ENDTYMER is the inevitable weekly “music blog” series I’ve been working to avoid for some time. It hits at the end of every week with the intent of covering notable new releases, sharing news of new releases, and musing over various personal listening habits. It is a largely informal blog, has opinions, etc. so chill out a bit. I do my best to cover as much of everything I receive in some form regardless of genre or representation, don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
As August grinds out its first weekly cycle the Album of the Week for my own taste is PSYCROPTIC‘s ‘Divine Council‘ the eighth full-length release from the Australian technical death metal group as they continue to rebalance their more accessible side away from their ’08-’15 run, now leaning into the nowadays popular spectrum of progressive death metal. Probably won’t win over folks who prefer their first two albums but I’d really enjoyed it. Liminal Shroud‘s latest is just as good of a choice, also. If death metal or extreme metal in general isn’t your thing, consider checking out EARLY MOOD‘s debut ‘Early Moods‘ this Friday as it is one of the better doom/heavy rock-adjacent debuts of the year.
- LIMINAL SHROUD – All Virtues Ablaze (2022) | REVIEW
- COSCRADH – Nahanagan Stadial (2022) | REVIEW
- EARLY MOODS – Early Moods (2022) | REVIEW
- SAVAGE MASTER – Those Who Hunt at Night (Shadow Kingdom)
Thank you, ahead of time, for reading. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate friendly and positive interactions. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. — If you’re interested in some short reviews and music news, you’ll have to wade through a few dumb quips first, scroll down ’til you see a Bandcamp embed.
Back in 1993 a somewhat manufactured quartet out of southern California enlisted a producer barely known for his work with mediocre thrash and death metal bands for their first demo tape, interested in a sound that was as heavy as possible. Major labels picked them up within months of the cassettes release, having sold out of three increasingly sloppy handmade issues beyond the pro-tapes meant for major labels. A thrilling find which was admittedly against the alt-rock grain at the time for its ‘The Real Thing‘-expanded repertoire notably in feature of downtuned death metal guitar tones, prominently percussive bass guitar presence, simple riff progressions and deliberately groove-centric songwriting. The way this band had been sold to us kids back in 1994 for their major label debut album was with taglines from amateur journalists that’d read something like “[…] ever get sick of bands that play long songs, interrupt the groove with bad guitar solos? Sick of pretentious groupie rock, and silly hair metal?” and well, yeah, we were but that is somewhat beside the point. The band in question were soon heralded to no end as a key entry unto a new wave of alt-metal which was described as a more “urban” mindset in heavy music, whatever that’d meant to the bored suburban white kids buying it. At the time it was something, anything which offered an alternative to the lazy push for grunge/alt-rocks second generation step beyond heroin rock, another obscenity of a different ilk. In hindsight that album spearheaded a vapid, influential rain of prickish thoughtlessness which continues to sap that same generation of their fortitudes by way of awfully misguided nostalgia.
The busted idea that high aptitude, or, performative capability was/is “pretentious” doesn’t hold up. In fact the notion that deeply considered songcraft delivered with skill achieved through years of hard work and constant rehearsal for the sake of passionate, compositionally sophisticated guitar music needed to go “out of fashion” in the early 1990’s is a relic of heavy music marketing used to push grunge, “new urban” metal, flannel shirts, Adidas track suits, and baritone guitars on the public back in the mid-90’s — A plague of feigned personae and gross ineptitude that still feeds a handful of generally awful folks obscene royalties and only ever served to dumb down a generation to its lowest common denominator. It’d been the effective enemy of both the forward-thinking and backwards-assed heavy/extreme metal headspace for nearly two decades. In my case, I was in the camp of folks long ruminating on what’d “killed” the classic era of death metal at its peak hinging evolution, arguably 1994-1995 per major label interest, clipping away any further ‘new blood’ momentum for sophisticated guitar music. Anyhow, keep in mind we’re still talking about a largely pre-Napster world marketplace. Fair enough if your response is “Death metal didn’t have songs.” too true, and I’ve said as much for years.
Within the old guard of the record industry “primitivity” and/or blunt minimalism in heavy music had occasionally been sold as snake oily virtuous innovation when big-brain musical ideas become too heady, convoluted in their logistics, and costly to produce/perform alongside lofty ideas which are difficult to market. For some these were necessary regressions meant to allow for younger and less experienced artists to break in with, eh, younger and less experienced consumers by most accounts. Today most are keen enough to no longer consider a too directly age-based demographic because eh, folks today are coming into adulthood less educated, less emotionally and financially stable, less conscious of their place in community and without a care for arcane distinctions made between “mainstream” and “underground” music — None of it really exists, music is just a thing, and… Well, this is the -actual- great equalizer that’d scared so many millionaires in the late 90’s, not only the major loss of sales to piracy but the uncontrollable access itself. Options, unlimited access to everything all at once made marketing music for profit hard as fuck.
This leads us to a nowadays sort of pachinko-like system of music discovery where the only predictable, reliable enough market outside of concert attendance left is… honestly, kinda fuckin’ malding and scatterbrained folks over ~30 years old. Nostalgia is way easy to sell to us oldies, record snobs etc. and now manifests in quicker cycles of rediscovery because attention spans are regularly obliterated by the overwhelming nature of social media. If you disagree, eh!, you probably don’t sell many records or spend a lot of time/money on your annoying social media presence; The data stream available to folks today holds such great, unwieldy power but yes, most would rather just be funneled to a mood when it comes to music and the “safest” mood to market is “that old shit I remember, cah-caw!” *like, subscribe, buy, share*
Any examination offered by public criticism is largely moot due to cults of personality having become avoidant of dissent or feedback entirely, simply mentioning a release is more effective than addressing it as a piece of serious art by and large. The majority are more obsessed with their own fabricated sense of self today than ever, getting ideas from others and presenting them as discovery to their own imagined audience is the only way to continue redeeming social credit. In this sense “street teams” now take the form of people hoping to simply be noticed while aiding in the slog of music discovery. If you’ve ever felt like you were witnessing an increasingly blank devolution of the musical mind in successive generations, it isn’t -totally- because you’re aging out of the demographic, though you are. The standards are just, yeah, whatever sticks in conversation with you “the NPC” and discovery is still a mess for the folks who don’t do their own self-directed learning — The only recommendation you’ll get from the internet machine is “that thing you listened to yesterday” (again) or “other things like it”.
You’ve probably never even heard a good riff anyhow, nerd.
Let’s us get to the real point though: How hard are you to reach, as a consumer of music, directly through the absolute noise of the internet? The manufactured bands and stylistically plundered popular music as a profitable product which’d dominated industry created charts between 1960-2000 still have their analogues today, plenty of face value pandering to the emotionally congested development of young minds (and frickin’ plebs, eh) is delivered with standardized song structures and rote production values each month. If you’re over about twenty-five you’ve probably heard none of it, though, right? If you don’t show interest in that junk the algorithm ain’t going to notice you, it literally can’t hit you with shit because nine times out of ten your interactivity only spikes to the point of purchase when nostalgia piques interest.
If you’re a false, click here for entry and be observed. — The difference between the past and the present is absolutely decided by the alternate reality offered by data-mining and its applications to ‘targeted’ social media marketing, and how this lines up with reasonably budgeted efficiency wherein artists/labels pay for the sake of driving the herd into increasingly predictable (and slim) corners of popular heavy music with a not-so new form of targeting. /again/ You have almost no chance of being hit with popular music advertising if you don’t listen to it already, don’t jam on that big Spotify list, etc. and do not engage in public social media presence. It isn’t that they -can’t- reach you because you’re too fuckin’ hip, it is for the sake of that money being spent on AI smart enough to know none of it’ll ever convince you with any return on investment, at least not without a trend of trackable purchases made and some overt interaction with artists/labels. The upside of this is that you are more free from the noise of corporate music than ever today if you consistently opt for non-participation but, perhaps also because ‘corporate rock’ is eh, barely a thing anymore in terms of hard sales and leaves a lot of rockstar dreamin’ bands in wild debt on the regular. The first conclusion we can halfway reach for is the realization, which you’ve hopefully already parsed: “Mainstream music” isn’t something to complain about anymore, especially if you’re over the age of ~30 years old, anyhow, because the average person has no idea what that’d even entail and it isn’t something you have to notice. Trending music is real, but it likely hasn’t included your interests for at least ten to fifteen years. You are literally free from the matrix now and have every chance to make your own choices in music.
The actual thought here ends up being a meditation upon how susceptible folks are to the nostalgia marketed in their face every day, a good enough reason to revisit and revise some of your old foundational opinions and reconsider what that music is actually supporting in terms of your own sense of ‘self’. Those old fealties might’ve been built up and never questioned when your mind was more malleable, or, upheld for the sake of “better days” when your options were easier to corral. Chances are if you’ve grown as a person since your teenaged years there may be some extra wisened perspective in taking an adult-sized dredge to the swamps of your formative, creepily sentimental years and clearing out the gunk you’ve been carrying around as key musical memories. Familiarity and comfort breed both necessary and negating blindness, the worst of it involves false walls left to support a false notion of ‘self’ to be sure, and an unchallenged mind is a dire offense however you’ve ended up there. Be the arbiter of your own musical ego-death and do not resign yourself to becoming a shrine to someone else’s fluke or, ancient manufactured importance.
IT WILL EVENTUALLY DIE
When tasked with picking a representative ten artists/bands from Swedish death metal’s history the trend with writers over the last… however many decades has always (hopefully) started with Nihilist, given a bit too much credit to Morbid, and immediately taken an empty-skulled turn within one or two releases — a belly flop into bands which’d essentially amounted to variations on the most popular four bands, popular enough that I don’t even need to list ’em for you to know what I mean. The error of the journalist who would seek to reach the lowest common denominator with efficient yet generalized information is that they end up building temples surrounding best sellers rather than musical innovators, often relying upon one or two biased historians and anecdotal hemorrhages for factual takes on pop culture historicity. This leaves the nowadays learner bumping into the same group of ten bands over and over. This creates a zeitgeist which suggests leadership based on financial success rather than musical merit, it fundamentally disregards the actual demographic for informative music writing in going against the values upheld by folks whom collect -good- records as a hobby, not just popular ones.
Swedish death metal has admittedly been gutted of its crypts of hidden gems at this point and I won’t pretend most folks who’d seen all of it reissued, revived, and reformed in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s might’ve missed out on Crematory‘s decidedly underground legend but I’d like to reemphasize what a peak to the -original- conception of Swedish death metal their work represented by 1992 and how plundered their riffs have been by now increasingly distanced generations of ‘old school’ influenced death metal guitarists with any sort of decent taste (see also: Adramelech). For some additional context these Stockholm-adjacent folks were seemingly in the general sphere of Necrophobic at the time of activity with the guitarist responsible for the artwork on several of that bands pre-1997 releases and their vocalist performing on the ‘Unholy Prophecies‘ demo and ‘The Call‘ EP. They were in good company with ’em but their music was up to an excitable, irrationally riff-packed standard throughout their original run, somewhat matched by the thrash and Florida death metal influenced traditions of Merciless, Liers in Wait, and Seance all of which’d peaked circa 1992 as well with ‘The Treasures Within‘, ‘Spiritually Uncontrolled Art‘, and ‘Fornever Laid to Rest‘ a grip of records that’d defined the technical standard for Swedish death metal’s naturally derived sound, which was not limited to the style found on ‘Left Hand Path‘ and ‘Dark Recollections‘.
From that point it becomes important to consider At the Gates ‘The Red in the Sky is Ours‘ as an uncontested predator among these ranks, a completely mad work which muscled out a sort of indefatigable guitar presence which matched up well with the aforementioned artists. By sheer conviction (or, just proper music lessons) they’d more or less been the one at top of the heap in said style. Unfortunately it was their progress beyond (let’s say post-second LP) would define Swedish death metal for better or worse. We can consider sophisticated outliers such as Marduk‘s ‘Dark Endless‘ spiritually related to these rhythmic ideas and Necrophobic‘s debut representing the apex final gasp of the real shit before the font of ideation ran out, dues were cashed out, and the best guitarists alienated away… but in a way this makes it too easy to lose sight of Crematory‘s equally profound, absolutely destructive and inventive knack for the riff-crammed death metal craft around that same time, landing their final blow with the ‘Denial‘ EP in 1992.
The final recordings from Crematory are often compared to Demilich by revisionists for their use of technical speed, grafted-on riff changes, and the downstroked throttling of seemingly odd-timed brutality inherent to all of their work but I’d offer the suggestion that a demo like ‘The Exordium‘ simply resembles what your disintegrating memory thinks Finnish death metal’s weirdest band sounded like. The common interest between the two bands at the time was probably ‘Symphonies of Sickness‘ and in fact Crematory had much more in common with what Grotesque, Nirvana 2002 and Liers in Wait were getting at on their earlier machinations and if we must look to Finnish death metal equivalencies it’d be Disgrace‘s ‘Grey Misery‘ for sure. Anyhow, music didn’t exist within such a vacuum even back then and there is an entire ocean to consider when placing importance upon just one band. I didn’t have anything all that profound to say here besides making the argument that the “true” sound of Swedish death metal is too often steamrolled by a few popular bands who’d all sounded far too similar. Dig deeper, find better ruins.
DISSOLVING WAR SPIRIT
Swedish atmospheric black metal artist Hermóðr has been fairly hit-or-miss with me beyond my discovery of his work with the Henri Sorvali mastered ‘Forest Sky‘ (2019) representing an especially distant, almost too pleasantly ambient form. At the time I hadn’t realized just how prolific the artist was and after seeing 11 EPs, 4 compilations, and 3 full-lengths release in the span of three years I definitely ducked out of that formula very quick finding diminishing returns almost immediately. But that isn’t to say the general appeal of this work is lost in any way as it slowly, very slowly evolves in place. Beyond his 2020 full-length a backing vocalist named Rosy has provided performances which become as prominent or, at least as essential to each piece as Rafn‘s vocal work otherwise and with this latest album ‘To the Nightside‘ they seem to have found a sensible place with it, even if it still feels a bit dry. An intuitive artist who is perhaps too permissive of mediocre ideas but, still worth a mention since I hadn’t seen many folks point to it:
EXPURSE OF CONSPIRACY
Iowa-based musician Mike Stevens was in the second guitarist slot on the first demo tape (‘Tumultuous Travelings‘, 1992) from underground ‘old school’ sci-fi themed death metal group Timeghoul, an long-forgotten anomaly out of Missouri that managed to stand the test of time. We wouldn’t hear from the fellow all that much ’til the band’s legacy had built up in the minds of death metal obssessed nerds like me over the course of at least a decade of trading tape rips on digital file sharing junctions. When a discography compilation released in 2012 it’d become one of the best sellers for the label that’d put it out and would serve as reason enough for Stevens to pick up his own gig and that’d become Grevlar circa 2014.
At this point his fourth independent full-length release (from back in March of this year) ‘Forced Into Parasitic Symbiosis‘ is probably the most solid record from his skeleton crew to date, thanks to the addition of VoidCeremony‘s Garrett Johnson on vocals/lead guitars for a couple of songs along with a few other guests. Some improvements are made with the balance of the programmed drums, the two guitar tracks generally blend and differentiate in a more reasonable manner, and the compositions only seem to get more involved and demanding with each release. The major piece here is practically an album in and of itself with the 29+ minute title track dominating the experience, an achievement in its own right. It ain’t exactly Timeghoul in terms of the rhythms a hundred percent of the time but I do think these ideas call for a drummer to whip the presentation of each song into shape a bit more. I figured it was worth a mention for the title track alone but I’d generally like to see where they go with it.
Memphis, Tennessee-based melodic blackened death metal band EPOCH OF UNLIGHT have announced their fourth full-length album, ‘At War With the Multiverse‘, will be released this coming September 16th by way of Dark Horizon Records. If you aren’t familiar with them these folks were among the earliest bands to take influence from what was going on in Scandinavian melodic death metal spheres in the early 90’s, at least that is what I remember of their earlier releases. It’ll be interesting to trek back through that history and see how that ties into what this new record is all about. The first preview track (“An Amaranthine Line”) is some strong indication that this fourth record, and first since 2005, will be pretty decent:
Not sure how I ended up sleeping on Canadian death metal duo DEFORMATORY‘s third album ‘Inversion of the Unforeseen Horizon‘ last year but they were kind enough to send in their last two full-lengths alongside their upcoming EP ‘Harbinger‘ and I’ve been blown away by the extreme form of technical yet not artificial death metal they’ve put together over the years. They’ve emphasized that they’re not a part of the mill, the husks pushing through the extruder: “All instruments are real fucking instruments and each can be discerned without the overproduced wall of plugins & tone packs we have unfortunately grown accustomed to hearing today.” and this does end up making a big difference when you’ve sat with each record and soaked in the brutal, weirding atmosphere and needled-out intensity of it all. Anyhow, not a review here just yet but a mention as the release date draws closer. Here is a teaser for the EP which releases this coming September 13th:
Dying Victims Productions have announced they will release the latest EP from Slovenian heavy metal duo VIGILANCE, ‘Vigilance‘, on CD and 12″ vinyl this coming October 21st. Based on the first preview track “Roka Pogube” they’ve leaned back into their traditional heavy metal roots a bit more, setting some of there black/speed metal ambitions aside for a real stomper of a song. If the rest of the mLP echoes this style I am already sold:
Italian technical death-thrashers MISCREANCE have announced their debut full-length album ‘Convergence‘ will release September 19th on Unspeakable Axe Records (CD), Danex Records (Vinyl), and Desert Wastelands (Cassette). A lot of pretty sharp ‘Independent Thought Patterns‘-style riff changes on this blazed-out first single “Incubo”, well worth getting hyped up over, album cover is sweet too:
Bay Area metal abstractionists MAMALEEK have announced ‘Diner Coffee‘, their latest album by way of The Flenser, not only exists but it’ll release this coming September 30th. No doubt to some manner of deranged acclaim on my part based on this tripped, jazzed and mortally wounded song they’ve lead with. Drop into “Boiler Room”, folks, you kinda deserve it at this point:
Invictus Productions have announced the BONES crew outta Belgium are ready with their debut full-length ‘Sombre Opulence‘, and that it’ll be out this coming September 9th. Figured I’d better get around to something with some extra raw riffs here early on before your brains are too scrambled. Check out “Twilight Divination” over on Bandcamp:
Philadelphia-based heavy rock band SONJA have teamed up with Cruz Del Sur Music for the September 23rd release of their debut album ‘Loud Arriver‘ on CD, vinyl, and digital. Been a fan of Melissa Moore‘s work on guitar for ages so I’m looking forward to this more heavy metal/rock application of those skills. All you get is a pre-order link to start:
Canadian power/heavy metal crew RIOT CITY have announced their second full-length album ‘Electric Elite‘ will be released on October 14th this year on CD, vinyl and as a box set by way of No Remorse Records. Think of their sound as akin to the slick modern revisionism of traditional heavy metal today and the ‘Painkiller‘-era of Judas Priest, not exactly Wolf but at least as over the top. Check out the first single “Ghost of Reality”:
No, it ain’t a reissue, a remake or a remaster. How about a third ‘Heavy Rocks‘ album from BORIS? Yes, yes please. Relapse Records will release the umpteenth record from these brilliant Japanese changelings this coming August 12th. Expect a big hairdo, Orange amps, plenty of lasers, a bit of drinking and plenty of jaguar attitude out of these legends on the music video for “My Name is Blank”:
What did I ever do to deserve this? Did I ask for this? Why would you do this to me? Where exactly is the motivation here? Pain? I recently re-watched The Dark Knight after several years and you know that feeling when something kinda holds up but way, way less than it ever did? Its the kind of thing that has me dissolving a bit. Me, of all people, me. That filthy squirm of a spider up the leg? Quick and nasty with so many legs prickling about? It isn’t “nice” man, it isn’t “right” y’all, just euuu… Anyhow, here’s a noise record that is coming out tomorrow:
It is cool enough that Calgary-borne heavy rock group GONE COSMIC are firebrand swinging hard with a bit of life on thier upcoming record ‘Send For a Warning, The Future’s Coming‘, kicking up plenty of dust on their first single “Crimson Hand” with full feature of vocalist Abbie Thurgood but they’ve got plenty of variety and an eclectic mix of tone, effects pushing about on the record which aims to be cathartic as a point of purpose: “As our world continues to navigate uncharted territory under the context of a global pandemic, social isolation, and social and economic injustices, Send for a Warning, the Future’s Calling was written to explore these experiences while also offering an escape from them.” and yeah, couldn’t be clear enough with it.
Turn my skin and skeleton into drums and beat ’em to dust in Electrical Audio, eh. Big Muff’d alt-rock group PINK FROST has me dying to be the big sound in that room with this single, “Until the Summer Comes”. It drones about, probably not as shocked-up and mad as it could be but just intoxicating and electric enough to stick in my head. It is the title track off their upcoming (September 16th) record via Under Road Records, better take it while you can:
Philadelphia-borne heavy psychedelic rock group RUBY THE HATCHET are on a grindhouse kick as they begin to promote their upcoming full-length album ‘Fear is a Cruel Master‘, due out October 1st by way of Magnetic Eye Records. Their first music video/single, “Thruster” gives us some B-movie camp horror, killing off a number of folks in entertaining ways. I especially like the organ/bassline interplay on the song, which is pretty straight forward charging stuff:
Switzerland-based thrash metal band ALGEBRA have announced their much anticipated next full-length ‘Chiroptera‘ for September 19th release through Unspeakable Axe Records. Holy cow we’ve got a smoker on our hands already with this aggressive, shout-along ripper “Kleptomaniac”. This is exactly the sort of memorable, cutting traditional thrash influence I love to hear. Huge highlight for the week on my end:
No doubt that Madrid, Spain-based occult death/doom metal band SPECTRUM MORTIS still smoke out their skulls if this new single “U Anne Dugga” from their forthcoming album ‘Bit Meseri – The Incantation’ (Listenable Records, September 30th) is any indication. Excellent full and professional sound from Empty Hall Studios (the guy from Aversio Humanitatis) on this album, I couldn’t be more stoked now that I’ve sat down with the record:
Austin, Texas-based trio PHASE IV have announced their self-titled debut release ‘Phase IV‘ will release on CD via Moribund Records this coming August 26th. A fusion of death metal, horror/noise rock, psychedelia and well… pretty much their own thing from members of Bloody Panda and Stop Motion Orchestra, this record will serve a bit of a challenge and reward sort of scenario to the open-minded listener. I’d actually been in talks to release it on my own label earlier this year before ducking out, so, I’ve already spent a month or two listening to it and can heartily recommend the record point blank. It’d been an obsession even before I’d heard the finalized version. Improvised vocals, a Carl Saff-boosted master, creeping cosmic horror soundscapes, and strong bass guitar presence all add up to one of the more captivating, surrealistic experiences you’ll have all year. Check out the opening piece “Horla”, keeping in mind the whole record more-or-less blends together into one steady-flowing piece:
THREE SHORT “CASUAL REVIEWS”
(Tartarus Records, August 5th)
Bong-Ra has been the stage name for Utrecht, Netherlands-based musician Jason Köhnen since roughly 1997 not long after he’d left his melodic death/doom turned stoner metal band Celestial Season and began working in the breakcore or ‘raggacore’ electronic fusion music scene, eventually also landing in the impressive The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. I know his work best within the extreme metal space, being a huge fan of his band Bluuurgh… and that era of death metal, but I have come to greatly appreciate his permutations of both atmospheric and jazz fusion influenced works, of which we could align the two most recent full-lengths from this project. ‘Meditations‘ expands upon the successes of ‘Antediluvian‘ (2021) essentially what I’d consider a free-jazz influenced form of drum n’ bass achieved through an explosive drone/doom level of sonic enormity. This time the four main pieces achieved considerably expanded sonic depth while expanding the basic quartet setup of the previous release (drums, bass, bassoon, saxophone) with the allure of the oud, chorales, and the occasional piano.
The focus here seems to be on otherworldly tones which are organically achieved. This lends ‘Meditations‘ some substantial character, and a bit of chaos which offers considerable immersive qualities by way of roughly ~10 minute pieces which develop with some great balance of merciless intensity and noir toned grace. A fitting enough mood for an album inspired by classic Stoic philosophy. The artist has found a thoroughly entertaining glom of many of my favorite extremes here and yet it feels less like an experiment than an it does an entirely intentional, overwhelming mood which comes in well-defined waves. Didn’t have a ton else to say about it for a full review, but it is one of my favorite releases of the month.
HELL FIRE ‘Reckoning‘
(RidingEasy Records, August 12th)
San Francisco heavy metal quartet Hell Fire have always been a sort of ‘on the fence’ selection for my taste, not necessarily living up to the promise of either early 80’s thrash metal or nearby NWOBHM analogues that’re touted in their literature and essentially landing a tuneful, sorta chunky take on simple 80’s power/heavy metal melodies. Even their darkest songs sound a bit happy to be there and this gives a sometimes glazed over affect to the whole experience. So, if their previous stuff just wasn’t my thing why go on about it? This one is far more considered, catchier to start even if they are still writing basic cheery 80’s pub metal anthems. These folks also somehow managed to get the legend himself Matt Freeman (Rancid, Charger) on session bass for this record and his performances definitely sing under the scratched-at, reverb flicked guitar tone that dominates this thing. If you can get past how dorked-up “Medieval Cowboys” is and how light on riffs quick-burner “Addicted to Violence” is the more NWOBHM tuned and Dio-esque fantasy metal pieces on here aren’t half bad. Songwriting is solid enough here and the bass playing just hot enough that I ended up having a good time with it.
THE HALO EFFECT ‘Days of the Lost‘
(Nuclear Blast, August 12th)
This melodic metal quintet formed between ex-members of In Flames essentially, and perhaps intentionally resembles the sound of the popular ‘Reroute to Remain‘ and ‘Clayman‘ full-lengths from the early 2000’s. This is fitting enough considering most of them were added to that band post-1997 excepting guitarist Jesper Strömblad and such, but don’t walk into ‘Days of the Lost‘ expecting a throwback melodic death metal album so much as a pretty lively, dramatic modern melodic metal record with very distinct signature upheld. “Conditional” certainly attempts to go there and of course vocalist Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) is brilliant here with an insistent, snarled lead vocal but at their heaviest we’re still getting an arena pleasing festival ready record out of the old pros in The Halo Effect so none of that crusty, wailing heavy metal stuff junking up their gig; They go full on alt-metal with “In Broken Trust” to make sure you don’t end up completely mistaken in this sense. Beyond the heavily layered professional sound and Stanne‘s vocals being a big preference of mine this isn’t the sort of record I’ve really cared about since the late 90’s, most of it’d blown by with very obvious and straight forward melodic ideas and it’d definitely began to feel like melodic metal by numbers in the last third. Catchy, memorable, absolute pro stuff but definitely not the sort of thing to win me over without plenty more rhythm guitar interest.
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