Sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, I feel like we as metal fans are spoiled. This week feels like we are. Whatever it takes to deflect from the constant circus parade of brain dead morons that are seemingly everywhere. I’ll gladly take the awesome music. Here we go:
Kicker – Pure Drivel
Kickers snotty punk attitude is brought to you by members of Operation Ivy, Dystopia, and Neurosis, and given the amount of talent there you’d not be surprised to find a full boar punk album that is as nasty as it is fun and well written. With it’s UK style drive there’s a healthy dose of humor but it’s leveraged to dwell on social and political issues. It’s punk as fuck and rad as fuck.
Rotting Christ – The Heretics
I’ll just get right to it. I’m all about Rotting Christ and whatever they’re doing. I’ve already read a handful of reviews complaining about the bands sound not changing or how they’ve just been doing the same thing since Theogonia, forever butt hurt that Rotting Christ hasn’t produced another Thy Mighty Contract or Non Serviam. I couldn’t even care less. For me the bands trajectory over the years has been nothing but entertaining and fulfilling and the battle hardened, tribal-like, drum heavy and rhythmic style they’ve been doing over the past handful of albums is fucking rad so I’ll gladly take more any day of the week. Sure, they get a bit silly at times like the “cover” of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” that ends the new album, but honestly, it’s still pretty rad and very “Rotting Christ” take on the poem. If you’re a fan of the band there’s plenty here to devour and enjoy. This likely won’t be the album that turns anybody to a Rotting Christ fan but it’s another damn fine album from a classic band that still kills it.
Avantasia – Moonglow
Nobody has, or likely ever will, accuse Tobias Sammet of being subtle. Even when he’s taking up vocal chops in Edguy there’s a distinct level of over indulgence. Avantasia is his solo project and his excuse to just go full on, power metal saccharine. I legit thing the projects first two releases, the Metal Operas one and two are legit power metal classics and on point examples of how even the excess of this genre can produce well crafted music. From there Tobias got even more ambitious, grand, and theatrical. The follow up album The Scarecrow and the double albums The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon found Tobias bringing in his many musical friends and a who’s who from all over power metal and hard rock. These albums are also the most self-indulgent and over the top albums you’re likely to find. Then he just sort of stuck to that template to varying degrees. The following two albums may have been just too much of this sort of thing because I lost interest in them, despite my love for cheese-fueled power metal so I approached this new album, Moonglow, with trepidation. Much to my surprise I was immediately hooked back into Avantasia land with all it’s mighty grandiosity and bombastic nonsense. It also didn’t hurt that the second song, “Book of Shallows” features both Hansi Kürsch (of fucking Blind Guardian, rubes) and Kreator’s very own Mille Petrozza. Only Tobias Sammet’s mad scientist approach to metal could have produced a song with those amazing vocalists in it, and have it be good. And that’s how the rest of the album goes. A ton of guest musicians, insane, cheesy, over indulgent power metal and it’s fucking awesome.
Sanhedrin – The Poisoner
Sanhedrin are wholeheartedly devoted to their love of traditional, swaggering, Motorhead-ish, classic metal take and it totally works. There’s a simplicity to everything here and while they aren’t breaking any boundaries to do this kind of vest (is that still a thing) metal more engagingly than most of those bands from a couple of years did.
Cara Neir – Part III / Part IV
Surprise album drop from wild, punk, post everything, grind outfit Cara Neir. Going to be honest this new one is a bit more “progressive” and “technical” than I was expecting but I’m not sure those terms really describe the sound. It is progressive and technical but not used in the ways you’d associate with them. More from a punk/grind sort of intensity, which is where this band really shines though the desire to experiment, and the fact that they do it so well, elevates their sound and presence. What a great fucking surprise.
Vehemence – Par le Sang Verse
Vehemence’s first album Assiégé was one of those random albums you stumble on when getting lost in the ever fruitful Bandcamp whole. French melodic black metal and medieval, classical instrumentation are like fucking catnip to me so naturally this was a heavy spinner in 2014. Then to be honest, it kind of got lost in the mix but upon seeing this new release I knew right away this was going to be a scorcher. Sure e-fucking-nough all the sweet melodic and classical crafted songs were back mixed even more heavily with the classical medieval passages, and everything upped ten fold. Somehow this seems like a good companion band to Darkenhold. Like Vehemence is the light to their dark. Whatever, more awesome, French, medieval black metal, please.
Kaleikr – Heart of Lead
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Iceland has been producing some of the most exciting and unique metal of the past handful of years so when I see a new band labeled as “Icelandic experimental death metal” I’m all over it. Noted mostly for their incestuous black metal scene, Iceland does delve into death metal here and there and Kaleikr put that strange and uniquely creative spin on the genre. There is some black metal in the mix here but most of it has to do with weird timing, bizarre atmosphere and dense death metal weight. Just like the country, Kaleikr are a unique and interesting band spawned from the ever fertile Icelandic metal soil.
The Munsens – Unhanded
For some reason I was under the impression that The Munsens were a a stoner-y, trippy, kind of doom band, which honestly is what has kept me from giving them a legit shot but they’ve been getting some heat off this new album Unhanded and they’re a Denver band so it’s time to take the plunge. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Upon the first track entering my ears I was greeted with some dirty, fuzzy, dirge-y doom metal then a long, full on black metal blast. Holy fuck, if I’d known this I’d have been all about it. After the black metal settles down on the song it’s back to some swaggering, blues-ish, fuzzed up sludge metal, and that’s kind of where the album dwells after that. They keep it dirty and riffy, with those nasty vocals keep their toes just slightly in the black metal waters but still full on doom. There’s some punk inspired moments, which have always been my favorite parts of sludge, and some heavier doom riffing here and there and the album keeps your attention the whole way through and keeps your head nodding. Yet another tremendous Denver metal album release for 2019.