Monthly Archives: February 2009

HammerFall – No Sacrifice, No Victory [Review]

No Sacrifice, No Victory is the seventh studio full-length from Swedish heavy metal band HammerFall. Set to be released February 20, 2009 on Nuclear Blast records.

hammerfall no sacrifice no victory cd album cover art

This album is another one I have been waiting on for quite some time, with high hopes that it would be another great release from HammerFall. Sadly, it did not live up to expectations. No Sacrifice, No Victory, huh? Well, maybe they should not have followed that mantra and parted ways with their old lead guitarist. That’s the only thing that the band has changed since their last album, but have somehow fallen very far into the depths of mediocrity that are modern heavy/power metal.

While the album is technically good, and has great productions values, the songwriting is not there — nor is the fire, passion and attitude that heavy metal needs to bring to the table. The first three tracks on the album (“Any Means Necessary”, “Life is Now”, and “Punish and Enslave” respectively) are an utter bore-fest. The songwriting is bland, the guitar solos are routine, and there seems to be no passion in the vocals. With moderate tempos and simple songwriting, the spot you absolutely need to excel in would be the sheer power of your sound, which HammerFall simply missed the memo for on this album. The first track with any balls at all is “Legion” – and even then the song is not all that great.

The first part of the album where I found myself interested was the organ piece in the beginning of “Between Two Worlds” – then as soon as the guitar chimed in I was instantly turned off. It sounds as though the guitar was recorded in a tin can, and is difficult to listen to. All the other elements to the song are over loaded with reverb and echo, and as a whole the song is a production mess.

“Hallowed Be My Name” (no, not a Maiden rip-off, though I wish it was) is yet another boring song, that happens to have a really nice solo in it. Usually, in slow heavy metal songs, a great solo can save you — not this time. The first good song on the album is “Something for the Ages” which, sadly, appears seven songs into the album. Oddly, this song has the least vocal presence of all the songs on the album (none, to be exact). Do I sense a trend here? Of course. Simply put, the vocals really hurt this album a lot. They are dry, boring, and without power or attitude. For a heavy metal album, this simply cannot do. If all the songs on the album had vocals like the title track, “No Sacrifice, No Victory” this might not be a problem.

The last three songs on the album are actually excellent, in almost all respects (this does not include the Knack cover, “My Sharona”). Sadly, the first 3/4 of the album was such a bore-fest, it doesn’t matter what the last songs were, they could not make this album good.

As I said before, most of this album is boring, dry, and uninspiring. While not difficult to listen to, I might not ever feel the need to put this album on — other HammerFall albums will quench your heavy metal thirst in a much better way. Now, before you all start yelling and screaming, I’m not saying the vocals are bad at any point, they just aren’t big, ass-kicking, and awesome as HammerFall (and heavy metal) vocals should be. After a couple listens, it grew on me, but still is nothing spectacular.

Track picks: “Something for the Ages”, and “Bring the Hammer Down”

Overall score: 6 out of 10 devil horns

In case you were wondering, they did to a pretty awesome rendition of “My Sharona” — why exactly is way beyond me…

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God Forbid – Earthsblood [Review]

Earthsblood is the fifth studio album from Century Media thrashcore band God Forbid. This is the follow up to their very strong release IV: Constitution of Treason – an album that received very good reviews, but did not generate a large amount of buzz. Eathsblood released February 16, 2009 in Europe and February 24, 2009 in North America.

God Forbid Earthsblood

In stellar metal fashion, this album opens with a nice piano/orchestral piece to set a very dark, foreboding mood, about :30 into the song, — cue the big distorted guitar chords and melodies. As always, it sounds awesome. The best part about this song is that during the latter half, the guitars are mixed very low, and and shredding all over the place. It’s slightly difficult to hear, but they are there. After setting the mood, we’re back to the God Forbid we know and love (or not love, if you happen to hate the band). It is unmistakable, yet, the execution seems to be a bit more spot on this time. In previous efforts, it was chugging guitars, blistering solos, and the same monotone screams for a vast majority of the album. This album goes with a major direction change in that regard. There are much more varied vocals, with varying levels of heat, and the clean melodic vocals are much improved from previous efforts. The first example of this is :50 into “The Rain”, the second track on the album. This section, however, is just a taste. There are many good clean vocal melodies strewn about the album. Possibly what I consider to be the strongest element to the album.

The second area that surpasses the average God Forbid repertoire are the guitarists. They chose to vary up the structure and style of their solos on this album, most noticeably the solo half way through “The Rain” (there is a lot to be be said about this particular track). Beyond this track, there is little to nothing new from God Forbid. All the same chugging guitar riffs and monotone screaming, which is fine. The song structures are varied, there are some great clean vocal parts mixed in, and keeps attention well.

The next notable song on the album is “The New Clear” — this song is pretty different from the usual God Forbid schtick. This song is plain and simply a metal song, and has a very vintage feel. Guitar solos abound, almost no chugging, no broken rhythms, and this vocals are spot on for classic metal.

The easiest way to tell, for me anyway, that God Forbid are doing something a bit different is to look at the length of the songs. There are only three tracks on the album that top off at less than five minutes, one of those being the album intro. Five tracks on the album top off at over six minutes, including the whopping nine minute long title track, “Earthsblood”.

All in all, this album is fairly spectacular, and will more than feed the aural desires of old God Forbid fans, and I have the feeling they might garnish a whole bunch more fans in the near future.

Track Picks: “The Rain”, “The New Clear”, and “Walk Alone”

Overall Score: 9 out of 10 devil horns

Unspoken Words – Derelict [Review]

Unspoken Words is the first studio full-length from Montreal metal band Derelict (not to be confused with the other Derelict on Last.fm). Set to be released sometime near April/May. Somehow, the band is still unsigned (boggles my mind, honestly). As far as talent goes, this band ranks among the other Canadian juggernauts of Strapping Young Lad, Into Eternity, Annihilator, Quo Vadis, etc.

derelict unspoken words cd album cover art

Track list:
1. “Machete”
2. “Pirates”
3. “Summoning the Firestorm”
4. “Forth with the Herd”
5. “Polarized”
6. “Xenocide”
7. “The Blood of Life”
8a. “Unspoken Words Part 0: Ripe With Martyrs”
8b. “Unspoken Words Part 1: Demonizing”
8c. “Unspoken Words Part 2: Never Reborn”
8d. “Unspoken Words Part 3: Surrounded by Decline”
8e. “Unspoken Words Part 4: The Names of the Dead”

Derelict‘s sound is something like that of Strapping Young Lad, but their style is much different. It’s very much a melodic death metal style with a hint of progressive thrash. Grinding guitars, angular riffage, pounding drums, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

The album begins with what might be the album’s first single, “Machete”. This song really sets the mood excellently for the tracks that come forth and rip faces off. After the very serious sounding album opener, “Pirates” has a somewhat silly sounding tone to it — that is, until the distorted guitars kick in with a BIG scream. I was shocked at how brutal and brash that they made that melody sound.

The metal train just keep storming along through the next few songs, until the first breath of air at the track “Xenocide” which has a nice acoustic interlude using guitar tones and a style like you would hear from many different songs by Rodrigo y Gabriela. After the minute-long break, it’s back to face smashing.

The first section of the “Unspoken Words” isn’t even really a song, but just a small 40 second long filler track (I honestly don’t really get it, but it passes by fast). Beyond that song, this set of songs really showcase how progressive this band can be, whereas the first section of songs were pretty standard progressive thrash/melodic death songs. The last few songs are a bit more ‘mathy’ in nature, but still seem familiar to the fairly unique style that Derelict has constructed.

For a first full-length effort, this album delivers. I don’t know what it is about Canadian metal bands, but they all seem to have their own things going for them, and it almost always seems to work (namely Into Eternity and Strapping Young Lad) – Derelict is no exception to this. An incredibly strong effort from a band I firmly believe will explode onto the scene when they get signed, go on tour, and actually release this album come springtime.

Track picks: “Machete”, “Pirates”, and “Xenocide”

Overall score: 9 out of 10 devil horns

Relentless – Brother Von Doom [Review]

Relentless is the first full-length studio release from Deathcote records’ own Brother Von Doom. Released September 23rd, 2008.

Brother Von Doom Relentless

From start to finish, this album is a terrifying adventure through some pissed off, face-smashing riffage and solos. The opening track, “Barbarian Destroyer” starts out with some chugging and doom-impending symphonic leads. That’s the last part of the album that isn’t 110% shred. “Eater of Days” is the next track on the album, and starts out with some staccato riffs, and thus the adventure begins.

The vocals on the album aren’t all that good, however, with some of the worst enunciation I have heard in a while (at it’s worst at the beginning of “Eater of Days”). The timbre of Wilson’s growls are great however, and so are his higher pitched screams. seems to have the full arsenal of harsh metal vocal techniques, as well as the range.

The absolute best part of this album though, are the most pissed-off and brutal guitar parts I have ever heard (or, close to it at the very least). As I mentioned before, Relentless is a non-stop barrage of rape-tastic riffs, that will make you want to punch babies or something. Then there are the blistering guitar solos all over the place. The only thing missing as far as guitar goes are sections with chords in them. It’s an all-out riff-fest, all the time. I personally enjoy it a lot, but it leaves the album a bit empty at times, and makes the album seem shorter than it really is (it clocks in at around 37 minutes). Without breaks in the shredding, it all starts to sound the same by the time the end of the album rolls around.

As unrelenting and unidimensional the album it is, it’s still a great listen. What it is lacking simply seems to be the style of what they were aiming for anyway, similar to the Lamb of God approach. A good mix of thrash, technical death, deathcore, and a few other metal sub-genres, Brother Von Doom have found a sound uniquely their own. One hell of a first full-length, that’s for sure.

Track picks: “Judas Kiss” and “Echoes of the Undead” (though, there is not a single weak track on the album)

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

Wrath – Lamb of God [Review]

Wrath is the fifth full-length studio album by southern metalers Lamb of God. Released on February 24th under Epic Records, Roadrunner Records outside of North America.

lamb of god album art

Wrath. There’s a lot of things that have been floating around with album, and there’s been quite a fair amount of buzz (unsurprising since Lamb of God are of the most famous metal bands in the US today). Randy Blythe hasn’t said much about the album, other than it’s not going to be a slacker album, and will be much heavier than recent released by the Virginians.

Wrath is quite clearly and emphatically a Lamb of God album. They have not changed their sound much at all really, but they have stepped it up a notch (or, a few notches from Sacrament). The guys seem to be in tip top metal shape for this effort, and I can really appreciate it.

As far as Lamb of God goes, there are really two “eras” – the early days and the later stuff. The first two albums were really rough and abrasive, and didn’t really have great production. The later two albums lost most of the abrasive sound for more groove riffs and stellar production. Wrath really is a genuine example of the perfect middle ground of these two. Lamb of God have gotten back to the face-tearing, genital-crushing sound they used to have, except it no longer sounds as though it was recorded in a tin can.

The album starts out with a very cliché acoustic guitar part that is okay. From there, they kick in the guitars with overdrive with the heart-wrenching weepy guitars. Just like every other metal album before it (fine, that’s an exaggeration, but we have all heard this a thousand times). While cliché, this is totally different than anything Lamb of God has delivered us before. The track immediately following it is similar, where we get to hear some vocal timbre that Blythe has not used. From the start it is quite obvious they’re taking Wrath in a different direction.

Following the tastes of new stuff are the first singles from the album, “Contractor” and “Set to Fail” – these songs are more up Lamb of God’s alley, and sound like something that could have been lifted straight from As The Palaces Burn or Ashes of the Wake. The rest of the album is still obviously Lamb of God material, but seems to have a bit more attitude and “fuck you” to it.

The last track on the album, “Reclamation” is a great pure metal ending track for an album. The sound of the crashing waves in the beginning/end paired with the down-tuned acoustic guitars is a great sound. A 7:05 epic to close out the beast that is this album, and it is more perfect than I could have ever imagined, employing a lot of interesting guitar work not featured in the rest of the album – from the harmonies to the melodies, it all has a different mood about it, perhaps one of a less aggressive and hateful mood, but more of a depressed yet hopeful mood.

As far as instrumentation goes, Chris Adler is bringing it as hard as ever on this album, and keeps climbing the ranks of metal drummers out there today (still has a long way to go, however – gotta get some speed and more technicality in there). Willie Adler and Mark Morton really aren’t impressing me any more than before, other than the guitar work in “Fake Messiah” – now that’s some good work, boys. Speaking of guitar work, there are some damn fine solos on this album. The best of said solos appear in “Set to Fail” – that solo melts face.

All in all, this album is the best effort from Lamb of God to date, in my estimations. They have finally gotten their sound down, and it feels so natural, as opposed to the forced feel of Sacrament and the practice-session feel of New American Gospel. From start to finish, this album delivers the goods – in a coarse and brutal package. Wrath is right, Lamb of God – you nailed it on this one.

Track picks: “Set to Fail” and “Broken Hands”

Overall score: 9/10 devil horns