This week’s Heavy Music HQ album reviews include releases from Aevum, Darker Half, Deranged, Igorrr, Imonolith, In This Moment, Irist, Little Albert, Me And That Man, Mortal Device, Solothus, Telepathy, Temple Of Void, Tesla, Twitch Of The Death Nerve, Wake and Woorms.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Aevum – Multiverse (DarkTunes)
Things could get crowded on stage when Aevum play live, as the Italian symphonic metal band has eight members. They have been around for more than a decade, and Multiverse is their third album.
Diversity of vocal styles is not an issue, as the album features male growls, male melodic singing and female operatic vocals. While most songs feature all the styles, it varies on which one takes center stage. While having symphonic elements, the songs on Multiverse have electronic parts and vocal effects that give it a modern vibe. Tracks like “Spark Of Light” are uptempo and upbeat, while songs such as “Cold Spot” have a wider range of emotions. While well executed and ever-shifting, a larger dose of hooks would make the songs even more memorable.
Darker Half – If You Only Knew (Massacre)
The Australian power metal band Darker Half released their first three albums pretty regularly, but there was a six year gap between full-lengths prior to their latest opus If You Only Knew.
Melodies drive the soaring songs that are mostly briskly paced and loaded with hooks. Vocalist/guitarist Vo Simpson is impressive, delivering a wide variety of styles and textures with power and range (and a glass-shattering falsetto). Those melodic vocals are given contrast on “Sedentary Pain,” featuring a couple guest growlers including Dave Lupton from Flaming Wreckage. The songs are generally in the 5 to 6 minute range, with Darker Half having no problem maintaining listener interest throughout.
Deranged – Deeds Of Ruthless Violence (Agonia)
Deranged are a death metal band from Sweden, but don’t expect another Entombed clone. Deranged play brutal death metal more aligned with the sounds of America. The group has been around since 1991, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their style, but still manage to sound like other bands. Their latest blood smattering, Deeds of Ruthless Violence recalls American bludgeoners such as Cannibal Corpse, Immolation and Deeds of Flesh.
The barking vocals on album opener “Necro-Bulimia Interfering Afterlife” immediately bring to mind Cannibal Corpse’s Corpsegrinder. False harmonics play a major part in the guitar play, especially on “Carnal Provision For the Rotten Masses,” which sounds like it came from the sharpened blades of Immolation. “Quarantine Required for Living Entities” has one of the best grooves on the album. “Through States of Putrefaction” showcases technical time changes. Deranged aren’t doing anything new here, but genre fans should revel in the gore and battering brutality.
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion (Metal Blade)
Anyone who remembers 2017’s Savage Sinusoid knows what they are getting into with avant-garde misfits Igorrr. A unique combination of extreme metal, classical baroque, Balkan traditional, and 8-bit Atari blips all added up to something completely insane, and the band is back to wreak havoc on our senses once more with Spirituality and Distortion.
All of the off-kilter instrumentation, operatic vocals, and blackened shrieks that we’ve come to expect from Igorrr are here, but this time around the songs are more cohesive and many have a distinct Eastern flair to them (“Camel Dancefloor” and “Downgrade Desert” of course). This doesn’t make Spirituality and Distortion any less enjoyable than the band’s previous album, and in fact might be a better starting point for those new to Igorrr.
Imonolith – State of Being (Self)
Why can’t all debuts be this good? Probably because Imonolith’s lineup oozes musical pedigree. That’s not to say great debuts can’t be born from unseasoned musicians, but State of Being could have easily been an unsightly mess, a disarray of prestigious names flung together for the sake of boasting their gold certificates; this couldn’t be further from the case.
With a cast hailing from Devin Townsend Project, Threat Signal and Econoline Crush, State of Being is a joyous first outing that subtly intertwines aspects of Slipknot, Gojira and various other entrails from the melting pot that is modern metal. There’s not quite enough muscle here to break boundaries but plenty to bring battery to the ears. Riffs are crunchy, intense but often just as infectious as the bands’ standout choruses with enough variation to keep prog-minded fans from sneering and enough kick to keep the neck righteously sore. Plus, any debut that can nab Meshuggah’s Jens Kidman for a feature is at least worth a sample in my book.
In This Moment – Mother (Atlantic/Roadrunner)
Over the past several years In This Moment have seamlessly made the jump to a major label and become one of metal’s most visually compelling live acts. Their evolution to industrial-tinged music has also generated a lot of radio airplay, which won’t change with their seventh album, Mother.
Musically they follow the path of their last few albums, with this one also produced by Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch). Maria Brink is one of the genre’s most charismatic vocalists, utilizing everything from heavily processed rock singing to emotional crooning to harsh screams. All are utilized on “The In-Between” that name checks their debut album Beautiful Tragedy and “Sick Like Me” from 2014’s Black Widow. There are three cover songs: Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” Queen’s “We Will Rock You” (featuring Lzzy Hale and Taylor Momsen) and Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust.” Ded’s Joe Cotela guests on the single “Hunting Grounds.” Though there’s not much new ground broken (and an overload of covers), there are plenty of quality songs that will satisfy In This Moment’s ever-growing fan base.
Irist – Order Of The Mind (Nuclear Blast)
Irist are based in Atlanta, but three of their members originally hail from South American countries (Argentina, Chile and Brazil). Order Of The Mind is their debut album.
The band has a style all their own, with influences ranging from Sepultura to Meshuggah to Gojira. Straightforward extreme metal shifts into technical sections before veering into prog territory. Crushing death metal with harsh vocals smoothly morphs into delicate rock with melodic singing. The ten songs run the gamut from the catchy “Severed” to the forceful “Dead Prayers” to the dynamic “Nerve.” They’ve reached impressive heights on their debut, and Irist have the chops and potential to become one of the genre’s rising stars.
Little Albert – Swamp King (Aural)
As metal fans, the blues are the backbone of everything we listen to. It may not be evident in today’s plethora of sub-genres, but it’s true; metal came out of ’60s blues, and we should celebrate it. That’s what Albert Piccolo, under the moniker Little Albert, is doing. Piccolo is the lead guitarist for Italian doomsters Messa, and Swamp King is his homage to the delta blues of yore.
From the opening notes it is obvious that Piccolo loves the blues. The six songs on Swamp King are heartfelt and genuine, and Piccolo does tremendous work on guitar. While some metalheads might not be into an album of this nature, trust me, Swamp King is a great introduction to the sound and feel of metal’s origins.
Me And That Man – New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1 (Napalm)
Me And That Man is Behemoth mainman Nergal’s solo project where he explores other styles of music. While their 2017 debut found Nergal handling the vocals, this time around he mostly steps aside when it comes to singing, bringing aboard some guests to handle those duties.
The music on New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1 explores a wide spectrum of styles. Opener “Run With The Devil” featuring Shining’s Jurgen Munkeby is a blues rocker, while “Burning Churches” with Grave Pleasures’ Mat McNerney is in the outlaw country vein. Ihsahn lends his talents to the “By The River,” while Nergal grabs the mic on “Mestwo.” His clean singing is serviceable on the gothic-tinged tune. There are gothic undertones on “You Will Be Mine” as well as folk as Trivium’s Matt Heafy showcases a deep baritone. Banjos take the lead on the appropriately titled “Deep Down South” with Johanna Sadonis (Lucifer) and Nicke Anderson (Entombed). One of the highlights is “How Come? featuring Corey Taylor and Brent Hinds along with guitar from Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano. The album closes with Niklas Kvarforth from the other Shining channeling Johnny Cash before a burst of extremity on “Confession.” It’s an interesting showcase of rock/metal musicians stepping outside of their usual styles and bringing something new and different to the table.
Mortal Device are a five-piece outfit from Arizona, comprised of seasoned vets. Over the past year the band has recorded eleven songs, and plan on releasing them in a series of three EPs. Chapter One is their debut EP, containing four of the songs. The band plays an alluring brand of classic metal with a modern edge to it.
The songs on Chapter One are high energy, melodic heavy metal featuring top-notch musicianship (including a guest solo from Flotsam and Jetsam’s Michael Gilbert) and strong vocals. Mortal Device manage to write songs that, while obviously influenced by the greats of days gone by, are still their own. Aggressive production adds to the EP’s vitality, making Mortal Device a band to keep an eye on as we wait for the next two releases.
Solothus – Realm of Ash and Blood (20 Buck Spin)
Finnish death doom dealers Solothus make their 20 Buck Spin debut with their third full length, Realm of Ash and Blood. Certainly the album has a plodding pace, one that compares they favorably to their fellow countrymen Hooded Menace.
“The Watcher” is a solid song which swirls in and out with gruff low vocals, high pitched shrieks and chugging distortion. Album closer “A Rain of Ash” is a 10 minute tour-de-force that showcases varying tempos, something the band is particularly good at. If you are looking for a more apocalyptic musical entry for your new day-to-day life, look no further than this doomy disc.
Telepathy – Burn Embrace (Svart)
When Telepathy released the album Tempest in 2017, it was like they were giving post metal a new meaning. They created a new soundscape that seemed to incorporate the word cinematic metal into the vocabulary of musical genres. The amazing sound of the album Tempest is again reflected in their new album, Burn Embrace.
Although vocals have a few moments in Burn Embrace, it is more of an instrumental album. It is the stunning coloring of melodies and riffs that convey a world of poetry and emotion to the listener. Telepathy specifically intended to make an album that would continue the sound of Tempest, rather than just make it sound like it. This has made their musical territory wider and the listener has to strive to discover all aspects of their music. Burn Embrace is like a soundtrack to a movie that has not been made, but it explicitly narrates and pictures the story of life.
Tesla – Five Man London Jam (UMe)
Back in 1990 Tesla released Five Man Acoustical Jam, which went platinum and spawned the hit single “Signs.” 30 years later the band convened at the legendary Abbey Road Studios to record Five Man London Jam. Four of the five current band members have been part of both acoustic albums.
Tesla performed three songs from last year’s Shock plus classics from throughout their career, such as “What You Give,” “Call It What You Want” and “Love Song.” They revisit “Signs” and “We Can Work It Out” plus a couple others that also appeared on Five Man Acoustical Jam, but the majority of the songs are different than that record. The acoustic renditions are energetic and entertaining, and frontman Jeff Keith’s distinctive voice is in fine form. Five Man London Jam is available in numerous formats including CD, Blu-ray, vinyl and digital.
Temple of Void – The World That Was (Shadow Kingdom)
Michigan’s Temple of Void have the mixture of doom and death metal down pat on this their third full-length release, The World That Was. The band’s style is a bit too slow moving to fit exclusively under the death metal umbrella, and this is why they are mostly a hybrid band.
Their sound is pretty powerful and crushing. The songs are chunky and feature a nice huge production that accentuates the riffing nicely. The approach has a thoughtfulness to it, but it is still streamlined. The band is still too standard sounding and comes across as though they aren’t really achieving what they could be stylistically. With a little more innovation, they would be a force to be reckoned with, but as it stands Temple of Void are a very good band.
Twitch of the Death Nerve – A Resting Place for the Wrathful (Comatose)
London’s own Twitch of the Death Nerve, a power trio with a penchant for battering brutal death metal, are poised to unleash their third full-length record in A Resting Place for the Wrathful. TOTDN have stalked the more barbaric slopes of BDM since their conception back in 2004, opting to bombard the listener with blasts, chugs, and guttural exclamations of a decidedly grim and misanthropic nature. And sticking it to the man or, more specifically, humanity, is the name of the game.
With tried-and-true samples from flicks like There Will Be Blood and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (also done to memorable effect by Skinless), ARPFTW is a relentless barrage of concussive aural extremity akin to Disgorge or Condemned. Its synonymy and mudded-out production may dissuade newbies, but those with a hankering for straight-laced, skull-cleaving death metal, equal parts slamming, technical, and butt ugly, should look no further.
Wake – Devouring Ruin (Translation Loss)
For their fourth album, Devouring Ruin, Wake deviate from the crusty death-grind of their past for more long-form songwriting. Tunes that went two or three minutes have now doubled, and in some cases tripled, their lengths. It’s as if the band used doomy closer “Burial Ground” from their last album, Misery Rites, as a blueprint for the direction they wanted to go in on this album. The death-grind hasn’t been diminished; instead, it’s surrounded by diverse tempos and ambient interludes.
The greater emphasis on variety makes instances when the band goes full throttle, as they do on “In The Lair Of The Rat Kings” and “Monuments To Impiety,” very substantial. Khemmis and Glacial Tomb vocalist/guitarist Ben Hutcherson adds a fantastic solo to “Mouth Of Abolition” and the 10-plus minute “Torchbearer” pushes Wake to the limit with dazzling appeal. Devouring Ruin is a worthy twist on the blunt style they’d been pursuing for the last decade.
Woorms – Twitching, As Prey (Hospital/Sludgelord)
After last year’s full-length debut, the Louisiana sludge trio Woorms quickly return with Twitching, As Prey.Molasses-thick riffs drench the songs in sludgey goodness.
Tracks like “Beauty Is A Trick Of Light And Sorrow” and the instrumental “Escape Goat” have an ample supply. “Fire Is A Good Servant” is a noise-based interlude that adds variety heading into the down-tuned “Silence And The Saints.” Woorms are anything but straightforward, meandering into experimental territory on songs like “Fire Is A Bad Master.” Most songs have lengthy instrumental sections, which isn’t a bad thing because the vocals are a bit of acquired taste. However, the guitars go down real smoothly.