Album Reviews



Review: Havok – ‘Conformicide’

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Havok

Havok is an American thrash metal band from the mile high city of Denver, Colorado. Since being formed in 2004 the band has been dominating the thrash scene. ‘Conformicide’ is Havok’s 4th studio album and it was done through Century Media Records. It’s the first album with bassist Nick Schendzielos as well as the first release via Century Media Records. This is also the longest gap between albums, coming 4 years from their last effort. ‘Conformicide’ will be released on March 10th 2017. Relatively speaking, Havok is “new” to the thrash scene. They have been around since 2004 but have really secured their place in the new wave of thrash metal. They drastically change their sound with every record and that keeps them interesting enough to stay on top of other bands coming through the thrash scene. This album is largely centered around politics with another big focus to the record being a religion.

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BLACK CAT BONES ‘Down To The River’ EP Review & Select Track Streams

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From across the pond, Liverpool to be exact, comes the late 2016 release from Black Cat Bones, their 5-song “Down To The River” EP (Broken Road Records LTD).  It is the follow up to the band’s preceding EP “False Promises & Wasted Time” and what the band has crafted here is nothing short of fantastically bluesy, boogie ‘n groove-infused Southern Rock. The guys, singer/harmonica player Jonnie Hodson, guitarists Alan Rimmer and Adam Kerbache, bassist/bkg. vox Jamie Hayward, and drummer/bkg. vox Ash Janes have captured the essence of 80’s hard rock ala Guns & Roses, Junkyard or Dangerous Toys. Clearly not satisfied with sitting on those influences, BCB mash that oldschool vibery with tinges of modern rock similar to what acts like Rival Sons or Monster Truck are putting out and the result is an infectious sound indeed.
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Review: SLOTH HERDER – ‘No Pity, No Sunrise’ [2 Tracks Streaming]

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Frederick, Maryland based four piece SLOTH HERDER have been working steady at distilling their sound since their formation in 2009. The band quickly released two EP’s in 2012, ‘Sluggard’ and ‘Abandon Pop Sensibility’. The later of the two has been noted as being very obscure but also receive critical acclaim throughout the metal community. SLOTH HERDER is a band that doesn’t just think outside the box, they break the box. Their unique style has varying moments of influence from a cast of different genres. You will hear a grindcore style for moments and then hints of black metal sprinkled in, and then out of nowhere you will get a faint taste of doom in their mix. SLOTH HERDER will not be barricaded to one genre and the simplest way to define their sound is extreme. In addition, do not let the word “Sloth” in their name deceive you. Unlike the Central and South American mammal in their name, nothing about this band is slow. The follow-up their 2012 EP, ‘Abandon Pop Sensibility’, SLOTH HERDER’s ‘No Pity, No Sunrise’ released via Marland based Grimoire Records presents a monstrous, fourteen-track attack in just over thirty-five minutes delivered by vocalist Josh Lyon, bassist Luke Ibach, drummer Sean Wilhide, and guitarist Nick Craggs, and additional sounds by Ryan Neal. An unhinged surge of extreme metal that will appeal to a wide range of acts, from Antigama to Pyrrhon, Yautja to Gaza. The album also includes some amazing imagery within the cover art as well. It would surely be one of those albums you buy on a whim just because of the album art. ‘No Pity, No Sunrise’ was recorded by Noel Mueller in the Fall of 2016, who also mixed and mastered the album. ‘No Pity, No Sunrise’ will be released on March 24th in several formats including CD, pro-cassette, and digital download. Grimoire Records’ Noel Mueller, who also handles the recording of the label’s releases stated, “We’ve been talking to SLOTH HERDER and trying to record/release an album with them ever since we started Grimoire Records back in 2013. So yeah, we couldn’t be more stoked that four years later, the band finally decided to step into the Grimoire studio and recorded their long anticipated full length with us. The payoff is that much sweeter given how long we’ve been waiting for this to happen.” Continue reading

Review: DAMNATION PLAN – ‘Reality Illusion’ [Song Stream]

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Finnish progressive metal band Damnation Plan are here in 2017 to release a masterpiece for the masses. Damnation Plan formed in 2004 in Espoo, Finland. The band released their first EP in 2007, ‘Darker World’. They took a little bit of a hiatus after that but then regrouped in 2011 to begin work on their first full length album. In 2013, that album, ‘The Wakening’, was released on Coroner Records. The lineup of the band has not changed since 2012 and consists of: Tommy Tuovinen doing harsh and clean vocals, Asim Searah also on clean vocals, Antti Lauri and Kalle Niininen on guitars, Jukka Vehkamaa on bass, and Jarkko Lunnas on drums. Starting work on this new record almost two years ago, the time has finally come. Damnation Plan’s second full length album, ‘Reality Illusion’ will be dropping on March 10th 2017 on Inverse Records. The mixing was done by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studios. You can preorder ‘Reality Illusion’ here. Drummer Jarkko Lunnas had this to say about the new release: Continue reading

Review: XIBALBA – ‘Diablo, Con Amor.. Adios’ [Full Stream]

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XIBALBA is one of the most violent and fierce acts I have ever witnessed in person. The band formed in 2007 in Pomona, California. The band’s sophomore release and Southern Lord Records debut ‘Hasta la Muerte’ (2012) is still one of the most influential hardcore albums released in the last decade. It was during their tour in support of that album that I was able to see them in what used to be a United States Post Office in the small town of Whitesburg, Kentucky. The city has a population of less than 2,500 people, and it just goes to show the band is willing to play anywhere that their music is wanted. They followed up ‘Hasta la Muerte’ with their 2015 release ‘Tierra y Libertad’. On that album XIBALBA demonstrated their ability to progress their aggressive sound from one album to the next. It’s been one year since the release of ‘Tierra Y Libertad’, XIBALBA now returns with three vicious new tracks of hard hitting hardcore on ‘Diablo, Con Amor.. Adios’ via Closed Casket Activities. The EP is a continuation of the bands gritty, raw, downtuned, metallic grooves. As with their prior titles, ‘Diablo, Con Amor.. Adios’ was recorded at The Pit Recording Studio with longtime cohort Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Disgrace) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Integrity, Nails, Harm’s Way), XIBABLA also once again secured artwork from Dan Seagrave (Dismember, Entombed, Suffocation) to visually depict the wrath of these three relentless tracks. XIBALBA has climbed their way to the top in regards to hardcore bands and the new EP is the proof that they have earned their rightful place at the top. Continue reading

OVERKILL ‘The Grinding Wheel’ Review & Select Track Streams

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The biggest underdog of Thrash metal, but one with as much standing and respect as any of those in the supposed Big Four, is the New Jersey neck-wreckers Overkill. The earliest origins of Overkill date back to 1980 and despite regular line-up changes, revolving record labels and what have you, Overkill‘s two longest constant members, vocalist BobbyBlitzEllsworth and bassist D.D. Verni, always keep their vision alive with the band. Referred to as the “Motorhead of thrash metal” due to their uncompromising need to stay true to themselves, their music and their fans, the band continues to forge ahead with some of the best metal on the planet. The latest example of that dedication is the recently released eighteenth studio album from Overkill, “The Grinding Wheel“, which is out now from Nuclear Blast Records. Alongside Ellsworth and Verni on this latest salvo from the band once again are drummer Ron Lipnicki and guitarists Dave Linsk (lead) and Derek Tailer (rhythm) and we are here to break down this latest offering from this iconic band.


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Review: KEMEROV – ‘FMKD’ [Album Steam]

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Photo Credit: Kwstas Kartelar

Two guys that grew up with old school 90’s death metal joined forces and formed the band Kemerov in 2013. The quartet hail from Serres, Greece. They could never really choose between the metal sound and the rock n’roll feeling, and their sound meshes the two together perfectly. Giving in to these schizophrenic tendencies, they are inspired by bands like Entombed, Cathedral and Turbonegro and various others. Kemerov decided to throw all their influences into the mix, which created this new hybrid sound you won’t find anywhere else. In 2013 they got the ball rolling with guitar, voice and occasionally bass and drums. By the summer of 2015, the band had acquired permanent members for both drums and bass. This would become the first ever full Kemerov lineup. The lineup was now stable and in November 2015 they released their debut self-titled EP, and they’ve began to hit the stage in support of acts like Rotting Christ, Septicflesh and Jucifer, among others. During this time the band was also working on new material for their debut full-length release. The full length titled ‘FMKD’ was released on January 31, 2017. The album was produced by Kemerov & Emmanouil Hermano Tselepis. The band recorded at various studios including Flow Recordings Studio, Galdemi Studio and Steve’s studio and then it was all mixed and mastered by Emmanouil Hermano Tselepis.   Continue reading

INDOMINUS ‘Legion Within’ EP Review & Stream

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We return to Ireland for yet another round of crushing, punishing extreme metal via Indominus‘ debut EP, the 5-song “Legion Within“. Released last September, the guys Alan Duddy (vox), Simon Cochrane (lead gtr./bkg. vox), Logan McKee (rhythm gtr.), Mark Payne (bass) and Nathan Glasgow (drums) administer a savage assault of Death Metal, Thrash, and traditional, oldschool-inspired Metal here. It is highly reminiscent of the earliest pioneering bands within the U.S.’ Floridian DM scene of yesteryear, clearly influenced by the likes of Obituary, Death, Massacre and the like. Structured upon blistering dual guitar antics, bone rattling rhythms and furiously unrelenting drums, the music is savage and abrasive. There are several vocal styles attached to things too ranging from bellowing gutturals to shriek-ish highs and the occasional aggressive Hardcore type, each adding a rather distinct flavoring to things.  
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Review of Born In June’s Debut, “Ill Gotten Gains”

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Born In June is:

Bryan Rock – Drums
Cayse Ramirez – Guitar
Gene Ramirez – Guitar
Harvey Hampton – Vocals
Nick Terrell – Bass Guitar

Born In June grabbed my attention during the Death Angel show that I covered a couple of months back (Show Review) at the 1904 Music Hall here in Jacksonville. This was the third live show that the band had played since their commencement as an official band. As stated in the show review, I was blown away by their poised stage presence and crisp playing abilities. Very impressive for a group that had only been playing together for a little over six months. Since then, the band has played many shows in and around Jacksonville with a variety of other talented locals and released their debut EP entitled Ill Gotten Gains that was independently released on January 25, 2017. As promised, here are my impressions of this up and coming band’s first release…

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Review: EX DEO – ‘The Immortal Wars’

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After what has seemed like forever, Canadian death metal band Ex Deo has returned to bless us with their third full length release, ‘The Immortal Wars’. After releasing ‘Caligvla’ in 2012 with a bit of touring, the band decided it was time for a break in 2014. It was soon being reported that the return of the band was unlikely. Lead singer Maurizio Iacono, Jean-Francois Dagenais, Oli Beaudoin, and Stéphane Barbe went back to their main project in Kataklysm. Also featured in the band is Jonathan Leduc on the keyboards and François Mongrain on the bass guitar. Only a year later in 2015, the band announced that they were to begin work on their follow up. In January of 2016, it was revealed that the band’s next release would be titled ‘The Immortal Wars’. It has been a long road since then, but the time has finally come. On February 24th, 2017, Ex Deo will be releasing the album on Napalm Records. It was produced and mixed by Jens Bogren in Sweden. The Roman themed heavy metal band is prepared to unleash hell. You can preorder the new album here. Continue reading