Tag Archives: CD

Winds of Plague – Decimate the Weak [Review]

Decimate the Weak is the second full-length album by Century Media band Winds of Plague, their first with Century Media.

Decimate The Weak Winds of Plague album art

For the first time in a long time, I am confused by the contents of a metal album. When I first put on Decimate the Weak I expected to hear a pretty much straight-up symphonic black metal album, then out of nowhere they drop an unaccounted-for breakdown in the middle of a great metal song. Now, this would have not been a huge problem for me if it only really occurred once or twice, but it seems to be a reoccurring theme. I will give the guys a small amount of credit for being “original” and doing their own thing, but at some point should you not take a step back and think, ‘What the hell did we just create?’

There are moments of sheer metal brilliance, and moments filled with brutal breakdowns, but these two things never seem to have a happy marriage. It seems to be a strained coexistence that is, at times, painful for the listener. It is quite clear that Winds of Plague are influenced by a wide variety of bands, from Dimmu Borgir to something along the lines of As Blood Runs Black. It comes to no surprise to me that Century Media would pick these guys up, since they seem to like bands that stretch the boundaries some (see also: Zonaria, The Agonist).

The major problem with the album is that it is simply too short for the bands sound to manifest itself in your brain. With only 10 songs coming in at around 37 minutes (with an intro track of 1:17) it is tough to really gain any momentum when you are clearly influenced by two completely different styles of metal. Toward the end of the album you can finally start to get the sound that they were trying for, but missed the mark through most of the album. Beyond that, most of the lyrics are simply not very strong. The most wildly uninspiring of their lyrics are the more dethcore styled, where they recite things such as “You wanna see us fail? Not today mother fucker!” or “Fuck you! Get the fuck out! My face will be the last thing you see.”

Being that they are still a young band, and this is only their first major release, this band could do great things if they can get a hold on the sound they are looking for. Clearly creative and skilled musicians, once they get the reigns on the beast that is their sound, they might have something great.

Track picks: “Anthems of the Apocalypse” and “Legions”

Overall score: 6/10 devil horns

On a side note: It pains me to say this, but the album art for this album is awful. I love Samurai. Why did you have to have such a stupid album art depicting a Samurai?

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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…

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

Evisceration Plague – Cannibal Corpse [review]

Evisceration Plague is the eleventh studio album from Buffalo (New York) natives Cannibal Corpse. The album release date is February 3, 2009 on Metal Blade records.

Cannibal Corpse Evisceration Plague

Having been a fan of Cannibal Corpse for a long time now, I was EXTREMELY satisfied with their last release, Kill. Alex Webster has been quoted as saying “In Cannibal Corpse, our goal has always been to try and make each new album we record our heaviest. That goal was a bit more challenging this time since we were extremely satisfied with our last album Kill, but we knew that by working with producer Erik Rutan at Mana Recording Studios again, we would be able to start at that same level of heaviness and take it even further. Now that we can hear the finished product, I would say we’ve been able to achieve this goal, and I think our fans will agree. ‘Evisceration Plague’ has the best guitar sound we’ve ever recorded, and the entire band has never played with more precision and power. We can’t wait until you all get a chance to hear the album in early 2009, because we think you’ll be as happy with it as we are.”[1]

Now, I can’t say that he’s entirely right, but this album is definitely close to on par with Kill. It has the same crushing riffs that Cannibal Corpse always employ, and they have simply more finely tuned the sound for this album.

Straight from the first crushing track of the album, “Priests of Sodom”, this album is overpowering. It’s an all-out aural assault, really. This is not to say, however, that it is difficult to listen to. This album is simply made to sound huge. More big and loud than you can imagine. 10,000 marshall stacks loud. The greatest part about the production is the mere fact that no clipping occurs, all of the instruments are balanced, and it is not tiring to pick out each band member in the mix – until you get to the mini guitar solos. The small guitar solos featured on the album are somewhat buried. It appears that burying guitar solos a slight amount in the mix is becoming slightly more prevalent in the heavier, more brutal, styles of death metal (this includes, of course: Deathcore, Brutal Death, etc.). In terms of the “guitar sound” Alex mentioned, it’s true. The guitar sound on the album is fantastic. The rhythm guitar is absolutely crushing, and the lead guitar is crunchy, and sounds great in the shredding moments of the album.

In both Evisceration Plague and Kill the lyrical content has been a bit different than the lyrical content that Cannibal Corpse once had. It is easiest to see this by simply looking at the titles of their songs and albums. In their last two efforts, Cannibal Corpse have used less “Gore Obsessed” (sorry, could not help it) themes are less graphic. Still as brutal, but a little more serious.

Overall, Evisceration Plague is a good album – not great. It is a typically good release from Cannibal Corpse, almost their best to date. There was nothing overly awe-inspiring about the album, but is one hell of a listen.

Track picks: “Skewered from Ear to Eye”, “Unnatural”, and “Priests of Sodom” (it was hard to choose only three)

Overall Score: 8/10 Devil Horns

[1] CANNIBAL CORPSE: New Album Title, Track Listing Revealed – Nov. 3, 2008

underOATH – Lost in the Sound of Separation [Review]

Lost in the Sound of Separation is the sixth full-length studio album from the Solid State/Tooth & Nail act Underoath (or underOATH, or UNDERØATH). THe album was released September 2, 2008 (Us/Canada/Japan). The lineup for the album is the same as their last two releases, Define the Great Line and They’re Only Chasing Safety. This is another band that also falls in the horribly mundane and vague category of Christian Metalcore. The band has also been considered to be a post-hardcore band. In my opinion, the band floats in the grey area between the two genres.

Underoath Lost in the Sound of Separation

As with a few other reviews I have written, this is the first album I really sat down and listened to by Underøath. I did eventually listen to them, but this was their first of their albums I had been exposed to.

Upon my first listen, the album is sonically one of the best I’ve ever heard. There is simply no way to compare with this album in terms of the sound output. Take away what the music is and whether you like it or not, the production values on this album are perfect. Period. This is al album to be listened to with a nice pair of headphones, and deserves something far better than poorly compressed .mp3 file as you would get from say, the iTunes Music Store? Get yourself a nice pair of headphones and listen to this on a good vinyl setup if possible. It really is an experience.

Anyway, on to the music itself. Although I had not heard any full albums by Underøath before, I have herd songs. I sort of knew what to expect, but I had sort of discounted this band (regrettably) as another crappy screamo band, but with a little extra heavy. I was sadly mistaken. This band is a gargantuan band in terms of their musical performance. Great lyrics, and vocals that make me feel. Few voices I have ever heard have really spurred real emotion in me. Throughout Lost in the Sound of Separation I felt sadness, anger, hope, empathy, and so many more emotions. The rhythms and guitar melodies are always fresh, exciting, and interesting. The drummer doesn’t seem overly talented from what I heard on this record, but he sure as hell gets the job done.

The songwriting on this album is flawless as well. It feels like a gapless album when listening to it (well, other than the break between “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures” and “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” – that’s pretty obvious). The album really isn’t gapless, however, that is just how well put together the album is. Of course, they had to put the one song on the album that people who don’t like brutally heavy and raw music could enjoy… *cough cough* “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” *cough cough* Although it’s a good song, I wish that Underøath could just get rid of the soft, melodic songs they just stick into the albums. I guess it worked on the other albums, but it feels out of place on this album. At least it is at the end, and does a decent job at bringing the album to a calm, along with the last song (“Desolate Earth: The End is Near”). In my personal opinion, I would have been personally 100% content if the album had ended at the last note of “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”.

The last thing I want to address is the album artwork. Now, is it just me, or does Underoath always have the best album artwork? I don’t have the slightest clue about what this album art is all about, but it’s awesome. There’s also no way to discount the album art for They’re Only Chasing Safety or Define the Great Line.

All in all, I absolutely love this album, and it is one that every fan of raw, heavy music should OWN. Yes, own as in BUY. If not only because the album is great, then buy it for the opportunity to get the “golden ticket” that allows free passage to every Underøath show form now until forever.

Track picks: “Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” and “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”

Overall score: 9.5/10 devil horns