This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Atomwinter, Carnosus, Deviser, Fredlös, Frozen Dawn, Luger, Motive Black, Negative Blast, and Wig Wam.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Atomwinter – Sakrileg (Trollzorn)
Sakrileg, the fourth album by the German death metal band Atomwinter has a very Entombed style influence, but even more evil in nature. The album has crushing riffs that leads up to a very pounding overall experience. The musicianship is appropriately heavy and all encompassing. The guitar work is scathing and brutal as are the drums, while Florian Bauer’s vocals spew out a hatred filled venom quite effectively.
While at times it sounds too similar to old Entombed, the entire affair is fun and will have you head banging along nicely. The production is strong and Sakrileg is quite consistent in quality and creates a worthwhile experience. Despite a slight lack of originality, there is plenty to like with Atomwinter’s take on the Entombed style. It brings out the brutal style of the band.
The Swedish technical death metal act Carnosus have provided Visions Of Infinihility for a triumphant return, the second step for the strength of the ferocious musical fortress that has been built for their tonal identity. That musical fortress may not have a unique and personal visage, but its impressive soundscape ultimately does its job.
At first glance, Visions Of Infinihility does not add many new paths to the map. So trying to search for any personal tone has no result. What is most visible is the attempt to follow The Black Dahlia Murder and Revocation musical world, merging complex thrash metal-fused melodic death metal riffs with insane technical time changes. But if Carnosus do not make their own path, they are elaborately and powerfully hitting the paths which are already established. That makes Visions Of Infinihility a respectable work which showcases Carnosus’ extraordinary abilities in musicianship.
Deviser – Evil Summons Evil (Hammerheart)
The Greek black band Deviser formed in the late ’80s and released three albums between 1996 and 2002. They re-emerged in 2011 with Seasons Of Darkness, and a dozen years later are back with their fifth full-length Evil Summons Evil.
There is plenty of intensity and extremity in the band’s sound, but they incorporate ample melody as well. That’s evident in songs like opener “Death Is Life Eternal” and “Absence Of Heaven.” In addition to Matt Hnaras’ biting vocals, there are are few guest vocalists. Androniki Skoula from Chaostar adds soprano vocals to “Of Magick,” Dark Funeral’s Heljarmadr appears on “Where Angels Fear To Tread” and Nightfall’s Efthimis Karadimas guests on album closer “When The Lights Went Out.” Evil Summons Evil is a long-awaited and welcome return for Deviser.
Fredlös – Fredlös (Threeman)
Fredlös use “dark folk metal” to describe their eponymous debut album, which in essence means taking splendid folk melodies and compounding them with grimmer elements from death and black metal. This Swedish group has a notable member in its ranks — Entombed guitarist Alex Hellid — but this is unlike anything he’s been involved with before. Wistful female vocals, passionate violins, moody keyboards; it’s a far cry from death ‘n’ roll.
Sung entirely in Swedish, the lyrics speak of stories from the past, peasant revolts and religious persecution from centuries ago. Manegarm vocalist Erik Grawsio guests on a few tracks, bringing Viking energy to the album. The best of Fredlos comes whenever the violins take a lead role, as they do on “Vat Varm Jord,” “Otto” and “Requiem.” It’s a missed opportunity not having them on all the songs, though the metal-centric second half of the album is compelling on its own.
Frozen Dawn – The Decline Of The Enlightened Gods (Transcending Obscurity)
It has been a while since we’ve had a new album from Spanish black metal veterans Frozen Dawn. The trio issued records at three year intervals for their first three releases, but it has been just over five years between Unearthing The Black Arts and their newest creation, The Decline Of The Enlightened Gods.
They play a fairly epic brand of melodic black metal. They transition smoothly between dense blastbeats and groovier parts on songs like “Spellbound” and “Oath Of Forgotten Past.” “Frozen Kings” is downright catchy, and a mellow intro and numerous tempo changes make the title track one of the record’s most interesting compositions. They are influenced by bands like Dissection, Naglfar and Necrophobic, so it’s appropriate Frozen Dawn conclude the album with a cover of Necrophobic’s “Blinded By Light, Enlightened By Darkness,” a fitting ending to an enjoyable record.
Luger – Revelations Of The Sacred Skull (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Luger barrel down the highways of sleaze and depravity on Revelations Of The Sacred Skull. The album is split into sections, with the first two songs being anthemic rockers before a trio of doomy tracks heads into a final stretch with a sturdy mix of both styles. The group is capable of handling all sonic angles, which keeps the album steadily chugging along.
There’s King Diamond-esque falsetto screams on “The Sacred Skull” and “The Rise Of Witchcraft,” which is a contrast to the bitter sneer used for the rest of the vocals. “Black Acid” and “Bloodmoon” set Luger on soloing tangents, as the drums and guitars trade spots on the former and the guitars play off each other on the latter. Revelations Of The Sacred Skull kicks up the dust of the open road and lets everyone choke on their fumes.
Motive Black – Auburn (AFM)
Motive Black were formed after singer Elana Justin moved from New York to Los Angeles. She teamed up with Grammy winning producer/guitarist Nick Rowe (Bloodsimple, Vampire Weekend). The band’s debut Auburn features drums by Korn’s Ray Luzier.
The songs are hard rock and alt metal. There are intense tracks like opener “Lift Me Up” that features Butcher Babies’ Carla Harvey and “Fake.” “Broken” is melodic and accessible, and features P.O.D.’s Marcos Curiel on guitar. There are other radio-friendly songs like “Bloodsport” and the industrial tinged “Bad Decisions.” “Cellophane” is one of the heavier songs on the album, with a more aggressive vocal approach from Justin. With pristine production, a collection of diverse songs and a charismatic frontwoman, all the ingredients are in place for Motive Black to succeed.
Negative Blast – Echo Planet (Quiet Panic)
San Diego’s Negative Blast are a new band, but their members have plenty of experience. Their resume includes bands such as Lewd Acts, Hour Of The Wolf, Hot Snakes and Earthless. Echo Planet is the hardcore band’s debut album.
The streamlined eight song album has tracks like are aggressive and chaotic (“Trauma Bond,” “Bad Trip”) alongside more mid-paced and groovy songs (“Echo Planet,” “Boy Blues”). The vocals are intense, which sometimes fits right in with the music, and other times is a contrast to catchy melodies. The record flies by in about 20 minutes with not an ounce of filler. With influences ranging from classic bands like Black Flag to more current acts such as Gel, Negative Blast bring variety and brevity on Echo Planet.
Various Artists – Scrap Metal Volume 2 (RidingEasy)
RidingEasy Records has compiled another batch of obscure NWOBHM bands along with American groups inspired by the movement. The songs on Scrap Metal Volume 2 were originally recorded in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The compilation kicks off with “Running For That Line,” a Metallica-esque track from J.J.’s Powerhouse. It’s the strongest song on the album. “Raising The Roof” by Storm Queen has some interesting riffs and a shredding solo, while “Whales” from L.A.’s Sorcery is a late ’70s gem with muddy production but excellent guitar work. There are a few quality songs here along with some that may have been better left in obscurity. Still, for aficionados of this era of music, Scrap Metal Volume 2 is worth delving into.
Wig Wam – Out Of The Dark (Frontiers)
The Norwegian glam metal band Wig Wam formed in 2001 and released several albums and singles that landed in the top 10 on Norway’s charts, including 2005’s chart-topper “In My Dreams.” They disbanded in 2014, then reunited five later before releasing 2021’s Never Say Die. The use of 2010’s “Do Ya Wanna Taste It” as the theme song for HBO’s Peacemaker series has brought additional attention to the band.
Their seventh studio album Out Of The Dark is another dose of classic metal/hard rock with catchy melodies and singalong choruses. There are straightforward songs like “High N Dry” and “Uppercut Shazam.” Adding acoustic guitar in the intro to the anthemic “Forevermore” adds some diversity, as does switching up tempos on the power ballad “The Purpose.” Their sense of humor is evident as well in songs like “Bad Luck Chuck.” Wig Wam have developed an effective style, and stick close to it on Out Of The Dark with a collection of memorable songs that Wig Wamaniacs will appreciate.