Never has a band captivated my entire soul like Tempel, an instrumental metal duo from Arizona.
On the Steps of the Temple catapults me straight into this dark fantasy world immediately when “Mountain” pierces through my ears. The entire album does not let up either, dragging me further into a world that is unknown. I find myself getting lost even more with songs like “The Mist That Shrouds The Peaks” and “Rising From The Abyss.” Even though it just over 50 minutes long, I still find myself feeling selfish and wanting more. Given that it took three years to write this masterpiece, it does not disappoint. It is strong throughout, without a weak moment, and the album-closing title track leaves you in a trance waiting for more dark and orgasmic melodies.
On the Steps of the Temple is one hell of shoe in for album of the year for me. If you are a fan of bands like Neurosis, Tempel is brewing a spell just for you.
On the Steps of the Temple is out now on Prosthetic Records.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
The Bay Area of California is well known for it’s contributions to the thrash world. It has a definitive feel and sound that cannot be denied. The legacies of thrash titans such as Metallica, Exodus and Testament remain unrivaled in today’s metal world, yet many other bands from the scene didn’t quite get the recognition of their counterparts. Death Angel, Violence and Hirax are among this group, yet some of these bands have re-emerged in the last few years with the best albums of their careers.
Katon W. De Pena has flown the Hirax flag for 30-plus years. Although they only released five albums in this time span, their thrash roots are undeniable. Their new release, Immortal Legacy, brings back an edge and raw quality to this genre and it reflects some of their best work. Lance Harrison‘s rhythm and lead guitar playing here is nothing short of amazing, while the rhythm section – Jorge Iacobellis on drums and Steve Harrison on bass – leaves nothing to desire here either.
“Black Smoke” opens this opus up with a vengeance and there is a true thrash speed and feel. It may be just me, but I’ve always thought Katon sounded a bit like Blitz from Overkill. “Hellion Rising,” which was previously released on a split with Sodom, is a thrash overture. It truly defines this genre. I absolutely love the rawness projected here. The galloping wall of razor blades will have you snarling and headbanging immediately. “Victims of the Dead” may slow things up a tiny bit, but this is Katon’s turn to shine. The chorus is infectious and evil. “Thunder Roar, The Conquest, La Boca de la Bestia” may be the longest song title ever, and it is the highlight of the album for me. It just epitomizes the Bay Area sound and grind. Starting off with an adventure in harmonious guitars, the song crescendos into your face with a crunch only previously heard on Metallica‘s Kill ‘em All! “Earthshaker” is a 43 second adventure into Harrison’s guitar abilities, “Tied to the Gallows Pole” brings about more thrashy epicness. The guitar work shreds.
What Hirax have done here is timeless. They have taken a much-lauded genre of music, kept its sound and feel, and have made it relevant and new. This is a must own!
Immortal Legacy is out now on Steamhammer/SPV Records.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Considering the pedigree of the players on Twilight’s new and final album, III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb, along with the wildcard addition of black metal superfan Thurston Moore, this release comes with some high expectations.
Simply put, it delivers. III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb is big, heavy, and quite possibly one of the best, most fully-realized, forward-thinking black metal albums ever made.
The purists and pretentious trve fans will surely disagree. They will echo that is too polished, and it sounds like it was recorded in a studio (versus a tin can). They will lament the fact that these guys aren’t from the Norwegian motherland, and they ignore the leather, spikes and corpse paint that are hallmarks of the genre. They will gnash at the elements of doom, goth and industrial, that churns within the sonic gloom. They will miss the point … completely.
For those less inhibited, get ready for a swirling maelstrom of darkness, complete with shivering walls of guitar and driving, lockstep, industrial-size rhythms. Shredded vocals emerge and dissipate into the ether with the anguish of a tar-black soul riding the cacophony created by Moore, Stavros Giannopoulos (Atlas Moth), Wrest (Leviathan), N. Imperial (Krieg) and producer Sanford Parker. The undeniable strength is that fastidiousness with which the ply their talents, adding textures, growls and malignant instrumentation that is befitting of only the truest students’ of this genre. There is a sense of control and craft that pervade the album’s six songs and 42 minutes. It is a stylistic mastery that throbs defiantly throughout, although things threaten to veer tragically out of control at every turn.
Twilight are disappearing into the darkness, but they are delivering a classic before slipping away. III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb may be the last, but it will be a goodbye that is held endearingly by many a black heart.
III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb is out March 18 on Century Media Records.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
The guys from Kylesa, on their label Retro Futurist Records, are putting together a monster roster of artists, and Jagged Vision, hailing from the black metal territory of Norway, are the latest addition.
Jagged Vision can be hard to put a finger on, but they are indeed a stoner metal band. That said, you you can hear overt influences of thrash and hardcore on Harvest Earth, making a blend that is is an altogether overdose for the senses. It immerses you in a giant wall of riffage.
“Darkness in Light” starts the beating, exposing the true essence of Jagged Vision: a giant riff, played at headbanging speed, with brutal vocals. What more can you ask for? They don’t let up, either. “No Peace” slows things down with a shit-load of groove, and “Supernova” takes a different approach; it is psychedelic, slowly churning, but no less brutal. The production of this album shines through on this song. “Electric Empire” takes you back to the brutality with its punk crossover feel, and when “Lose Control” closes out the album, it leaves you breathless.
Jagged Vision have created a moment in stoner metal that will spark a light in everyone’s tunnel. Harvest Earth has everything you could ask for from this genre of music.
Harvest Earth is out now on Retro Futurist Records.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
An old saying came to mind upon my first listen to Suicidal Angels new album, Divide and Conquer: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
There is no hiding Suicidal Angels‘ love for the first three Slayer albums; however, I’m not going to say this is an entirely bad thing, as I have an affection for those albums, too. These Greek thrashers know how to lay down some serious riffage, bringing their pit-inducing songs to life on what is by far their best release to date. While comparisons to Evile, Havok and Warbringer can be made to Suicidal Angels, much can be said for the revival of the thrash genre and those who are keeping this sound alive.
“Seed of Evil” is churning and riff-laden, with a chorus that stays in your head. The musicianship exhibited here is outstanding, as is the mix on the album. “Control the Twisted Mind” starts off with a classical intro, moves into an acoustic section, then turns the heat up and blazes forward in true thrashy fashion. “Pit of Snakes” is my favorite here with a chorus that slows into a chant. “Kneel to the Gun” follows similar suit, but the chunky, chugging riffs, and “White Wizard” is a culmination of all the formulas espoused on this album, forming the perfect outro.
As for my first statement about Slayer, the comparison can be heard on every song on Divide and Conquer. While it’s not original, it’s still awesome.
Divide and Conquer is out now on NoiseArt Records.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Having never listened to Junius before, my first impression upon previewing this EP was, “it’s like a heavier version of Filter.” It’s true that there are some melodies that may match enough to remind me of the ethereal rock champions, but in many, many ways, their sound is very much their own. Days Of The Fallen Sun is a fantastic record that takes you on a journey using rhythm and almost droning melody as the vehicle.
The EP is supposed to be a prequel to Junius‘ debut record, The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist, so I assume it is a concept, and this is now a buildup to that story. They also have a 2011 release, Reports From the Threshold of Death, which, if I may be so bold as to judge the type of album solely by the title, sounds very much like it could be a concept record, too. If my assumptions are right, then I’m in! I’m a sucker for this kind of shit, so I guess it’s time I find out what Junius is all about!
Days of The Fallen Sun is basically four songs with four intro tracks that really leaves you wanting more. It’s some kind of mixture between what all my German co-workers listen to (weird hipster rock/electronic stuff) and some of the lighter side of what I listen to. Don’t take the “weird hipster rock” part as a bad thing; it actually sounds quite good and not “hipstery.” I guess I could summarize it better by saying it’s heavy, with clean vocals, and an epic, ethereal sound.
At the end of the record, when you’re sitting in silence, there’s not a whole lot that stands out as a “moment” that you will remember, but you realize you just listened to something special. The group definitely works as a whole, creating one collective sound and delivering it with production that is not over the top, but done tastefully to bring out the raw nature of the band.
My final thoughts on the EP is that it sounds great, the production is well done, and although the songs are epic, they leave you wanting more. These are all good signs in my opinion. The only thing missing for me is a “standout” track. While it may not be necessary, I would love to have something stuck in my head right now, because I’m into the whole recording. Days of The Fallen Sun is an EP worth buying, and I highly recommend it. There’s only minor room for improvement in my opinion, which means I am highly anticipating the next installment from Junius.
Days Of The Fallen Sun is out now on Prosthetic Records.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Junius, “Battle In The Sky” – Days Of The Fallen Sun
Junius, “Betray The Grave” – Reports From The Threshold Of Death