This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Crashdiet, Devil Master, Helms Alee, Introtyl, Pyrithe, Robin Trower, Spill Your Guts, The Spirit, Suppression, Thorium, Tysondog and Wolves’ Winter.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Crashdiet – Automaton (Crusader/Golden Robot)
The Swedish band Crashdiet have been around since around the turn of the new millennium, but their influences are from a couple decades before that. Automaton is their sixth album, and second with vocalist Gabriel Keyes.
Crashdiet’s style can be described as glam metal or sleaze metal blended with hard rock. Guitar wizardry abounds, as do big hooks and singalong choruses. There are plenty of memorable tracks with ’80s vibes such as “No Man’s Land” and “Dead Crusade.” Steel Panther’s Michael Starr guests on the anthemic “Powerline,” providing a burst of energy. Automaton doesn’t blaze any new territory, but provides a dozen songs that Crashdiet fans are sure to embrace.
Devil Master – Ecstasies Of Never Ending Night (Relapse)
Devil Master return with spooky theme intact on their sophomore album Ecstasies Of Never Ending Night. For those unfamiliar, Devil Master play a blackened punk metal of sorts with the feeling at times of a punkabilly band’s heart and the overall sound is a bit of a hodgepodge, but a unique one that works.
Take for example “The Vigour of Evil,” whose intro evokes a feeling of distant and cold before dropping into a punk like groove and giving way to vocals from beyond. Being one of the rawest sounding bands in the scene might seem like it comes with a price. However this Philadelphia foursome doesn’t seem to have lost any of that between albums. Combining some of the roughest moments of The Cramps with Venom, Devil Master show no signs of quelling their violent vampyrism any time soon.
Helms Alee – Keep This Be The Way (Sargent House)
The Seattle trio Helms Alee have always avoided being pigeonholed into one style or genre. They have managed to utilize elements of metal, rock and hardcore on previous records, and stretch their sound even more on Keep This Be The Way.
Thick riffs on the title track display their sludgy side until they morph into ambient sounds for the last part of the track. They get into experimental/avant-garde territory on “Trippin Up The Stairs” while “Big Louise” and “The Middle Half” are subdued and relatively straightforward. Helms Alee not only provide a lot of musical variety, they also have vocal variety with both male and female singing. From accessible to inscrutable, Keep This Be The Way is constantly shifting and always engaging.
Introtyl – Adfectus (Emanzipation)
The Mexican female death metal band Introtyl‘s name means “to be inside dynamite.” That’s evident on their incendiary second full-length Adfectus, which comes four years after their debut LP.
Tempo changes abound on Adfectus. “Under My Skin” and “Fear” go from blazing fast to glacial and back again. Other songs keep a moderate tempo. While the pace may deviate, the potency does not. They ride the edge of chaos when the tempo ramps up and sometimes cross over that line, but bring it under control for maximum destruction when the pace slows. Interesting riffs and powerful growls make Adfectus a death metal album worth checking out.
Pyrithe – Monuments To Impermanence (Gilead)
Pyrithe see the world as bleak and unforgiving, yet revel in the unintentional humor of it all on their debut album, Monuments To Impermanence. There’s a clear dichotomy between the points of view, as they can get riled up in a futile state whether by blasting out their anger or throwing literal trash around (which makes up the final few minutes of closer “Ekphrastik II: Gifts of Impermanence”).
Every song starts out from a blank canvas where the only idea is to put their sludge metal in unusual positions. There’s nothing straightforward about Monuments To Impermanence, which is to their advantage. The lush melodies of a “Heaving Roots II” can have as much resonance as the vicious drum work in “Glioblastoma.” Pyrithe hold nothing back, not being resigned to going for passionless thrills.
Robin Trower – No More Worlds To Conquer (Provogue)
Journeyman guitarist Robin Trower, one-time heir apparent to Jimi Hendrix, continues the psychedelic blues rock tradition on his latest, No More Worlds To Conquer. At 76 years old, Trower’s playing has lost none of its fire; his rich, creamy tone permeating every track here. Vocals courtesy of Richard Watts lend a snakey, soulful vibe to the proceedings.
Opening track “Ball of Fire” kicks things off in rocking style, and features a frighteningly catchy chorus. Things tend to mellow out from there, with much of the album leaning on funky, laid-back grooves and slow burning solos, such those found on “Deadly Kiss” and “Birdsong.” Though by no means breaking a ton of new ground here, anyone playing and writing at this level this deep into their career deserves to be commended.
Spill Your Guts – The Wrath It Takes (Trepnation)
Though it was recorded back in 2019, it’s easy to fit Spill Your Guts’ pointed hostility on The Wrath It Takes into the confines of the events of the last few years. Gone are lyrics like “To party town/It’s how we dance/We go full blast” that occasionally popped up in 2017’s Hungry Crows, as the band embraces the darker aspects of their sound that have been present in some form since the beginning. The black metal-inspired sections are more pronounced, sometimes taking over the song completely, as on “Your Soul Is Sick” and “Let This Body Rot.”
That doesn’t minimize the rowdy hardcore mentality of the group, though even that has been given a sharper gleam in their transition to grittier theatrics. They show the capacity to racket up the pressure sonically on “Die Untied” and “Blood Soaked Wolves,” not allowing it to release until it’s at maximum levels. Spill Your Guts double down on their blackened hardcore by squeezing any lightheartedness out of their songwriting.
The Spirit – Of Clarity And Galactic Structures (AOP)
The Spirit, the German black/death metal duo of Matthias Trautes (vocals/guitar/bass) and Manuel Steitz (drums) released their debut back in 2017. Their third effort Of Clarity And Galactic Structures takes the blackened death of previous releases and adds more progressive elements.
The additional progressive tendencies are evident in extended instrumental sections along with different time signatures. While that results in a bit more self-indulgence and repetition, that’s offset by quality riffs and more interesting arrangements. The song lengths and overall running time are similar to 2020’s Cosmic Terror, but this album is even more progressive than that one. It has more intricate twists and turns, tempering extremity with complexity, which makes for a more fulfilling listen.
Suppression – The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh (Unspeakable Axe)
Suppression are a Chilean death metal band that put their sound through the wringer on The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh. This first full-length from the group does have some technical style points, especially with the excellent bass work in the slower parts of “Monochromatic Chambers” and “Unperpetual Misery.” These two are in the fully loaded front half of the album, which has a varied execution brimming with sonic depth.
By comparison, the second half of The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh is uncompromising, barely cooling off for a brief acoustic interlude in “Arrowheads” before ripping closer “Extortion Behaviors.” Both halves seem like they are from the same band, yet one resonates better than the other due to a touch more subtly with their death metal. As a whole, the album manages to keep the interest of those into the putrid facets of the genre.
Thorium – Danmark (Emanzipation)
Danmark, the fifth album from the Danish band Thorium is a reasonably raucous offering of death metal. It has the right powerful punch to make an impact along with a good degree of violence in their sound as they have an Obituary-type of appeal going for them. This is a murderous rampage type of vibe that is very vicious in nature.
There is a grave familiarity to the music and it recalls greats of death metal’s past. The guitar work is chunky and has an addictive effect. The drumming is powerful and the vocals fit nicely atop the music. All in all, this was a very good death metal album that could have been made greater with more originality. It is a nice listen for fans of the genre and ones looking for a violent listening experience. Danmark comes recommended to death metal fans looking for a visceral engagement.
Tysondog – Midnight (From the Vaults)
Tysondog. One of the more obscure names from the NWOBHM era, the group released two albums in the ’80s (I recall their debut Beware Of The Dog mostly for the excellent album cover) before circumstances took them off the map. The band regrouped for 2015’s Cry Havoc, and are back now with their fourth full-length, Midnight.
Featuring three original members (although vocalist Clutch Carruthers departed after this album was recorded), Midnight is a satisfying slab of old-school metal that doesn’t sound tired at all. There’s plenty of variety in song styles, the band is tight, and Carruthers’ vocals are worn yet vital. All in all Midnight is a pleasant surprise that will satisfy fans of ’80s British metal.
Various Artists – Forever Reigning – A Tribute To Slayer (Satyrn)
Slayer called it a day a few years ago, leaving behind one of extreme metal’s best discographies and countless memorable live shows. Several young underground bands pay tribute to a band that inspired countless other groups on Forever Reigning.
The 12 songs are done by eight different bands. Disinter deliver a brutally heavy rendition of “Show No Mercy” while Eulogy In Blood’s “Bloodline” is more ominous than the original. Distal Descent cover three different tracks both old and new, including “Delusions Of Savior” from 2015’s Repentless as well as “Mandatory Suicide” and “Expendable Youth.” Other classic Slayer tracks getting the cover treatment include “Dead Skin Mask” and of course, “Raining Blood.” You’ll hear a lot of different approaches to the music of one of metal’s legends, from straightforward versions to more unique renditions.
Wolves’ Winter – Qayin Coronatvs (Northern Silence)
The Argentinian black metal band Wolves’ Winter formed back in 2008, and have released demos, splits, EPs and even a live album. But Qayin Coronatvs is their first full-length studio album.
Though they reside in South America, Wolves’ Winter’s influences are from Scandinavia, particularly Finland. Their brand of black metal has the iciness and blastbeats you’d expect, along with melodic riffs you might not. That gives songs like “Dethroning The Fallen Ancients” and “Eclipsed By Fire” ample extremity, but also more catchiness than the typical album of this style. The vocals are varied as well, utilizing typical black metal rasps along with lower pitched harsh vocals. It makes Qayin Coronatvs a memorable black metal album.