REVIEWS ROUNDUP: Haunt, Witchseeker, and Significant Point


HauntBeautiful Distraction

Having released six full-lengths and other assorted releases in just five years, it’s only inevitable for Haunt’s output to start getting samey. Their first (and probably not last) album in 2021, Beautiful Distraction carries on the polished, synth-laden variant of Heavy Metal last seen on 2020’s Mind Freeze and Flashback. Fortunately, the formula is still enjoyable with tracks like ‘In Our Dreams’ and ‘Face Of Danger’ offering uplifting hooks while ‘Imaginary Borders’ hits. It’s rather strange to see new versions of ‘Hearts On Fire’ and ‘It’s In My Hands’ considering their appearances on prior albums, but their later placements in the track order ultimately amount to inoffensive inclusions. As interchangeable as these albums have become lately, fans will still find their favorite pleasantries on full display.

7 / 10


Witchseeker Scene Of The Wild

Like 2017’s When The Clock Strikes before it, the second album from Singapore’s Witchseeker offers high octane Speed Metal with a certain Hard Rock sensibility. That latter element is especially pronounced on Scene Of The Wild (Dying Victims Productions) as songs like ‘Rock This Night Away,’ ‘Sin City’ (Not an AC/DC cover), and ‘Tokyo Nights’ among others are packed with catchy singalongs and frolicking beats. Fortunately, there’s still enough rawness to go around with the tempos often opting for total intensity, the vocals having an endearingly untrained quality and a filthy as hell bass tone. It may not be a serious gamechanger but another fun listen for fans of Enforcer and White Wizzard.

8 / 10

Significant PointInto The Storm

Significant Point’s debut album follows in the footsteps of their countrymen in groups like Loudness and Anthem, but their approach to Speed Metal ends up feeling more German than Japanese. Songs like the opening ‘Attacker’ and ‘Riders Under The Sun’ show strong influence from Running Wild and Walls Of Jericho-era Helloween with their blazing guitar runs, flamboyant harmonies, relentless drumming, and unhinged yet melodic wails.

There’s also room for more Classic Metal leaning fun with ‘You’ve Got The Power’ and ‘Night Of The Axe’ offering some in your face optimism. The more epic touches on ‘Running Alone’ also make for another highlight of a closer. Into The Storm (Dying Victims Productions) may be rather rough and tumble for some fans, especially when it comes to the vocals, but comes strongly recommended to those who like their Power Metal with extra grit.

8 / 10

CHRIS LATTA


ALBUM REVIEW: Evile – Hell Unleashed


With a gap of eight years since their last studio album and boasting a new, reshuffled line-up, UK thrashers Evile are back with an absolute vengeance on their fifth full-length release. And as its title suggests, listening to Hell Unleashed (Napalm Records) is much like letting an angry, unfed Rottweiler loose in a roomful of overweight and particularly slow-moving children.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Bewitcher – Cursed Be Thy Kingdom



Bewitcher has always stood out for having a more melodic slant than their Blackened Speed Metal peers and that distinction is at its most apparent on their third album. The band’s Venom meets Running Wild style leans much in the latter’s favor on Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media Records). The guitar rhythms are noticeably more accessible with more flamboyant leads above them and more dynamic song structures to match. Even the blatant Welcome To Hell worship on ‘Satanic Magick Attack’ has an almost Hard Rock flair to it.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Agent Steel – No Other Godz Before Me


As fitting for such an enigmatic entity, the sixth album from Speed Metal legends Agent Steel has been released under some rather bizarre circumstances. In addition to being the first album to feature their original vocalist John Cyriis since 1987’s Unstoppable Force, he also ends up being the only original member left in the band after the fallout of their last reunion. Subsequent live festival debacles and his eccentric responses to preemptive concerns regarding this album’s quality certainly haven’t helped matters, leaving fans to wonder whether it will be a return to form or an insane conundrum.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida


 

Translating roughly to “fallen angels”, the eponymously titled seventh album from Spanish thrashers Angelus Apatrida is another brutal barrage of sweat, riffs and fury. Once again, guitarist/vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo and his bass playing brother José J. Izquierdo are joined by second guitarist David G. Álvarez, and Victor Valera on drums, admirably retaining the same stable line-up now for close to twenty years.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone


Who decided to file Portrayal of Guilt under Screamo? Where should we file them? I don’t know, that’s for folks who spend their time and energy in the endless heavy music genre debates and on websites like Encyclopaedia Metallum to decide. You know, the type of people that will insist that Annihilator isn’t a Thrash band as they really fall under Speed Metal. They are truly doing the Lord’s work. But to slap the screamo tag on Portrayal of Guilt, particularly on We Are Always Alone (Closed Casket Activities) seems a bit simplistic.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Hallows Eve – Tales of Terror (Reissue)


Hallows Eve was quite an anomaly back in the halcyon days of Eighties Heavy Metal. Even going by the standards of a time when subgenres were still nebulous and ill-defined, the Atlantans’ approach was difficult to pin down. Utilizing familiar tropes in unfamiliar ways, their Alice Cooper-inspired horror theatrics set them apart from their Speed Metal peers while their Punk attitude was a far cry from King Diamond. Their 1985 debut album, Tales Of Terror (Metal Blade Records), is easily the rawest and arguably the most endearing iteration of their Horror Metal formula.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Gama Bomb – Sea Savage


For their seventh full-length studio release, Irish thrashers Gama Bomb return with a 19th-century nautical theme. Sort of like Moby Dick except with a Yeti, Sea Savage (Prosthetic Records) finds the band dressed like a hairier version of the cast of arthouse horror film The Lighthouse while presenting the album as a play split into two acts. Or at least try to anyway, as they inevitably end up getting sidetracked into songs involving movies and martial arts.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Evildead – United $Tate$ Of Anarchy


A latecomer to the ’80s thrash scene, Californian act Evildead still managed to turn out two fine examples of speed metal riffery before disbanding, another victim of the burgeoning grunge movement. Aside from a single released in 2011, a first reunion proved fruitless, but this time the band includes most of the personnel from their 1989 debut, Annihilation of Civilization (SPV/Steamhammer), with bassist Karlos Medina (who played on the follow-up) completing the new and improved line-up.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Entropy – Force Convergence


Formed in 1989, but with less than a handful of full-length studio albums to their name, Canadian thrashers Entropy aren’t exactly the most prolific act in the universe. A seventeen-year absence from 1995 to 2012, and a gap of eight years since their previous album hasn’t helped, but whenever the two remaining original members, vocalist Ger Schreinert, and guitarist Dan Lauzon, do eventually get together, the results are always worth waiting for.Continue reading