Jul 202017

 

(We present TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by West Virginia’s Byzantine, scheduled for release by Metal Blade on July 28.)

When Byzantine basically slowly imploded after their fantastic self-titled comeback I’ve no shame in admitting I was super-concerned about what would happen. I knew Chris Ojeda wanted to continue on, it was his baby, he’s the reason Byzantine exists, but the “OG” lineup of Byzantine, the one people remember, was pretty hard to beat and had some uniquely talented musicians in it, stylistically. Lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough would be especially the hardest element to replace, as his angular jazz-fusion-esque approach to soloing over the thrash/math-metal/southern-swagger juggernaut of the Byzantine sound served as the final piece in the band’s musical jigsaw puzzle that saw the whole thing come together.

To Release Is To Resolve, the band’s first album with its current line-up, was a great record, but one that had a lot of jagged edges on it as the effort to incorporate the new blood’s musical talents and tendencies hadn’t quite yet been worked out. Brian Henderson’s guitar playing was far more melodic and hook-oriented than Rohrbough’s, and Ojeda had bassist Sean Sydnor, who was much more technically skilled at his instrument than Michael Chromer, to account for. It was still Byzantine in all of the right ways, and even saw the band visiting more progressive pastures in light of the absence of Tony Rohrbough, who was a zealot for cutting songs down to the absolute minimum efficiency possible.

An evolution was definitely on the horizon, and I was eager to hear what would come next. Original drummer Matt Wolfe is now out of the picture since To Release…, making Ojeda officially the only original Byzantine member left in the band. Matt Bowles has stepped into the kit position, and he brings with him a greater degree of technical prowess.

Jul 192017

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Concrete Age, along with our premiere of a full album stream.)

 

Technical thrash-style riffing? Check. Melodic death metal styled melodic approaches and emotive song-writing? Check. Eastern ethnic cultural instruments and influences? Check. Raw thrash/hardcore styled vocals that have a complete disregard for technique and are all passion? Check. Concrete Age encapsulate a lot of things I love in extreme metal.

If this were a different time, these guys would definitely be classified under the so-called “Neo-thrash” tag alongside Hatesphere or Carnal Forge or even Darkane. Their music is more technical melodic death metal, I guess, with a great deal of Eastern ethnic instrumental moments and melodic tendencies.

The Totem Of The Great Snake, Part 1 is an immensely powerful album and is also the best melodic death metal album of the year that I’ve heard by FAR so far. Big deal, considering the style’s been in a real slump the last couple of years.

Jul 182017

 

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Italy’s Order Ov Riven Cathedrals, which was released on July 5, 2017.)

Italian death metal and I have a pretty tense relationship. It tries so hard, and there’s certainly impressive things about it, but I’m usually not impressed. I like Hideous Divinity, and some Hour Of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse, but that’s really it, and even then I’m not so enamored that I couldn’t do without them.

The hyperspeed “let’s out Pole the Polish” aesthetic has always been commendable, and I have nothing against it in and of itself, but I often find that Italian bands lack the sense of efficiency and hooky song-writing that makes the Polish death metal template so appealing. Fleshgod has always been a band I enjoy because of the gimmick they offer (it works), and while I wasn’t impressed with Hideous Divinity at the beginning, they have evolved into a very good Annihilation Of The Wicked-era throwback band, and their new album this year is undeniably one of 2017‘s best.

And that brings me to Order Ov Riven Cathedrals. This is the first time I’ve encountered Italian hyper-speed death metal and actually LOVED it from the first listen. I might even go as far as to say that, at least for me personally, this is the first time the Italian death metal formula has been both perfected and extrapolated upon effectively. The Discontinuity’s Interlude is one of the most unrelenting, savage, and uncompromising death metal albums I’ve heard all year.

Jul 062017

 

(TheMadIsraeli compiled this group of recommendations, with brief rationales and lots of music streams.)

There’s too much good metal coming out in 2017, and frankly, for me to attempt to review everything that catches my ear with the frequency at which good things are arriving would be madness. I’ve decided to start a new every-now-and-then series to offer either brief reviews or simple recommendations of albums that would get full length-reviews if the time or energy were there for me to do so. Most of these will be things that’ve already been out for a bit, but some will be records that aren’t out yet. With that said, let’s get started.

 

Wrath Of Belial – Bloodstained Rebellion

One of the best melodic death metal albums released this year. Fast, intensive riffing, very emotive with more brutal vocals than the genre commonly is associated with nowadays. Think of a mix of Kataklysm, The Black Dahlia Murder, and The Arcane Order. These guys are fucking sick.

Jul 032017

 

(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the new album by the Ukrainian musician Arphael.)

I’ve been working on this review for a long-ass time. This album came out a couple weeks ago now, I think? The time has escaped me, but this album needed the attention because it’s fucking TWO HOURS+ LONG. I wanted to give it its proper due, given that I love Arphael’s music, but also because there’s A LOT to dissect here.

Argenesis is the finale of Arphael’s primary trilogy of albums he was working on besides the spinoff album Ancient I reviewed last month. This album’s length raises questions about how much we’ll ever hear from Arphael again.

This trilogy — Ambigram, Guiding Light, and Argenesis — were planned from the get-go. I know of one more release that’s coming, which is a re-recording of Ambigram so he can do it justice with his current production style and vocal improvements, but I’m not sure what’s after that. If he never releases anything else, the guy has contributed a unique and challenging sound to the metalsphere that will always stand out to me. Can’t say I would complain if he goes on after this, though.

Jun 292017

 

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Origin, which will be released on June 30.)

Origin are one of death metal’s most unique standouts from the 2000s-era of death metal. Their brand of chaotically fast, noisy, cosmic, techy deathgrind has never been done better, nor even really emulated properly, and that’s because this band has always had a consistent vision. Or rather, Paul Ryan and John Longstreth have had consistent vision. The Origin sound is unmistakable and it has remained so, to their benefit and at their peril.

Unparalleled Universe is Origin’s best record since new vocalist Jason Keyser joined back in 2011, especially compared to 2014‘s Omnipresent, which was received… not as well as the rest of Origin’s discography. I suspect the Origin guys felt this, and maybe even felt that way about Omnipresent themselves after the dust had settled, because Unparalleled Universe is a step up. It has some of the best songwriting, riff-craft, and consistently belligerent sonic matter obliteration they’ve ever created.

Jun 282017

 

(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the debut album by the Norwegian/Polish band Liverum.)

Gojira has disappointed me as of late. Sure, I reviewed L’Enfant Sauvage with enthusiasm at the time, but there were a few conditions my enthusiasm was contingent upon. A: the assumption that the album was a one-off that was not a sign of things to come; B: the hope that the blatantly more commercial elements and attempts to be softer that they’d been teasing at since The Way Of All Flesh were just a phase; and C: the wish that the next album wouldn’t dial back the very essence of this band even further.

While co-writers of mine enjoyed Magma I thought it was nothing short of blasphemy to the Gojira name. Since then, I’ve looked for bands that channeled Gojira, not in precisely literal musical terms but at least in spirit, for sure.

Jun 272017

 

(TheMadIsraeli review the new album by Dying Fetus, which is out now on Relapse Records.)

I’m just going to say it. If you don’t like Dying Fetus, nay, LOVE Dying Fetus, you don’t like death metal. I can think of no other band that has better personified the sonic violence, technical excess, genuine anger, uncompromising legacy, and lack of pretension that death metal is all about than Dying Fetus.

John Gallagher has been at this shit now for TWENTY-FOUR YEARS. He’s the godfather of the messy, grimy, seizure-inducing style of tech death, and his sound and approach to songwriting have never been successfully emulated, although no one really even dares to try. Who else is mixing technical death metal, grindcore, NYHC, and slam so well right now? Nobody that I’m aware of, and especially nobody who does it so organically, honestly, and with such passion and dedication.

Jun 222017

 

(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by the French band Igorrr, which was released within the past week by Metal Blade Records.)

 

Sometimes, when it comes to metal or heavy music in general, a concentrated dose of proper fucking insanity is the right call. Sometimes, you don’t need lyrics and sometimes all is said by a good vocalist shrieking his mind out into a mic with no intention of conveying anything other than exactly what you hear. Sometimes, you need accordion. Lots of fucking accordion.

Jun 202017

 

(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the self-titled debut album by the Canadian death metal band Deity, which was released earlier this month.)

 

I have a very hard time getting into a lot of the technical and progressive death metal that’s being released these days because so much of it misses the fucking point. It’s all plastic mixes, weak noodly riffs, with death metal as the least prevalent of ingredients. It just… isn’t death metal, man. Whether bands are fellating their fretboard with an overly digitized guitar tone and simply running through rote, stock melodic progressions or playing what amounts to really bad progressive rock with weak black metal vocals and no power, it’s no wonder I’ve tended to gravitate toward either old school death metal, or death metal that’s just straightforward and no bullshit.

Sometimes, though, I run across bands like Deity and my hope is restored. I remember the beauty, the majesty, and the putrid overwhelming crushing power that can be channeled once the musicianship and spirit are on par with each other.

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