Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Primalfrost - Prosperous Visions

Primalfrost is the brainchild of Toronto native Dean Arnold. He's the composer as well as the sole musician on this excellent debut entitled Prosperous Visions that was released in February 2014. At just 18 years old, this album is just the beginning of great things to come for this young and talented guy. He has put together a touring band but when it comes to the studio activity it's all him. Yeah, the drums are programmed and these days orchestration is easier than it ever has been, but this guy also plays the guitar like a god and the keyboard work here also includes some nice piano interludes so he's also a good piano player.

Now, you can be all of the above and still not be able to execute good songs. Any musician can play their instrument and some can play with perfection. What makes any musician stand out is the songs that they write. This young man can write some great songs and kick ass riffs but executes the songs with precision. The music here is an epic metal that could be power metal except for the vocals. The vocals are a mix of the black metal style and the melo-death style but with some clean choruses thrown in to add dimension. The riffing can be fast and exciting as well as heavy and epic depending on where you are in the songs. This is one of those bands that takes you on a musical journey so you actually live the music instead of just hearing it. I'm not sure if this is a concept album but the main theme here is epic battles. That's nothing new to metal but it fits this epic style of metal and it just doesn't get old with me.

In keeping with the epic style there is an intro that leads to a seven minute epic number called "Distant Cries of War." This is epic through and through with orchestrated keys leading to an opening riff that's heavy, fast, and exciting. The keys in the background give you that choir sound and the lead riffs and opening solo show you that this guy is the real deal. The drums are set back in the mix a little but I think it's to hide the fact that they are programmed and it actually works. You can hear it sometimes but most of the time you are concentrating on the riffing and epic sounds created here. This guy can play lead guitar with the best of them and the solos on this song, as well as the rest of the album, are just godly. He not only plays solos but incorporates the leads into the melodies and riffs of the songs. There's a male "choir" clean vocal section leading to the proper solo that is just fucking incredible. The song is not over long nor does it become stale because of the hooks and melodies that just pull you in. Those clean vocal choirs show up a little more prominent on "Beyond The Shores and Lands" and shows that this guy is not just a growler but he can sing as well.

Another thing about the songwriting here is that he knows when to pull the long epic number card and when to just rein it in and play a normal length song. Some bands like this try to throw epics at you from beginning to end and some can and some can not. This guy doesn't try to do that but instead uses the songs to create the mood for the whole album. Except for the above mentioned song, there is only one other song over seven minutes and that is the amazing fourteen minute epic called "Cathartic Quest (An End to Tyranny Part II)." This song is a journey from cold landscapes to epic battles. It starts off with a harp playing over a cold wind blowing and if you try, you can actually feel yourself there. The lead guitar slowly makes it's way in leading to epic sounds. The guitar sound on this album is just amazing and with his virtuoso playing just adds so much depth to the songs. This song has a catchy main riff and hooks all over the place. This is an amazing feat for someone this young and shows the sheer depth of this guys talent.

There's also no shortage of just kick ass metal songs on here as songs like "An End to Tyranny" and "Silencing The Empire" just have these massive riffs and are heavy as fuck. But they also have infectious melodies created by this guys lead playing. And even though they are not as epic as the longer songs, the epic metal vibe in there throughout all of these songs. The beginning riff of "Path of the Sky" plays over some orchestral keys that just gives me the goosebumps and this is when I know that this isn't just an album or a song but an experience. This song has massive riffs and an epic quality to it, as they all do, but something just makes it extra catchy. I'm not going to say it's the best or pick a favorite because this is not that kind of album. Once again, the solo work is just fucking godly. I'm officially declaring Dean Arnold as my current favorite guitarist. Yeah...he's that good.

Some albums are a collection of songs and you can say one song is better than the other but there are some albums that need to be consumed whole. This album belongs with the latter because take away one moment of this album and the magic will not be there...and this is a magical album. What can't this young guy do? He can play guitar as good as any of the veteran virtuosos, he can play piano, he can sing as well as growl, and he can write an album that is epic from beginning to end...and he's only 18! And from what I understand, he wrote and recorded the band's first EP at 15. So he ranks up there with Enslaved in that department and that's something to be proud of. This is recommended for epic metal fans but if you are a metal head at all and do not have this album, what the fuck are you waiting for?


Monday, June 23, 2014

H5N1 - A Time of No Tomorrows

There have been some bands in death metal that have pushed some boundaries and I actually am not a huge fan of some of the modern death metal that has such chaotic production that you have to listen hard to hear the riffing or the solos. But once in a while you find something that actually draws your attention and brings something different to the table. Canada's H5N1 is one of those bands. Named after the Avian Bird Flu it seems that this is one of those bands that thrive on the threat of cataclysmic events and, really, how fucking metal is that? What sets this band apart is that they use a low-fi production but with two basses to give this heavy as fuck sound.

Sometimes you don't need massive sound and technical guitar solos to create a good death metal sound. This band does their own thing and they do it well. There will be no "do they sound like the Florida scene or the Swedish scene?" or any of the typical comparisons. They sound like H5N1 and that's it. They use pounding riffs and low guttural vocals but with a strange twist. They throw some symphonic samples into their songs in certain places to add an epic doom and gloom feel to the songs. Most of their songs are under four minutes with a few that are two minutes and under for a total of ten songs coming in just over half an hour. But they make good use of the little bit of time they give themselves as each song just pounds you from beginning to end. "Biochemical Warfare Kvlt" opens the album and just in the title alone you can tell where this band is coming from. The song is heavy as fuck with pummeling riffs and crushing blast beats. But they throw those symphonic samples in there to add that epic feel as if you're in an end of the world death metal movie.

Each and every song on this album has it's own personality and it's own sound. You have some songs that just slay from beginning to end with endless monster riffing like "Desanguination" and "H5N1" but then you have a song like "Embracing the Pandemic Principle" that actually has a bit of depth to it as it's not a song that just pummels you from beginning to end but starts with the symphonic elements then leads into some of the best riffing on the album. The song is the longest on the album and has the most diverse elements but does not fail to kick your ass. "Infest With Plagues of Blackness" is another song that has those ferocious riffs and pounding rhythms and even throws a solo in there. The title track closes the album and in two minutes wastes no time brutalizing you with it's riffing and killer grooves. The drums on this track actually sound different on this song for some reason, as if it was recorded at another session. Nonetheless, it's a beast of a song and you are left battered and bruised when this album is over.

This is a quite interesting take on death metal. The fuzzy low-fi production might turn some people away but don't let it. This is a good album. There are dimensions here that are not usually in death metal and really takes this band to another level entirely. This is the kind of band that keeps the genre from getting stale. If you like death metal in general and like the modern sounding death metal as well, you may want to check this album out. You won't go wrong.

Thanks to FullBlast!PR for the digital promo.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sylvatica - Evil Seeds

Sylvatica are a folk/melo-death metal band from Denmark that sounds like some of the bands that popped up in the Finnish scene in the early years of the 2000s. They formed in 2009 and have released an EP, a couple of singles and a compilation album. This is their debut, entitled Evil Seeds, and it shows a band that has taken what was done by bands like Ensiferum and Turisas and expanded on it just a bit to create an album that is actually pretty good despite not really bringing anything really new to the table. The mix of melodic death metal with the folk riffing create nice melodies. A lot of this reminds me of Ensiferum's debut, which is not a bad thing.

This riffs on this album are crunchy at times while they use the lead melodies to add the folk sounds. The vocals are your typical death growls that actually work here. After a brief piano intro we have "Psychopatica" which has some nice melodies over top of the riffing. There's some blast beats in there as well but the guitars drive this song. After the intro riffing we have some sweep arpeggio leads that are nicely placed and not sounding pretentious. This song is an epic song that has some nice acoustic interludes as well. All in all this is what you will expect on the rest of the album. My only gripe is that at seven minutes this could have been shortened a bit or inserted some slick lead solos used to make it overly epic. Even though it's a good song, I was expecting that climax that never came.

"The Ascension" starts with some interesting riffing in the beginning that actually leads to a Moonsorrow sounding  melody. The riffs over the blast beats are good with some tremolos and some thrashers mixed in. The folky lead riffing in there adds to the melody of the song. They even throw some traditional metal riffing into the mix here adding a bit more dimension to the song. The title track is a straight up thrasher with some nice riffing and some nice leads melodies thrown in. This is more of a straight ahead melo-death metal song for the most part but leads to a nice acoustic and melodic lead part halfway through. Once the song gets rocking again the leads are really nice and melodic although there isn't an actual solo in there. As a matter of fact, this band doesn't really play solos on this but, instead, the leads are actually part of the melodies of the songs. The guitarist is quite talented and plays some nice sweeps, I just would have liked to have some proper solos in some of the songs. The leads on "God of the Gallows" are just killer and shows the capabilities of this young band.

As I said, this band is young and even though they don't really  bring anything new to the table, they are still a talented band. They have an interesting take on what was done previously and that makes for an enjoyable album. Some of the songs just don't reach the plateau that I was looking for. The album closer, "Sect of Sleep," is probably the best song on the album and is both epic and heavy to create that perfect balance. If they used that same formula in all of their songs this would have been an album that was close to perfect. I think that this band has the potential to do great things as long as they can take their songwriting to the next level. Overall, I enjoyed the album and am looking forward to what they do next.

Thanks to Markus Eck from for the digital promo.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Daker Half - Never Surrender

Australia's Darker Half has been labeled as thrash throughout their career. Having not heard their previous albums, I would assume the thrash tag only fits the previous releases because this is not a thrash metal album. I didn't say it wasn't good, I said it's not thrash. This is actually a much more melodic power metal in the German style. I have a strong urge to compare this to late 90s Angel Dust. Having formed over a decade ago, they released their debut in 2009. Their new release, Never Surrender, is a strong album that has all the elements to be great power metal album. It seems they try too hard in places but they completely nail it in most.

 As I said before, if they were a thrash band, they have made a drastic change because this is melodic, epic and riff laden traditional metal. We have anthems like the album opener "Nemesis" with a chorus that is just catchy as fuck with really nice melodies.The guitar work is pretty good. The solos are tasteful and melodic. A little more wankery would have been cool but they are still very good. This band writes really cool melodies and this is one of those songs that is loaded with those melodies. "Stranger" is a mid paced epic number that has cool melodies with a catchy chorus and a nice solo. There's a couple of things that do not quite fit like some of the dual riffing and and the higher note guitar chugging that goes on in the beginning before the verse. The organ part that flows in there has a nice feel to it, though. That's one of my frustrations with this band. When they are on they are on but they seem to try a little too hard in some areas.

"As Darkness Fades" has some nice riffing and some nice melodies in the verse. The chorus is catchy and there's that organ in there again. This is another epic number that actually has an early Tad Morose feel. They pretty much nailed this one. "End of the Line" is another one where the band seems to stick to a streamlined formula and not trying to over do it. The twin leads are nice and kind of reminds me of early Nocturnal Rites. The solo on this one is killer and shows the skill is there. The chorus is catchy as fuck and the background vocals are nicely done. The vocalist actually can sound like Tony Kakko in his mid range, like on the title track, but he sounds like he really is straining to hit some of the higher notes and his "head voice" needs some work.

This band is a really good band that might be trying a little to hard to be great. I think they can achieve that level but they need to look at what works for them and what doesn't. This not a bad album, by any stretch. This is a good album that had potential to be great but fell a little short. I can't see this band being a thrash band so if this is a new direction for them, I think it's the right move. Pull back on trying to be epic and just go for a balls out heavy metal and this band could do great things.

Thanks to FullBlast!PR for the digital promo.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Falconer - Black Moon Rising

Falconer is one of my all time favorite bands, period. I'll get that out of the way in case you got some hint of bias in this review. Ever since I heard their brand of folk inspired power metal with the Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) vocals I was hooked. They made one fuck up in their career, they allowed vocalist Mathias Blad get away (briefly) and although those albums aren't horrible, it still wasn't the same. They came back to their senses and once Mr. Blad was back all was right with the world. Formed by guitarist Stefan Weinerhall out of the ashes of the viking metal band Mithotyn, a lot of what made that band was brought over to Falconer to create something really special.

Now the band comes with their eighth full length album, Black Moon Rising. This album is just incredible with massive riffs, amazing solos and incredible vocals. This band has lost nothing over the years and is one of those rare instances where a band, fifteen years into their career, can make an album that can stand up against their own classics. The album opener is a song everyone is familiar with since they released is a few months ago as an album teaser, "The Locust Swarm" is a beast of a song and the perfect opener for any metal album. The riffing is insane. There's even some blast beats and tremolo riffing in there as well. The chorus is catchy and melodic thanks to the amazing vocals. The melodies and choruses are what this band is known for and there's no shortage of those amazing choruses on this album. "Halls and Chambers," "In Ruins," and  "At The Jester's Ball," are just a few examples of how infectious the melodies and choruses are. Then we have the solos in this album, which seems to be the best of any previous Falconer album. The title track has a solo that's just godly.

The folk elements proudly show through like on "Scoundrel and the Squire." You can tell by the title that this song will be folk heavy. Then you have a song like "Wasteland" which is just riff after killer riff. It's fast and ballsy but melodic. Then there's "There's A Crow on the Barrow" which is just a Falconer classic with it's galloping tempo and duel lead riffing. This song could have been on either of the first two albums. What sets it apart, though, is the soloing which is miles beyond anything they've ever done. Then you have the heavy as fuck riff fest "Age of Runes" which is probably my favorite song on the album as it just slays from beginning to end. A mid paced song with serious riffs this could be one of the heaviest songs they've done. Midway through the song there's a really heavy riff and this melodic wah wah solo that just reeks of something like Grave Digger. What impresses me the most here is how they added a few new tricks in with their signature formula to create another dynamic to this already incredible band.

After fifteen years and eight albums some bands would just go down the safest route possible and put out a mediocre album to satisfy labels. fans, etc. Not Falconer. Instead they add even more elements into their sound to create an album that raises the bar for their contemporaries. Seriously, if you are a fan of heavy metal music at all, no matter what the genre, you need to give this a listen. This is one of the best power metal albums released in a long time and I can even see it appealing to those who don't always listen to this genre of metal.


Monday, June 9, 2014

De Profundis - Frequencies (EP)

De Profundis from London, England is a new band to me being this is the first time I've heard their music. I understand they sounded different in the early years of their career as they were a doom band. There are doom influences on this release, which is an EP titled Frequencies, but they stick to a more progressive death metal sound on this album that and they are pretty good at it. As I said, this is my first exposure to this band so I have no preconceived idea of how this should sound so I think I could be objective here. If this is the direction that this band is headed in, I like it. It's epic, it's fast, it's got some nice grooves and some massive riffing. They do have an interesting sound that sets them apart.

This is a four song EP that is an exclusive for Terrorizer Magazine subscribers with three original songs and a Death cover. The opener, "A Strange Awakening," shows the band does have a bit of doom in them but the technical side of this band shows through. In some places this could be old Opeth on steroids but with more serious riffing.. The song goes from pounding riffs to blasting and tremolos while their technical riffing is similar to The Sound of Perseverance era Death. They even throw some melodic and psychedelic influences in there to give this a seriously interesting sound. This is one of the coolest songs I've heard in a while. "Illumination" has a a more meaty sound to it, it's just a ballsy death/thrash song where the progressive and the technical aspects are a little more subtle. The soloing is fucking godly on this one and really gives the song that needed melody. The riffing is just relentless going from crunchy thrashers to massive tremolos instantly.

"Singularity" is the final original song on the album and it doesn't fuck around, it just begins with some meaty but technical death metal riffing and blasting all ready to change tempo in mid stream. It's a head banger in places and then sheer brutality mixed with melodic solos. This song (and the one that comes after) is what makes me think of Death worship but that's not entirely accurate either. Even the Death cover at the end of the album, "Crystal Mountain" from Symbolic sees the band having their own identity while doing the song justice. The solos are fucking incredible and along with the sound of the guitars during the solos is what sets this apart from others dong the same thing.

If this EP is any indication of where this band is going, I want to be a part of it. I also have every intention of going back and checking out their back catalog. But this is good shit right here. No other way to describe it. This band is interesting and have a unique sound that compliments every song on this EP, including the Death cover. Good shit indeed.

Special Thanks to Steve Shaw from Intune PR for the digital promo.


Toxic Waltz - Decades of Pain

Germany's Toxic Waltz are a rather new band, forming in 2009 and releasing this debut just this past January called Decades of Pain. Of course any one well versed in classic thrash metal would know this band has named itself after a well known thrash song by classic Bay Area thrashers Exodus. What we have here is another band that would probably get lumped into the retro thrash tag but that would not be wholly accurate. This band has it's own identity and it's quite interesting. Their sound is nothing like Bay Area thrash so that sets them apart from their name, which is a plus in my book. The music is thrashy, technical, rockin', and epic at the same time. But quite entertaining.

What's going on here is a metal band that throws in melodic thrash with an epic metal twist and a punk vibe. That's a tall order for that kind of combination but this band seems to be able to pull it off most of the time. Their thrash riffs are really good and keep you headbanging while the traditional metal riffs keep it melodic. The punk vibe shows up mostly in the vocal delivery and with some of the riffing involved when there are vocals. Songs like the title track and "Toxic Hell" open up with a bit of an epic traditional metal feel only to kick in with some fast riffing and a seriously gruff vocal approach by vocalist Angelo. He is almost proto-death metal in a way. It gives the music a hint of aggression that offsets the melody to make for an interesting sound. The guitar work on the riffing and the solos is really good. The solos are what would be expected and could have been a bit more creative but they do the job fine.

The traditional metal sounds are usually utilized in the beginning of the song and then builds up to this massive riff fest. They do this formula well, I just want them to be careful not to be a one trick pony or turn into a band like Iced Earth who does one formula only. The songs on this album are strong and well written even if they tend not to deviate from the formula. "Green" is a heavy as fuck song that is a bit different than the rest and really shows this band can rely on killer riffs to make a kick ass song. "Obsession to Kill" is one of the songs on this album that just slays as it is heavy as fuck but has some decent melodies in there to make things interesting. "Morbid Symphony" starts off with a groove metal moment before bursting into thrash riffing and it's on this song that it hits me that the drum sound, especially the snare, is annoying as fuck in some places. The production is not so bad on anything else but those drums. I hope next time they can pull back on the triggering a little. This type of music sounds better without all the tricks.

This is a very young band and this is their debut album. It's actually a very good album that has a few minor flaws that could happen to any young band. As they mature, this band could bring something interesting to the table. The talent is there, let's see what they do with it. They know how to write good catchy riffs and their songs are good. I'm interested in what they're going to do next.

Special thanks to Markus Eck from for the digital promo.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Vader - Tibi Et Igni

Poland's Vader has to be the most consistent band in all of metal. Having formed in 1983 and released their first full length album in 1992, they have not released a bad album yet. In fact, the mere announcement of a new Vader album sends a buzz through the metal community like no other band. What is it about this band that creates this atmosphere? What is it about this band that makes the metal world stand up and take notice every time they announce a new album? Could it be that their brand of thrash infused death metal is just that fucking good? Why yes, yes it is. Their eleventh full length album, Tibi Et Igni (loosely translated as You and Fire) is another dose of fine metal from this unstoppable band.

What makes this band so special is main man Piotr Paweł Wiwczarek (known simply as Peter). There has been numerous members come and go, including the much beloved drummer Krzysztof (Doc) Raczkowski who passed away in 2005. Peter has been the mainstay here and it is obvious that it is his influence that has carried this band over the years. Consistency is hard to achieve for any band, let alone one that has had a virtual revolving door of members. Vader has been able to achieve excellence with each release and this one is up there with them all. This album is a monster death/thrash album loaded with crushing riffs and some of the most amazing solos in metal today. You can tell this album is going to be something furious with the opener "Go To Hell" that starts with an eerie and epic intro then the thrash riffs burst forth and just pummel you with their brutality and speed. Peter's vocals are just as evil as they could be and drive the song to that level of ferociousness that you expect from him. The tremolos that drive up to the solo are just as evil as the main riffs and the short but killer solo is just amazing. A taste of what's to come.

The songs on this album are well written and there is not a one that could even be close to being called filler. Instead they each have their own identity and shine on their own. "Where Angels Weep" is just over two minutes of serious pounding and riffing that will have you in a neck brace when it's over. The same with "Abandon All Hope", which is another short beast of song that comes in, whips your ass, and leaves you wondering what hits you. Then you have a song like "Triumph of Death" that is an all out thrasher that relies on the riffing that the overall catchy melodies of the song rather than an all out speed fest. This song has elements of thrash as well as traditional metal with some of the best solos on the album. This is possibly one of the best songs Vader has ever written. "The End" is another song in that same style, not super fast but instead it just crushes you with the riffs and a pounding rhythm.

"Hexenkessel" is a song that sees Vader spreading out into epic territory. This is possibly the most atmosphere ever present in a Vader song. This has elements of thrash, death, and heavy metal but is all epic. The riffing here is just insane and the melodies that are placed into this song makes this one of the most unique songs that this band has released. Dare I say Vader experimented here a bit? Yes, they did and the result is a catchy song with all the elements that you would expect in any metal song no matter what the genre. There are even some keyboards in there to add to the atmosphere. Peter's vocals come off as if he were narrating a story in the first person. "The End of the Abyss" is another song that goes into epic territory with an eerie keyboard intro leading to some monstrous heavy metal riffing and vocal choirs. After that it's all business with tremolos as well as thrash riffs just driving this song. And, again, the soloing on this song is absolutely godly. Just the sound of the guitars on this album is enough to make my hair stand on end. That, coupled with the overall production of this album makes this album perfect to listen to.

As Peter said on "The End", "This is not the end....not now." I don't think it is. This album and the previous, "Welcome to the Morbid Reich," are two of the best albums this band has released and to do so at this point in their careers says a lot about this band. I will say it again, this is the most consistent band in all of metal, regardless of the genre. This album is essential for any and all metal heads....period. Get this album...and that is not a request!!