April 2015 Rapid Fires

Saturday, 2nd May 2015

Funny how the months start to roll by once the chilly winter has found its way out of the picture. April ripped right through before you could say “April Showers” (though who among us actually says this one aloud anymore?). Summer will be here before you know it. This month we feature Adramelch, Atomicide, Blackwelder, Bladecatcher, Blizzen, David Shankle Group, Final Faith, Impalers, Lae (pictured above), Simus, Spectal Darkwave, Terra, War Rages Within, Whorion, World Narcosis.

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Adramelch – Opus (Pure Prog Records)
Originally active from 1986-1988, the second coming of Italy’s Adramelch is now entering their 12th year. Their fourth studio record Opus contains 12 songs of power/progressive metal, not overly intricate and technical yet containing a lot of early Fates Warning/NWOBHM qualities. Epic/cultural melodies and musical themes make “Long Live the Son” and the Rush-like instrumental “Ostinato” uplifting and ear tingling. Vocalist Vittorio Ballerio resonates in that dramatic, semi-theatrical delivery that has obvious training and confidence behind his work. A rare time as well where 66 minutes didn’t seem like an eternity to work through. – Matt Coe (Adramelch on Facebook)

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Atomicide – Chaos Abomination (Iron Bonehead Productions)
An active unit since 2003, Chile’s Atomicide parlay their home country’s usual extreme metal ingredients into a diabolical outing otherwise known as Chaos Abomination. Per the norm, the band’s sound is rooted in the fundamentals of classic black and death metal, which means the lovely bit of reverb on Atomizer’s vocals are utterly essential to convey the old-school vibe. There’s not a whole lot of new ideas on hand, although the feverish portions of “Preparing Your Gallows” and “Poison Graves” are both punchy, well-executed bouts of extremity. Limitations aside, Chaos Abomination is total cult. Nothing more is needed, to be frank. – David E. Gehlke (Atomicide on Facebook)

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Blackwelder – Survival of the Fittest (Golden Core Records)
What happens when you take two parts Primal Fear, one part Yngwie Malmsteen, and add in a relatively unknown guitarist (Seven Seraphim’s Andrew Szucs)? You form a new power metal unit called Blackwelder, and their debut album Survival of the Fittest contains 10 tracks of mostly up tempo oriented, double bass fueled material. Ralf Scheepers showcases all facets of range, power, and grit, drummer Aquiles Priester plays like he has double the limbs, and songs such as “The Night of the New Moon”, Malmsteen meets Rainbow-esque “Freeway of Life” and heavy duty highway ready “Play Some More” bring back fire of youth spirit to these musicians. Painkiller and Nuclear Fire fans rejoice. – Matt Coe (Blackwelder on Facebook)

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Bladecatcher – Obverse (EEE Recordings)
One-man primitive death metal is the name of the game on Obverse. Three short cuts of raw and unfiltered material hit hard and fast, blurring the lines between cavernous darkness and pummeling death metal. Add in some occasional technical flair and that just about rounds out the EP. The riffs are often quite interesting, particularly for the genre’s usual staple and help Bladecatcher to carve out their own niche down the line. The rather raw production may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it fits the overall sound quite well. Considering Eric Henderson’s prolific nature, it shouldn’t be too long before this sees a proper follow-up. – Kyle McGinn (Bladecatcher on Bandcamp)

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Blizzen – Time Machine (High Roller Records)
Heavy/speed metal experiences another revival, thanks in part to old school act reunions plus the credible catalog of relative newcomers such as Enforcer and Skull Fist over the past few years. Germany’s Blizzen put their foot in the NWOTHM ring through this 5 song Time Machine EP, and for only being together since 2014 they’ve gotten off to a decent start. Thunderbolt cover, striking logo (gotta love the double z look), and summoning up all the right power chord combinations gives us head banging anthems such as “Strike the Hammer” and thunderous double bass fury “Gone Wild” that takes a modest dose of Accept and Maiden and notches the energy up a hundred fold. Bassist Daniel Stecki has that helium/semi-Skull Fist vocal melody patter down pat – make room for another patch on that denim vest as this quartet will move up the ranks. – Matt Coe (Blizzen on Facebook)

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David Shankle Group – Still a Warrior (Pure Steel Records)
Former Manowar guitarist David Shankle returns with his third studio album for the David Shankle Group Still a Warrior. 8 years between albums and vocalist struggles (finally rectified with Damien Thorne’s Warren Halvarson) give us a 10 track album of steady power metal hedging towards an old school platform (Rising Force and 80’s Chastain come up) – plus David’s arpeggio oriented shred breaks tacked on for guitar mavens everywhere. Potent pipes and great hooks see saw against a below average production (the bite of the guitars and drums seem lost in the mastering) – and an 8:41 instrumental “The Hitman” could be a touch tedious for the normal consumer. Probably best suited to neo-classical enthusiasts to the extreme degree. – Matt Coe (David Shankle Group on Facebook)

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Final Faith – Chaos Injected (Self-Released)
German melodic death thrashers Final Faith take a common approach to their sound with Chaos Injection, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less killer. Taking the heavier end of the melodic death spectrum, there are influences to bands like Arise, Arch Enemy, and The Duskfall in the band’s thrashy approach. The riffs hit hard and heavy, the harsh vocals are scathing, and the drum work is pounding. The band go for some clean vocals on occasion (“The Hermit’s Invocation”), but they don’t water down the material. Not the most original band on the planet, but Final Faith impress with their playing enough to warrant some attention. – Kyle McGinn (Final Faith on Facebook)

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Impalers – God From the Machine (Crime Records)
Smartly changing names from Rigor Mortis (probably due to the resurrection of that Texas thrash act) to Impalers, this Danish quartet have been active for 8 years. God from the Machine is their second full-length, a thick galloping juggernaut for the thrash community to treasure. Expect Bay Area intricacies meets Teutonic finesse, as gang driven choruses and slightly raspy main vocals drive home crunchy riffs and quick hitting transitions in winning numbers like “Destroy the Meek”, “I Am Revolution”, and the melodic title track. While the cover may be a Testament-like knock off, fortunately Impalers uppity style contains the necessary neck snapping ferocity, engaging melodic lead breaks and aggression to win over even the novice metal mongers. – Matt Coe (Impalers on Facebook)

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Lae – Break the Clasp (The Compound)
Such awesome cover artwork…some of the best around, fo sho. Lae happen to be a Montreal quartet playing a post-whatever concoction that treads between rock and hardcore, but is equally sullen at the same time. Break the Clasp (which saw a late-2014 release, so shame on us for sleeping on it) is subdued, yet angular, with gripping numbers like “Sexy Sadie” and the excellent “To Give You the Stars Above” peddling some fantastic guitar effects and drab, clean vocals. And because of Break the Clasp’s song-oriented nature, there’s plenty to lap up…great cover art included. – David E. Gehlke (Lae official website)

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Simus – Vox Vult (Bakerteam Records)
A lot of the Italian acts on Italy’s Bakerteam Records have somewhat of a tenuous grasp on the English language, especially when it comes to pronunciation. Don’t put Simus in that group, for their blend of power and prog metal is boosted by the crisp wails of vocalist Mimmo D’elia. There’s some well-placed harmonic moments from the man found on “Planet Caiak” (the album’s best song) and “Bitter Taste,” serving the band’s unconventional songwriting blend. They’re probably more prog than anything, having snuck in some Tool influences across the album’s 11-song running order. So far as random as some of these ideas sound, they manage to congeal as a whole. Surprisingly (or not), it took them six years to come up with a debut… – David E. Gehlke (Simus official website)

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Spectral Darkwave – Last First Contact (Occidental Records)
Pegged as a “hi-fi death/doom” outfit, England’s Spectral Darkwave offer up what is a futuristic take on straight-up metal, albeit with added layers of keyboards and the like. What the band really is, is an offshoot of futurist metal (judging by their appearance), where the exploration of time and space are the prime lyrical concepts, flanked by futuristic modules and riff-action. It’s actually not a bad combo across Last First Contact. Some of these jams (“Retake Mars!” “My Hand the Gavel” and “I Am Shadow”) tout legitimate hooks in the songwriting department. In essence: Think a warmer Samael. – David E. Gehlke (Spectral Darkwave on Facebook)

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Terra – Untitled (Hibernacular Records)
The fortuitous reality of being in a UK black metal band is this: You’re going to get at least some kind of notice. Thanks to the success of Fen, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, et al, the UK black metal scene has enjoyed the sort of hype and fawn-a-thon that used to be rewarded to their Norwegian counterparts. Of course, that was almost 20 years ago. Never the matter, for the high-string, high-terrain ideas are here via Terra’s debut full-length, Untitled. Long songs, hellish shrieks (tucked in the back of the production), and a long, endless barrage of busy snare work (read: blast beats) keep the necessary monotony/hypnotic regulation in effect. Having formed just last year, Terra are off to a nice start, but they’re not out of the woods yet. – David E. Gehlke (Terra on Bandcamp)

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War Rages Within – Vitriol (Self-Released)
Metalcore that reaches towards a thrashier tempo while still retaining a solid melodic base is what War Rages Within seems to do best on Vitriol. The 5-song EP has no trouble dishing out the heavy riffs and fast tempos with some sinister screams (“Against All Odds”). But they keep the element of melody present without catering to an overtly commercial sound either. The clean vocals lack that cliché ring to them that many similar bands try to pass off as their own, sometimes offering an almost gothic vibe (“Cycle of Fear”). An enjoyable debut for the sound, these guys will be worth keeping an eye on for the future. – Kyle McGinn (War Rages Within on Facebook)

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Whorion – Reign of the 7th Sector (Inverse Records)
Lots of symphonic death metal seems to be clogging up the ole inbox lately. Whorion is one of the stronger ones to emerge from that bunch, focusing on Fleshgod Apocalypse-styled epic synths and lightning speed (read: lots ‘o’ blast beats). Some comparisons to Behemoth will probably take light as well, with the aggressive and upfront onslaught of riffs. On the major plus side, the band never forgets what it is and the symphonics seem to know their place, daftly avoiding the guitar riffs when it’s there turn to shine. Can’t go wrong with this one if you like either band mentioned. – Kyle McGinn (Whorion on Facebook)

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World Narcosis – World Coda (Self-Released)
World Nacrosis offer up some grind that isn’t afraid to step out of traditional grind boundaries. Of course, you’ll find some traditional flair on tracks like “Brumal Sleep,” “Dead Days Run Amuck,” and “Futureless” but there’s also a sludgy bend that infiltrates some of the tracks, particularly when they decide to slow things down. World Narcosis try for some different flavors with the soft opening of “Nigh(t)” and the downright creepy vibe of the title track. There’s also the quite headbang-friendly “Swan Song City,” which lurches around for over 11 minutes without restraint (or a loss of interest). The vocals are also top notch on this thing, providing some truly intense screams that add to the fury of the surrounding music. This is bound to pick up steam with word of mouth. – Kyle McGinn (World Narcosis on Facebook)