This week’s reviews include releases from Arkona, Civil War, Dark Tranquillity, Glenn Hughes, Junior Bruce, Upon A Burning Body and Wolves At The Gate. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Arkona – Lunaris (Debemur Morti)
Genre: Black Metal
The Polish band Arkona has had wholesale lineup changes since the release of their last album. The only member remaining on their latest effort Lunaris that was also with the group for 2014’s Chaos.Ice.Fire is guitarist Khorzon.
The songs on the album are lengthy, most in the 7 to 9 minute range. The arrangements include atmospheric keyboards and instrumental sections that contrast more intense, black metal moments. It’s a dynamic and compelling album with a lot of ebbs and flows.
Civil War – The Last Full Measure (Napalm)
Genre: Power Metal
The Swedish band Civil War was formed in 2012 by several former Sabaton members and vocalist Nils Patrick Johansson (Astral Doors). The Last Full Measure is their third album.
They follow the Sabaton template pretty closely: soaring power metal with lyrics mostly about war and battles. Johansson has a prototypical power metal style voice with a lot of range and power. In addition to traditional battles,they also tackle the shootout at the O.K. Corral that involved Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and others in “Tombstone.” There’s a lot of interesting subject matter on the album, and the songs are melodic and well played.
Dark Tranquillity – Atoma (Century Media)
Genre:Melodic Death Metal
Dark Tranquillity are one of the pioneers of melodic death metal, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. While their style has undergone some changes over the years, you can still hear the Gotenburg sound in their DNA. Their latest album Atoma is their strongest in quite a while.
The songs are streamlined and memorable, with catchy choruses augmented by atmsopheric keyboards and excellent guitar work. Mikael Stanne’s vocal performance is outstanding, blending growls and melodic singing with a convincing delivery. The songwriting is top-notch, the musicianship first-rate, and a quarter century into their career, Dark Tranquillity are still one of melodeath’s best bands.
Glenn Hughes – Resonate (Frontiers)
Genre: Hard Rock
Glenn Hughes has one of the great voices in rock music. Over the years he’s been in bands ranging from Black Sabbath to Deep Purple to Black Country Communion. He’s also released numerous solo albums over the years. Resonate is his first solo studio disc since 2008.
Resonate is packed front to back with memorable and melodic bluesy hard rock songs. The production is modern, but the style is timeless. At age 65, Hughes sounds as energized as ever, and the “Voice Of Rock” still has plenty of power and range. The album also features a guest appearance from Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith on the opening and closing tracks.
Junior Bruce – Endless Descent (A389)
Genre: Stoner/Sludge Metal
Endless Descent is the second full-length from Florida’s Junior Bruce, a concept album based a person’s struggle to rescue their one love from the depths of the abyss.
Thick, sludgy riffs drive the songs at a quick pace. There’s plenty of guitar wizardry and smooth musicianship, with the gravelly vocals of Scott Angelacos adding a rough edge and ominous vibe to the proceedings. A mid album interlude titled appropriately enough, “Interlude,” provides a couple minutes of acoustic bliss before the sludgey goodness churns up again.
Upon A Burning Body – Straight From The Barrio (Sumerian)
San Antonio, Texas deathcore merchants Upon A Burning Body bring plenty of aggression on their fourth full-length Straight From The Barrio, but they also periodically mix in some acoustic Latin guitar flourishes.
Those add some variety to the bludgeoning deathcore grooves and breakdowns. The lyrics are angry and unapologetic, with songs like “Media Blackout” and “B.M.F.” delivered with attitude and swagger that will get the pit moving. “Leave The Pain Behind” moves between radio-friendly melodies and skull-crushing sections. It’s an album UABB’s ‘core audience will devour.
Wolves At The Gate – Types & Shadows (Solid State)
Genre: Metalcore/Post Hardcore
The Christian metal band Wolves At The Gate hail from Ohio, and Types & Shadows is their third release. It’s a concept album of stories that represent sin and how God is gracious despite how broken a person is.
Hard rock, punk, hardcore and metal combine in a conglomeration of accessible melodies and harder edges. The vocals blend aggressive hardcore yells and melodic singing. There are exceptions like the ballad “Fountain.” Wolves At The Gate inject a lot of dynamics into their songwriting, making it more compelling and diverse.