Heavy Music HQ Reviews: Week of February 16, 2024

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Art Of Anarchy, Bokassa, Crazy Lixx, Einar Solberg, Farsot, Honeymoon Suite, Leah, The Obsessed, Praise The Plague, The Scream and Sujin.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Pavement Entertainment

Art Of Anarchy – Let There Be Anarchy (Pavement)

It has been a while since we’ve heard from the hard rock supergroup Art Of Anarchy. Let There Be Anarchy is their third album, and first since 2017’s The Madness. The band also keeps their tradition of having a vocalist with Scott in their name. After Scott Weiland and Scott Stapp, the new album features Jeff Scott Soto behind the mic.

The guitar work of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Jon Votta is front and center throughout. The album kicks off with the 7 plus minute “Die Hard,” a varied composition that shifts from melodic to heavy and adds cinematic atmosphere. “Echo Your Madness” is a more straightforward rocker, while “Bridge Of Tomorrow” is a soaring ballad. No matter the tempo or intensity, Soto’s vocals are always compelling. Like their previous album, Let There Be Anarchy has ten tracks, but is about 15 minutes longer. The more expansive songwriting is a positive for Art Of Anarchy, giving them more depth and variety without overstaying their welcome.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Indie Recordings

Bokassa – All Out Of Dreams (Indie)

Norwegian rockers Bokassa make an effort to change up their sonic approach from album to album, while keeping their core sound. On their fourth album All Out Of Dreams that means it’s a little rawer than Molotov Rocktail, but there are still plenty of anthemic rockers.

You can both mosh and sing along to “Garden Of Heathen,” which features Lou Koller from NYHC legends Sick Of It All. “All Out Of Dreams” has an electronic intro before the guitars kick in, while “Everyone Fails In The End” is a 46 second riff-fest. Bokassa bring a stoner metal approach to “Bradford Death Sentence,” with a guest appearance from Red Fang’s Aaron Beam. All Out Of Dreams is a great blend of melody and intensity with plenty of variety.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Frontiers Music

Crazy Lixx – Two Shots At Glory (Frontiers)

I first encountered Crazy Lixx in 2021 and found their nostalgic take on bombastic ‘80s “hair metal” fun and extremely well done. So it came as some surprise to me that this band of Swedes has been at this for 20 plus years! To commemorate this achievement, Two Shots At Glory serves as something of a Greatest Hits, but featuring all new recordings of songs from their back catalog.

Crazy Lixx blend stacked, Def Leppard-style vocals that recall the Pyromania era with Dokken-esque guitar riffing, wrapped up with a modern production sheen. Skid Row’s influence shows up on the album’s lone ballad “Only The Dead Know,” which bears a striking resemblance to the Skid’s “Quicksand Jesus,” and the gang-style shoutalong, “Church of Rock.” There’s nothing terribly original here, but if you enjoy this genre, you could do far worse.

Rating: 3
(Gino Sigismondi)

InsideOut Music

Einar Solberg – The Congregation Acoustic (InsideOut)

Leprous frontman Einar Solberg released his debut solo album 16 last year. Prior to that, Solberg did a live streamed performance of Leprous’ 2015 album The Congregation in 2022 with just piano and vocals. It is now being released as The Congregation Acoustic.

Solberg says Congregation is probably the least suitable Leprous album to make an acoustic version of. He has a point, as the record is very dynamic. However, Solberg’s tour de force vocals make it work, for the most part. For example, the original version of “Third Law” is heavy and proggy, but changing up the loudness of the piano and vocals keeps the dynamics there, just in a different way. That’s the approach throughout. While not quite as effective on songs like “The Flood,” it works great on tracks such as “Red” and “Lower.” Deconstructing the songs on The Congregation is an interesting exercise, and a compelling one.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Lupus Lounge

Farsot – Life Promises Death (Lupus Lounge)

Farsot, a German black metal band, have had a career spanning nearly 25 years. Despite not being very prolific, they have managed to create a unique musical world for themselves and an impressive musical perspective for their audience. Their fourth studio album, Life Promised Death, was announced after a seven-year hiatus following their applauded album, Fail·Lure.

Life Promised Death solidifies Farsot’s position as one of the most respected and influential storytellers in black metal, showcasing a brilliant blend of black metal with strong progressive and avant-garde influences. Farsot’s compositions have matured, resulting in a more relentless, colder, and more thought-provoking musical experience. The album’s songwriting complexity, the interweaving of different layers of instruments, melodies, and lyrics that challenge the existential philosophy of man and death, make Life Promised Death as one of the highlights of Farsot’s career.

Rating: 4
(Arash Khosronejad)

Frontiers Music

Honeymoon Suite – Alive (Frontiers)

Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite formed in the early ’80s and had several singles that charted in the U.S. during that decade such as “New Girl Now,” “Feel It Again” and “What Does It Take.” Their latest album Alive is their first full-length since 2008, and their eighth studio album.

They haven’t lost their gift for writing catchy, memorable songs, and frontman Johnnie Dee still sounds great. In a different era, tracks like “Find What You’re Looking For” and “Not Afraid To Fall” would have dominated the airwaves. While the timeless Honeymoon Suite sound is intact, there are modern influences as well on songs like “Done Doin Me” and “Love Comes.” There’s not an ounce of filler on Alive, a welcome comeback album for one of the ’80s most underrated rock bands.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Ex Cathedra Records

Leah – The Glory And The Fallen (Ex Cathedra)

Leah McHenry‘s brand of symphonic metal is described as “Celtic fantasy metal.” It has been five years since her last album Ancient Winter, and her latest effort The Glory And The Fallen is her sixth full-length.

It follows in the path of her previous albums with songs that are painstakingly arranged with a lot of atmosphere. There are bombastic tracks like “No More Fear” and “Dream Voyage” that are balanced with mellower numbers like “Little Stars” and “Speak To Me.” There are numerous guest musicians on The Glory And The Fallen such as Epica’s Mark Jansen and Delain’s Sander Zoer, but it’s McHenry’s dynamic vocals that are the star of the show.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Ripple Music

The Obsessed – Gilded Sorrow (Ripple)

They have been around since 1980, taking a few breaks over the years, but releases from doomsters The Obsessed have been pretty sparse. For their fifth studio album Gilded Sorrow, they have expanded from a trio to a quartet, adding a second guitarist. Frontman Scott “Wino” Weinrich is the band’s lone remaining original member.

The album is heavier than 2017’s Sacred, and Weinrich says it’s the heaviest thing he’s ever done. The riffs are potent and memorable, making tracks like the uptempo “It’s Not OK” and buoyant “Jailine” both powerful and catchy. There are plenty of twists and turns, with “Realize A Dream” having a mellow intro before kicking into a mid-paced monster. The glacially paced “Gilded Sorrow” features extended instrumental sections and ambient atmosphere. Creativity and variety are never in short supply on Gilded Sorrow, with Wino’s distinctive vocals the icing on the doomy cake.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

Lifeforce Records

Praise The Plague – Suffocating In The Current Of Time (Lifeforce)

Praise The Plague are adamant about the title of their new album, Suffocating In The Current Of Time, as their doomy black metal captures the dread that naming a record like that can invoke within one’s imagination. Melody is used as a snaky way to offer up a trance-like state in the first half of “Veil Of Tyrants” and “Throne Of Decay,” only to crumble into a whizzing dexterity on the back end.

“No new dawn is rising until flowers bloom on the ashes of this rotten world” is the lyric that defines what this album delivers both conceptually and sonically. In order for the future to come, the present must be extinguished. This striking vision can be lost in the guttural wails, yet even if that line skips past a listener, it’s evident with Suffocating In The Current Of Time that Praise The Plague seek the relief of oblivion.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Sliptrick Records

The Scream – Whellcome (Sliptrick)

It’s not often one sees punk inspired metal bands like the Italian trio The Scream in a modern scene. For Whellcome to be their third release in six years it is safe to say that they have found their devoted fanbase.

With a style similar to that of a punk infused early Metallica, there is surprisingly a good bit of emotional storytelling in each song. The spectrum of emotions covered in Whellcome range from the sensual like with “Dirty Dreams” to outright anger and defiance as shown with “Underdogs Hymn.” These thematic elements are brought to light with Edoardo Ferri’s vocal presence backed with a classic punk instrumentation done by Simone Bardella and Francesco Carrabba. No one song feels out of place and from start to end the energy of the album is consistent and strong which is about on par with their earlier works.

Rating: 3.5
(Dalton Husher)

Scarlet Records

Sujin – Save Our Souls (Scarlet)

Sujin take on melodic death metal and metalcore with Save Our Souls, something that will register with modern metal fans. There are breakdowns that chug along after unoriginal lines like “I will break you, piece by fu–ing piece!” and good guy/bad guy vocal style where the bad guy is the more interesting character. The singing throughout this album is adequate at best, lacking the power of the potent screams.

The songwriting isn’t a complete loss, with some satisfyingly charged-up songs like “Scavengers” and the title track. The guitar team of Stève Richard and Matt Lemonier get to trade off solos on closer “Winter Breeze,” an extended bit of flashiness that adds gravitas to the end of the album. Save Our Souls could’ve used more of that to make their music pop.

Rating: 2.5
(Dan Marsicano)

One Response

  1. bobsala

    2 months ago

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