Saturday, November 26, 2011

Midnight - Satanic Royalty

Writing this review is almost redundant. It's almost redundant because everything that could be said about this album has already been said in other reviews, on forums, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The common denominator between all of the mentions of this record is that it is absolutely awesome. Midnight's debut full-length "Satanic Royalty" has been one of the year's most anticipated releases. After releasing several demos, splits, and compilations, Midnight has had fans around the world anxiously awaiting this hellbeast, and the wait was certainly worth it.

"Satanic Royalty" is ten tracks of pure Venom-worshiping, punk-riddled speed metal that will get anyone's headbanging. The vocals are rough and have a dirty feel that sets a great tone throughout the album. The drums and bass both do their jobs just fine and keep the punk driven pace going at a high level. The best part of the music, though, comes from the rhythm and lead guitars. From simple, yet highly effective punk styled chords, to catchy rock riffs, all the way to speed infused ragers, this record has the perfect amount of variety. The solos and melodies are all stellar and add to the great overall sound found on "Satanic Royalty."

There are no complaints to be made about this album whatsoever. Every song is simple, catchy and memorable so it's hard to pick the best tracks but the title track and "You Can't Stop Steel" are especially fun, and so is the much slower, yet still great "Black Damnation." This album is a must have if you're a fan of some good ol' fashioned Black N' Roll, and if not then may Midnight have mercy on your false soul. 

Be sure to check out and like Midnight on Facebook at the fan page!

Best Songs
"Satanic Royalty"
"You Can't Stop Steel"
"Black Damnation"

Final Rating - 4.3/5 or 86%.

Antichrist - Forbidden World

What the hell are they putting in the water over in Sweden? It doesn't matter what year or subgenre, there is always a band playing some brilliant metal over there, and Antichrist is indeed one of those bands. The first two demos the band put out were pretty decent, but the band's debut full-length "Forbidden World" is miles ahead of their previous work.

Now, if you're going to complain about the unoriginal band name, or even more unoriginal song titles, then you need to go away. If you're going to complain about the lack of innovation or technical prowess, then you are an absolute false and should just avoid this album. The sound of this album isn't an unfamiliar one, but it is a timeless one that is always fantastic with the proper songwriting. The riffs are pretty fast for the most part, but there are some nice midpaced riffs and tremolo bursts that fit into the mix perfectly. Along with the variety of riffs, the solos and melodies are superb and add a cool atmosphere at times, one that isn't very common in the thrash genre. The drums and bass don't really stand out, but they do their job. The real standout here, however, are the vocals. Steken's vocals sound like a sick combination of "Show No Mercy" era Tom Araya and Paul Baloff, but with a savage twist that adds to the frantic sound magnificently.

Antichrist doesn't waste anytime getting into the straightforward thrashing madness, kicking off the album with "Dark Sorcery." A track that kicks off with some thrashy riffs and moves along smoothly, until the second half of the track that features some terrific solos and melodies. The next two songs don't let up on the thrashing assault, but Antichrist knows how to give the listeners a break, with the minute and a half instrumental "Forbidden World." A clean guitar interlude that sends chills down the listener's spine. After that, is the best track on the record, "Necropolis." Clocking in at just over eight minutes, this track features everything Antichrist excels at. Headbang-inducing, midpaced riffs, blistering fast thrash riffs, catchy hammer-on filled riffs and awesome solos.

Unfortunately, "Forbidden World" is not perfect. While Antichrist is perfectly capable of conjuring up some wicked riffs and entire songs as a whole, some tracks just don't measure up to the rest and are horrifyingly mediocre. The tracks "Militia of Death" and "Death Rays" are in particular, snore inducing. They just seem to plod along and go through the motions, serving as filler.

Overall, Antichrist is one of the best new bands out today, with their brand of savage and eerie thrash. If every song on this record was as amazing as the track "Necropolis" or "Victims of the Blade" then this could have easily been one of the best records of the year, but it is still better than most band's outputs, making this a must have record.

Best Tracks
"Dark Sorcery"
"Victims of the Blade"

Be sure to check out and like Antichrist on Facebook!

Final Rating - 4.25/5 or 85%.

Paralyzer - Hellish Demise EP

The thrashing quartet from Tennesee known as Paralyzer are out to make a name for themselves and they deliver a pretty sweet four track EP in "Hellish Demise." Now, Paralyzer are far from being the most unique thrash band out in 2011, but they have managed to write some decent thrash and they definitely have the ability to get your headbanging.

The EP kicks off with the track "Deathcult." After a nice clean intro, the thrashing begins. The riffs will likely remind the listener of Overkill at times, and the gang vocals are a nice touch. Overall, this is a solid track and a great way to kick off the EP.

Next up is the song "Genocide" This is probably the weakest song on the EP. It's pretty generic and doesn't really stimulate the listener much. Luckily they make up for this with the next couple of tracks.

The title track is the next one up and it is easily better than the last. Catchy and headbangable riffs are always good and they come in abundance here. The gang vocals once again provide a nice added layer to the song.

The final song here is indeed the best. "Ritual Gates" gets straight into it with some fast riffs, accompanied nicely by some fast, shredding solos. Much like the preceding track, catchy riffs come in plenty here. Paralyzer did a great job here, saving the best for last.

Paralyzer isn't the best new thrash band out, nor are they extremely memorable but they provide a fun listen and are certainly worth checking out.

Be sure to check out Paralyzer, and like them on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vektor - Outer Isolation

With great power, comes great responsibilities or in Vektor's case: With a modern masterpiece like "Black Future," comes extremely high expectations. Let's get straight to the point; this album did not surpass its predecessor. But it's not all bad, because this album still destroys and is better than a lot of albums that came out this year, but topping "Black Future" was a near impossible task. While the size of Vektor's fanbase may not reflect just how gifted these guys are, every one of their fans will tell you that this band is one of the best around. Every single one of those fans would be 100% correct too. 

This band is one of the more perplexing bands out today, with their unique and nearly untouchable brand of metal. At the core of the sound is thrash, but if you think this band sounds at all like Exodus or Slayer, then you are severely mistaken. Honestly, there aren't any bands that Vektor could be compared to, but that's probably a good thing. Their sophomore album for Heavy Artillery records and third overall "Outer Isolation" is easily one of the most anticipated albums of 2011 and it definitely delivers.

The overall sound on "Outer Isolation" isn't really any different than the sound on "Black Future," but when your band sounds the way that Vektor does, you're allowed to write your music however you want. However, one noticeable difference is that Vektor sounded a bit darker on their previous release than they do here. "Outer Isolation" is a little more progressive, but also thrashier. While every song on here sounds different from the next, only one song needs to be mentioned. "Echoless Chamber" is probably Vektor's best song to date. This song has every element that the band is known for and is meshed very nicely into one track. It has the eerie, yet enchanting melodies, the thrashy riffs, clean interludes, intense drumming, insane vocals and the general weirdness that is Vektor

Despite the complexity of the music, this review is being cut short because this album is nearly undescribable and simply needs to be heard. Some random guy on the internet talking about how awesome this album will not get the point across, so go out and get your hands on this beast. Once you give this band a listen, you will be hooked, and then sucked into outer isolation. 

Best Tracks
"Echoless Chamber"
"Cosmic Cortex"
"Dark Creations, Dead Creators"

Be sure to check out Vektor on Facebook!

Final Rating - 4.4/5 or 88%.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Invection - Facet of Aberration

Everytime it seems like the thrash genre has been exhausted of any kind of originality, a band like Invection comes along and makes things interesting again. Their long-awaited debut album "Facet of Aberration" successfully pushes the boundaries on what thrash should sound like. Invection managed to incorporate some minor Gothenburg influences without going overboard and completely straying away from the thrash core, but it's not just the touches of Gothenburg styled metal, there are also subtle things that give them their sound and as the cliche goes: "You've got to enjoy the little things."

The first thing most listeners will notice is the vocals. They're not your traditional thrash vocals, but more of a hardcore style. A lot people complain about the vocals and there are others who feel they fit, with the latter being the correct assessment. Andrew Kubiak's style is effective because he uses the vocals as another instrument. On some songs, his vocals move along smoothly and keep the same pace as the music and it works, but on other songs, "Two Faced Lie" and "Solace in Mediocrity," in particular, he shifts into another gear and his vocals instantly become a highlight of the song. On the chorus of "Two Faced Lie," the intensity that is added by the vocals is ridiculous. It almost feels like your eardrums will collapse, it's so damn heavy.

Another strength of "Facet of Aberration" is the variety of the songs. Some tracks are pure thrashers ("Impulsive Violence" and "Drug Justice"), some are more on the melodic and technical side ("Formication" and "As the Locust Starve") and then there are the songs that mix the styles perfectly ("Derealization" and "Broken Silence"). "Formication" is probably the most experimental song as it takes a more melodic path than any of the other tracks. It isn't the most headbangable song, but it's still a quality track with some decent riffs. Anyone who listens to this and thinks Invection is incapable of thrashing will be proven sorely mistaken when they listen to the mid-paced mosher that is "Solace in Mediocrity." The first riff of the song is impossible to not headbang to and the riffs that follow aren't any more mellow. This song is guaranteed to be a live favorite and a venue's worst nightmare.

The focal point for any kind of metal should always be the riffs, with other things coming after. When a band can conjure up some memorable and fun riffs, but also surround them with excellence in the other areas of songwriting, it's amazing, and Invection accomplished this. The drumming on this record is superb. The drum intro for "Two Faced Lie" is dangerously catchy, and the drumming that accompanies the melodic intro of "Formication" is stellar as well. Along with these exceptional moments, the drums do a terrific job of adding some speed and heaviness throughout the album. The other main highlight of this record is the lead work. Just about every solo is great and different from the next. The track "Derealization" features some of the best lead work that can found in the entire NWOTM. 

Invection is the perfect example of how to be innovative while simultaneously being undeniably old-school. This is also a band that can easily be appreciated by youngsters and old timers alike. "Facet of Aberration" is an album that could and should put Invection in the same league as Warbringer and Toxic Holocaust, but only time will tell how far these guys go.

Be sure to check out and like Invection on Facebook!

Final Rating - 4.4/5 or 88%.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Artificial Brain Demo Review

It's not really death metal. It's not exactly grindcore and it's not quite progressive or black metal. 

It's Artificial Brain and it's pretty much in a genre of its own. 

The Long Island band's demo (available for free on features three stellar tracks that are really out there. 

The first is the song "Tongues" which is all over the place. The melodic passages of the songs feature time signatures changing at random and great cookie monster vocals. It's a fast one that gets right to the point of introducing you to Artificial Brain, making it a good choice for the first track. 

Next comes "Spacid," the angry middle child of this release. It hits hard and throws caution to the wind as off time riffs and ever shifting technicality and speed of the double bass will make you lose your mind. It's faster than the previous one and twice as reckless.

Finally, the closer "Lightwaves Birthing Ages" is a lot more tame as it is slower than the others at times and a lot more simple when it wants to be. It's still sinfully technical, but what pulls this one through is the rhythm of the drums and the growling vocals. The song feels like lightwaves birthing ages if that makes any sense at all because there is no other way to explain it.

Artificial Brain's demo is an interesting one that listeners will be unsure what to think of it at first. The different elements make the band hard to find an appropriate genre to be placed in, which seems like what they want. If all else fails, don't question it - just enjoy the wonderful sounds of your mind exploding with Artificial Brain

Be sure to check out Artificial Brain on Facebook!

Written by Chris Butera

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Funerus - Reduced to Sludge

By a quick show of hands, how many of you like filthy, doomy and all around evil sounding death metal? If you said yes, then you will definitely enjoy Funerus' long awaited sophomore album "Reduced to Sludge." It's a shame that this band isn't more well known because they are  fantastic and anyone who has heard their debut album "Festering Earth" knows that. A band that most people are probably more familiar with, though, is a death metal band that hails from the same place as Funerus and even features a mutual member. That band is Incantation. That's right, the same Incantation who has decimated listeners for over 20 years now, shares mainman John McEntee with Funerus, so that alone should tell you that this band is the real deal.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, let's talk about the sound of this record. First of all, the production here is top notch. The sound is heavy, clear and still manages to retain an evil and dirty feel. Every doom-laden chord and riff hits the listener like a ton of bricks and every melody adds to the sinister sound. The drums and bass do a terrific job of making sure that "Reduced to Sludge" is as heavy as possible, as well as make sure it has the tightest sound. And of course the vocals are equally impressive. Jill McEntee delivers horrifying growls that really complete the Funerus sound, similar to the way that Chris Reifert (Autopsy) does. 

The album starts the way any great album should, and that's with one of the better tracks in "Behind the Door." The track begins with an eerie and dark sounding melody that fades in and is closely followed by heavy chords and drums that immediately let the listener know they're in for something great. The rest of the track is more along the mid-paced side of the tracks, but Funerus proves they can effectively mix some faster riffs with the doomier elements, especially on the track "Bedpan Commando." The faster verses move along extremely smooth as McEntee's savage vocals lead the way before being slammed with heavier interludes, making this one of the more memorable tracks that is sure to captivate listeners for quite some time. And then there is arguably the best track on the record in the title track. A song that conveys the act of being reduced to sludge perfectly as it starts with some nice death metal tremolos only to be followed by doom inspired riffs that are so vile sounding the listener feels as if they are now covered in sludge.

At the end of the day, "Reduced to Sludge" won't be remembered as a landmark death metal album, but it certainly does serve as a great reminder that there is still quality death metal to be heard in 2011. 

Best Songs
"Behind the Door"
"Bedpan Commando"
"Reduced to Sludge"

Be sure to check out and like Funerus on Facebook!

Final Rating - 4.3/5 or 86%.