This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Abhorrent Deformity, Blight House, Cancer, Earth Groans, Integrity, Into Eternity, Krieg, Manticora, Stormland, The Temperance Movement and Void Ritual.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Abhorrent Deformity – Slaughter Monolith (Comatose)
On their debut album Entity of Malevolence, which was released in 2015, Abhorrent Deformity’s music was basically built on brutal death metal, with an emphasis on brutality and a strong focus on using slamming death elements. But now on their latest record, Slaughter Monolith, the band have changed their musical approach a bit.
With impressive improvements on songwriting, Slaughter Monolith is more about blending brutality with groovy, technical driven songs, which has basically given a new perspective. Also, by composing hyper dynamic songs orchestrated by lesser deep guttural vocals and shifting it to more shouting type, thick guitar riffs, chunky bass lines and frenetic drumming, Abhorrent Deformity have revised their music on Slaughter Monolith.They have succeeded in putting their career on the right path with splendid performances.
Blight House – Summer Camp Sex Party Massacre (Nefarious)
Summer Camp Sex Party Massacre is the sophomore album from the Rhode Island gore/death duo Blight House. The title is reminiscent of a low-budget, cheesy horror movie, and the numerous samples they include throughout the album reinforce the vibe.
The music is crushing, oppressive death metal with dense riffs and guttural vocals. The songs are brief, most in the two to three minute range, doing maximum damage in a short amount of time. The tempos are generally fast and flailing, although they slow down from time to time, such as the beginning of “You Deserve This.” The ten tracks fly by in just over 20 minutes, leaving an auditory massacre in its wake, living up to the album title.
Cancer – Into The Heartless Silence (Throats)
When a band picks a name like Cancer, you know their music is not going to be uplifting. After releasing an EP a couple of years ago, the Australian band’s debut full-length is Into The Heartless Silence. Cancer are no newcomers to depressive black metal, with all five members either current or former members of the depressive/gothic group Deadspace.
They blend aggression and intensity with mellower, melancholy, introspective moments. Ugliness and beauty peacefully co-exist. There are a variety of emotions on display as well. Along with the sadness you’d expect, there’s also fear, uncertainty and pain. As the album progresses, the songs get longer. No matter the length, Cancer explore a variety of tempos, textures and intensities. Depressive black metal isn’t everyone’s genre of choice, but those who appreciate the style will find this an engaging and cathartic album.
Earth Groans – Rahab (Solid State)
After releasing their debut EP Renovate last year, the South Dakota Christian metalcore/hardcore band Earth Groans return with another EP, Rahab.
The five tracks are passionate and aggressive. Opener “Reign” bounces along with a strong groove before slowing down into sludgy heaviness and then taking off again. They transition seamlessly between chaotic, frantic sections and head-bobbing grooves. Punishing drums, ominous guitar and throat shredding vocals are a common thread throughout. There’s no melodic singing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t catchy parts, especially on “Allure.” With two quality EPs under their belt, they should be able to translate that success to a full-length.
Integrity/Krieg – Split (Relapse)
Metallic hardcore veterans Integrity like split releases. They have nearly 20 of them dating back to the early ’90s. The same goes for the black metal band Krieg, who have approximately the same number of splits under their belt. The two combine for a seven song split EP.
Integrity’s four songs are memorable metallic hardcore that’s aggressive and catchy with some excellent guitar work. Most of their songs blaze by at maximum velocity, save for a moderately paced intro to “Document One.” Krieg take a more deliberate approach on “Circle Of Guilt,” but speed up the tempo a bit on “This Time I’ll Leave You To Drown.” Closer “The Sick Winds Stir The Cold Dawn” is raw and feral, bolstered by a regal groove. The two bands are far apart genrewise, but putting them together actually works pretty well.
Canada’s Into Eternity released a few solid albums in the 2000s, but are probably most famous for having their singer leave them to front Iced Earth. These prog/tech/death mavens have been silent since 2008, and since eclipsed by other bands like Unleash the Archers. The Sirens is a comeback album of sorts, featuring new singer (as of 2013) Amanda Kiernan.
Kiernan possesses a strong voice, and is more than capable in both the harsh and clean realms. Unfortunately, that’s the only shining light on The Sirens. The most glaring issue is production: this is the worst-sounding record of the year, with horrible drums, vocals that are often buried, and a mix that in general doesn’t make much sense. Add to that the generic, uninspiring songwriting, and this latest effort from Into Eternity can’t be viewed as anything but a disappointment.
Manticora – To Kill to Live to Kill (ViciSolum)
Similar to Into Eternity, Manticora have been silent for quite some time. Unlike Into Eternity, however, To Kill to Live to Kill is a killer album. Hailing from Denmark, Manticora play a thrashy version of power metal and are known for their multi-album concepts. This one is no exception: To Kill to Live to Kill is part one of a two-part concept based on a horror novel written by singer Lars Larsen.
Odd intro aside, this album is chock full of fast, energetic power metal. In fact, we will be hard-pressed to find a more aggressive album in the genre this year. With blazing guitar work and excellent drumming, the only aspect of Manticora’s album that’s sometimes lacking is the singing of Larsen, who at times gets too enthusiastic at the expense of quality. Hit or miss vocals aside, Manticora have delivered a helluva record.
The Canadian one-man death metal project Stormland (Justin Pierrot) has been toiling since 2003, and after a demo and EP, Songs Of Future Wars is his debut full-length.
The music on the album is standard death metal with thick grooves and harsh vocals. The thing that differentiates this from the typical death metal album is the subject matter. Pierrot is an anime fan, and the lyrics are based on the Mobile Suit Gundam metaseries. Tracks like “Unclaimed Human Debris” are aggressive, but also catchy. The tempos are varied enough to avoid monotony, and the production quality is solid.
The Temperance Movement – A Deeper Cut (Spinefarm)
The Temperance Movement perform music that is similar to The Black Crowes and has a very strong rock vibe on this their third full length release. The music here is rollicking and features a good amount of groove. It has the guitar riffs that make it belong on a metal site even though it is more hard rock in nature. Right from the opener “Caught in the Middle” the listener is enraptured with rock beats that are very strong overall. The music is memorable, but it is also a little too simplistic.
The album comes up a bit short of some releases from the genre because it loses complexity in favor of guitar harmonies. This is still a solid album of rock music and this is seen from songs like the title track, which is a more subtle and altogether successful experiment. This is the album’s centerpiece and it has the ability to liven up the entire score. It shows the passion of the band that is maintained relatively nicely over the course of the whole effort, which does contain a number of other softer number as well. A Deeper Cut gets a good recommendation to hard rock fans.
Void Ritual – Death Is Peace (Ipos)
These past few years have been very prolific for Void Ritual’s Daniel Jackson, where he has finished writing and releasing plenty of musical stuff beside Void Ritual (Dead Wretch, Mendacium, Somnus Aeterna). Working on numerous musical projects didn’t make him to stop working on Void Ritual, which is known as his main one man musical project. Just under a year after their debut album Heretical Wisdom, Void Ritual have offered the terrific Death Is Peace.
Death Is Peace is from the scene known as USBM but everything you hear is all about an outstanding homage to Scandinavian black metal. Most of the time the album is reprising its dark and gloomy, punishing and cold imagery. Death Is Peace is definitely Void Ritual’s most melodic and perfectly written studio album to date. Jackson’s well produced drum programming and stellar musicianship on other instruments have transcended this album to higher levels of current era’s black metal scene.