January 2018 Rapid Fires

Tuesday, 6th February 2018

The first Rapid Fires of the year, our short review column that helps us stay on top of the flood of releases that grace the metal scene, features all early 2018 releases, meaning, we’re now past 2017…at least in the sense of coverage. As is always the case, we cast a wide net of styles and sounds, with this month featuring Asenblut, The Dead Centuries, Entropy Coding, Expulser, Forgotten Woods, Holy Terror (pictured), Inquisitor, Jungle Rot, Lione/Conti, Revenger, Skyfire, Sorrowful Land, Trespass, The Venting Machine, and Victorius.

Asenblut – Legenden (AFM Records)
A short but sweet EP with 4 re-recorded tracks from Asenblut’s debut release, Aufbruch, and a cover of Manowar’s “God or Man,” Legenden is one of those ‘for fans only’ type releases. Though it’s a nice introduction to the band’s Amon Amarth-esque approach to pagan metal, those familiar with the original tracks are really the target audience here. Thunderous and charging mid-tempo stuff, the older songs are given a solid coat of fresh paint to rumble with, and the Manowar cover, despite the layer of extremity added to it, sits pretty comfortably with Asenblut’s sound. If you enjoyed Berserker, it’s definitely worth a gander. – Kyle McGinn (Asenblut on Facebook)

The Dead Centuries – Race Against Time (Self-Released)
Ottawa instrumental sounds like an interesting concept. (Well, anything from Canada does. Who can forget the country’s ability to forge its own distinct path?) In the case of newbs The Dead Centuries, their brand of instrumental metal crosses frequently into melodic death metal territory. It’s like a coming-of-age melo-death band got together and couldn’t find a vocalist suitable for their compositions. But, The Dead Centuries prove to be adept at maintaining the technical flow across Race Against Time, an album not lacking in impressive harmonies and fretboard gymnastics. – David E. Gehlke (The Dead Centuries Facebook)

Entropy Coding – Tales of the Moon (Agoge Records)
The work of Susanna Coltrè, Entropy Coding is a collaborative effort in which she worked with a large number of guests to create Tales of the Moon. While it nestles into the symphonic/progressive tag with ease, the cinematic atmosphere that accompanies it places it into a more unique space. The use of male and female vocals, upfront but not dominating keys, and a firm power/prog backbone all feature prominently in Entropy Coding’s appeal, as does an almost futuristic vibe (see “Eclipse”). Lots to enjoy for the melodic metal fan, and done in a way that feels more fresh than many may initially give it credit for. – Kyle McGinn (Entropy Coding on Facebook)

Expulser – The Unholy One (Greyhaze)
Greyhaze continues its never-ending pursuit of reissuing obscure Brazilian metal bands with Expulser. The band’s The Unholy One foray (originally released in 1992 by Cogumelo Records) bears a lot of the hallmarks of that period’s death metal, notably, a ram-shackled production job, flurry of riffs and a tempo that wavers frequently. (No way this was recorded to a click track.) There’s a little bit of sleaze thrown in (“Cirrhosis (Let’s Get Drunk)),” but the meat of the album, including “Bleeding at Cross” and “Christ’s Saga,” is pointed slabs of Brazilian death metal. – David E. Gehlke (Expulser Facebook)

Forgotten Woods – The Curse of Mankind (ATMF)
Originally released in 1996, The Curse of Mankind positioned Forgotten Woods as one of Norwegian black metal’s more unsung bands. The album’s depressive tint ran afoul of the scene’s growing bombast and aggressiveness, which could explain why Forgotten Woods have remained forever cult, hence the need for this reissue. Aside from its wintry atmosphere, The Curse of Mankind retains all of the necessary Norwegian BM hallmarks. And like many bands in the same field, reverence for their black arts has simply grown with time, thus, necessitating this reissue. – David E. Gehlke (Forgotten Woods MySpace)

Holy Terror – Total Terror (Dissonance Productions)
A rather daunting, all-encompassing box set that includes Holy Terror’s prominent studio albums and assorted works, Total Terror, is about as wide of a net for an underrated American thrash band as one could cast. As one of those “lost in the shuffle” bands of the style’s glory years, Holy Terror brandished a sort of punchy, somewhat punky style of thrash in the early days before heading into a more conventional territory. Nevertheless, the five discs here (if you purchased the physical product) will provide more than enough value and reckoning that Holy Terror never received their just due. – David E. Gehlke (Holy Terror Facebook)

Inquisitor – Stigmata Me, I’m in Misery (Hammerheart)
Featuring former and current members of Ancient Rites and Desultory, Inquisitor originally formed in 1991, only to call it a day in 1997. They went the reformation route in 2014, popping out the I Am Sick, I Must Die EP the same year. To the present, here’s their somewhat oddly-titled Stigmata Me, I’m in Misery full-length, an otherwise zesty blend of death/thrash. Beware, in particular, of Alex Wesdijk’s rather acidic and over-the-top vocals. The man’s throat goes non-stop mangling here. – David E. Gehlke (Inquisitor Facebook)

Jungle Rot – What Horrors Await reissue (Victory Records)
What is there still to be said, that hasn’t already about the underground death metal champs Jungle Rot? Purveyors of mid-tempo, straight-ahead death metal, they are the type of band that you know exactly what you are going to get. And that’s a bludgeoning, to say the least. What Horrors Await is a reissue of an out of print fan favorite from 2009. Near a decade later, it’s still a solid piece from the act, and it’s re-issue is going to please the die-hards who weren’t able to grab a copy ‘back in the day.’ For those who missed out, it’s something to check out while the band hits the studio for their next death metal adventure. – Kyle McGinn (Jungle Rot on Facebook)

Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti (Frontiers Records)
A union of the two voices in the Rhapsody universe, Lione/Conti is a melodic, power metal outing featuring Fabio Lione and Alessandro Conti – with production/songwriting work courtesy of DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni. Fairly straightforward Euro-styled material here (think Firewind) – an equal emphasis on robust power riffs with proper keyboard/guitar heroic flourishes, giving “Outcome” and “Destruction Show” a bevy of hooks for Lione and Conti to navigate comfortably up, down, and around their soaring capabilities. The dramatic power ballad “Somebody Else” and modern exotic closer “Crosswinds” mix things up a bit, but most familiar with these artists aren’t really going to be thrown for a loop on this outing. Solid stuff though. – Matt Coe (Lione/Conti on Facebook)

Revenger – The New Mythology Vol. 1 (Self-Released)
Straddling the lines of groove and technical thrash, Vancouver’s Revenger lift proceedings to interesting dimensions for their newest five-song EP. Imagine a guitar tone straight out of old Swedish death school put through a Lamb of God meets Exodus on an Annihilator side trip music/vocal montage and that gives listeners some semblance of Revenger and their influence mish-mash. Andrew Bailey has a caustic scream/roar duality to his vocals that cuts sharp as a knife, contrasting against much of the rhythmic mechanics that percolate through “We Want Blood” and opener “Hex”. Could imagine a wide underground contingency getting into the band, as they have that primal urgency coupled with proper, well-thought out leads and musicianship enhancement. – Matt Coe (Revenger on Facebook)

Skyfire – Liberation in Death (Self-Released)
As one who has followed Skyfire for quite some time, and an avid melodeath aficionado, it’s stunning that this fall 2017 EP managed to slip past the radar. Nonetheless, the latest work from the synth-heavy melodic death metal act sits right on par with their ever-consistent back catalogue. Bombastic synths and flashy guitarwork still have the same high level of polish to them, and the band’s ability to merge absorbing melodies with some cutthroat riffs is commendable. It doesn’t stray outside their comfort zone, but nor does it need to. Skyfire are still more than capable of delivering the goods with Liberation in Death. – Kyle McGinn (Skyfire on Facebook)

Sorrowful Land – Where the Sullen Waters Flow (Solitude Productions)
When sorrowful, sullen, and solitude appear in any form for band, title, and label, it’s a safe bet we are dealing in some form of doom/death metal – which is the clear case here for Ukrainian one-man act Sorrowful Land. On the heels of a debut full-length Of Ruins…, Where the Sullen Waters Flow is a three song EP of epic proportions, brooding riffs drenched in measured growls and plodding paces – where the transitions contain atmospheric spots of clean, melodic grace. Evoken and early My Dying Bride come to mind when taking in these seven to ten-minute arrangements, of which “As I Behold Them Once Again” and the crawling “The Night Is Darkening Around Me” work best to pull the darkness into the light. – Matt Coe (Sorrowful Land on Facebook)

Trespass – Footprints in the Rock (Mighty Music)
Enjoying the NWOBHM revival, Trespass return with 2/5 of the original lineup (vocalist/guitarist Mark Sutcliffe and guitarist Dave Crawte there from the 1979 inception) for a new full-length in Footprints in the Rock. Their blue-collar style hasn’t changed much, and occasional flashes of that biting guitar charge appear on “Beowulf and Grendel” – while the twin melodic runs captivate throughout the otherwise mid-tempo commercial-oriented “Mighty Love”. Slower bluesy/country inflections during “Music of the Waves” probably won’t sit well with most metalheads, but overall the other ten tracks deliver solid British metal with that old school traditional meets semi-doom outlook- and that’s what the passionate fans of this movement desire. – Matt Coe (Trespass official website)

The Venting Machine – Shackles Be Gone (Self-Released)
Straddling the lines between thrash, death, and progressive, The Venting Machine have a sound that’s both energetic and memorable. Vibrant and frenetic, the thrashy energy steers the tracks into moments that are heavier or more traditional without any trepidation (nor awkward transitions). An album that’s truly hard to get a read on (in a good way), they can go from catchy and melodic to more brutal in a snap of the fingers. The biggest consistent factor is that of quality songwriting and riffs. Shackles Be Gone feels like a release from a much more veteran act. A name to keep your eyes peeled to as they progress. – Kyle McGinn (The Venting Machine on Facebook)

Victorius – Dinosaur Warfare – Legend of the Power Saurus (Massacre Records)
Developing their first concept record regarding dinosaurs versus aliens (futuristic Jurassic Park if you will), Victorius are a fun-loving German power metal act that keep the melody and power riffs on high for this six-track EP. Upgraded weapons, narrative sequences, and larger than life choirs for the choruses make material like “Dinosaur Warfare” and “Razorblade Raptor” delightful for those who dig Freedom Call/Hammerfall guitar happiness against some Brainstorm/Iron Savior-like spirit and tenacity. Of course people need to suspend reality to enjoy the fictional storylines – but isn’t the ultimate compliment in power metal to escape and assume a new persona, taking away your daily troubles in an alternate universe? Dinosaur Warfare – Legend of the Power Saurus makes this scribe smile, and power metal followers should rejoice. – Matt Coe (Victorius official website)

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