Gods of Violence
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Yeah, so Nuclear Blast is pretty much kicking ass and taking names since the start of 2017. Sepultura’s Machine Messiah and Overkill’s The Grinding Wheel are career -defining records. Wedged right in between the release of those two albums is Kreator’s Gods of Violence a….wait for it… career-defining record. The band have been on a steady upswing since 2001’s Violent Revolution but this beast is as well-rounded as it is aggressive. Kreator are in peak form here, from the pristine production to the world gone mad inspired lyrical themes.
Almost every track here is an instant classic if you are a fan of Extreme Metal. “Satan is Real” is unquestionably my personal favorite here. It’s massive twin leads, some in your face guitar melodies, and snarled lyrical content pointing out the worst parts of humanity as “Satan.” It’s hard logic to argue with. Although the title track starts off with some acoustic work it quickly becomes a full throttle, venom-induced Extreme Metal anthem that makes you want to pump your fist and bang your head. The rolling “Hail the Hordes” has a Viking Metal bent to it that adds some depth to an already fascinating musical work. The more traditional NWOBHM sound of “Lion With Eagle Wings” and “Fallen Brother” could be argued as something new in Kreator’s bag of tricks, but if you were around back in the day you’d remember that there was a time when they didn’t sound too far from this style, despite being considered wildly extreme for the era. They sound great trading lead solos, belting out semi-anthem choruses, and adding in acoustic bits to break the monotony.
I have truly enjoyed the last few Kreator releases but this one has been on repeat since I first received it. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. If you are a fan of Extreme Metal then Gods of Violence is a prime example of what this genre can be. Put away your Slayer records and go buy this one. You’ll be happy you did.
Reviewed by mark1340
Footage of a Yeti
Purging the Human Condition
Release Date: January 20, 2017
New York’s Footage of a Yeti is back with Purging the Human Condition. Branded as Deathcore, this EP is not nearly as limited in its musical scope as it’s genre tag would suggest. The band could certainly be shoved into that mold, but the progressive elements of this EP are pretty hard to ignore, making it feel like the punky step-cousin of Death, Converge, and Born of Osiris. The kind of little beast that you see only on rare occasions because your parents can’t really handle him.
“D.R.E.A.M. (Death Rules Everything Around Me)” kicks off the EP in the time-honored tradition of putting your best foot forward. If you are only gonna give this one chance, then this is the song you want to listen to. The song grinds and squeals it’s way through a rhythm section stomp that lets up occasionally to catch a groove or set up a breakdown. “Purging the Human Condition Part I” is a more straightforward affair but it’s full of circle pit inducing aggression that leads into the more progressive “… Part II”. The growls shrieks and grooves of “…Part I” give way to a darker, more dissonant vibe on …”Part II”. This one boasts more of the guttural bounce that Deathcore is known for. The rest of the EP struggles to keep up the energy of the first three songs but “Deceiver, Deceiver” has a nice back and forth going on between the machine gun riffing and prototypical Metalcore breakdowns.
In a lot of ways Purging the Human Condition reminds me of the Three One G roster of bands but it’s not quite as experimental or energetic and it’s a bit more polished. I think this band has a lot of potential and I’d venture to say that (since this is not their first time around the sun) they are only going to get better. This EP is a big ol’ slab of heavy guitars, spastic shrieks and growls, and progressive rhythm work wrapped loosely in a Metalcore hoodie. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are interested in heavy bands that like to push the envelope.
Reviewed by mark1340
Butchering the Colossus
Release Date: March 1, 2017
You know, Death Metal can be hard to enjoy. I don’t mean that as a knock against it particularly, it’s just a genre of music that lives and breathes ugly and that can get boring fast. Fortunately, the guys in Bear Mace are channeling their inner Bolt Thrower and offering up 8 slabs of guttural goodness on Butchering the Colossus. All 8 slabs are firm reminders of what Death Metal is capable of when it is placed in able hands.
Butchering the Colossus is a beast of an album from start to finish. “Death of a Constellation” kicks it all off with wailing lead guitars entrenched in buzzsaw rhythms and circle pit backbeats dabbled with deep, guttural growls that remind me of early Chris Barnes. The album continues to plod and gargle itself along in archetypical fashion before it really whips itself into a frenzy with the title track. Here we begin to see what this band can REALLY do. The drumming drives everything forward, playing off-rhythm to the guitars and letting the clear and succinct lead work shine its way through the fog. When the vocals kick in though, it’s down to business in a way that nearly made me start a circle pit around my computer. By the time you reach the album’s final tracks (my personal favorites) “Wheel of Despair” and “Anguirus the Destroyer” the band is almost in Death N’ Roll mode, finding a dark, heavy groove to dig into and letting everything burst forth from that dank pit. “Wheel of Despair” is particularly dynamic with a lot of times changes and a more epic feel than most of the other tracks.
It’s been awhile since a Death Metal band even caught my attention, let alone melted my face off. Bear Mace are pretty awesome though and I am thoroughly impressed by the level of songwriting these guys offer up on Butchering the Colossus. If you like it old school (Think early Obituary, early Cannibal Corpse, Vomitorial Corpulence, or Bolt Thrower) then you should check these guys out.
Reviewed by mark 1340
Release Date: February 3, 2017
There was a time when I would have called Big Wreck a third wave Alt Rock band, but my how the years have shaped them. The Canadian-American group formally broke up in the early 00’s but reunited in 2010 and have since released a string of powerful and wildly creative Rock albums. Their latest, Grace Street, is part Police influenced goodness and part 70’s Queen through a modern filter.
Grace Street kicks things off with an odd choice in “It Comes As No Surprise.” It’s Queen influence is extremely pronounced with dynamic time changes, soaring vocals, and giant background harmonies that take over the song when they arrive. It’s an amazing piece of music, but it it’s not quite the smooth introduction you are expecting. “A Speedy Recovery” is another interesting piece here with a fast-paced, rhythmic undercurrent seemingly at odds with the soaring vocals. Its mid-song island flare is welcome, as is how the band keeps so tight despite the individual parts being so different. The album’s closer, “All My Fears On You” is an explorative piece that reminds me a lot of the Police’s deep cuts. It’s got an ambient, mildly dark, overall sound to it that reminds me of the best of the eighties, but it also has a big chorus that reminds me of Genesis’ and Yes’ more straightforward moments. The intimate “Useless” is another powerful moment, providing ample evidence that the band can keep it simple and still move you.
My personal favorite track here is “One Good Piece of Me.” This is certainly a contender for Song of the Year. Ian Thornley’s voice is like hearing Peter Gabriel, or Sting, play in a Rock band. His voice just shines in a way that forces you to pay attention to it. Then the big guitar riff kicks in and the band goes from atmospheric to anthemic (big, hooky chorus and all) flawlessly. It’s everything music fans love in a Rock song. Such a great song!
I really and truly dig this album. I haven’t been paying much attention since the band reunited but Grace Street has changed all that. If you like any of the band’s mentioned in this review or if you enjoy Pop and Rock that is dynamic and thoughtful and creative then you should check out Grace Street too.
Reviewed by mark1340
Carpe Noctum (Live)
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Born in 1982, fans familiar with eighties Heavy Metal have long considered Armored Saint to be one of the best band’s you’ve probably never heard of. Thanks to the band’s classic albums rising to cult status during the nineties while vocalist Jon Bush was fronting Anthrax, the band eventually returned and are arguably more popular now than they were in their heyday. Their latest offering, Carpe Noctum, captures them at their best…live.
To say that this band is a beast live would be an understatement and Carpe Noctum documents the fact extremely well. Everything is crisp and clear, from the wailing guitar solos to the pounding rhythm work to Bush’s classic voice. As the band rips through “March of the Saint,” Bush sounds so much like a young Bruce Dickinson that you have to wonder why Iron Maiden didn’t call him in the nineties. The guitars drive it along, giving it a thicker, fuller sound than it had in its original form. “Aftermath” is another great turn that, live, ends up sounding a lot more epic than I had previously given it credit for. During the midsection when it’s just Bush and the guitar, it’s as powerful as they come. Also, “Win Hands Down” kicks off the show as a firm reminder that the band are still churning out favorites late in their career. The studio album was killer but the energy from the live version is even better.
Few bands of this era still sound this good. The band sounds modern and relevant even when playing the staples despite their more Traditional Metal bent. If you can’t catch a tour/show then Carpe Noctum will do you pretty well. This is one of the most energetic and professional sounding live recordings I have heard and longtime fans will be beyond pleased with it. I won’t hesitate mind to say that this also serves as an excellent entry point for those interested in checking out these cult heroes.
Reviewed by mark1340