This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Chrome Waves, Cradle Of Filth, Danava, Enforced, Fires In The Distance, Ignea, Lunar Chamber, Messa, Necronomicon, Savage Existence, Teramaze and Terranoct.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Chrome Waves – Earth Will Shed Its Skin (M-Theory)
Earth Will Shed Its Skin is the fifth album from the Chicago post metal band Chrome Waves. There is one lineup change from 2021’s The Rain Will Cleanse, with Garry Naples (Novembers Doom, Wolvhammer) handling drum duties on this record.
The album combines the extremity of black metal and its harsh vocals with more accessible rock based sections with melodic singing, and they also add ambient sections. It’s an interesting approach, and the lengthy songs (most in the 6 to 8 minute range) allow for ample exploration. Sometimes the ambient sections drag on a bit too long, but on most tracks Chrome Waves strike the right balance of those varied elements. It’s an album of contrasts, with “The Long Rope,” an intense dose of black metal, immediately followed by the mellow and melodic “What Desperate Looks Like.” Earth Will Shed Its Skin is an unpredictable and ever changing post black metal album.
Cradle Of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives (Napalm)
It has been a while since Cradle Of Filth recorded a live album. The material on Trouble And Their Double Lives was recorded mostly during the Cryptoriana World Tour. In addition to the live songs, the band gives a preview of what to expect on the follow-up to 2021’s Existence Is Futile with two new studio tracks.
One is “She Is A Fire,” a grandiose mid-paced number. The other is “Demon Prince Regent,” an ominous song shifting between brutality and melody. The live songs cover a wide span of CoF’s career. They play a couple of songs from Cryptoriana (The Seductiveness Of Decay) and also play two songs from 1996’s Dusk And Her Embrace. Between those bookends are songs from a two decade period. The always compelling visual elements of Cradle Of Filth shows are obviously missing, but Trouble And Their Double Lives is still able to transport the listener into that theatrical world, with the new tracks the icing on the cake.
Danava – Nothing But Nothing (Tee Pee)
Portland hard rockers Danava released three well-received albums between 2006 and 2011, then went silent, save for a single released in 2016. A dozen years after Hemisphere Of Shadows, they make their triumphant return with Nothing But Nothing.
They roar out of the gate with the opening title track, an uptempo song with great riffs and guitar harmonies. They have a retro approach, utilizing elements from both ’70s hard rock and ’80s NWOBHM, and sprinkling in stoner and prog. That range of styles and their musical prowess is on display on the instrumental “Season Of Vengeance.” Danava generally keep the pace fast throughout Nothing But Nothing, but ease back into moderate grooves on songs like the Maidenesque “Enchanted Villain.” Nothing But Nothing is a welcome comeback, and will appeal to a wide range of heavy music fans, from classic rock to stoner to hard rock/traditional metal.
Enforced – War Remains (Century Media)
Richmond crossover unit Enforced return with War Remains, their third proper album after having wrecked necks with their last blast Kill Grid in 2021. “Aggressive Menace” is the perfect opener for the band as it accurately depicts their place in the heavy metal sphere; violent, fast and straight to the point. “Hanged By My Hand” is another whirlwind track possessing the ability to whip up a maelstrom on guitar at a moment’s notice before slowing things down with their mosh pit sensibilities and Reign In Blood riffing.
Enforced have continued their thrash campaign that all started with At The Walls back in 2019, one that is equal parts their upbringing and their own flavor being added into the mix. This is top quality thrash that only gets better each time you spend the nearly 35-minute runtime. Just be kind to your collar with this one or you won’t have one left.
Fires In The Distance – Air Not Meant For Us (Prosthetic)
Air Not Meant For Us is a richer take on Fires In The Distance’s melodic death/doom metal, thanks to live orchestration being brought in. Violas, violins and cellos elevate the mournful spirit the band situates themselves in on these six songs. The synths and piano remain essential, whether used as background enhancement or a gateway into a passionate instrumental section. Much like their debut album Echoes From Deep November, they dabble in extremity without sacrificing harmony.
Though they never fall outright into an unruly situation with their death metal, the guitars transform from monstrous riffs to soulful solos on the regular, and there’s enough going on in these songs to support their well-paced lengths. Air Not Meant For Us is a step up, thanks to the organic-sounding orchestration and denser songwriting.
Ignea – Dreams Of Lands Unseen (Napalm)
For their third release, the Ukrainian symphonic/progressive/folk metal band Ignea composed a concept album. Dreams Of Lands Unseen is about Ukrainian photographer and documentarian Sofia Yablonska, who traveled the world documenting the lives of tribes and natives in the 1920s and ’30s.
Ignea’s use of Middle Eastern folk elements helps differentiate them from the symphonic masses, as does the versatility of vocalist Helle Bohdanova. On tracks like “Dunes” and “Далекі Обрії,” one of the two songs on the album in Ukrainian, she shifts from aggressive harsh vocals to smooth melodic singing. Songs such as “The Golden Shell” and “To No One I Owe” feature only melodic singing. The epic “Opiumist” pairs Bohdanova with Wolfheart’s Tuomas Saukkonen. Ignea are an up-and-comer in the symphonic genre, and Dreams Of Lands Unseen should help raise their profile.
Lunar Chamber – Shambhallic Vibrations (20 Buck Spin)
Enlightenment is what Lunar Chamber are searching for on their marvelous debut release Shambhallic Vibrations. Mystical progressive death metal is what drives their quest, with fretless bass guitar a warming presence. This is a band where every member is a standout, whether it’s the drum solo on “The Bodhi Tree” or the uplifting guitar solo on closer “III. Crystalline Blessed Light Flows… From Violet Mountains Into Lunar Chambers.”
The final track, in particular, is a stunning 12-minute work of sonic art, taking their death metal and infusing it with funeral doom metal. It’s an unexpected pairing that lets the band give into their more atmospheric tendencies with prominent usage of programming. Shambhallic Vibrations is a revelation, bringing a wonderful vision of what progressive death metal can still become.
Messa – Live At Roadburn (Svart)
Messa’s most recent studio release Close made my top albums of the year for 2022, and with good reason. Besides the solid riffs and soaring lead vocals, Messa transcend standard doom fare by integrating progressive and jazz elements, along with world music instrumentation. Which begs the question: how do they perform this stuff live? On Live At Roadburn, captured during the band’s 2022 festival appearance, they employ three additional musicians, bringing to life nearly perfect renditions of four epic cuts from Close.
Notably, “Pilgrim” features an extended, mostly acoustic intro embellished by oud, mandolin, and exotic percussion. “0=2” ventures into free jazz territory through swirling, atonal saxophone soloing. Minimal crowd noise results in a clear, crisp recording, but misses some of the excitement you might expect on a live recording. As a counterpoint, a live recording demonstrating how they recreate these songs without the additional musicians would also be fascinating.
Necronomicon – Constant To Death (El Puerto)
Constant To Death, the latest effort from the veteran German band Necronomicon, has some warlike thrash tendencies to it. It is a very brash album that has the right level of aggression to entice, wreaking havoc with machine gun riffing and drumming. The songs are very straight forward and don’t do anything really interesting.
Still, this is guns blazing thrash that still burns down the terrace at a high frequency and really excites. The thrashtastic riffing is catchy and pulls you into the experience. It doesn’t really sound fresh, but it is effective musically. Some thrash fans will find something to like here. The album has the destructive tendencies to make you take notice. I just wish it tried to be something more than it is.
Savage Existence were formed a few years ago in Costa Rica, and released their debut album Animals in 2021. They follow that up with their self-titled sophomore effort.
It’s groove metal with pristine production that combines heaviness and melodies. Harsh vocals are the prevalent style, but incorporating melodic singing on songs like “Standing In Flames” and “Leap Of Faith” makes them even catchier. That’s the formula for most of the tracks, about an 80/20 split of growling and singing. The exception is closer “All On You,” which has a more even balance of the styles that gives it a melodeath vibe. Savage Existence doesn’t vary far from the groove metal path, but their execution is flawless and the songs are solid.
Teramaze – Dalla Volta (Wells/Screaming Crow)
Australian progsters Teramaze have announced the return of vocalist Nathan Peachey, who sang on 2015’s Her Halo and a couple tracks of 2019’s Are We Soldiers. Their latest album Dalla Volta is a combination of old and new material.
There are new songs, such as the catchy “Chaos In The Way” and the more complex and progressive “Navigate In Solitude.” “Shadows II” reimagines a song from 1998’s Tears To Dust, and there are piano versions of “Waves” from 2021’s And They Beauty That They Perceive and “Broken” from Her Halo. Termaze include several demos from Are We Soldiers that were recorded in 2017. Dalla Volta concludes with a cover of the ’80s Phil Collins/Phillip Bailey hit “Easy Lover,” giving it a heavier feel while staying faithful to the original arrangement. The original songs are the highlight of the compilation, as fans await the band’s next studio album.
There’s depth to the death/thrash metal Terranoct sling out on their debut album Icon Of Ruin. This isn’t just a band wrecking necks and filleting eardrums, though they are capable of doing both on blazers “Heresy” and “Artificial Conflict.” It’s the singing in “Those Without A Voice,” the symphonic charge of “Call Of The Void” and a rousing instrumental in “Meridian” that puts the group in a new vantage point.
Those extensions are warranted in an album that pushes past the hour mark. They continually step up and attempt to keep their music from stagnation, which has a higher success than fail rate. There are a few tunes that feel longer than they should, but Terranoct deserve praise for not playing it safe on Icon Of Ruin.