Revolting, The Shadow At The World’s End review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

The next episode in the Revolting saga is another Old School Death Metal juggernaut.

Rogga Johansson is the driving force in Revolting. Joined by Tobias and Martin on the new album, they play in the Swedish Death Metal vein, old school style. That means a fast tempo, razor sharp, tight lead shreds, and the classic invader/dominator commanding coarse vocals. The band released a demo in 2008, and since then has issued an EP, a split with Morbid Ossuary, and six full length albums, the most recent being Monolith Of Madness in 2018. The Shadow At The World’s End, then, is their seventh LP, and if anything it is more creative and energetic than the ones that have come before.

There are nine songs on the new album, all at radio length and every one a ripping sonic roar. “Defleshed” is the opener, and from the first note it is like coming in on the middle of a high speed car chase. The vocals are gruff yet decipherable, and the riffs are layered. “1888” is next with a clompy rhythm up front for a short breather before the title track throws sparks and kicks it up a notch. There are a few somewhat down-tempo paced tracks, like “Daggers That Mimic Life’s Pain,” and there the power goes into the heavy so “slow” is not really a good way to describe the music. The whirring pace of songs like “To The Bitter Bleeding End” keep you on your feet all the way through, and the relative brevity of the compositions allows no attention drift. This is another excellent set from Revolting. Recommended.

The Shadow At The World’s End is available now. You can get the digital at Bandcamp. You can also order any of the amazing bundles offered by Transcending Obscurity through Bandcamp or through the labels’ US store.

Links.

Revolting Bandcamp, https://revoltingdeath.bandcamp.com/album/the-shadow-at-the-worlds-end-death-metal

Revolting Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/revoltingdeathmetal

Label website, https://tometal.com/

Label Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

Label US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/search/?q=revolting

Revolting, The Shadow At The World’s End review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

Obscurae returns with a heavy blanket of atmospheric Black Metal: To Walk The Path Of Sorrows.

Chad Davis is the mastermind behind Obscurae. He is the composer, singer, and he plays all of the musical instruments in the production (Matt Davis plays bass on some tracks). The music is a saturating assault that aims to find a way to stay with you, haunting you long after the external sound has subsided. It is Black Metal that incorporates symphonic and hyper-ambient synergies to inculcate a destabilizing paradigm of tenebrosity in the psyche of the listener.

“Upon The Shadowthrone Of Night” separates you from the silence with a gentle urging invocation for the first two minutes as it opens the album. Then the onslaught begins. A barrage of sound bowls you over, pinning you down while the ghostly shrieking vocals penetrate you with their dark spell. Discerning the individual elements of the music takes concentration as it rushes together in an aural tsunami.

Each subsequent piece is an alternate take on gloom and sorrow, another story on the path to sinister ends. The choral sections are most noticeable to me in “Into Fullmoon Descent” and “Eerie Freezing Winds,” but they are with you much of the time. The cumulative effect of the oppressive sound is overwhelming. The curtain closes with “Stillheten,” four minutes of funereal keys that match the opening of the set. Hearing it at the end feels like a coffin being lowered into the ground.

Available on November 27th at the American Dreams shop link below and on Bandcamp (where two bonus tracks are included), To Walk The Path Of Sorrows is a long stare into darkness.

Photo from the Metal Archives website.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://obscuraebm.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/obscuraeband/

Shop, https://american-dreams.zone/product-category/american-decline-release/

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Hot on the heels of The Ghost Of Orion released earlier this year, My Dying Bride issues even more new music with Macabre Cabaret.

My Dying Bride is a storied band. A pioneer of Doom Metal and atmospheric Death Metal, not to mention Gothic Metal, they have been a mainstay in heavy music for thirty years. The band is Andrew Craighan (guitars, keyboards, and bass), Aaron Stainthorpe (vocals), Lena Abé (bass), Shaun Macgowan (keyboards and violin), Jeff Singer (drums), and Neil Blanchett (guitars). Macabre Cabaret includes three songs.

The title track is a ten minute long expression of dark beauty. It is solemn and ethereal, with movements of quiet reflection seamlessly transforming into forceful, surrounding dread. “A Secret Kiss” echoes like a seafaring nightmare told on a dark rocking ocean after the sun goes down. It is the essence of sinister. “A Purse Of Gold And Stars” is a plea to unseen universal forces. A quiet piano and softly spoken lyrics glide atop a churning malevolence of sound and, as the song progresses, a ghostly accompaniment of violin and disembodied choir. The final simple singular notes are piercingly haunting.

Macabre Cabaret is out now and available at the links below. The CD reportedly has an additional track, “Orchestral Shores (Buiksloterkerk Cathedral Mix).” Fans of the band will immediately embrace this album, and it is an excellent introduction for newcomers as well. Recommended.

Photo by John Steel.

Links.

Website, http://www.mydyingbride.net/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MyDyingBrideOfficial/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/mini-cd/my-dying-bride-macabre-cabaret.html

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Fuming Mouth, Beyond The Tomb notice (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Following up on their impressive debut full-length from last year, Fuming Mouth has released a new EP.

Since 2013, Fuming Mouth has been releasing demos, splits, and EPs, leading up to The Grand Descent (2019). That was a big album with twelve crushing tracks. The new one is three songs, and they are just as ferocious.

“Beyond The Tomb” is a dark curse thrown at your spirit that cannot be escaped. “Master Of Extremity” is a steam roller headed straight for you. “Road To Odessa” is a heavy hammer of doom. Three things stand out to me about this release: the attack vector of the music which I hear as multidirectional, the massive bass lines, and the originality of the clever elements that are integral to the music, not merely ancillary. It is not easy to make a place for yourself in the heavy music scene, but Fuming Mouth is doing just that. This is a band to watch.

The new EP is out now from Nuclear Blast Records. Gather it unto you, in digital or physical incarnations. Either way, consider it highly recommended.

Photo by Gabe Becerra.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fumingmouth.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.fumingmouth.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/fumingmouth/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/fuming-mouth-beyond-the-tomb.html

Fuming Mouth, Beyond The Tomb notice (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)

The sophomore album from Balothizer is a heavy fusion of folk music from Crete and sturdy metal influences making the title of the set spot on.

The band is Pav Mav (bass and vocals), Nikos Ziarkas (electric lute), and Steve J. Payne (drums). The band explains that their music for the new album starts with “Cretan folk songs, either for their melodies, historic and regional idioms, potent lyrics, rhythms, patterns or dances” and combines or transforms them into modern metal fusion pieces. This is somewhat different from the approach of their first album in that the new one is heavier, utilizing an electric lute (that’s right) rather than acoustic executions. The result is astonishing.

This music is not like Folk Metal you hear from Scandinavia. It is more in the lane of System of a Down, but Balothizer’s approach is more deeply rooted in the tunes and rhythms of the traditional music they are celebrating. The application of modern instruments and sound does not separate from the roots but it does grow a different branch. The attitude and posture is punk while the reverence for the underlying traditional music is never trampled.

“Jegaman” leaps at you with a fierce speed and relentlessness that grabs your attention immediately. “Peace” emerges slowly with percussion and an echoed voice, then the electric lute kicks in and we are off to a different place. “Aleppo” is the noisiest track, brimming with angular musical leverage and clanking assertions. And then a song like “Anathema” has a quiet beginning, a melancholy feel that evolves over its ten minute path into a bigger, louder call. All of these separate approaches are necessary to complete the full message of the album. The music is very different compared to most other heavy acts – it is a refreshing and welcome listen. Recommended.

Cretan Smash is out now. Check out the available versions at the label link below. Also Bandcamp.

Band photo by Andreas Christophides.

Links.

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Balothizer

Bandcamp, https://balothizer.bandcamp.com/album/cretan-smash

Label, https://www.louvanarecords.com/store#!/Balothizer/

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, We’re The Bastards review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

The Bastard Sons are back with another great album, We’re The Bastards.

Phil Campbell is a veteran metal guitarist I have always admired. I can think back to seeing him so many times with Motörhead and every performance had a singular brilliance. After Lemmy died and that iconic band was no more, Campbell formed The Bastard Sons. Their first release was an EP in 2016, followed by the full-length The Age of Absurdity two years later.The music is solid hard rock and heavy metal – guitar-driven goodness that salves the wounds of the modern world. I have been counting down the days to the new album because the ones that came before were so excellent.

“We’re The Bastards” is the opener and it is the right foot forward – it is an anthem about heavy music and the intentions of the band, which are uncomplicated: playing heavy music. “Son Of A Gun” follows and it is a high speed banger. The story rolls on in “Promises Are Poison,” where a more serious tone is established. What is constant throughout are the harrowing riffs, the commanding percussion, and Phil Campbell’s impeccable guitar work. Neil Starr has the perfect voice for this music, tying it all together.

There are so many great songs on this album it hardly makes any sense to separate them out. The guitar in “Animals” is monstrous, but it is on “Keep Your Jacket On” too. The singles are all cracking, and the longer pieces like “Desert Song” and “Waves” are composed in uncompromising balance. This music sounds like it was designed to be performed live – when you listen to the songs you can’t help but visualize the band on stage belting them out. This one is a keeper.

Nuclear Blast has many versions and bundles for you buying enticement. The limited digipack has four live tracks not on the regular CD, so that is something to consider if you are into the physicals. Whichever way you go, you get to hear the music and that’s the winner. Recommended.

Link.

Band website, http://www.philcampbell.net/

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, We’re The Bastards review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

AC/DC, Power Up review (Columbia Records 2020)

Here they come again – the first new music from AC/DC in six years is good metal for 2020.

Rock Or Bust  came out in 2014, and we’ve been waiting since then to see whether there would be new music from the iconic Australian Hard Rock band. Question answered. Power Up is true to form heavy hitting riff medicine.

Every fan of the band has a favorite or two. My short list is creeping up to ten. I saw AC/DC one summer in Indianapolis at an outdoor venue during the For Those About To Rock We Salute You tour. The highlight for me that night was “Whole Lotta Rosie,” one of my favorites anyway but I never thought they’d play it. The performance was astonishing, visually completed by a large blow-up Rosie behind the band. I have seen them other times but that one summer night sticks in my mind. There are so many killer songs … “Kicked In The Teeth,” “Gimme A Bullet,” “Problem Child,” … it is a long list. And then there are all the radio tunes that were smash hits. The impact AC/DC has had on heavy music, and popular music, cannot be denied.

The singles from the new one are “Shot In The Dark” and “Realize,” and they punch just like AC/DC radio songs always do. Great hooks and heavy riffs, catchy choruses. Check, check, check. It’s a formula you hear on many of the other songs, too, naturally, like “Why Do They Kick You When You’re Down,” “Wild Reputation,” and so on. But that is not all that is here. “Through The Mists Of Time” is almost sentimental in its tone, “Witch’s Spell” has a wicked, cracking little lead break, and “Code Red” combines a nostalgic throwback riff with a new roller that celebrates the confluence of history with modernity. The songs are short with only one reaching to the four minute mark and they are all designed to grab you attention. They always do, from the first to the last.

The album is out now and available everywhere. The story has been told in interviews and articles that AC/DC has tons of music sitting around unreleased. Maybe we’ll get more soon. If it is as good as Power Up, I can’t wait to hear it. Recommended.

Band photo by Josh Cheuse.

Link.

website, https://pwrup.acdc.com/

AC/DC, Power Up review (Columbia Records 2020)

In Malice’s Wake, The Blindness Of Faith review (2020)

The fourth album from Australia’s In Malice’s Wake is another crushing example of their Thrash acumen.

For almost twenty years, In Malice’s Wake has been drilling down on classic Thrash Metal. Centered in Melbourne, Australia, the band is founders Shaun Farrugia (vocals and guitar) and Mark Farrugia (drums) joined by longtime members Leigh Bartley (guitar) and Karl Watterson (bass). The Blindness Of Faith is their fourth album, and it is as filled to the brim with new ideas as it is grounded in the principles of Heavy Metal and Thrash. You can hear a little bit of Goatwhore in there, a touch of Destruction, too, I’d say, but that is just for orienting purposes. Once you hear In Malice’s Wake’s music, you’ll recognize it instantly from then on.

The Blindness Of Faith jumps right on your head out of the gate with the title track, a savage pummeling introduction to both the musical perspective and the lyrical content of the album. Straight ahead rapid riffs and steady rhythms are challenged by radical eruptions and scathing shreds. Shaun Farrugia’s vocals are just the right amount of rough to direct the charge of the guitars on the rails of percussion and bass.

Once I put this album on I had no urge to skip around – front to back is the way to go, and no detours. There are a couple of tracks even so that stood out for me, the first being “Unbound Sinful Light,” which absolutely murders, and “Into the Outer Darkness,” which displays a culminating brilliance that strains your veins. I am a big Thrash fan going back to the beginning so I am predisposed to this sort of music. Even with my biases, I contend there is an objective reality to the quality of The Blindness Of Faith. Highly recommended.

You can buy CDs and merch bundles directly on the band’s site or through Bandcamp. Preorders are available now, and the album drops officially this Friday the 13th.

Links.

Website, http://www.inmaliceswake.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/inmaliceswake/

Bandcamp, https://inmaliceswake.bandcamp.com/releases

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0h-8r5roSoHCal8QAmixkg

In Malice’s Wake, The Blindness Of Faith review (2020)

Okrütnik, Legion Antychrysta review (Ossuary Records 2020)

The debut album from Okrütnik resonates with equilibrium-tipping surety and sets an incredibly high standard for other bands to match.

Michał Dryjański (vocal), Eryk Kula (guitars), Szymon Garbarczyk (bass), and Grzegorz Drygas (drums) are Okrütnik, a Heavy Metal band making waves since its 2018 inception in Kotlin, Poland. Legion Antychrysta is a statement of their abilities, and it is a loud one.

“Sabat” sounds like it is happening in space with the tortured moaning of a giant creature emanating across the unimaginable distances. And then the music kicks in hard with a raging bass line and a medium tempo rhythm showing razor sharp thrash edges chipping in every few bars. The main lead break has a deep echo and a ripping intensity. The vocals sound very Black Metal to me, and it all pulls together into an integrated being. The title track is next, opening with a traditional heavy metal front and a 1980s homage in the guitar squeal. The vocals go breathless halfway through and by now we notice how unusual this music is, how different. It fosters the elements we seek in heavy music and Black Metal, and it pays tribute to the foundation of the form, but the combinations and permutations have not been heard before.

Every song is a new door and another surprise. The energy is indefatigable, and so is the creativity. The music is sometimes very controlled, as in “Portret Trumienny, a Na Grobach Kwiaty,” and other times it is bewildering – for example, “Noc Galicyjska.” I have laid some labels on the songs, but this band is not confined to a specific subgenre. The creativity of the compositions and the execution of the performances exist at a level not often seen. Recommended.

CDs, cassettes, and downloads can be picked up at the band’s Bandcamp page (link below).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://okrutnik.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/okrutnikofficial

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3cAvYyvadWtsXZsqVuH4iQ

Band website, https://okrutnikkontakt.wixsite.com/okrutnik

Ossuary Records, http://ossuaryrecords.com/en/

Okrütnik, Legion Antychrysta review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Fates Warning, Long Day Good Night review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Fates Warning has released their biggest album yet and it has all the trappings of a milestone.

Back at the beginning, Night on the Bröcken (1984) was something very different for the times – we were in the midst of the NWOBHM. That first album had a an occult theme (which I really appreciated) but it was the Progressive Metal elements that were the most important sign of something completely different, and you can hear them in there if you listen. Queensrÿche is another example – their first album (the self-titled EP) was also Power Rock with occult elements and they, too, emerged on the forefront of Prog, along with Dream Theater and … Fates Warning. I knew about Queensrÿche first because I was so taken with their song “The Lady Wore Black,” but it was Fates Warning that really stuck with me through the decades because of their compositional ingenuity. Look back and listen through the long catalogue of this band (on Spotify, say) and I think you will be amazed.

The new album finds Ray Alder and Jim Matheos working together writing the music. There are thirteen songs on Long Day Good Night, which is the band’s 13th album. It listens like a tour through the world Fates Warning has created over the years and a few special glimpses of things we have never seen before. It is Progressive Metal of course, and complex, but it also has many heavy linear passages that forge a straight-forward groove.

After a three minute soft, eerie, and somehow reassuring intro, “The Destination Onward” lands the first hard punch. It is eight minutes of structure you could build the rest of the album on, from the stabbing guitar assertions surrounded by heavy riffs to the fibrillating percussion to lithe lead break. And of course the soaring vocals. “Shuttered World” is next and it is a little more abrupt, while “Alone We Walk” is pensive and also curiously frenetic. Songs like “Under The Sun” are quiet and lyrical in their fullness and objective beauty. Others are aggressive and challenging, like “Scars.” The long-form is here, too, the strongest example of which is “The Longest Shadow of the Day” with its amazing bass lines and unforgettable guitar work. Nothing is left out here and there is no filler, either – it is simply excellent.

Long Day Good Night is available right now in many different forms and functions. I am convinced this is going to turn out to be one of my favorite Fates Warning albums. Highly recommended.

Links.

Website, http://www.fateswarning.com

Bandcamp, https://fateswarning.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/FatesWarning

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/fateswarningvideos

Fates Warning, Long Day Good Night review (Metal Blade Records 2020)