Tag Archives: Music

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


Mastodon – Crack the Skye [Review]

Crack the Skye is the fifth full-length release from Georgian Heavy/Progressive metallers Mastodon. This being their fourth release with Relapse Records. Crack the Skye was released globally on March 24.

Mastodon crack the skye album cover

It’s hard to find words that haven’t already been said about a Mastodon album this far, but Crack the Skye has presented listeners with an even more broad and lofty soundscape to enjoy and talk about that simply commands something new to be said. Having given many listens to each of Mastodon’s previous albums, Crack the Skye is not very surprising in terms of the direction, or the sound really, but the presentation and quality are simply beyond measure. Even the most simple and minute sounds on this album act like monoliths of sound.

Seemingly borrowing a bits of post-rock and post-metal styles, there is a lot of atmospheric textures on this album, “The Czar” showing the more prominent examples of this. They maintain this style without forgoing the Mastodon sound so familiar from Blood Mountain and Leviathan. The more coarse vocal approach has taken a bit of a back seat this time however. Mastodon also have many more angular, “twangy” guitar riffs, like those found in excess on Blood Mountain.

As always, Mastodon are technically brilliant with their instruments, most impressively – Brann Dailor on the skins. Using a veritable cornucopia of rhythms, time signatures, fills, etc. he really shows what it means to be a great metal (and even jazz) drummer. If there was ever a doubt in someone’s mind of the skill level of the members of Mastodon, this album should quite adequately quell the negative comments.

There is no doubt in my mind that this album (and band) will go down to be one of the most important metal acts in this decade. With remarkably well written, played, produced, etc. music Mastodon are bringing back a much needed prestige to the American metal scene. Where Americans were frowned upon for breeding the cancer that was Nu Metal, we have started to now be looked upon in a different light, and this album will only solidify the fact that Americans can indeed make great and pure metal.

Track picks: “The Last Baron” and “Oblivion”

Overall Score: 10/10 devil horns

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?

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

Into Eternity – The Incurable Tragedy [Review]

The Incurable Tragedy is the fifth studio release from Canadian Progressive/Power/Melodic death metal band Into Eternity. The release dates are: August 20 in Europe and September 2 in the US/Canada.

Into Eternity the Incurable Tragedy

At 38 minutes and 52 seconds, being 12 songs long, one could not call this a long album by any stretch of the imagination (granted, it still beats punk and grindcore albums in length). The thing is, this album doesn’t need to feel longer. It has so much going on within it, 39 minutes is plenty.

First off, I want to discuss that this is another one of those “theme albums” that you have heard so much about. I must admit, I have a soft spot for theme albums, but I am always quite skeptical. Most theme albums turn out to be boing, cheesy, cliche, etc. There are but few theme albums that turn out great [Leviathan by Mastodon is a shining example of this, themed after Moby Dick]. Into Eternity’s newest album really is none of these. It is tough to think of a metal album as a theme album if it’s theme is death, disease, etc. as this album’s theme is supposed to be. Quoting an interview with blabbermouth.net, “The incurable Tragedy was inspired by the deaths of [Tim] Roth’s two best friends, brothers who succumbed to cancer within two months of one another.” While I am not trying to take away anything from the fact that this indeed is a theme album, it would really not be too far-fetched to say that this deals with pretty normal subject matter for the genre they are in.

The second thing to address, and easily the most noticeable, is the incredible musicianship on this album. As always, Into Eternity delivers on all fronts as far as performance goes. All those long years (about 11 years now) of constant touring has really paid off in this department for the band. Each performance only gets better. Roth’s guitar work is above and beyond, and the vocals, as always, are enormous. Arguably the best vocals in the business are found in Into Eternity’s music (check out Stu Block’s wail, and tell me it doesn’t blow you away – you won’t, unless you’re lying of course). The new addition to the overwhelming musicianship are the interludes found on this album that were in very short supply on previous efforts, these interludes being the “Incurable Tragedy” series. THese are very ballad-like songs that follow the same general melody, then the weepy guitar chimes in, followed by the big vocals. These interludes are the emotion that this album needs to keep the “theme” in tact. Overall, the instrumentation is over the top and out of control in most cases. They tug on the reigns here and there just a little to keep the whole thing from just plain running away from them.

The biggest weakness of this album is quite easily it’s lack of originality. As I have discussed in previous reviews, this can be a double-edged sword. It helps some bands while it hurts others [sellout v. classic, losing fame v. evolving/improving]. In this case, it hurts the album a little bit, because the sound that Into Eternity has always had is not very cohesive, and changed pace quite often, with the pieces of each song jutting out. Trying to put together anything with this band is like having only square blocks to put into only round holes. Because they have so many influences, and play in so many styles, it gets to be a little much at times, and the dramatic and fast switch of styles and sound certainly adds to the fact. I happen to enjoy what it is they do, but it is a point in which deserves heavy criticism and notice. It is very much a love/hate point of discussion.

Because of this style, it is really tough to create a very cohesive album with your less-than-cohesive songs. Think of it in the way that grindcore is. Grindcore is typically all songs built section by section, with no real chorus or repeated sections, just stacking riffs and breakdowns end to end until it is a series of stuff that the band thinks sounds good. In a less extreme way, that is what Into Eternity’s sound is like. Because of this, the first couple of listens are sort of tough until you get used to what is going on, but then it quickly grows on you. The first instance in which I heard Into Eternity, I simply had no words to describe what I had just experience, none good nor bad – I was utterly speechless and confounded, sonically and aurally assaulted. THe more I listened, though, the more I love it.

All in all, the album is great at what it is good at, and awful at what it is not good at – typical over-the-top album style.

Track picks: “Diagnosis Terminal” and “Prelude to Woe”

Overall Score: 5/10 devil horns

I suggest you give it a listen just to experience the pure sonic power and diversity that this album brings to the table. Overall, it’s nothing spectacular, but does provide moments of excellence. It’s worth a listen for the absolutely bonkers melodic vocals, but little else.