2013 Album Highlights Part 2
Hello again everyone, in part one we took a look at some of the music released last year, starting with death metal. This time we have a little more death metal, some thrash, and a bit of black as well. So let's get started.
The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack
Taking their name from a famous murder, TBDM is a band I've never been particularly fond of in the past. Additionally, the band lost their drummer and bassist, replacing them with Alan Cassidy (ex-Abigail Williams) and Max Levelle (ex-Despised Icon) respectively. Nevertheless, their new album has been one of my favorites from the year, and while I still haven't warmed to their older material I intend to give it another chance at some point.
Moving on to the new music, TBDM offers us ten tracks of melodic death metal. They are a bit heavier and darker than much of the other music I've heard from this sub-genre (though admittedly I have less familiarity with this style of death metal than others). For that matter, this record is darker than their previous releases. This is complimented well by vocalist Trevor Strnad's vocals, switching between a high scream and low growl as tells tales about the band's namesake, being raped by trees, and one of the more bizarre songs I've heard about masturbation. All of that comes together to create what I like most about the album; the whole thing has a horror feel to it, not just the lyrics, but the atmosphere created from the music itself. (You can read him talk about that a bit here and the lyrics make for an interesting read if you care for that sort of thing). The quality riffs and excellent melodic leads continue throughout its entire run time, creating an album that is more than solid enough to make me look forward to their future releases.
In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me
Raped In Hatred By Vines of Thorn
Phantom Limb Masturbation
Everblack - Full Album
Revocation - Revocation
Revocation produced what is probably their strongest release with the free EP they did with Scion A/V back in 2012 and it was also their first release to utilize 7 string guitars, which made me pretty excited for their full-length album. I was a little unsure after hearing the first single -The Hive- from their self-titled album. Despite my apprehension, release day rolled around and I promptly picked it up, and after a few listens I came around. I'm not a huge fan of most modern thrash bands; for whatever reason I tend to feel lukewarm about them and stick to the new releases by long running thrash bands. Revocation is one of the exceptions for me. Blast beats, double bass, technical riffing, and the most stand out feature of the band - their solos. To me, the band sounds like a modern version of Megadeth (which is good considering Megadeth's latest album -Supercollider- was an absolute shit fest). Anyone who wants some modern tech thrash should be satisfied with this release.
Revocation - Bandcamp
Fleshgod Apocalypse - Labyrinth
Fleshgod Apocalypse is a band I heard about awhile ago, and didn't really get around to checking out until their release last year (though I still need to go listen to their prior releases). This Italian band plays technical death metal infused with symphonic elements. The riffs are your standard tech death fare coupled with blast beats courtesy of a drummer who is absolutely abusive of the double bass. How one feels about the drumming will depend on how much one likes constant double bass and blast beats. I quite enjoy it myself, though I know it turns some people off. Now add in strings to every track, throw in some female vocals and sprinkle in some chanting to coincide with the growls and screams, mix it together and you get this album. Together it creates a grandiose, epic sound centered on Greek mythology. This album is worth a listen for fans of technical/symphonic death metal.
Labyrinth - Full Album
Autopsy - The Headless Ritual
First off, I love the cover art for this album. It's an excellent example of a good gore album cover. Violent, gory, and with a horror element to it; all descriptors that can be equally applied to the band's lyrics, abounding with gory and murderous horror themes. Autopsy was one of the first death metal bands to fixate on these themes back when drummer Chris Reifert departed from fellow genre legend Death (with whom he played on their massively influential debut album Scream Bloody Gore) to found Autopsy. Once he was in his own band, Reifert continued on drums and took over vocal duties as well, further innovating the genre by adding in slower, doomier passages to the assault. The change helped create a more atmospheric brand of death metal without forsaking the riffs or drumming the genre would become largely known for. This is further aided by his vocals; instead of dropping extremely low, he wields a gruff growl that sounds demented and deranged, which suits the overall horror ambiance of the bands music perfectly. So if you're in the mood for death metal that opts for techniques other than sheer brutality or gratuitous technicality, this is the one to spin.
She Is A Funeral (NSFW: GORE)
When Hammer Meets Bone (NSFW: GORE)
The Headless Ritual - Full Album (NSFW: GORE)
Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood
Children of Bodom (named after a series of murders) is a band that comes up a lot in discussions of melodic death metal. Now I'll admit I'm not greatly familiar with either the band or the genre, but I do know enough to know that the band consecutively released four well-respected albums followed by a string of reviled albums. 2013 brought another new album from the band, heralded by some as a return to form. I figured it was time to give this Finnish band a chance. So how does it sound? It is melodic death metal, with guitars as the highlight of the album providing strong riffs and lead work throughout. Keyboards mingle with the metal, adding a nice element to the mix. Slight influences of black metal creep up in certain tracks (most noticeably in the title track). For anyone looking for more melo-death, Halo of Blood is worth looking into.
Halo of Blood
Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)
Halo of Blood - Full Album
Arsis - Unwelcome
Death metal has evolved into quite a few different sub-genres over the years, with technical death metal and melodic death metal being two of the bigger branches of the genre (excluding, of course, just regular old death metal). I can't think of a whole lot of bands that put the two together; tech can be melodic and melo can have tech to it, but it's pretty rare for a band to fully exhibit both at the same time. Arsis combines the two and crafts an album filled with great riffs and solos, fast, aggressive drumming, and harsh vocals, culminating in a tight death metal album. My one complaint is that it suffers from a completely unnecessary cover of Sunglasses At Night that fails to add anything to the album. Nonetheless, Unwelcome remains a quality death metal album.
Carve My Cross
No One Lies To the Dead
Unwelcome - Full Album (Playlist)
Battlecross - War of Will
The style offered by Battlecross would best be described as melodic thrash metal. It has some influences of melodic death, most noticeably in the riffing. Prior to this release the band lost their drummer, and while they have yet to replace him, former Black Dahlia Murder drummer Shannon Lucas fills in as a guest, complimenting the riffs well with his kit bashing. The guitars intermingle Gothernburg styled melodic riffs and leads with thrashy ones. The weak link on this album would be the vocalist: while he gives an adequate performance, he lacks the power possessed by many other vocalists in metal. Still, it's a good melodic thrash offering, worthwhile for fans of that style.
Force Fed Lies
Flesh & Bone
War of Will - Full Album
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
This is another band I've been meaning to check out for awhile, and didn't get around to until they released a new album. It's a fun little piece of blackened thrash. Oftentimes it has the party thrash vibe that I'm admittedly not particularly fond of, but it works better here given the blacker elements present alongside it. Still, there are enough thrashy riffs, drum parts, and just general thrashiness to make it a worthwhile listen.
Born of The Light That Does Not Shine
Serpents Unleashed - Bandcamp
Aborym - Dirty
I was introduced to Aborym last year when Marcuse posted about their new album in the metal thread. This Italian band makes industrial black metal, which is an area of metal that I have little familiarity with. The band combines black metal riffs and drumming, harsh vocals, occasional clean singing, and elements of electronic music to create an album that sounds, well, dirty, and it is a fairly solid album in the end.
Dirty - Full Album (Playlist)
Exhumed - Necrocracy
There's one more solid death metal release from last year that I want to mention here. This is another album that served as my introduction to a great band. Necrocracy is a solid album with chugging, throaty growls, pounding drums, melodic leads, and most notably, quality riffs. This is where this album shines the most, in the abundance of riffs that decorate the album (like many a good metal album does). Need more death metal? Give Necrocracy a spin.
The Shape of Deaths To Come
Necrocracy - Bandcamp
Well, that's it for today. The third and final part will cover my remaining picks with a little more metal (shocker, right?), some heavier albums that don't fit into metal, and a bit of rock.
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