This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Ardours, Begrime Exemious, Blackwater Drowning, Dead Tired, Dio, Forsaken Eternity, Greylotus, The Machinist, Negative 13, Nelson, Organectomy and Telekinetic Yeti.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Ardours – Anatomy Of A Moment (Frontiers)
Ardours were formed by Tristania vocalist Mariangela Demurtas and multi-instrumentalist/producer Kris Laurent. After their 2019 debut, they issued a covers EP in 2020 and return with their sophomore full-length Anatomy Of A Moment. As on their debut, Demurtas’ Tristania bandmate Tarald Lie helped with songwriting and drumming duties.
The songs are accessible and melodic, utilizing influences from a multitude of genres ranging from hard rock to new wave to gothic. Demurtas’ voice is perfect for the pop/rock stylings of these songs. Tracks like “Insomniac” and “Anatomy Of A Moment” are catchy with a modern sound. While guitars are present, keyboards are a vital part of Ardours’ style, whether it’s subtle atmospherics or sections that are in the foreground. Anatomy Of A Moment has a similar but even more mainstream appeal than their debut.
Begrime Exemious – Rotting In The Aftermath (Dark Descent)
Returning after six years, Edmonton’s Begrime Exemious have seemingly changed their death metal sound in a way, letting the rocking riffs flow a bit more forward on Rotting In The Aftermath than on 2016’s The Enslavement Conquest.
“Cruel Mistress” is a slow starter with plenty of riffing action that comes off a bit more like you would hear from Impaled and Exhumed. The whole track serves as an introduction to a band with a renewed identity, one that helps them to stand out amongst the multitude of bands that have been trying to out do themselves with violent imagery and an overall gross approach in recent years. “Hell’s Embrace” plows through the hordes with a specific level of precision, changing the tempos while making sure to charge in headlong with powerful riffs and grooves at their side. These Edmonton executioners have done an excellent job after all these years; the death metal and rock are strong with this collective.
Blackwater Drowning – Sonder//Satori (Blood Blast)
A great melodic death metal band is able to draw from different sides of the musical spectrum without any becoming the dominant factor. Blackwater Drowning do this well on Sonder//Satori, not being so melodic to soften the death metal and not so death metal that the melodies are afterthoughts. There’s singing, but it’s reserved to a few lines on most songs. There are blast beats and piercing guitar riffs, yet the solos are crisp and interwoven with a tuneful spirit.
Closer “Voyager” is the closest the group comes to diverging from death metal, though that’s for the first 30 or so seconds. It actually turns into one of the most aggressive songs on the album by its halfway point, further emphasizing how well Blackwater Drowning do with accentuating all avenues of melodic death metal on Sonder//Satori.
Dead Tired – Satan Will Follow You Home (New Damage)
Fronted by Alexisonfire’s George Pettit, Dead Tired emerged in 2015 with their self-titled debut. Satan Will Follow You Home is their third full-length and first with drummer Theo McKibbon (ex-The Black Maria).
They play hardcore, sometimes moving at a frantic pace (like on “Breakfast Of Participants” and “New World Pigs”), while other songs such as “Creeping Dread” and “Vast Lethality” are slow and crushing, moving into sludge territory. Closer “Domestic” is the mellowest and most melodic song on the album, but it still packs a punch. Their songwriting has sharpened over the years, exploring a wider variety of styles. There’s a lot of punk rock passion, especially in Pettit’s vocals, with sometime biting lyrics reflecting the current state of the world. Satan Will Follow You Home is Dead Tired’s most potent album so far.
Dio – Holy Diver Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
It has been over 12 years since Ronnie James Dio passed away. He would have turned 80 this month. He was part of numerous iconic metal albums, and Dio’s debut Holy Diver is one of his best and best known releases. It is being re-released as a 4CD “super deluxe edition.”
There are two versions of the album included. One was remixed by Joe Barresi (Tool, Slipknot) using the original analog tapes. There’s also a newly remastered version of the original mix from 1983. In addition, there are previously unreleased outtakes for several songs including “Straight Through The Heart” and “Rainbow In The Dark” along with an early version of “Evil Eyes,” which would appear on The Last In Line. The icing on the cake is a previously unreleased live show recorded in 1983 in Fresno, California during the Holy Diver tour. The original version of this album is a must-own for metal fans, and even though it’s more expensive than the typical CD, the super deluxe edition has a lot of appeal with all the extra material.
Forsaken Eternity – A Kingdom Of Ice (Rottweiler)
It took Forsaken Eternity a while to release their debut full-length. The Portland symphonic black metal band formed in 2015 and have released an EP and split. They now emerge with A Kingdom Of Ice.
The band’s songwriting is both varied and focused. The song lengths are mostly in the 4 minute range, but they pack a lot into that time frame. Brutal black metal, groovy riffs, symphonic atmospheres, progressive forays and shredding guitar solos are all part of the package. They don’t overstay their welcome, with just seven original songs and a closing cover of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force.” It’s album with impressive musicianship and memorable songs, a noteworthy debut.
Greylotus – Dawnfall (The Artisan Era)
Based on the last 20 minutes of Dawnfall, Greylotus sound like a group with supreme confidence in the progressive side of death metal. This stretch of time covers three songs, which dives into a multidimensional headspace that is briefly alluded to on the first half of the album. It’s as if they saved their biggest risks for this section, with melodic singing, saxophones, ambience, and orchestration becoming abundant.
Though some of that is present on the album’s previous 25 minutes, this chunk has a firm handle on a technical style. It’s cool to hear hyper blast beats on “Currents,” but Greylotus make bigger strides when reaching outside being comfortable, like the keyboards used in the intro to “Chiaroscuro.” Further expansion of that should be where the band’s focus remains.
The Machinist – All Is Not Well (Prosthetic)
For their second album, All Is Not Well, The Machinist have enhanced their melodic sensibilities while further agitating their adverse temper. The former is something new for this group, as vocalist Amanda Gjelaj gets to sing on several songs, including the ballad “Hourglass.” This puts them in a new light, using restraint over their melancholic nature to excellent effect. It’s an unexpected gem unlike anything else on the album.
Though they settle down at points, there are other spots where their viciousness tops their last album, Confidimus In Morte. “Monsters” has a catchy exterior, but its interior is raw and laced with annihilating breakdowns. “PIG” and “Mother Earth” are a pair of opening behemoths pointing their aim at police brutality and the elimination of humanity, respectively. When their death metal/hardcore is on the mark, it’s like the world is collapsing in on itself.
Pittsburgh, PA’s Negative 13 have returned for their first proper release since 2002 with Mourning Asteri. What you will notice right away are the pained and sludgy vocals of Scott Fisher with Ed Banchs’ fat riffs assisting album opener “My Scars Are Showing Again” toeing the line between Neurosis’ excruciating approach and Eyehategod’s rock sensibilities while still maintaining their unique identity.
Refusing to let genre boundaries determine their fate, “Never Ending Exit Wound” has much more of a hardcore punch with distorted riffs being the main thoroughfare for Negative 13’s onslaught. The drums and bass buoy the song and help to keep it together whether it be with a jazzy swing or making sure the song structure doesn’t deviate too much from the band’s still developing sound. Fans of sludge metal with a little more oomph and variety will really enjoy Mourning Asteri.
Nelson – Greatest Hits (And Near Misses) (UMe)
At the tail end of hair metal’s popularity, Nelson had a number one smash hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” and a couple other tracks that charted from their After The Rain debut album. They have released several albums since then, and 17 tracks are included on the compilation album Greatest Hits (And Near Misses).
In addition to their big hit singles, the album includes some underappreciated and rare songs. By the time Because They Can was released in 1995, their style of music had declined in popularity, but it has some excellent songs such as “(You got Me) All Shook Up.” A few songs from that record are included, along with more recent recordings, including the newly recorded acoustic version of “Keep One Heart.” Because of their image, Nelson’s musical talents were sometimes underappreciated, but several decades after their biggest hits, this collection shows the quality of their material during their entire career.
Organectomy – Nail Below Nail (Unique Leader)
Nail Below Nail, the third full-length from New Zealand crushers Organectomy, shows an outpouring of death metal with some slam elements. The music rarely lets up as it blasts your doors off, the viciousness of the assault broken up by brief moments of respite. The constant bashing of the music is very appealing, with songs like “Cult of Excess” punishing you in a very positive way. The musicianship on the album is very impressive.
There is some room for improvement. Perhaps more tightness could be brought to the table to make the songs more cohesive, and there is a fairly hollow feeling to these tracks. Still, the brutality wins out and makes this tough to put down. This is a very appetizing set of tracks that will make your head bang constantly, warrants repeated rotation. There is a lot to absorb and the guttural nature of the album will be felt.
Telekinetic Yeti – Primordial (Tee Pee)
There aren’t a ton of well-known metal bands from Iowa, with Slipknot by far the most famous. But there are a lot of talented groups from the state, including the Dubuque based Telekinetic Yeti. The stoner/doom duo’s sophomore album is Primordial.
Alex Baumann (vocals/guitars) and Rockwel Heim (drums) have no problem creating a heavy wall of sound. Guitars are front and center on the album, with thick riffs driving the songs. Quicker paced tracks like “Ancient Nug” are contrasted by slower tempo songs such as “Ghost Train Haze.” There are a lot of lengthy instrumental sections showcasing Telekinetic Yeti’s musical prowess. The vocals are combination of harsh and melodic, though it’s hard to make them out because they are low in the mix. Primordial was produced by Kylesa’s Phillip Cope, and the album should appeal to fans of that group along with groups ranging from Mastodon to Red Fang to Sleep.