Heavy Music HQ Reviews: Week of April 12, 2024

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Benighted, Blue Oyster Cult, Griefgod, Imminence, Love Sex Machine, Martikor, Necrot, Riot V, Spit On Your Grave, Tonnerre, Tyr, Veriteras and The Vision Bleak.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Season Of Mist

Benighted – Ekbom (Season Of Mist)

The French brutal death/grind band Benighted have been crushing skulls for more than a quarter century. They explore an interesting lyrical subject on their tenth album Ekbom. It’s a psychological condition where people believe their skin is infested with bugs.

The album is extreme and heavy with pummeling drums, but Benighted inject more dynamics than the typical brutal death band. The mellow intro track and other brief moments of calm make the extremity even more impactful. They also slide in some groove in tracks like “Morgue” and “Metastatis.” The dozen tracks fly by in 36 minutes or so, leaving no stone unturned while not overstaying their welcome.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Frontiers Music

Blue Oyster Cult – Ghost Stories (Frontiers)

Ghost Stories is a collection of previously recorded and sadly forgotten songs in Blue Oyster Cult’s legendary lexicon. Due to the constraints of vinyl records, many of what exists on this record met the chopping block eons ago. Most of this collection was recorded from albums Spectres through The Revolution By Night, and thanks to modern day editing and engineering, these tracks are now of album quality. Also included are covers from The Animals, MC5 and even The Beatles.

Ghost Stories is an apt title for this collection as it traverses the band’s rich history and includes members of the band who are either out of the band or have even passed away in the many years since. What you end up with by record’s end is a compilation of B-sides from varying eras that would have fit well within their original album cycles. Ghost Stories feels like the band completing a career’s worth of unfinished business.

Rating: 3.5
(Tom Campagna)

Griefgod – Deterioration (Self)

Although they have been active under different names in the past, Deterioration, the debut studio album by the Lithuanian death metal band Griefgod is their most serious attempt to establish themselves in the music industry. Deterioration provides an intriguing listening experience with noteworthy band performances and production quality. It showcases the passionate ambitions of a young band striving to seek a respectable position.

That’s why they worked so hard to line up a festival of crushing and groovy riffs demonstrating the band’s dedication to their craft. While Griefgod’s main musical perspective is death metal, signs of groove metal, djent, and progressive metal are also evident throughout the album. From Decapitated and Kataklysm to Gojira and Meshugah influences, Griefgod have only one goal: to thrill their audience with the shredding of solid riff, a goal that is successfully achieved. But if are you expecting solid ideas in songwriting, there aren’t many.

Rating: 3.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

Imminence – The Black (Self)

The Swedish metalcore band Imminence are rising stars in the international scene. They recently embarked on their first North American tour, and will be playing additional shows here this year. For their fifth album The Black they decided to go the independent route and fully embrace the DIY ethos.

That artistic freedom is evident as they venture in numerous musical directions. Vocalist Eddie Berg also plays violin, with orchestral parts providing depth and contrast. The Black brings the string arrangements front and center while keeping the heaviness intact. That’s epitomized by songs such as “Beyond The Pale” and “Continuum” that alternate between harsh vocals and catchy melodic choruses. Tracks like “Death By A Thousand Cuts” are more accessible and modern with electronics and the vocal balance tilted toward the melodic side. With The Black, Imminence continue their ascension, bringing a fresh approach to the metalcore genre.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Pelagic Records

Love Sex Machine – Trve (Pelagic)

The French have their unique takes on music, and Love Sex Machine’s latest creation Trve is no different. It has been almost eight years since their sophomore album Asexual Anger for these sludge metal hellraisers to spring their latest creation into the world.

Improving upon their last album with a unique blend of sludge metal, black and a sprinkle of post-metal Trve manages to grab your attention quickly with “F–king Snakes” and keep it for a headbanged filled roller coaster. The harmonic details put into tracks like “Test26” and “Mask” showcase the unspeakable brutality Love Sex Machine have brought back to the table. Trve marks a welcome return for them and hopes are high that they keep this momentum.

Rating: 3.5
(Dalton Husher)

Martikor – Acedia (Self)

Acedia is Martikor’s second album in less than a year, with their debut Soliloquy being released last September. There’s no shortage of ideas from main composer Lenn, who takes an experimental stance with sludge metal. There’s blackened implosions, vulnerable singing and ambient use of keyboards, all of which add up to nonconformity by design. Five of the seven songs go way past the seven-minute mark, giving ample room for unexpected departures like the piano break on “A Tremor In Infinity.”

“Coiled” also tries something different with acoustic guitars and guest cello work from Kakophonix in its etherical first half. It eventually turns the heaviness up, with a molasses-thick riff stifling any hope out of the song. Much like Soliloquy, Acedia is a focused listen, one that has to be appreciated over uninterrupted periods.

Rating: 3
(Dan Marsicano)

Tankcrimes Records

Necrot – Lifeless Birth (Tankcrimes)

Lifeless Birth is Necrot’s third dialogue with death and much like album opener’s “Cut The Cord” it was about time to let this thing wreak havoc upon the unsuspecting metallic masses. Playing varying different speeds of death metal, Necrot aren’t content with being repetitive, giving way to more variety as they progress.

“Drill the Skull” plods along at the beginning and checks off a box in that this will likely become a live staple with repeated chants of the song’s title as the main chorus, complete with fist-pumping energy. Guitarist Sonny Reinhardt brings the song to a powerful crescendo with a barnburners of guitar solos before giving way to drummer Chad Gailey and their titanic bassist/frontman Luca Indrio.
Necrot’s return was nearly four years in the making, but one that was well worth the wait, powering through seven songs in a shade over 40 minutes is a well-executed plan of attack for the album and hopefully for future endeavors. Lifeless Birth is an early contender for one of the best death metal albums of the year.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Northlane – Mirror’s Edge (Self)

Chart-toppers Northlane, well-established as one of Australia’s biggest metal acts are unleashing the Mirror’s Edge EP. From the hook-filled, electro-fueled “Dante” to the propulsive groove and bruising breakdowns of “Kraft,” their sound is heavy, littered with soundscapes, but commercially potent. This is a sentiment boosted by vocalist Marcus Bridge’s soaring melodies. Conversely, there’s material here that’s among their heaviest of recent times. Ultimately, the EP’s sound is a blend of styles old and new for the band, sitting somewhere between metalcore, industrial, djent and nu-metal.

The group has also perhaps sought to boost their profile even further by enlisting high-profile friends. On “Miasma,” which channels their early days, Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall growls with a level of aggression not heard from him for a while. And Ian Kenny, to the outside world the enigmatic singer of prog outfit Karnivool, but also a pop/rock superstar locally fronting Birds of Tokyo, lends his distinctive style to atmospheric “Afterimage” to considerable effect. Northlane haven’t reinvented themselves on Mirror’s Edge; more summarized their catalogue so far. As a result, there are moments that feel by-the-numbers, but these cuts should tide fans over until the next full-length.

Rating: 3.5
(Brendan Crabb)

Atomic Fire Records

Riot V – Mean Streets (Atomic Fire)

Long running metal legion Riot V‘s 17th album is Mean Streets, their third since the passing of founding guitarist Mark Reale. Riot V’s current incarnation plays a combination of heavy/power metal with a little bit more of the former than the latter, reminding the listener of the earliest version of the band that played in the nascent NYC club scenes of the late ‘70s.

“Feel The Fire” is a great example of the balance between the two styles with vocalist Todd Michael Hall soaring for high-pitched glory and lead guitarist Nick Lee shredding in a way that the band did before he was even born. With other burners like “High Noon,” “Higher” and the title track, Riot V continue their aural ascent as their career enters its sixth decade of existence. For a solid heavy metal album that champions the roots of the genre and pushes it forward, look no further than Mean Streets.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Spit On Your Grave – Arkanum (Self)

Arkanum is a concept album from death metal group Spit On Your Grave, using tarot cards as a way to express real-world emotions. Each song depicts a different card, including the Magician, the Devil and the High Priestess, tying it all to the negative feelings one can experience in life. It’s no surprise then that the record sinks deeper until there’s no way back from the realization that the only peace one can find is from within.

The group has been clawing away for a while now, with this being their third full-length release. On Arkanum, concussive death metal is given a melodic streak thanks to an increased presence in guitar leads. The explosive drum fills on “Broken Hourglass” and the acoustic outro to closer “The March Of The Innocents” adds some frills to their sturdy, if prototypical, sound.

Rating: 3
(Dan Marsicano)

Cruz Del Sur Music

Tonnerre – La Nuit Sauvage (Cruz Del Sur)

La Nuit Sauvage is French for “The Wild Night,” something Canadian group Tonnerre look to achieve with their debut album. The record takes place at a gathering of friends in the forest, partying from dusk until dawn. This is the kind of music that would be blaring from a car speaker, lost to the noise of the partygoers raging on cheap booze and the hum of nature. The group seems to adore ’70s hard rock, especially AC/DC, though they put a twist on it with lyrics sung entirely in French.

Though the characters in La Nuit Sauvage may have a hedonistic night of pleasure, the listener themselves won’t get quite the same high. The songs all follow a mid-tempo bounce without any of the slick guitar solos a band like AC/DC got out of Angus Young. It’s not until the closer “L’auror” that the guitars kick up in a way the rest of the album should’ve done.

Rating: 3
(Dan Marsicano)

Metal Blade Records

Tyr – Battle Ballads (Metal Blade)

Tyr‘s 2020 performance with the Symphony Orchestra Of The Faroe Islands that resulted in the release A Night At The Nordic House inspired frontman Heri Joensen. He decided to add those symphonic elements to their latest album Battle Ballads.

Adding that to their existing blend of power, Viking and folk metal makes for an epic approach. With the album title, listeners may expect a record packed with slow, mellow tracks. What you get is the exact opposite. It’s a rousing, uptempo album with minimal slow sections (“Torkils Dotur” is the notable exception). Tyr also took a more direct approach to their songwriting, making it less progressive than their last album Hel. What the songs lack in complexity they make up for in catchiness. Tyr like to change things up while staying true to their core sound, and that’s exactly what they accomplish with Battle Ballads.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Veriteras – The Dark Horizon (Self)

Veriteras’ melodic death metal is given a menacing figure with an infusion of black metal on their sophomore album, The Dark Horizon. Their riffs are sharper, blurry daggers that move the music in a darker direction. They don’t abandon the melody entirely, as the guitars harmonize and elevate before the songs get too far down in the muck. Vocalist/guitarist Sean Osterberg mainly sticks to a fired-up rasp, except for some momentary singing on “Last Rites.”

Like a lot of their inspirations, a female vocalist is brought in to class up closer “Light In The Darkness.” Keyboards also make an appearance here, something Veriteras puts into most of these songs in a non-distracting manner. The Dark Horizon doesn’t mess about with a listener’s time, taking about half an hour for this Seattle, Washington group to give a nod to European melodic death metal.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Prophecy Productions

The Vision Bleak – Weird Tales (Prophecy)

The long-running German gothic duo The Vision Bleak turn to an American magazine as the inspiration for their seventh full-length Weird Tales. In the magazine’s glory days they featured authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and Ray Bradbury writing about horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Weird Tales is one 40 minute song split into a dozen chapters, each inspired by the macabre. The album covers a lot of musical territory, from mellow acoustic guitar and piano to heavy gothic metal to symphonic elements. Tobias “Konstanz” Schonemann’s baritone vocals provide the appropriate vibe for the record’s subject matter, with periodic harsh vocals adding contrast. Weird Tales is an ambitious album with a lot of interesting moments. There are also a few lulls and less engaging sections, but overall fans of The Vision Bleak should enjoy Weird Tales.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.