The Heavy Metal Review

Archive for October 2012

Album Review: Pig Destroyer ‘Book Burner’ offers lots of grindcore goodness

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There are about 3 grindcore bands I can get into most days of the week: Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Pig Destroyer.

Grindcore is an abrasive and challenging style to get into, even for regular metal listeners. The quick minute-long-or-less song bursts the genre is known for basically scream f**ck you to the standard shuffle playlist of the MP3 generation.

On its fifth studio album, Book Burner, Pig Destroyer manages to find a balance between the rebellious nature of the music and memorable riffs that stick in your head to create one of the more accessible (yet still brutal) grindcore records of all time.

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Written by Eric

October 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Quick Review: Dethklok ‘Dethalbum III’

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Dethklok needs no introduction. Metalocalypse now features four seasons of animated violence, inside jokes and hilarity that only the metal community can truly appreciate. And the fictional band’s real-life counterparts have gone on several tours and pumped out three albums, each more technical and brutal than the last.

No one can argue that Brendon Small lacks chops on the guitar and the rest of his band are virtuosos themselves (drummer Gene Hoglan, bassist Bryan Beller and touring guitarist Mike Keneally). So the only real thing people would be curious of at this point is how Dethklok III stacks up to the the band’s previous catalog.

That will depend upon whether the listener prefers Dethklok’s current more “serious” style of death metal (the leadoff track is “I Ejaculate Fire,” so not too serious folks) or the full-album hilarity of the first Dethalbum record. Both have pros and cons, however, the memorable lyrics and riffs of old are sacrificed for technicality on the more recent releases.

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Album Review: Sylosis ‘Monolith’ is a solid slab of modern thrash

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There are two types of thrash in the current metal scene – the more direct homage to classic 80’s era of crossover performed by Municipal Waste and Gama Bomb and the modern version that mixes in other musical styles as demonstrated by Revocation and Sylosis.

While both thrash types are enjoyable to listen to (and fun to witness live), it is the latter modern thrash which pushes the envelope for the genre and may even interest those who were not as big of fans of the 80’s side of things. Sylosis proves this on Monolith – its most ambitious record to date that incorporates Metallica-style thrash riffs with modern production and a mix of growling and clean vocals (piano too!).

Sylosis’ previous album Edge of the World saw the band step away from its remaining metalcore roots, while retaining the melody the genre is known for in its guitar harmonies and clean vocals. On Monolith we are left with a sprawling 71 minute album that strives to be the Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets of our generation – and though it falls short in a few key areas – overall it is a fantastic album.

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Written by Eric

October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Album Review: The Acacia Strain ‘Death is the Only Mortal’

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The Acacia Strain seems driven to create the most pummeling record in metal. Wormwood contained the blunt yet somehow catchy vocals of Vincent Bennett, got rid of most of the speed metal aspects of the band, and added in a ton of breakdowns (which has become almost a bad word within the metal community).

Death is the Only Mortal takes the aggression a step further, ditching the vocal hooks for a more modern metal attack and utilizing the eight-string guitar palm-muted chugs and rattling strings a la Meshuggah’s Nothing era. There are still some fast riffs, like on the outro of “Victims of the Cave” that almost call to mind a heavier version of Slayer if that is even possible.

While the deathcore genre and Rise Records are synonymous with a terrible trend in mindless “how low can you go” tuning, The Acacia Strain is evolving into an amazing heavy metal band whose sound is the equivalent of being hit in the face with a 2×4. Death is the Only Mortal is the soundtrack to an exceptionally bad day and at the same time a very fun listen.

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Written by Eric

October 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Album Review: Coheed and Cambria ‘The Afterman: Ascension’

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Coheed and Cambria is not 100% metal, but the band showcases some heavier riffs metal fans can enjoy within its narrative-driven progressive rock music (it doesn’t hurt the band has toured alongside Heaven and Hell  and Iron Maiden). While the group first started out with a pop-rock vibe on The Second Stage Turbine Blade, it quickly turned to a more technical rock act on In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 and Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (oh yeah, the album titles got ridiculously long as well).

Those last two albums mentioned are what sold many on frontman Claudio Sanchez’s vision for the band based off an ever-winding storyline that even the most dedicated of fans could have trouble keeping up with. Then the band suffered from some line-up changes on Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow and Year of the Black Rainbow. These albums lacked the charisma of prior albums and were not as memorable.

Not being one to back down from its creative vision, Coheed and Cambria announced the next record would actually be a double-album, continuing Sanchez’s storyline (though released at separate times) with the first part named The Afterman: Ascension (and the follow-up Descension). Also of note: Original drummer Josh Eppard rejoined the band, which made fans optimistic that this album would be a return-to-form for the group.

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Quick Review: KISS ‘Monster’ isn’t all that fierce, but it is fun

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Kiss is one of the more heavily criticized music groups of all time. Granted the band does have it’s share of historical slip-ups both musically and commercially, but that doesn’t change the fact it also put out some legendary rock records (Destroyer, Rock ‘n’ Roll Over, Kiss, Love Gun).

Monster is Kiss’ second album in three years (the previous one being 2009’s Sonic Boom) and it is basically a cleaned-up version of that album with slightly more memorable songwriting. Whereas Sonic Boom attempted to be more raw, Monster is a polished album that covers up any vocal flaws Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons might show at this age.

Both front-men deliver solid performances on the album with the tracks split almost 50/50 between Stanley and Simmons on lead vocal duty. Stanley is still technically the better singer, but Simmons maintains his demonic charm that complements his bass heavy jams.

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Written by Eric

October 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Album Review: Enslaved ‘RIITIIR’

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Enslaved has come a long way since its early more straightforward black metal days. The band has dabbled in groove, death and prog territories while managing to keep things fresh on pretty much every disc and 2012’s RIITIIR is no different.

The first thing you will notice after starting up the album is the sharp, crisp production (courtesy of a team of producers: Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson, Grutle Kjellson, Herbrand Larsen and Iver Sandøy). RIITIIR is definitely one of the cleaner sounding black metal records around.

Opening track “Thoughts Like Hammers,” kicks off with some feedback and a blast of fury reminiscent of the early days of Enslaved. This breaks into a Candlemass-esque riff that is pure groove and the growling snarl of longtime vocalist Grutle Kjellson.

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Written by Eric

October 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

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