Jul 202020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the debut album by Forlorn World, the side project of Bloodshot Dawn‘s Josh McMorran.)

I’m a rabid fan of Bloodshot Dawn and have been since their self-titled debut.  I own all their releases physically, I still listen to all three of their albums to date at least once a month, and I think in general, in a current era where melodic death metal has really fallen off the map, they have somehow managed to inject some needed life into an otherwise dormant sub-genre of extreme metal that was beloved by many.  Mostly this was done through an elevation of the technicality of riff writing combined with an EXTREME emphasis on guitar virtuosity.  Their formula works, and it’s some of the most consistently compelling metal you can listen to right now.

I was therefore quite intrigued when I learned that Bloodshot Dawn founder and frontman Josh McMorran was using this quarantine time to record a solo album as kind of an aside to Bloodshot Dawn, maybe to just hone his musical chops a bit more or to prepare for the fourth Bloodshot Dawn album, but I was curious nonetheless.  This project, the subject of today’s review, is called Forlorn World, and I mean… it’s pretty fucking good. Continue reading »

Apr 292020


(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the newest album by the Polish death metal icons Vader, which features striking cover art by Wes Benscoter and is due for release on May 1 by Nuclear Blast.)

Vader is a tough band to review.  This, of course, is not because of how intricate or deep their music is, it’s because this band’s level of intensity and quality has been so good that “It’s a Vader album” is literally the review.  I love this band’s entire discography — I don’t think they have a single bad, or even just “okay” album or EP in the entire fucking discography.

That also isn’t to say Vader are a one-dimensional band.  They have nuance, and the tiny degrees to which they dial around elements of their sound from album to album make a big difference.  It’s interesting because at this point it basically means we have three types of Vader among which they kind of seem to bounce back and forth: Continue reading »

Apr 272020


(In this review TheMadIsraeli catches up with the debut album by the French melodic death metal band Aesmah, which was released by Apostasy Records in February of this year.)

Quarantine has my sense of time and priority all fucked up dawg.

Doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with the musical landscape though, and today’s subject is a band who I definitely think needs more exposure.  Melodic death metal, as we’ve so often talked about on this site, is almost a relic of extreme metal.  It’s either been incorporated into something else, or the bands hanging onto it mostly are just not standing out.  They ride the most rote of wavelengths in every aspect of their sound and the by-the-numbers, trying to be oh-so-slightly commercially appealing nature of it is pretty exhausting.

Aesmah, on the other hand, are a new band who get the style they’re playing. Continue reading »

Apr 022020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Germany’s Dark Fortress, which was released by Century Media on February 28th.)

This COVID-19 situation has really fucked with all of us in big and small ways.  That should go without saying, but it’s also my excuse for being so behind on NCS shit.  Quarantine prep, a tornado hitting close to home and putting me out of power for a bit, and other setbacks have kept me distracted from my NCS duties and it’s sucked. But now I’m back to full operational no-life quarantine activity and I can finally get to this.

I’m glad in the end that I’ve been held up, because it’s given me an absurd amount of time to spend with Dark Fortress in the interim.  They are definitely one of my personal favorite black metal bands, Old Mans Child and Keep Of Kalessin joining them in my top three.  Their dedication to doing a form of black metal that’s sort of amorphous while being incredibly disciplined, precise, and unafraid to consistently dive into other sub-genres of extreme metal is the kind of thing I love, just in principle.

Spectres From The Old World is a record in particular that I find fascinating, because if anything, it points to a band who are moving away from black metal as the foundation of their sound and want to re-purpose it as a flourish. Continue reading »

Mar 062020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the debut album by Volcandra from Louisville, Kentucy. With cover art by the great Adam Burke, it was released on February 28th.)

Kentucky isn’t exactly a place where you imagine black metal springing from, especially good black metal, but new blood Volcandra are an interesting case study in that regard because not only are these guys really good, they may well be one of the most talented American black metal bands to rise up in the 2010‘s (I’m going to be pedantic and be that “the new decade isn’t till 2021“ guy).  Quite simply, through channeling a combination of Norwegian and Finnish influences on top of an adoption of more American progressive death-metal window dressing, Volcandra may very well have released one of the first great black metal records of 2020. Continue reading »

Mar 052020


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by the North Carolina band Krosis, which was released last month by Unique Leader Records.)

These last three or four years we have witnessed a rather interesting demographic shift in US extreme metal that’s a bit unique to the current era. We’re seeing this in long form with bands such as Fit For An Autopsy, but in the case of bands like Krosis we’re hearing these guys in the middle of their musical journeys. To put it simply, a LOT of people who grew up with or got into heavy music via deathcore and djent primarily are now moving away from those sounds.

It’s only inevitable I think that these bands eventually realize how stifling those sub-genres are, and thus they turn to retaining the best parts about those sounds while embracing more front-and-center extreme metal along with modern progressive tendencies to create something that is wholly a post-2015 or ’16 phenomenon and that’s resulted in some of metal’s best modern music. Continue reading »

Mar 022020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s enthusiastic review of the debut album of Australia’s Remission, which was released late last year.)

While I’ve enjoyed the stylistic turn to a degree, melodic death metal in recent years has become too fucking slow and has increasingly lost its sense of technicality.  Everyone who knows me after years on this site is aware that I’m as much of a fan of the melodic death-doom formula as anyone, but I must confess I miss what got me captivated by the style in the first place.  It was the ability of the music to hit a threshold of being fast and technical, yet remaining emotive all the same.

The olden-days bands wrote riffs that were basically 20-second hooks, where the entire passage stuck into your head while skank beats and the like pounded away at high speed.  If it wasn’t that, it was an extremely modern translation of British Heavy Metal into an even heavier context.  I really miss this about melodic death metal of the ’90s and early 2000s, and it’s a bit dismaying that the style has mostly seemed to die off in interest.

Until now. Continue reading »

Feb 132020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the 17th (!) album by the Canadian thrash band Annihilator, which was released in late January by Silver Lining Music.)

Annihilator are one of the most fascinating of the super-old-guard thrash bands. Jeff Waters‘ capacity for diversity and his willingness to experiment (and risk having egg all over his face) has resulted in a VERY deep discography that, while definitely inconsistent, is consistently compelling in its ambition.

This is one of my favorite thrash bands, despite that very issue of consistency, and that’s because when Annihilator are having a good run, the run is the best of the more deliberately technical thrash metal of bands from this era. Continue reading »

Feb 102020


(In this post TheMadIsraeli provides recommendations and brief reviews for two EPs, one by the Connecticut band FROGG released in January of this year, and one by North Carolina’s Ergodic coming out in March.)

Sometimes nothing hits you like a simple, effectively written, and short EP. It’s even more impressive when the band reveal themselves to be onto something at another level, or at least a clearly high-quality band who understand their own influences and where they want to take those influences.  FROGG is such a band, combining a good deal of modern and progressive influences to release a debut EP (A Reptilian Dystopia) that represents, at the very least, a promising new face in the technical death metal space. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Sylosis, which will be released on February 7th by Nuclear Blast.)

Sylosis are one of Britain’s all-time great metal exports, and in my mind are undeniably one of the most important metal bands of the 2000’s, the 2010’s, and now. Nevertheless, these guys seem to get a lot of what I see as undue shit from a lot of people. They are often maligned for being boring (whatever that means) and for not doing anything essentially original (not essentially true), and somehow are accused of writing uninteresting riffs despite Josh Middleton, Sylosis’ founder and composer, being one of the post-2000‘s greatest riff writers. He blends an interesting approach to thrash metal and the heyday of pedal-point-riff-driven melodic death metal with the emotive, bruising nature of early metalcore, and further combines that with a post-y sense of ambience and atmosphere that sounds like no one else.

I guess for me, Sylosis has been metal at its most emotionally honest. It’s powerful, melancholy, angry, and arresting, and since the band’s debut, Conclusion Of An Age. I’ve just been unable to stop listening. They combine the technical aspects and the speed of styles of metal dear to me while also being provocatively emotive, which is a hard line to straddle and make it work. I am a fan, to say the least, with a view of their past catalogue as flawless, a band who’ve never written a record that includes a single throwaway song and who’ve always tried to evolve and refine their sound, never staying in quite the same place. They are modern song-writers still attracted to the past, a sort of approach to metal that I admittedly will eat up like candy if the passion is there. Continue reading »