Category Archives: Album Reviews

Our unbiased and comprehensive album reviews. We focus more on talking about an album for what it is. We highlight the good points, note the bad, and let you decide for yourself. However, if you really want to see our score look to our “quick hits” list on the right side of our main page and hover your icon over the album’s thumbnail. There, you will see our score based on 1-5. The higher, the better.

Sonic Cathedral’s female-fronted roundup for March: Part 1/2


SC logoOur good friends at Sonic Cathedral have reviewed 12 albums since our February digest. SC covered a lot of different types of music, from alternative and prog rock to death metal, all featuring female vocalists. Sonic Cathedral is a destination all FF metal and rock bands and fans should know about and visit.

Thanks again, SC, for sharing your coverage and the summaries of every review!

We’re posting a song from each album. This round-up will be in two parts ‘cos we don’t wont to super-saturate you with top-class FF music. As a digression, that reminds of an answer some chemistry student gave in a test. Q: What is a super-saturated solution? A: A solution that holds more than it can hold.

 

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EP Review: Trepalium – Damballa’s Voodoo Doll


TrepaliumLocation: Poitou-Charentes, France

Genre: *Big breath…* Off-the-wall progressive jazz/swing death/thrash/groove metal

Release date: 9 February 2015

Label: Klonosphere

Previous releases: Through the Absurd (CD, 2004), The Holy Party (DVD, 2005), Alchemic Clockwork of Disorder (CD, 2006), XIII (CD, 2009), H.N.P. (CD, 2012)

Tracks: 6

Length: 24 minutes

Recommended to: Fans of Destrage, Meshuggah, Protest the Hero, Diablo Swing Orchestra

Mammal’s rating: 5 out of 5

Trepalium are highly esteemed in France for their wildly eccentric and addictive style of metal. They’re not yet totally famous around the world, although four of the five members have been together since 2000 and the present members started making demos in 2002. If you’re not familiar with Trepalium but you love the most musical of experimental metal, be prepared for Damballa’s Voodoo Doll to blow you away in an orgasm of creativity.

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Album Review: Crooked Doors by Royal Thunder


Crooked DoorsA couple of years past one of our readers suggested I give a listen to C.V.I. by Royal Thunder and pretty much right after the first spin I was absolutely in love with it.  It is unlike anything I had heard.  It encompasses the attitude of metal, the psychedelic tendencies of prog, the soul of blues rock, and the heart of Americana folk.  Yet, if one were to pin it to one or a mix of those genres, it just wouldn’t fit in too well.  It just sits there on its own doing its own thing.  Now the Georgian quartet are here with a sophomore release to one of my favorite modern records and it does not disappoint.  In fact, it quite surpasses any expectations I had.

As with C.V.I., a big driving force throughout the entirety of Crooked Doors lies within the singular voice of Mlny Parsonz.  Exuding soul, emotion, and gravitas on every single note her bluesy vocals float effortlessly through whatever color or mood her band mates throw at her.  Whether the personifying that snarl of grunge on ‘Time Machine’ or channeling her inner-Billie Holiday on ‘The Bear’ Americana suite, she will find a way tug at your heartstrings in some shape or form.  And her lyrics just amplify the passion put into the singing.

Capitol Photography ParntersRoyal Thunder is a band and not the Mlny Parsonz show however, and with such a notable voice like hers, you better believe the rest of the crew are no slouches.  There’s no superfluous solos, crushing rhythms, or show stealing riffs going on the record.  What the real talent here is how all four member work together to lift the other up and create interesting and concise songs.  On ‘Ear on the Fool’ a bright sounding ominous riff weaves through a serpentine rhythm creating this delightfully dizzying effect while the vocals keep the twisty turbulence in check.  On ‘Forget You’ the doom metal riffing feels right at home with rock and roll vocals and on ‘The Line’ the fuzzy guitar tone melds perfectly with the Mars Volta-like passages of proggy psychedelia.  There’s even a rather unique take on the ballad with ‘The Line’ delivering a grungy/country concoction. The record is filled with endless moments of one complimenting the other, and not only is it engaging but also makes repeat listens that much more enjoyable.  This is a band that really feeds off of each other and it’s a pleasure to listen to.

Starting with a bang and ending on a solemn and uplifting note, Crooked Doors is a complete package.  Whether you’re a fan of metal, rock, blues, prog, folktechbabbledethsludge-coorz, if you dig on simply damn great music this is a must listen.  Not wanting depreciate their outstanding debut, this album is the outcome of hard work and honing a craft.  There wasn’t a single moment I found my attention meandering from the music which is a testament to the strong songwriting and performances throughout its hour-long run time.  The highest of recommendations. Peace love and metal!!! 5/5

Album Review: Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar


SubMasq-TheGreatBazaar-CoverLocation: New York, USA

Genre: Symphonic progressive metal

Release date: 13 January 2015

Label: Taklit Music

Previous releases: Temporary Psychotic State (EP, 2004); Suspended Animation Dreams (album, 2005); Home (EP, 2013)

Tracks: 7

Length: 39 minutes

Recommended to: Prog metal fans of Orphaned Land, Haken, Leprous, To-Mera, and Oriental and Middle Eastern metal; neo-prog rock fans of  *Frost, Blind Ego, Galahad.

Mammal’s rating: 5 out of 5

Visiting every corner of “The Great Bazaar” is an experience of unfolding wonder and amazement. Subterranean Masquerade are purveyors of musical splendour and delight. Their integration of any number of metal and prog rock styles is constantly unpredictable, varied, and jaw-droppingly delectable.

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Roundtable Review: Run with the Wolf by Drakkar


Drakkar coverLabel: My Kingdom Music

Release Date: March 16th, 2015

Songs: 10 + 5 Bonus Tracks

Genre: Power Metal

Studio Albums: Quest for Glory, Razorblade God, When Lightning Strikes

Location: Milan, Italy

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Album Review: Ensiferum – One Man Army


Ensiferum-One-Man-ArmyAlbum:  One Man Army

Label:  Metal Blade

Song:  15 (including four bonus tracks)

Length:  68 Minutes

Previous Albums:  Ensiferum (2001); Iron (2004); Victory Songs (2007); From Afar (2009); Unsung Heroes (2012)

Genre:  Folk Metal

Location:  Finland

I like the opening riff to One Man Army (the song not the album).  It isn’t revolutionary in terms of guitar riffing, but the way it kicks off the song reminds me of early thrash metal; energetic and enthusiastic.  Take away the folk elements from this song and its core is pure speed/thrash metal.  Before you dismiss Ensiferum’s One Man Army (the album) as just another niche folk metal album, think again. Yes, you will hear all of the fundamentals of a folk metal album, but if you take the time to peel away the layers you’ll hear there is more buried between the swords, spears, and pre-battle hymns than you might expect.  And I will say this…the folk parts seem much more tame compared to older albums.

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Album Review: Desolate Pathway – Valley of the King


Artwork CoverLocation: London, UK

Genre: Epic English Doom Metal

Release date: 14 November 2014

Label: Self-Released

Tracks: 8

Length: 39 minutes

Recommended to: Fans of Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus

Mammal’s rating: 4.2 out of 5

 

Desolate Pathway faithfully adds to the legacy of classic-style doom metal. That shouldn’t be too surprising since the band’s founder, Vince Hempstead, was the guitarist for one of those classic doom bands, Pagan Altar, formed in 1978 and still active.

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Album Review: This is No Fairytale by Carach Angren


a1683979843_2Like most suburban middle class American kids camping was a rather regular part of my summertime curriculum.  And like most camp outs in the middle of the woods a campfire was built at night and around it we sat telling ghost stories, roasting hot dogs, and making smores.  Those times are some of my favorite childhood memories, though not as cherished as they should be.  You see, there was always this one kid, let’s call him Little Billy, who really had a knack for crafting these really dark takes on the classics.  Instead of the man with the hook for a hand popping up behind the campers, Billy took it steps further and had the hook-handed man brutally bludgeon the camper, pop their eyes out with the hook, and suffocate on broken glass.  Then usually the camp chaperone would interrupt and end Little Billy’s macabre imagination.

Turns out Little Billy came from an abusive home filled with alcoholism, schizophrenia, and drugs.  This I never learned about until I opened the paper one day saw an article about how Little Billy had gotten drunk, beaten his girlfriend to death, and then took his own life.  Mutual friends and acquaintances filled me in on Billy’s childhood and my mind immediately recalled those horrible stories he would tell around the campfire.  Since then, I have never been able to look back on those memories the same.  Stuff like this is what I consider true horror.

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Roundtable Album Review: Sonus Mortis – War Prophecy


Sonus Mortis CoverLabel: Self-Released

Release Date: 31 March 2015

Songs: 15

Length: 56 minutes

Genre: Doom/Death Metal

Studio Albums: Propaganda Dream Sequence (2014)

Location: Dublin, Ireland

 

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Roundtable Album Review: Cruadalach – Rebel Against Me


Cruadalach_CoverLabel: Metalgate

Release Date: January 2015

Songs: 11

Length: 41 minutes

Genre: Folk Metal

Studio Albums: Agni – Unveil What’s Burning Inside (EP, 2011), Lead – Not Follow (2011)

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

 

 

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