Heavy Music HQ Album Reviews: Week of March 22, 2024

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Alestorm, Apparation, Aro Ora, Avralize, Brodequin, Civerous, Hamferd, Hideous Divinity, Leaves Eyes, Livgone, Mastiff and Wombat Supernova.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Napalm Records

Alestorm – Voyage Of The Dead Marauder (Napalm)

Do you like rum? And pirates? Metal? Well, if you answered “yes” to all three, then by all means check out the new Alestorm EP, Voyage Of The Dead Marauder. Like any metal with this much schtick, your mileage may vary, but if you’re looking for something fun and different, grab a bottle of Captain Morgan’s and settle in.

The thrashing title track is less hurdy-gurdy but more guitar-riffy, and features stellar guest vocals from (no joke) Patty Gurdy. From there, Alestorm continue their globetrotting ways, fusing aggro-power metal and sea shanties in odes to countries you probably never thought of as hotbeds of pirate activity – Uzbekistan and Canada (the hilarious “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”). The instrumental “Sea Shanty 2” could be the soundtrack to a swashbuckling video game from the ‘90s, and the brief closer, “Cock,” is pretty much what you would expect.

Rating: 3.5
(Gino Sigismondi)

Profound Lore Records

Apparition – Disgraced Emanations From A Tranquil State (Profound Lore)

Apparition pay tribute to Katatonia with a synth-backed guitar solo in “Circulacate,” the closer to Disgraced Emanations From A Tranquil State. It’s one of several ways they pay respect to the roots of death/doom like Dance Of December Souls. These easter eggs, along with jazzy freeform bits like the instrumental “Inner Altitudes, Light Transference,” supplement their flammable death metal.

It’s a strategy Apparition took with their 2021 debut record Feel as well. That seemed more like a test run for the confident execution of Disgraced Emanations From A Tranquil State. The songs are longer, which is an advantage to allow their experimental thoughts to reign, while not neglecting their animalistic desires.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Aro Ora – The Twelfth Hour (Self)

Five years after their full-length debut, French groovers Aro Ora are issuing their latest album The Twelfth Hour. It’s their first release with vocalist Quentin Dabouis (Chrones) and bassist Clement Douam (First Draft).

The Twelfth Hour is heavier than their debut, with more focused songs. Tracks like “To Die A Pacifist” shift from bludgeoning metal with harsh vocals to more reserved sections with melodic singing. Aro Ora shift smoothly between styles, incorporating groovy riffs but with few guitar solos. They also inject ‘core elements and breakdowns into songs such as “In Sheer Luck Lays No Hazard.” In addition to the new material, Aro Ora include a live version of “Running On The Mobius Strip” from 2019’s Wairua.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Arising Empire

Avralize – Freaks (Arising Empire)

Freaks is the debut album from the German metalcore quartet Avralize. They worked with producer Manual Renner, who has produced albums from groups such as Our Promise, Senna and Consvmer.

The songs are very modern sounding with electronics and vocal effects. Heavy parts with breakdowns and harsh vocals shift to smooth melodies and back again. Tracks like “Lotus,” “Higher” and “Stab By Stab” have potential for heavy rotation on metal radio, but also ample aggressiveness that should translate well in their live shows. While there’s not much unique about Freaks, the execution and the songs have the potential for Avralize to make some noise in the metalcore arena.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Season Of Mist

Brodequin – Harbinger Of Woe (Season Of Mist)

It has been 20 years since Brodequin spat out a full album of brutal death metal, making Harbinger Of Woe a re-emergence of sorts. The production values on their fourth album reflect the modern times they were crafted in. While some may be sad that the muddiness of previous releases has been wiped away, their stifling intensity has not been lost. The lyrics are still based in reality, though one that is full of torture devices and inhuman ways to die.

With a new drummer in tow, the Bailey brothers, Mike on the guitars and Jamie on the bass/vocals, have kept up a legacy founded on savagery. “Tenaillement” and “VII Nails” are as cutthroat as anything they released back in the late ’90s/early ’00s. They do tinker with groove on “Of Pillars And Trees” and the title track, a sign that they came back with a finer purpose than repurposing the past.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

20 Buck Spin

Civerous – Maze Envy (20 Buck Spin)

The path to Maze Envy for Civerous weaved through raw death metal demos to a solemn debut album, only to dive further into death/doom on this sophomore record. String accompaniments on several songs, including violins screeching like they were pulled from a A24 movie trailer on “The Azure Eye,” has early era My Dying Bride all over it. However, that group never went as hard as Civerous does when they are set loose.

The vocals from Lord Foul are an unnatural force growling from another dimension. The duo of the title track and “Geryon (The Plummet)” that Maze Envy ends with are great encapsulations of their burgeoning progression over the last few years. The two tunes, which go almost 10 minutes each, are an awakening of their purest form.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Metal Blade Records

Hamferð – Men Guðs Hond Er Sterk (Metal Blade)

Hamferð, one of the Faroe Islands’ finest exports, deliver their third album, Men Guðs Hond Er Sterk. The band provide a doomy backdrop with a combination of death growls and ethereal cleans, making for a sound that is less melancholic than My Dying Bride, but instead conveys similar sounds in more of a storytelling aspect in their native Faroese. The riffs crush on repeat while vocalist Jon Aldara’s multi-faceted attack brings excellent depth to the band’s overall sound.

Hamferð are an excellent combination of heaviness and beauty, likely the juxtaposition of the forces of nature acting with and against one another, allowing for each element of the band’s sound to stand alone. It also enables them to come together as something more than simply the sum of their parts. For those looking for a varied listen without being bogged down by too much minutiae, Men Guðs Hond Er Sterk is a solid album from a band with a continually rising star.

Rating: 3.5
(Tom Campagna)

Century Media Records

Hideous Divinity – Unextinct (Century Media)

“This is monstrous!” These are the words that listeners will repeat to themselves over and over again while listening to Hideous Divinity‘s new album, Unextinct, which is indeed a formidable and destructive monster. These Italians, who have always been impressive throughout their career, have gone several steps beyond what they were and left behind a mark that seems to have breathed new life into technical/brutal death metal.

Stunningly produced by Eyeconoclast’s Stefano Morabito, Hideous Divinity’s long-time studio technician, Unextinct is the band’s best and most complete album to date. They have meticulously crafted the instrumentation and orchestration in each song, creating utterly breathtaking pieces musically and visually akin to works by Italian masters of classic art. Unextinct, in its extraordinary and unattainable essence, is a macabre musical interpretation of cosmic terror developed in the most epic and terrorizing death metal frame. Regarding songwriting, performance, and production, the album stands at such a point of excellence that listeners may ask: “How did they create this?”

Rating: 4.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

AFM Records

Leaves Eyes – Myths Of Fate (AFM)

The long-running German symphonic metal band Leaves Eyes have now been around for more than two decades, with their debut album Lovelorn released back in 2004. Their ninth studio release is Myths Of Fate.

The music is bombastic and melodic, with lyrics mostly from Norse and Eastern European mythology. Elina Siirala’s vocals are sometimes smooth and mellow, other times more potent and operatic. They are contrasted by Alexander Krull’s harsh growls. Myths Of Fate has Viking flavored songs like “Sons Of Triglav,” sweeping epics such as “Who Wants To Live Forever” and mellow ballads like “Goddess Of The Night.” Myths Of Fate is a varied album with a strong collection of songs building on Leaves Eyes’ impressive catalog.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Svart Records

Livgone – Almost There (Svart)

Livgone bring together people who have ties to the death and black metal world, though Almost There is doom metal twisted with stark ambience. This plays a big role in songs like “Hypoesthesia,” as its 10 minutes is split in half between immense power and drifting instrumental soundscapes. It’s a direction that may distract the less patient listeners, but it works in being sucked into the album.

It’s not until the last song that the band gets to “There,” and wherever that place may be, it’s not pleasant according to the rumbling noise. They do let out some of their extreme influences on “Watching Them Feel,” which diverts briefly with a blackened jab. Almost There has a ghostly aura to it that hides great secrets and lost visions begging to be found.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

MNRK Heavy

Mastiff – Deprecipice (MNRK Heavy)

Crushing UK metallic hardcore unit Mastiff deliver another oppressive listen on their fourth album Deprecipice. Opener “Bite Radius” is a great combination of violent hardcore that is properly infused with sludge riffs, varying the heaviness to maximum effect. “Void” feels more like a punk number upon arrival, eventually giving way to more of the slow and pummeling sections, making for an increasingly uncomfortable listen.

Mastiff can do a lot with a little, making for the band’s sound to be a true mix of sludge, hardcore, and even differing levels of noise to up the fear factor more and more as the album progresses.
“Serrated” if slowed down could come across as a death metal track, with amplified buzzsaw riffs and shouted vocals, creating even more buy-in from extreme music aficionados. Across the album’s 35-minute run time, Deprecipice continually crushes and takes names.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Wombat Supernova – Apewoman Vs Turbo (Self)

Cute, dumb, and fast – words that French instrumental newcomers Wombat Supernova have described their debut album Apewoman Vs Turbo, and it is an appropriate description. To some this album may be a bit silly, but in the end it works.

Apewoman Vs Turbo is what it means to have genuine fun when making music and to not take things so seriously. Each track is goofy and contains a little gimmick unique to them. Whether it’s bouncing between genres like in “double cringe” or starting off on a positive note and slowly becoming unsettling like in “the nest.” From start to end the album is a nice lighthearted listen, and for this to be performed, recorded and produced by just two people, Wombat Supernova have started their colorful career on a strong high note.

Rating: 3.5
(Dalton Husher)

One Response

  1. bobsala

    4 months ago

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