This week’s reviews include releases from Dehumanized, Dope, Fair Warning, Helmet, Memphis May Fire, Scorpions and Serpentine Dominion. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Dehumanized – Beyond The Mind (Comatose)
Genre: Death Metal
Their method of destruction is different than many brutal death bands. Instead of playing at warp speed, they vary the tempo from molasses slow to lightning fast. Deliberate riffs give way to mid-tempo grooves and periodic intense blastbeats. It’s an effective style, providing ample variety without ever losing intensity.
Dope – Blood Money Part 1 (eOne)
It has been seven years since Dope released a new album, and they are back with Blood Money, Part 1. The classic lineup of the band recently reunited for a tour, raising their profile even more. Through many lineup changes over the years, the constant has been frontman Edsel Dope.
The album has some of the band’s classic industrial sound on tracks like “1999” (which is not a Prince cover), but there are also a lot of modern rock influences with singalong choruses and memorable hooks. It will have appeal to a whole new generation of listeners while fans of classic Dope will still find plenty to sink their teeth into.
Fair Warning – Pimp Your Past (SPV)
Genre: Hard Rock
In addition to modern production, the band also altered the arrangements of some of the tracks. One thing they didn’t have to do was change the key of the songs, because frontman Tommy Heart is still able to hit all the notes. The album title shows the band has a sense of humor and knows how it might be perceived. However, it is an interesting and well done stopgap release to satisfy fans until the band’s next album of original material.
Helmet – Dead To The World (earMusic)
Genre: Alternative Metal
The influential Helmet are back with Dead To The World, their first full-length studio album since 2010, and their eighth overall. The lineup includes band founder Page Hamilton, guitarist Dan Beeman, bassist Dave Case (this is his first Helmet album) and drummer Kyle Stevenson.
It’s a welcome return, with songs that are packed with thick grooves and memorable melodies. Tracks like “Dead To The World” have an alt rock vibe, while songs such as “Die Alone” are straight ahead metal with catchy riffs. The 11 tracks fly by in 37 minutes, with the album closer a slowed down version of the opening track “Life Or Death.”
Memphis May Fire – This Light I Hold (Rise)
In less than a decade, Memphis May Fire have risen to the upper echelon of heavy music. Their previous album, 2014’s Unconditional, debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart. That increases the pressure and expectations for their fifth studio album This Light I Hold.
The band rises to the occasion, delivering a baker’s dozen of first-rate metalcore songs. There’s plenty of pit-ready heaviness along with soaring melodies and singalong choruses. In addition to Matty Mullins’ singing and screaming, there are guest appearances from Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and former My American Heart singer Larry Soliman. All the ingredients are there for another hit album.
Scorpions – Live In Munich 2012 (Eagle Rock)
Genre: Hard Rock
When the Scorpions released Sting In The Tail in 2010, the plans were for it to be their last album. Thankfully, they reconsidered, and continue to rock after 50 years in the business. Live In Munich 2012 was filmed on the final show of the Sting In The Tail tour.
The 21 song, nearly two hour DVD includes a few songs from that album, including the title track and “The Best Is Yet To Come.” They also perform classic songs such as “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “The Zoo,” “Wind Of Change,” “Big City Nights” and “Still Loving You.” The ageless Klaus Meine still sounds great, as do the rest of the band. Here’s to another 50 years!
Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion (Metal Blade)
What started out as a desire for friends to collaborate back on the 2009 Mayhem tour has turned into Serpentine Dominion‘s self-titled debut album. The all-star side project’s lineup includes guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage), vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse) and drummer Shannon Lucas (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder).
The album utilizes elements from each member’s band and creates their own brutal sound. Fisher is one of the best vocalists in extreme metal, Lucas supplies the thunder from behind the kit and Dutkiewicz provides some excellent shredding. He wrote the music, which ranges from crushing intensity to clever grooves, and also adds some clean vocals for variety. The lyrics were written by his Killswitch bandmate Jesse Leach. Clocking in at less than 30 minutes, it’s a brief and enjoyable collaboration from some very talented musicians.