This week’s reviews include releases from The Dillinger Escape Plan, Eden’s Curse, Hardline, Meshuggah, Red Fang, Seeker, Theatres Des Vampires and Waldgefluster. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (Party Smasher)
After nearly two decades, the Dillinger Escape Plan say they are going to hang it up following the tour cycle for their latest effort Dissociation. If that’s the case, they are going out on a high note.
The album has all the twisted, complex riffs you’d expect from DEP, but also some unexpected moments like the sometimes danceable, sometimes disjointed instrumental “Fugue.” Greg Puciato’s vocals vary from passionate screams to smooth crooning. The creative songs bounce back and forth between intense, groovy and experimental, played with flawless musicianship. Unpredictable and eminently listenable, Dissociation will leave fans wanting more.
Eden’s Curse – Cardinal (AFM)
Genre: Melodic/Power Metal
There are apparently two different versions of Eden’s Curse, a European one and one formed by vocalist Michael Eden in the U.S. Cardinal is the European band’s latest album, and second with vocalist Nikola Mijic.
It’s prototypical power metal with plenty of guitars, ample atmosphere and soaring choruses. Mijic has a powerful, bluesy voice with a lot of range. The songs, although sometimes a little over the top, are compelling and catchy. There are longer, epic tracks along with more focused and radio-friendly songs like “Unconditional” that features guest vocalist Liv Kristine (ex-Leaves Eyes). With hooks galore, this will hit the spot for power metal fans.
Hardline – Human Nature (Frontiers)
Genre: Hard Rock
Hardline have undergone a lot of changes since their formation nearly a quarter century ago. The lone remaining original member is vocalist Johnny Gioeli, who is also the longtime singer for Axel Rudi Pell’s band and the frontman for Crush 40.
Human Nature finds the band increasing the heaviness while retaining the melodies and hooks. While they have the Sunset Strip in their DNA, the album is more arena rock than hair band. There’s some retro in their anthemic style, but the sound and production is modern. Gioeli’s voice is expressive and the veteran band whose members have played in groups including Resurrection Kings, Tarja, Primal Fear and The Storm are a well-oiled machine.
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Extreme Metal
Even with sky high expectations for every new album, Swedish juggernauts Meshuggah still manage to meet or exceed them. That’s certainly the case with The Violent Sleep Of Reason, their eighth studio album.
Their patented technical mastery and complex arrangements are on full display, but Meshuggah add the creativity needed to make the album greater than the sum of its parts. From the epic opener “Clockworks” to the stellar closer “Into Decay,” the band deliver songs that are intricate, varied, memorable and flawlessly played. You’ll be seeing this one on a lot of “Best of 2016” lists in a couple months.
Red Fang – Only Ghosts (Relapse)
Genre: Heavy Metal/Stoner Rock
Portland’s Red Fang have been steadily increasing their profile, and their fourth album Only Ghosts will only continue that ascension. This time around, they worked with legendary producer Ross Robinson (Slipknot, Korn).
Heavy riffs, an ample groove and clever melodies make for an appealing combination. The dual vocals of Aaron Beam and Bryan Giles are both melodic, but one is gruff and edgy, the other smoother and more accessible. Songs like “No Air” are more intense and have a doom influence, while tracks like “Cut It Short” are hooky hard rock. It’s an album that will win plenty of new converts while pleasing their existing fan base.
Seeker – Loss (Victory)
After an opening instrumental, the devastation begins with a barrage of thrash, crust, death and hardcore. The tracks are compact and potent, sometimes technical and precise and other times loose and chaotic. Seeker do add some variety by slowing the tempo a bit on tracks like “Swallowed,” but the intensity never wavers. Bryce Lucien’s lyrics are delivered with anger and passion, and the album flies by in less than 30 minutes.
Theatres Des Vampires – Candyland (Scarlet)
Genre: Gothic Metal
Vampires have become very popular in pop culture, with numerous TV shows and movies based on the immortal creatures. Theatres Des Vampires are old school, as the Italian Ann Rice-inspired band have been around for more than 20 years.
Their latest opus Candyland is inspired by a room in the infamous Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania. The music is gothic metal with a lot of industrial and pop elements. Sonya Scarlet’s vocals range from heavily processed spoken word to melodic singing. Moonspell’s Fernando Ribeiro appears on “Seventh Room,” a guitar driven track. There are some strong songs on the album, but also some that are too melodramatic and others that don’t leave much of an impression.
Waldgefluster – Ruinen (Bindrune/Nordvis)
Genre: Black Metal
Most songs are in the 9 to 10 minute range, combining atmospheric black metal with harsher elements of the genre while mixing in folk, doom and post metal. The vocals are eclectic as well, ranging from black metal screams to harsh yells to melodic singing. Blastbeats and acoustic guitars co-exist in songs that are creatively arranged and ever changing. It’s slow paced much of the time, with a few bursts of speed periodically.