This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Acrolysis, Aeon Winds, Altars Of The Moon, Ceremonial Bloodbath, Deliquesce, Diabolic Night, Eldritch, Graven Sin, Harmagedon, Nail Within, Neurectomy, Sadus, Soledriver and Vansind.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Acrolysis have been kicking about Australia’s metal scene for several years, but are only now issuing Revolution, their debut full-length. These songs aren’t going to (ahem) revolutionize the genre, but there’s promise to be found. After strikingly melodic instrumental opener “The Broken Son,” this release screams “potential” rather than “essential” and can be overly derivative at times. “Game Over” for one is strongly reminiscent of early Metallica, while “Liar” is another track with elements inspired by Hetfield and company. Megadeth and Testament are also obvious touchstones throughout.
There is a tangible energy and exuberance about the material that’s endearing though, which somewhat compensates. Deviating between a thrash-infused attack and, as they aptly describe it in the press release, “the perfect BPM to bang your head to,” there are highlights. The one-two of “Salting The Earth” and classic metal-infused “Serpentine” boast some of the LP’s most incisive riffage. A distinctive personality eludes the trio at times; if they can truly find one, they really will be on to something.
Aeon Winds – Night Sky Illuminations (Avantgarde)
Night Sky Illuminations, the third studio album from the Slovak symphonic black metal band Aeon Winds, is a dazzling reflection of the darkest Carpathian mythologies that leave a deep impression on its listeners’ mind and imagination. The composition and production is beyond all the efforts that Aeon Winds have made in their previous two albums, in such a way that this album experiences a more dynamic soundscape, is more imaginative and has more eerie sceneries.
The basis of the songs is like Shakespearean theatrical background which is attentively designed, based on Carpathia and all the mythologies resting in its fictional historical layers. Black metal merges with impressive symphonies, which brings the atmosphere of the songs to a sensational effect, influenced by the dark literature of that region. Night Sky Illuminations stands in a place where it is both influenced by the veterans of symphonic black metal and embraces its modern strains.
Altars Of The Moon – The Colossus And The Widow (Disorder)
Altars Of The Moon are comprised of musicians from various groups like Chrome Waves and The Black Dahlia Murder, yet The Colossus And The Widow is something unexpected in the best ways possible. On first glance, it’s doom metal with some blackened influences, mainly in the vocals. Then the group brings out an abundance of ambient instrumentals, which take up about half of the album, and that’s when the record gets trippy.
This is enhanced by the inclusion of Bruce Lamont (of Yakuza fame) on the saxophone and Mac Gollehon (a legendary performer who performed on some of the best albums of all time, including David Bowie’s Let’s Dance) on the trumpet for much of The Colossus And The Widow. The band is stuck in a perpetual state of dread, floating through the cosmos to look for something out of our collective reach.
Ceremonial Bloodbath – Genesis Of Malignant Entropy (Sentient Ruin)
For this to only be Ceremonial Bloodbath’s second album they have definitely found their style and niche. Genesis Of Malignant Entropy takes a bigger pivot toward death metal with a sprinkling of thrash. With an instrumentation that could almost be confused with modern Cannibal Corpse, there really isn’t any distinction between the songs.
“Caustic Invocation” at least has a nice thirty second build up before running face first into a five-minute flurry of blast beat drums and dirty guitar solos. “The Ritual Of Unholy Descent” and “The Invocation Of The Tomb Of Mankind” are two songs that are complete standouts from this album due to the fact that they serve as nice bookend tracks to lead you in and take you out of the previous thirty-seven minutes of pure chaos endured.
Deliquesce – Cursed With Malevolence (Daze)
The Australian death metal band Deliquesce formed a few years ago and issued an EP in 2020. Their full-length debut is Cursed With Malevolence, with lyrics about how humanity’s tension and division has led to the destruction of the world.
Their brand of death metal is inspired by bands such as Suffocation and Disgorge. It’s technical and intense, but there’s plenty of variety when it comes to tempo and intensity changes. “Voiceless Slaughter” slows down to a glacial pace at times, while “Sectarian Divide,” which features a guest spot from Pyrexia’s Jim Beach starts off at a blazing pace before slamming on the brakes for a while and then gunning it to the end. Algor Mortis’ Cecilia Kane appears on closer “Time Decays,” which blends groove with more chaotic moments. Cursed With Malevolence is a promising debut with interesting songs and razor sharp musicianship.
Diabolic Night – Beneath The Crimson Prophecy (High Roller)
Diabolic Night’s blackened speed metal takes us to the fictional world of Arktares on Beneath The Crimson Prophecy. The raspy shouts command a world of haunted scriptures and battles with unsavory ends. Synthesizers give off an enchanted air, most apparent on the instrumental opener “Revelation.” Their sound has transformed over the decade since their formation, as they vary things with the aforementioned synths and leveled tempos.
The latter doesn’t typically go on for long, as their convictions to slay with speed stays true to the very end. That applies to the eight-minute closer “Arktares Has Fallen,” which starts with a stir and is only interrupted by momentary usage of melodic guitars in the middle and outro of the song. Beneath The Crimson Prophecy‘s ruthless streak is entertaining for the wild ones who like to thrash out in corpse paint.
Eldritch – Innervoid (Scarlet)
The long-running Italian progressive power metal band Eldritch have been around for over 30 years now. They’ve had several lineup changes over the years, with the lone remaining original members being guitarist Eugene Simone and keyboardist Oleg Smirnoff, who returned to the band a few years ago after a 20 year absence. Their newest member is vocalist Alex Jarusso (ex-Shining Fury), who replaced original singer Terence Holler.
Replacing a 30 year veteran is a daunting task, both from the perspective of fellow band members and the group’s fans. Musically, Eldritch follow a similar path on their new album Innervoid as they’ve established over the past few decades. The songs pack a punch while also incorporating catchy melodies and progressive forays. They are mostly in the five minute range, which allows Eldritch room for exploration and variety without devolving into self-indulgence. As for Jarusso, he displays a dynamic delivery and ample range, making for a pretty smooth transition on Innervoid.
Graven Sin – Veil Of The Gods (Svart)
There’s pageantry to Graven Sin’s heavy metal on Veil Of The Gods, the debut effort from this Finnish trio. Vocalist Nicholas Leptos conducts himself as an expressive storyteller, enlightening listeners with tales of giants and deities. Guitarist/bassist Ville Pystynen supports these fanciful words with doom-laced riffs and dynamite solos, while drummer Ville Markkanen makes sure the double bass is never lacking on these 11 songs.
Veil Of The Gods puts it together under an anthemic metal banner, with choirs and bright choruses peppered all throughout. Upbeat tempos in “From The Shadows” and “Beyond Mesopotamia” add some pep. The album begins to slide a bit as it heads closer to the hour mark. Dropping a song or two would’ve lessened that, though the skip button can be avoided on this one.
Harmagedon – Dystopian Dreams (Svart)
Harmagedon’s Dystopian Dreams is easy to get into, with its running time of under half an hour giving their clash of stoner metal, melodic death metal, crust, and hardcore unapologetic urgency. The trio from Sweden recorded the album live, so when vocalist/guitarist Tim Rosenquist screeches out a solo, the other two members are right there crisply jamming along.
There are tunes that emphasize one aspect of their sound more than others, like the death metal-inspired combo of “Straight Outta Hell” and “Black Lung” that ends Dystopian Dreams and the pulverizing heft of “The Reckoning” and the title track. Harmagedon are able to sweep in and out of different sonic moods without any of them being a dominant presence.
Nail Within – Sound Of Demise (Massacre)
The Israeli band Nail Within emerged in the early 2000s, releasing their self-titled debut in 2003. Fast forward 20 years and the band has reunited and recorded their second album, Sound Of Demise.
Their sound blends melodic death and thrash. While the band’s debut focused more on the melodeath side, this album has thrash front and center. The songs move at a brisk pace, with Yishai Sweartz’s harsh vocals providing an edge to the proceedings. They do slow down the pace from time to time, such as on the title track and “Severe Suffering.” Sodom’s legendary Tom Angelripper guests on the opening track “Bleeding Society,” while Testament guitarist Eric Peterson appears on the groovy “Years Of Madness.” Sound Of Demise is a welcome return by Nail Within, who haven’t lost any of their passion or intensity during their two decade absence.
Origin drummer John Longstreth takes technical death metal to its breaking point on Neurectomy’s Overwrought. All the finger tapping and guitar sweeps are the perfect vehicle for Longstreth to hyper blast his way through. The instrumental work is impressive, as these musicians have a handle on how to play and will impress those who look for their music to be a seminar in music theory.
There’s an intent to outdo every song on the album, each one topping the last until all that’s left is a technical nightmare with no way out. There will be revelry over that from the slim margin of metalheads who just like to be wowed, but it’s also hard to pinpoint standout clips when Overwrought is built on a foundation of blurring escalation. If Neurectomy’s debut album was narrowed down to a single word, the album title is apropos.
Sadus – The Shadow Inside (Nuclear Blast)
For their sixth album The Shadow Inside, their first in 17 years and first ever without founding bassist Steve DiGiorgio, Sadus return as a two-piece hungry for some action. The aptly titled “First Blood” is a technically sound thrasher with lots of twists and turns featuring the familiar drums of Jon Allen and the guitar work of Darren Travis. “Ride the Knife” is a slow starter, that builds in furious intensity and anticipation of what comes next, eventually giving way to an aural assault very much like their classic tech thrash album Swallowed In Black.
“Pain” sees the band embrace a more midtempo track with a style a bit different than the others, the riffs chug and the drums pop, perhaps in a way that you weren’t expecting. Overall Sadus return with a solid album that shows that after nearly 40 years there is still plenty left to give for these Bay Area legends.
Soledriver – Return Me To Light (Frontiers)
Stryper are set to hit the studio early next year to record their next album. In between Stryper albums, frontman Michael Sweet has been involved in numerous other projects including Sweet & Lynch, Sunbomb and solo albums. His latest endeavor is Soledriver, a collaboration with Edge Of Forever/Hardline’s Alessandro Del Vecchio.
While many of his other projects are in the metal realm, for this band Sweet and Del Vecchio were inspired by hard rock and melodic rock bands of the ’70s and ’80s. In a different era, Return Me To Light may have spawned numerous radio hits. It’s packed with memorable melodic tracks like “Rise Again,” “Hope’s Holding You” and “Eternal Flame” (not a Bangles cover). On these types of songs, Sweet’s vocal approach is a bit more subtle, but he still belts it out from time to time. Fans of Stryper and Sweet’s other bands should enjoy Soledriver’s debut.
Vansind – Mørket (Mighty)
The Danish band Vansind formed in 2019, with their lineup including members of bands such as Panzerchrist, Vanir and Mindmare. Though some members have more of an extreme metal background, their full-length debut Mørket is folk metal.
There is plenty of heaviness, along with harsh male vocals. That is balanced by folk instruments like tinwhistles and bagpipes and female melodic vocals. They both provide vocals on all of the songs, but Line Burglin’s singing is front and center on songs like “For Dagen Gryr” and “Blot” while J. Asgaard’s death growls are prevalent on tracks such as “Blodmosen.” It’s a crowded genre, but Vansind are off to a good start, and have potential to make their mark.