Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (8/13/20)


Brain too fried for full reviews? We got you.

Static-XProject Regeneration Vol. 1
Otsego Entertainment Group | July 10th, 2020

It’s been almost six years since the death of Wayne Static and eleven years since the release of Static-X’s last studio album, Cult Of Static. That’s a long time to go Hearing Wayne’s voice once again and the classic members of Static-X (Tony Campos, Ken Jay, and Koichi Fukuda) backing him up is like an old friend coming back into your life. Project Regeneration Vol. 1 seamlessly picks up where the platinum-selling Wisconsin Death Trip Left off over twenty years ago. Bouncy, chuggy riffs, catchy programming bleeps and blips, and Wayne’s signature groovy yells are all there. When Wayne’s vocals are not available, current vocalist Xero more than aptly fills in to the point where you may have to check the liner notes to see who is singing. Songs on this album could easily fit in with the ones from that classic album and vice versa. I would even go as far to say that ‘All These Years‘ is right up there with ‘Push It’ and ‘I’m With Stupid’. For longtime fans the band, Project Regeneration Vol. 1 is a welcome return to the “Evil Disco” sound that made Static-X a fun and beloved band. — 365 Days of Horror

Reserving DirtnapsAnother Disaster
WAR Records | August 21st, 2020

Although it’s only a 4-song EP, Reserving Dirtnaps manage to pack a whole lot of punches, kicks, elbows, and bodyslams into Another Disaster. No time is wasted as they get right to the point with relentless blasts of in-your-face hardcore. Breakdowns, two-steps, gang vocals, everything a disaffected youth looking to rage against everything could desire. It’s all here and it’s all pissed off. Another Disaster doesn’t reinvent the wheel because it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. The wheel is fine and it’s ready to roll over anything in its path. 2020 is a shit year in need of some crowd-killing and Reserving Dirtnaps is more than happy to oblige. — 365 Days of Horror

Self-Released | August 28th, 2020

Wow. That’s the best way to describe Cavern’s new album Powdered. Why haven’t you all told me about Cavern before? What else are you hiding? Better to discover Cavern and their great new album Powdered now than to never discover them at all. I’ve learned my lesson and now you will too. Indie rock earnestness meets heavy metal fortitude on this album recorded by Converge’s Kurt Ballou. Each song flows with catchy post-rock that can easily fit in with any college or mainstream rock radio station. Bassist/vocalist Rose  Heater’s voice soars with a heart-gripping beauty, complimented perfectly by Zach Harkins guitars and Stephen Schrock’s drums. Every song on this album is a 10 out of 10 and you’re doing yourself a disservice by not listening to every single one. I’m calling it now: Cavern’s Powdered is ‘Top 10 Album Of The Year’ material. — 365 Days of Horror

Metal Blade | July 10th 2020

A better wordsmith than I might find the ingredients of an essay within the dichotomy of the disparity of the use of words like “Thalassic” and the Kalevala-themes contained within as well as the bindings of the tome, and the perfect summation of it’s central theme that it provides. But, alas, I am a wordsmith of my own level, and not above, and I must resign myself to a provocative advertisement drawing attention to the fact. After a boring record, a terrible album and a single that failed to avoid mental association with Alestorm, my hopes for Thalassic weren’t raised high. But with the arrival of a new keyboardist/vocalist Pekka Montin, some of the orchestral accompaniment has been stripped down to favour guitarist Toivonen’s trademark folk melodies again, even adding a bit of shred. This, as well as the admittance long songs were never their strong suite, that where they’ve excelled is at writing catchy pop-metal ditties and mostly sticking to it while still retaining some of their later variety, raise Thalassic high above it’s two impotent predecessors. But it is not without it’s woes. Many will no doubt commend the addition of Montin, who is beyond a doubt, a great (power metal) vocalist, but how well his tone fits in with the rest is not something I’ve yet made my mind up about. “The Defense of Sampo” is a lazily put together song lacking in energy or emotion, it’s only memorable part coming in the spaghetti-western bit near the end, and that’s just because it sounds so off compared to it’s surroundings. Likewise the all-in joke song “Midsummer Magic” is not only awkward in it’s inclusion, the jokes literally ripped from a super popular comic strip make me want to tear my head off. But it’s definitely a right turn for the band. — KARHU

Maggot Stomp | July 17th 2020

Once upon a time, in the far away land of always-2016, Kommand was an excellent Bolt Thrower -metal band. There was always more to their hardcore -inflicted death metal than that, or, in the very least, a promise of something more to come, so their debut full-length, Terrorscape, was warmly welcomed in my household. Reportedly inspired by Finnish death metal and Cold War era myths of Soviet terrors, few things in 2020, have sounded as good as that description. A good many things in 2020, however, have sounded better than Terrorscape does. It’s only memorable or inviting when it’s at it’s most Bolt thrower-y, yet there seems to be only a very surface level understanding of what made that band so good throughout it’s different era, a pale copy of their riffwork without any of their songwriting. The drawn out moments are appropriately heavy, but lack a palpable atmosphere, there’s nothing particularly sinister or threatening here, and when every song seems to be repeating the same two things over and over again, without even trying to pretend like they’re more than variations on the same idea, the twenty-three and a half minutes that Terrorscape takes up, feel twice as long. With so little to like, Jesse Sanes’ monotone, nigh-unarranged vocals start to grate my ears with a fierce wrath, and I am left to wonder if I’ve actually ever liked this band or not. — KARHU

Church of the DeadChurch of the Dead
Stay Heavy Records | July 31st, 2020

Entering the world with a crash in 2012, with a six-EP plan in their pocket, Church of the Dead quickly proved a capable live band, and though their material worked in that environment, it never translated all that well into the EPs that they produced in a much too quick succession (three in 2013 alone). Despite their apparent haste, the sixth of the planned EPs failed to materialize, the band entered a coma-like state in 2016, and before they would re-emerge, they had lost both, vocalist Jukka Pihlajaniemi (Paara) and guitarist Markus Heinonen (Astral Sleep), as well as abandoned their plan, and I cannot tell you how damn irritated it has made me that they would give up within sight of the goal. Oh well, in the grand scheme of things,it doesn’t matter and their debut full-length has arrived in it’s stead. The first half consist of three new songs and an intro, though the material can be said to be based on the tradition of Scandinavian death metal, it carries within it a blackened edge. Though the suffocating production emphasizes on this, otherwise it deters the songs’ power, especially “Coffincraft” could sorely have used more depth to the mix. The latter half consists of cherry-picked songs from the EPs and the material is a bit more lively, which makes for a flow, countering the more single-minded material with a wider variety of tempos, culminating in the doom-y intro to “The Abyss,” a few thrashier riffs and more versatile arrangements. A short and sweet debut that will hopefully mark a more stable beginning for Church of the Dead. — KARHU

SnakebladeThe Kingdom
Independent | July 31st, 2020

A project conceived and born entirely under quarantine, Snakeblade explores hitherto untouched concepts in black metal, such as having actual riffs and not sounding like shit. I joke of course, but The Kingdom plays so little into typical black metal mores that I have to wonder if it’s the correct label for the band, self-ascribed or otherwise. Songs like “To the Pits With the Balrog” and “The Nine” are built on fast upbeat melodies that are impossible not to move to, and even as “Scavenger” leans into spooky minor chords over blastbeats, it’s also loaded with some Arsis-style riffs and capped off with blistering sweep picking. The production is sleek as hell (I really dig the shimmery clean guitar sound), the solos rip, and it’s all about nerdy fantasy shit. This is absolutely my jam, and The Kingdom is one of my favorite albums of the year so far. — Spear

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