Heavy Music HQ Reviews – Week of January 12, 2024

Welcome to our first weekly reviews of 2024! This week’s reviews include releases from Alluvial, At The Plates, Cariosus, Domination Campaign, Escuela Grind, Exit Eden, Into The Deep, Iron Front, Lastworld, Magnum, Oathbringer, Ruthless, Saevus Finis and Yersin.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Nuclear Blast

Alluvial – Death Is But A Door (Nuclear Blast)

Virtuoso guitarist Wes Hauch (The Faceless, Black Crown Initiate) has plenty of cache with devotees of technically-minded extreme metal. His deathcore crew Alluvial’s Death Is But A Door EP will more than tide said folks over until a third full-length arrives.
Having begun life as an instrumental act, with vocalist Kevin Muller now in tow they seem even more comfortable in their own skin than on 2021’s well-received Sarcoma.

Featuring four tracks and 17 minutes, the material is a melange of bruising riffs, furious blasts and atmospheric touches. The technical yet groovy “Bog Dweller” (and its tasty guitar soloing) sets an impressive standard for the rest to follow, while “Area Code’s breakdowns are truly punishing. The title track is the standout; slower, darker and menacing, with pseudo-clean vocals enhancing the almost death metal ballad-like effect. Alluvial have established a sizeable buzz in a relatively short period. Death Is But A Door further evolves their sound, but should also bolster the group’s following.

Rating: 3.5
(Brendan Crabb)

At The Plates – Omnivore (Self)

At The Plates are a humorous take on death metal, with food puns and gluttonous behavior galore on Omnivore. Their name is an ode to At The Gates, while their 2020 debut album Starch Enemy was an unsubtle nod in the direction of Arch Enemy. Founding member and multi-instrumentalist Tony Rouse adores the genre and it’s not hard to find where his inspirations lie with songs like “Terminal Filet Disease.”

Starting out as an instrumental band, then one with various guest musicians and vocalists brought in, Omnivore pares it down to Rouse, vocalist Mario Alejandro, and lead guitarist Tyler McCarthy. The quaint title track and seven-minute opus “Northern Frites” are melody focused, while the ruthless riffs are saved for songs like “Open Buffet Surgery.” A sense of humor in metal is always welcomed, giving At The Plates a prominent seat at the table.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Cariosus – Will, Until Beauty (Self)

It’s been a decade leading up to Cariosus’ debut album Will, Until Beauty. They released a few EPs in the mid-2010s, but there wasn’t any sign of a full-length release until a new song “Apollo’s Lament” premiered a few months ago. The tune maintained the group’s melodic death metal/deathcore style with some technical flourishes, which is what this record offers.

There’s neoclassical guitar soloing, blackened influences, and destructive breakdowns, along with prominent orchestration on songs like “What Must Be Done” and “Heaven’s Portent.” They drop the melodic singing that crept up in their last EPs, keeping the vocals to an agitated roar or menacing shriek. The second half of Will, Until Beauty is where the band really clicks, raging on to a gratifying conclusion.

Rating: 3
(Dan Marsicano)

Prosthetic Records

Domination Campaign – A Storm Of Steel (Prosthetic)

Domination Campaign, the side project of Psycroptic members Jason Peppiatt and Joe Haley, charge into new battle-laden spectacles on their second album, A Storm Of Steel. They settled into practical death metal on their Onward To Glory debut, and that’s the case with this record as well. They don’t mince words with the type of tragedies that unfolded in fights like the invasion of Normandy during WWII, not resorting to flowery language to describe the horrors on the ground.

A Storm Of Steel has much in common with its predecessor; however, the guitar work is more varied, like the harmonies on “D-Day” and an actual guitar solo on closer “Death Landing,” a first for Domination Campaign. It’s a slight progression for a group that likes to keep the music to the bare necessities.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

MNRK Heavy


Escuela Grind continue their aural onslaught on the unsuspecting metal masses with a work ethic that cannot be equaled. This travelling tetrad whose last full length, 2022’s Memory Theater, made waves, have nary left the road in the time since. They are pausing only slightly to put together this DDEEAATTHHMMEETTAALL EP, four songs in less than 15 minutes, which seems to play well into their general hit and run approach.

Opening with “Ball & Chain” which grinds its way into your ear canals, Escuela Grind have continued to feed the insatiable masses who eagerly await what comes next. Vocalist Kat Economou unleashes their chaotic growl while guitarist Krissy Morash adds more and more fire to her axe assault. The closing track “Meat Magnet” features Napalm Death frontman and extreme metal legend Barney Greenway as he and Economou trade off vocal volleys. These four tracks serve to whet the appetite of musical extremity in its 2024 nascent state; with this included we are in for a lloonngg year.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Napalm Records

Exit Eden – Femmes Fatales (Napalm)

More than six years after their debut, the symphonic group Exit Eden have returned with Femmes Fatales. Formerly a quartet, with the departure of Amanda Somerville they are now a trio: Anna Brunner (League Of Distortion), Clementine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis) and Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite).

While their debut was all cover songs, this time around there are six covers and six originals. The new compositions are mostly symphonic, melodic and bombastic with the three singers alternating lead duties, and also inserting harmonies. “Run!” incorporates folk elements and features vocals from Marco Hietala (ex-Nightwish). Five of the six cover songs are from the ’80s, with the Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin” especially suited for a symphonic arrangement. They also cover tracks from Heart, Journey, Marillion and Alice Cooper. Exit Eden have found an effective formula with the combination of new and familiar songs on Femmes Fatales.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Into The Deep – Blackfin (Self)

It’s about time a band wrote a song about a shark experimented on by NASA and flown to space where it rules over a new planet. Into The Deep have quenched our appetite for songs about sharks and the sea and the dangers that lie beneath it on their latest release, Blackfin. Their music puts an alternative slant on melodic death metal.

This allows the band to ease themselves from heavy grooves with biting screams to tranquil singing and soulful guitars, the latter of which is something new for the band. Its presence is felt mainly on “Seaweed,” a wonderful shift in design that puts the album in a new light. Blackfin quickly sinks into the murky waters to uncover a new terror beneath.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Creator-Destructor Records

Iron Front – Hooked (Creator-Destructor)

Even though Iron Front have been together for years as they prepare to release their second album, Hooked, what many will be amazed at is just how young the five band members are. Ranging from late teens to early twenties, they have built up a steady stream of music in a short time.

On Hooked, Iron Front have stripped their sound down, removing the guitar solos and slower melodies for riff-centric beatdowns. Clips from Family Guy and the Mortal Kombat video game series show they aren’t 100 percent serious all the time, even with song titles like “Pig Splitter” and “Intestinal Siphon.” Over in just 22 minutes, Hooked doesn’t extend itself, an important quality in a genre as unrelenting as brutal death metal.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Perris Records

Lastworld – Beautiful Ilusion (Perris)

Most people know and understand the time and effort that goes into making an album. The California duo Lastworld have managed a quite impressive feat to kick off 2024; Beautiful Ilusion marks their fifth album in five years.

Sticking to their classic rock sounding style, it’s about on par in terms of quality with their last album Escape the Eclipse. Starting strong with the almost glam metal style “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong,” the momentum stays pretty strong throughout the album. That momentum comes to an almost grinding halt with the ending title track with its almost salsa like sound. Lastworld have a good thing going, bringing back a classic American ’80’ rock sound to a modern audience is no easy task considering how vast that sound is.

Rating: 3.5
(Dalton Husher)

Steamhammer/SPV Records

Magnum – Here Comes The Rain (Steamhammer/SPV)

British classic hard rockers Magnum have been around for more than 50 years, and since they re-formed in 2001 after a few year hiatus, they have been very prolific, issuing a new album every two years or so. Their latest is Here Comes The Rain, Magnum’s 23rd studio album. Just days before its release, founding guitarist and sole songwriter Tony Clarkin passed away at the age of 77.

The album has traditional hard rock numbers such as “Blue Tango,” with others like the title track incorporating symphonic elements, and “The Seventh Darkness” utilizing brass and saxophone. At 76 years old, Bob Catley’s vocal chops remain strong, evident on songs such as “Some Kind Of Treachery.” With Clarkin’s death, the band’s future is unclear, but after more than a half century Here Comes The Rain shows Magnum are as vibrant and vital as ever.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

RTR Records

Oathbringer – Tales Of Valor (RTR)

The Serbian band Oathbringer bring a heroic vibe on their second release Tales Of Valor. This is a blend of power and traditional metal. This is a very raucous album with singalong choruses, but also features some orchestral elements making a gleaming type of production job possible. The epic nature of the album permeates every song and makes them a romp to listen to.

It really is a stylish type of album despite remaining relatively simplistic in nature. Oathbringer tread similar ground to groups like Manowar, but still manage to breathe new life into the genre. There is simply so much good material here that it is impossible not to get caught up in what is present. People that are fans of power metal combined with traditional will find a lot to like on Tales Of Valor .

Rating: 3.5
(Adam McAuley)

Fireflash Records

Ruthless – The Fallen (Fireflash)

The L.A. band Ruthless issued their debut full-length in 1986, then split a couple of years later. They reunited in 2008, but it took several years before they released They Rise. The Fallen is their fourth album overall, and first since 2019’s Evil Within.

Ruthless’ music hearkens back to ’80s traditional metal, with prominent guitars and plenty of melody. There are numerous catchy songs like “Dark Passenger” and heavier tracks such as “Betrayal,” which treads into speed metal territory. Vocalist Sammy DeJohn, the band’s lone remaining original member, has a dynamic and dramatic delivery that helps give the band a unique style. And while The Fallen is inspired by the classic era of Ruthless, the band is looking forward as well with some modern touches injected from time to time.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Transcending Obscurity Records

Saevus Finis – Facilis Descensus Averno (Transcending Obscurity)

The Portuguese death metal band Saevus Finis draw from a deep well of inspirations on their debut album Facilis Descensus Averno. From legends of the genre like Incantation and Morbid Angel to composers like Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti, they distill a wide variety of styles into their own sound.

The album has a lot of chaotic and dissonant moments that are blended with groovier and more standard sections. Tempos and intensities shift constantly, from the deliberate destruction of “Unfulfillment” to the urgent “Corpse Of Hope.” Savus Finis’ heavy death metal is given an even sharper edge as they add blackened elements to many of the tracks. Facilis Descensus Averno is an intriguing debut, a strong death metal release from a band that shows a lot of potential.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Trepnation Records

Yersin – The Scythe Is Remorseless (Trepnation)

Formed in Sunderland, England in 2015, Yersin have put the greatness of combining death metal, grindcore and crust to its original and thrilling form. All That Guilt, their 2020 debut album, was an untamed, cohesive introduction; and The Scythe Is Remorseless is here to live up to all expectations.

Yersin are reaching the point where the solidity of their musical foundation and maturity in songwriting are clearly visible. That’s why The Scythe… does not add unnecessary prepositions to its incisive texture, while its explicitness and cutting edge nature is extremely striking in creating an atmosphere that makes Yersin quickly achieve their goal in just 24 minutes. The touches of doom and sludge gain the album more influence and thrills. Yersin have made a statement with The Scythe Is Remorseless to announce one of the best and most crushing albums of the year right at the beginning of it.

Rating: 4
(Arash Khosronejad)

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