This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Carrion, Entheos, HamaSaari, Majesties, Necropanther, Nomad, Ocean Of Grief, Skyring Mirror, Sortilege, Temptress, Tragedy and Vanishment.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Carrion – Morbid Nailgun Necropsy (Wormholedeath)
There have been numerous bands with this name over the years, but this Carrion, my wayward son, are a death metal group hailing from Belgium. They’ve had a few lineup changes since their last album in 2018, with Morbid Nailgun Necropsy their third full-length.
The band name and album title give a good indication of what you’re in for, which is intense modern death metal. “Eradication” has a moderate tempo while “Nematodes” is faster with some of the album’s most memorable riffs, while the title track’s melodic guitar solo is a pleasant surprise. “Mental Vortex” also surprises with its mellow beginning before the chaotic double bass and heavy riffs kick in, as do the acoustic interludes in “Genetic Alteration.” While following the genre template to a point, Carrion put their own stamp on the style with Morbid Nailgun Necropsy, helping them stand out from the death metal masses.
Entheos – Time Will Take Us All (Metal Blade)
After a five year plus absence, the progressive metal band Entheos have returned as a duo of vocalist Chaney Crabb and guitarist/drummer Navene Koperweis (Animosity, Animals As Leaders). Former bassist Evan Brewer returned for the recording of Time Will Take Us All.
Progressive death is the album’s main style, but they make forays into numerous genres from groove to grunge to electronica. The vocals are a combination of death metal growls and higher pitched rasps. For the first time Crabb incorporates melodic singing on tracks like “Oblivion,” which gets off to a mellow start before ratcheting up the intensity, and the groovy “I Am The Void.” Designed to be listened to all at once, the album has a good flow with plenty of diversity and references to previous parts of the album. Interesting compositions, flawless musicianship and varied vocals make Time Will Take Us All an engaging listen.
HamaSaari – Ineffable (Klonosphere)
Hanasaari is an island in Finland, while HamaSaari are a prog band from France who were formed from the ashes of Shuffle. Their debut album Ineffable was mixed and mastered by Forrester Savell (Animals As Leaders, Karnivool).
There are a lot of tempo and intensity shifts on the album, which moves back and forth from mellow prog rock to more metal moments. The songs are dynamic, injected with the warmth of vintage keyboards and prog instrument staple Mellotron. “Crumbs” has some crunch, while the introspective “Lords” is mellow throughout. “Bleak” is anything but, an engaging slow build with no shortage of catchiness. The most metal song on the album is “White Pinnacles” that’s heavy with harsh vocals alongside melodic singing. It’s immediately followed by the acoustic based “Old Memories,” a transition that HamaSaari smoothly pull off. Ineffable is a mature and impressive debut that prog fans should enjoy.
Majesties – Vast Reaches Unclaimed (20 Buck Spin)
The new venture from members of Inexorum and Obsequiae is Majesties and their debut Vast Reaches Unclaimed. It marries the black metal aesthetics of the aforementioned two projects with some serious Subterranean and The Jester Race vibes, making for both a formative and a transformative experience all in one album. Tanner Anderson’s guitar playing evokes the same level of grandeur as his own projects, but with little differently. Even his vocal style seems to have changed to fit Majesties’ aesthetic that much more.
Opening cuts “In Yearning, Alive” and “The World Unseen” both showcase the true amalgamation of Anderson and Carl Skildum’s works into something exciting, both old and new. Each song is just as thrilling to dive into as the last, free flowing as one long piece at times. The whole album is so expertly executed that you’d swear that Vast Reaches Unclaimed is both a 2023 release and a 1995 one at the same time. If you need melodic and extreme heavy metal in your life, you will have a hard time topping what Majesties have accomplished in a single release. It’s an emotive and extreme experience without equal.
Necropanther – Betrayal (Self)
After an EP in 2021, Denver death/thrashers Necropanther bring the riffs on their fourth full-length Betrayal. As on past albums, the theme is based on cult cinema. This time around they combine the movie The Warriors with Xenophon’s Anabasis, the story on which the movie is based.
Death metal grooves and galloping thrash with intense growls make for a brutal brew. Betrayal is an effective mix of mid-tempo tracks such as “Don’t Stop For Death” and quick-paced numbers like “If You Can Can Count.” It’s the first time the band has used guitar solos, which add a little spice to the mix on songs like “Wanderers.” The combo of low and high pitched unclean vocals also provide contrast and diversity. There’s never a dull moment on Betrayal, which goes from chaotic to groovy and back again.
Nomad – The Mountain (Self)
The Mountain is a loftier debut album than most bands would attempt; an hour of resilient progressive/groove death metal. Nomad clearly have a higher purpose musically than just severing eardrums, and the album is an evolution in real-time. While the album has no concrete, overarching story to tell, each song is placed in the order that it was written. The time between opener “Burning Alive” and closer “Choke” puts the wide distance the group has creatively gone through in perspective.
While The Mountain starts and ends in a rage, it does so in a different manner. Early on, the groove is strong, but by the latter third of the album, a more technical front is taken. In-between that, the trio of vocalists in the band employ everything from raspy wails to low grunts to melodic singing. An hour is too long though, as a few songs could be cut down by a minute or two with little loss to the overall flow.
Ocean Of Grief – Pale Existence (Personal)
There is a very doom-trodden vibe on the Greek doom/death band Ocean Of Grief’s second album, Pale Existence. The rather long track lengths give a good grasp of the sound Ocean of Grief is going for, with hints of bands like Draconian. The band is crushingly heavy with great guitar work, yet emotive as well creating an atmosphere that is downtrodden and doomy.
Lengthy tracks like the eight plus minute opener “Poetry For The Dead” allow the band to breathe and flex their muscle. They are not short of ideas and have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. The sound is rife with crisp riffs and holds up nicely over the course of the runtime. There is plenty to look forward to in the future with the band’s material. They have an interesting doom sound with potential to stretch out to even more interesting territories, and Pale Existence is a splendid display of their sound.
Skrying Mirror – Omnimalevolence (I, Voidhanger)
It’s ominous for an album to start with the line, “I kissed the earth and watched it crumble before me.” That’s from “Naught,” one of nine disturbing cuts from Skrying Mirror’s debut album, Omnimalevolence. What makes it unsettling? It’s the industrialized fuel the group adds to their black/death metal pyre, with a fluid stream of electronics and synths. This album wasn’t made with one’s comfort in mind.
There is clarity in the noise, like the bleak ambience that pops in on eight-minute closer “Failure” and the nuanced tempos to “Intravenous” and “Famine.” It’s as if a person on the brink of insanity finds lucidity in spurts, trying to maintain it as long as possible only to fall back into lunacy. Omnimalevolence is not pleasant, but it leaves its mark in the most agonizing way.
Sortilege – Apocalypso (Verycords)
The origins of Sortilege date back to the early ’80s. The French band issued four albums in the ’80s before disbanding. The most recent incarnation of the group is fronted by original singer Christian “Zouille” Augustin, and released an album of mostly re-recorded early material in 2021. Their latest effort Apocalypso is all new songs.
It’s traditional metal with an ’80s flair. The songs are melodic with big hooks and catchy choruses. “Derrière les portes de Babylone” goes in a more cinematic and grandiose direction, while tracks like “Le scare du sorcier” and “Walkyrie” are more standard fare. What helps Sortilege stand out are the French lyrics, which gives their throwback style an exotic flair. Fans of the original era of Sortilege should enjoy the 2020’s version, and they’ll also appeal to a new generation of hard rock/traditional metal listeners.
Temptress – See (Metal Assault)
Temptress set their debut album See in motion with back-to-back 10-minute jams infused with stoner/psych energy. This trio from Texas make the most of their formation, with multiple vocalists, both male and female, getting equal space on the record. Sometimes they are in sync, harmonious and content, then one will take over while the other concedes their role. This method keeps the vocals fresh and appropriate for the song that needs them.
After these opening giants, they settle away from pushing the lengths that far out again, sizing down while not putting limits on their mysterious music. Any outright wrath is reserved for closer “Hopeless,” as Temptress scream out the title and the question “Why?” repeatedly as the guitars bellow up tantalizing leads. See is an engaging first effort from a mystifying group.
Tragedy – I Am Woman (Napalm)
The New York disco metal tribute band Tragedy have been around for more than a decade. In 2021 their album Disco Balls To The Wall saw them putting a disco metal twist on bands like Slayer, Toto and Neil Diamond. As you can probably guess from the title of their new album I Am Woman, they cover songs originally done by female artists.
They tackle ’70s disco songs like “I Will Survive” and “Le Freak,” ’80s pop songs such as “She Bop” and “I’m So Excited,” ’90s tracks including Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” and more recent hits like Katy Perry’s “Roar.” Tragedy pick a diverse group of artists to cover, from Helen Reddy (“I Am Woman”) to Aretha Franklin (“R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”) to Barbra Streisand (“Memory”). Yes, the songs are cheesy, but they put their own spin on each and every track, avoiding the karaoke treatment. That makes I Am Woman an entertaining and fun album.
Vanishment – No More Torture (Dead Sage)
Veterans of the Seattle, Washington metal scene have come together to thrash out with a splash of traditional heavy metal on Vanishment’s No More Torture. The album has a DIY feel to it, produced by the band and not overly polished to the point of taming their venomous ways. These songs could annihilate a live audience without having to change much from studio to stage.
Opener “Door To Deceit” is a prime thrasher, though it takes until the second track, “Dismiss The Warning,” for the guitars to get fully warmed up with the soloing. Vanishment get in a galloping wallop on “Killing The Sun” and “Lost Hope For Comfort.” Both of those push past six minutes without being redundant, proving the group have a wide range of songwriting options besides just going all-out on speed.