This week’s Heavy Music Headquarters reviews include releases from Cathartic Demise, Horndal, Johan Kihlberg’s Impera, Kauan, Les Chants Du Hasard, The Limit, The Lion’s Daughter, Malamorte, Sweet Oblivion, The Treatment and Wheel.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
After four years spent honing their sound, Kitchener, Ontario melodeath outfit Cathartic Demise are making their entrance on the broader metal scene with In Absence. Blending the aggression and blistering tempos of thrash metal with the melodic poise of melodeath, the band wears its influences on its sleeves. Vocalist/guitarist Bennett Smith’s barked vocals call back to the golden age of Machine Head, while the frantic, yet catchy, riffs bring bands such as Revocation, The Black Dahlia Murder and Shadows Falls to mind.
All in all, none of these songs are pale imitations, and the band successfully distill what made all of these bands great in their own compelling sound. The more technical passages and solos never detract from the raw, in-your-face mix and flow nicely with the majestic or groovy sections. Although most songs feel one or two minutes too long, sometimes losing the listener in meandering sections, this is a very solid debut that showcases the band’s wide range and high level of execution.
Horndal – Lake Drinker (Prosthetic)
A “digital devil” is coming to town in the form of a giant tech company, squeezing a small town of its resources and its people of a livelihood, on Horndal’s relevant sophomore album, Lake Drinker. Though this is taking place in a small Swedish town, it could be happening anywhere, a point the sludge/hardcore group makes clear on “Ruhr.” As they call out the names of towns from the U.S. rust belt, places like Dayton, Ohio and Flint, Michigan, genuine pain can be felt for the inhabitants of these towns and cities crushed by money-hungry corporations.
The group toggle their sound a bit, utilizing a solemn horn arrangement on “Thor Bear” and a few acoustic passages sprinkled in the latter half of the album. They don’t minimalize the scorn etched through each of these 11 songs, ramping up as the album goes on. Lake Drinker gives those without a voice a platform to know their plight is not unique, nor is it a death sentence for those willing to stand up and fight back.
Johan Kihlberg’s Impera – Spirit Of Alchemy (Metalville)
For his latest Impera album, Johan Kihlberg recruited a veteran lineup include Europe’s John Leven on bass and King Diamond/Mercyful Fate’s Snowy Shaw on drums. The vocals are provided by Nocturnal Rites’ Jonny Lindkvist.
The band’s fifth album Spirit Of Alchemy is also their heaviest, firmly in the hard rock/traditional metal genre. The songs are guitar driven with plenty of punch, but also catchy melodies and radio-ready hooks. It’s a streamlined effort with nine tracks and minimal filer, a strong collection of songs. The one track that deviates from the rest is album closer “Battle,” an instrumental that is very cinematic and atmospheric.
Kauan – Ice Fleet (Artoffact)
Atmospheric post metal/rock act Kauan are back and once again they put their finger on a historical event to make their new album, Ice Fleet. It’s a 43-minute long concept album, which is loosely based on the story from the 1930’s USSR northern shore where a fleet of frozen ships were suddenly found by geologists.
Kauan’s music seems to have always come from pristine nature and the world’s undisclosed mysteries and humans’ relationship with them, and this has become more comprehensive over the time. In many moments of Ice Fleet Kauan have returned to their original sound with a focus on post metal/rock fused doom metal. Although the lyrics do not play a significant role in storytelling, it is Kauan’s sensational atmospheric music that depicts all the dramatic aspects of the mentioned event. The album strictly follows the musical world of Kauan, but they have not repeated themselves. Ice Fleet, with its strong composition and performance, is a magnificent theatrical work in praise of nature and its never-ending mysteries.
Les Chants Du Hasard is the brainchild of Hazard. Livre Troisieme is his third album of orchestral metal. He handles all the music and some of the vocals. There are other male and female vocalists on the album.
It’s a cinematic album that has some heavy moments, but also a lot of mellower classical sections. It’s an interesting approach to omit guitar, bass and drums and use 100 percent orchestral instruments. Harsh vocals and chaotic parts give some sections that metal feel, while much of the album is more in the movie soundtrack vein. Operatic female vocals are nothing new in symphonic metal, but the two vocalists featured here really have powerful voices. Livre Troisieme is anything but the typical orchestral album, and it flows very well.
The Limit – Caveman Logic (Svart)
The Limit are a new punk/rock group featuring Pentagram vocalist Bobby Liebling, punk legend Sonny Vincent and Jimmy Recca, former member of The Stooges, along with members of Portuguese metal band Dawnrider and various guest guitarists. Between everyone involved, there has to be upwards of 100-plus years of experience, and this comes across on their debut album, Caveman Logic.
It’s something you’d imagine emerge from the hallowed grounds of the NY-area CBGB during the late 1970s, though with a modern lens lyrically, with jabs taken at technology and an apathetic society. Liebling’s weathered vocals still retain the same smoky sneer he’s had for years. The doom and gloom of his main act is missing here, as punk is the driving purpose on Caveman Logic. For a collection of veterans who have never worked together before, there’s a dangerous amount of chemistry on this album.
The Lion’s Daughter – Skin Show (Season Of Mist)
The Missouri band The Lion’s Daughter have always had sludge coursing through their veins, but brought synths to the forefront on 2018’s Future Cult. Their latest album Skin Show is in a similar vein.
The album has plenty of blackened sludge that keeps the synths pretty low-key, such as on “Curtains,” but there are many other tracks where the horror/sci-fi vibe is more in the forefront. The songs on Skin Show are better than on their last album, giving the band a stronger framework to intertwine the atmospherics. Their use is much more diverse this time around, giving each song a different texture and feel. Guitars and harsh vocals provide an edge, rounded out by compelling hooks and engrossing atmosphere.
Malamorte – Mass Cult Suicide (Moribund)
Italian scene veteran Alessandro Nunziati has been a part of numerous bands in his country, including the gothic metal band Theatres des Vampires. Malamorte have elements of gothic in the keys, while channeling the spirit of classic heavy metal. Their latest opus Mass Cult Suicide is a conceptual album about Jim Jones and his ill-fated cult in Guyana.
Mass Cult Suicide contains mid-paced heavy metal compositions. The overall presentation brings to mind King Diamond and Ghost. Malamorte’s use of organ keys realize cinematic horror sounds. Guitars have crunchy tones with groove. “Slaves of God” has one of the more memorable riffs. Repeated lyrical phrases embed in the memory, especially “The Temple.” The title track features impressive lead guitars and goth-style keys. “The New Messiah” contains notable kick drums and rolls. Mass Cult Suicide took some getting used to, but grew on me after a couple of listens.
Saille – V (Black Lion)
On their fifth full-length album V, the black/death metal band Saille have brought aboard a new vocalist. Jesse Peetoom from the Dutch bands Dunkelnacht and Evil Oath is the band’s fourth different frontman.
They take a darker and heavier approach with V, emphasizing heavy riffs and blastbeats. Symphonic elements are still present, but augment the songs and stay mainly in the background. Tracks like “Charnel Chamber” have memorable riffs, a lot of twists and turns, and ample depth. Things like the brief use of piano on “Loathsome Legacy” add variety. Peetoom’s harsh vocals are delivered in a plethora of styles and pitches, and he is a strong addition to the band.
Sweet Oblivion – Relentless (Frontiers)
Relentless is the second album from Sweet Oblivion, a project showcasing the vocals of Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche). Tate is the only member returning from their 2019 self-titled debut. This time around Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon) handles the songwriting and production duties along with playing guitar.
Like their debut, Relentless features songs in the vein of early Queensryche. Tate is one of metal’s best vocalists, and though he doesn’t reach the ear-piercing high notes of his early days, his distinctive tone and emotive delivery are fully intact. His vocal prowess is especially evident on mellower tracks like “Remember Me,” where his versatility is on display. “Aria” is similar musically to the rest of the songs on the album, but the lyrics are in Italian, and Tate gives them extra vibrato. Lonobile’s songs are better than the ones on the first album, making for a more memorable effort.
The Treatment – Waiting For Good Luck (Frontiers)
Though the album cover features a banjo, Waiting For Good Luck features The Treatment‘s usual hard rock attack. It’s the second album with Tom Rampton on vocals, and the debut for new bassist Andy Milburn.
Rampton sounds even more comfortable this time around, and his tenor voice with a bit of an edge fits the straightforward hard rock well. The songs are very catchy, with songs like “Take It Or Leave It” and “Lightning In The Bottle” ripe for rock radio airplay. Obviously influenced by greats like AC/DC and Aerosmith, The Treatment are familiar without being overly derivative. The songs are memorable and shift tempos enough to provide a bit of variety. Waiting For Good Luck flies the classic hard rock flag, an album with appeal for multiple generations of fans.
Wheel – Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur)
Preserved In Time is a traditional doom metal affair that has great throwbacks to the classics. The sound is somewhat similar to the modern band Pallbearer, but also like older bands like Candlemass. On Wheel‘s third full-length release, the band establishes their identity quite clearly. This is no-frills doom metal that has a very distinctive style of guitar riffing. However, it also sometimes gets stuck in the rut of performing music similar to what has already been performed.
Though the German band is extremely competent, there is a feeling that they are re-treading familiar grounds. Still, the songs are catchy and appealing with their simplicity. Fans of the classic traditional doom style will be right at home with this release. There is a lot of emphasis on the older format and this will make the band appealing to fans of Candlemass, Trouble and similar bands. Preserved In Time is a solid traditional doom release.