October 28, 2010

Album Review: "Forging the Eclipse" by Neaera

Neaera has been one of the best and most consistent bands in the new wave of German metal during the past decade. After two albums of tough and brutal metalcore, the band really found their stride on 2008's Armamentarium, an extremely strong melodic death metal album with a vast number of standout tracks. Armamentarium was the album that put Neaera in the top echelon of Germany's new metal scene, leading the pack alongside Heaven Shall Burn and Caliban. And although 2009's Omnicide - Creation Unleashed didn't quite match the quality of Armamentarium, it was still a solid album with a great overall tone. Maintaining their unbelievably fast production speed with their fifth album in six years, Neaera is back with Forging the Eclipse, an album that keeps them at the top of the heap with impressive new styles and overall performance.

October 21, 2010

Double Review: "Silent Chaos Serpentine" and "Psalms of Conscious Martyrdom" by Stigmata

Metal is not exclusive to any one country or location, as any fan of the genre knows. Where the spirit and drive to play heavy and loud exists, metal will find a way. So it is with Sri Lankan group Stigmata, a powerful and unique group with the heart of metal deeply embedded in all five members. Stigmata is one of only thirteen groups identified by the Encyclopedia Metallum as being located in Sri Lanka, a country better known for its civil war and tea production than any sort of music scene. Nonetheless, Stigmata has a lot of skill and potential appeal. Their two most recent albums, Silent Chaos Serpentine and Psalms of Conscious Martyrdom, are the stuff that makes most bands into humongous successes.

October 10, 2010

Album Review: "Blood in the Gears" by The Showdown

The Southern metal scene does not often cross paths with the Christian metal world, but there are some bands that choose to embrace both groups, despite their seeming disconnect. The two leading bands in this group are Tennessee's The Showdown and Georgia's Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, and both bands add some modern metal elements into their sound to create a fairly unique blend. However, The Showdown leans more towards the Southern metal side of things than any of their contemporaries; evidenced by their sophomore album Temptation Come My Way, a straightforward Southern rock mostly devoid of screaming or breakdowns. Their third album, 2008's Back Breaker, achieved an excellent fusion of melodic and aggressive elements, earning them widespread acclaim and recognition for finding their stride. Now back on the scene with Blood in the Gears, The Showdown is out to prove just how diverse and multi-faceted their sound can be.

October 7, 2010

Album Review: "Imperfect Harmonies" by Serj Tankian

When System of a Down went on indefinite hiatus in 2006, fans unanimously clamored for a more detailed reason as to why, dissatisfied with the band's official statement of wanting to do different things. However, lead singer Serj Tankian quelled the discontent of the masses with his 2007 solo debut, Elect the Dead. Retaining many of the signature elements that made System great, Elect the Dead was a big hit among fans and satiated them for two years. However, the quirky live album Elect the Dead Symphony was less popular with listeners, who did not understand its purpose or meaning. Meanwhile, Scars of Broadway, the side project of System members Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan, was not as successful as Tankian's solo work.

These two factors combined led fans to restart the calls for a System reunion. Unfortunately for those hoping to hear more music similar to System from Tankian, the singer's sophomore solo effort, Imperfect Harmonies, sounds drastically different from Elect the Dead. However, those with open minds might find this to be a good thing, as Tankian takes a huge step into experimental prog rock with his new material.