This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Armagideon Time, Cosmic Putrefaction, Deaf Club, Fozzy, Haunter, I Am The Night, Ibaraki, Jani Liimatainen, Jeff Scott Soto, Kaleidobolt, Mother Of Millions, Motor Sister, Sabaton and Ufomammut.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Armagideon Time – Crime As Theatre (Anti-Corporate)
Crime As Theatre, the debut EP from Armagideon Time, doesn’t restrain itself with the hard truths and vitriolic lyricism the group unveils with its sinister hardcore. They only have 10 minutes to spare on this release, so the band is not in the mood to waste time. “Stimulus F**k” points a certain finger at the stimulus checks the government provided during the pandemic, the “cost of living” they believe us to be at that proved to be not nearly enough to support most for a month.
That’s just one of the relatable subjects they don’t shy away from, such as feeling overwhelmed with sadness on closer “Depressed.” Unfortunately, the vocals are buried in the background, making them hard to hear unless the volume is way high up. It’s good then that the music rips, as their hardcore has d-beat and crust elements; in fact, the closer tears off into a blur that gets close to grindcore territory.
Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones (Profound Lore)
Italian one man death metal band Cosmic Putrefaction are dropping their third proper album Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones, continuing along in the line of monstrous sounding death metal from beyond. The slow moving passages are masterfully laid out in between death metal riffs from the cosmos such as on “Lysergic Sulfuric Waters.”
Cosmic Putrefaction are at their best when they properly balance the otherworldly with more typical death metal structures, “Twisting Spirals In the Murk” plods along while sole member G.G.’s pained and throaty delivery matches the struggle. Cosmic Putrefaction certainly have a feeling of Blood Incantation and a flair for weirdness that is borderline Demilich-like, but they offer their own spin on death metal that is described at the very least as a “big” death metal album with nary any bit of heaviness being sacrificed.
Deaf Club – Bad Songs Forever (Three One G)
In January Deaf Club released their debut full-length Productive Disruption. Now the band, whose members are part of groups including The Locust, ACxDC and Run With The Hunted are back with the four song EP Bad Songs Forever.
It’s a brief blast of punk, thrash, hardcore and grind. The songs are chaotic and aggressive with harsh vocals, but moments of melody periodically emerge from the din. Opener “If You Eat A Rat, It Might Taste Good” is the EP’s longest song, and is still under three minutes. In addition to a trio of originals, Deaf Club also cover The Pixies “Broken Face,” with more aggressive vocals that the original giving it even more of an edge. It’s a potent EP.
Fozzy – Boombox (Century Media)
From their roots as a predominantly classic metal covers act to ditching their cartoonish gimmick, Fozzy finally hit rock-radio paydirt with the title track from 2017’s Judas. The group, featuring pro wrestling veteran Chris Jericho (vocals) and Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward seeks to continue that momentum on follow-up LP Boombox.
The accessible, commercialized hard rock sound of recent efforts is ramped up even further here, taking cues from the likes of Skillet, Three Days Grace and Shinedown. A terrible cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” or middling country-fied ballad “Army Of One” are cases in point. Loads of synths and a production so shiny it’s blinding (go easy on the auto-tune next time) may secure airplay, but resonate less within the scheme of the overall record. There are some punchy riffs and appealing solos to be found, and cuts like “I Still Burn” and “Nowhere To Run” boast catchy hooks. Other moments just feel interchangeable though, or forgettable. If Fozzy were seeking to recapture the success of “Judas,” they may have achieved it with one of these songs, but overall Boombox doesn’t always yield the most inspiring listening experience.
Haunter – Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore)
For Haunter’s third album Discarnate Ails, the group trims their forward-thinking black/death metal to its most essential parts. Pared down to three songs over 31 minutes, the focus shifts to backing off the lengthy passive sections of melancholic guitars that were on their last two albums for a more primal execution. Though two of the tracks slide into double-digits, they don’t slip far away from the menacing aura all over this album.
The guitar leads have greater prominence compared to previous releases, though this is not a heavy soloing affair. When they appear, it’s done tastefully without noodling into over-technicality. Discarnate Ails doesn’t skimp on the melody, and its unforced placement adds some complexity to Haunter’s sound. This is still a grower, even with it being their shortest album to date.
I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping (Svart)
The members of I Am The Night reflect back to their younger selves and their admiration for early ’90s black metal on While The Gods Are Sleeping. This album is an obvious nod to that era, from the icy synths and blurry riffs to the raspy howls. They tout the record as being created during an extreme blizzard in Finland during the winter of 2021, and their circumstances are baked into these eight songs. Even with a modern production, its frosty core is undisturbed.
Though the group features musicians involved with death metal groups like Paradise Lost, Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, they totally commit to the timeless black metal sound on While The Gods Are Sleeping. While there are no major shocks for those who have heard an album from the genre over the last three decades, I Am The Night transport us to a time when there was no set design in place for what would become the black metal we know today.
Ibaraki – Rashomon (Nuclear Blast)
Ibaraki is the long awaited collaboration between Trivium’s Matthew Heafy and Ihsahn. Rashomon was primarily written by Heafy, with Isahn producing and contributing some song structures. The album title is a Japanese demon from feudal legend. The album explores a lot of musical styles. While there are some black metal influences, Rashomon is not a black metal album.
“Kagutsuchi” goes from extreme to mellow and progressive and back again, while “Jigoku Dayu” takes the opposite approach of a quiet beginning before the brutality kicks in. The songs are lengthy, most in the 6 to 8 minute range, with a lot of twists and turns. There are guest vocalists as well. Nergal’s harsh vocals add an air of menace to “Akumu” while Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) guests on “Ronin.” Ihsahn appears on “Susanoo No Mikoto.” Rashomon is an ambitious and diverse album that allows Heafy to explore different musical pathways. Ihsahn’s solo work was certainly an inspiration here, but Ibaraki have made a very unique and engaging album.
Jani Liimatainen – My Father’s Son (Frontiers)
Guitarist Jani Liimatainen has been in numerous bands over the years. He was a founding member of Sonata Arctica, and is currently in Insomnium, The Dark Element and Cain’s Offering. Among those handling vocal duties on My Father’s Son are several of his former and current bandmates, along with other notable singers.
The songs are melodic and dramatic, driven by guitars with atmospherics providing depth. Soilwork’s Bjorn “Speed Strid guests on the opener “Breathing Divinity” while Sonata Arctica’s Tony Kakko sings the driving “All Dreams Are Born To Die.” Other singers include Renan Zonta (Electric Mob), Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) and Anette Ozon (The Dark Element). Liimatainen sings on the ballad “Haunted House” and does an excellent job. My Father’s Son is a star studded affair with appeal for power, symphonic, gothic and traditional metal fans.
Jeff Scott Soto – Complicated (Frontiers)
Jeff Scott Soto has been an in-demand vocalist for decades. In addition to his solo work, Soto’s resume includes Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Journey, Talisman, Sons Of Apollo, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and numerous guest appearances. After a duets album last year, Complicated is his eighth solo album.
The album is hard rock/traditional metal with songs that are melodic and memorable. While guitarist Fabrizio Sgattoni provides some impressive moments, it’s Soto’s potent singing that’s the star of the show. Anthemic tracks like “Love Is The Revolution” are contrasted by mellower songs such as the ballads “Until I See You Again” and “Thank You.” The combination of well-written songs and first-rate vocals make Complicated another in the long line of quality albums from Soto.
Kaleidobolt – This One Simple Trick (Svart)
It’s been three years since Finnish psychedelic trio Kaleidobolt dropped their impressive third album, Bitter. On This One Simple Trick the group adds a new drummer, Mårten Gustafsson, who brings a ton of energy to guitarist/vocalist Sampo Kääriäinen’s and Marco Menestrina’s (bass, keyboards) already hectic yet engaging style of psych, stoner rock, prog, and proto-metal.
Kaleidobolt maintain the style of their previous album, which is like a more bizarre and progressive Queens Of The Stone Age. Hazy, fuzzy riffs often intersect with crazily intricate guitar lines, while the rhythm pummels and rocks you. This One Simple Trick is rife with constant left turns and crazy segues scattered across the songs, further accentuating the band’s odd sense of humor. It’s incredibly weird, but somehow it all works, and I can’t stop listening to it.
Mother Of Millions – Orbit (Vicisolum)
Greek progressive rock outfit Mother Of Millions released Artifacts in 2019, and it’s an album I often go back to due to its wonderful songwriting and the stellar vocal performance of George Prokopiou. Sadly, as the band was touring this album their keyboard player Makis Tsamkosoglou passed away during a performance. The 12” EP Orbit is part of the band’s grieving process.
Orbit consists of four songs: a brief intro leading into the outstanding title track, a cover of Florence + The Machine’s “No Light, No Light,” and a piano-based reworking of “Rome,” originally from the band’s 2017 Sigma release. Piano dominates Orbit, and no credit is given to the keyboard player, making the EP even more mournful and cathartic. Of course the performances from the remaining quartet are excellent, and fans of the band will have to have this emotional and heartbreaking EP.
Motor Sister – Get Off (Metal Blade)
“The world’s gone to f–king hell and we’re making rock and roll!” This spoken word bit that kicks off “Right There, Just LIke That” from Motor Sister’s sophomore release, Get Off, perfectly sums up life in 2022. How better to get through these times than lift up your head and rock?
Supergroups often fall flat, but this one succeeds by existing for good reason, namely their love for the band Mother Superior. Singer/guitarist Jim Wilson got corralled into playing a set of his old band’s tunes with Scott Ian and crew for his 50th birthday, eventually recording them for the first Motor Sister release. This collection of all-new songs builds on Wilson’s soulful rasp, which recalls Phil Lynott on “Sooner or Later,” and a feast of classic rock guitar riffs and catchy choruses. The overall sound is bolstered by backing vocals from Ian’s wife, Pearl Aday, also showing off her lead chops on “Coming For You.”
Sabaton – The Symphony To End All Wars (Nuclear Blast)
In March, Sabaton released The War To End All Wars, their second consecutive album of songs about World War I. They also issued the history version of that album that has additional information about the historical background of the songs. Now comes The Symphony To End All Wars.
The 11 songs from the album are given the full symphonic treatment. It’s not technically an instrumental album because there are choirs singing in some of the songs, but frontman Joakim Brodens does not appear on this edition. The songs are very cinematic and dramatic, making for an interesting companion piece. Having Broden’s vocals and the symphonic elements would have given The Symphony To End All Wars more mass appeal, but these arrangements are very well done.
Ufomammut – Fenice (Neurot)
Nearly five years has elapsed since Ufomammut‘s last studio album 8. The Italian psychedelic sludge/doom band’s latest album Fenice is their first with drummer Levre.
Fenice translates to Phoenix in Italian, and the band wanted this album to be a rebirth. It was conceived as a single track divided into six parts. Ufomammut push in a more avant-garde direction while still basing the songs on doomy, downtuned riffs. Keyboards are prominent on this album, evident on songs such as the instrumental “Kepherer.” Vocals are sparse on the album, keeping the focus on the arrangements and musicianship. While it can be a challenging listen at times, more clarity emerges with each spin on Fenice.