This week’s reviews include releases from Aura Noir, Blood Tsunami, Boss Keloid, Cardiac Arrest, Demonical, God Is An Astronaut, Kobra And The Lotus, Llnn, Shrine Of The Serpent, Vomitor and Wolf King.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Aura Noir – Aura Noire (Indie)
After a six year absence, veteran Norwegian thrashers Aura Noir return with their sixth full-length, the nearly self-titled Aura Noire.
The power trio of Aggressor (vocals, bass), Blasphemer (guitar) and Apollyon (drums) deliver straightforward thrash dipped in old school goodness. Lengthy intros on tracks like “Hell’s Lost Chambers” showcase potent riffs before Aggressor’s ominous vocals kick in. They blast along at maximum velocity on songs like “The Obscuration” while dialing back into more of a groove on songs such as “Shades Ablaze.” While they pay homage to the glory days of the genre, Aura Noir are no nostalgia act, showing plenty of fury and energy.
Blood Tsunami – Grave Condition (Soulseller)
We go from one Norwegian thrash band who hasn’t released an album in several years to another with similar circumstances. Blood Tsunami return with Grave Condition, their fourth album and first since 2013.
Blood Tsunami’s brand of thrash is a bit more vicious than Aura Noir’s, driven by the thunderous drumming of Bard G. Eithun, better known as Faust (Emperor). Frontman Peter “Pete Evil” Vegem’s vocals are fairly high pitched and feral, with lower pitched growls inserted from time to time. They mash the pedal all the way to the floor for much of the album, guitars ablaze and drums flailing. The album flies by in about 27 minutes, a raw and thunderous bludgeoning of thrash served up with a punk attitude.
Boss Keloid – Melted On The Inch (Holy Roar)
The British band Boss Keloid drew a lot of positive attention with their previous album Herb Your Enthusiasm, and their latest effort Melted On The Inch should raise their profile even more.
While not as heavy as their last album, there are still plenty of thick riffs on Melted On The Inch along with a plethora of styles ranging from stoner/doom to prog to hard rock. Their songwriting has taken a quantum leap, blending memorable riffs with creative and progressive arrangements and a surprising amount of catchiness. With most of the six tracks in the 6 to 8 minute range, it gives ample opportunity for the songs to unfold, shifting tempos and intensities and maintaining interest throughout. Shortening the album by 20 minutes from their previous release was a wise decision, leaving minimal filler and allowing a deeper dive into an outstanding album that will appeal to fans of numerous genres.
Cardiac Arrest – A Parallel Dimension Of Despair (Memento Mori)
Four years ago And Death Shall Set You Free was released and exposed the groovier side of death metal/grindcore masters Cardiac Arrest and was met with positive fan reaction. Four years later they follow it up with A Parallel Dimension of Despair, 46 minutes of gory horror worship.
From fast paced small grindcore parts which are perfectly placed in mostly d-beat, mid paced songs, to songs which are constructed on old school vibe, blast beats fused death metal, Cardiac Arrest have managed some of the most dynamic songs they have ever written. The vivid and sharp production helps the band to create another furious deathgrind compilation with prominent performances and utterly satisfying heavy, trashing the living room songs for their old and new fans!
Demonical – Chaos Manifesto (Agonia)
On their fifth album Chaos Manifesto, Demonical stay firmly in melodic death metal, as they’ve been known to do. On this go around, bassist and founding member Martin Schulman is the only returning player from their last album, 2013’s Darkness Unbound. The new members fit into their particular roles without causing a major disruption to the group’s vision.
This vision includes Demonical’s first song sung completely in Swedish, their native language, and a split between uncompromising permanence and galloping groove. This is done with a typical design—the shorter songs in the former category, the longer songs in the latter—but the delivery is grounded enough to sidestep it from being rudimentary.
God Is An Astronaut – Epitaph (Napalm)
Irish rockers God Is An Astronaut perform a subtle form of the metal genre on this their ninth full length album, Epitaph. The style is very laid back and emotional sounding. However, it has enough gigantic riffs to make for a very interesting listen. The combination of subtlety and power makes for a very impactful recording. This is certainly post rock/metal in flavor, but takes a shoegaze stance at times as well. It’s a very natural sounding recording that has style and finesse to match.
The songs are lengthy and the mood is quite subtle, yet very full of power and energy at the same time. The guitars form a backdrop for the other instruments like the drums and keys. The music is a rich tapestry that is only held back by lack of progression. The music remains fairly simplistic, but this is still a very invigorating recording that has the right amount of atmosphere to be compelling.
Kobra And The Lotus – Prevail II (Napalm)
Almost exactly a year after the first installment, Canadian traditional metallers Kobra And The Lotus return with Prevail II.
As you’d expect, the album follows closely in the footsteps of Prevail I. The songs are slickly produced metal/hard rock with catchy, upbeat songs like “Let Me Love You” that blend heavy riffs with a memorable chorus. “White Water” shows the band’s softer side, a slower track that goes from reserved to full power ballad mode. Kobra Paige is a powerful singer whose classical training is obvious in her delivery and flawless tone. They cover the Fleetwood Mac song “The Chain,” which along with the closing acoustic version of “Let Me Love You” sees a different approach from Paige utilizing more emotion, which works well.
LLNN – Deads (Pelagic)
A looming dread drains through LLNN’s sophomore album, Deads, and that seedy ambiance is enhanced by imposing synths. At times, the synth work is a creature feature from the past; then, without warning, it’ll give off chilly, industrialized nuances to the band’s stifling music.
That music is tough to pinpoint, a hybrid of hardcore’s insanity and doom’s churning underbelly. Deafening percussion echoes out, creating seismic shockwaves pushed to the brink against bruising riffs. It’s all formatted in a way that could’ve been envisioned from the mind of a deranged film composer.
Shrine of the Serpent – Entropic Disillusion (Memento Mori)
Sun-blotting heaviness from Portland, Oregon, three-headed monster Shrine of the Serpent have crawled up from the caverns to deliver their devastating full-length debut in Entropic Disillusion, a seven-track (six really) sojourn of grueling and grumbling death-doom metal.
Tempered with bestial roars, pounding drums, sulking bass, and an uber-dense guitar tone, Entropic Disillusion is home to a grime-caked atmosphere, bleak and unwelcoming, but nevertheless intoxicating in its aural weight and desire to suck the air out of the room. Wading deep in the doom pool, often riding the funereal line, Shrine of the Serpent likewise resort to old sludgy tricks with touches of ghostly melody and knuckle-dragging grooves. One behemoth of a debut.
Vomitor – Pestilent Death (Hells Headbangers)
Six years removed from their last full-length record and very little has changed within the manic world of Australian bangers Vomitor. Their latest offering of low-fi yesteryear thrashing is Pestilent Death, seven tracks of buzzing, barreling, and beer-swilling metal ripped from the greasy pits of the ‘80s underground. Yep, it’s ‘death metal or die,’ all over again.
Outwardly rude speed metal with a jagged edge and Teutonic tendencies, Pestilent Death encompasses much of the oily grime and grit that festered the early efforts of bands like Sodom, Hellhammer, and Slayer. The production is raw, the leads crazed, the bass a background grumble, the vocals fittingly harsh and raspy, and the drumming a constant battering din. Things get a bit redundant, but lethal riffs and lowlife spirit are alive and well in Brisbane, and that’s all you really ask for.
Wolf King – Loyal to the Soil (Prosthetic)
Wolf King are a hardcore band, except they aren’t. They are also a black metal band, except that they aren’t. They operate in an area situated between those two on Loyal to the Soil. The sheer velocity of their tempo on “Hail the Ash” and “Shepherd of the Flock” is matched by a chugging bounce that defines songs of “Betrayer” and “Further.”
Some may hear a Converge or Trap Them influence, though they don’t engage in copy-and-paste songwriting. The momentum of the album steers towards annihilation, though the melodic guitars in the intro to “Mortals I” provides a temporary refrain.