Nearly fifteen years ago, current Killswitch Engage members Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz teamed up to birth the collaborative project Times of Grace. This dynamic duo pushed their creative boundaries by conjuring a fresh take on the heavy-yet-melodic sound. They delivered their debut album, The Hymn of a Broken Man (Roadrunner Records) in 2011. The gloom and aggression let loose on that record was ignited by the brutally honest songwriting. The themes of struggle, heartbreak, and hope were potently delivered with a real and plaintive spirit. These two brought forth a discovery of powerful melancholy and now ten years later, they are offering a sequel to that revelation. Their second full-length Songs of Loss and Separation (Wicked Good Records) is carrying on the melodic mournfulness, yet wonderfully wholesome sound that is Times of Grace.
At The Gates is a household name to every Melodic Death Metal fan out there. Formed over thirty years ago, this group of guys invigorated the scene by gifting the people with their unruly and extreme proclamations. Along with several other eager acts from their hometown, like Dark Tranquility and In Flames, ATG bolstered what is now defined as Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal. The signature sound that they captured still storms the scene today, showing off the band’s Swedish roots with a grim and wistful flourish. They continue on to profess their dark truths on their new seventh full-length record, The Nightmare of Being (Century Media Records).
June 2021 sees the return of the beardos in Crobot with their latest EP Rat Child (Mascot Label Group), a mix of pieces that could have appeared on Motherbrain in an alternate universe and products of the pandemic and long distance friendships. You’re lucky if I bother to actually put on pants, much less try to engage in any kind of creative endeavor over Zoom/Skype/smoke signal so I have to give credit where credit is due.
Following up a breakthrough album, such as Boss Keloid’s last opus Melted On The Inch (Holy Roar) which finished at #4 in Ghost Cult’s Album of the Year poll in 2018, is a challenging proposition. Stray too far from the magic formula and you risk undoing that giant stride taken forwards (even without being a band that has always taken efforts to ensure development and evolution of their sound is a given); repeat the previous approach and accusations of diminishing returns, or playing it safe, abound along with an invariably inferior product. Continue reading
Black metal connoisseurs rejoice!
The latest Vreid record is an homage to the classic black metal sound the members helped create way back in the days of Windir while simultaneously experimenting with bold new soundscapes and storytelling. Wild North West (Season of Mist) is a pounding cataclysm of power and fury, yet it does so with a style and panache in a way that only these Norwegian black metal stalwarts could deliver. They offer a fresh take on the traditional black metal tropes while cutting the growls and blast beats with a melody that keeps your head banging and your mind racing, like on the hypnotic “Dazed and Reduced” and the ominous tone-setting title track.
It’s been all change in the Orden Ogan camp recently, and while obviously playing it’s part, not all of it due to the current Coronavirus situation. Firstly, because of a hand injury sustained in 2018, frontman Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann was forced to perform a series of summer dates minus his guitar, fronting the band as vocalist only. Realising he actually prefers performing this way, Levermann has chosen to step back from six-string duties, recruiting guitarist Patrick Sperling to take over in his stead.
Working With God (Ipecac Records/Liberator Music) is the 24th release by the Melvins and features their 1983 lineup of Buzz Osbourne, Dale Crover on bass, and original drummer Mike Dillard (although they have been doing a ton of regular Melvins lineup activities with Steven Shane McDonald of Redd Kross). The record encapsulates the Hardcore and Sludge style Melvins have delivered since their genesis. The result is a fresh album that is thrilling and cathartic.
While Black Sabbath fans tend to agree on most things, the argument over singers Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio still rages on. Just who was the better frontman? Most will obviously side with the former but there are still those who insist Dio will always be number one. Ozzy was responsible for six of the finest albums in the annals of heavy metal but Dio rescued that same band (at least temporarily) from total collapse with two hugely important albums of his own.
Japan’s Sonic Flower began in the early 2000s as an offshoot of Church of Misery. They released one self-titled album in 2003 and then broke up in 2005 following some aborted recording sessions. Reforming briefly in 2007, only to break up again the same year, Sonic Flower lay dormant for 14 years until they finally reformed again in 2019. A full-length album with a new lineup including a vocalist is scheduled for later in 2021. To whet their fans’ appetite in the meantime, the band are first releasing Rides Again (Heavy Psych Sounds Records), which consists entirely of tracks recorded in 2005 from the aforementioned aborted sessions.
En Minor is a project that had been rattling around in Philip H. Anselmo“s head since he was a child; they are an unexpectedly emotional and deeply serious sound that freefalls out of the genres most of the band members are associated with, including Anselmo himself, and into uncharted territory. Unconventional and, in many ways, experimental, their 2020 release, When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out (Housecore Records) is steeped in reverence to the Jazz tradition in New Orleans, and maybe more markedly serves as a morose interpretation of a Jazz Funeral March with hints of Vaudeville; an unironic gothic twist on Tom Waits that Anselmo has since self-described as Depression Core.