Review: Havok – Conformicide Mar17

Review: Havok – Conformicide

Let me tell you how this review is suppose to go: First, I tell you that Havok is a Denver based collective whose main weapon of choice is the riff. I then explain how the band is one of the few that are still relevant today despite being unquestionably retro-thrash and proceed to point out that 2011’s Time Is Up is probably one of the strongest records to come out of said retro movement. I follow-up with a brief overview of their latest, entitled Conformicide, pointing out its various high points to underscore the fact that David Sanchez and Co. really do know how to throw down. Finally and disappointedly, I end with a Steely D...

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct Nov25

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

A little context: I’m a big Metallica fan. I have been for over twenty years now. What’s funny is unlike most fans, I discovered Metallica through Megadeth in a sort of six degrees of Kevin Bacon moment; it took me three Megadeth records to finally arrive at Puppets. Sad but true. But the truth is I lost track of Metallica right after 1996’s Load, an album that completed their transition from being everyone’s favorite Bay Area thrash metal band to a full-fledged hard rock one, bifurcating their fanbase in the process. Since then these retired thrashers have fallen under hard times, with the band probably hitting rock...

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash Oct30

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Summoning. For the last two decades Summoning have not only been churning out some of the most epic black metal ever conceived by man, but their body of work has pretty much codified the genre. However, after 2001’s Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, their output had slowed down considerably, with new album release cycles measured in Valian years instead of solar ones (alright, not quite that long but still). Consequently, this has opened up the flood gates for others to show off their best Summoning idolatry and at the same time, pick up the slack. A prime example is Caladan Brood’s 2013 epic, Echoes of Battle, which executed...

Review: Virvum – Illuminance Sep30

Review: Virvum – Illuminance

To describe the Swiss metal scene as “burgeoning” wouldn’t exactly be quite accurate since over the years the Swiss have been responsible for some of extreme metal’s most revered acts, including Coroner, Celtic Frost, and Samael to name just a few. However, the truth is that despite all of the scene’s great exports, the Swiss ironically really don’t do straight up death – and certainly not tech death. For tech death, I would normally point you in the direction of their German cousins to the north or their Italian neighbors to the south. But a small four piece collective called Virvum is trying to...

Review: Nordjevel – Nordjevel Sep05

Review: Nordjevel – Nordjevel

Meet Nordjevel, a melodic black metal band formed in 2015 when a two like-minded miscreants from the North, vocalist Doedsadmiral and bassist/guitarist Nord, found common ground over their fervor for life, liberty, and the pursuit of the occult. Soon after, their search for a full time drummer led them to float their newly formed concept with F. Widigs of Marduk fame, who apparently jumped on-board immediately after hearing just a few rough demos. A year later, their self-titled full length debut popped out via Osmose and here we are. Before I go any further, let me get this off my chest: Nordjevel’s debut is probably the catchiest...

Review: Uada – Devoid of Light Jul26

Review: Uada – Devoid of Light

This year hasn’t been exactly a banner year for black metal, especially anything coming out of here in the States. Sure, Cobalt dropped a two-album bombshell back in March, and then there was Oak Pantheon‘s stellar release a few weeks after that too, but all in all, it’s been mostly slim pickings. However, there is one USBM record this year that as been making a lot of underground waves ever since it was released back in April, and that album is Uada‘s full-length debut aptly named Devoid of Light. If hailing from Portland has you thinking that Uada is just another bunch of tree hugging hippies who happen to dabble...

Vektor – Terminal Redux May23

Vektor – Terminal Redux

If you’ve been following the metal scene at all over the last few years then it’s hard not to be even peripherally aware of Vektor. Their story began back in 2009 with Black Future, which despite its Voivodian aesthetics was much more than an exercise in artful plagiarism – where Voivod’s underpinning is squarely in punk, Vektor’s sound moves past the prototypical progressive thrash metal formula by infusing it with elements of both black and death, resulting in a much more aggressive tone than their Canadian muse. Two years later, they reaffirmed their position as one of the most exciting bands in the thrash...

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas – Mariner May02

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas – Mariner

Cult of Luna are one of those bands that are so underrated it’s almost criminal. Part of the problem stems from the fact that when this particular batch of Swedes finally arrived about a decade ago, it was already too late. As Ian Cory’s recent Invisible Orange piece astutely points out, by 2006, post-metal had clearly reached its saturation point, with its sludge variant having its groundwork laid out by Neurosis in the early ’90s and then finally codified by ISIS at the start of the 21st century. And although most Luna cognoscenti would claim that the band really came of age two years prior with 2004’s Salvation,...

Obscura – Akróasis Feb25

Obscura – Akróasis

Alright, here’s the thing about “tech” death: The whole idea that a band is somehow more “technical” because they can play in an odd time signature or occasionally dabble in the lost art of counterpoint is utterly absurd. In fact, more often than not, I find quite the opposite is true. Because most tech death metal bands seem to be on this never ending quest to fit more notes per measure than their forebears, songs typically come off as a mishmash of half-baked ideas strung together by unnecessary and over-the-top embellishments – most likely as a defense mechanism to hide the fact that the song itself is...