This might be the final week, considering that I’m now catching up, but there still may be a use for these lists in the future, under another name. Maybe List Chan or something, similar. In any case, here are some releases you may have missed around March and April.
Neorhythm – Terrastory (2020) – Neorhythm definitely caught my attention with their mixture of Sepultura/Soulfly-esque groove metal, a little bit of djent and some slightly proggy elements to go with the “space” theme. It honestly sounds like a brainier Sepultura in their mid-era, putting Neorhythm on par with their intensely proggy current-era. There are a few nodes to Nu-Metal here as well, which certainly appealed to my guilty pleasure of downtuned guitars. The clean vocals are nothing to write home about, but in my opinion I was more pleased with the band when they were pounding my skull with thick bass grooves and hefty shouts. Sure, that might sound a bit brainless, but the album features enough texture to balance it all out and leave the listener with a solid experience. If you’re not a fan of groove metal or Nu-Metal, you won’t find much in this, but I definitely jammed it more than a few times.
Tombs – Monarchy of Shadows (2020) – Tombs decided that they were done with experimenting with different sounds and styles and have made what I’d consider to be almost a pure black metal album. Well, not completely pure, at least by purist standards – but there’s definitely enough black metal to sell modern black metal fans on just the same. Thrash, death metal, core and even Gothic elements appear on the album, but make no mistake – this is definitely supposed to be a black metal disc through and through. That being said, it’s far from a bad one. There are some core breakdowns on “Necro Alchemy” and synths appear on “ The Dark Rift” but other than that, listeners are getting blazing machine-gun drums, harsh vocals (not quite the goblin shrieks, but good enough) and some crossover moments that make this effort memorable, rather than forgettable. It may sound like just another black metal disc, but give it a listen and you just might find something within this admittedly short offering.
Body Count – Carnivore (2020) – A new Body Count album also dropped this year, which I was quite excited about as I was jamming Ice-T’s Power and Original Gangster just a couple of months ago. They’re much better than the so called “hip hop” garbage that’s created today. Ice-T is also the master at telling it like it is and filling your politically correct mouth with a fist. He’s done that since the first album and it’s not going to change. In fact, “Thee Critical Beatdown” is a damned good indicator of what I just said. Also, this is going to come off a bit controversial, but Ice-T was dropping red pills long before Patrice O’ Neil.
Interestingly enough, there’s a surprisingly good cover of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” as well as a throwback to way back – the shit I was talking about earlier, with “Colors.” Don’t forget about “A New Level” with Jamey Jasta, which is what I would consider a power anthem that frankly a lot of men need to hear right now, I’m tired of all these goddamned black pilled fucking nihilists who need to get out there and find meaning and purpose. Look, I know shit’s fucked right now, especially during the quarantine, but this is the kind of thing you probably need to be jamming right now. Get some positive messages in your life. Just listening to that song gave me motivation and that’s what it’s all about.
Antipope – Apostle Of Infinite Joy (2020) – At first thought, Antipope might seem like a black metal band that hinges on avantgarde, but that’s only true in small snippets. For the most part, these guys remind me of a folk-tinged Amorphis and there’s nothing wrong with that. They certainly experiment with multiple types of structures and effects, plus there’s a slew of fine guitar solos here to balance the whole thing out. A song like “Intoxicating Darkness” might not feel so folky, but the chorus melodies on the album’s title track certainly do – it simply depends on the track you’re listening to. That being said, nothing about Antipope feels foreboding, instead I’m feeling a sense of grandeur here. There’s a definite vibe of epicness to the album which seems to meld well with it’s black, death and mostly melodic death folk elements, which in my mind makes Antipope a band to watch. You may have heard this style before, but never like this – I’m looking forward to their next release already.
Metalwings – For All Beyond (2018) – Sometimes I get requests to cover albums that came out a couple of years ago and that’s fine, but it is also around that time that I can understand why the album might not be performing well despite the coverage it had received in the past. Metalwings, for all sakes and purposes, sound a great deal like Nightwish. It’s heavy, symphonic metal with a female vocalist who focuses on an operatic approach. That also, is the problem. Metalwings are plenty competent and put a lot of work into this one, but most labels will probably look at this, especially in the major circuit and say; “Well, there’s already a Nightwish.” It’s mostly a game of firsts when it comes to this industry. The bands who are currently receiving acclaim for styles like this, even if not nearly as good as they used to be when they started out – are only known because it was blue ocean territory in the industry and they just happened to get to it first. Now there is the chance that if Nightwish begins to wane and become less interesting, a band like this can come around and snatch their throne. It happens all the time or at least, it did. I largely blame algorithms for continuing to promote classic bands to people instead of acts that could one day sit in the spotlight after the classic act has exited stage left. That’s how we keep music fresh. In my day we had Michael Jackson, but now we have The Weeknd and he’s trying to reach that level, even though it is probably absurdly difficult. The same can be said for a band like this one, who certainly has everything that it takes for a label to pick them up and may very well be able to do it on their own.
The trick is, how do you get them out there? Well, I’ll say it like this. If you enjoy Nightwish, Theater Of Tragedy and other bands in that style, then you’ll find something to like here. This might not have even been a promo, it’s probably something that I bought in a metal bundle and got completely confused. Even so, I’m not going to erase this text. It’d be a waste of time to not post it, especially when I feel I’ve made a valid point. I’m not here to trash the band or consider them not good enough – they’re just going to be foreshadowed by the big name band who happened to get to this style first.
Return Fire – Return Fire (2019) – This was sent to me as part of Alignable, a site that I was added to and haven’t had much time to check even though I’m surprisingly getting a lot of feedback from it. Though it came out last year, I hadn’t heard it and I was certainly interested. The band features Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo along with drummer Joe Nunez and Kevin James (no, not that one) on vocals. The disc is a huge mixture of thrash metal and punk, which ends up in a roaring aural assault that is sure to rouse grandpa out of sleep if played loud enough. Hell, if you use it as alarm, he might spring out of bed and start yelling “Charlie!” at the top of his lungs. In any case, the disc also features a barrage of solos and is largely inspired by Slayer. I felt like I was listening to Slayer a few times through, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and obviously those guys aren’t going to be doing it anymore so after Corona has been squashed, we’re going to need someone to take that throne. Kevin James is trying pretty hard to sound like Tom Araya, but even so there are more than enough stylistic changes within the album to separate it – at least in parts – from Jeff Hanneman’s classic riff matter. That being said, the best part of waking up is definitely Return Fire in your ears.
Ols – Widma (2020) – I have reviewed previous records from Ols before and have found them quite haunting and folky, which is not unlike what you’re hearing here. Maybe the album sounds enchanting, but the focus of this record is old age and death, which is far from enchanting and very much closer to the atmospheric black metal roots of the project. Though there are no heavy guitars, nor harsh screaming vocals, the record still seems hauntingly vibrant. I will bet that a lot of listeners would never guess that what might sound tribal and beautiful in the vein of Warduna, Dead Can Dance or Myrkur is actually quite ominous and foreboding. This is not a happy record. The translated lyrics that came along with this promo detail that pretty well. Widma is dark, it is very dark. I’d even call it grim, which fits wholly with The Grim Tower. We might have changed a few things, but we still cover grim artists like this one who is again, far removed from the metallic elements of black metal, yet keeps the vibe and atmosphere quite morose. There are few things that are as black metal as a record about old age and death, so she’s definitely proven herself with a folk album that I would consider largely kvlt.
Dool – Summerland (2020) – I couldn’t end this round without a band that certainly caught all of my attention, Dool. I actually think a better name for them would be Dush, because they feel like Rush if they were a dark rock band. The frontman also sounds extremely close to Geddy Lee, which might be why I’m getting the Rush influences – along with maybe “a few” riffs that seem to be a dead giveaway. That isn’t to say that a couple of grunge or modern rock riffs do not appear here either, but there’s really a mix of everything. Bottom line though, the album is passionate and Dool should really jump up in popularity after this one. Someone get the metal and rock magazines on this one, these guys are really something and it has mass market appeal. I know, not everyone digs dark rock as much as me, but Staind made it here in the states and Aaron Lewis did nothing more than make dark rock accessible to the mainstream. I think Dool can do it with this album too, which I’ve listened to just once before this review – but I’m currently jamming it again as a refresher and find myself totally convinced with my opinion.
Dool would give the mainstream media more to talk about other than Ghost, Slipknot and BabyMetal, so I won’t mind seeing something on my feed promoting these guys. Or any great band that actually needs the exposure. It’s like I feel there is a little man tugging at my shoulders asking me, “Hey, do you like Metallica?” every five minutes. Dool crafted an album that is actually worthy of that coverage and promotion on such a large scale and people need to check them out. Summerland is what you call art, not sure if you folks got the memo on that one; but there are bands out there that actually spend a lot of time on compositions that stand apart from the rest of the competition out there. And frankly, who would Dool compete with? They’re in a league of their own. Prophecy was prepared to throw out all the stops with their limited edition versions of this album, though I’m not sure if Corona prevented any of those formats from happening. If so, that’s a real tragedy because this is a record that needs to be in the spotlight. I get a lot of metal, but this is how you make household names in music. I highly recommend these guys and I hope that Corona didn’t throw too much of a wrench in the gears.
Here’s to hoping they’ll get some major publicity and will be able to follow up Summerland in the future. Additionally, I really need to sit down and soak this one in some more. There’s just too much ground to cover, so be sure to help me out and soak in Summerland for yourself as well. This record is simply too good to sit on.