Album Reviews

TOOTHGRINDER “SCHIZOPHRENIC JUBILEE”

TOOTHGRINDER “SCHIZOPHRENIC JUBILEE”

Toothgrinder show little restraint on Schizophrenic Jubilee, opting instead to incite a full-blown melee of raging vocals, shifting time signatures, and guitar acrobatics.

Five tracks is all that it takes for singer Justin Matthews, bassist Matt Arensdorf, drummer Wills Weller, and guitarists Jason Goss and Matt Mielke to prove their mettle. “The Hour Angle” rages above a shifting rhythmic landscape with screaming guitars that pierce through the maelstrom with nimble precision, but the beating heart of the album is the two-part centerpiece that features “Polar Complex: Dejection and Despondency” and “Polar Complex: Schizophrenic Jubilee.” This sequence delivers intense twists and turns that underscore the compositional proficiency of Toothgrinder.

Schizophrenic Jubilee proves that Toothgrinder are capable of some prog-metal Jedi action. Eat your heart out, Luke Skywalker.

Schizophrenic Jubilee is out now on Spinefarm Records.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

ELECTRIC WIZARD “TIME TO DIE”

ELECTRIC WIZARD “TIME TO DIE”

Britain’s Electric Wizard are back after a five-year hiatus with Time to Die, and they sound angry! They have a penchant for taking dense, heavy riffs, and grinding in some psychedelic atmosphere to create a hellish mix. Justin Oborn‘s reverb-laden vocals, combined with Liz Buckingham‘s monolithic, Iommi-esque riffs, will leave you drained but wanting more.

Time To Die loosely follows the story of satanic murderer Ricky Kasso, also known as The Acid King. While it’s definitely not for the fainthearted, the story forms the perfect template for a doom album. “Incense for the Damned” opens with the sounds of running water, maybe to relax you a bit before Electric Wizard emerge with a wall riffs. The heaviness is intense. This segues into the title track, which boasts fuzzy, retro guitars recalling Blue Cheer. Oborn’s vocals take a haunting tone during the chorus while singing, “Wake up children, it’s time to die.” “I Am Nothing,” clocking in at over 11 minutes, is what all doom/stoner bands should emulate. The melancholy, misanthropic feel is overwhelming, submerging listeners in the repetitive riffs. “Destroy Those Who Love God” is a stepping stone into my favorite track here, “Funeral For Your Mind.” It is no less heavy than the previous tracks, but it is a bit more uptempo. “We Love the Dead” is riff-filled, and it drones on for over nine minutes. “SadioWitch,” although one of the shortest songs on Time To Die, is also one of the best. The riff is torn right out of the book of Black Sabbath, but it still sounds fresh. “Lucifer’s Slaves” encapsulates modern doom in its eight-plus minutes, and the album’s outro, “Saturn Dethroned,” has a dirty, Opeth-like feel to it. The grinding organ is never overbearing, but it still maintains an evil atmosphere. If anything, it is a bit mellower than the rest of the songs, bringing the album full-circle to the same babbling brook that started this adventure.

Electric Wizard have been around awhile, but they have really never quite fit in, even in the metal realm. Things are different now. Time to Die is their masterpiece, and it cannot be ignored.

Time to Die is out now on Spinefarm Records.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Electric Wizard I am Nothing AcidVideo from Electric Wizard on Vimeo.

VOMIT FIST “FORGIVE BUT AVENGE”

VOMIT FIST “FORGIVE BUT AVENGE”

It’s good to give metal the occasional kick in the ass to remind listeners of the music’s roots. It came from a dark, dirty, unforgiving place, and it has never been intended for the faint of heart.

Vomit Fist provide this type of reminder. Their metal is a diatribe against everything mainstream.  It’s a violent blend of grindcore and punk that immediately reminded me of early DRI and Dead Kennedys when I turned on Forgive But Avenge. The songs are rarely longer than a minute-and-a-half, but they are a brutal treat for the ears.

Nick and Leo Didkovsky, a father and son team who play guitar and drums, respectively, founded Vomit Fist, and they are joined by Malcolm Hoyt on vocals. While their appearance is more in line with black metal, their music is a vicious blend of punk and metal that smacks you in the face.

The title track opens the album with frantic, shrieking vengeance. “Under the Rind” continues the beating, and “Enter My Guts,” an instrumental, focuses more on the riffs. “Frogmen,” featured in one of the band’s first videos, returns to a pit-inducing tempo. “Story” uses spoken word to deliver a twisted little ditty about a parallel universe. “Blood Fisher,” the only song on the album lasting longer than two minutes, is crossover thrash at it’s best!

Vomit Fist aren’t doing anything new on Forgive But Avenge, but given the countless genres and sub-genres in music today, it’s great to hear some metal played just for the sake of metal.

Forgive But Avenge is self-released and out now.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

ORANGE GOBLIN “BACK FROM THE ABYSS”

ORANGE GOBLIN “BACK FROM THE ABYSS”

Originally formed in 1995 under the name Our Haunted Kingdom, London, England’s Orange Goblin have just released their eighth full-length album and their second via Candlelight Records, Back from the Abyss.

The follow-up to the mighty A Eulogy for the Damned, Back from the Abyss immediately captured my complete attention. The opening track, “Sabbath Hex,” delivers a great uptempo sound with well-crafted riffs and hooks that grab you instantly. “The Devils Whip” is driving, dirty and raw in the vein of Motorhead, and it displays extensive flavor and texture. This track is sure to get anyone with a pulse pumping their fist and banging their head.

Reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s “Hand of Doom,” “Into the Arms of Morpheus” once again utilizes dynamic and colorful riffs coupled with the ever-present foundation of Martyn Millard‘s tasty bass lines and Chris Turner’s drums. Their presence is most notable on the slower passages, and it covers the full spectrum of sound. Some additional standouts include “The Abyss,” “Bloodzilla,” and “Heavy Lies the Crown.” That said, this whole album is excellent and boasts with high quality songwriting, as well as strong musicianship and vocals. Orange Goblin deliver, and they keep you coming back for more.

If you haven’t spent time with Orange Goblin‘s previous releases, Back From The Abyss is a good place to start. This album not only meets expectations, but it easily exceeds them.

Back from the Abyss is available now from Candlelight Records.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

RIGOR MORTIS “SLAVES TO THE GRAVE”

RIGOR MORTIS “SLAVES TO THE GRAVE”

I can’t imagine the pain that Bruce Corbitt, Corey Orr and Harden Harrison felt while completing Rigor Mortis‘ fourth album, Slaves to the Grave. In December 2012, literally days after completing his guitar work for the record, Mike Scaccia collapsed of a massive heart attack on stage while celebrating Corbitt’s 50th birthday. The band decided to finish what they had started, though, and they raised money to release the album independently.

Slaves to the Grave is fucking killer. Rigor Mortis pull no punches with their thrash sound, and they come out of the gate swinging with “Poltergeist.” Corbitt’s lyrics focus on the macabre, and his songwriting shines throughout the album. Clocking in at over six minutes, the song shifts gears approximately two-thirds of the way through, transitioning to a slower, melodic segment that features Scaccia’s stellar guitar work. He plays with true feeling and emotion. “Rain of Ruin” brings the thrash back to the forefront, and Corbitt recalls the late Dave Brockie, also known as Oderus Urungus of Gwar, on this song. Scaccia delivers another scathing solo, truly showcasing his enormous talent. “Flesh for Flies” increases the tempo, raises the bar and serves as the top song on the album. “The Infected” provides melody and frantic fret-work mixed with a fast tempo and a scream-along chorus. “Bloodbath” truly encapsulates the Rigor Mortis sound, and it builds to a massive crescendo, then slows to a headbanging feast for the ears. Including “Sacramentum Gladitorium” here is a ballsy move, given that it is a melodic instrumental on a thrash album, and the nine-plus minute “Ludus Magnus” showcases everything Rigor Mortis have to offer, from spoken word to an all out thrash fest. It leaves the listener thirsting for more.

This is a bittersweet review for me to write, knowing it is likely that this will be Rigor Mortis‘ last release. That said, Slaves to the Grave is also their best album. Rest in peace Mike.

Slaves to the Grave is out now on Rigor Mortis Records.

Rating: 5/5 Stars