Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Metal icons Death Angel release a four track acoustic EP of three covers and one new song.

Fans of Death Angel are used to crushing Thrash riffs and blistering lead breaks. Quiet, slow acoustic melodies barely even waft through the transom of your mind when Death Angel is on. Usually. But these are weird times and all sorts of unusual things are happening.

The set is titled for the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure,” which was a huge pop hit way back when. Death Angel’s version is an acoustic replication that is an homage in a clear show of respect to the artists and composition of the original. The new song is “Faded Remains.” It is a song of hopelessness and plays like a Murder Folk entry with an exceptional lead moment. You can bet this one will be in the live sets when the world comes back.

The other two pieces are acoustic versions of well-known Death Angel songs: “A Room With A View” from Act III and “Revelation Song” from Humanicide. The former song was largely acoustic in its original incarnation but it had a heavy middle. Here there is a nice acoustic lead break in the middle and what sounds to me like a quiet electric guitar, too (and again at the end). For “Revelation Song,” the guitars are very aggressive, pushing the threat level up for an instrument of pacifism. The vocals are also gruffer, pledging a direct line to the original version from last year’s original.

This is most definitely a different take for the band, and that is exactly what it is supposed to be. Recommended.

The digital EP is available right now. Look for it on Amazon and other outlets (link below to streaming sources).

Links.

Band website, https://www.deathangel.us/

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

Nuclear Blast streaming link, http://nblast.de/DAUnderPressure

YouTube video of “Under Pressure”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hCy1Y5_-k8

Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Plague Years, Circle of Darkness review (eOne Music 2020)

Speed and mayhem are alive and well in Circle of Darkness, the new full-length release from Michigan metallers Plague Years.

From the beginning notes of the band’s first EP, these four Detroit musicians threw down the gauntlet in a clear sign to the world they were here to create hard, fast, crunching metal. Labeled as a crossover band, you can definitely hear Hardcore, Thrash, and Death Metal elements throughout. The new album is a continuation of 2018’s Unholy Infestation, except even faster and darker. The band on Circle of Darkness is Tim Engelhardt (vocals), Eric Lauder (guitar), Rian Staber (bass), and Mike Jurysta (drums).

There isn’t a single band to compare them to because Plague Years combines so many styles and their music shifts and moves in and across the songs in the album. They show a lot of chopping steady guitar rhythms at a mid-tempo speed in narrative moments of songs, then click into phantom blasts and thrashing ramps to sink the spikes in deeper. From the new album, songs like “Eternal Fire” rest on a modulated pace overall but have mystical lead breaks and surprising percussion eruptions that are not externalities but instead are essential elements in the composition. Flat out raging numbers are there too like “Circle of Darkness” and “Play The Victim” – and in these pieces the tempo is set high but there are also echoing ethereal moments and fascinating transition bridges.

Plague Years will get a hook into any metal fan because the range of expression and the variety of their musical appeal allows them to fit in on practically any heavy title card. Recommended.

Circle of Darkness is out this Friday, September 18. You can hear a couple singles already, and preorder the download or a hardcopy in different forms now. Their previous EP Unholy Infestation is on Spotify right now so you can go listen to that to tide you over for a couple of days

Band photo by Rian Staber.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/plagueyearsdet

https://plagueyears.bandcamp.com/

http://www.entertainmentone.com

http://www.facebook.com/eOneMusicUS

Plague Years, Circle of Darkness review (eOne Music 2020)

Psychosomatic, The Invisible Prison review (Nefarious Industries 2020)

Sacramento Thrash Metal band Psychosomatic roll out lucky number seven, The Invisible Prison.

There should be more Thrash, I think. The heavy music landscape has tilted toward Doom and Death over the past many years. Thrash is still out there, though, alive and well and personified by bands like Exodus, Testament, [insert your favorite Thrash bands here], and Psychosomatic who keep putting out great music. This band has been around for more than thirty years, and they are just as fierce as ever. The lineup is founder Jeff Salgado (bass, lead vocals), Daniel Mills (guitars, vocals), Viktor Hansen (guitars, vocals), and Toby Swope (drums).

The album is twelve towering tracks, starting with “We Don’t Trust You,” which is enough to make me remember this one forever. You know it is all fast, loud, and thrumming, with the pedal to the floor all the way through so I don’t have to tell you that. Picking over the songs for highlights is something of a chore because of the solid nature of the entire set. Along with the opener, the title track stands out as being to most frenetic of the bunch in both rhythm and lead. It’ll ring your ears. There is an excellent cover of the Vio-lence song “Serial Killer” which is not to be missed – Decibel magazine is premiering that track so you can hear it in advance of the album’s release if you head over to their website. “Agents of Surveillance” is the shortest song and it might also be the most savage in a stabby kind of way. When you listen to the album you will find your own favorites and make a list to add to your saved songs on Spotify. It is going to raise your blood pressure.

August 28th is the drop date for The Invisible Prison with all the usual attributes of download, physicals, and bundles at Bandcamp and the Nefarious Industries sites. Trust might be thin on the ground but this album is a thrash-fest guarantee. Recommended.

Band photo by Michael Alvarez.

Links.

http://officialpsychosomatic.com

https://psychosomatic.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/NefariousIndustries

http://nefariousindustries.com

https://www.facebook.com/officialpsychosomatic

Psychosomatic, The Invisible Prison review (Nefarious Industries 2020)

Concrete, Free Us From Existence review (Black Voodoo Records 2020)

Concrete, the hardcore band from Albany, returns with devastating aggression on Free Us From Existence.

The first music I heard from Concrete was the 2014 split they did with Hammerfist. The song “Born Lost” made a big impression on me especially, but all four of them smoked. Deadlock was before the split and Everything Ends Now came after in 2017. Over the years the band has been accumulating an impressive catalogue and gaining attention and respect from fans and the heavy music community at large. Free Us From Existence casts a sharp eye on the dismal situation that exists now and condenses it into loud bursts of disapprobation and condemnation in the form of ravaging hardcore music.

The new album opens with “Executing Vengeance” which sounds like climbing a ladder that is airborne and swirling in a tornado. “Starving Serpent” starts with heavy thumps and reveals twisting urgency in the tempo, cadence, and voice: “Fed to snakes / In the abyss / Left to rot / Starving serpent, oceans black / Take my eyes, take my eyes.” The menace and threat in the guitar line that runs along beside the vocals in one of the choruses tightens in your throat when you hear. “Path of Fire” has big doom riffs at the front with rolling rapid percussion, then a shift to thrash-speed before going back to heavy thumps like a stomping sauropod.

The landscape is broad and differentiated with Black Metal, Death Metal, and hardcore throughout. It is notable how much ground the band covers in just under thirty minutes, all the while keeping their own brand of menace intact and the thematic focus narrow. This overarching dispatch is demonstrated perfectly by the back-to-back entries “Psychological Crucifixion” and “World Tomb.” Listen to it all the way through and then hit it again because you don’t want to miss anything.

Available now for download at Bandcamp, with physical versions on the way from Black Voodoo Records. This album is going to be on a lot of Best Of 2020 lists. Recommended.

Band photo by Chantel Roberts.

Links.

http://concretehc.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/concretehc

http://www.bloodblast.com

http://blackvoodoorecords.com/

https://merchnow.com/catalogs/concrete-hc

Concrete, Free Us From Existence review (Black Voodoo Records 2020)

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)

With an EP in 2017, The Last Traveler, and a succinct full-length album in 2019, Echoes of the Past, Brotthogg was poised to make a leap forward with their new release, The Die Is Cast.

Brotthogg is from Norway. The musicians are Kristian Larsen Moen, who is credited with playing all the instruments as well as writing the music and lyrics (clearly the creative force behind the production), Jonas Moen and Craig Furunes who both contribute vocals, and Stephen Carlson handling all guitar solos. It is an unusual arrangement compared to other bands, but you cannot argue with the outcome. The music is basically a melodic death metal casting with a strong vein of thrash running through it.

Are you wondering what the name of the band means? According to the band (via the press release), “The name Brotthogg is derived from an old forgotten Norwegian word in dialect meaning ‘The one who has to take care of the job, the unpleasant one.’” Interesting. The music does not have any sense of hesitance or slog to it, and is in fact powerful and robust. You often feel heroic elements in the narrative impulse of the songs, but the most memorable parts of the delivered music are the rapid staccato rhythms, the drumming, and the confident vocals. The sweltering impertinence of the speed and unbalancing progressions of songs like “Resurrection” complement well more straight-forward death/thrash enterprises like “Behind the Gateways” – but even in the more familiar framings, there is always some twist, epic or subtle, that marks the music as plainly Brotthogg. The resilience of the climbing scales and the technical risks of the lead breaks add even more depth the set. I am definitely on board. Recommended.

You can listen to two tracks now on Bandcamp, and the full album drops August 1. Bandcamp also has the back-catalogue (as does Spotify) if you find you like what you hear.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Brotthogg/

https://brotthogg.bandcamp.com/

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)