Wooden Stake – A Feast of Virgin Souls (2015)

Reviewer: Goldensundown

Band: Wooden Stake

Album: A Feast of Virgin Souls

Label: Razorback Recordings

Horror themed death/doom metal tends to be a style I’ve got a bit of love for; take horror, something I’ve got quite a hankering for, and throw it in with crushing, drawn out and doomy death metal – bands like Druid Lord, Hooded Menace and the psychedelic tinged Acid Witch are all pretty staple bands in that regard. That leads us to Wooden Stake, one of the many projects of co-owner of Razorback Recordings, Vanessa Nocera, with A Feast of Virgin Souls as the duo’s (including William Wardlaw on drums and guitars) sophomore studio release. As a fan of another of Vanessa’s death/doom projects, the now defunct Skeletal Spectre, I was keen to dive into A Feast… with the intention of finding a good foothold to get into Wooden Stake, but given this album I’m a bit unconvinced. Continue reading

Magister Templi – Into Duat (2015)

Author: Bloodshot Grub

Artist: Magister Templi

Album: Into Duat

Label: Cruz del Sur Music

Metal, and traditional metal in particular, has more than a few bands who write great music that comes packaged with… “difficult” vocals. King Diamond, Hour of 13, Gates of Slumber, Manilla Road. Sometimes bad, sometimes technically very good, but in any case requiring some degree of acclimatization. If the music is good, sometimes one simply has to accept that the vocals are part of the deal. They may come to be appreciated, they may be endearing, or they may simply be something that must be endured in order to appreciate the riffs. Continue reading

Ares Kingdom – The Unburiable Dead (2015)

Reviewer: Brandon

Band: Ares Kingdom

Album: The Unburiable Dead

Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions

Ares Kingdom has a history going back almost two decades now of putting out nothing but the highest-quality death/thrash that one could expect from a band, as one would expect of a group formed by Order From Chaos legends Chuck Keller and Mike Miller. After being joined by Alex Blume, the band’s vocalist and bassist, Ares Kingdom put out two of the finest death/thrash albums of the 00’s and, after five years, are finally back with the newest installment of their heavy metal tinged aggressive metal assault. Continue reading

Volahn/Arizmenda/Kallathon/Shataan – Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons (2015)

Artists: Volahn/Arizmenda/Kallathon/Shataan

Album: Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons

Label: Crepúsculo Negro

Reviewer: Brandon

Launching out the door with a beautiful clean melody that sounds like it belongs in a spaghetti western, Volahn wastes absolutely no time setting the tone that the Black Twilight Circle wants to set with their newest collaborative effort: the Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons split tape between several of the stars of the indigenous-sounding Crepúsculo Negro label, which, for those that don’t know, is a Southern California based label that fronts Mexican-American black metal that tends to incorporate folk melodies into their heritage inspired music. Continue reading

Stratovarius – Eternal (2015)

Author: Crono

Artist: Stratovarius

Album: Eternal

Label: earMUSIC

 

Wow, Stratovarius, huh? They’re still at it. It’s been 26 years since their debut, and they’ve churned out 15 albums. Eternal is their sixteenth album! That’s mad to think about. That’s the same number of albums as Iron Maiden, although obviously Maiden started nine year earlier. It’s right to say that Stratovarius is legendary in the eyes of many metal warriors. However, like many long-lived bands, Stratovarius’ career has been through its fair share of ups and downs. As a fan of Stratovarius and European power metal as a whole, I’ve always tried to give an open ear to their new albums. I will say that the sound they landed on for 2013’s Nemesis was awesome! It was a great album from them, really launching them into the modern era of power metal. On Eternal, they have pretty much continued this sound. However, I find this album to be rather hit and miss, and its inconsistency really detracts quite strongly from the album as a whole. Continue reading

Ordinul Negru – Sorcery of Darkness (2015)

Author: Crono

Artist: Ordinul Negru

Album: Sorcery of Darkness

Label: Loud Rage

So I have never heard of this band, Ordinul Negru, but it turns out this is their seventh album. This Romanian band has managed to fly under my radar, but all of that ends with Sorcery of Darkness. From what I gather, this is actually quite the change of pace for the band. Sorcery of Darkness is a dense, three-song album, post-influenced black metal that manages to stay on the good side of the hipster fence. After all, who heard of a hipster black metal band from Romania? Continue reading

Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction (2015)

Author: GTO

Artist: Cattle Decapitation

Album: The Anthropocene Extinction

Label: Metal Blade

Cattle Decapitation continue on a cleaner path compared to most of their grind contemporaries with The Anthropocene Extinction, especially expanding on the sound of their last release Monolith of Humanity. Clearly demonstrating a penchant for their history in grindcore while not letting their music be consumed by it, Extinction is heavily characterized by a mixture of blast beats, deathgrind riffing breaks, and melodic interludes marked by ambient guitar riffs and nasal yet still soaring vocals. Overall the album shifts back and forth between intense, blasting moments and introspective and haunting breaks that punctuate and break up constant blast beats. Continue reading

Christian Mistress – To Your Death (2015)

Author: Dave

Band: Christian Mistress

Album: To Your Death

Label: Relapse Records

Christian Mistress is a more recent heavy metal band that started in 2009 and have recently put out their third full-length album, To Your Death. And if you’ve ever heard their earlier stuff, you know that this album has a lot to live up to. If you aren’t familiar with them , Christian Mistress play classic-style low- to mid-tempo heavy metal with a lead vocalist (Christine Davis) who sings with the raw energy and tone of Leather Leone, but with a delivery that is a bit more refined. Continue reading

Moon – Render of the Veils (2015)

Author: Crono

Artist: Moon

Album: Render of the Veils

Label: Moribund Records

When I first read that there was a new Moon release coming out, I was pretty pumped! Last year, Moon released the very well-done Clavicula Nox, an icy slab of bleak black metal. However, as soon as I started listening to a stream of Render of the Veils, I quickly realized something was off. After a quick investigation, it became clear that Render of the Veils is Clavicula Nox. However, some big changes were made to the album. See, Clavicula Nox was a demo, self-released by Moon. Render of the Veils was released by Moribund Records, and has received a hefty update for the release. The question of course is was it necessary to release this as a new album? I am happy to report that after listening to both a few times through recently, Render of the Veils is definitely justifiable. Continue reading

Howls of Ebb – The Marrow Veil (2015)

Author: Bloodshot Grub

Artist: Howls of Ebb

Album: The Marrow Veil

Label: I, Voidhanger Records

A metal fan in 2015 is faced with a true embarrassment of riches. There is far more metal being released every year than I’ll ever be able to listen to. Even if I restricted myself to the albums I expect to really enjoy, I doubt I would ever be able to get through it all. This scenario makes album art an invaluable tool in finding new music. Over the course of over 20 years of metal exploration, I’ve cultivated what I believe to be a very accurate sense of what an album will sound like based on the name and album art, and that helps me hone on the music that I find most interesting. It’s not a perfect system, because while I might be able to make a good guess of what a band sounds like, I still have no idea whether it will actually be any good until I get it into my ears. And that brings us to Howls of Ebb. Continue reading