Recorded towards the end of 2020, Paint The Sky With Blood (Napalm Records) was meant to signal the beginning of a new era in the career of Bodom After Midnight frontman Alexi Laiho. His first release since leaving the groundbreaking Finnish melodic death metal act Children of Bodom the previous year should have been the beginning of an exciting new journey. Instead, his tragic death in late December means it ultimately becomes an epitaph.
Cave of Swimmers’ first album isn’t much longer than the two EPs they’ve previously released, just barely hitting thirty-two minutes long. However, Aurora (BroomTune Records) serves as a dramatic leap forward for the Miami duo. The songs are rooted in the same hyperactive Heavy Psych last seen with 2015’s Reflection but there is more time devoted to exploring their more in-your-face influences. The resulting hodgepodge of Stoner Rock, Prog, and Classic Metal ends up being somewhere between Hammers Of Misfortune and Galactic Cowboys with a bit of King Gizzard for flavor.
John The Baptist – John The Baptist (1/3)
Following in the footsteps of their fellow Finns in Reverend Bizarre, John The Baptist’s self-titled debut pushes Doom Metal to its most excruciating limits. Befitting the incredibly drawn-out track lengths and overall runtime, the tempos crawl at an agonizingly glacial pace with the climactic speedups coming up as long overdue rarities. The production is raw without getting too lo-fi as the guitars and bass sit in near equal prominence while the vocals aim for an unhinged, operatic character. It’s decently made but also seems designed to have next to no appeal beyond the deepest of niches.
Despite being initially judged as a Xerox frontman when he joined Queensrÿche nearly a decade ago, Todd La Torre has proven to be so much more than a great Geoff Tate impression. Far from being a hired gun, La Torre has been a heavy player in the band’s creative process and even put his talents as a drummer to use on 2018’s The Verdict while also contributing guest vocals to other projects. Considering the recent pandemic-induced schedule opening, it was only inevitable for him to finish up his long-awaited debut as a solo artist.
Oceans Of Slumber is still exercising their now-signature Progressive/Gothic Metal style but their fourth album comes with a noticeably different attitude. The music is still eclectic and dynamic though the structural shifts aren’t as abrupt as before. The themes and delivery are still driven by heavy emotions but feel more grounded than the overbearing urgency that came with 2018’s The Banished Heart. This is a decidedly more mature execution, which goes along well with the decision to release this album as a self-titled affair.Continue reading
What’s the best strategy when it comes time to record a follow-up to a critically acclaimed album like 2017’s Blood Offerings? Well, for Necrot it seems as simple as following the course. Yes, that approach on paper does come across a little reductionist and it may imply that Mortal (Tankcrimes) is merely a rehash. But while Necrot may not be reimagining the genre on Mortal they are serving up some of the most satisfying Death Metal today.
As strange as it may seem, 1988 stands as the only year where each member of the “The Big Four” all released new studio albums. Go on, check if you want. I’ll wait.
With Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica having pulled significantly away from the rest of the pack with those 1988 releases, the beginning of the ’90s gave each of them the chance to reaffirm their place at the top of the thrash metal food chain. Along with the likes of Testament, Exodus, and Kreator, 1990 opened the new decade in a blaze of glory while also becoming arguably the last truly great year for the genre.Continue reading
Splits are a pretty great tool for cross-promotion with the power to introduce different bands to each other’s audiences, but they can also foster a competitive spirit. While such intentions are normally limited to fans debating which band is better, Ripple Music intentionally fans the flames with the second chapter in their Turned To Stone series. This particular split sees two rising stars Howling Giant and Sergeant Thunderhoof putting their Stoner Prog Metal skills to the test on Turn To Stone Chapter 2, as they depict a battle of wits between two legendary Japanese swordsmen. It’s certainly one of the more intriguing ideas for a split I’ve seen in a good while, reminding me of a similar treatment that Thorr-Axe and Archarus gave The Hobbit in 2017.
Having successfully reinvented themselves as a power trio on 2018’s What Was And What Shall Be, Brimstone Coven, doubles down on the template with The Woes Of A Mortal Earth (Ripple Music). The style remains rooted in Seventies-flavored Occult Rock with the songs largely being driven by simple guitar/bass grooves and wafting vocal harmonies. The atmosphere and drawn-out pacing further reinforce a trancelike mood that is relaxing, yet esoteric. Continue reading
Butterfly’s full-length debut isn’t the least bit shy about its Seventies Rock inspirations. That is made immediately apparent with the cover art contrasting Vikings and a mystical title with an innocuous band name, but the music plays out like a grab-bag of Montrose, Uriah Heep, and Budgie among others. Its free-spirited attitude is comparable to their contemporaries in Freeways and one can occasionally detect hints of otherworldly haziness in line with Tanith and Brimstone Coven.Continue reading