Heavy Music Headquarters Album Reviews: Week of January 10, 2020

This week’s Heavy Music HQ album reviews include releases from Body Stuff, Brothers Of Metal, Cardinal Sin, Empire Of The Moon, Ether Coven, Horrid, Kawir, The Krueggers, Rage, Snorlax, Unreqvited, Violent Party and Waldgefluster.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

The Chain

Body Stuff – Body Stuff 3 (The Chain)

Seven years after the first installment, the three-EP trilogy from Body Stuff is now complete with Body Stuff 3. The duo of Curran Reynolds and Ryan Jones began when the two were members of Today Is The Day.

The core sound of rock remains, with some new additions this time. Synths are more prominent this time around, but there are plenty of guitars as well, including a solo from KMFDM’s Andee Blacksugar on “Inches.” Reynolds’ vocals are melodic, with Jones (who is also in Mutilation Rites) adding some harsh vocals on “New York In The Rain,” a track that’s the album’s heaviest but also has some mellow moments. The five tracks are varied, with Body Stuff incorporating everything from metal to rock to industrial to new wave.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

AFM Records

Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga (AFM)

It’s crowded when Brothers Of Metal hit the stage. The Swedish band has eight members, including three vocalists and a triple-guitar attack. The power metal band’s sophomore album Embas Saga delves into topics about Vikings and northern mythology.

Symphonic elements provide depth, with the three vocalists adding multiple viewpoints. Yiva Eriksson is front and center for most of the proceedings, with Joakim Lindback Eriksson and Mats Nilsson getting plenty of exposure as well. “Chainbreaker” is a catchy anthem, while other songs such as the title track are more intricate and epic. And while the arrangements are compelling, Brothers Of Metal don’t forget it’s the hooks and riffs that make a song memorable.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Machineman Records

Cardinal Sin – Lucified (Machineman)

Cardinal Sin are a metal band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The generic “metal” tag is the best way to describe their sophomore album, Lucified. It’s really hard to pin down the band’s sound to a single moniker because they run the gamut of styles. One could say they play a ‘90s style of heavy music.

Will McElwee’s leads have a bluesy quality. His riffs are comparable to Corrosion of Conformity and Black Label Society. Voice wise, McElwee is quite diverse. On the more aggressive or flowing tempos he resembles Kyuss’s John Garcia, while his crooning recalls Layne Staley (see “Peace Be With You) and Maynard James Keenan. The sludgy dirge on “Steroid” shows the band at its darkest and heaviest. “Depot” is their fastest, most aggressive tune—a great fighting song. “Life II” slows the tempo down to a melodic feeler. Lucified is diverse and catchy, but overall the album just sounds too familiar to music already done in the ‘90s.

Rating: 3
(Darren Cowan)

Iron Bonehead Productions

Empire of the Moon – Εκλειψις (Iron Bonehead)

Even though they formed in 1996, Εκλειψις is only the second LP by the Greek black metal band Empire of the Moon. The album comes six years after their debut, Πανσέληνος. Quality is definitely preferred over quantity as both Empire of the Moon releases are tremendous.

The Greeks love classic metal/NWOBHM and it’s quite noticeable in the guitars, but still this is a black metal album: The vocal shrieking makes that perfectly clear. Just like the last record, the moon and the cosmos are common lyrical and visual motifs. Choir keys are a component in their majestic opus to the night sky. “Per Aspera Ad Lunae – IV. Son of Fire” features clean guitar melodies and choirs. “Devi Maha Devi” and the album intro bring a grandiose, cinematic factor to the album. Empire of the Moon’s Εκλειψις is another superb entry into the Hellenic black metal tradition. The album’s greatness can’t be understated.

Rating: 4.5
(Darren Cowan)

Century Media Records

Ether Coven – Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering (Century Media)

With an album title like Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering you know you won’t be getting a lot of sunshine and light. What you will get from the Florida band Ether Coven is well written, executed and produced doom metal. After two self-released albums they have signed with Century Media for this album.

The songs are expansive doom with touches of sludge, noise and goth. The vocals are mainly harsh, with some melodic singing. Tracks like “Of Bitterness And Shame” shift back and forth from dense, chaotic extremity to mellow moments. They are equally comfortable at long songs like the 13 minute opus “Enjoy Life” as they are with focused tracks like “When Quiet Fell.” The songwriting and musicianship are excellent, as is the production from Erik Rutan (Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel).

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Dunkelheit Productions

Horrid – As We Forget Our Past (Dunkelheit)

Italy’s Horrid ring in the new decade by looking to the past with As We Forget Our Past. As the death metallers describe it, the album features a “slew of ‘greatest hits’ rerecorded with Horrid’s lineup that’s been firm since 2015.”

Now usually fans frown upon such endeavors, but fear not as Horrid show proper homage to its past offerings with an updated, ripping versions of older tracks. The guitars hold sounds as sharp as a buzz saw while vocalist/bassist Dagon roars in with furious growls that does the these death metal attacks proper justice. Opener “Reborn In Sin” contains the right amount of melody synched with vicious primal old-school death metal, but they have no problems bringing the pummeling and straight forward assaults with “Misunderstood God” and “Demonic Sadocarnage.” A thoroughly fun look at the path laid waste by this Italian death squad. Recommended for the newer and older fans.

Rating: 3.5
(Nick Balazs)

Iron Bonehead Productions

Kawir – Adrasteia (Iron Bonehead)

Along with Rotting Christ, Varathron and Necromantia, Kawir were an early pillar in the Greek black metal scene, most significantly the pagan black metal sound. Their 1996 MLP To Cavirs was the first truly pagan black metal album to arise from Hellas. 27 years after the band’s inception, Kawir return to this tradition with the six-song LP, Adrasteia.

“Tydeus” opens the album on an epic, Bathory fashion with sword-swinging riffs and glorious choirs courtesy of guest Alexandros from Macabre Omen. “Colchis” is a ritualistic acoustic jam featuring alluring and wailing female vocals by Wardruna member Lindy-Fay Hella. Also, listen for a guitar solo by Melechesh’s Ashmedi on “Danaides.” Wind instruments enchant through parts of the album, but the bulk of the album consists of epic black metal. Blasting drums and swift tremolo picking are major components. Melodic shifts underscore a colossal dynamism. Adrasteia is another valiant outing in Kawir’s modern catalog. Adrasteia is for those who yearn for archaic times.

Rating: 4
(Darren Cowan)

Eclipse Records

The Krueggers – Hysterical Cold Side And Dark Memories (Eclipse)

The Krueggers hail from Brazil, but other locales such as Seattle are evident in the sound of their new album Hysterical Cold Side And Dark Memories.

They are influenced by ’90s and early 2000s styles like grunge and nu-metal, but also incorporate alt metal to try to bring in modern vibes, with mixed results. Groove abounds on songs like “Dark Parade” and “I Set Myself,” but they lose momentum on slower tracks such as “Someday.” There are some quality tunes on the album, but the overall impact is diluted by filler.

Rating: 2.5
(Chad Bowar)

SPV/Steamhammer Records

Rage – Wings Of Rage (SPV/Steamhammer)

The long-running German band Rage have been around since the early ’80s. Vocalist/bassist Peavy Wagner is the trio’s lone original member, with the current lineup having been together for about five years. Wings Of Rage is their 23rd studio album.

There aren’t a lot of surprises, just well-played and written traditional/power metal with some thrash thrown in. There are a lot of catchy songs such as “Let Them Rest In Peace” and “Tomorrow.” The track “HTTS 2.0” is an updated version of “Higher Than The Sky” from their 1996 release End Of All Days. It’s another quality release from a prolific band.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Brilliant Emperor Records

Snorlax – II (Brilliant Emperor)

After a demo in 2018 and a split with Drugoth last year, the Australian one-man project Snorlax emerges with II.

Mastermind Brendan Auld (Consumed, Descent, Necroseptic) delivers a jolt of blackened death metal and grind. From the barely one minute “The Resin Tomb” to the six plus minute “Mind Ov Maggots,” II pays homage to the old school. Galloping riffs abound with vocals ranging from guttural growls to high pitched screeches. The production is raw enough to have that old school feeling, but keeping a modern sound as well.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Prophecy Productions

Unreqvited – Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse (Prophecy)

On previous albums, 鬼, the mastermind behind Unreqvited, has shown a significant difference between his band and other similar musical acts in the atmospheric/post-black metal genre. 鬼 knows how to create magnificent and powerful orchestras with subtlety and precision.

He focused on themes like love and zeal on Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur, and now concentrates on themes like hate and distress on Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse. While the songs on Mosaic I were more keyboard driven and constructed on emotional, epic strings orchestrations, Mosaic II is more focused on lo-fi, fuzzy guitars based soundscapes. 鬼 struggles to find grief and distress among the guitar melodies, which is successful in a few moments. But Mosaic II can’t reach the exceptional point of Mosaic I. The album departs from that special and outstanding songwriting, and has gone astray with the last three synth ambient songs.

Rating: 2.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Violent Party – Singles Collection (Horror Pain Gore Death)

Punk appears to be alive and, sort of, well on Singles Collection, a 14-track barf buffet of songs released between 2011 and 2019 by Portland-based noisecore outfit Violent Party. The record features outtakes and previously unreleased material, including some cut from the final version of their album Signals from Outer Space, which was also released in 2019. This is pretty niche stuff you’ve got here, even for a metal review site.

What we have is hardcore punk that’s melodic, angsty, ugly, and utterly reckless in its driving habits. However, Violent Party also seem to play the part of the mad scientist by integrating the noise paradigm; this use of dissonant noise and various effect work is pretty jarring, disorienting, and with the band’s pulsing bass, clanking drums, and banshee shrieks, it all makes for a legitimate room-clearing experience. The lo-fi production keeps things feeling appropriately anarchistic.

Rating: 3
(Evan Mugford)

Nordvis Produktion

Waldgefluster – Stimmen Im Wind 2020 (Nordvis)

Waldgefluster have stumbled upon an ingenious idea: instead of simply remastering and/or remixing their 2006 demo, Stimmen Im Wind, the band re-recorded it. Not held back to the limitations founding member Winterherz had when he performed this material by himself, the seven songs are given a new blackened lifeline that could fit them in at almost any stage in the band’s flourishing career.

Beefing up the production values allows elements like the poignant melodic vocals a prominent position in the music. They clearly have come a long way in the 15 years or so since this originally came out, yet the songs retain their pagan-influenced charm. The vinyl release of Stimmen Im Wind 2020 includes a CD of the original demo, so astute listeners can pick up on the differences between each one.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

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