Heavy Music HQ Reviews: Week of July 5, 2024

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Akhlys, Aposento, Black Hole Deity, Cryptic Hatred, Horned Almighty, Kissin’ Dynamite, Liminal Shroud, Orden Ogan, Piah Mater, Scuba Cop, Visions Of Atlantis and Wormed.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Debemur Morti Productions

Akhlys – House Of The Black Geminus (Debemur Morti)

The Colorado black metal trio Akhlys emerged in the late oughts with their debut album Supplication. The band’s fourth album House Of The Black Geminus is their first with new guitarist Nox Corvus (Nightbringer, Bestia Arcana).

As on previous albums, the songs are lengthy, with opener “The Mask Of Night Speaking” clocking in at nearly 12 minutes. The band leaves plenty of space for instrumental sections, along with shifts in tempo and intensity that range from dense black metal to more ambient sections. “Maze Of Phobetor” adds only brief moments of respite, while “Through The Abyssal Door” is much more atmospheric, and even mellow at times. The ambient title track goes on too long, but other than that Akhlys manage to keep the listener engaged throughout House Of The Black Geminus‘s twists and turns.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Xtreem Music

Aposento – No Safe Haven (Xtreem)

It only took 34 years worth of lineup changes, demo releases, dissolving and coming back, and three full length album releases for seasoned Spanish death metal legends Aposento to release their fourth album No Safe Haven.

Despite the frequent lineup changes, Aposento have managed to improve themselves from their 2020 album Conjuring The New Apocalypse. “Parásitos” and “A Texas Funeral” are great examples of how it is okay for all the instruments to be heard equally, a quality that sometimes gets lost with similar acts. Pablo Vázquez’s bass lines are noteworthy due to the equal heaviness when paired up with the shredding guitars of long time member Manolo Sáez and newcomer Manu Reyes. Even with their extensive history No Safe Haven shows that it doesn’t matter who is in the band, all that matters is that the music is still being made.

Rating: 3
(Dalton Husher)

Everlasting Spew Records

Black Hole Deity – Profane Geometry (Everlasting Spew)

With Profane Geometry, Black Hole Deity prove themselves as an up and coming band in the death metal scene. Their debut album packs a rather unique punch with relentless drum beats and guttural instrumentals that leave an impression on the listener. The drums are exceptional; bone rattling and depraved, leaving you gasping for breath. The vocals are throaty and raw, making the sci fi horror-inspired atmosphere all the more chilling.

Black Hole Deity deliver killing blow after killing blow in the form of outstanding breakdowns and electric sounds, inciting a supernatural feeling of woe throughout the entirety of the album. They’re consistent and unique, maintaining a gruesome image through each drum beat and droning vocal. Any fan of sci fi or supernatural horror will surely find a tormented friend in Profane Geometry.

Rating: 3.5
(Ethan Wylan)

Time To Kill Records

Cryptic Hatred – Internal Torment (Time To Kill)

The Finnish death metal band Cryptic Hatred emerged with a demo in 2022, followed by their debut full-length in 2022. After a split release with Azatoth last year, the band is ready to unleash their sophomore album Internal Torment.

They deliver plenty of standard death metal, but mix things up periodically to avoid monotony. That includes tempo changes, groovy solos and injections of hardcore influences. “Breeding Of Evil” is a standout with its wide-ranging approach, as is “Mesmerized By The Malignant Gaze” which shifts from dense death metal to more melodic sections. It can be a challenge to stand out in such a crowded genre, but with Internal Torment Crypic Hatred make their case as a band on the rise.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Soulseller Records

Horned Almighty – Contagion Zero (Soulseller)

Horned Almighty consistently present the glorification of a demonic force and a depiction of a world steeped in the dense darkness of the most sinister human actions, within the most predatory sounds of black metal sorcery. In their latest uncompromising and intense album, Contagion Zero, Horned Almighty delve into the themes of Satan and Satanism one more time.

Over the course of 36 minutes, Horned Almighty establish a massive macabre bleeding altar and unleash their most wicked and reverberant nocturnal prayers upon their listeners. However, it’s important to note that there is nothing particularly innovative in terms of songwriting structure or production. The band continues to follow a formula that has proven successful, aiming to keep the audience relatively satisfied. So, while Contagion Zero offers a respectable listening experience, it doesn’t introduce anything groundbreaking. Despite this, with their impressive cover art, Horned Almighty show their mastery in evoking the presence of Satan through their music, something that is always welcomed by black metal enthusiasts.

Rating: 3.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

Napalm Records

Kissin’ Dynamite – Back With A Bang (Napalm)

German hard rockers Kissin’ Dynamite continue their throwback stadium rock worship on their eighth studio album Back With A Bang. It’s surprising it took them so long to play off their band name for an album title.

They aren’t reinventing the wheel, delivering melodic, catchy and mostly uptempo hard rock/metal songs. They know how to write anthemic music, evident on tracks such as the nostalgic “Raise Your Glass,” the rousing “The Devil Is A Woman” and the optimistic “The Best Is Yet To Come.” There are also the requisite ballads “I Do It My Way” and “Not A Wise Man.” Back With A Bang is Kissin’ Dynamite hitting on all cylinders with another collection of quality songs.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Willowtip Records

Liminal Shroud – Visions Of Collapse (Willowtip)

Liminal Shroud polish the gains made on 2022’s All Virtues Ablaze with their third effort, Visions Of Collapse. There are refinements made to the Canadian trio’s melodious nature, with forlorn singing prominent on “Malaspina” and various breaks using toned-down guitars. These hold together songs that regularly reach double-digit lengths, as the group knows how to manipulate tempos for absorbing tension.

This fortifies the inevitable rush that comes in their cutthroat state, with riffs that sharpen as the songs get longer. However, it can be minutes before they even hint at their bitter interior, making Visions Of Collapse an album built on great patience. The payoff for this is well-crafted black metal.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Reigning Phoenix Music

Orden Ogan – The Order Of Fear (Reigning Phoenix)

It has been nearly three decades since the German power metal band Orden Ogan formed, and 20 years since they released their debut album. They’ve had some lineup changes over the years, with vocalist Seeb Levermann the constant over the years. Their latest opus is The Order Of Fear.

It’s a relatively straightforward album, and one of Orden Ogan’s heaviest. There are still hooks galore, girded by symphonic elements and atmosphere that augment without overshadowing songs such as “Moon Fire” and “Prince Of Sorrow.” The stripped down “My Worse Enemy” leads into a couple of longer, more epic compositions. “Anthem To The Darkside” runs the gamut from soaring power metal to acoustic interludes to anthemic rock. The eight minute closer “The Long Darkness” is slower in tempo but no less epic. With The Order Of Fear Orden Ogan’s musicianship and songwriting chops are on full display.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Code666 Records

Piah Mater – Under The Shadow Of A Foreign Sun (Code666)

Piah Mater have picked up the torch of progressive death metal that Opeth ignited decades ago, though with Under The Shadow Of A Foreign Sun, the group has finally started to come into their own. Their last two albums were solid, if a little too Opeth-lite to stand out. With their third record, they begin to branch out with jazz and folk influences, as vocalist/guitarist Luiz Felipe Netto pushes his voice to new heights.

The string arrangements are bolstered by real musicians playing the violin, cello and viola parts, and Shining saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby makes the most of his guest spot on “Fallow Garden.” The biggest departure for the band is closer “Canícula,” a touching acoustic ballad sung in Portuguese with male/female vocal interplay. It does eventually erupt into a gripping, immense finale, though without losing its tuneful sensibilities. Piah Mater have become more than the distant cousin of a well-known group with Under The Shadow Of A Foreign Sun.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

Cut Lips Recordings

Scuba Cop – Scuba Pop (Cut Lips)

Scuba Cop is a noise rock project formed by San Diego musician Ely Morgan (Manta Ray, Goth Jock). The band name is taken from a book shown in Pee Wee Herman’s 2016 movie Pee Wee’s Big Holiday.

Scuba Pop‘s concept is Cop vs. Pop. The first four songs (side A) consists of heavier, more chaotic songs like “Damages Of Disgrace” and “Sneak Attack.” The other half of the album is more accessible with a few more hooks, but is still guitar driven. The album flies by in less than 30 minutes, and fans of classic alt rock bands like the Pixes and the Jesus And Mary Chain should appreciate the vibe of Scuba Pop.

Rating: 3
(Chad Bowar)

Napalm Records

Visions Of Atlantic – Pirates II – Armada (Napalm)

In 2022 the Austrian symphonic power metal band Visions Of Atlantis issued Pirates, following it up last year with A Pirate’s Symphony, showcasing instrumental orchestral versions of the Pirate songs. Pirates II – Armada picks up where Pirates left off.

If you liked Pirates, the same should be true for Pirates II – Armada. It’s packed with glorious seafaring tales with symphonic bombast, a lot of dynamics and the excellent vocals of Clementine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli’s. There are compact, catchy songs like “Monsters” and “Ashes To The Sea” along with more complex, lengthier numbers such as “The Dead Of The Sea” and “Where The Sky And Ocean Blend.” Visions Of Atlantis do an excellent job crafting songs with depth and atmosphere that still deliver hooks and singalong choruses.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Season Of Mist

Wormed – Omegon (Season Of Mist)

The purveyors of interdimensional technical death metal have returned, as Wormed prepare for another battle of universal importance with Omegon. This is their first release since their 2019 EP Metaportal, and their first full-length in eight years. Wormed have never been known to rush out their music, which is fine as their complex musicianship is worth the extended pause.

Omegon is no different in this regard, with the guttural belches, exacting guitar work, electronic intros/outros and a drummer that can’t stay still. Since their 1998 formation, Wormed have amped up their technical showmanship without it becoming a crutch. There’s the slightest hint of melody in songs like the title track and “Malignant Nexus,” though it just makes them sonically bleaker. Tech death is better for having a band like Wormed in its ranks.

Rating: 4
(Dan Marsicano)

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