Category Archives: Metal

[Album Review] Trivium – “Vengeance Falls”

Orlando, Florida’s Trivium have made a point to deliver an entirely different collection of music with each studio release. Coming off the heels of 2011’s standard metalcore album, In Waves, 2013’s Vengeance Falls treads experimental waters with more of an industrial sound. Despite its superiority over In Waves, the new record does not meet the prowess of 2008’s ShogunShogun was easily the definitive Trivium record thus far, showing the band’s full potential in every form of musicianship.  Shogun was a coming of age for the group of metalhead 20-somethings.

Although In Waves might have set them back a bit, Vengeance Falls has partially redeemed the band. As publicized, the new album was produced by Disturbed/Device vocalist David Draiman. The musicianship on Vengeance Falls shows that Draiman probably offered significant feedback which Trivium considered, as several songs sound extremely Device-inspired.  In fact, lead vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy utilizes vocal techniques signature of Draiman in several songs, especially “To Believe.”

That is not to say that this is not original material.  All of these new songs were clearly penned by Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Nick Augusto.  Each musician excels with his performance, both individually and together as a band.  The dueling guitar solos in “Strife” showcase the capabilities of both Heafy and Beaulieu.  With very few screams from Heafy throughout the record, the lead vocalist is able to offer more of his sharp and clear clean singing within a relatively wide vocal range.

“No Way To Heal” includes both screams and clean vocals from Heafy with a song composition reminiscent of Shogun, thus becoming one of the better tracks on Vengeance Falls. It almost sounds like it could have been a B-side from the Shogun recording sessions.

Other key focus tracks are “Brave This Storm,” “Through Blood and Dirt and Bone,” and “Villainy Thrives.”

Vengeance may be falling for this maturing group of young men, but Trivium’s potential is once again rising.

 

MusicTalker’s rating: 4/5


[REVIEW]: Kill Devil Hill – “Revolution Rise”

For a band that includes talent from Pantera, Down, Dio-era Black Sabbath, and Dio, Kill Devil Hill do not seem to receive as much recognition as other related “supergroups.” This is slightly disconcerting as this particular group has efficiently melded together the varying musical styles of the members’ previous endeavors. This is exhibited in Kill Devil Hill’s latest release, Revolution Rise.

While the band’s self-titled debut had some great tracks on it, Revolution Rise blows its predecessor out of the water.  It sounds like a glorious hybrid between Down and Heaven & Hell with a large sense of originality, leading to a deeply textured delivery.  Lead vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors) often reverts the listener’s ears to an auditory memory of young Philip Anselmo.  However, Bragg showcases his unique vocal capabilities and wide range in the ballad, “Long Way From Home,” which tastefully breaks up the heavy rockin’ of the majority of Revolution Rise.

Overall, this new release is comprised of good, heavy rhythms, occasional guitar shredding, and catchy choruses. With the speed and precision on the kit, it can be easily forgotten that drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio) is not in his 20’s anymore.  The same goes for bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, ex-Down).  With that said, both musical veterans continue the legacies they have constructed over their respective careers in Kill Devil Hill.

Focus tracks on Revolution Rise include “Crown Of Thorns,” “Why,” and “Long Way From Home.”

 

MusicTalker’s rating: 4.5/5


[MUSIC VIDEO REVIEW] Skeletonwitch – “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)”

Ohio thrashers Skeletonwitch recently released the creepy music video for their new song, “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived),” which is featured on the band’s forthcoming album, Serpents Unleashed, set to drop on October 29th.

The heavy sound and dark, morbid lyrics of the new song are exemplified through the terrifying storyline of its music video.  The setting of the video is deep in the woods wherein lie a murderer, an innocent couple, and Skeletonwitch.  While Skeletonwitch performs the song surrounded by a circle of flaming torches, the murderer prepares for his next kill by sharpening his blades and building a scythe.  Meanwhile, the couple starts to get comfortable by a campfire, UNTIL…Bandana boyfriend hears something and decides to check it out and leave his lady friend behind.  Obviously, his blood is splattered on the tree as his body is impaled by the murderer’s scythe.  The girlfriend he stupidly abandoned then mouths the name “Steve” and begins looking for him.  She is subsequently chased and killed.  Despite the brutal killing, the scythe-holder had the good heart to bury the couple together in the woods before setting their bodies on fire.  How can you be mad about that?

Anyway, the video was overall well-composed, both in terms of filming and editing.  Also, as you may have learned from my previous music video reviews, the “make it or break it” factor of music videos for me is the balance between the band’s performance and the video’s storyline.  As for “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived),” Skeletonwitch found the happy medium and provided a tasteful balance of the two main components of the typical music video.

Take a look for yourself below.


[Song Review] The Bloodline – “The Blackout”

Since the acquisition of Divine Heresy vocalist Travis Neal, there has been a great deal of change in the camp of the band formerly known as Dirge Within. Perhaps, these changes are for the better as “The Blackout” is very different from and arguably more enjoyable than much of the Dirge Within material.

There were undoubtedly some great songs from Dirge Within. Having owned Force Fed Lies since 2009, it can be said that it was an awesome debut album.  The group’s sophomore effort, 2012’s There Will Be Blood, was also a solid release from top to bottom.  However, while the Dirge Within tunes were well-composed and very pleasing on metalhead ears, it was somewhat generic. The band’s rebirth as The Bloodline offers a sense of refreshment in a scene crowded with too much of the same.

Judging from “The Blackout,” the loss of original Dirge Within vocalist Jeremy “Jerms” Genske had a positive outcome.  Therefore, depending on personal opinions, long-time fans may not, in fact, miss Jerms, as suggested in this Artist of Week article from March 8, 2013.

This first song released by The Bloodline maintains the groove Dirge Within founding member and guitarist Shaun Glass (Broken Hope, ex- SOiL) has incorporated into each of his projects.  However, “The Blackout” is much more melodic than any Dirge Within song with Jerms on vocals due to both more instrumental melody and more vocally talented clean singing.

“The Blackout” sounds a bit reminiscent of Trivium and Killswitch Engage, which is a compliment more than anything.  The instrumentation is undeniably heavy metal while the vocals hover over the thin line between hard rock and metal.  That is not to say that it would sound weak to a metalhead.  In fact, it is extremely well-composed and offers a strong proverbial fist to the face.

For more on The Bloodline, check out their Facebook page.

 

Photo courtesy of The Bloodline’s Facebook page.

 


[REVIEW] Revocation Melt Faces On New Self-titled Record

As mentioned on the June 28th Artist of the Week piece, Boston death-thrashers Revocation have kept very busy during the last few years. On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, the band will release its self-titled, fourth full-length studio release via Relapse Records. Revocation is currently streaming in its entirety via GuitarWorld.com.

In the aforementioned article, I reported that: “after hearing the new album’s first single, ‘The Hive,’ it looks like the band is by no means getting careless or sloppy. “  I stand by that statement as Revocation can be placed alongside the band’s past three releases in terms of originality, brutality, and technique.  These guys know exactly what they are doing.

Out of all of Revocation’s releases, 2009’s Existence Is Futile is arguably their strongest record.  Although, each release is strong in its own right. Revocation continues the band’s journey toward gratifying success in the metal world. It may actually surpass 2011’s Chaos of Forms in fan appreciation.

Song highlights include “The Hive,” “Fracked,” “The Gift You Gave,” and the rest of the album.

People say that “the idea of full albums has died.” While that may be true with some musicians, it is not the case with Revocation.  Their new album is a well-deserved, necessary listen from start to finish.

MusicTalker’s rating: 4/5


Artist of the Week [6/28/13]: Revocation

Boston death-thrashers Revocation will release their new self-titled album on August 6, 2013.  They will also perform alongside The Dillinger Escape Plan, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, and others, on this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour.

With three full-length albums and one EP under their belts, Revocation seem to keep pretty busy.  The band’s third album, Chaos Of Forms, was released on Relapse Records in late 2011. About a year later, they put out the EP, Teratogenesis, via Scion A/V, initially offered as a free digital download.  Now, not even a year following Teratogenesis, Revocation will be on the market.  After hearing the new album’s first single, “The Hive,” it looks like the band is by no means getting careless or sloppy.  Bands that have been around for decades have a hard time releasing consistent, quality material every five years, never mind once per year, three years in a row.

Revocation seem to do everything right and are consequently receiving the recognition they deserve.  They are signed to an established heavy metal record label and seem to be making them happy with all of these releases and thus, money.  They are even playing on Summer Slaughter, and not just as openers!  They seem to be listed somewhere in the middle of the lineup.

Five Revocation tracks to check out are “Leviathan Awaits,” “Dismantle the Dictator,” “Conjuring the Cataclysm,” “Spurn The Outstretched Hand,” and “The Hive.”  The first two songs come off of 2009’s Existence Is Futile.  While “Dismantle the Dictator” utilizes an excess of technicality, “Leviathan Awaits” is straight-up brutal through and through.  “Conjuring the Cataclysm,” from Chaos of Forms has a phenomenal melodic guitar solo.  “Spurn The Outstretched Hand” is intense and sounds like lead vocalist David Davidson tried something different with his voice on Teratogenesis.  He actually sounds really creepy on this song.  As for “The Hive,” check it out, since it’s the single off Revocation’s forthcoming self-titled album.

For more on Revocation, visit their Facebook page.


Cover Song of the Month: June 2013

On their latest album, Unnatural Selection, Havok managed to slip a great cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” in with the new thrash material.  It was an intelligent decision to include such excellence.

While lead vocalist David Sanchez’s clean-ish singing may take regular Havok listeners slightly aback, it works with the song.  After all, Ozzy Osbourne did not scream in the original version, so why ruin a classic with out-of-place, guttural shouts?  It is impressive and gratifying that Havok put forth that manner of respect for the songwriters.

As for the instrumentation, the band offers its complimentary thrash metal influences while remaining within the boundaries of the song’s sound.  This version also has an extra raw and gritty feel that makes it that much better on the ears, ironically.

Havok out-did themselves on this cover.  They nailed every aspect of the original song and forged their own spin on it.  The best aspects of this version were arguably Sanchez’s singing and the guitar solo.

Performing covers of legendary bands’ songs is always a risky matter.  Havok were exceptionally ballsy by incorporating these new elements and attacking a Black Sabbath classic, but they seemed to succeed with ease.  These guys are sticking around, especially if they continue to pull strings like this.


[REVIEW] The Past Collides with the Present on Black Sabbath’s “13”

Following the 11/11/11 announcement of a Black Sabbath reunion, heavy metal fans across the globe anxiously awaited what would become 2013’s 13.  This reunion was inevitable after Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler lost their beloved Heaven & Hell lead singer and dear friend, Ronnie James Dio, to stomach cancer in May of 2010.  However, shortly after the announcement, Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy.  Being the heavy metal king, Iommi fought through it and helped provide worldwide Black Sabbath fans with 13.

With the excellence of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know under their belts, it was highly unlikely that Iommi and Butler could top that with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.  Conversely, with the beauties of technology in action, the Prince of Darkness actually sounds pretty good in several parts of 13.  The heavy metal founders clearly came together in the songwriting process this time around.  While it may not top The Devil You Know, 13 comes pretty close.

The album’s first single, “God Is Dead?” revealed a peek into the new material, but did not offer the whole picture.  It could arguably be considered one of the weakest tracks on the album.

Highlights include “End of the Beginning,” “Zeitgeist,” and “Dear Father,” among others.  “End of the Beginning” kicks off the album with a sound almost too reminiscent of the title track off of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut record.  “Zeitgeist” then brings the listener back to “Planet Caravan” from 1970’s Paranoid.  “Dear Father” is a dark, heavy doom song, clocking in at over seven minutes and closing out the standard edition of 13 with flying colors.

13 is extremely well-executed and I was thoroughly impressed with the finished product. Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk was unbelievably great on handling the drum duties, since the Sabs and Bill Ward could not agree on financial terms, leading to Ward stepping out of the reunion.

For Boston area fans, Black Sabbath are scheduled to perform at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on Monday, August 12th.


[SONG REVIEW] Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals – “Usurper’s Bastard Rant”

As the two tracks released on the split album with Warbeast, War of the Gargantuas, were brutal, aggressive, and heavier than the Titanic, the latest from renowned metal vocalist Phil Anselmo’s solo project follows suit.  From Anselmo’s forthcoming full-length release, Walk Through Exits Only, “Usurper’s Bastard Rant” incorporates elements from Reinventing The Steel-era Pantera, NOLA-era Down, and Superjoint Ritual to create one angry musical bastard child.

Anselmo has done some amazing work in music.  From performing in his own bands to singing with Alice In Chains before William DuVall’s recruitment to playing Pantera’s “This Love” with former band mate Rex Brown and the entirety of Anthrax at the 2013 Revolver Golden Gods Awards, Anselmo has participated in many entertaining endeavors.  With that said, “Usurper’s Bastard Rant” is no exception.  If most of the songs on Walk Through Exits Only are this well-composed and exceptionally interesting, it may very well be in the running for many “Best of 2013” lists.

It is great to see and hear that Anselmo is undeniably sticking to his roots with this solo project.  It would be pretty foolish of him to write a country album, especially with his success in heavy metal music.  Therefore, that is always reassuring to know.  Although, he has only released three songs from this project thus far, so it is possible there is some country and perhaps R&B on Walk Through Exits Only.  Let’s hope not.

Walk Through Exits Only will be released on July 16th via Anselmo’s own record label, Housecore Records.  “Usurper’s Bastard Rant” can be heard here.  His recently announced tour dates can be found here.


Artist of the Week [5/17/13]: Orchid

Formed in 2007 in San Francisco, hard rockers Orchid have been referred to being “more Sabbath than Sabbath themselves.”  Yes, Orchid take a lot of the musical tricks forged by the heavy metal forefathers, Black Sabbath.  However, they also draw heavy influences from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.  Furthermore, that statement is almost blasphemous as all of these retro bands would not be around if not for Sabbath.  Perhaps, it may be somewhat forgivable if the term “modern-day” was included in referring to the band in question.  That should be expected, though, seeing how the Sabs are all in their 60’s while Orchid are still young and fresh.

Anyway, this article is supposed to be about Orchid, not Black Sabbath.  While guitarist Mark Thomas Baker may play riffs heavily inspired by the great Tony Iommi, he does it with flying colors.  Keith Nickel and Carter Kennedy sound like Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, respectively. Theo Mindell sounds like a grittier, young Ozzy Osbourne with a much wider vocal range and with more vocal melodies incorporated into each song.

While they may currently sit in the shadows of the retro-Sabbath band category, it will not be for much longer.  With the recent release of their second full-length album, The Mouths Of Madness, Orchid are sure to continue their march toward the frontlines of the doom metal scene.  The band has yet to disappoint anyone, new and long-time listeners alike, with a release.

Fans of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, etc. need to check Orchid out.  Five focus tracks are “Wizard Of War,” “Mouths of Madness,” “He Who Walks Alone,” “Heretic,” and “Into The Sun.”  Honestly, though, every single one of their songs is worth checking out if you like this kind of music.

For more information on Orchid, check out their Facebook page.


%d bloggers like this: