Ravensire – The Cycle Never Ends (2016)

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Author: Dave
Artist: Ravensire
Album: The Cycle Never Ends
Label: Cruz del Sur Records

The Cycle Never Ends is Ravensire’s sophomore effort, and it comes after what I believe to a fairly strong debut. So, given that I feel they set the bar fairly high right out of the gates, this one had a lot to live up to. And initially, I thought that it fell flat. Nothing was overtly bad about it, but nothing was really drawing me in either. But there was something lurking under the surface that I couldn’t quite place my finger on, so I spun it again and a third time, still not quite finding much to latch onto.

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A Tortured Soul – On This Evil Night (2016)

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Author: Dave
Artist: A Tortured Soul
Album: On This Evil Night
Label: Pure Steel Records

A Tortured Soul are a somewhat prolific heavy metal outfit from Milwaukee who just released their fourth album in just a little more than a decade. This particular release is noticeably heavier than their previous efforts, and is also quite a bit more long-winded. Whilst their previous albums were more of the standard length, this beast clocks in at over an hour with most of the songs breaking the six-minute mark. The album is just massive in every sense: its sound is thick from beginning to end, the downtuned guitars contrast with the high-pitched and haunting vocals, and it’s an epic thriller of horror and suspense, with all the dreamy interludes you would expect.

To answer your next question, yes, these guys probably listened to a lot of Mercyful Fate. I might even go so far as to say that it’s hard to spot very many other influences here, if any at all (though this album does interestingly remind me a lot of the Denner-Shermann release from earlier this year that featured Cage’s vocalist). Of course, if you ask me, sounding like Fate is a good thing since I am always on the lookout for more people who can make music like them. Besides the over-the-top vocal tribute to King Diamond, the guitars are dripping in Fate’s influence as well. As long as the rhythm guitarist is actually playing riffs, he is fantastic at channelling the fast-paced and aggressive style that Denner and Shermann perfected back in the golden era.

But unfortunately, there are huge spots where the riffs just seem to disappear completely, and it just leaves me shaking my head. And no, I’m not talking about those slow spots in all types of metal albums where the guitars play clean, the drums take a break, and the vocals soften. Those are fine if you ask me, and they are great for intros or fade-outs, or even as a way to build suspense for the next section. No, I’m not talking about anything like that; I’m talking about breakdowns. Lots of breakdowns. I’m not saying that breakdowns can’t be done tastefully, but the truth is that for the most part these completely interrupt the flow of some truly excellent compositions and kill the song’s momentum almost instantly.

What’s the most strange about them to me is how utterly unnecessary they are. The rhythm and lead guitarists are unbelievably talented and created. Some of the lead work on this album is the most creative stuff I’ve heard this year. And the riffs are equally compelling as well. Why spend all the effort on crafting some truly excellent music just to bury it under some goofy barrage of repeating palm-muted chugs? It doesn’t make any sense. And it’s even less understandable when you have a vocalist who has such an excellent range and ability placed alongside such silliness.

But this album does have its moments. “Dreams” and “Waiting for Death” are a couple of solid pieces where their musical potential really shines through, especially their creativity with constructing alluring melodies and harmonies that perfectly complement the atmosphere they were trying to create. There really is an awful lot to like here. But your mileage will vary depending on your ability to stomach the rest.

7.5/10

Check ’em out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ATorturedSoul

© 2016, Dave Hodges

Monument – Hair of the Dog (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Monument

Album: Hair of the Dog

Genre: Heavy Metal

Label: Rock of Angels Records

 

 

 

After their debut full-length album and a string of lesser releases, Monument have returned to the scene with the release of their second full-length effort. Like a good number of heavy metal bands who have formed in recent years, there is a clear effort on their part to revive the good old days of heavy metal. Though in this case, that strong effort pretty much boils down to trying to do their best to sound like Iron Maiden. They have a lot of those hallmarks down pretty well too: everything from a vocalist who can compete with Dickenson’s wailing howls down to a bassist who seems to adore the thumping bass work Steve Harris (though he isn’t nearly as high in the mix).  Continue reading

Pÿlon – A Lament (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Pÿlon

Album: A Lament

Genre: Epic Doom Metal

Label: Roxx Records

 

 

 

 

 

Pÿlon are not exactly a well-known band. But this recent Swiss doom metal outfit is, if nothing else, one of the most hard-working and committed bands out there. A Lament marks their seventh full-length album since forming shortly after the turn of the century. Rarely do bands even make it to seven albums, let alone accomplish that in just over a decade. But to be frank, Pÿlon’s output has rarely been consistent. Some of their earlier records boasted playing times well in excess of an hour, and their long-windedness was a turn off to many listeners. Each album always had its set strong tracks, but a lot of the other tracks failed to deliver.   Continue reading

Booze Control – The Lizard Rider (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Booze Control

Album: The Lizard Rider

Genre: Heavy Metal

Label: Infernö Records

There are all kinds of oddities to be found in the world of heavy metal. Some of them surround the lugubrious themes explored by the songwriters, others pertain to fantastically over-the-top album covers, and others simply boil down to band names with indecipherable meanings. And with this third release from German heavy metal band Booze Control, we find all of those nicely wrapped up into a single package. If it wasn’t enough to have a band name that could double as slang for an alcoholic rehabilitation programme, we also have an album cover depicting a woman shooting zombies with an automatic weapon whilst riding a mammoth iguana. And with song titles like “The Wizard”, “Rats in the Walls”, and “Vile Temptress”, well, I think you can check off all three categories quite easily.  Continue reading

Silverbones – Wild Waves (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Silverbones

Album: Wild Waves

Genre: Heavy Metal

Label: Stormspell Records

 

 

Silverbones are a newer heavy metal band from Italy and this is their first full-length release after putting out a demo a couple years back. Anybody who knows me knows I love that old school heavy metal sound. It’s practically what I look for in almost everything I listen to. But I don’t just want mere imitators. Innovators are always preferred, provided they can hang onto that old school spirit that fuelled the great classics of the eighties. Well, this right here is probably one of the most blatant throwback bands I have ever heard. In terms the sound, they have completely nailed it: Silverbones are a maniacal reincarnation of Running Wild.  Continue reading

Dexter Ward – Rendezvous with Destiny (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Dexter Ward

Album: Rendezvous with Destiny

 

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Label: No Remorse Records

 

 

 

Dexter Ward, named after the novel by metal’s second-favourite literary benefactor (that would be Lovecraft), are a Greek heavy metal band formed within the last decade who have just released their second full-length album. The album is a pastiche of war stories, told from various perspectives and in various times, and not limited to the past either. From the ancient story of the “Stone Age Warriors” up through the “Ballad of the Green Berets” we are given a series of epic and fantastic tales told by the victors themselves. And you’d think with this kind of subject matter, you would expect something a little more than just run-of-the-mill heavy metal. Fortunately, Dexter Ward certainly deliver on this count.  Continue reading