harsh black metal with regal, symphonic music.
They follow that template again on this album. Tracks like the opener “The Unveling” and “Aetheric” feature choirs and atmospheric arrangements along with darker and more extreme elements. Spoken word parts on “Council Of Wolves And Snakes” mix with melodic singing, choirs and harsh vocals with numerous musical ebbs and flows make for one of the record’s most varied tracks, along with the excellent “Alpha Aeon Omega.” The album ends with the cinematic instrumental “Rite Of Passage.” While the arrangements are flawless and there are many excellent songs, the black metal sections aren’t as dark, cutting and ominous as they’ve been the past, diluting the contrast between that and the choral/symphonic sections.
Lik – Carnage (Metal Blade)
The Swedish death metal band Lik have only been around for a few years, but their lineup is made up of veterans including Niklas Sandin (Katatonia) and Christofer Barkensjö (Witchery). Carnage is their second album.
They play no-frills old school death metal, mostly up-tempo tracks with catchy riffs and potent vocals from Tomas Akvik. Ripping solos on tracks like “Rid You Of Your Flesh” help them stand out from the crowd, but it’s the quality of the songs that make them more than just another OSDM band. Brutality and aggression mixed with groove and melody and a style that’s raw and loose without being sloppy makes Carnage an album fans of old school death metal will enjoy.
Manacle – No Fear to Persevere (No Remorse)
From the frozen tundra of Canada comes Manacle, a heavy metal quartet bent on keeping true metal alive and well. No Fear to Persevere is the band’s six-song debut album, and keeping it short and sweet works for these guys.
No Fear to Persevere is metal done the old and genuine way – a mix of what we fondly refer to these days as power metal, traditional metal, NWOBHM, it’s all here. You won’t find a more exuberant album anywhere this year, with music heavily influenced by Maiden and Priest and vocals from the Geoff Tate school of histrionics. Manacle have released a kick-ass debut that makes me eager to hear more.
QFT – Live In Space (Despotz)
Linnea Vikstrom has contributed vocals to Therion albums for the past several years, and has also been in bands such as The Paralydium Project. QFT is a solo project that originally was going to be an EP, but turned into a full album. QFT stands for Quantum Field Theory, with the lyrics for Live In Space inspired by her love of quantum physics.
While Therion play epic, symphonic metal, Vikstrom showcases more of a hard rock/traditional metal style on Live In Space, with soaring melodies and crunchy guitars. There’s the requite ballad “QFT” along with more upbeat tracks like the ultra-catchy “Big Bang.” Vikstrom gets the chance to display her full vocal arsenal on the album, which ranges from soft and subtle to full-out belting. She shows a lot of range and diversity, although it sometimes becomes more yelling than singing on tracks like the opener “End Of The Universe.” The album closes with a cover of Bjork’s “Joga,” with Vikstrom balancing being true to the original while putting her own spin on it. It’s an enjoyable debut that gives Vikstrom a deserved place in the spotlight.
Shinedown – Attention Attention (Atlantic)
Shinedown are one of the most commercially successful hard rock bands with a string of platinum and gold records and around a dozen number one rock radio singles. Attention Attention is their sixth studio album.
It’s jam packed with potential chart toppers. “Devil” has already reached the upper echelon of the charts with several other candidates including the ballad “Creatures,” the uplifting “Get Up” and the rousing “Pyro.” There’s minimal filler and maximum hooks, melodies and memorable riffs. Though they follow their established template, they manage to break different ground. The title track is a bit of a change of pace with spoken/rapped parts alongside driving arena rock and “The Human Radio” injects some funky electronic elements. When it comes to writing catchy, arena-ready hard rock, few do it better than Shinedown.
Stone Deaf – Royal Burnout (Black Bow)
Royal Burnout is Stone Deaf’s second album, and a hard one to fit into a single category. While this Colorado group’s release is loosely called doom/rock, it’s much more than that. The eight short songs here mix in some sludge, some psychedelia, and even a bit of a punk rock vibe, all to compelling effect.
Some of the riffs present hint of Kyuss, while vocals have more than a little Jello Biafra in them. Throw in some shuffle beats, some handclaps, and more, and you’ve got something that shouldn’t work but nevertheless draws you in for repeated listens. Royal Burnout is simply a catchy heavy rock album full of earworms. I haven’t been able to get “Room #240” out of my head for weeks now.
Thrashist Regime – Carnival of Monsters (Fat Hippy)
Aberdeen’s Thrashist Regime have been around for over a decade, but don’t really have the output to match. Carnival of Monsters is the follow-up to their 2012 debut, Fearful Symmetry. The band adheres to old-time thrash, and sings about goofy stuff like ants invading the Antarctic and Dolph Lundgren taking over the world. In other words, pure entertainment.
For lovers of ’80s thrash, Carnival of Monsters presses all the right buttons. Think Testament with a sense of humor. Every song is full of killer riffs, amazingly taut rhythms, and growling, slightly over the top vocals. While the album may overstay its welcome by a song or two, Thrashist Regime have released something that’s going to stay in my playlist for a while.
Various Artists – We All Want Our Time In Hell (Corpse Flower)
Samhain was formed by Glenn Danzig after he left Misfits and issued a few studio albums between 1984 and 1990. They’ve also reunited for live shows and tours a few times over the years. We All Want Our Time In Hell is a tribute album with 13 Samhain songs.
The collection was curated by Child Bite frontman Shawn Knight, and they also contribute their rendition of “Unbridled.” The album title is taken from a “Mother Of Mercy” lyric, with Midnight supplying a raw version of that track. Others participating include Ghoul, Acid Witch, Joel Grind, Ringworm and Brain Tentacles. They bring a variety of styles and approaches to the Samhain material, making for a diverse tribute to a band that still has a strong fan base.
Wolvhammer – The Monuments of Ash & Bone (Blood)
Wolvhammer return after four years and it feels nice to see the collective together again seeing as each member seems to be busy with other bands. Most recently frontman Adam Clemans took the helm for Skeletonwitch, who also have a new album coming out this year.
But that is about the nicest thing about the band, whose song titles are less than savory and whose music compares favorably to Black Anvil. “Call Me Death” opens with the “Inquisition riff” and helps the song to plod along and create an oppressive otherworldly atmosphere. This is definitely a black metal band first with a modern no frills approach and solid effort overall.
The Word Alive – Violent Noise (Fearless)
The veteran Arizona metalcore band The Word Alive have had some turnover since their last album, with the departure of their drummer and bassist. Even with the upheaval, they don’t miss a beat on their fifth studio album Violent Noise.
They play a varied style of metalcore. A few tracks, such as the opener “Red Clouds” and “My Enemy” incorporate aggressive sections with harsh vocals alongside silky smooth melodies. Most of the songs like “Why Am I Like This?” and “War Evermore” push the extremity to the background and feature all melodic singing. The album has a couple of guest appearances, most notably Asking Alexandria’s Danny Worsnop on “Stare At The Sun.” The album’s biggest change of pace is “Human,” featuring rapper Sincerely Collins. From anthemic rock to potent metal, The Word Alive show many different sides on a diverse and dynamic album.
Zero Theorem – Ataraxis (ShimSham)
Ataraxis is the debut EP from the L.A. band Zero Theorem. The band worked with producer Kane Churko (In This Moment, Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch) on the record.
The band’s style is polished modern metal/hard rock. The six tracks on the EP are aggressive yet melodic with radio potential. “Area” has already hit the Active Rock chart. Vocalist Caesar sounds like a combination of Disturbed’s David Draiman and Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody, and the band has similarities to those groups as well. The band is off to a good start, and they should draw plenty of label attention for a full-length release.