This week’s reviews include releases from 12 Stones, Dayseeker, Destroyer Of Light, Enfold Darkness, Explusion, Ewigkeit, Integrity, Livid, One Master, Owl Company and Vesicant.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
12 Stones – Picture Perfect (Cleopatra)
12 Stones have been around since the early 2000s. Frontman Paul McCoy appeared on Evanescence’s huge hit “Bring Me To Life” back in 2003. It has been five years since their latest album. Picture Perfect is their sixth studio effort, with McCoy and guitarist Eric Weaver the lone remaining original members.
Their style is hard rock/post grunge, combining driving guitars with big hooks and radio-friendly melodies. There’s a good mix of uptempo rockers, heavier tracks and soaring ballads. There’s minimal filler, and a plethora of possible singles. 12 Stones have had success over the years, but they are one of those bands I thought should have been even bigger. This album is a welcome return for an underrated group.
Dayseeker – Dreaming is Sinking, Waking is Rising (Spinefarm)
Dayseeker have the adventurous hardcore vibe down pat. There is a very hardcore element to these songs with shouted vocals and abrasive riffing. The clean vocals ring of that somewhat cheesy type that plagues the genre often. They are emotional, but their quality is below the standard of bands that incorporate these more seamlessly.
Musically, the band also varies between harsh and quieter segments in fine fashion. The harsh portions have energy and the quiet portions have atmosphere. This album does not have the same potency as something like Eidola’s latest release, which is far more interesting in its approach. There are some moments that stand out, but not as much as the ones on that disc. This is good, but I expected greater things.
Destroyer Of Light – Chamber Of Horrors (Heavy Friends)
Austin, Texas doomsters Destroyer Of Light have issued a split and EP over the past few years, with Chamber Of Horrors being their second full-length, coming five years after their debut.
The riffs are thick and the atmosphere hazy as they deliver dark slabs of doom. Their tempos are generally glacial, but periodically they speed things up, like on the groovy “Prisoner Of Eternity” with Ozzy-esque vocals and memorable guitar work. Heavy psychedelia yields to mellower moments such as the instrumental “Twilight Procession,” giving this trip a variety of moods and vibes.
Enfold Darkness – Adversary Omnipotent (The Artisan Era)
Our Cursed Rapture, Enfold Darkness’ debut album, was a very impressive effort from the band, which was more of a blackened death metal than what the band have offered in their newest record. Surprisingly, it took nearly eight years for the renewed Enfold Darkness come up with a new album.
Adversary Omnipotent is an hour long record, which is brilliantly improved upon in both songwriting and production. The band has blended the elements of blackened death with technical death metal plus massive tone of melodic guitar works and a strong but controlled use of orchestral sampling to enrich its hyper dynamic atmosphere. Just like the debut, Adversary Omnipotent sounds like the brainchild of Cradle of Filth and The Black Dahlia Murder, but Enfold Darkness now masterfully own the result of this fusion.
Ewigkeit – Cosmic Man (Svart)
British musician James Fogarty is in numerous bands ranging from In The Woods to Jaldaboath to Old Forest to Sollertia. Ewigkeit is his solo project, with Cosmic Man his seventh full-length under that moniker.
It’s an eclectic album that explores everything from ’70s prog to melodic NWOBHM to psychedelic rock to doom. While there are extreme moments, the vast majority of the album has groove and melody with some experimental sections. The album closes with a cover of the Iron Maiden classic “Two Minutes To Midnight,” and while Fogarty doesn’t have Dickinson’s pipes, he puts his own spin on it, and the arrangement is proggier than the original.
Expulsion – Nightmare Future (Relapse)
With members from Repulsion, Exhumed, and Intronaut involved, Expulsion have enough prestige in its ranks to give their Nightmare Future EP instant credibility. It’s a good thing then that this is no half-baked effort, but a true grinding death trip led by musicians with a combined decades’ worth of experience in a sort of vile headspace.
This EP is a no-frills ordeal; seven one-to-two minute tracks that’s only modern touch is in the clear production values. It’s here and gone in record fashion, yet a listener will want to replay it without delay to remain caught in the ruinous sonic cyclone Expulsion have created.
Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume (Relapse)
For nearly 30 years the influential hardcore/metal band Integrity have been plying their trade. Their intensity has not ebbed and they show no signs of slowing down on their latest album Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume. It’s their second release of 2017, after issuing a limited edition vinyl live album.
Their chops are razor sharp, with songs that range from moderate crushers to chaotic rippers. The groovy riffs and memorable melodies are contrasted by the raw, feral vocals of Dwid Hellion. Lyrically they explore the effects of the ’80s “Satanic Panic” on the culture. They integrate searing metal guitars with hardcore barks and a punk attitude. It’s a combination that will appeal to fans of numerous genres.
Livid – Beneath This Shroud, The Earth Erodes (Prosthetic)
Livid’s debut album Beneath This Shroud, The Earth Erodes begins with the instrumental “Descend,” a title that isn’t just an eye-wink to the listener that this is indeed the start of the album, but the musical equivalent of being lowered into a foreboding sinkhole of unknown creation. There’s real fear lying underneath the calm and collected performances.
That calmness dissipates once “Descend” ends, with an unsteady lurch replacing it. The tempos stay consistent almost the entire way through, maintaining the sense of dread while also pushing the boundaries of one’s attention span. The band needs at least eight to 10 minutes on average to get their message across, though it’s usually delivered far sooner.
One Master – Lycanthropic Burrowing (Eternal Death)
Fifteen years as a group has done little to soften the spiteful spirit of One Master on their fourth full-length, Lycanthropic Burrowing. The vocalist/guitarist known as Valder, who started this project back in the early 00s, has maintained the strength of his cantankerous howls, supported by equally powerful music.
Building off the high mark achieved with 2015’s Reclusive Blasphemy, Lycanthropic Burrowing is an appropriate extension of that excellent record. An enraged barrage on “Will of the Shadow” is as compelling as the tense atmosphere on the title track.
Owl Company – Horizon (Onerpm)
Brazil has been a hotbed for extreme metal for decades, but there are plenty of bands hailing from there with a more melodic bent. That’s the case with hard rockers Owl Company, with the Sao Paulo band unleashing their debut album Horizon.
The songs are fairly straightforward radio-friendly hard rock with some bluesy influences. What makes Owl Company stand out is vocalist Enrico Minelli. He has a powerful set of pipes that run the gamut from ’90s grunge to southern rock to modern metal. Even when the songs aren’t that compelling, his performance is.
Vesicant – Shadows of Cleansing Iron (Iron Bonehead)
New Zealand’s Vesicant play that barbaric brand of utterly savage raw metal. This is music that dwells in the depths of the kvlt underground longing to burst forth with the same venom as the bomb-blasting cacophony of black metal the band play so vehemently.
Released on Iron Bonehead Productions, their debut album Shadows of Cleansing Iron is a true to form statement of destruction. Each song evokes the harrowing ordeal of those in battle under the dark cloak of death and despair by unleashing swarming buzzsaw guitars that pave way to nightmare and incessant blast beats, which drop like a torrent of grenades. This album is pure devastation, from the doom-laden crawl of “Shadow of Death” to the audial hellfire of “Dismal Oubilette.”