Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (5/14/20)

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ACxDCSatan Is King
Prosthetic records | May 15th, 2020

It’s been enough years since Antichrist Demoncore put out anything that you might have forgotten about them, not that you should have, but I know I had. Not much has changed though, fifteen songs between half and two-and-a-half minutes, chock full of Sergio Amalfitano’s blood gurgling screams, politically charged powerviolence in celebration of self-discovery, rebellion &  challenging the concept of critical thought in the face of society that rewards greed and champions homogeneous thinking,” only now wrapped in slightly less humour and samples. Satan Is King sounds appropriately in your face, apart from the plastic sounding kick and maybe it’s that, or I’m just getting old, but ACxDC circa 2020 are at their best when they are at their slowest. These moments aren’t a rarity on the record, so the band seems to have caught this as well, leaving Satan Is King one of the best paced grind/PV records in ages. It still won’t get them inducted to Metal-Archives, but that’s a point in favour. –KARHU


TyrantHereafter
Shadow Kingdom | May 15th, 2020

With a history reaching back into the late 70’s, and no constant presence besides bassist Greg May’s – though on/off guitarist Rocky Rockwell’s influenced on each of their records – Tyrant’s a heavy metal stalwart that never rose beyond the cult classic status when the 00’s chose to restore glory to the likes of Jag Panzer and Cirith Ungol. And I must say, I doubt Hereafter, the group’s fourth full-length and first since 1996, will change that. Newcomer vocalist Robert Lowe sounds more pleasant here than he ever did on a Candlemass record, but that’s very likely thanks to the mix, which, besides the very pleasing bass rumble could use additional punch. Otherwise it’s plodding, mid-tempo and “doomy” heavy metal for an hour’s worth or so. “That 80’s feel” is captured fairly well here and at their best Rockwell’s riffs strike with the hardest of them, especially on “The Darkness Comes” & “Fire Burns”, but though Hereafter is good for what it is, it’s hard to believe it’s going to stand the test of time. Pleasant, even good, but not terribly memorable, or revisit worthy. –KARHU


Dawn of SolaceWaves
Noble Demon | Jan 24th, 2020

It’s been a good while since Tuomas Saukkonen killed all of his dozen active bands to find Wolfheart. They’re on their fifth full-length now, and Saukkonen has been bringing some of his old projects back for second rounds. For me Dawn of Solace represented the beginning of Saukkonen’s artistic self-strangulation. Now that he’s driven himself right back into that chokehold, DoS’ sophomore, Waves, presents him a way out. Mikko Heikkilä’s, with whom Saukkonen had previously collaborated elsewhere, and whom the oldest Toileteers may know from Kaunis Kuolematon, clear and recognizable voice fits Waves’ slower, but brightly melodic sound like a glove. Though comparatively downtempo, Waves keeps a relatively brisk pace throughout, differing from it’s currently active brother with exclusively clean vocals, which helps set it apart from it’s peers, and the execution of Saukkonen’s trademark melodies, lacking the aggression and blackened edge of his other projects. Easily the finest material from Saukkonen since at least Wolfheart’s debut. –KARHU


VástigrAura Aeternitatis
Avantgarde Music | January 8th, 2020

I feel that adjectives like “grand” and “epic” are what atmospheric black metal albums most commonly go for, but many seem to try to hit those marks with long-winded, stagnant meditations on nature. This one, however, does a great job of mirroring its cover art by feeling like it barely ever rests, barely takes the time to survey the majestic landscape, but instead always keeps on its toes and constantly makes fight or flight decisions – much as you would have to when venturing through perilous territory where death is always hot on your heels. This effect is achieved by a adventurous, versatile drumming and often choppy riffing that consistently creates a sense of forward momentum. When the music does take a break – most notably in the closer – it describes the grandeur of the mountains with airy, beautiful melodies, all the more precious for their fleeting nature. –Hans


PerversorUmbravorous
Pulverised Records | November 1st, 2018

Blackened thrash from Chile. For a lot of you, that says pretty much everything – except for why you should give a damn about another one of these. Well, as noted elsewhere, 2018 surprised me with several cool releases in this genre, and this one deserves to belatedly be added to the pantheon, most notably because Perversor shred. They shred all the time. There is not a single song here that takes things slow. Alas, just when you start to feel overwhelmed and wonder whether a whole album at this pace is a good idea, they hit you with an infectiously catchy riff or a really fun part in the songwriting, and you’re reeled back in. I can’t guarantee that any of those will stick in your head for very long, but there’s no doubt that the level of musicianship and the intensity of the performance are a joy to behold. –Hans


Descend to AcheronThe Transience of Flesh
Independent | April 20th, 2020

Tastefully blackened modern death metal with a tinge of tech- Descend to Acheron knows how to push my buttons. The Transience of Flesh has a lot more to offer than the straightforward attack of its opening burst might suggest; that machine gun tremolo riffs form the foundation of the sound, but it’s how they build off it that makes this album what it is. Doom-laden chords, abyssal chugs, and rapid fire melodies- none of which are so intricate that the band loses track of what they’re trying to do- round out the package, spicing things up with unexpected stops and deviations in time signature. It coalesces together for an album that’s as fun as it is menacing, a smooth and streamlined listen that’s instantly enjoyable. –Spear


From Eden to ExileAge of Fire
Independent | May 1st, 2020

Aptly described by Rolderathis as “big boi merolcore,” From Eden to Exile sounds like what you’d get from the late ’00’s/early ’10’s metalcore sound if you took out all the parts that suck. Age of Fire is all about super aggressive melodies with headbanging grooves and plenty of technical (but controlled) panache, and it’s absolutely not above dropping in an IQ-draining breakdown or three. It occasionally bleeds into thrash and tech death territory, “Face of Desolation” opening up with a “Spheres of Madness” -style start-stop riff and the break in “Inhuman” going full mosh-mode. The vocals are pleasantly crispy, the riffs are all banging, the solos are flashy as hell- what else really needs to be said about it? –Spear

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