ALBUM REVIEW: Of Mice And Men – Echo


Of Mice & Men’s Echo (Sharptone Records) exemplifies exactly how a band should sound by their 7th album. It doesn’t even matter what song you start with—It’s blatant you’re hearing a band that knows their identity and is confident in it. At the topic of identity, nearly 6 years later, it’s still hard to ignore how deeply rooted Of Mice & Men’s previous frontman was to their image. However, Echo stands as a testament to how wonderfully they’ve evolved under Aaron Pauley’s leadership. Though Echo is Pauley’s third album serving as a vocalist, it marks the band’s first full-length release under Sharptone Records, effectively forging a new era for the metalcore titans.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Volbeat – Servant of the Mind


At what point do we (I? Is it just me by now…? in which case, I’ll get with the programme asap!) change our default position that bands twenty years deep into their careers shouldn’t be producing their best stuff in a heavy music arena? Cos it’s bollocks. Our staff voted-for album of the year top 3 picks for this year to prove it. The last ten years of evidence proves it. A whole plethora of written-off bands pushing well into their second, third, even fourth, decade with career best releases prove it. There’s a pervading feeling that age dilutes quality and / or heaviness, yet nothing could be further than the truth. Particularly in the Volbeat camp, because, Servant of the Mind (EMI), their twentieth anniversary and eighth studio release, is their best to date. Form is temporary when class is permanent.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Obscura – A Valediction


 

The talent is evident and the production quality ever-present.

There are shining moments with songs that develop character and identity.

But the abundance of what comes off as shredding for the sake of it, and apparent filler shoe-horned in, tamps down the overall significance of Obscura’s A Valediction (Nuclear Blast).

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ALBUM REVIEW: Overkill – The Atlantic Years 1986-1994


Whenever the question of “who else deserved to be included in The Big Four?” raises its ugly head, New Jersey’s Overkill never find themselves too far from the conversation. Formed before the term thrash metal was even coined and named after the seminal second album by English noisy bastards Motörhead, Overkill began life as a covers band formed from the remnants of punk act, The Lubricunts. Having quickly gained a name for themselves with their self titled 1985 EP and full length debut Feel the Fire (Megaforce Records), it didn’t take Atlantic Records long to come calling, making Overkill one of the first thrash acts to sign to a major label.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Wolftooth – Blood And Iron


 

It would be a stretch to call Wolftooth’s third full-length a Doom Metal album, but Blood And Iron (Napalm Records) is a rather methodical listen by their standards. The songs run noticeably longer than their first two efforts, especially when compared to the compact anthems on Valhalla, with the seven-minute runtimes on the opening ‘Ahab’ and the title track being their lengthiest to date. The pacing also seems slightly more lumbering as the faster sequences have a sort of hesitation behind them and the hooks are decidedly more subtle.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Darkwoods My Betrothed – Angel Of Carnage Unleashed


One of the more fascinating projects to be revived during everyone’s pandemic-induced free time, Darkwoods My Betrothed has returned with their first album since 1998’s Witch-Hunts. Angel of Carnage Unleashed (Napalm Records) sustains their old style for the most part, showing off a variant of Viking Black Metal with hearty Symphonic flourishes. Of course, it’s always interesting to see how time will toy with a preexisting formula, especially one that has gone undisturbed for twenty-three years.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Rhapsody Of Fire – Glory For Salvation


Ready to wage bloody battle against the drudgery of everyday life once more, Italian power metallers and emerald sword aficionados Rhapsody of Fire return with all dragons blazing on their latest album Glory For Salvation (AFM Records). Driven by escapism and pure fantasy, there’s simply no room or requirement for conventional subjects like relationships, politics or social commentary in this hour or so of questing and wizard worship.

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FESTIVAL REVIEW: Damnation Festival 2021- Live at Leeds University


In the time since its 2005 inception Damnation Festival has grown to into a four-stage affair that has become a mainstay of the UK metal scene. 2021’s festival on 6th November was significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it marked the event’s return after a year off due to COVID restrictions. Secondly, it sold out in record time; as soon as the UK government announced the end of all restrictions (back in March), all tickets were swept up within a matter of weeks. Thirdly, the lineup had to be dramatically changed, with many major international acts such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Pig Destroyer having to have their appearances cancelled due to then-ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions. Fourthly and finally, 2021’s Damnation marked the end of its 14-year tenure at Leeds University: 2022’s festival will return to Manchester (where it first took place for two years) at a larger arena venue.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Cynic – Ascension Codes


It’s been a rough road for Cynic frontman Paul Masvidal over the last year or so. With the sad and untimely deaths of bass player Sean Malone and former drummer Sean Reinert, it would have been reasonable to assume that any new music produced under the Cynic name would cast a bleak shadow indeed.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Apostle of Solitude – Until The Darkness Goes


Apostle Of Solitude’s fifth full-length doubles down on the formula last expressed on 2018’s From Gold To Ash, condensing their signature melancholic Doom Metal even further to its most foundational elements. Until The Darkness Goes (Cruz Del Sur Music) is just a little over thirty-six minutes long, making it their shortest album to date, with the six songs herein almost exclusively driven by slow riffs and mournful vocal harmonies.

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