Sunday, January 26, 2014

Best Of 2013 Musical Releases PART III (Final)

1. Morne- "Shadows"
Firstly, I love Morne. This Boston band blends elements of post-punk, hardcore, sludge, and doom into a massive, crushing, and melancholic sound. Think Joy Division, Isis, Neurosis, and My Dying Bride (and a tiny touch of the Amebix) all together. Although many bands have similar sounds, Morne stands out from the pack are more than the some of their many influences. All of their releases are solid, with their demo being a little bit faster and heavier with later releases going more for melancholy. Nonetheless, if you like one Morne song, you are likely to enjoy the whole catalog. I strongly recommend this band and so does Fenriz of Darkthrone. In fact, the band's name appears on Max Necro's sleeve on Darkthrone's "Circle The Wagons" album (which is a classic in my opinion so pick that up too!). Morne recently had a show in Brooklyn with Tombs which I unfortunately missed in order to see the below band live, finally (it was worth it!).

2. Psychic TV- "Greyhounds Of The Future" 12 in single
The A side is new track "Greyhounds Of The Future which to me sounds an awful lot like Swans covering Hawkwind, so if that doesn't get you excited perhaps stop reading. It has a central riff that weaves in and out of the song with plenty of psychedelic meanderings and jams with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's characteristic voice and lyrics calling out about the beginning and end-times. The B side is also a new track, "Alien Lightning Meat Machine Part II" which consists of some ambient electronics and sounds over Gen's voice for about 5 minutes which then gives way to some percussion and strings with Gen continuing and the song eventually finishing with some slow trippy variations on the music. The album is overall about 21 minutes long (just over 10 min per side) and I have been listening to it quite often (though to be fair I got it at the end of December). Gen has a varied body of work just with Psychic TV alone (from acid house to industrial/experimental/noise stuff and just about anywhere else), not to mention their work in pioneering industrial act Throbbing Gristle. If you are unfamiliar with any of this, prepare yourself to step into a much larger, much stranger new world. P.S. Psychic TV live were awesome! I'll have to post a review sometime but it suffices to say that I was not disappointed and Gen was super cool (I didn't meet them but Gen totally called out some rowdy toolbag concert goers on their shitty behavior when they started throwing beer cans at the rest of the audience).

3. Sacrificial Blood- "Live at Sinclairs, Long Island NY 8/24/13"
I am a huge fan of Sacrificial Blood (the band, not the material) and have had the opportunity to see them several times (each awesome though some with sound difficulties due to engineer or equipment failings) so a live album which basically showcases new songs from their upcoming 2nd full-length "Souls For Sale" was something I jumped at. This cassette-only release (damn it I hate cassettes!) is a bit poor in quality early on, but that may just be my copy. The artwork is simple B&W copied images of the band with tracklist. I won't say that this is a required release but Sacrificial Blood's full-lengths ARE (at the time of writing I have just finished listening to the 2nd full-length and it slays!!). They have a unique sound that blends (in order): Heavy Metal with progressive overtones, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, touch of punk and hard rock. They have excellent barked vocals, catchy as hell guitar riffs and driving percussion that is always tough and straightforward. These guys have been one of my favorite up-and-coming act discoveries of the last few years (though the main members have been musically active for quite a while) and I couldn't recommend them enough to fans of early 80's Heavy/Extreme Metal sounds.

4. Saxon- "Sacrifice"
Here we have classic Saxon material, catchy Heavy/Speed Metal in the NWOBHM tradition (quite literally on the 'British' part). See my review of them live in a previous posting. If you  like classic Saxon releases, check this one out. The whole album is solid with the following songs being particularly fist-pumpingly catchy: Sacrifice, Made In Belfast, Warriors Of The Road, Guardians Of The Tomb, and Wheels Of Terror.

5. Skinny Puppy- "Weapon"
I love Skinny Puppy and have supported them in all incarnations, since I got into them. Some of their more recent efforts (especially "The Greater Wrong Of The Right") have been very polarizing for old Puppy fans, but I think this release will bring a great number back to the fold. For those of you already familiar with SP, this release really scales the sounds back to the early days, I hear a lot of "Bites" and "Remission" in this new album in that the synths are stripped down, the percussion is simple and straightforward, often 4/4 stuff, Moroder-esque bass sequencers, and Ogre makes a full return to his droney and creepy monotone. We don't really get the swing beats I enjoy but that's just fine, the album is solid without them. For those of you new to the Pups, this is a good release to start on, then work back from. So, a song for song break down: 'wornin'' has a nice sequencer bass line with some simple and interesting choral synth leads with Ogre claiming that he's been "hiding out" over and over. Nice way to open the album, suggesting a return of some sort. To an older sound, perhaps? 'illisiT' starts off a bit more aggressive in the percussion, lead synth, and vocal delivery. There is also a good video for it: It feels quite a bit like it could have been on SP's "The Process" album, it especially reminds me of some demo versions of songs from said release, made available on some of the "Back & Forth" Series. 'saLvo' has a great lead synth, big and creepy with a nice percussive line and very creepy Ogre vocals. 'gLowbel' is a bit more whimsical in its music and vocal delivery. It feels an awful lot like it could be on an Ohgr album. 'Solvent' is next and is indeed a remastering of the self-same song from "Remission." Next we have 'paragUn' which feels a lot like something from "Mythmaker" in its vocal delivery and musical composition. Pretty decent but not an album maker. 'Survivalisto' feels a lot like early Front Line Assembly or related Bill Leeb projects in the drum beat and synth design. It doesn't sound like a rip off (what a strange thing THAT would be) just similar in style. "Tsudanama" stutters about its drum beat with some weird electronic leads. I hear a lot of cEvin Key's experimentation and recent stylings on this track. 'plastiCage' follows and is also a bit whimsical and feels like an Oghr song mixed with the "Mythmaker" style. 'Terminal' is very moody and somewhat atmospheric. Ogre does a more modern vocal delivery. Finally, the album closes with "Overdose" which is a return to the new-old sound heard on the beginning of the album. Creeping and crawling through its paces, I feel this is a strong closer. My only complaint is that the percussion is a little too forward in the mix on this track. I eagerly look forward to seeing Skinny Puppy for the second time (once in 2009) in February of 2014 and will post here when I do!

6. Suffocation- "Pinnacle Of Bedlam"
New York's own Brutal Death Metal legends, Suffocation, return with a new album that continues in the vein of the last few. What this means to me: the guitar tones are lacking in brutality, the compositions focus too much on technicality and solos, not enough on head-smashing riffs, and the drums sound way too plastic and triggered. This album does have some good guitar compositions but overall it just can't compare to "Pierced From Within," "Effigy For The Forgotten," or "Human Waste." Of note, I am in the video for 'As Grace Descends' which was shot at Duff's bar, New York. A friend and I waited around outside all day for a chance to get in to be an extra, and we succeeded. Look for the dumb guy with long hair in a blue over-shirt next to the guy with the beard in the Suffocation hoodie behind the drummer. Specific, right? So here's a picture. I DON'T OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS VIDEO OR ITS CONTENT.

7. Suicide Commando- "When Evil Speaks"
For those unfamiliar, Johan Van Roy, creator of the Belgian Terror Body Music (TBM) electronic band, Suicide Commando brings us a new album of angry, high-octane dance tracks that attempt to bridge Front Line Assembly and the Klinik into one power-trip revved up to 45 RPM. This album is good but lacks the directness and hard-hitting angst or depression of other albums on the first half. With the exception of the stand-out title track, the album doesn't really get good until the 6th of 12 songs. A little mixing-up of song order or releasing just the second half of the album as an EP would have made this a very solid release for the band, but the first tracks feel like filler. Not a good move to START your album with weaker tracks. Prior and new fans alike should try the aforementioned tracks to see if the album is worth purchasing. I do highly recommend checking out their back catalog for newcomers! By the way, I was lucky enough to see Suicide Commando on their first US show EVER in Philly in 2013, front row.

8. Toxic Holocaust- "Chemistry Of Consciousness"
Another excellent slice of punk-fueled Blackened Thrash Metal from America. I am a big fan of all of Joel Grind's work and this release is no disappointment. I feel that Toxic Holocaust's approach to the genre leaves most other new-comers in the dust because of its sensibilities, its respect and genuine understanding of the genres, and its unique combination thereof. If you like Metal with your Punk or vice versa then get some TH releases! Also, I have been reading quite a bit about altered states of consciousness and psychoactive substances lately so that made this release extra-special. I wish I was able to see TH play locally for this release as I would have been very interested to chat up Joel about any experimenting or thoughts he had on the subject. I met him once when TH opened for the English Dogs (!!!) and he was really cool and approachable, as anyone who's read an interview of him would expect. Thanks Joel for being awesome and for making another gem of an album!

9. Undergang- "Søm Til Din Ligkiste" 7" EP
Here's over 12 minutes of crusty Danish Doomy/Death Metal to drop on the slab of your record player. I was first introduced to these guys when they opened for Autopsy in NYC in late-Winter of 2012, awesome show! If you like stuff like Coffins and Grave, or the now-popular-for-a-reason Obliteration with a ton of crust and distortion, this is a band for you!! This EP is a good place to start but my favorite release is 2012's "Til Døden Os Skiller."

10. Warbeast- "Destroy"
This Texan Thrash act, formed from about half of Rigor Mortis, is worth a listen if you want some excellent American Thrash Metal, late 80's style. I find their lyrics notable for being both about topical issues as well as cheesy horror/sci-fi. Come on, how awesome is a band that is named after the robotic terror from the film Deathmachine??? By the way, I got to meet Bruce (vox) when Warbeast opened for Destruction in 2011 (?, I think). He was really cool and approachable.

11. "Reflection Of The Negative" (Split, Cough and Windhand)
Here's some Virginian Sludgy Doom Metal to satisfy fans until each band's next release drops. Good tracks by both bands though probably not my favorite in either catalog.

AND NOW, THE TOP 5 RELEASES (for me) OF 2013 (in no particular order, except for fucking Sabbath):
1. Black Sabbath- 13
2. Autopsy- Headless Ritual
3. Inquisition- Obscure Verses For The Multiverse
4. Carcass- Surgical Steel
5. Darkthrone- Underground Resistance

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*

Monday, January 6, 2014

Best of 2013 Musical Releases PART II

Continuing where we left off, first up for review is:

1. Ghost (B.C.)- "Infestissumam" Having picked up a new moniker for shows in the US (B.C.), Ghost (Sweden) released their sophomore effort. I really enjoyed this release, though I will say that it moved more towards melody and away from heavy doom riffs. They are still there, but the proportions have greatly changed. What the album lacks in heaviness it more than makes up for in catchiness. Ghost still sound like they are writing albums back in the 70's heavy rock scene, so if sounds in that style over sarcastic anti-Christian lyrics sounds good to you, check out this album! Interestingly, the single released from the album "Secular Haze" is probably my least favorite on the album, though still very good.

2. Gift Of Gods- "Receive" Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto brings us a 4 song, 25 minute mini-LP of excellent Heavy Metal Thunder! 3 songs are original, 1 is a cover of the (Swedish?) band Universe. My favorite is the last track, 'Last Solstice' which features a tough riff with a mega catchy finish. The songs overall are long and mighty and fall much more in the realm of early heavy metal than most Darkhrone songs. Those familiar with Ted "Nocturno Culto" Skjellum's guitar style though will recognize the obscure riffings that sound totally familiar and totally unique. How this man invents riffs is quite beyond me! This is a top pick for one of my favorite releases in 2013, Ted can do no wrong! I am eagerly anticipating seeing him perform with Sarke at Maryland Deathfest 2014!!!

3. Grave- "Morbid Ascent" This EP features 2 new tracks by the Swedish Doomy Death Metallers, 'Venial Sin' and 'Morbid Ascent' with a cover of Satyricon's 'Possessed' and 2 more tracks of alternate versions of older material. The new tracks are classic for Grave, fast and brutal like someone dropping tombstones on you followed by a slow doomy breakdown like someone dropping an entire mausoleum on you, excellent combo!

4. Grave Miasma- "Odori Sepulcrorum" This London Death Metal band, feat. 2 members of Cruciamentum, has been on my radar since they played the first Martyrdom Fest in NYC in 2012. This album brings us a progression of earlier material, so there is still the fast/slow death riffs, now with even more dissonance! There is a bit more experimentation with guitar tones to create some demented atmosphere. Overall, I like where the band is going and recommend this release to fans of their material. If you haven't heard of them and like stuff like early Incantation, I recommend checking it out!

5. Haemorrhage- "Live Carnage" The twisted Spanish goregrinders/Death Metallers bring us a live album created at Maryland Death Fest 2012 (I was there!) I may even me visible as a pixel or two in the booklet's picture of the audience, hahaha! Anyway, I love Haemorrhage, they do a Carcass-like medical Death Metal thing but with more punk and hardcore influence present (hail the d-beat!) so that makes them stand out. If you haven't yet heard them, this is a good place to start as I had only heard a few tracks prior to this performance myself (afterwords I became a full devotee!). The sound is excellent on the recording as well. Notably, the band's vocalist Lugubrious has a unique deep voice that he uses to screech occasionally to great effect. The whole band is talented, but I'd like to give extra credit to one of their guitarists, Ana Belen de Lopez just because Metal needs more females. The ladies often rock harder and longer than you do gents! So with that sentence, let the jokes roll...

6. Hellbastard- "Sons Of Bitches" EP These English boys brought us the title of the "Crust Punk" genre and were very influential in developing its blueprint. This release brings us some great slabs of crusty crossover thrash that's worth a listen or ten. I was first introduced to these guys at Maryland Death Fest 2012, though I had some notion of the band prior, and have been following them since. If you already like them, this release won't disappoint. If you would like to hear the present sound of some progenitors in the crusty crossover scene, this would be a good place to start!

7. Helloween- "Straight Out Of Hell" So I am a sometimes fan of these German Power/Speed Metallers. They have some really solid songs and releases and some that are a less powerful. This one was dead on. If you are unfamiliar with them, I often describe them as the German answer to Bruce Dickinson-era Iron Maiden. The album is loaded with hooks and is admittedly quite melodic but that's part of their charm. I was able to see them live for this album which was quite fun, great set list, tons of on-stage energy, fanatic crowd; it's an experience I'd recommend even to passing fans of Helloween. On a tangential note, what is Klaus Nomi doing in their video for 'Halloween'?

8. Hot Graves - "Fashion Victim" EP. I love these Florida D-beat Punk/Hardcore/Black/Death/Thrash/everything'ers. Notably, this band was featured on Fenriz's "Band Of The Week" though I was rocking the demo tracks just prior. These guys are funny as hell and write some tough, nasty, awesome shit if you like Metal and Punk. They are basically all the good parts of your favorite bands put together. They were hilarious and punishing live so see them, if you are privileged to have the chance! If you've already heard them, you know what you're getting and should have bought this already. If not, and above description sounds even remotely enticing, get it!!!

9. Inquistion- "Obscure Verses For The Multiverse" For those not familiar, Inquisition started as a Thrash Metal band in Columbia, but is now an American Black Metal band of the highest order. They are, in fact, towards the top of my list for best North American Black Metal.This release is probably my favorite by the band and is a progression of the style they've been developing and honed on their last release, 2011's superb "Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm." They have a base style that is reminiscent of Immortal (a HUGE favorite of mine) in the vocals and guitar arrangements. This is a comparison many make and I feel is starting to plague the band because they are so much more than that, they most assuredly have their own sound that blends dissonance and melody in a truly unique and powerful way. Additionally, their lyrical content is noteworthy in that it has developed along with the beliefs of the band's frontman, Dagon. Most particularly, this album delves into 'Cosmic Satanism' for lack of a better term, that is it discusses the destructive and creative forces in the blackest regions of space, astral projection and black holes, the utter unstoppable-ness and rebellion against order (seemingly) that take place in the cosmos. Think something like the last Dissection album mixed with Carl Sagan. Yeah, that good. Hail Sagan, Hail Inquisition!!!

10. KMFDM "Kunst"- For those already familiar with the idiosyncratic Kap'n K and the Ultra Heavy Beat, then know that this album is AWESOME! It is a bit of a return to their older sound with simpler, analog synths, catchy, fast, and heavy guitars; and self-depreciating lyrics, including a throwback to the old rumor about killing mother-fucking Depeche Mode, not to mention the classic Brute! artwork and main discussion of the Russian Punk band, Pussy Riot. For those NOT familiar, KMFDM are an electronic band with very sarcastic and topical lyrics that really can't be summarized too well by me other than heavy rockin dance, I can only suggest you listen.

11. The Legendary Pink Dots- "The Gethsemane Option" LPD, UK pioneers in the gothic rock and industrial scene, return with a new album of heavenly and bizarre electronic spacey tripfests. Of note to those familiar, LPD have worked a bit with cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy of both their own releases and collaborations. If you want to hear what it would sound like if you put Hawkwind and Bauhaus together with Tangerine Dream, trouble yourself no longer with searching for that elusive Hawkhaus Dream record, buy the new LPD album (...and pretty much all the rest of the them)! Expect a post discussing the live performance I caught of them (SPOILER: it was incredible!!!).

12. Manilla Road- "Mysterium" I'm not cool enough to have heard about these guys before they were booked to Maryland Deathfest 2013, but I have been hooked every since I first heard 'Necropolis' on "Crystal Logic." This album ups the hammers and gets the ole fist pumping. If you want some classic early Heavy Metal like the first few Iron Maiden albums mixed with Judas Priest and ever so slightly slowed down, this band is for you!

13. Metal Church- "Generation Nothing" Metal Church are an American Heavy/Thrash Metal group known for their high vocals, catchy and crunching riffs. This release is a bit of a return to their earlier sound of the first 2 albums, but still with the Power Metal type sound that developed in more recent releases. If you don't like Metal Church, this is unlikely to convert you. If you are already a fan, this album probably won't blow you away but I am reasonably pleased with it and feel that it will probably grow on me quite a bit. In any case, I can hardly wait to see them live in March!

14. The Mission (UK)- "The Brightest Light" The Mission bring us another great Goth Rock album, heavy on the rock, which I appreciate. The album overall is a bit lacking in the hooks of early Mission recordings like the classic "Gods Own Medicine" but is still a solid release and probably my favorite by them in the 2000's. 'Black Cat Bone' is way catchy and my favorite on the album. The digipack version has some demo tracks which weren't that special but cool to include anyway. This was another act I finally got to see live this year, and they didn't disappoint, but more on that in other postings!

*STAY TUNED for the final posting in the series, where I will also name the best releases of those reviewed!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Best of 2013 Musical Releases PART I

     So, firstly, this post is to discuss and rate albums that came out in 2013 that I heard. There were plenty of releases this year that I either didn't listen to or didn't know about, so the list is lacking quite a bit, especially in the Death Metal realm. What this post lacks in completeness I hope it gains in diversity so that any reader can find an interesting new release to check out. If I can spread music to at least one other person, this post will have been worthwhile.
     I would also like to add that while I discovered a number of (now) classic (to me) releases this year, they did not come out in 2013 or were compilations of older material that was re-released. I may utilize a separate post for discussion of said releases.
     Also, I will gladly review any music that you, the reader, would like me to, simply leave a message on one of my posts or email me at


(In alphabetical order by artist):
1. Autopsy- "The Headless Ritual"
This American Death Metal Act is one of my all-time favorite for the genre and in music overall. They are inventive and fiercely original. They traditionally combine over-the-top drumming with even more over-the-top vocals that sound like a demented Cookie Monster alternately belching or being castrated. This all over a nasty, doomy, bloated and distended sounding death riffs that only Autopsy could muster. This release is no exception. In fact, I am tempted to call it my favorite since the bands re-formation in 2008/2009 though all said releases have been solid. The album starts out with 'Slaughter At Beast House' which has some super old sounding leads and quickly breaks into some tight almost d beat drums and evolves into some atmospheric soloing and doomy riffs before slamming right back into the grue. 'Mangled Far Below' keeps a more steady pace but, as always, with very interesting drumming. 'She Is A Funeral' gets points for its length (7+ minutes!) of solidity with some interesting effects on the guitar to open and some very clean sounding solos that work. 'Coffin Crawlers' is nice and creepy on the riffs. 'When Hammer Meets Bone' has some great drumming with excellent riffage, the main riff masterfully manages to mangle some minor notes then get even faster. Then the song starts crawling in slimy doom, it's a powerful transition that hasn't failed to amaze every time I listen to it. 'Thorns And Ashes' has as its main riff a bit of a change for Autopsy, less demented sounding, more powerful sounding but it works as a segue piece for 'Arch Cadaver' a great fast-to-mid-paced sing along saturated with catchiness. The last three tracks 'Flesh Turns To Dust,' 'Running From The Goathead,' and 'The Headless Ritual' are all solid and work in a similar vein to the rest of the album. Overall this album continues in the steps of 2011's "Macabre Eternal" in that Autopsy still sounds like Autopsy but the members of the current line-up have let some more influences flow through to keep the Autopsy sound fresh and always interesting. If you like Death Metal, BUY THIS! If you like muppets, BUY THIS!

2. The Beyond- "FrostbitePanzerFuck"
This release continues the sleazy punk rock style that has been creeping into this American Black Metal band's act. This is most notable on the opener "Roto-Cunt." The rest of the album continues with alternations between sounding more like early Norwegian Black Metal with tons of tremolo picking and blackened punk rock sleaze, though the opener is definitely the best example. I was a bit disappointed by this release as I expected the band to have gelled their style a bit more, but it seems to me that they are clinging too much to the Black Metal when they really want to let the sleazy punk rock in, and they should because they do it well. This is an American Abigail waiting to happen. Other songs of note are "Necro Overlord" for its thrashy overtones with a very punk approach, I hear plenty of Motorhead in there too. I also liked the album closer "Exterminate Humanity" for its slowness and doom in the mega-tough main riff that sounds quite a bit like an early Darkthrone rip-off (in a good way!), The Beyond actually manage it quite well considering the rest of the album keeps it pretty snappy in the speed department.

3. Black Sabbath- "13" (review of digipack release with bonus tracks)
Let me save you the trouble of reading below, BUYBUYBUY BUY NOW! If you now or have ever liked Black Sabbath in any incarnation, this release will not disapoint! Black Sabbath are without doubt in the upper reaches of my top 5 bands EVER and this album solidifies that position. I will also add that having seen them tour for this album in Philly, they still deliver and excellent stage show!
Ok, so about the tracks: 'End Of The Beginning' got a good bit of radio play, which it deserves, the opening riff is slow and doomy reminiscent of Black Sabbath's title track from their eponymous debut, without being derivative. The song flows through with some more classic riffs that satisfy most deeply, not mention Ozzy sounds great! This song really feels like an intentional throw back song to the old Black Sabbath material with Ozzy in both sound and lyrics and is a fantastic way to open the record, showcasing that fact that the band and the magic are back. Never Say Die! Right, so then we have 'God Is Dead?' which is nice and moody and does the doomy blues as only Black Sabbath can. This also got plenty of radio play and deserves it. The riff development and progression towards the end really hit the spot, including a slow, restrained solo. 'Loner' is a fun track that feels more like something off "Never Say Die" in composition and style but keeps some restraint and slowness so that the song goes from semi-slow doom crawl to hard rockin mid-pace quite well. 'Zeitgeist' gives us an effect-laden opening and some acoustic guitars and feels quite a bit like 'Planet Caravan' again without being derivative. 'Age of Reason' opens with some catchy drums and a catchy as all hell guitar lead, this track should have gotten more airplay, as it is a bit more accessible than other tracks, but it still very majestic and characteristic of mid-to-later Black Sabbath sound. 'Live Forever' gives us some sturm und drang with slow doom and mid-pace heaviness that is quite good. 'Damaged Soul' follows with plenty of blues and soul, possibly with some the most underrated riffing on the album. 'Dear Father' has some super heavy and powerful riffs in classic old Sabbath tradition, it easily could have come from the "Master Of Reality" album. 'Methademic' also starts with some moody, sad acoustics and picks up with some slow to mid paced riffing. This is a decent track but weaker in comparison to the rest of the album. 'Peace Of Mind' has some great classic style as well, with the bass pounding on through, just the way it should be in a slower Sabbath song. This also feels like a slowed-down version of something that could have been on "Never Say Die!" which is A-OK by me! The album closes with 'Pariah' which is also slow and sad then flows into some mid paced heavy and memorable riffing. This may not be a super epic closer worthy of the incredible opening but it more than satisfies and would be quite remarkable if it didn't have to keep pace with the rest of the album. It's like comparing a handful of gems to a hill of gold, all are valuable just one is more-so.

4. Carcass- "Surgical Steel"
I love Carcass and this album was a great return to the melodic Death Metal that they pioneered. It opens with '1985' a great stage-setting instrumental that suddenly drops away to 'Thrasher's Abbatoir' which delivers just as much thrash death metal brutality as its name suggests, great solos! 'Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System' goes for more of a melodic approach but has mega-speed and toughness. 'A congealed Clot Of Blood' feels much older in the riffing and drum approach. Overall it has a feel like "Tools Of The Trade" updated a bit in production and style. This pattern of older style with a great mix of the more melodic style continues throughout the album with some more rocking riffs in 'Intensive Battery Brooding" (available in the digipack version or as a B-side on the "Captive Bolt Pistol" single 7"). If you like mid-period Carcass (and you should!) then this is a great release. They lyrics contain plenty of the classic Carcass medical musings but also a good bit of politics as well, which was much appreciated by yours truly. Keep in topical and brutal guys!

5. Coffins- "Fleshlands"
Coffins are an incredible doomy Death Metal band from Japan that sound an awful lot like the first Black Sabbath album mixed with Autopsy and the Amebix, so you know I love that shit! This album delivers very nicely their usual style with 'Hellbringer' being notable for its d beat smashfest that Coffins to so well, as well as 'Tormentopia' for its interesting and stonerish solos. A bit unique for Coffins! I look forward with great relish to seeing these guys at Maryland Deathfest in 2014!

6. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult- "Necrovision" The female-fronted German Black-Death Metallers deliver another unholy slab of dark nastiness. If you like their prior work, this will not disappoint! The whole album is perhaps more on the side of Black Metal than previous releases, though it is more balanced about halfway through the album. Overall it sounds like some very necro-productions from the early days of the Norwegian scene as bands were just starting to experiment with the sounds that would become their brand of Black Metal, so this release should appeal to fans of that sound as well. Onielar does great vocals and guitars throughout the album though perhaps her best screaming is on the last track "Necrocosmic Vision"

7. Darkthrone- "The Underground Resistance"
Darkthrone continue to let their older and older influences shine through with each release, this one sounding like a classic and slightly progressive album from the 70's mixed with a slight touch of your choice of awesome early 80's bands and of course filtered through Darkthrone's own sensibilities. These guys are yet another of my favorite acts for their devotion to the riff and production, who are not afraid to evolve their sound to keep the sounds of the underground alive. 'Dead Early' has a great tough riff and is mid-paced. 'Valkyrie' is slow and majestic, score on this one guys! 'Lesser Men' starts off with a mean riff that moves in some obscure directions that continue to feel progressive but darkly so like Voivod, and a bunch of other stuff I can't put my finger on. 'The Ones You Left Behind' is an awesome fist-pumping sing-along that sticks in your head like crazy glue, Darkthrone has been showing quite a talent for this on the last 4 or so albums. 'Come Warfare, The Entire Doom' earns its name with its slow Sabbath-y intro followed by some galloping and rocking bits with some excellent tough riffs that just blow you away about halfway through and don't let up until the solo'd out end. Finally, we end the album with the extra-powerful and progressive sounding "Leave No Cross Unturned." How one song can be so long (13+ minutes!) and remain so catchy, intense, and urgent is quite a feat. Fenriz has made it long known that he loves long tracks and this one showcases his skill at composing such songs. This song also marks the record as longest Darkthrone song ever, beating 1992's 'Kathaarian Life Code' by a full 3 minutes and 10 seconds. This is quite a feat when you consider the amount of atmospheric intro on 'Kathaarian...' GET THIS ALBUM!

8. Death In June- "The Snow Bunker Tapes" (Peaceful Snow Demos)
This album continues in the vein of Death In June's acoustic folk albums. If you like this period of DIJ's career, this release won't disappoint. If you are not, this release is not likely to convert you. If you've never listened to DIJ, check them out if you are interested in a melancholic and misanthropic acoustic guitar-driven folk band that focuses on themes related to Germanic culture. By the way, DIJ are ultra Left-wing and Douglas P (the brainchild behind DIJ) is openly gay. He's worked with Boyd Rice though, so take that how you may. See my prior review of DIJ live for more info on the band.

9. DOA- "We Come In Peace"
Much like Death In June, this album sounds like their other releases so if you like them, you'll like this, if not, this won't change your mind. That said, I love DOA so this albums was great! It doesn't sound like a copy of older work. Stand out tracks are 'We Occupy' and 'Who The Hell Do You Think You Are.' Also much like DIJ, see my earlier posting on DOA live for more info on the band.

10. Dubcon "UFO pon di gullyside"
Here's another great cEvin Key (of Skinny Puppy) collaborative side-project. Dancy and tripped out, this is a great release to sit down and do something weird (or mind-altering!) to. If you like the stuff his Subconscious Communications label has been putting out and you like his Plateau project and want more in a similar vein, this release is for you.

11. Evil Army- "I, Commander" 7" EP
Their first major release since their self-titled full-length debut in 2006, this EP delivers what this American Thrash Metal group is known for: catchy hooks with fast nasty riffs and drumming, overall sounding like some of the best 80's black thrash that effortlessly incorporates some punk roots. I got to see the band on tour in support of the 7" and they sounded awesome! Even more powerful than on the recordings, quite blistering. I will say that a ton of rumors circulated around the tour suggesting that the members of Evil Army were stealing equipment, but I can neither confirm nor deny. I can only judge the music. Also, the show I saw ended very quickly and abruptly. The band showed up late, played only about 20-30 min (even though they were headlining) and then they bailed out early so that was a let down. This was exacerbated for some in attendance by the fact that Suffocation was playing a few blocks away at the same time and many had to choose between shows. I will add that it was an incredible, energy-packed 20-30 minutes though. If they can keep their shit together, this will be a band to watch, and they have already been featured on Fenriz of Darkthrone's 'Band of the Week.'

12.  Front Line Assembly-"Echogenic"
FLA is a mostly Canadian electronic band known for its prolific frontman, Bill Leeb and its early contributions to the industrial and body music genres. This album was a departure from even FLA's varied sound. It seems like Bill Leeb (FLA mastermind and former Skinny Puppy member) is having a hard time keeping all his projects separate (I can't even count how many projects he has, it seems there is always another or a new one), since this album is missing the intensity or directness characteristic of most FLA albums in favor of a slower, slightly trippy, and often pop or disco like leads/hooks hiding behind the distortion. I can't really get into this album too much, at best it will probably live on as background music for me at best. The album does attempt to return to a more focused and stripped down sound, which I appreciate, but it is largely unsuccessful. I hope this serves as a transitional album in the bands career, with the new line-up gelling together and pooling their talents for a killer release next time.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*