This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Calligram, Cavalera, Constant Hell, A Dark Halo, Eleine, End Reign, Evile, Izrod, Nuclear Remains, Progenitor, Quiet Man, Sludge Keeper and Valletta.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Calligram – Position | Momentum (Prosthetic)
Position | Momentum is the second full-length from the London based Calligram. This time around they worked with veteran producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, At The Gates, Amorphis, Dimmu Borgir).
Like their 2020 debut, Position | Momentum also blends black metal with hardcore. There are a lot of dense, intense sections broken up by atmospheric parts that add variety. They write dynamic songs like “Eschilo,” which starts off mellow and introspective before ramping up into full black metal mode and then easing back again towards the end. Tracks like that and “Ostranenie” have ebbs and flows that make for an engaging album.
Cavalera – Morbid Visions (Nuclear Blast)
In 1986, Sepultura released their seminal full-length debut Morbid Visions, setting them on a path that would make them one of extreme metal’s legendary bands. Three plus decades later, Max and Iggor Cavalera decided to re-record the album, as well as their debut EP Bestial Devastation. They’ll be touring this fall, playing classic Sepultura material.
Cavalera’s goal of the re-recording was to capture the spirit of the original, but utilizing modern production. They were teenagers when Morbid Visions was recorded, and with decades of experience their musicianship today is head and shoulders above the original, as is the production. However, it’s impossible to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the original in all its raw, energetic glory. The new version of the album does feature a new track that was written back in that era. “Burn The Dead” is a blazing fast and intense thrasher that would have fit well on the album back in the day. There are creative and financial reasons why the Cavalera brothers wanted to re-record the album, and they did an excellent job with it, but many will question the necessity of revisiting a classic such as Morbid Visions.
Hailing from the Steel City, Constant Hell are screaming onto the scene with their self-titled debut album. This twenty-three-song debut album is both fast and brutal, making this a grindcore fan’s dream.
Despite the lengthy number of tracks, the longest song, “Last Words” clocks in at less than two-and-a-half minutes, compared to what has to be the fastest metal song “Tear A Nazi In Two” clocking in at only eleven seconds. From start to end this album is just pure raw metal with no special gimmicks or thematic elements, there are just simple heavy riffs and heavier drums. As far as debut albums go, it’s simplistic, efficient and a rather quick listen.
A Dark Halo’s career goes back to the mid-’00s, when the industrial metal group released one album, Catalyst, before essentially disappearing for over a decade. That album had some minor success, with a few tracks included on the wrestling video game WWE Day of Reckoning 2. In 2023, they are back with Omnibus One, which adds dimensions to their cybernetic clanking.
Their debut release took strong inspiration from a band like Fear Factory, to the point where they were almost a melodic shadow version of the trailblazers. Seventeen years between albums gives the band new perspectives, and the inclusion of female vocal interplay and expressive guitar solos brighten up the coldness of programmed mechanization that hinders certain aspects of their sound. Omnibus One is a nice return for a band that many never expected to come back.
Eleine – We Shall Remain (Atomic Fire)
The Swedish symphonic metal band Eleine signed with a new label (Atomic Fire) for their fourth album We Shall Remain. Though it was written during the troubles and uncertainly of the pandemic, the songs are uplifting and empowering.
The bombastic single “We Are Legion” pays tribute to the band’s fans, while “Promise Of Apocalypse” has a darker message. Eleine expertly balance heavy guitars and symphonic atmospheres with hooks and choruses. “War Das Alles” is a translated German poem that shifts from sparse and delicate to heavy and complex. Vocalist Madeleine Liljestam has an expressive style and plenty of range, with periodic harsh vocals contrasting her smooth singing throughout the album. We Shall Remain has a lot of accessibility and potential singles without sacrificing any heaviness, and is their most accomplished album so far.
End Reign – The Way Of All Flesh Is Decay (Relapse)
Featuring members of All Out War, Integrity, Noisem, All Out War and Pig Destroyer, End Reign are here to put a different spin on the parts of this collective whole. “Desolate Fog” is a tremendous opener that really helps The Way Of All Flesh Is Decay kick things off the right way. Vocalist Mike Score adds an excellent bit of NYHC fire while guitarists Sebastian Phillips and Dom Romeo rip through riff after riff with furious solos thrown into the mix, making for a true cross section of hardcore meets shredding heavy metal.
“The Hunger,” “Serpent Messiah” and “Giving Life To Tragedy” (featuring Integrity vocalist Dwid Hellion) are slower tracks which help to showcase a little bit of different mode for this band of high-octane talent, slowing things down between eruptions of energy throughout the album. The Way Of All Flesh Is Decay is a superb mix from a great slate of musicians hitting all things heavy, musically, aggressively and emotionally across its 10 tracks. End Reign are a force to be reckoned with.
Evile – The Unknown (Napalm)
In 2021 UK thrashers Evile released Hell Unleashed, their first album in eight years that saw guitarist Ol Drake also take over the vocal duties. Just over two years later they are back with The Unknown.
It finds them moving away from thrash, embracing slower tempos and more groove on songs like the title track and “Monolith.” The vocals are almost exclusively melodic this time around as well, and the lyrics and serious and personal. There’s even a ballad, “When Mortal Coils Shed,” with Drake showing impressive range. His vocal style on the album is very Hetfield-esque. Evile doesn’t abandon their thrash roots, with tracks like “Sleepless Eyes” and “Balance Of Time” showcasing the galloping riffs the band cut their teeth on. The groove metal approach of much of the album is an interesting change of pace and well-executed, but the question is whether longtime fans will embrace the shift.
Izrod – Sarejevski Odisej (Signal Rex)
Over the past decade, and a little more, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been one of the black metal hotspots in the Balkans and southeast Europe. From Sarajevo, Izrod are also part of this region’s colossal black metal wave. Their debut album, Sarajevski Odisej, is a grand spectacle of the decadence and collapse of a world that is sinking day by day into depression and degenerate darkness.
Sarajevski Odisej, which translates to “Odysseus of Sarajevo,” not only narrates the fatigues and sufferings of the war left on the body of the capital, but also portrays global decadence, absurdity, and the reflections of distressed human who clings to every rope for survival. It’s a dark, wrathful and nihilistic musical odyssey that pours the two worlds of Polish and Swedish black metal into one goblet and produces a poisonous potion. Sarajevski Odisej is one of the thought-provoking and finest black metal albums of the year.
Nuclear Remains – Dawn Of Eternal Suffering (Maggot Stomp)
Dawn Of Eternal Suffering, the debut from Phoenix crushers Nuclear Remains, opens with spoken words about the use of nuclear weaponry and then dives right into “Subterraneal Breeding”, which gurgles its way forward with ample coffee can drum fills added to the fracas. They are even able to add some depth to this brutal death metal slab, which is not a genre known for a ton of variety, without sacrificing their barbarous barrage.
“Sickening Depravity” has some great moments of Suffocation love, especially when Nuclear Remains lock into a groove with vocalist Aiden Santelli reaching deep to unleash his inner beast. “Eaten By Mutants” kicks off with an unsettling sample about cannibalism before providing their own grotesque music to imbue insanity upon the listener. Dawn Of Eternal Suffering is a solid debut for an up-and-coming brutal death metal band.
There’s a workmanlike quality to Progenitor’s black metal on their debut LP, Eldritch Supremacy. It’s taken 15 years since their emergence in 2008 to get to this release, which holds tightly to sticking to the very essential points of the genre. That isn’t meant to be a dig at the album, as a band that studies the best qualities of black metal as well as Progenitor does is marvelous.
Closer “Binding Of The Corpse God” is determined to get to that 11-and-a-half minute line no matter what, using everything from a morose melodic start to an extended ending of the band wailing on their instruments. The rest of Eldritch Supremacy doesn’t try to push itself that far out, though “Prophets Belial” slices through the middle of the record with a standout mid-tempo jaunt. The corpse paint should come out for Progenitor’s assured first album.
Quiet Man – The Starving Lesson (Riff Merchant)
The Starving Lesson is the first album from Quiet Man since they changed their name from God Root to their current moniker. Their combustible sludge metal is now powered by a triple guitar blitz, adding in generous sampling/noise to enhance the sensory overload the group is going for. Drug abuse, ecological destruction, exploitation of people for the capitalist machine; they have their sights on humanity’s slow decline.
The title track wraps this message in passages of sparse guitars and bubbling feedback, taking minutes in its trippy middle to wrap itself in a dissonant cocoon before ramping up as the phrase “Starve Them” is screamed ad nauseam. They could have ended The Starving Lesson on that blunt note, but instead tread through an ambient state of emptiness with “All Along We Were Beautiful Radiant Things.”
Sludge Keeper – Slough Of Despair (Selfmadegod)
Musician Andrea Tocchetto, who has been around the underground death metal scene in Italy for decades, has a new project in Sludge Keeper that lets him have full control over some muscular metal. Guest musicians are used to accentuate the band’s debut album, Slough Of Despair, including current Benighted drummer Kevin Paradis. Opener “Coleachant” is a barrel-chested heavyweight, engulfing the start of the album in audacious energy.
This energy is one the band returns to various times with lessening effect. The last few songs step into their own with eased-up tempos, including the eerie introduction to “Spawning Vats” and the doomy riff progression in the second half of seven-minute closer “Path To The Slough Of Despair.” The latter ultimately doesn’t go anywhere, with the band spending the last 90 seconds of the song in an extended fade away to end Slough Of Despair in a dragged out motion.
Valletta’s blackened rock ‘n’ roll concoction has some spice to it on their debut EP, Come Alive. This release is a great way to get into a demanding style of music like black metal, with its catchy guitar leads and songs being in a sweet spot of around three and a half minutes each.
It makes any of these tunes worthy of being released as a single, if mainstream radio was into playing black ‘n’ roll that rages as hard as the title track and “Criminal.” “Soot & Ash” has a chorus that will hook a listener, the kind that has to be screamed to the skies in a group of like-minded metal heads. Come Alive is the kind of introduction to a new group that can only build anticipation for what is ahead.