Heavy Music HQ Album Reviews: Week of May 12, 2023

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Ascended Dead, Battle Born, Cronos Compulsion, The Dark Side Of The Moon, DevilDriver, Godsnake, Hasard, Pronostic, They Watch Us From the Moon, Veil Of Maya and Veriluola.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

20 Buck Spin

Ascended Dead – Evenfall Of The Apocalypse (20 Buck Spin)

The death metal quartet Ascended Dead have released a fair amount of material during their decade plus of existence, though not a lot of studio albums. There have been demos, splits, compilations and a live album, but Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is only their second full-length, the follow-up to their 2017 debut Abhorrent Manifestation.

Their approach is chaotic, with dense arrangements and frenzied vocals low in the mix. Songs like “Ungodly Death” and “Tantum Bellum” move at a brisk pace, a whirlwind of blastbeats and lightning riffs. The production is fairly raw, adding to the old school vibe, but if you listen closely there are some subtleties amongst the destruction and mayhem. “Passage To Eternity” is the album’s outlier, an instrumental that’s mostly acoustic and may have been better suited to be closer to the middle of the album to provide contrast to the brutality instead of towards the end. Still, Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is an interesting, ever-shifting slab of death metal.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Prosthetic Records

Battle Born – Blood, Fire, Magic And Steel (Prosthetic)

After an EP in 2020, the UK power metal band Battle Born signed with Prosthetic Records and are releasing their full-length debut album Blood, Fire, Magic And Steel. It’s typical European power metal with soaring vocals, orchestral atmosphere and tales of swords and sorcery.

Though certainly not groundbreaking, this is a well executed album with memorable songs. Melodramatic and catchy numbers like “Blood and Fire” and “Power Force” are fun listens. There’s the requisite ballad “The Endless Grey” that starts out acoustically before shifting into full power ballad mode. Battle Born have learned well from their predecessors, incorporating effective and proven songwriting strategies while adding in a few modern touches. They are off to a promising start with Blood, Fire, Magic And Steel.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Caligari Records

Cronos Compulsion – Malicious Regression (Caligari)

Methodical death/doom metal is a valuable commodity Cronos Compulsion use to their advantage on their Malicious Regression EP. This release comes after two demos and a split, all released between 2021 and 2022. The group have paired down their song lengths while retaining the inescapable misery of death all around us. Lyrics bluntly describe surgical dissections and obliterated faces, proclaiming the uselessness of the body as a vessel for a fractured spirit.

They don’t even need vocals to get on a listener’s queasy side, with opener “Secher” using synths and noise effects to break at one’s resolve. Closer “Consumed By Malignant Spirit” doesn’t meet fury with force but uses calculated pressure to squeeze between death and doom. Malicious Regression uses that pressure to allow Cronos Compulsion to be on the right path towards a potential spectacular future debut full-length.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Napalm Records

The Dark Side Of The Moon – Metamorphosis (Napalm)

The Dark Side Of The Moon were formed by Ad Finitum vocalist Melissa Bonny and Feuerschwanz guitarist Hans Platz. Their debut album Metamorphosis transforms TV, movie and video game soundtrack themes into metal songs, and there are also three original songs.

The songs are cinematic and atmospheric, and they do a good job with the arrangements in adding metal heaviness. Bonny’s vocals take the songs to another level, and there are several guests on the album. Evergrey’s Tom S Englund adds his potent singing to “Misty Mountains,” with his and Bonny’s voices meshing perfectly. Former Delain singer Charlotte Wessels guests on “May It Be,” trading leads and adding harmonies. Violinist Rusanda Panfili, who has worked with the legendary composer Hans Zimmer, adds her talents to a couple of songs. Metamorphosis is an interesting concept, and The Dark Side Of The Moon execute it flawlessly.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Napalm Records

DevilDriver – Dealing With Demons, Vol. II (Napalm)

Groove metal titans DevilDriver strike again to celebrate their third decade of activity, with their tenth studio album and the second installment of the Dealing With Demons saga. It’s another strike to expand their musical career and a serious look to conquer another roaring decade.

While the first half of the album manages to satisfy everyone, but perhaps fails to excite the listener, “Through the Depths” changes the game. The dynamic in songwriting gives a new form to the existential nature of the songs, and in this way, the narrative form of the album also acquires a darker and heavier tone. This is where, in the second half of the album, that you can find some of DevilDriver’s heaviest and most memorable moments. While the band members continue to perform brilliantly in their positions, what is missing is an impeccable production that would lead the band’s groovy sound back to those golden days of Pray for Villains.

Rating: 3.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

Massacre Records

Godsnake – Eye For An Eye (Massacre)

The German band Godsnake follow up their 2020 full-length debut with Eye For An Eye. It features the addition of guitarist Pepe (Ancient Curse, Sons Of Seasons).

Godsnake play traditional and thrash metal with a modern flair augmented by crisp production. It’s melodic with heavy riffs, with a blend of longer epic tracks like opener “The Sickening” and “Eye For An Eye” along with focused songs. “Story Of A Ghost,” a galloping thrasher which features a guest solo from Onslaught’s Wayne Dorman, is only about two and half minutes long with a Metallica vibe. No matter the length, every song on Eye For An Eye has memorable melodies and a lot of catchiness. Switching up intensities and tempos provides additional diversity to the album.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

I, Voidhanger Records

Hasard – Malivore (I, Voidhanger)

The musician Hazard, an enigmatic figure whose Les Chants Du Hasard project takes classical music and adds black metal-styled roars over it, has made a move towards a discordant design with Hasard and its debut release, Malivore. There’s still orchestration and choirs present, but they now interact with guitars, bass and drums, unlike their lone presence on the work of Les Chants Du Hasard. For Hasard, though, this is done avant-garde style instead of in the vein of prototypical symphonic black metal.

Malivore is intentionally unruly, which can be overpowering with songs that never fall below eight minutes in length. One stands above them all though, that being the masterful “Choral Inane” featuring pianist John Steven Morgan. He does his own spin on black metal with the piano centric Wreche, so hearing these two minds together is absolute bliss. If anything, this album makes a collaboration between Hasard and Wreche, or Les Chants Du Hasard and Wreche, a necessity.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Pronostic – Chaotic Upheaval (Self)

The Montreal death metal band Pronostic issued their debut back in 2015. They regrouped during the pandemic to compose their second album Chaotic Upheaval. It features the addition of Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Francesco Ferrini who provides piano and string arrangements. Samuel Santiago (Gorod, Black Crown Initiate) was the session drummer for the album.

Pronostic’s brand of death metal is varied, both musically and vocally. There are two vocalists, giving a blend of low pitched growls and higher pitched rasps. The songs are relatively short (most in the four minute range), but they are extremely diverse. The centerpiece of “Massive Disillusion” is a sax solo, bookended by bludgeoning tech death. The instrumental “Waves” has a lot of melodic death metal elements, while there are moments of prog on songs like “Drained By Remorse” and “L’impureté Globale.” Chaotic Upheaval really lives up to its name, but Pronostic are able to harness all that chaos and varied styles into a cohesive whole.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

New Heavy Sounds

They Watch Us From The Moon – Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension (New Heavy Sounds)

Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension is a space opera from They Watch Us From The Moon, taking us to the stars on the backs of doom/stoner metal. The band is committed to this story, with every member having an alias that could be a character from the story. There are two vocalists employed, Nova and Luna, who harmonize regularly to the point that it’s unusual to not hear them tackling the vocals together.

The pinnacle of the album are the two final tracks, “Creeper AD” and “Return To Earth.” Both exceed the 10-minute mark and embrace a psychedelic pull, as the former starts out as a prolonged jam with a ripping guitar solo. The latter is the catchiest song the band has ever written, with a chorus so great they repeat it a few times in a row. From the title alone, Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension implies that this is just the start of a far-reaching interstellar trek.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Sumerian Records

Veil Of Maya – [m]other (Sumerian)

It has been a while since we’ve heard from Illinois ‘core veterans Veil Of Maya. After issuing albums every couple of years from 2006 to 2017, it took a bit longer to create their seventh album [m]other.

They are able to shift seamlessly between groovy metalcore and complex djent. Heavy opener “Tokyo Chainsaw” has only harsh vocals, while tracks like “Artificial Dose” and “Red Fur” add melodic singing. The songs on [m]other are razor-sharp and focused, with “Mother Pt. 4” having a more epic scope. Veil Of Maya have become one of the genre’s most successful bands with their blend of extremity, creativity, and pit-ready songs. Fans should be pleased with [m]other, which delivers everything they expect along with a few surprises.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Nameless Grave Records

Veriluola – Cascades Of Crimson Cruor (Nameless Grave)

A search for the definition to the word “cruor,” which is a part of the title from Veriluola’s debut album Cascades Of Crimson Cruor, appears to be Latin for “blood.” A lot of that spills as the Finnish/American duo slays away with grade A quality black metal. Flirtations with death metal and traditional metal gives the record a sense of being on the move without whizzing by.

There are intricate songs, especially in the album’s second half with the sublime guitars in the beginning of “Enthralled By The Blaze” and the 10-minute race “Impish Insurrection” goes on. The latter track uses every second of that double-digit length to put Veriluola through the grinder with some excellent guitar solos. It’s easy to see how much gore the group wants a listener to picture with an album like Cascades Of Crimson Cruor.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

One Response

  1. bobsala

    5 months ago

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