CRITICAL METAL

Update 2, 2006

This updateCanvas Solaris, Daylight Dies, Degree Absolute, Deviant, Dismember, Ensoph, Hate, Hate Profile, Head Control System, Inevitable End, Intronaut, Insense, Jungle Rot, Katatonia, Melisend, Non-Human Level, , Satariel, Seven Witches, Shakra, The Gathering, Thyrane, Thyrfing, The Project hate, Tuff Jeff Salen, Vader.

 

This update is late as some of the release dates suggest below.  But I think it is worth the wait.  As usual, I have been swamped in graduate studies which are very demanding.  If you have never done it, don’t criticize it!  Anyway, rather than half-assing these reviews, I decided to make them worth your trouble to read, therefore I took as much time as needed.  Hopefully none of my promo-pimpers will drop me from their lists, but this is the way it goes.  I think I have written some very dependable reviews.

 

GREEN CARNATION GIVEAWAY:  I have five (each) Green Carnation CD’s, stickers, and posters.  If you want one of them, this is what I would like for you to do.  1) Tell me the counter number on my homepage when you read these reviews, 2) E-mail my website link to 10 of your friends who like metal asking them to look at the reviews, and 3) send me your name and address.  THIS OFFER IS GOOD UNTIL APRIL 1, 2006.  After this date, the CD’s will be gone.  Also, we are on the honor system.  If you lie to me about your 10 friends I may never know it.  But you will burn in HELL!

 

CANVAS SOLARIS “Penumbra Diffuse” (7 tracks.  48.8 mins).  SENSORY

Rating:  8.  Country of originUSARelease date:  ?

          CS is an instrumental band whose style is progressive, jazzy, and quite accessible.  Prog-metallers and prog-rockers alike will find their style enjoyable.  I think those who are into the likes of Stinking Lizaveta and Pelican will both agree on it.  But also, fans of Fates Warning and Karmakanic will also appreciate this trios’ work.  There are no vocals, which I think is good, because certainly this music doesn’t need them.  This CD makes a great soundtrack for studying; it engages the mind, stimulates the senses, but does not distract with vocals.

 

DAYLIGHT DIES  Dismantling Devotion”  (8 tracks.  53 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  9.5.  Country of originUSARelease date:  March 7.

          Several years back when not a small stir occurred around the first Daylight Dies release I went out and bought it.  I found the CD moderately interesting but for me it lacked a certain “umphf”.  Well, whatever it was that I felt was lacking in the first release must be present here because I think they found my “sweet spot”.  If, for instance, the first album was too up-tempo and rock oriented, then this album is satisfyingly diverse in the tempo category and much more metal in construction.  Even this understates the case.  The music has a poetic quality.  For one thing:  chord arrangements.  Daylight Dies has discovered a wide range of chords and transitions rarely heard in metal.  The sheer power and majesty of songs like “A Life Less Lived” and “Dead Air”—the first two songs right off the bat—is inspiring.  To me, this new album combines the epic quality of Morgion with the aggressiveness of bands like Agalloch and Aphotic.   But I can also understand how fans of Katatonia, Opeth, and My Dying Bride—all very favorite bands of mine!—will find this new album much to their taste.  I am very happy to say that after not really being moved by their first release, DD have now swept me off my feet.  It’s going to be a good year!

 

DEGREE ABSOLUTE  “s/t”  (10 tracks.  57.3 mins).  SENSORY.

Rating:  .  Country of origin:  .  Release date:  January 31.

          From the intriguing cover art to the name they have chosen for themselves, Degree Absolute come across as a different kind of band.  They are, in fact, one of the more aggressive sounding bands on the Sensory label.  Though they are clearly progressive, Degree Absolute have got some thrash riffs in their blood.  My overall feeling about this CD is that the band has made an excellent symbiosis of aggression and progression through diversity.  What I mean is that some songs are fast and chunky, others are softer and more reflective, but the contrast in styles is pleasing, not distracting. 

 

DEVIANT  Ravenous Death Worship”  (9 tracks.  38 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  9.  Country of originNorwayRelease date:  February 21.

          This band could not have chosen a more appropriate name for their CD.  If anything, listening to Deviant’s Ravenous Death Worship is like getting a synthesis of Scandenavian black and death metal (plus Celtic Frost) in concentrated form.  I could not help but constantly make comparisons while listening to this CD.  Upon listening to the first song, “Merciless”, I was reminded of Emperor’s IX Equilibrium.  You may recall that when that album came out many reviewers commented that the band have moved away from black metal and closer to death.  The similarities here are noticeable.  This also means that several of Zamoth’s bands (Zyklon, Mindgrinder) also came to mind for comparison while listening to Deviant.  Also bands like Satyricon, Marduk, Immortal, and Gorgoroth very legitimately come to mind.  In other words, Deviant is one of those bands where the old phrase, “imitation is the highest form of flattery” is appropriate.  Cold, dark, and very aggressive, they follow in the footsteps of their predecessors impressively.

 

DISMEMBER “The God that Never Was” (11 tracks.  35.5 minutes).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating: 8.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  March 7.

           This band’s longevity (17 years) is due largely to their ability to write crushing death metal riffs and to pull them off with flair.  They continue to do so here with The God that Never Was, their latest.  It is, of course, exactly what you would expect from this band, but when it sounds like this, you are quite satisfied.  If you are not familiar with Dismember, this is how they sound:  fast, grinding, Swedish death metal, old school, with great flourishes of melody spread throughout.  Occasionally they will strike a slow and/or doomy note, but for the most part brutality reigns.

 

ENSOPH  Project X-Katon” (15 tracks.  65.1 mins).  CRUZ DEL SUR.

Rating:  7.  Country of originItalyRelease date:  available now.

          En Soph = no end or endless.  Pronounced /ain/ as in “ain’t” and /soaf/ as in soap – p + f (Hebrew אין סוף).  X-Katon = the end or end times.  Greek, escaton.  En Soph is a term used in Jewish mysticism to describe the transcendence of God.  It comes (I am pretty sure) from the Jewish philosophical mysticism of the medieval period.  It is especially important in Zoharic/Qabbalistic parlance.  Whatever the origin of the term “eschaton”, it is predominantly used in Christian theology to describe the End Times in apocalyptic thinking (which I do not follow).  How much of this the band actually has in mind is unknown to me. 

         Musically Ensoph belong with other electro-mystical groups as Samael, The Kovenant, Mortiis, and to a lesser extent, Aborym.   Unlike at least one of those, Ensoph are a full band, though, which means that they have real drums among other things.  I personally would like a little more “umph” in their music.  I feel like they lean heavy on the electro, however, they do have guitars and scream and are not morose like a gothic band.  I think they are best described as a cross between Mortiis (electro, not metal) and Samael (metal with lots of electro).  Project X-Katon would have made a good soundtrack for the Matrix.

 

HATE  “Anaclasis: A Haunting Gospel of Malice and Hatred”  (8 tracks. 35.9 mins).  LISTENABLE.

Rating:  6.5.  Country of originPolandRelease date:  .

    Hate has been around nearly sixteen years, and I have known about them since their 2000 release, Holy Dead Trinity (WWIII Music).  This was followed by Cain’s Way in 2002 and Awakening the Liar in 2003.  After this came a DVD.  And now, a new album, this one.  Though they have been around about as long as Vader, Hate have suffered from weak labels.  This is likely to change with their being signed to Listenable.  Anaclasis is a good album, but not their best. 

 

HATE PROFILE  “Opus I: the Khaos Hatefile” (9 tracks.  43.2mins).  CRUZ DEL SUR.

Rating:  9.  Country of origin:  ?  Release date:  ?

     The title is very telling.  Opus I is a concept album which will be continued with further releases (Opus II: The Soule Proceeds and Opus III:  Spirit Breed Era Vulgaris).  This means that the lyrical concepts are already there, and apparently are of great importance for Amon 418, the lyrical and musical architect of this project.  There was a time when he had collaborators, but this project was evidently of such personal meaning to him, that he parted ways with them and continued on his own.  He did, however, employ a session drummer (GroM) for the recording of the album.  The best thing about this CD to me is the atmosphere.  It is black metal for the most part, but has a philosophical aura similar to Borknagar and Arcturis, and maybe Vintersorg.  The music is not about speed or attitude, but like I said, it has the serious tone necessary to convey the lyrical concepts.  It is obvious that Amon 418 did not rush through this project but rather (and probably) obsessed over it, working it to perfection according to his own vision.  It is very obvious that he has accomplished something here that will be difficult to beat.

 

HEAD CONTROL SYSTEM “Murder Nature  (11 tracks.  45.3 mins).  THE END RECORDS.

Ratingn/aCountry of originNorway  Release date

          When I don’t like a CD I try to be objective rather than insulting in my review.  To insult someone else’s work, especially something as challenging as a full-length recording, is not only tacky, it shows how egoistic many reviewers are.  Anyway, while my first impressions of the CD from the band name, album title, and artwork were less than enthusiastic, all that changed when I discovered that one-half of this two man group is none other than Kristofer Garm Rygg (spelling?  Sorry for any mistakes) a.k.a., Trickster G. of Ulver, etc.   So I popped the disc in the player.  I have to say I never expected not to be really impressed with anything he does, but repeated listenings have failed to capture my interest.  It just doesn’t move me.  I will do my duty, however, and let you readers know of its existence.  And I dare say, that some of you will think it is his best work yet.

 

INEVITABLE END  Reversal”  (3 song demo.  16.5 mins).

Rating:  8.  Country of originSweden  Release date:  available now.

          This three song demo is highly reminiscent of early Extol in my opinion.  But it is actually heavier, I think, than Extol.  Regardless, the style is a very aggressive, and somewhat shrill, death/grind from Sweden.  Inevitable End clearly demonstrate a connection to bands like Extol and Antestor not only with their positive Christian lyrics, but also in their uncompromising metallic brutality.  I doubt that you will find another Scandinavian band with a more in-your-face sound.  If this three song demo is any indication of what this band would do on a full-length, then I hope someone signs them soon.

Contact:  info@inevitable-end.com.

 

INTRONAUT  Null”  (5 tracks.  28.3 mins).  GOODFELLOW RECORDS.

Rating:  7.5.  Country of originUSARelease date:  available now.

          Into the fray of up-and-coming thrashcore bands which are leaning ever more towards thrash comes Intronaut, a four-piece from California.  Their music can be described as thrashcore with jazzy/progressive moments—perhaps like a prog-metal version of Meshuggah.  Interestingly enough, the band was formed by Danny Walker of Uphill Battle (grind/death band) and Sacha Dunable of Anubis Rising (noise/doom).  Also included in the band is Leon Del Muerte who has played in Impaled and Exhumed (along with Danny Walker), and Joe Lester a drummer with a college degree in the field.  There are hints of these guys’ previous bands’ styles on this e.p., but overall Intronaut represents a considerably different direction for these guys.  It isn’t totally unheard of, but it is definitely different and I appreciate the fact that these guys are consciously moving towards new ground.

 

INSENSE  Soothing Torture”  (10 tracks.  36.7 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  8.  Country of originNorwayRelease date:  February 7.

          Reflective yet brutal, Insense are perhaps Norway’s answer to bands like Meshuggah.  To me they are more metal/thrash than thrashcore, but apparently some have compared them to Killswitch Engage, Nehemiah and others.  The CD begins rather calmly with soft piano playing, but quickly transitions to aggressive guitar rhythms.  While sounding somewhat like recent thrashcore/death crossover music, Insense aren’t just all about screaming and playing chunky rhythms.  Rather, they take opportunity here and there to relish some chords and change tempos.  Though this typically isn’t my kind of metal, I find that they are much more interesting than many of the bands of their genre.  Then again, the move these days is more towards “metal” than “core”, which is a good thing.  Notice, too, the interesting song titles, “Clawing at the Nerve,” “The Forgiving Embrace,” “A Prayer for the Feeble” (only 30 seconds long), and the title track, “Soothing Torture”. 

 

JUNGLE ROT  Darkness Foretold”  (7 tracks.  27.3 mins).  CRASH MUSIC.

Rating:  8.5.  Country of originUSARelease date:  February 7.

          I must confess that I never thought about listening to this band because their name made me think of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Mortician.  What a mistake that was.  This band is totally cool and have some excellent death metal grooves.  The CD begins with three cover tunes.  Admittedly this is not their own material, but the choice of tunes says something about the band.  First is “Agent Orange”, a classic from Sodom’s heyday, then comes Slayer’s “Fight ‘Til Death”, and Carnivore’s “Jesus Hitler.”  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I would guess that these three band would feel like their egos have been adequately stroked.  Track 4 is a new song, the title tune, “Darkness Foretold”.  If this is representative of what the band is like, then I am definitely interested.  This is followed by three very well recorded live tunes, “Tomb of Armenous”, “Eternal Agony”, and “Consumed in Darkness”.  We are told in the press sheet that the band is writing material for a release later this year.  Until then, enjoy this one.

 

KATATONIA  The Great Cold Distance”  (12 tracks.  51.9 mins).  PEACEVILLE.

Rating:  9.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  March 13.

          From the moment I first heard Tonight’s Decision several years ago, I knew I was going to be a loyal fan of this band.  My favorite album thus far is Last Fair Deal Gone Down, though all the others, and especiallyVive Emptiness, are quite satisfactory, if not classic.  But in my opinion Last Fair Deal Gone Down has thus far been the pinnacle of their work.  It is the standard by which all their other albums should be judged.  Well, if The Great Cold Distance is anything, it is a close second to Last Fair Deal… I am not yet ready to say that it is better (as some have done), but I am at least willing to say that it comes close.   The songs have a sound which is more consistent with Last Fair Deal and Vive than all previous albums.  This means that the band has sort of “settled” on a sound, whereas in the past, I would have described their sound as “evolving”.  I have no complaints about this because I think it is a great sound, they are a great band, and practically no one sounds like them.  They have arrived at a “trademark sound,” you might say.  The Great Cold Distance is a good cross between Last Fair Deal and Vive, being more aggressive and a little less emotional than Last Fair Deal Gone Down. Anyway, Katatonia’s loyal fans, myself included, will not find anything here to disappoint them. 

          More comments … Katatonia is one of those bands that are so good and so pioneering, so unique and so interesting that it is difficult to compare them to anyone else stylelistically.  They are, however, in my opinion, in a class with other unique bands like Opeth, Green Carnation, Porcupine Tree, and so on.  Album after album, some things change, some things remain the same.  One of the things that remains constant is their professionalism and their ability to write interesting music. 

 

MELISEND  “Demo 2005”  (7 tracks.  37.4 mins).  Melisend.

Rating:  .  Country of origin:  The NetherlandsRelease date:  available now.

          Though this is obviously a self-produced demo I find a lot of potential here.  The key word is “potential”, because I think that with a producer and a recording budget this band can release a pretty decent death/doom metal album.  There are no major or glaring shortcomings in my opinion, but certainly some guidance and some fine tuning will help this band go places.  As of now they sound like a combination of the earliest Paradise Lost album (Lost Paradise) and Celtic Frost mixed with early Mortification.  Fans of early My Dying Bride will also hear resonances.  Contact the band via their website:  www.melisend.com.

 

NON-HUMAN LEVEL  “s/t” (10 tracks.  41.4 mins).  LISTENABLE

Rating:  9.5.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  November 2005.

          NHL is a side project featuring Peter Wildoer (Darkane) onvocals, Christopher Malmstrom (Darkane) on guitars, Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Band) on drums, and bass by Gustaf Hielm (ex-Meshuggah).  Each member brings something to the mix as is obvious in the listening.  With a line-up like this you know you have good album.  But let me tell you, it is a bombshell!  In my estimation it is about 50% modern Swedish death, 30% thrash, and about 20% neo-classical.  These guys play with all the fury of a Swedish death band, but you hear a good bit of neo-classical style in Malmstrom’s work reminiscent of both early Destruction and Alex Skolnik era Testament.  Aside from his stunning guitar work in the “regular” songs, he also contributes a number of instrumentals which definitely give Skolnik a run for his money such as track seven, “Water”.  Also, Hielm on bass shows us he is more than an ordinary “spaghetti bender” by playing fretless on “Divine Creation of Void”.  The overall feel of the album is Swedish death/thrash with those touches of neo-classical guitar work (also Swedish in flavor).  In all it is an impressive blend of brutality and finesse.  Aside from the respective “bands of origin” for the guys in NHL, and the comparisons already made to Destruction and Testament, I also find myself thinking of Witchery and Mindgrinder.  About six years in the making, this is one brilliant debut!

 

SATARIEL  Hydra” (12 tracks. 48.1 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  6.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  February 7.

     Is my first sample of Satariel.  I was under the mistaken notion that they were a black metal band.  (Why I do not know.)  but instead I find them a mixed bag of Swedish styles.  Some of it is death metal.  Some of it flirts with black metal, but not really.  Some of it is fast and heavy, some of it mid-paced.  Sometimes the male vocals are clean, much of the time they are gruff (Dimmu Borgir style).  Occasionally there are sweet female vocals.  Perhaps fans of Ram-Zet, Callenish Circle, and Lacuna Coil will find common ground on this band; but for me, the diversity does not work.

 

THE GATHERING  Home  (13 tracks.  1 hr.).  PSYCHONAUT/THE END RECORDS

Rating:  8.  Country of origin:  The Netherlands.  Release date:  April 18.

          Usually I reserve adjectives like “intense” for heavy albums.  But if you know The Gathering, you will not use the word “heavy” to describe their music.  You could, however, use the word “intense” justifiably, because underneath the ethereal vibes of their music is an undertone of intensity that comes through with each and every release.  Home is no exception.  While you may be tempted to pop it in the CD player and lay back in a chair in order to “relax,” you may find yourself—that is, your mind—preoccupied with it, unable to disengage.  At the same time, I do not thing “metal” is the right category for this band, nor has it ever been.  But obviously there is something about them that draws fans of metal as well as labels like The End Records and Century Media. 

Another admirable trait of this band is their patience in creating new music.  Of course you have to allow for things like tours, having babies, and so on, but the Gathering have not been in any hurry to get another release out.  They take their time and make quality music.  This is very easily observed with Home.  I would not say that the band has really conquered any new territory with this album, but I would say that song after song, a certain work ethic is discernible.  Just listen to “Alone,” track 3, and you will know what I mean.  They do have their (slightly) heavy moments in songs like “A Noise Severe,” but for the most part they sound like an ethereal blend of the Cranberries and U2, only they are not playing top 40 music.  Perhaps this explains their appeal to fans on non-mainstream music like metal.  Either way, this CD is for people who like good music, plain and simple.

 

THE PROJECT HATE  Armageddon March Eternal”  (8 tracks.  1 hour).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  9.5.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  January 24.

          Go ahead and prepare yourself to be told that The Project Hate’s second album, Armageddon March Eternal, will be one of the STANDOUT CD’s of the year.  It will.  Composed of members from Grave, Entombed, and Evergrey (what a combo, eh?), and featuring guest appearances from members of Defleshed, Vicious Art, Damnation and others—AND produced by Dan Swano, certainly this band is and will be the object of a lot of “buzz” in 2006.  Need I say more?  But of course the CD deserves further comment.

          First, as you can imagine, the music and musicianship on this CD is top notch.  But you can also imagine it is a hybrid style.  It is first of all very death metal, but has elements of programming, and, in addition to the deep guttural male vocals, are some alto female vocals.  I do not know who the female vocalist is, but she sounds bit like the singer from Madder Mortem, and her vocals positively draw Madder Mortem comparisons to this album.   Another very distinctive feature of the music is the length of the songs.  Unlike typical death metal songs which are between two and four minutes long, these songs generally range from eight to nine minutes long.  Lyrically the band goes for blasphemy and Nietzschean themes.  No surprise there.  I mean, with a name like that what else would you expect?  (I’m going to have to include this CD in my paper on the apocalyptic framework of heavy metal). 

 

THYRANE “Travesty of Heavenly Essence” (11 tracks.  44.25 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  9.  Country of originFinlandRelease date:  February 21.

          From the first second this CD excited me.  My first impression was a sort of classic heavy metal riffs played death metal style.  A little chaotic and very catchy.  But as I listened further, I began to feel more and more that Thyrane reminds me of a Finnish version of Emperor.  Not to say that have ripped off Emperor, or tried to imitate them directly—but who could blame them if that were the case?  Rather, it is their style of composition of hyper speed drumming, guitar lines which walk up and down the necks of the guitars, and occasional flourishes of keyboards beneath the surface.  And they do at time—guitars, bass, and keyboards—make broad, sweeping chord changes over a bed of blast beats.  Nevertheless, this bands penchant for catchy riffs give them more of a death metal feel than black metal, thus the Emperor comparison is only that.  Criticalnate says they remind him of Children of Bodom.  I think that is not wrong, but not the best comparison.  (Oh well, he is young after all!)  What I like most about this album is that it is very intense and has really great riffs.  I imagine that fans of both “majestic” black metal (Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child) and death metal (Behemoth, Non-Human Level) will be equally thrilled by this album.

 

THYRFING  Farsotstider  (8 tracks.  42.8 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  7.5.  Country of originSwedenRelease date:  February 7.

          I really tried to get it.  I tried repeatedly to see (or hear) what others say about Thyrfing.  I listened to this album several times (and, I do have two of their other albums).  It just sounds to me like regular death metal.  Solid, well-executed, well-produced, and somewhat interesting; but not stellar like so many claim.  I guess it is just a chemistry thing.  I will say that I probably like this album more than the other two that I have.  And maybe I would have received it better were it not for all the hype about how they are so creative.  I just don’t get it.

 

TUFF JEFF SALEN “The Endless Road”  (14 tracks.  51.8 mins).  FOUNTAINBLEAU MUSIC.

Rating:  7.  Country of originUSARelease date:  Available now.

          If you find yourself listening to classic rock bands like Bowie, Van Morrison, Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, and such, you will find Tuff Jeff Salen’s solo album a taste of nostalgia.  Prominent on this record is Tuff Jeff’s love of blues guitar.  The album starts off with his well-known (and oft-covered) tune, “All for the Love of Rock n’ Roll”.  From there he and assorted musicians play through thirteen more songs ending up much like he started, with “Rock n’ Roll Sez it Better”.  In between are a number of heartfelt love songs like “One More Time” and lighthearted romps such as “Everything,” the tongue-in-cheek “I Hate You,” but I think his best work is the bluesy B. B. King inspired, “Take this Hurt off Me.”  At times the lyrics are a bit thin or trite (e.g., “One More Time”, “Head Over Heals”), but at other times they are very insightful (“The Endless Road”).  All in all, the beauty of this record is its dedication to classic rock guitar, blues licks, and a smooth rhythm section.

 

SEVEN WITCHES  “Amped”  (9 tracks.  40.4 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  6.  Country of originUSARelease date:  January 24.

     This New Jersey classic rock/metal band has a new label deal, a new singer, and a new album.  I may be totally crazy, but it seems to me that there are always bands who have a sort of regional flavor.  Seven Witches sound to me like a NY/NJ type power metal band.  They’ve been compared to Virgin Steele, for instance.  I even think I hear a little Kiss influence.  But they most appropriately  belong in a category with bands like Primal Fear, Armored Saint, and nearly the whole Limb Music Products catalog.  They have some great power/ rock metal riffs featuring Jack Frost on guitars.  Why Frost doesn’t sing for this band is a mystery.  I really enjoyed his work as a vocalist for Savatage.  New vocalist Alan Tecchio is just not to my liking.  He isn’t bad, but he screams everything.  Just a matter of taste for me, I’m sure.   Anyway, you readers may want to get a second opinion on this band since they seem to be quite the buzz.  As for me, they are only moderately interesting.  I can’t like them all.

 

SHAKRA  “Fall”  (12 tracks.  47.6 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  6.5.  Country of originSwitzerlandRelease date:  January 24.

     It is my impression that Switzerland is one of those places where a particular style of commercial metal never really died out.  To this day bands like Vicious Rumors, for instance, enjoy popularity in Switzerland while being ignored at home.  Thus it comes as no surprise to me that a band like Shakra should emerge from there.  They are only now being introduced to us in the U.S. on this, their fifth studio album.  It is a very commercial album that makes me think of some of the really huge bands of the 1980s:  Def Leppard, Great White, Cinderella, the Scorpions, and perhaps some of Bon Jovi’s heavier moments.  If you are familiar with their older material, then you should know they have a new singer, Mark Fox, a gritty voice reminiscent of that guy from Cinderella, or Matthias from the Scorpions.  This is my first encounter with the band.  I admit that they are polished and very commercially appealing, and I know that they will probably find many fans in this country.  But they are not my cup-of-tea.

 

VADER  “The Art of War”  (6 tracks + video.  13.5 mins).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  8.5.  Country of originPolandRelease date:  January 24.

     Longevity” and “commitment” are two words that I think appropriately describe this death metal powerhouse.  After all these years and all those releases, Vader manage to “keep it fresh,” and this from a band that plays around 200 shows per year.  Here is a six track death metal e.p. masterpiece to occupy us until they record another full length.  It is, as always, consummate in musicianship and production.  And as always, well worth the listen.  If you know the band, this review is not even necessary.  You will want to buy it simply by knowing that it exists.  But if you do not know the band, The Art of War is a good starting place to introduce yourself to one of death metal’s premier bands.  Of course I could complain that there are only two full-length death metal songs, “This is the War!” and “What Color is Your Blood?”  but they are both destined to be fan favorites—I especially like the latter.  Tracks 1 and 4 are intro pieces to the two songs just mentioned, and the last song is only a minute and seconds long, though it is also death metal.  As indicated above, the CD has a video but I could not get it to work on my computer.  Bummer. 

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