Prisyn is an album that deals in opposites. On one hand, it is an expression of Evan Patterson’s artistic freedom, in the sense that it is quite far removed from Jaye Jayle’s previous works both in terms of sound and creative process. On the other hand, that creative process was linked to circumstances of enforced restriction and confinement. The album’s title itself – Prisyn – alludes to a ‘synthetic prison’ according to Patterson himself. The work was conceived while Patterson was on an extended tour. He began to compose music in these limited conditions using just his iPhone. Instead of fleshing out or reworking the pieces with the usual Jaye Jayle band, Patterson enlisted Ben Chisholm’s (Chelsea Wolfe) help to embellish and produce the songs. The result is an album of primarily electronic music: tense, brooding and claustrophobic. But, in the spirit of opposites, there is a counterpoint to the cold synth textures in the form of Patterson’s deep and rich voice. As he sings in the very first line of opener ‘A Cold Wind’, ‘The darkness meets the lightness / Or rather the lightness meets the darkness’. Continue reading
After a four year absence (a handful of single releases aside), Pennsylvania-based Black Crown Initiate return with their third full-length release, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape (Century Media). From black metal to progressive rock via blasts of technical death metal, BCI effortlessly combine a whole range of differing styles resulting in their most captivating and assured record to date.
As hinted by the title, Doom II (Self-Released) isn’t Witnesses’ second overall album but rather their second to expand on the Doom Metal style that was established on 2019’s To Disappear And To Be Nothing. Its predecessor’s combination of glacial riffing, distraught vocals and bleak mood is well-preserved here and the overarching narrative of a ship lost at sea allows them to be conveyed even more powerfully than before. Convoluted naming conventions aside, it’s a bold leap forward by every metric.
High Spirits’ endearing sincerity has always been a shining contrast to the often-sour realms of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, and that feelgood brightness is needed now more than ever. While it’s been four years since the release of their last album, 2016’s Motivator, the Chicago project’s fourth full-length doesn’t skip a beat and their established blend of AOR and Classic Metal is well intact. You always know what you’re getting but it’s presented with far too much enthusiasm to ever feel stale.
Whenever the subject of UK thrash metal arises, Bristolian act Onslaught are always one of the first names mentioned. From their 1985 debut to their split in 1991 and eventual reformation in 2005, the band have been one of the leading lights of the genre. Often heralded as the “English Slayer”, like their now defunct US counterparts, Onslaught draw from a history of both punk and classic metal to make their point.
Kingnomad’s Prog Rock tendencies have been at the forefront from their inception, but these elements are expressed in their purest form on Sagan Om Rymden (Ripple Music). The group has about completely phased out the Stoner Doom tinges that helped shape their first two albums, allowing their third to expand their dynamics without a single hint of fuzz to be found. While this does make a less heavy album on the surface, a combination of energy and commitment to atmosphere results in what is easily the band’s boldest effort yet. Continue reading
Massive Wagons‘ fifth album House of Noise (Earache Records) delivers unabashedly old fashioned Rock n Roll with lashings of riffs, hooks, and humour that will put a smile on anyone’s face. It builds on their fourth album, and Earache debut, Full Nelson by doing more of the same, but bigger and better. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix.
Taking its title from the 1965 Jean-Luc Goddard movie of the same name, and reverberating with echoes of Fritz Lang‘s 1927 silent classic, Metropolis, everything about Alphaville (Century Media), the latest album from New York trio Imperial Triumphant, is costumed heavily in film noir science fiction. Its unique atmosphere furthered by impressive cover art from Zbigniew M. Bielak, the Polish artist noted for his work with Swedish act, Ghost. Continue reading
A four-piece band of indeterminate origin (their home town is listed merely as “The Home of Kings”), Warkings are an international – presumably European based – supergroup who like nothing more than to cosplay while singing about such diverse subject matter as fighting, marching, combat, battles, warfare, and conflict.
While Judicator’s fifth full-length offers their signature brand of historically themed Power/Prog Metal, it comes at a more personal angle this time around. The story of Let There Be Nothing (Prosthetic Records) is based on the life of Belisarius, a 6th century Byzantine general who reclaimed remnants of the Western Roman Empire while wrestling with a crippling marriage. The album never quite reaches the catharsis of 2015’s At The Expense Of Humanity, but it’s nice to see their Blind Guardian worship be tempered with a little extra pathos. Continue reading