February 26, 2010

Album Review: "12 Gauge" by Kalmah

Kalmah has been the most consistent of the Finnish death metal bands in terms of musical output. Unlike their more famous contemporaries, Children of Bodom and Norther, Kalmah have not fallen prey to the tendency of introducing American metal elements or becoming more mainstream with their sound. Their music now is as unique as it was in their early years, if not more so with their growth and progression over time. 2008's For the Revolution was the best album of Kalmah's career, bringing together the stylistic elements of the band's early albums and the progressive parts of their later work. 12 Gauge steps away from that atmosphere in most respects, but this is still an excellent album from a highly underrated band.

February 19, 2010

Album Review: "Starve for the Devil" by Arsis

In many ways, Arsis is the one band in the American death metal scene that manages to distinguish itself by playing a different style from the rest of the bands with which they are associated. However, the way they manage to separate themselves is by latching onto another scene, and in this case, it’s the European death metal scene. Arsis has consistently drawn much of their sound from Heartwork and Swansong-era Carcass, as well as At the Gates, Soilwork, and (unsurprisingly) Arch Enemy. This is not a bad formula, since numerous other bands besides Arsis have followed it to success in the past; Quo Vadis and Neuraxis are two immediately obvious examples of this. Implementing this formula without becoming stale is something that very few bands are able to do all the time. Arsis is one of the lucky few bands that can execute the formula and retain the freshness and vitality of their sound, and their latest album, Starve for the Devil, is yet another achievement in this area.

February 18, 2010

News Commentary: Mike Portnoy to play on new Avenged Sevenfold album...wait, what?

In this article posted yesterday, Blabbermouth.net revealed to the world that Avenged Sevenfold would be utilizing the skills of Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy on their new album. Mike would be playing in place of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, who was found dead in his home on Huntington Beach, CA on December 28th, 2009. And in this article posted today, Portnoy states that he's "honored" to play with A7X and that he has been "welcomed into the family with open arms."

Album Review: "Ironbound" by Overkill

Any metal fan who knows their history knows that American metal began with the Big 4 of thrash in the 1980s. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax are the bands that helped make metal popular stateside. In the two decades since their rise to prominence, though, the Big 4 have lost much of their significance and clout in the thrash scene, and while they are (mostly) still producing music, they are continually being upstaged by other bands. Germany's Big 3 (the Teutonic bands), the "lesser" American thrash bands, and even crossover thrash albums by bands in other genres continue to make the Big 4 less impressive each year. The latest band to do that is Overkill, one of the few American thrash bands in the '80s not to emerge from the Bay Area. The New Jersey quintet has gotten tighter and faster in their sound on their recent albums, and their latest release, Ironbound, shows that even after a whopping fifteen studio albums, Overkill still has the chops they possessed in their infancy.

February 16, 2010

New project

I'm currently in the process of creating a new channel at the site Ustream.tv. I plan to do a weekly show devoted to metal news and reviews, and I'm trying to figure out how the whole thing works. If any of you would like to assist me or have any experience with Ustream, please let me know. When the show goes live, I will post info about it here. Thank you all, and stay tuned for more!

February 15, 2010

Album Review: "The Underworld Regime" by Ov Hell

In metal, supergroups are usually either very good or very bad. It’s rare to find a supergroup that is mediocre, simply because it’s not often that a group of talented musicians come together and put out average songs. This is especially true in more extreme genres like death metal, black metal, and grindcore. Thus, the expectation for black metal supergroup Ov Hell – the brainchild of Dimmu Borgir vocalist Shagrath and God Seed/ex-Gorgoroth bassist King – was that they would be either extremely enjoyable or disappointing. However, debut album The Underworld Regime – which also features Enslaved guitarist Ice Dale, ex-Gorgoroth guitarist Teloch, and Satyricon/1349 drummer Frost – is the rare supergroup album that is just plain mediocre.

February 14, 2010

Album Review: "Metaphysical Collapse" by Living Corpse

The Gothenburg scene remains one of the most influential groups in all of modern metal, even though the bands comprising the core are but a shadow of their former selves. At the Gates is exclusively a legacy group now, In Flames have lost most of their credibility, Soilwork is inconsistent in their musical output, and Dark Tranquillity is the only band left delivering solid melodic death metal with each album they release. However, a number of young bands have begun an attempt to revitalize the scene by emulating the originators from their glory days. One such band is Living Corpse, an Italian band with a strong grasp of the Gothenburg scene. Their debut album, Metaphysical Collapse, is a tribute to the early years of the scene, when the Gothenburg sound was still new and fresh.

February 9, 2010

Album Review: "Mechanize" by Fear Factory

Up until recently, Fear Factory hadn't been right since the days of Demanufacture and Obsolete. These two albums are considered by fans and critics alike to be the band's "glory days." Every release since those two has ranged in quality from boring to abysmal. Their sound on Transgression was lazy and stale, Archetype has always seemed formulaic in its implementation, and Digimortal was pure, unadulterated garbage. Having to wait through constant delays and long periods of silence for a new album didn't do a lot for fans of the band, who wondered if the veteran group could ever right the ship. However, in the midst of chaos and struggle as membership changes led to a legal battle, the band has returned to the glory days of old with the long-anticipated Mechanize. This album is easily one of the best of the band's whole career, and it completely wipes away all memory of their previous mediocre work.

Album Review: "We Are the Void" by Dark Tranquillity

Dark Tranquillity is one of the only Gothenburg originators that still have a decent level of credibility on the scene. With At the Gates no longer producing quality material, In Flames barely maintaining a shred of their former stature, and Soilwork producing inconsistent music from album to album, there isn't much left of the Gothenburg core to keep the old fans happy. Therefore, a new Dark Tranquillity album always manages to excite fans of the traditional sound, as well as the newer fans that the band has drawn in recent years. After the masterpieces Character and Fiction, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Dark Tranquillity’s ninth studio album would match that level of quality. Dark Tranquillity entered the studio prepared to do just that on We Are the Void, armed with new writing and recording techniques that were intended to make their sound even better.

New place for my reviews

Many of you may notice that I haven't posted anything about my reviews appearing on Transcending the Mundane. This is because Transcending the Mundane has been defunct for several months now, and I have been unable to post my reviews there for some time. Thus, I will now be posting my reviews here on my blog. I highly encourage you all to read and comment them here. I'm trying to increase readership on my blog, so please encourage your friends to check it out and follow my posts. Thanks!

(P.S. If you are reading this on Facebook, my blog is located at http://relativationofjustice.blogspot.com. Head over there and take a look.)