This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from As We Suffer, Bloody Hell, Bunker 66, Domkraft, Electric Boys, Evile, Insane, Nekromantheon, Perilaxe Occlusion, Plasmodium, Poverty’s No Crime, Temtris, Tetrarch and Yellowtooth.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
As We Suffer’s debut album The Fallen Pillars seems like a throwback to the early 2000’s of metalcore, where bands like Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine were mainstream sensations in the metal community. It does so while throwing in a hardcore/punk energy to the songs, which helps the album not just be derivative of an era long gone. “Scatter The Herd” and “Fucking Relentless” benefit from this merging of genres, their stockiness being a lead-in to charged-up riffs and pissed-off vocals.
Those same vocals also have a passionate side, with smooth singing that sometimes comes unexpectedly. The closing title track does a great job of trading off on the duality that vocalists of this style can do so well. There could be a few more guitar solos on the album, as the few that are on here, like the raging “Concrete Fist,” are strong. As a first effort, The Fallen Pillars has the chance to win over decades of fans who have an affinity for metalcore.
Bloody Hell – The Bloodening (Rockshots)
With The Bloodening, Finnish heavy metal group Bloody Hell have taken the raw charm of their self-titled debut album, cleaned up the production, matured their sound (as much as drinking music can be), and doubled its length. What was a spirited sub–30-minute joy ride is now an uneven affair that trails off way before its run time of almost an hour. Long-winded cuts like “Kiasma (The Museum Of Modern Art)” and “Murders She Wrote” feel like what the band’s idea of “progression” is, which stands counter to what works for them: upbeat music to rage to.
When Bloody Hell deliver on that, as they do on opener “Hangover Rider” and the delightfully eccentric “Bite,” The Bloodening becomes a worthy follow-up to their first album. There’s not enough of this, as they go hard on the mid-tempo material. It’s never a knock on a band to try something different, but not when what they originally had going for them was much more promising.
Bunker 66 – Beyond The Help Of Prayers (Dying Victims)
Italian trio Bunker 66 have been peddling their blackened thrash wares for nearly fifteen years. Beyond The Help Of Prayers is their fourth full-length, and sees the band delivering thirty-three minutes of no-frills thrash in the vein of Venom and Bathory, along with heaping helpings of other old-school metal bands like Exciter and Motorhead.
Musically this is a strong set of material, with solid production accentuating some killer riffs and galloping bass work. The vocals both clean and harsh are overcooked in reverb and delay, at times to the point of annoyance. Harsh vocals dominate the songs, and are silly in the way early ’80s harsh vocals were. Ignoring this aspect of Bunker 66 reveals a very strong band, with perhaps just a tweak on the vocals needed to drive their blasphemous blackened thrash to the next level.
Domkraft – Seeds (Magnetic Eye)
After a live album last year, Swedish sludgesters Domkraft are back with their third studio album Seeds. Their heavy style has a psychedelic bent, influenced by bands like Sleep and Hawkwind.
The power of the riff is front and center on Sleep. Domkraft are able to come up with a large supply of varied and memorable ones. From the catchiness of the opening title track to the more mesmerizing style of songs like “Perpetuator” to the deliberateness of tracks like “Into Orbit,” the guitars propel the album. Martin Wegeland’s vocals are sometimes aggressive and emotional, other times smooth and melodic. It makes for a diverse album that’s compelling from start to finish.
Electric Boys – Ups!de Down (Mighty)
Back in the heyday of hair metal/glam metal, Swedish hard rockers Electric Boys made a little noise with their 1989 debut album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride and the single “All Lips ‘n Hips.” They released a couple more albums before disbanding.
The band has been back together for more than a decade and has released several more albums. Ups!de Down is their latest. Beginning the album with a 7 minute instrumental is a curious choice, and slows the momentum. They right the ship with “Super God,” a psychedelic groover. The production is modern, but Electric Boys are influenced by the classic rock era. The album is an amalgamation of hard rock, blues, funk, ’70s rock, psychedelic rock and a few other styles. There are a few lulls, but it’s an enjoyable trip the glory days of rock and roll.
Evile – Hell Unleashed (Napalm)
It has been a while since the last Evile album, and there have been several lineup changes. After their last album, 2013’s Skull, founding guitarist Ol Drake left the band. He rejoined in 2018, but then vocalist Matt Drake exited. For their new album Hell Unleashed, Ol Drake takes over vocal duties, and RipTide guitarist Adam Smith has joined the band.
The long gap between albums and a new vocalist hasn’t changed Evile’s approach. They still deliver old school thrash with galloping riffs and searing solos. They shift from fast to midpaced and back again on tracks like “Paralysed” and “Incarcerated,” helping add variety. Actor/comedian/metal musician Brian Posehn guests on “Gore,” an energetic track with death metal influences. Drake does a good job with the vocals, and the guitar work is stellar throughout. Hell Unleashed is a welcome comeback that thrash metal fans can embrace.
Insane – Victims (Dying Victims)
Victims is the second album from Swedish thrash outfit Insane. The band loads up on strong riffs and decent variety in the music, including acoustic guitar and horror movie sounds. Standout tracks such as “Sinister Night” and album closer “Tormented Breath” are great examples of the potential these guys have, as those songs grab the listener and verily force one to raise their fist and bang their head.
Raspy vocals soaked with boxy reverb mar an otherwise strong production job. Gustaf Hellberg sounds like he is in a different room than the rest of band, which at times puts him at odds with music. However, there is a maturity to the songwriting, aided by the strong production, that belies the fact that this is just Insane’s second album. If the vocal production matched the music we’d have a winner on our hands.
Nekromantheon – Visions Of Trismegistos (Hells Headbangers/Indie)
Norway is not only known for its infamous Norwegian black metal scene, as there are a lot of fine bands in other metal genres, especially thrash metal. Nekromantheon are one of them, who have thrash metal at the heart of their music and also add black metal influences to their songs’ foundations.
Visions Of Trismegistos, Nekromantheon’s third album, is all about what an old school thrash metal record should sound like. Raw and fierce, and like their two previous albums, it is short and straightforward while the songwriting follows an uncomplicated procedure. As mentioned, Nekromantheon know how to incorporate black metal into their songs and production, to make the sound of their music more evil. That slightly broadens its boundaries to extreme metal subcontext, which it has given a lot of Aura Noir meet Slayer vibes. This is another successful album from Nekromantheon. For those who adore thrash metal because of its rebellious spirit, Visions Of Trismegistos is a pure and wicked offering.
Perilaxe Occlusion – Exponential Decay (Blood Harvest)
Exponential Decay, the debut demo from Canadians Perilaxe Occlusion is a very heavy and pummeling take on death metal. It evokes images of classic bands like Entombed and Dismember, but also features a more modern style. The overall effect of this demo is a very crushing one that will take your breath away. This is a fierce collection of songs, but also a brief one, with three tracks clocking in at about 22 minutes.
Taken for what its worth, the music certainly has an impact. The guitar work is very evil sounding and nicely suits the band’s death metal aesthetic. This vinyl reissue of their 2020 demo is a great start for the band, but they have so much more to accomplish. The collection of three songs shows grit and promise for things to come.
Plasmodium – Towers Of Silence (Transcending Obscurity)
Five years after their debut, the Australian cosmic black/death metal band Plasmodium are unleashing Towers Of Silence.
The contrast between chaos and atmospherics gives Towers Of Silence a different sound than most black/death albums. The record begins with a couple of three plus minute songs that reveal the band’s modus operandi. The other three tracks are much lengthier, ranging from nearly 9 to over 18 minutes. They still have the contrasts of guttural growls and harsh shrieks along with heavy, dense sections that ease up to spacey atmospherics. It can be a challenging listen at times, but ultimately a rewarding one.
Poverty’s No Crime – A Secret To Hide (Metalville)
The German progressive metal band Poverty’s No Crime have been around since the early ’90s. They have three original members, with the current lineup remaining the same for about twenty years now. A Secret To Hide is their eighth album.
While their musicianship is top-notch, Poverty’s No Crime play with a warmth that really helps the listener connect with the songs. The arrangement are lengthy, but with frequent shifts and a lot of catchy moments, things rarely drag. Intricate guitar parts and memorable hooks intertwine seamlessly, with tracks like “Hollow Phrases” and “Grey Green” displaying a lot of dynamics. Poverty’s No Crime have flown under the radar, especially in North America, and are well worth checking out by prog metal fans.
Temtris – Ritual Warfare (Wormholedeath)
Since their last album, 2018’s Rapture, the Australian band Temtris have had a couple of lineup changes. New to the band for their sixth album Ritual Warfare are guitarist Nadi Norouzian and drummer Nicholas Bolan.
Twin guitar harmonies are an important part of Temtris’ sound, and Norouzian and Anthony Fox don’t miss a beat. The band plays traditional metal with songs long enough to showcase their instrumental prowess along with Genevieve Rodda’s potent vocals. They don’t neglect the hooks, either, making for an album that grabs the listener immediately, but there are also plenty of subtleties and details to soak in on subsequent listens.
Tetrarch – Unstable (Napalm)
Sufficient time passes and even the most maligned of sub-genres can eventually enjoy a nostalgia boost. US mob Tetrarch are a case in point, with a second album, Unstable, rooted so firmly in nu–metal’s heyday it ought to arrive with an accompanying wallet chain. If the prospect of a mash-up of nu-metal’s biggest names seems unappealing, then avoid.
Cuts like the Linkin Park-meets-Korn worship of “You Never Listen” and groovy “I’m Not Right” are like deathcore, new-thrash and djent never happened; while “Negative Noise” borrows from Slipknot. Their debt to the era of angst is obvious, and make few pretensions otherwise. There are guitar solos and occasional nods to more modern styles, but Unstable is focused heavily on crafting hook-driven fare ala their heroes; see “Stitch Me Up.” Tetrarch are far too derivative – lyrically and musically – to exude a distinctive personality, but for fans keen on revivalism, this could fit the bill.
Yellowtooth – The Burning Illusion (Orchestrated Misery)
Yellowtooth’s third album The Burning Illusion reveals a southern-fried metal sound. The Indiana natives offer groove and bluesy swagger. While there are some dark moments in their penchant for doom and sludge, overall, the album is fairly upbeat. Aggression and melody come together in sweet harmony.
“From Faith To Flames” and “The Illusion” contain heavy, blues-based riffs that will make listeners think of Clutch. This song has a catchy groove that makes way for a mix of clean crooning and aggressive gnawing. “Atrocity” has a down-tuned guitar, race car sound. Guitar leads appear often showing the group’s deft hands. The mix is good with the bass upfront. Guitars pan left and right on the melodic “Dead Flowers.” This track and “Astronaut’s Journey” share a similar melodic theme reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins. The Burning Illusion won’t blow minds, but it’s a fun album that will keep listeners engaged.