Album Reviews

FALLUJAH “THE FLESH PREVAILS”

FALLUJAH “THE FLESH PREVAILS”

Technical death metal is a walk on the razor’s edge. At times it can sound brilliant, other times boring and the same. There is a legion of bands out there looking to break boundaries and smash heads at the same time, with Fallujah being one of the leaders of this revolution. Their odd combination of beautiful interludes with extreme, guttural death metal seems to fit like the proverbial lock and key. The Flesh Prevails is a swirling mass of ambiance and atmosphere, with an ugly, black core.

The album opener, “Starlit Path,” is my favorite here. Its moody intro directs you straight into a trance-like state, then starts feeding shot after shot of broken glass. Alex Hoffman‘s vocals are war-like, and there is precision songwriting and musicianship throughout the entire album. There is not one blast beat or chord that sounds unrehearsed, and I would be amiss if I didn’t also mention the flawless production. “Carved From Stone” is pure death metal brilliance, and by the time the “Night Reveals” rolls out, you can feel the flow of this album. The songs fit together to lend to listenerss pleasure.  The moodiness of the album really shows itself on the second half, starting with the title track, then “Levitation.” It is a brooding mass of beautiful guitars.

The Flesh Prevails is a statement of modern metal, and a broad statement, at that. This perfection leaves an unmistakable mark in the encyclopedia of metal. Fallujah have created something that is rare and not often heard in the genre.

The Flesh Prevails is out now on Unique Leader Records.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

ENTOMBED A.D. “BACK TO THE FRONT”

ENTOMBED A.D. “BACK TO THE FRONT”

I’ll leave the gossip out here, but former Entombed vocalist LG Petrov, along with three recent members of Entombed, have revived the “Death metal for those that don’t like death metal” sound that the band made famous on Wolverine Blues back in the early ’90s. Out of the ashes, Entombed A.D. rise like a phoenix.  While there are no boundaries pushed here, Petrov and crew keep the flag of “Death N’ Roll” flying high and proud.

“Kill to Live” opens up the album with an ominous intro that leads straight into screaming guitars and Petrov’s trademark, guttural vocal style. “Bedlam Attack” is a riffy, crunchy all-out assault, and “Pandemic Rage” is crushing, yet melodic featuring a killer guitar solo. “Second to None” has a punk feel, complete with shouting background vocals; it’s slower, but heavy and groovy at the same time. “Waiting for Death” is true it rings of old school Entombed, and “Eternal Woe” is dark, depressing, and heavy as hell. “Soldier of No Fortune,” the album’s outro, may well be the best song on the album.

While Entombed A.D. aren’t breaking the mold of their previous life with Back to the Front, they prove here that they can keep a style, which they invented, alive and viable.

Back to the Front is out now on Century Media Records.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

CANNIBAL CORPSE ” A SKELETAL DOMAIN”

CANNIBAL CORPSE ” A SKELETAL DOMAIN”

What more can you say about Cannibal Corpse that hasn’t already been said?

Well … they have really nailed it with album number 13!

While there’s a familiarity to the album that rings to the past releases, A Skeletal Domain eclipses and buries them!  Yes, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher‘s vocals sound basically the same, but how can you improve perfection? He is a living legend in this genre, and he does his job well. Upon first listen I noticed three things right away: The album is darker, if that is even possible for a Cannibal Corpse album; the production is better, while still retaining a raw feel; and the musicianship is incredible too. The guitar attack of Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett is as intense as ever, and the riffs seem even heavier and more meticulous. Alex Webster’s bass playing is already legendary, but he takes it to the next level, and Paul Mazurkiewicz drum tracks and fills also exhibit why he is one of the best!  

“High Velocity Impact Splatter” lets you know which section of hell you will be visiting here. It’s choppy, fast and brutal. And again, Mark Lewis has taken Cannibal Corpse to the next level with the production. It is nothing short of brilliant. “Kill or Become” has quickly become my new favorite sing-along song with Corpsegrinder instructing, “Fire up the chainsaw/Hack their fuckin’ heads off.”  It takes heavy to a new level, alternating tempos between slow and warp speed. The title track is blistering, and “Icepick Lobotomy” epitomizes the death metal genre. Corpsegrinder’s vocals are a lesson for all the younger bands trying to break into this style. Webster’s bass is never hidden in the mix, and its rolling, thunderous sound really highlights this song and the entire album.

While there are no real surprises on A Skeletal Domain, no one really expected any. Cannibal Corpse have their own sound, and there is little chance that they will ever roll the dice with their own Black Album.  In my humble opinion, they have created their masterpiece – and their best album – with this release. Torture was hard to top, but they did it.

A Skeletal Domain is out now on Metal Blade Records.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

THE HAUNTED “EXIT WOUNDS”

THE HAUNTED “EXIT WOUNDS”

I have a love/hate relationship with The Haunted.

It seems their revolving door of band members does have an effect on how fans perceive them and also has a vast effect on the quality of the music.  Peter Dolving made his departure well known, and The Haunted‘s future was unforeseeable to the world, but 2014 brings them back, with Marco Aro back on vocals.  I’ll admit, Made Me Do It is by far my favorite of their releases, and I prefer Aro’s vocals to Dolving’s. The Haunted seemed to be wandering aimlessly on both Versus and Unseen, and I really don’t care for either album, but Exit Wounds brings back The Haunted of old, and they have a new energy and lease on their musical life.  They take everything they did right in the past, throw in a whole lot of thrash, mix in some Gothenburg melodies, and some hardcore and you have Exit Wounds.

“317″ launches a thunderous wall of fury and riffs, leading right into “Cutting Teeth.” “Cutting Teeth” and “My Salvation” both have a Slayer-type feel, and they kick right out of the gate. “Psychonaut” continues the brutality, and “Eye of The Storm,” the first single, is heavy and groove-oriented at the same time. “Trendkiller” is my favorite here, and it’s angry and heavy with guest appearances from Chuck Billy and Jed Simon. It is exactly what you expect from metal. “Time (Will Not Heal)” is an epic combination of genres, mixing brutality with melody. “All I Have” really reminds me of Pantera.

The Haunted, despite all of the recent turmoil, have made their most solid release since Made Me Do ItExit Wounds is an excellent album and will fit solidly in my top 10 of 2014 … so far!

Exit Wounds is out now on Century Media Records.

Rating: 5/5 stars

ACCEPT “BLIND RAGE”

ACCEPT “BLIND RAGE”

Accept is to heavy metal what Friendly’s is to fine dining. While it’s nice to enjoy a meal prepared with care and skill, sometimes you just want a fucking hamburger. Germany’s original headbangers have been presenting the same menu for nearly 35 years, and while it’s reasonable to push it aside in favor of more flavorful options, the comfortable and steady will always draw customers. Their latest, Blind Rage, is another eleven songs of fist-pounding, flag-waving, arena rock, delivered without irony or apology.

Blind Rage is Accept’s third release since its rebirth in 2010 with new vocalist, former T.T. Quick frontman Mark Tornillo, picking up right where Udo Dirkschneider left off in 1998. And this latest effort continues right where that left off. Opening track “Stampede” (matching the snorting bull on the cover) teases with some devil’s triads before charging ahead. “Dying Breed” takes your opinion that Accept may, in fact, be a dying breed, and throws it back in your face. Yes, they’re singing about warriors and silver mountains, but so what? They’re delivering these lyrics with conviction and with pride.

They threaten to sneak in a couple ballads, like “Wanna Be Free” and “From the Ashes We Rise,” but it doesn’t take long for the rock to roll to return. Throughout all of the songs, Tornillo is able to combine shouting, screaming and singing with dignity. However, he can’t quite make the quieter moments (few as they are) work, and when he bounces back into his comfort zone, it’s a relief for both the listener and him.

“Final Journey” ends Blind Rage with a pounding that’s as close to thrash as Accept gets, but there’s no reason to think that the title is a hint at any future plans. Blind Rage will satisfy fans’ hunger for junk food, and they have no reason not to continue to serving the same dish for years to come.

Blind Rage is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.

Rating: 3/5 Stars
THE CONTORTIONIST “LANGUAGE”

THE CONTORTIONIST “LANGUAGE”

You can compare them to Between The Buried And Me all you want, but the simple fact remains that The Contortionist have something else going on entirely.

Where BTBAM tend to use lead lines as rhythms in their brand of space-prog-metal, The Contortionist build Language around solid rhythm guitar and keyboards. Ex-Last Chance To Reason vocalist Michael Lessard hypnotizes you with his beautifully understated voice, and that hypnosis is only intensified by the instrumentals crafted by his bandmates, who repeat certain motifs throughout the record. All the way from “The Source” through the spaced-out sampling that ends “The Parable,” The Contortionist don’t follow any preconceived notions or rules, absolutely content to “Ebb & Flow” the way the music tells them to. Guitarists Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard craft intricate melodies in “Language I: Intuition” before switching it up and going all tech in its sibling “Language II: Conspire.” “Thrive” brings to mind self-titled era Deftones with its discordant opening before keys and bass lull you into a meditative state, and allow the tension to build until Baca and Maynard return with more melodic discordance that makes the song explode.

All I can say is, “Holy shit, The Contortionist just kicked my best-of-2014 list in the balls.” Language is yet another must own record, and it is by far the most gorgeous one you’ll hear. Don’t sleep on this classic.

Language is out September 16 on eOne Music/Good Fight Music.

 Rating: 5/5 Stars