Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sewercide - Severe Trauma [Demo]

Despite brutal death metal being one of the worst subgenres that I've ever come across, brutal thrash is indeed some of the best kind of thrash (and metal in general) around. Demolition Hammer, Morbid Saint, Sadus and the like are all incredible acts that pushed the limits of the music beyond the norm without turning into another genre completely. Recently, Condition Critical has been the go-to band for the sound, and NWOTM giants Warbringer's earliest material is definitely top-notch as well. Australia's Sewercide is now another band embracing the brutality, hoping to carve out a niche in the sub-sub-genre as one of the best up and coming acts in the metal underground. And with this two song demo "Severe Trauma," they're well on their way up the proverbial ladder. 

The demo kicks off with the track "Pyrocataclysm" (Gee, I wonder where they come up with that title?) and immediately the headbanging commences. The riffage is so akin to Demolition Hammer and Morbid Saint, it's scary. Seriously, these riffs wouldn't sound out of place on the masterpieces that are "Epidemic of Violence" and "Spectrum of Death" at all. The vocals also draw a lot of influence from Steve Reynolds, though they're not as powerful, but still quite good. The scream during the break of the song is incredibly reminiscent of the ones that were found in abundance on songs like "Epidemic of Violence" and "Skull Fracturing Nightmare," making the inevitable Demolition Hammer comparisons that much more accurate. The second track "Seismic Annihilation" is another rampant siege of headbanging violence that has a little more variation in the straight-forward thrashing, with a little movement along the fretboard which sounds great. 

These guys are definitely one of the best new thrash acts I've come across, and I say this not only because they draw so much influence from the namesake of this webzine, but because they have that undeniable energy and passion for their music which automatically separates them from the multitudes of generic retro-thrashers that clog up the underground like a suffocating noxious gas. Fans of thrash or devastating music that could level a small village, need to check out Sewercide and commence headbanging until their vertebrae collapse.

Be sure to check out and like Sewercide on Facebook!

"Seismic Annihilation"

Final Rating
4.25/5 or 85%. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HeXeN - Being and Nothingness

Damn near every new thrash band out these days is accused of being unoriginal or generic, but HeXeN has always been one of the more peculiar acts around with their melodic thrash. Their debut record "State of Insurgency" is easily one of my favorites of the whole NWOTM, and it still gets a few plays a year, so needless to say this has been one of the more anticipated albums for myself. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed. Not that "Being and Nothingness" is a bad record, because it isn't, it just wasn't as good as its predecessor. I had the looming fear that the band might take a much more progressive route to this album and ditch a lot of the thrashing energy that they had before and I was right to an extent. 

The music here is pretty much what happens when a bunch of guys who were classically trained in their instruments decide to play one of the most immature and nontechnical subgenres of metal. Legends of the genre in Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Morbid Saint and the like didn't become the icons that they are because they were technically proficient, but because they knew how to harness an insane amount of energy and catchiness in their music, which is something that HeXeN managed to accomplish on their debut while also mixing in a fair amount of melody and technical proficiency, but a lot of that energy is gone here and replaced with arpeggios and odd structures. "Defcon Rising" is one of the few tracks that features boring riffage and some decent melodies, but then it randomly goes into an acoustic section and other weird riffs that just seem to be there because the guitarists know how to play complex music. 

Once again, I must reiterate that I'm not bashing the band or the music, but it seems like their was more focus on the "look at me, I know how to play my instrument really well," rather than writing catchy songs. "Grave New World" and "Indefinite Archetype" are a couple of the tracks that are reminiscent of the early days of the band as they find the right balance of melody, progressiveness, and thrashing goodness. I'm very happy that Andre didn't try and bring in any clean vocals, because that would've taken the proggy-ness of the music way too far, instead he opted to stick with his harsh vocals that are intelligible and suit the music well. The solos are top-notch as you would expect with the two incredibly talented axemen, and Carlos Cruz's drumming is spectacular. Every song on "Being and Nothingness" is passable, but they all could have been better, though this is coming from someone who disdains progressive music, so I'm sure there are fans out there who appreciate it more than I. Either way, this is still a solid record that most of HeXeN's fans will enjoy. On the much more positive side of things, this album definitely has a certain feeling to it that promises it could grow on me with a few more listens and hopefully I'll be enlightened and soon enough it'll be an album that I enjoy as much as the masterful "State of Insurgency."

Be sure to check out and like HeXeN on Facebook!

"Grave New World"
"Private Hell"
"Indefinite Archetype"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exumer - Fire & Damnation

"Fire & Damnation" marks the third release for veteran thrashers Exumer, and their first release since 1987. Of course, Exumer are just one of countless bands that have reunited over the past decade or so, and given the quality of some recent releases from other bands, it’s not unfair to be skeptical of this. Despite being a bit late to the game, Exumer’s comeback album is actually one of the stronger ones. Thrash has not been replaced by groove or overtly melodic passages. Instead, "Fire & Damnation" is 33 minutes of non-stop riffs.

Before even discussing the songs, the most noticeable part of this album is the quality of production. Given the improvement in technology since the 80’s, you would expect every band to have an insane guitar crunch, but it seems like only Exodus really managed to pull that off. Luckily, Exumer have put together an unbelievable guitar tone that rivals the new Exodus sound. This is complimented by the fantastic drum tone. The snare is high-pitched, but doesn’t suffer from the tinny sound that brutal death metal bands love. On top of this, original singer Mem Von Stein is back, and he sounds fantastic. His vocals aren’t extremely harsh, but they are still pretty heavy. The closest comparison is probably Mille Petrozza’s vocals on Hordes of Chaos.

The album kicks off with the title track, which sets the tone for the entire album. “Vermin of the Sky” is really not that different, but is another headbanging tune. As you might imagine, the rest of the album isn’t really any different. Despite this, the first half of the record is a lot stronger; the songs are more memorable and the riffing isn’t quite as generic. Unfortunately, some of the songs on the second half are a little too predictable. Luckily, however, this half of the album also has two of the more interesting songs, which are the re-recorded tracks “Fallen Saint” and “I Dare You”. Former vocalist Paul Arakari does vocals on “Fallen Saint” and, while not as good as Mem, he still does a decent job. Meanwhile, Mem completely destroys on “I Dare You”. This track really surprised me, as I hadn’t heard the original. The chorus is made to sing along to, and the tremolo picked riffing is perfect.

Simply put, Exumer know how to thrash. This album is somewhat of a modern version of Possessed by Fire, and that’s fine by me. I won’t drag out this review any further, because if you liked Exumer before, you’ll like them now.

Be sure to check out and like Exumer on Facebook!

“Fire & Damnation"
“Vermin of the Sky”
“I Dare You”

Final Rating:
4.2/5 or 84%

Written by Scott

Trial - The Primordial Temple

Yup, we've got yet another top-notch release from Sweden. It's gotten to the point where anytime a new band from Sweden pops up, it becomes an obligation for myself to give them a chance, simply based on all of the quality and quantity that has been coming from the Nordic land since the spawning of the metal genre itself. Trial is a band that plays some good ol' fashioned heavy metal, though not like their fellow countrymen in Enforcer, Air Raid, Katana, etc, but more like their other Swedish mates in Portrait and In Solitude who take a darker and more Mercyful Fate-driven sound, rather than opting for the Iron Maiden worshiping (although, there is plenty of Iron Maiden moments on this record). If you're a fan of the aforementioned bands, then read no further, just buy "The Primordial Temple," I promise you'll love it. 

While an act like In Solitude drowns the listener in gloomy and dismal brilliance, Trial manages to take the listener on a ride of sorts, a ride that reaches exciting highs and beautiful, melancholic lows. The album opener "Flaming Fate" is one of the more upbeat tracks on this record, with its blistering intro solos and catchy midpaced riffage that is perfectly intertwined with some great melodies. The title track is one of the more somber songs due to the dreary chords that provide a terrific backdrop for Johansson's vocals, which are very soothing to the ear in their clean delivery that also adds a feeling-evoking ambiance. "Opener of the Way" is definitely one of the more unorthodox tracks on "The Primordial Temple" due to the weird melodies and riff structures, but it is solid nonetheless and conjures up the same dark feeling I've come to know and love from this band.

The other songs are similar to the ones that were already mentioned, except for the album closer "Phosphoros," a 13-minute epic that captures all of the feeling that the other songs had. Ellstrom's lead work on this record is phenomenal to say the very least. Every solo is stellar and every melody and harmony follows suit, making for a soundtrack of guitar playing excellence. The bassist also gets some moments to shine (the title track) and the drummer's performance is strong as well. With every member of the band delivering such a tremendous amount of effort, it's no wonder why "The Primordial Temple" is as great of a record as it is. Trial is a band that should not be overlooked whatsoever, though I don't expect them to because they hail from the greatest metal country in the world. Oh, and their music is fucking awesome too. 

Be sure to check out and like Trial on Facebook!

"Flaming Fate"
"The Primordial Temple"
"The Sorceress' Command"

Final Rating
4.4/5 or 88%. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inverloch - Dusk | Subside [EP]

Whenever I come across a band and hear that some of the members were from "awesome band from the past" my interest in this new project automatically grows, and for good reason. Bands like Disma, Masada, and Hail of Bullets are just a few of the stellar new bands out these days carrying on where their former bands left off. So when I heard that Inverloch featured members of the legendary diSEMBOWELMENT, I was obliged to check these guys out. "Transcendance Into the Peripheral" was and still is a monumental record; an absolute colossus of death/doom excellence that can only be rivaled by few bands, making Inverloch's debut EP "Dusk | Subside" a mandatory listen for myself. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed, but pleasantly surprised at how well this three-song EP came out. 

I say that I was surprised because I wasn't expecting for this band to be able to tap into what made diSEMBOWELMENT so brilliant, but Inverloch created some good ol' fashioned gloom and doom that doesn't taint the Australian masters' name at all. The first track "Within Frozen Beauty" starts with utter silence before a clean guitar begins to fade into the track, which sets up a very bleak and cold atmosphere (sound familiar?) before some very heavy, low-end tremolos break through. This track is really just a riff-fest, as it switches so effortlessly between death metal tremolo madness, great midpaced riffs, and tremendous solos, all while the beast-like howls of the vocalist shatter the listener's eardrums. The next song "The Menin Road" is complete worship of the band that preceded this one, but it's a little boring. It almost seems like these guys were trying to ride the eerie and desolate sound that they mastered before, but it comes across as unoriginal and boring with only one riff and random shrieks in the background. 

"Shadows of the Flame" is more or less like the first song on this EP, though the riffs aren't quite up to snuff, but the same dreadful feeling is present and the subtle progressive elements are a nice touch. With only three songs on "Dusk | Subside" there isn't much more that can be said for it. Fans of diSEMBOWELMENT more likely than not, won't be disappointed by these songs and I see no reason why they would be. Even in a scene crowded with top-notch death metal acts from all around the world, Inverloch probably won't find any problems getting to the top with their doom-tinged assault, and the thought of another future release from this group could be all they need. 

Be sure to check out and like Inverloch on Facebook!

"Within Frozen Beauty"
"Shadows of the Flame"

Final Rating
4.25/5 or 85%. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dragonforce - The Power Within

For some strange reason, Dragonforce is one of the most polarizing bands in all of metal. They took a subgenre that was already disliked by quite a few metal fans, and used every cliché they could find in order to make the music as over the top as possible. Tales of warriors, battles, and epic journeys were accompanied by hyper-fast music, soaring vocals, and needlessly complex guitar solos. After four albums with vocalist Z.P. Theart, Dragonforce was in need of a major change. This isn’t a knock against Z.P.; after all, he’s one of the greatest singers in all of power metal, but the songwriting had become stale, with each album being worse than the one that preceded it. It was not until Ultra Beatdown that Dragonforce created a bad album. Now, with new singer Marc Hudson, the band managed to get back on track.

Stylistically, this album is very similar to the other four. Everything I mentioned about those four albums still rings true for "The Power Within", but this is definitely a different beast. For one thing, the songs aren’t anywhere near as long. This is Dragonforce’s shortest album yet, despite having more songs than all of their other records. For most people, this will definitely be a breath of fresh air, as the guitar solos were the only part of the music trimmed. Personally, I loved the 3-4 minutes of pure guitar insanity, so this wasn’t great for me, but the solos that are there are still good. The other major change on this record is, obviously, the new singer. There’s no way to properly replace Z.P., but it’s fair to say that the band did as good of a job as they could have. Hudson’s vocals are clean, melodic, and of course, very high-pitched. The opening track, “Holding On”, features an amazing scream, which was no doubt included to introduce fans to the new singer.  Overall, he puts in a fantastic performance.

There are a few tracks on this album that stand out above the others: “Fallen World”, “Heart of the Storm” (not to be confused with “Fury of the Storm, from Sonic Firestorm), and “Die By the Sword”. The first of these tracks is just a natural single, much like “Heroes of Our Time” was the clear standout track from Ultra Beatdown. The other two songs were the ones that sounded like they were written during the Sonic Firestorm sessions. It was pretty easy to imagine Z.P.’s voice instead of Hudson’s, and they were the catchiest songs as well. “Cry Thunder”, the actual single, is another strong track. Dragonforce don’t really do mid-paced songs very often, so it was a welcome surprise. The only major disappointment was the lack of a true ballad. “Wings of Liberty” started off like most other Dragonforce ballads, but quickly went into their more typical, frenetic sound. The only song that could really be called a ballad is the acoustic version of “Seasons”, but it didn’t have the same effect as their other ballads because there’s also a full-speed, heavy version of “Seasons”.

If you weren’t a Dragonforce fan before this album, it’s still worth giving this a shot. The new vocals and succinct songs are likely to appeal to many of their previous critics. My complaints seem a bit extreme, but that’s only because of how much I love the first three albums. This is a great record; it’s just not the same Dragonforce that put out tracks like “Disciples of Babylon”, “Fields of Despair”, and even the mighty “Through the Fire and Flames”. It doesn’t seem like Dragonforce is going to re-ascend to their former greatness, but "The Power Within" should definitely appeal to all old fans, and hopefully will bring in a few new ones.

Be sure to check out and like Dragonforce on Facebook!
“Fallen World”
“Heart of the Storm”
“Die By the Sword”

Final Rating:
4.4/5 or 88%

Written by Scott

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nuklear Infektion - Weapons of Massive Genocide [EP]

Don't let the less-than-original EP title or the misspelling of the band's name fool you, these Portuguese thrashers can definitely be a lethal act. With the thousands of generic retro-thrashers and hundreds of pretenders to the throne, there really is a fine line that divides the new thrash bands. There are those who are incredibly mediocre and forgettable (A vast majority of them) and then there are those who know what they're doing, which in turn leads to a band that can deliver some solid to amazing thrash that can get the most stubborn of metalheads to bang their head. After listening to Nuklear Infektion's debut EP "Weapons of Massive Genocide," I think it's safe to say that these guys belong to the latter group, with their great mix of technical and brutal thrash. 

The most impressive aspect of Nuklear Infektion's music, is their ability to bring a variety of influences to the table with only five songs. Each song manages to sound different than the one before it, yet all of the songs have the same feel, giving the band their own sound which is damn-near mandatory in today's scene. The title track that kicks off the EP is a decent mix of straightforward thrashing and flurried death-thrash tremolos that does a fine job of grabbing the listener right away, but it's the next few tracks that really stand out. "Preachers of Lies" introduces a much more technical side of the band, featuring riffs that incorporate some hammer-on style riffs that run the fretboard as opposed to the e-string rape that runs rampant in just about every new thrash act, and the break in the song where the bass plays on its own is a nice touch. "Progress' Holocaust" and "We're On Command" both feature some grade-A Artillery worship that would make the Stutzer brothers proud, with some great melodies and riffs that reek of that middle-eastern-ish feel that was prominent on the legendary "By Inheritance."

Solos typically aren't parts of the music that I look out for because they're just a bonus if they're great and they don't affect the music if they're not. Luckily, the guitarists for Nuklear Infektion create some fantastic solos that shred in an awesome manner, blending speed and melody for a brilliant sound. The vocals aren't anything special but they match the aggressive music well enough, which is all one can really ask for. "Weapons of Massive Genocide" shows that this group has all of the potential in the world to make a respectable name for themselves as they rise above the bland and intolerable bands that have plagued the world over. 

Be sure to check out and like Nuklear Infektion on Facebook!

"Preachers of Lies"
"We're On Command"
"Progress' Holocaust"

Final Rating
4.25/5 or 85%. 

Katana - Storms of War

It's not easy being a young metal band coming out of Sweden, simply because the scene is filled to the brim with amazing bands from every subgenre you could think of. Death metal giants like Morbus Chron and Bastard Priest hail from the same land, as well as traditional metal prodigies like In Solitude and Enforcer, making the journey to the top of the pile that much more difficult. Katana knows this and that's why they're releasing their second record in just a little over a year. Granted I'm not acquainted with the band's debut album "Heads Will Roll," their sophomore effort "Storms of War" doesn't seem rushed, but surprisingly catchy and memorable. That's not an easy task either, due to the oversaturation of many Iron Maiden-wannabes and Mercyful Fate-worshipers, but these Swedes have it covered. 

Honestly, there isn't much originality present here, but Katana are great at what they do and what they do is create some awesome metal anthems. The track "Wrath of the Emerald Witch" is so damn catchy, it's scary. The riffs themselves aren't anything more than basic midpaced ones, but there are some sweet melodies that weave in and out of the songs that catch the listener's ear, only for the singer's soaring vocals to really capture the essence of a fantastic song that will have the listener repeating it over and over, similar to early power metal bands who are notorious for having the catchiest songs out there, Helloween and Blind Guardian in particular. "Khubilai Khan" and "Modesty Blaise" are no different, in their ability to mesmerize anyone who hears them. 

In addition to the magnificent melodies and the stellar vocals, Katana knows how to write some great songs that do more than revolve around the same kind of riffs that bands like Iced Earth and Omen have already done. "The Wisdom of Emond's Field" is a terrific piece of melody and tremendous guitar solos that demands multiple lessons, and the epic "In the Land of the Sun" is a throwback to the days of Iron Maiden on "Powerslave," when going above and beyond the norm became the precedent. There isn't really any negative things that I could say about "Storms of War." Sure, there are some less than awesome tracks like "Reaper" or "No Surrender," but the great definitely outweighs the average. Katana should have no issues in making themselves a name that warrants attention in this new wave of music, in Sweden or anywhere for that matter.

Be sure to check out and like Katana on Facebook!

"Wrath of the Emerald Witch"
"Khubilai Khan"
"In the Land of the Sun"

Final Rating
4.25/5 or 85%.   

Monday, April 16, 2012

Escarnium - Excruciating Existence

Brazil is no stranger to the metal world, boasting legendary acts like Sepultura and Sarcofago, but they haven't been incredibly relevant since the '80s and early '90s, at least not to people like myself who don't enjoy mediocre death metal acts like Krisiun or overly sloppy thrash who all try to sound like Sarcofago. However, hidden beneath all of the waste of mediocrity are a couple of bands who would make their forefathers proud: the thrash band Violator and the death metal vandals, Escarnium, who are about to completely conquer the Brazilian underground with their fantastic rendition of dark and suffocating death metal on "Excruciating Existence." There have been plenty of bands today who worship at the Incantation altar, mimicking the heavy, low-end tremolos of John McEntee and doing their best Pillard impressions, but Escarnium manages to sound much fresher than your average retro-band. 

Simply put, this record will smother you with its heaviness, but it will also collapse your skeletal system with its incredible grooviness. The intro to "Self Proclaimed Messiah" is an awesome one, with its fantastic bass line and eerie powerchords that buildup to an absolute curbstomper of a death metal tremolo riff. "Salvation Through Zyklon-B" and "Dark Clouds Above Hell's Fire" also have that perfect blend of Incantation-like murkiness and Bolt Thrower-esque grooving, making for songs that mesmerize the listener with a dark and gloomy feeling while also battering them repetitively with riffs upon riffs that every new death metal act wishes they could conjure up. Even simple tremolo sections that every death metal act seems to use, past and present, are great on "Excruciating Existence," just listen to the first riff that invades your mind on "Slaves of an Ending Fate," or the riffs on "Covered in Decadence." Escarnium really makes it difficult for other bands out there who rely solely on their ability to sound evil, because not only have these guys got that covered, they can also deliver with some excellent riffage. 

The vocals here are typical Pillard worship, but there are brief moments when the listener is treated with a guttural shrill that sounds very akin to Glen Benton, which makes for a nice bit of variety in between the low growls that are prevalent throughout. The drumming isn't anything remarkable, but it is sufficient enough. The double bass sections and the occasional blast beats are all executed well enough and fit the music, so there aren't any complaints that can logically be made. The bass gets some nice fills and does its thing to bring even more heaviness to the band's sound, so someone should buy the dude a beer or two. "Excruciating Existence" is definitely a great find as far as death metal goes in 2012. There have been plenty of decent to great releases, but none of them really hit all of the high marks that Escarnium did on this record, already making it a favorite for death metal record of the year.

Be sure to check out and like Escarnium on Facebook!

"Salvation Through Zyklon-B"
"Self Proclaimed Messiah"
"Slaves of an Ending Fate"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Unisonic – Unisonic

If you don’t know who Unisonic are, you have quite a bit of listening to do! Unisonic is the latest band formed by Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) that recently acquired Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray/ex-Helloween) on guitars. Despite the fact that Hansen has made fantastic music since leaving Helloween, and the fact that both of these guys did a great job as guest performers in Avantasia, I wasn’t expecting to be a power metal album. In fact, until I heard the three new tracks that appeared on the Ignition EP, I wasn’t even sure if this would be all that good. Luckily, that EP proved that these two haven’t lost a step at all. While it is true that this is much more of a hard rock/traditional heavy metal album, there are definitely moments that are very reminiscent of Helloween on this record.

The songs on this album are extremely diverse in both sound and quality. I wouldn’t call any of the songs bad, but there are definitely tracks that don’t have much of an impact (“Never Too Late” and “No One Ever Sees Me”). Both of these tracks are unfortunately a little bit too upbeat for my liking. I can handle the excessively poppy power metal - after all, Dragonforce and Freedom Call are both great – but “Never Too Late” is a bit much for me. The chorus is actually very similar to “Time to Break Free” (the Gamma Ray track featuring Kiske on vocals), but that track was never a favourite of mine either. “No One Ever Sees Me” is just one of those ballads that isn’t harmful, but it isn’t particularly interesting either. It definitely shows how great of a singer Kiske is, but I’m sure by the time you reach song eleven, you already know that. Aside from those two songs, the rest of the album delivers.

The best tracks are by far the three from the EP: “Unisonic”, “Souls Alive”, and “My Sanctuary”. The latter is right up there with the best songs from the Keeper albums. These three songs are the ones with the most power metal influence; they have epic melodic harmonies, great solos, and the catchiest of choruses. In fact, I almost felt like I had heard some of the melodies in those songs before, because they were so memorable. There are definitely a couple of songs that I could see as growers and becoming a quick favourite: “Renegade”, “King For A Day”, and “We Rise”. These tracks are also bordering on the edge of power metal. The remaining cuts are a little bit more straight-forward and I imagine are there to provide some contrast between Gamma Ray and Unisonic.

For what it is, "Unisonic" is a solid metal release. If you come into it with an open-mind, knowing that it won’t be a rehash of Helloween, there are definitely a lot of good things about this album. On the other hand, there are also some flaws, but they are few and far between. Unisonic is just one of those bands and albums that had to happen, and now that it has, it definitely won’t have me asking “what if?” Kiske is more into hard rock now, but this album is definitely a step in the right direction.
As an aside, - and I’m probably the only crazy person who thinks this – the verse of the song “Star Rider” reminds me of “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham. If you aren’t familiar with that song, I’d avoid listening to it. I struggled to listen to the Unisonic song because it reminds me of Farnham’s song so much. Listener beware: once you here this, you cannot unhear it.

Be sure to check out and like Unisonic on Facebook!

“Souls Alive”
“My Sanctuary”

Final Rating:
4.1/5 or 82%

Written by Scott

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wolfbrigade - Damned

The Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade guys are easily one of my favorite bands out there of any genre of music, simply because of their consistency, as I have never been disappointed by any of their releases. Sure, they haven't been able to recreate another "Lycanthro Punk" or "New Dawn Fades," but that's asking too much considering how amazing those two records are, and their later output is still tremendous compared to a lot of crust bands today. The band's new album, "Damned," is a very nice compliment to the rest of the band's discography, as it doesn't stray away from the sound that the band pioneered, nor does it fail to deliver some intense and memorable music.

If you've heard any of Wolfbrigade's previous material, then you shouldn't be surprised at all with the songs on "Damned." The magnificent blending of sheer crust-punk aggression and mesmerizing Swedeath melody is still intact, and just as ruthless as ever. "Slaves of induction" and "Hurricane Veins" are two of the finest offerings on this record as they capture the essence of Wolfbrigade's melody-tinged, crusty madness perfectly. The song "Feed the Flames" is a throwback to the days of "Lycanthro Punk" where melody is a non-factor and intensity reigns supreme. The band may have also found themselves a new classic song with "Ride the Steel," a track that starts with a distorted clean guitar before gradually escalating to a flurry of crusty destruction.

Micke's vocals are still as harsh and angry as ever, sounding just like they did when the Wolfbrigade lineup was spawned. The bass gets plenty of moments to shine on its own (The intro to "Damned to Madness" in particular) and the bassist's ability to keep up with the blitzkrieg-like riffs is great as well. The drumming is what you would expect, d-beat fills and fast pacced assaults throughout, nothing too out of the ordinary. All in all, if you're a fan of the band and their previous material, then "Damned" will be welcomed to your music collection with open arms. Wolfbrigade prove with this album that you don't need to radically change your sound to remain relevant, and I believe now is as good a time as any to proclaim them the Bolt Thrower of crust, simply because I doubt they'll ever disappoint with their music. 

Be sure to check out and like Wolfbrigade on Facebook!

"Ride the Steel" 
"Hurricane Veins"
"Peace of Mind"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%.