Jun 072019
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish band Lucidity, which was released in February by Inverse Records.)

It’s interesting that we have never before penned words about Lucidity and their branch of the sad-sack melodeath musical tree, as the Finnish group’s keyboard-laden doom-influenced style seems to be perfectly within this website’s wheelhouse — well, at least in one particular writer’s wheelhouse. But now the time has come.

Lucidity have existed for quite a while now, though only recently appearing to have become a more album-oriented project. Prior to the release of their debut disc The Oblivion Circle in 2015, Lucidity had been putting out a steady stream of demos, totalling around five before the aforementioned debut. Nearly four years later — in the back part of February — the group released their sophomore album Oceanum. Clocking in at nearly fifty minutes across eight songs, Oceanum has some heft to it as it drapes itself in a veil of melancholy while conjuring familiar imagery of forests, lakes, and all things pensive. Continue reading »

Jun 062019
 

 

(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by Swedish death-thrashers Carnal Forge, which was released in January of this year by ViciSolum Productions.)

There exists a strange compulsion when it comes to review-writing on this end that has often run counter to how the clear majority of reviews are conducted, which usually focus on the most recent collection of up-coming releases. That approach makes sense, as people are often looking for information on albums right around release time, and afterward the discussion moves on to the more fan-driven “what works for me and what doesn’t” style of discussion. However — and you might have noticed this referenced in the recent write-ups by Andy — late discoveries often wind up backlogged in a weird purgatory state of “maybe I’ll write about this”… in between various games of keeping up with the most recent stuff coming out.

Albums left behind can tend to claw at the back of the mind, though. We find ourselves wanting to talk about some discoveries, regardless of release date. Maybe it will give the band a boost back into the public consciousness, however briefly; maybe it’s just to ease that weird guilt of “I’ve been enjoying this since I was introduced to it, yet have said nothing”; and maybe it’s just that the passage of time helps with the congealing of thoughts. Being able to step away from something only to come back later and see what really stuck with you is a wonderful thing, as hindsight can serve as an excellent guide on how to write about a disc.

Long story short, this is a roundabout way of saying, “Hey, remember the end of January? Feels like an eternity ago doesn’t it? Well I’ve been enjoying a disc by the reactivated Carnal Forge that came out around that time and want to talk about it.” Continue reading »

Jun 052019
 

 

(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by Nightrage, which is out now on Despotz Records.)

Every Nightrage album that comes out reinforces the conviction that Nightrage are a band who exist by sheer force of will. Who would’ve guessed that so deep into the band’s career they would finally have a vocalist who would stick around for more than two albums? Yet Nightrage’s Wolf To Man sets that record. Who would’ve guessed that the band’s eighth album kept them to a relatively stable schedule, with a relatively stable lineup, and (as it turns out) a relatively stable formula for music? And on top of all this, that they would manage to finally have a song mentioning the name “Nightrage” within the title? Yet Wolf To Man accomplishes all this.

Nightrage’s career is one that has seen the band go through numerous lineup changes (and even here they wound up changing the rhythm section, with a new bassist and a new drummer, as previous drummer Lawrence Dinamarca found himself busy with a newly revitalized Carnal Forge since 2017’s The Venomous), yet somehow always remain something of a standard-bearer for the mid-2000s melodeath scene, and in some ways its sound. Continue reading »

May 232019
 

 

(DGR reviews the new EP by Polish extreme metal veterans Vader, which will be released on May 31st by Nuclear Blast.)

It doesn’t feel that long ago that we were musing on the idea, prompted by Vader’s previous EP Iron Times — prior to the full-length The Empire in 2016 — that the group’s habit of putting out an EP just before an album release often served as excellent preview of where the long-running Polish death-metal/thrash-metal group’s head-space was currently at, and what sort of album we might be getting from them soon after.

It’s a serious consideration with Vader, because unlike many other death/thrash hybrids the group often aren’t a hardcore fusion of genres, where elements from both are clearly recognizable all the time. Vader have two methods of operation: They can actually be a full-blown thrash band, or a fully furious death metal band. When they mix the two, they often lean hard into one side. When they are in a full-on thrash mood, it is like they could’ve easily headed the genre as a whole, and when they go for the blast-furnace style of death metal played at high pace, it seems like they could do the same thing there. Continue reading »

May 222019
 

 

(DGR reviews the new album by the Swedish band October Tide, which was released on May 17th by Agonia Records.)

In Splendor Below is a very different album from its predecessors. Since reforming and releasing A Thin Shell in 2010, October Tide have kept to a pretty steady release schedule of every three years, with the most recent album prior being 2016’s Winged Waltz. Since that time the group have added two of the gentlemen from Letters From The Colony in their midst, picking up the rhythm section while the Norrman brothers stay on guitar and vocalist Alexander Högbom sticks around to deliver the deep-throated and anguished yells that have become a staple of the band since his first appearance on Tunnel Of No Light.

While there is a definite sense of lineup familiarity in place, the death metal atmospherics and groove that have worked their way into the group’s sound between the release of Winged Waltz and now are certainly new. Guitarist Fredrick Norrman was quoted in the press release for thier Our Famine lyric video describing the album as “a bit more aggressive, a bit more death metal, and with an overall colder feeling than previous records.” And that feeling makes itself apparent immediately. Continue reading »

May 152019
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of Amon Amarth‘s 11th album, which was released by Metal Blade Records on May 3rd.)

Amon Amarth are fun when Amon Amarth get “weird” around the fringes of their music.

Well, let’s walk that back a bit, since there’s a lot of power in those quotation marks around weird. It’s not weird in the usual sense, as Amon Amarth remain fairly conventional, and hew pretty closely to all of the traits that make them recognizable, on their latest album Berserker. They are one of the trope vanguards of the term ‘shuffle band’, in that their music has found such a consistent bar of quality that you don’t really need to do full-album runs any more. You can throw their whole discography onto a playlist, shuffle it up, and still have a good time.

That happens to a lot of bands when they strike upon a sound that they then make their own, and Amon Amarth did that sooo long ago — about the time of Fate Of Norns and With Oden On Our Side — and since then their discography has felt like iterations upon that particular formula. Huge and epic for Twilight Of The Thundergod, surprisingly death metal for Surtur Rising, weirdly experimental on the fringes of their sound on Deceiver Of The Gods, and a big old block of a lot of the ‘same’ on the concept album – about Vikings – that was Berserker’s immediate predecessor, Jomsviking. Continue reading »

May 142019
 

 

(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by Abnormality, which was released by Metal Blade Records on May 10th.)

The blindingly-fast, whirlwind death metal crew Abnormality’s newest album Sociopathic Constructs starts off on an interesting note if you’re a longtime fan, with an opening song entitled “Monarch Alpha” — recalling the days of the group’s song “Monarch Omega”, which began the album Contaminating The Hivemind way back in the yonder days of 2012.

That earlier song could easily bore its way into your skull due to the repeated “MONARCH OMEGA” roar that tore its way through the track. Bringing up the spectre of that song and starting the new one in a very similar manner of going zero-to-one-hundred in the span of .5 seconds (not unlike other releases this year) makes it so that the two are tied in together. In much the same way that Massachusetts-based Abnormality have mastered the art of the frighteningly technical/caveman-stupid branch of death metal, so too does “Monarch Alpha”, an addition to an already vast collection of headspinningly-fast death metal songs. Continue reading »

May 072019
 

 

(DGR reviews, at length, the new album by the part-Swedish, part-American experimental death-grind band Ovaryrot, which was released on April 19th.)

We try our best to avoid swearing too much these days, but put politely, Ovaryrot’s latest album Non-Flesh Scarring is a fuckin’ mess.

Actually, without the help of the band themselves contacting us we never would’ve known that the followup to the group’s previous album, Suicide Ideation, had even happened. At the very least, given that Non-Flesh Scarring hit in April, the Metal-Archives page could use an update.

To be clear though, we use the phrase “fuckin’ mess” in as nice a way as “fuckin’ mess” can be used to describe an album, as Ovaryrot’s sound is a nightmarish hybrid of grind, death metal, and someone torturing the everliving hell out of some synths. Then the group add in a vocalist, because why wouldn’t you want to add to what is essentially a lo-fi destruction of sound? Continue reading »

May 062019
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the new album by the Italian juggernauts Fleshgod Apocalypse, which will be released on May 24th via Nuclear Blast Records.)

At this point in their career every Fleshgod Apocalypse release has moved beyond mere album and into ‘spectacle’ territory, and their newest record, Veleno, proves no different. To repeat a point we’ve been guilty of raising a couple of times now, Fleshgod Apocalypse have made a career out of being the ‘most’. Oracles was their most straightforward brutal death disc — though it’s hard to deny the sheer power in the opening song “In Honour Of Reason” as it transitions from orchestral piece into death metal hurricane. Agony had the most bombast in terms of speed, Labyrinth tried to be the most ‘everything’ and wound up being the loudest amongst the bands discography, and — with Veleno included — King was probably the most orchestral the band have ever become to date.

But, if Veleno follows suit with its predecessors, where does that leave it within a collective that already defines nearly every element of the Fleshgod Apocalypse sound? Well, that’s the interesting part, because when you really nail it down, Veleno could be best described as Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s most carefully crafted spectacle to date. Continue reading »

Apr 162019
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the new EP by Sweden’s Gloson, which was released on April 5th by Black Lion Records.)

The sinister atmospherics that run throughout Gloson’s newest EP Mara — coming in two years after their excellent full-length Grimen — are entirely by design and not a happy accident. If any band has shown a keen mastery of the frightening undertone to their music in recent years, Gloson would be included in the discussion. Our premiere of Mara’s first song “Usurper” touched on the song’s sense of presence early in the writeup, drawing contrast to our compatriot Andy’s review of Grimmen and then highlighting the continued intensity that “Usurper” picks up and carries forward on their newest release.

Gloson describe the concept behind the EP on their Bandcamp page for Mara as such:

The concept of our new EP Mara is about our subconsciousness while being asleep; being stuck between the realm of dreams and reality. Portraying personal demons has usually been the agenda of Gloson, and the most graphic and terrifying ones occur during such states.

So if there was any thought that the almost sixteen minutes of crawling sludge and doom across two songs was going to play nice, then Gloson seek to wipe that away fast. Continue reading »