This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Cannabis Corpse, Cradle Of Filth, Dawn Of Disease, Midnight Odyssey, Nile, Novembers Doom, Silvertomb, Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper, Violation Wound, Voyager and Year Of The Cobra.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Cannabis Corpse – Nug So Vile (Season Of Mist)
Most weed-worshiping metal is in the stoner/doom genre, which makes sense. Cannabis Corpse, fronted by Municipal Waste’s Phil “Landphil” Hall, bring more brutality to the dispensary with their death metal take on marijuana metal. Nug So File is their sixth full-length.
Musically the songs are straightforward death metal with plenty of groove. Song titles like “Edibles Autopsy” and “Dawn Of Weed Possession” typify the mix of crushing heaviness and pot related lyrics. Tracks like “Blunt Force Domain” and “The Cone Is Red (Long Live The Cone)” blaze along at maximum velocity, while songs such as “Cheeba Jigsore Quandry” are a little slower, but the heaviness remains. Whether you’re straight edge, a stoner, or somewhere in between, death metal fans will appreciate Nug So Vile.
Cradle Of Filth – Cruelty And The Beast (Music For Nations)
Originally released in 1998, Cruelty And The Beast was Cradle Of Filth‘s third album. It’s a concept record based on Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian “blood countess.” It was the swansong for drummer Nicholas Barker, guitarist Stuart Anstis and keyboardist Lecter.
The reissued version of the album has been remixed and remastered. There’s also new artwork and an additional track, a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” It’s interesting to hear Dani Filth’s approach to the track. He doesn’t try to channel Bruce Dickinson, bringing his unique and extreme take to the vocals. The songs hold up well, and the new mix adds even more heft and depth to the album. Cruelty And The Beast is considered by most to be in the upper echelon of Cradle Of Filth albums, and this new edition is one that fans will appreciate.
Dawn of Disease – Procession of Ghosts (Napalm)
Germany’s Dawn of Disease return to the melodic death metal fold with Procession of Ghosts.It follows their 2017 release Ascension Gate. Procession of Ghosts is a good mix of modern and classic melodic death metal. The group find the right combination of brutality and melody needed to create a powerful piece of melodeath.
Their guitar style moves between buzz saw, low end rumbles to frantic, Gothenburg-esque fretwork with enveloping melodies. “May the Waves Take Me” and “Where the Clouds Reach the Ground” have a The Jester Race In Flames feel. “Autumn Days” features a mood that matches its gloom-implied title. Bonus track, “In Death We Blast” alternates between guttural vocals and higher pitch, quasi-screaming—the sort John Tardy opts for. Dawn of Disease do not reinvent the wheel with Procession of Ghosts, but melodies and fret play of this variety never seems to get old.
Midnight Odyssey – Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains (I, Voidhanger)
Dis Pater has made some wonderful, transcendent music in his decade-plus run as Midnight Odyssey, but Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains steps his work into a whole new spectrum. The first of a trilogy that will be released over the course of the next few years, the third album from this group is abstract black metal with a lofty amount of ambiance. Lengthy keyboard passages invoke a sense of loss and pining for release, broken up by buzzing guitars given an unembellished production.
During all of this comes echoes of tangible beauty, a major part of which is from Pater’s excellent melodic vocals on songs like “Pillars In The Sky.” Midnight Odyssey have always been a challenging band to get into, with the first two albums being double-disc affairs going over two hours each, but this first part lands under 75 minutes. It’s still a daunting excursion, but Pater hasn’t lost his touch with his take on cosmic black metal.
Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites (Nuclear Blast)
After a more than four year span between albums, South Carolina death metal veterans Nile return with Vile Nilotic Rites. After the exit of longtime guitarist Dallas Toler-Wade a couple years ago, this is the first album for new axeman Brian Kingsland (Enthean).
As you’d expect from a Nile album, the songs are crushingly heavy with a lot of technicality. Tracks like “The Oxford Handbook Of Savage Genocidal Warfare” are razor-sharp and focused, while songs like the 8 plus minute “Seven Horns Of War” are more cinematic with ebbs and flows between brutality and atmosphere. “Revel In Their Suffering” delivers plenty of groove while “Snake Pit Mating Frenzy” brings a taste of the old school. Vile Nilotic Rites is diverse and dynamic with impeccable musicianship.
Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove (Prophecy)
While industry pundits may lazily refer to Novembers Doom as a death-doom band, their sound encompasses a much wider breadth. Over the past thirty years, the Chicago band has incorporated everything from thrash to acoustic, and yes, death and doom metal, into their style. Here on their eleventh album, Nephilim Grove, the band continues to defy pigeon-holing.
The core of Nephilim Grove is nine “dark metal” songs, with ingredients sifted from doom, death, classic heavy metal, and a bit of progressive metal to boot. Paul Kuhr continues to shine behind the mic, with clean, harsh, and hardcore vocals all hitting the mark. Arguably, the two strongest songs here are the bonus acoustic variants of excellent numbers “What We Become” and “The Clearing Blind.” The only real downside to this album is the somewhat thin production. Music like this needs to shake the Scotch snifters off the table, and despite the great songs and performances, Nephilim Grove fails only in this regard.
Silvertomb – Edge Of Existence (Long Branch)
Silvertomb is a relatively new band, but its members have a lot of experience. The group was formed by Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative) and includes former Type O bandmate Johnny Kelly on drums along with guitarist Joseph James (Agnostic Front), bassist Hank Hell (Seventh Void) and keyboardist Aaron Joos (Awaken The Shadow).
Edge Of Existence encompasses a few different styles, with doom being at the forefront. Deliberate tempos and heavy riffs drive songs like “Love You Without No Lies” They pick up the pace on “So True” and slow it back down on the ballad “Not Your Savior.” There’s plenty of ebb and flow, and the lyrical concept of the record explores Hickey’s struggles with addiction and the death of Peter Steele in 2010.
Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper – At The Gates (Dissonance)
Grim Reaper were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, releasing three albums in the ’80s before disbanding. The band reformed in 2006, and in 2013 released a new album under the Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper moniker. He’s the lone remaining original member, with a new bassist and drummer on board for their new release, At The Gates.
Grimmett is still able to hit the high notes, evident on tracks like “Rush,” though there are some inconsistencies elsewhere. The songs are catchy and melodic with several that would have had hit potential back in the day. There is some filler, but the ratio of hits far exceeds the misses. The current lineup continues the legacy of the band while pushing forward and attracting a new generation of fans.
Violation Wound – Dying To Live, Living To Die (Peaceville)
Violation Wound is Autopsy frontman Chris Reifert’s hardcore punk project. He steps out from behind the kit and plays guitar in this band in addition to vocals. Coming on the heels of last year’s With Man In Charge, Dying To Live, Living To Die is Violation Wound’s fifth album.
Reifert and company blaze through 18 tracks in around 30 minutes. The riffs are fast and furious, with some blistering guitar solos on songs like “Follower” and “Lack Of Focus.” The vocals are gruff with some gang vocals on choruses, which are simple yet effective. Most songs are pedal to the metal, but they ease up from time to time on tracks like “Exorcism Of Ignorance.” They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but Violation Wound deliver the goods.
Voyager – Colours in the Sun (Season of Mist)
Two years ago, Voyager’s excellent The Ghost Mile placed sixth on my top progressive albums list. The Australian vets play an enticing style of progressive pop metal – think of some sort of weird combination of Duran Duran, older Leprous, and Night Flight Orchestra – and Daniel Estrin’s urgent, reverb-drenched vocals are compelling to most music fans. Here on Colours in the Sun, the band aims to continue with the lofty success of the last couple records.
And success is what they find, with plenty of urgent, syncopated, heavy tracks, a number of wonderfully dated synth-laden moments, and plenty of superbly-arranged heavy and light numbers. Leprous leading man Einar Solberg lends his gorgeous voice to “Entropy,” a song that tops anything on Pitfalls. With Colours in the Sun, Voyager continue their streak of impeccable, irresistible, catchy as hell progressive pop metal.
Year Of The Cobra – Ash And Dust (Prophecy)
Seattle stoner/doom duo Year Of The Cobra are issuing their sophomore full-length Ash And Dust three years after their debut. It was produced by the legendary Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, Mudhoney).
Amy Tung (vocals/bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums) have expanded their sonic palette a bit this time around. The thick riffs and prominent bass are still front and center, but they add touches of psychedelia and even some post punk for even more variety. Jam-packed with groove, there are plenty of hooks as well. Tung’s vocals are sometimes smooth and angelic, other times more aggressive and punk rock. Aficionados of the downtuned will appreciate Year Of The Cobra’s eclectic album.