Tag Archives: metalcore

Suffer The Destroyer – The Silent Majority [Review]

Suffer the Destroyer is a relatively new hardcore/metalcore/deathcore/mosh band from Boston. I wish I could tell you that I know exactly what style or genre of mosh-heavy music Suffer The Destroyer would be most closely associated with, but I can’t. In any case, they’ve played a handful of local gigs, recorded a six song EP called The Silent Majority, and are now scheming to take over the world (or so I assume).

The Silent Majority really fills more of a demo role than an actual EP, as the recording quality is pretty rough. While there are plenty of criticisms about the recording quality, they’re not really important in the grand scheme of this demo, especially considering it’s plenty good enough to hear all the instruments and what’s going on, as well as being decently mixed. What the recording quality does give you, though, is a good indicator at how well the band performs (there really isn’t any “studio magic” to be found). It also helps to capture the band’s energy without the assistance of bass drops (and thank goodness for that).

Musically, The Silent Majority is a rather odd mix of metalcore styles that range from mega-heavy beatdowns to melodic bridges. There’s some pretty original-sounding riffs and vocal lines, but also a few “tried-and-true” riffs scattered throughout the demo. Even more, there were a couple of musically surprising elements, such as the thick bass groove driving a section of gang vocals smack in the middle of “Iconoclast” right before it gets back to the circle-pitting verse. You’ll find groovy riffs, gang vocals, circle pit chugs, spacey guitar licks, brutal beatdowns and everything in between on this twenty minute demo.

As a demo, The Silent Majority is about everything you could ask for. It shows the versatility and musical interests of the band, isn’t too long, and actually has a couple of solid songs. If you’re looking for much more than that, you’re not really going to find that here. I have no doubts, however, that the next release from Suffer The Destroyer will bring the heat on another level.

In any case, you might as well download it and give it a spin. It is free, after all. Check it out below:

Converge – Axe To Fall [Review]

Everyone, go home, Converge is officially this year’s winner. Few albums have floored me so immediately, and from start to finish, as Axe To Fall has. From the opening bass line to the serene ending songs, this album teeters on the edge of being completely overwhelming, but never crosses that fine line.

converge axe to fall cover

The first track of the album, “Dark Horse” couldn’t do a better job at setting the pace for the entire album. It features grooves, riffage, and everything Converge does perfectly on this record. If somehow, at the 1:57 mark of “Dark Horse” you are not kicking holes in walls, smashing your keyboard, or at the very least metal thrashing mad – you either aren’t human or you hate heavy music. From there on out, the album only further careens into the dark depths of chaos, beating your soul into submission with furious riffage and raucous rhythm changes. It’s amazingly cliché to say such things, but this album really will strike terror into your soul with such painful discord in each and every note.

Beyond the furious riffage and bludgeoning rhythms, the songs are written with very diverse structures, and flow amazingly well. They’re connected to the point where the line between songs is blurred, but not so much that it is unclear when you’ve hit a new song. It’s not foot-to-the-throat the entire time, either (something I feel limits many bands and albums in terms of actual songwriting). On my first listen through I was extremely shocked by the last two songs on the album, “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World”, and how they’re considerably less ballistic than the other eleven tracks on the album. Though a bit suspicious, once the album subsided to silence it all made sense. My ears were tingling, my blood was pumping, and I was completely and utterly speechless. I can say without doubt that I have never heard an album as emotional as this album. I don’t mean that in the “our girlfriend of two weeks broke up with us now we wanna cry” way, either. This album from top to bottom is filled with rage, pain, joy, fear, pride, and most of all passion. This truly is music you can feel.

Sonically, this album is near perfect. Nothing is too much or too little, and it is meant to be played way too loud. You can pick out each and every single instrument at any given moment, and can hear each and every nuance that is contained in the album (and boy are there a lot of them). To be completely truthful, I was never quite sold on Converge before Axe To Fall. I enjoyed Jane Doe and No Heroes, but this album is truly in its own league. I’m unsure if people who loved the old Converge stuff the best will like it, but Axe To Fall certainly cannot disappoint and will most definitely score the band troves of new fans.

Song picks: “Dark Horse” and “Reap What You Sow”

Overall Score: 10/10 devil horns

Architects (UK) – Hollow Crown [Review]

Hollow Crown is the third full-length release from UK metalcore band Architects. Released on Century Media January 26 in Europe and February 10 in the United States.

Architects Hollow Crown

There have been a lot of things dubbed as “metalcore” in the last decade, but most of it is melodic death metal, or some other bastard child of metal, normally incorporating a break down here and there. Architects, however, are the real deal. This album is as purely metalcore as I think I have ever heard (not by the widely accepted definition). The first track from the album has the ever familiar guitar tone from The Agonist, Derelict, and Strapping Young Lad (these guys aren’t Canadian though, they’re English). Throughout the album, the incorporates things from metal, hardcore, and even post-hardcore (namely the clean vocals that sound straight out of the newer Underoath). They move through many different sounds throughout the album for a metalcore album.

There are so many time and rhythm changes on this album it makes my head spin. It seems incredibly cohesive considering this fact. All the sections in each song, and from song to song, it all transitions quite well. The best part of the album, however, are the overly hardcore lyrics. Beyond that, and a more interesting talking point, is the guitar work. There are a lot of really great harmonies,riffs, and fills all throughout this album. The other notable piece of this album is the production. I happen to enjoy it, but it’s technically not all that great. There’s a lot of stuff that sort of gets lost in the mix, and it’s all mixed really loud (lots of compression, like everything out there these days sadly). I mean, it works, because this album is clearly meant to be loud, but when the clean vocals are used, it would be nice to have some actual dynamic.

After listening to their entire discography, this band has really got me hooked. It’s a truly brutal album that doesn’t seem to complex or out of the ordinary, but it’s the little things that make this album great. The pinch harmonics, pic scrapes, cool harmonies, unexpected breaks, etc. This album kicked my ass the whole way through. I’m not sure this one will leave my regular iTunes rotation for a while.

Track picks: “Dead March” and “Early Grave”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

The Agonist – Lullabies for the Dormant Mind [Review]

Lullabies for the Dormant Mind is the sophomore release from Century Media metalcore band The Agonist. It’s quite clear from their sound that they hail from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The album was released February 23 in Europe and March 10 in North America by Century Media Records.

the agonist lullabies for the dormant mind cd album cover art

Given that their vocalist, Alyssa White-Gluz was a contestant on Canadian Idol (like American Idol for Canada, for those who don’t get it), this band has some pretty intense screams and subject matter – on this release particularly. After Only Once Imagined I did not have very high hopes for this band. They were boring and unoriginal metalcore and had very one-dimensional vocals. The only appeal was that the singer was a chick, and a hot one at that (still the only reason I think Lacuna Coil has fans). As you can imagine, a fiery personality such as Alyssa would want to avoid this, and make sure that people know she has chops. She made herself quite clear throughout Lullabies for the Dormant Mind, and brought more of an arsenal than last time. Many of the songs are more progressive death metal, and black metal sounding than the tired metalcore sound they had last time. This is not, however, to say that the approach they have taken has changed all that much. It is still quite clearly the same band.

The first, and most noticeable difference is aforementioned style change, but is not the most noteworthy. The biggest turn off from The Agonist for me was the lack of good songwriting. They had a pleasing sound, and were decent to listen to, but far too predictable. They seemed to have thrown out whatever formula they had been using, and simply went for it this time around.

While not groundbreaking, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind is at the very least fresh and interesting. The biggest barrier for this band, however, seems to be a lack of creativity in the guitar section, as well as the constant over-production. There are so many unnecessary string arrangements laid over the tracks, the most glaringly obvious being in the second track of the album, “…and Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep”. Ironically enough, this is the song that most exemplifies how the band really can come together and make some seriously brutal metal (each half of the song is almost entirely different from the other).

The other notable point of the album that I cannot forego mentioning is the a cappella version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. There is obviously a fair amount of studio magic on the track, and I am not very sure how much of it that Alyssa actually sang, but it came out perfectly. All the harmonies were spot-on, and it sits in just the right spot on the album. Whomever made the call to allow this on the album made a great one.

Given the fact that this is their sophomore release, it’s a good (but not great) one. They have avoided their sophomore slump, and have made great strides toward writing a seriously awesome metal album. If they continue to evolve and refine their sound, they will be unstoppable in a couple years.

Track picks: “..and Their Eulogies Sing Me to Sleep” and “When the Bough Breaks”

Overall Score: 7/10 devil horns

As a side note, the guys over in Derelict opened for The Agonist on the first show of their album debut tour, which would have bean a great show.

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

The Heaviest Matter of the Universe Awards 2008

So, I thought it might be cool if I came up with a bunch of superlatives for metal albums in ’08 to showcase more than just my top ten. So, for those who don’t know what a superlative is, you most likely had nothing to do with a high school yearbook. They’re like awards that you give to people in your class, like “class clown” or “best smile”, etc. These will be music/band related ones. I hope you enjoy!

Bests:
Vocals: Iconoclast – Heaven Shall Burn
Drumming: Planetary Duality – The Faceless
Shredding: Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Newcomer: Relentless – Brother Von Doom
Production: Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Lyrics: The Way of All Flesh – Gojira
Comeback: Traced in Air – Cynic
Style Change: Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Name (album): Lost in the Sound of Separation – Underoath
Name (band): This is Exile – Whitechapel
Album Art: Twilight of the Thunder God – Amon Amarth
Album opener: “My Will Be Done” from The March – Unearth

Worsts
Production: Death Magnetic – Metallica
Style change: Midheaven – The Human Abstract
Lyrics: Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Name (album): Love and Other Disasters – Sonic Syndicate
Name (band): Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Album Art: The Incurable Tragedy – Into Eternity

Mosts
Overachieving (bad): Midheaven – The Human Abstract
Overachieving (good): We Are The Nightmare – Arsis
Controversial: All Hope is Gone – Slipknot
Brutal: This is Exile – Whitechapel
Shredding: Zero Order Phase – Jeff Loomis
Overrated: The Incurable Tragedy – Into Eternity
Disappointing: Overcome – All That Remains
Erratic: We Are The Nightmare – Arsis
Technical: obZen – Meshuggah
Surprising (bad): Overcome – All That Remains
Surprising (good): Dreamer – Haste the Day
Progressive: Traced in Air – Cyinc
Complete: Holographic Universe – Scar Symmetry

Leasts
Surprising (bad): A Sense of Purpose – In Flames
Surprising (good): Motörizer – Motörhead
Technical: Torn – Evergrey
Shredding: This is Exile – Whitechapel
Controversial: Watershed – Opeth
Progressive: Motörizer – Motörhead
Complete: Torn – Evergrey

Miscellaneous
Album of the year: Traced in Air – Cyinc
Single of the year: “Vacuity” from The Way of All Flesh – Gojira
Riff of the year: at about 1:10 of “Servants to the Night” from We Are the Nightmare – Arsis
Guitar solo of the year: at about 1:23 of “Awaken the Dreamers” from Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Interlude of the year: “Memories of a Glass Sanctuary” from Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Fastest: Ultra Beatdown – DragonForce
Biggest wannabe: Shogun – Trivium

So, yeah, that’s what I have come up with. Let me know how you feel! Got some you think I should add or change? I’d love to hear the criticism.

Iconoclast: Pt. 1 (The Final Resistance) – Heaven Shall Burn [Review]

Iconoclast is the fifth full-length studio album from German Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal band Heaven Shall Burn. The album was released on January 28/February 5, 2008 on Century Media.

Heaven Shall Burn the Iconoclast part 1 the Final Resistance

First off, I want to comment on how absolutely awesome this album art is. One of my favorite styles of album art, and looks sort of like the cover art for Roorback by Sepultura (though it’s a bit of a stretch). Awesome work, whomever you are. I’ll look in the liner notes eventually to actually check the artist’s name.

Anyway, on to the music. As an album, this one is in the top ten metal albums of 2008 for me, easy. As with many of the bands I review here, this was my first taste of the wonderful german musicians. From start to finish, this album blew me away. I immediately went out and purchased the rest of their albums. Well, went to Amazon.com anyway.

I’ll touch on the few things this band do wrong on this album first.

… Oh wait, I can’t really find anything. There are no actual “flaws” in this album. I’ve heard people complain about the “Static X-esque” dance part of “A Quest For Resistance” but I don’t see the upbeat rhythm a problem at all. I personally like it, and think it fits in quite well with the album.

Now, since there’s not really anything I can see that they did wrong with the album, there are some things that weren’t perfect, and there were a few things that were done impeccably.

The single best part of this album is the vocals. Marcus Bishchoff has found one of the coolest recorded vocals I have ever heard. A majority of the vocals on the album are recorded twice. Once with Marcus screaming in a high or low tone, and the other the opposite. The vocals sounds to visceral and dark. They can be spine-chilling at times. In the first vocal parts of “Endzeit” it is quite easy to tell that this is happening, and it works to perfection.

The next best part of the album are the lyrics. They are a bit cliché in subject matter, but are incredibly well written. Take this excerpt from “Joel”:

“A preacher in a palace, deriding Luther’s fight
jugglers rise to icons, fiddlers playing saints
selling hope and warship mammon
blindness, fear, delusion – their intrinity
as you have paid the price, welcome to paradise”

From song to song, this album delivers on all fronts. Each song as intense as the last (excluding the interlude toward the end of the album, “Equinox”), and never once do I get bored listening to this album. I don’t even skip the interlude when I listen to the album. Because of the way the album ends, on two separate instrumental tracks, the latter being more intense and unresolved, I always find myself wanting to listen to the album again. Now, many people might fins this as a problem, but I love the idea. It’s absolutely brilliant to end an album on a slightly unresolved note (hypothetically) to keep the listener’s attention. “Atonement” is filled with such build up, such power, and such dissonance it always leaves me wanting more, even though I an never unsatisfied. There have been very few albums that have truly brought out my inner music glutton, this being one of them.

So, this is a great album. Perfect? Of course not, don’t be silly and naive. This album has hooked me, however.

Track picks: “Endzeit” and “Joel” – “Atonement” gets an honorable mention.

Overall score: 10/10 devil horns