Floating, The Waves Have Teeth (Spirit Coffin 2022)

Sweden’s Floating debuts with a remarkably layered progressive death metal album, The Waves Have Teeth.

Floating is the duo Arvid Sjödin and Andreas Hörmark, both known for their work in the band Morbid Illusion. They decided to branch off with this new project after the former band split in order to “explore the possibilities of merging deformed and dissonant death metal the old-school way with their newly bolstered post-punk sensibilities.” The result is impressive and innovative.

There are six collateral songs on the new album. “The Seep” begins as a doom metal rumination then transforms smoothly into death metal that courses back and forth between melodic, traditional, somber, and groove. It is an intriguing combination in all of the instruments. You notice the shifts in the percussion, sure, but also in the guitars, rhythm, and vocals. It is captivating and entangling. “Gag” is a bit more linear, straight-forward horror metal song with a nice, twisted riff and periodic screeching and blast beats. “Pile of Birds” is practically a rambler, generating a great rolling guitar alongside sensational growling vocals. Feisty.

“No Eyes” lays down a prominent bass line and follows it through. The movement toward the middle is quiet almost to silence, and its reflective depth is the strength of the song. The gentle ending leads directly into “The Hill Will Know Him” where the music turns toward the esoteric and peculiarly frightening. There is no mistaking the unease that is introduced in advance of the harsher passages. It is a diabolical precursor for the final nine-minute movement, “The Floating Horror.” One song bleeds into the next throughout the album, and that transitional technique is most effective here. There are short and extended builds, as well as vast plateaus. The final flourish is muted and eccentric, delivering a final touch of uncertainty and one last shiver. Recommended.

The Waves Have Teeth is out now through Spirit Coffin Publishing on CD and digital. A tape version will follow in December.

Links.

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

Spirit Coffin Publishing, https://spiritcoffinpublishing.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Floating, The Waves Have Teeth (Spirit Coffin 2022)

Defleshed, Grind Over Matter (Metal Blade 2022)

Defleshed have reformed and have created a new full-length album of blistering metal, Grind Over Matter.

Back when I first listened to Defleshed, I thought of them as a thrash band. Listening back on those albums from the 1990s, I can hear grindcore and death metal prominently as well. Whatever labels we might hang on them, the metal band from Sweden that is Defleshed was a major presence on the international scene in those days, but then in what seemed like the blink of an eye, they disappeared in 2005. Last year, the original core lineup got back together to record a couple of new tracks with the idea of including them on a vinyl boxset of their old material. The sessions went so well that what resulted was eleven new killer tracks that are collectively now known as Grind Over Matter. The band is Gustaf Jorde (vocals, bass), Lars Löfven (guitar), and Matte Modin (drums).

The album starts on “Bent Out Of Shape,” and with the opening notes we are immediately reacquainted with Defleshed. The heavy chop and pounding percussion is a feast for your ears and a strain on your throbbing jugular. Jorde’s vocals are as powerful as ever and the pace continues to be bewildering. The title track cranks next, and it feels like a sort of call to arms. It is “One Grave to Fit Them All” that seals the deal for me – I love this song with its hook and de-balancing act. The title of the album really sinks in by the third song, too, and I start to wonder how much longer can they keep this up. The answer is eight more songs.

The tracks are hard and fast, and on the brief side, running two or three minutes each, which is more than enough to get the job done. Every song has the ability to flatten you. I really like “Dear Devil” for its absolute ferocity and “Blastbeast” – I bet you can figure out why from the title. The closer, “Last Nail in the Coffin,” is a hard and sustained crack to the neck, a flurry of furious metal. If you are a fan of Defleshed then you are going really like the new album. This record is also the ideal gateway drug for new fans. Recommended.

Grind Over Matter hits the streets on Friday, October 28th through Metal Blade Records in a variety of formats. Choose your poison at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/news/defleshed-announces-new-album-grind-over-matter/

© Wayne Edwards

Defleshed, Grind Over Matter (Metal Blade 2022)

Soilwork, Övergivenheten (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Soilwork make it an even dozen with their new album Övergivenheten.

Soilwork came together in the mid-nineties in Sweden. Initially, their music would probably have been categorized as melodic death metal. Later it evolved toward a groove metal, although the melody never went away. Over the decades, the band has released eleven other full-length studio albums plus a plethora of singles, EPs, and splits, making them one of the most prolific metal outfits in the business. The new record carries their banner further down the path, and delivers mana to Soilwork’s waiting fans. The band is Björn “Speed” Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Bastian Thusgaard (drums), and Rasmus Ehrnborn (bass).

The Google translator will tell you that Övergivenheten is “the abandonment” in English. It also offers “desolation” and “desertion” as possibilities for Övergivenhet. Even if something is lost in the translation, we certainly get the general idea.

There are fourteen tracks on the new album, including a couple of transition pieces. The title song breaks the ice with acoustic emanations, voices, and a banjo. Layers and multiple elements soon join and intertwine as the music builds until, a minute and a half in, the song really takes off. The first principal vocals are gruff and insistent while the surrounding music is less dire, and a melodic voice merges in soon enough. It is the perfect way to position the set.

“Nous Sommes La Guerre” breaks off a snappy riff up front to generate the initial mood, but the song itself is complex. Certainly, this is what we expect from Soilwork, and they offer it up on every song with their signature style whether the thrust is fast or slow, dark or light. There is no track that is simply one thing. “Electric Again” starts out as a ravager, loud and harsh enough to peel off the top layers of anything it encounters, but it also has calmer moments. “This Godless Universe” walks in quietly and bares its teeth later on. Some songs have a catchy riff, like “Death, I Hear You Calling,” while others, like “Golgata,” are front loaded with more challenging, technical presentations. Throughout it all, there is no mistaking this music for anything other than Soilwork – they have come through again with an album that raises an already high bar. Recommended.

Övergivenheten is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Links below.

Links.

Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/soilwork

© Wayne Edwards

Soilwork, Övergivenheten (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The Halo Effect, Days Of The Lost (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The Halo Effect brings back the glory days of melodic death metal on Days Of The Lost.

Veteran musicians from bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquility came together last year to form a new band, The Halo Effect. The idea behind the new band was for the members to “go back to the roots and explore what the groundbreaking metal sounded like then[, a]nd add the experience and skills of what the members could bring to the table now.” The style of music they are referencing is often called “The Gothenburg Sound,” and, under a broader umbrella, melodic death metal, or melodeath. The musicians are Peter Iwers (bass), Daniel Svensson (drums), Jesper Strömblad (guitar), Niclas Engelin (guitar), and Mikael Stanne (vocals).

Over ten contemplative tracks, The Halo Effect have definitely achieved their goal. The album growls to life with “Shadowminds,” where gruff vocals live together with teedling juxtapositions and rough-and-ready guitar riffs. This is indeed a very particular kind of music. The compositions combine without irony light, bouncy lines with others that are clearly intended to be sinister. You can hear this even more clearly on the title track. It is like a medieval battle at a renaissance fair.

The execution of the ideas is flawless, and there is notable variety across the tracks while the principle is maintained. “The Needless End,” for example, is generally harder-edged while a song like “Gateways” plays toward an overall softer range. In every case, the songs are crisp and sharp, and the production level is quite high. This set is destined to be embraced by its intended audience, and it is so well done it might start a resurgence of the form. Recommended.

Days Of The Lost is out now through Nuclear Blast Records in many instantiations. Connect through the links below.

Links.

The Halo Effect website, https://www.thehaloeffect.band/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/the-halo-effect

© Wayne Edwards

The Halo Effect, Days Of The Lost (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Amon Amarth, The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade 2022)

Iconic Viking metal band Amon Amarth have crafted their twelfth album, The Great Heathen Army.

Since 1992, Amon Amarth has been carrying the banner and swinging the sword for Viking metal, an heroic melodic heavy metal style that is wildly popular from sea to sea and icecap to icecap. Releasing a new album every two or three years for the past three decades has made them a reliable source of fresh music for their legions of fans. The new record has nine tales of heroism and conflict set in a savage world and told in the way only Amon Amarth can. The band is Johan Hegg (vocals), Olavi Mikkonen (guitar), Johan Söderberg (guitar), Ted Lundström (bass), and Jocke Wallgren (drums).

The battle begins with “Get in the Ring.” The song has a very ominous set-up to put you in the right frame of mind for the tenacious musical intercourse. Hegg’s gruff vocals cast their familiar spell over the abiding guitar riffs and steady percussion. It is an excellent choice for an opening song as it reminds you how much you like Amon Amarth. The title track follows, and it has a serious tone with a lithe delivery. “Heidrun” takes the baton and charges the field with a romping riff that sounds like the steady movement of a well-appointed army. A catchy chorus makes this song one that will stick in your head. “Oden Owns You All” is a much more aggressive track, with rippling percussion and forceful pattering that enhances the established style and theme.

Overall, the album delivers what the band’s fans are looking for. My favorite track is “Dawn of Norsemen” because it encapsulates the elements I like most about Amon Amarth from the story to the melody to the reliable rhythm section. You might choose a different favorite, but if you have enjoyed the previous albums from Amon Amarth, I think we will agree that the new one gets high marks. Recommended.

The Great Heathen Army is out now through Metal Blade Records in a variety of forms. Make your choices at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://amonamarth.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-heathen-army

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/amon-amarth-the-great-heathen-army/

© Wayne Edwards

Amon Amarth, The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade 2022)

Cirkus Prütz, Blues Revolution (Metalville 2022)

Swedish blues rock band Cirkus Prütz take you for a ride on their new album, Blues Revolution.

I do not think of bands from Sweden first when I am tabulating a mental list of blues rock acts, but after hearing Cirkus Prütz I might have to recalibrate. Blues Revolution is their third album, following All For The Boogie And The Blues (2017) and White Jazz – Black Magic (2019). You’ll hear a variety of music on the record in the fertile lane of southern-influenced blues rock. The more I listen to it, I hear a strong influence of classic rock like Deep Purple in there too, but maybe that is just me. Whatever comparisons anybody wants to make, their music is great to hear. The band is Christian Carlsson (vocals, guitar, harp), Franco Santunione (guitar, vocals), Jerry Prütz (bass, vocals), and Per Kohlus (drums).

The title track starts the set off with a big build-up and a singalong jam, kind of like “Space Truckin’,” but smoother. It is a hard rock pop angle aimed at broad appeal. The guitar solo that comes along is very nice, and it is the part I like best. When I first started listening to this kind of music in the 1980s it was the lead breaks I would always anticipate. “Boogie Woogie Man” puts that guitar right up front with a tasty lick that is a welcome invitation. The singer here is channeling Danny Joe Brown a bit and the song is an excellent bluesy southern rock number. “Modern Day Gentleman” tips its hat to ZZ Top with smooth vocals and a biting lead guitar.

The tempo slows down and picks up as you wind your way through the ten tracks on the album. Each one is well produced with a polished sound. I especially like “Howl Like the Wolf” which has a real get-up-and-go vibe to it, and “Death Knock Blues” because it reminds me of the Ian Gillan songs I like best. I am getting the feeling Cirkus Prütz will put on a good show, and, based on what I have heard here, I would really like to see them live. Recommended.

Blues Revolution is out on Friday July 29th through Metalville Records.

Links.

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

Metalville Records, https://www.metalville.de/

© Wayne Edwards

Cirkus Prütz, Blues Revolution (Metalville 2022)

Paganizer, Beyond The Macabre (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Beyond The Macabre is the twelfth studio album from the death metal menace that is Paganizer.

From its earliest days, Paganizer has been a welcome presence in the death metal world. The music is always filled with hooks and crushing riffs, dizzying pace and unstoppable percussion. Every new album is an event, and the latest is no exception. Founder Rogga Johansson (vocals, guitar) and long-time regular Matte Fiebig (drums) are joined by Kjetil Lynghaug (guitar) and Martin Klasén (bass) who have played on the last couple of albums.

Beyond The Macabre takes its cues from the band’s history and wraps itself in classic forms of Swedish death metal. As with recent albums, there are many melodic elements but no one would call this music melodic death metal. It is heavy and charging throughout, and the hooks and melodies that are in play make the music memorable while never taking away from its power. The guitar work is exemplary and Rogga sounds great, as always.

There are no low patches to be found on this album, and it gets off to a vigorous start by focusing on the band’s strengths with “Down The Path Of Decay.” Other tracks that stood out for me are “Raving Rhymes Of Rot” for laying on the extra heavy and “You Are What You Devour” for its plain speaking declarations.

I have been a Paganizer fan all along. For me the new album maintains the accessibility of recent work by the band and holds the death metal line fast. I will be spinning this one a lot in the coming weeks. Recommended.

Beyond The Macabre is out on Friday, June 24th through Transcending Obscurity Records. As always, there is a great collection of variants and merch available to go along with the music.

Links.

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

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Paganizer, Beyond The Macabre (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Cities Of Mars, Cities Of Mars (Ripple 2022)

Heavy fuzz doom trio Cities Of Mars self-title their third long-player.

Sweden’s stoner doom band Cities Of Mars began in 2014, releasing an EP, Celestial Mistress, a couple year later. The music falls squarely in the land of doom, but the subjects and trajectories of the compositions align with the stars. Joining their first two full-length albums, Temporal Rifts (2017) and The Horologist (2019), the new record continues the sure-footed journey. The band is Danne Palm (bass, vocals), Johan Kuchler (drums, vocals), and Christoffer Norén (guitar, vocals).

“Before The Storm” is a beautiful spacey opening for the album. Patient, building slowly, the song introduces an ethereal voice signaling the beginning of the journey and, importantly, the need for it. Gentleness gives way to heavy doom guitar riffs on “Towering Graves.” The vocals are still mysterious but much more menacing now. The massive riffs continue on “The Prophet,” growing tall enough to block out the dim setting sun on the red planet.

“Song of a Distant Earth” is an acoustic piece; a mood shift before the devastating “A Dawn of No Light.” The tempo picks up and the rhythm is more assertive, and the lead guitar freer in its explorations. “The Dreaming Sky” has a forlorn quality to it. Harmonizing vocals and melancholy guitar lines waken suppressed feelings. “Reflected Skyline” is an airy piece, and sad, too, in my hearing.

“The Black Shard” is the twelve-minute final word on the album. In some ways you could see it as a reinterpretation of the ideas earlier expressed. You could also see it as a furthering of those notions. It is an exceptional piece and, if nothing else, you should listen to this one. It has many powerful moments, and regular returns to altered pace, attitude, and sentiment throughout. Much like the album in its totality. Recommended.

Cities Of Mars is out now through Ripple Music. Bandcamp is always a good place to pick up the goods.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/cities-of-mars

Website, http://www.citiesofmars.se/

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCavaUFPTEDKYjAxJ8Qapbeg

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Cities Of Mars, Cities Of Mars (Ripple 2022)

Watain, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Notorious black metal band Watain release their seventh studio album on an unsuspecting world, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain.

It has been almost twenty-five years that Watain has stalked the earth now. This black metal band from Sweden has a reputation like no other, building loyal fans from all over the world by creating unique dark music with no compromises. Their first full-length album, Rabid Death’s Curse (2000), was a sign to anyone who wanted to read it, and the promises made then are fulfilled with every new set.

Anyone who has seen Watain live surely has a story about the experience. It is a journey bathed in darkness. The band has found a way to capture the live experience more essentially than ever before with the new album, which was itself recorded live in the studio, where founding members Erik Danielsson, Håkan Jonsson, and Pelle Forsberg, were joined by Alvaro Lillo, Hampus Eriksson, and Emil Forcas.

“Ecstasies In Night Infinite” breaks through the veil first with an unrelenting, monstrous assault. The combination of the roaring speed with cascading riffs overlaid by a black lace of cogent lyrical hooks is a structure that stands up to the many twists and turns presented. The vocals are coarse and intimately discernable; the lead breaks are savage and crackling. Watain stands alone in the way they combine dark, heavy elements into music that is approachable in the groove and complex on every individual layer as well as in the spaces between them. Just listen and you will hear it in every song.

“The Howling” is next, and it offers us more of everything from other angles we hadn’t contemplated before. The groove is seductive and black metal is razor sharp. “Serimosa” shows a down-shifted tempo perspective with theatrical balancing, further demonstrating the variety and complexity of the music Watain presents on this album. “Leper’s Grace” is another example of the unexpected in rhythm and pace – it is one of my favorites from the set as it left me tipsy by the halfway mark.

“Before The Cataclysm” is especially eerie, and that is saying something in the context of this music. Here again, it is the fascinating combination of elements that are themselves individually stunning and somehow, in their amalgamation, rise to another place altogether. “Septentrion” brings the curtain down in a grand fashion, hearkening to the mystery and wonder of the spaces in the cold dark north. It is an enduring culmination.

This music is not meant for the weak of heart or mind. The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain is out through Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, April 29th. Recommended.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards, Webster Theater, Hartford, 2019.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://watainsom.bandcamp.com/album/the-agony-ecstasy-of-watain

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/watain

© Wayne Edwards

Watain, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Grimtone, Polaris (Void Wanderer 2022)

Darkness convenes on the new Grimtone album, Polaris.

With origins marked in 2015, Sweden’s black metal maelstrom Grimtone plies a regimen of oblique, inky metal. The band is Michael Lang, who broke out of the gates in a flurry of recording, with three full-length albums between 2017 and 2019: Memento Mori, Morte in Vitam, and Hymner till döden. Just last year Grimtone appeared on the five-way split Mourning in Autumn and also released an EP, The Awakening. And now there is Polaris – he must have a lot to say. After all, it is not just Grimtone, is it? There is also Arsonists of Lucifer, Dommedag, etc. Prolificity by thy name.

The standard is set by the first track, “Creed Of Hate.” A rapid, raking riff sets up a steady percussive entry and the gloomy, distanced vocals. It is a murky affair, with a solid hook. The order is more apparent here than the chaos in this black metal statement. “Streams Of Polaris” waken slumbering denizens with a callous affront that is curiously salved in the coming bars, creating a salubrious avenue for mental ingestion. It is a surprising choice that works exceptionally well.

There is no pivot to look out for as the music flows over you. Certainly there is variation and there are angular takes, as in the elegance of the opening of “Burning The Rye” and the furtive ending to “Calls Of The Bells.” Even with these textures in the landscape, the dedication to evoked principles never wanes. My favorite track is perhaps “Haunt The Realm” as it makes me feel chased and at risk, but every track has a culminating insight. This my first experience with Grimtone, and I am impressed. Recommended.

Polaris is out now. Void Wanderer Productions has the cassette (limited to 50) and digital. War Productions has a CD version (limited to 100).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://voidwandererproductions.bandcamp.com/album/polaris

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

Void Wanderer Productions, https://voidwanderer.com/product/grimtone-polaris-mc/

War Productions, https://war-productions.org/warproductions/

© Wayne Edwards

Grimtone, Polaris (Void Wanderer 2022)