Posted by RiffRaff
For years I’ve always ragged on Amon Amarth for churning out the same album ad nauseam. Killer riff, killer riff, growly growly growly, Vikings, Thor, killer riff, more growling, Vikings again, oh hey look it’s Odin! Luckily, Amon Amarth are a band that, even at their most derivative, write such grand headbanging tunes that I happily purchase each album on release day. Being as dependable as they are, even before popping the CD in I pretty much know what I’m getting; a collection of groovy riffs to sate any pangs I may occasionally have for good ol’ death metal. So, going by their near 20 year track record I went into Jomsviking expecting a very good album that I would listen to a few time throughout the week and then occasionally throughout the rest of the year, much like the rest of their back catalog. Well, it has been a good week solid and not only has Jomsviking been the only album I’ve been exclusively listening to, I’ve also been making opportunities to sneak in a song or two more whenever possible (during smoke breaks, deliberately walking slower to work, etc.) I was expecting good and I got a kegger at Vallhalla!
What really gets me about Jomsviking is it is old reliable Amon Amarth and at the same time a stylistic shift for the band. Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg’s melodic riffs are still at the forefront of every song and they are made to that classic thick groove thanks to the always proficient Ted Lundström on bass teamed with great pick for studio drummer Tobias Gustafsson. Johan Hegg still remains one of the best and most understandable growlers in the metal realm. Everything that one loves about Amon Amarth is here in spades, but now with extra, and more refined flavor.
What’s new to the table most likely comes from the fact that Jomsviking is Amon Amarth’s first concept album. Telling a touching love story (no, I’m not kidding) about a Viking who gets himself exiled when he kills a man after he goes into a rage when his love is sent to be married off to another clan. Vengeance and redemption ensue the Viking way, bloody. For a band known for their simplicity, and even with direct and simple lyrics, it’s a complex and powerful story; emotional even. Having to focus their sound around the narrative leads to Amon Amarth broadening their sound to effectively match the tale they wove. This leads to flurry of sounds, tones, and styles that they have touched upon in the past, but never honed to this sharpness. It’s what makes the record so easy to listen to repeatedly and makes it so addicting.
Each song boasts its own unique touch. The opener ‘First Kill’ is your typical Amon Amarth tune and ‘The Wanderer’ ventures into old school In Flames territory. Things get really interesting on the third track ‘On a Sea of Blood’ where, deer lord! that beautiful Bay Area thrash guitar tone splits open eardrums for a ripping, thrash-tastic assault slays for one of the most energetic songs the band has ever written. This shift to a brighter tone really accentuates the rest of the album allowing the guitarists really to show off those licks and solos they opened the floodgates on. They also work outstanding with Johan Hegg’s voice highlighting his range, especially on the Viking sing-a-long ‘Raise Your Horns’, which I expect to become an immediate live show classic.
‘The Way of the Vikings’ most likely benefits the most from the narrative as it is the point in the story where the protagonist must face his best friend on the battlefield in a fight to the death. One adjective I thought I’d ever use to describe an Amon Amarth song is ’emotional’, yet here I am doing it. The rhythmic, mid-paced riffs backing that bridge solo just gets me every time. Such a simple song, yet so fucking powerful. To a lesser extent Doro Pesch makes a guest appearance on ‘A Dream That Can Not Be’ as the main characters love and she delivers a performance that hits the emotion button hard.
And not to forget about easily my favorite song off the album, ‘At Dawn’s First Light’. This is clearly a love letter to Iron Maiden. Jam packed with galloping rhythms and riffs, dual attack, larger than life solos, and a high-flying, memorable chorus, this is basically everything I love about Iron Maiden (my favorite band btw) distilled into death metal. More tracks have a nice little Maiden influence to them and it’s great, but here it’s in full force and hot damn is it great. Without a doubt one of my favorite Amon Amarth songs ever.
I honestly can not speak highly enough of Jomsviking. If you had thought Amon Amarth were getting a bit stale or were going to sell-out moving to a big time major label, you need this album in your life. They are firing on all cylinders and have reasserted their claim as one of the best modern death metal bands in the world today. No metal head should be without this record. Peace Love and Metal!!!! 5.0 out of 5.0
Label: Victory Records
Release Date: 29 Jun 2015
Length: 37 Minutes
Previous Studio Albums: Slaughter The Weak (1997); Dead and Buried (2001); Fueled By Hate (2004); Warzone (2006); What Horrors Await (2009); Kill on Command (2011); Terror Regime (2013).
Genre: Death Metal
For Fans Of: Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, Exhumed, Obituary
Location: Wisconsin, U.S.
Have you ever eaten from a food truck? If so, then the reason you went there is either because you were hungover or you knew that food trucks and their minimalistic menu is usually pretty amazing. The reason they make food that people line up for because they perfected whatever it is they’re cooking and people like that; they go back for more. By now, I think you get the metaphor. Read the rest of this entry →
Posted by RiffRaff
The piss and vinegar of L7, the snarl of Kitty, the trippiness of Kylesa, and the brutality of a runaway train packed full of dynamite and peanut butter. Washington quartet Mercy Brown’s debut, self-titled LP is flat-out beastly. Teetering between sludgy riffs, punk rock attitude, shattering death metal, and psychedelic prog tendencies, this record really took me by surprise. The vitriol that pours from vocalist Sera Hatchett’s lungs inject so much personality into the already top-notch performance’s of her bandmates. Whether she’s crooning clean vocals or bellowing death growls, this girl is crushing someone’s skull into the ground while doing so.
Between memorable songwriting and diverse, engaging songs this is a record I wholly recommend you give your attention to and toss some couch change to. Give it a listen and let me know what you thunk. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!
Release Date: 5 May 2015
Label: Metal Blade
Length: 37 Minutes
Previous Albums: Haunted (1995); Warpath (1997); Maximum Violence (1999); True Carnage (2001); Bringer of Blood (2003); 13 (2005); Commandment (2007); Death Rituals (2008); Undead (2012); Unborn (2013).
Genre: Death Metal
Location: Florida, United States
Six Feet Under is back with another dose of groove-laden death metal. The only problem the groove part. The classic rhythm that laid the foundation for most of the eleven Six Feet Under albums simply doesn’t exist on Crypt of the Devil. Instead, it has been mostly replaced with blast beats, tighter riffs, and abrupt tempo changes. On paper, that really doesn’t sound like a problem does it? For some reason it doesn’t work as well as I think they might have planned. There is either something missing from the recipe or there is too much of something that spoiled the end result. Let’s figure this out… Read the rest of this entry →
Release: 1 Nov 14
Length: 28 Minutes
Previous Albums: Join or Die (2010); Seasons of Hate EP (2012)
FFO: Lamb of God, Testament, Exodus, Pantera
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
For those that feel an album must be of a certain length, Southern Front’s Death Throes is probably going to disappoint you before it even begins. It’s a quick album and you’ll have to get used to it. Southern Front is not about pumping their albums full of anything irrelevant. Therefore, it’s quality over quantity on this one. It’s just metal and quite heavy metal at that. I’ll admit it even falls a bit short on whether I would call Death Throes an album or an EP, but for eight songs and the punch they pack, it’s an album. Following up their Seasons of Hate EP, Death Throes is a no frills experienced mixed with growling (Lamb of God-like) vocals, copious double bass drumming, and enough guitar solos that give them a more thrashy edge. Read the rest of this entry →
Genre: *Big breath…* Off-the-wall progressive jazz/swing death/thrash/groove metal
Release date: 9 February 2015
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)
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. Read the rest of this entry →
It may surprise more than a few of you good people to learn how many African countries boast top-quality metal bands. Limiting ourselves to just one genre, the ever-popular death metal, let’s take a short journey from the northern end to the southernmost country of my home continent, with a halfway stop for lunch in equatorial Africa.
Thus our itinerary is mid-morning tea in Egypt, a lunchtime barbecue in Kenya and an afternoon beer or six in South Africa. At these events we’ll say hello to truly world-class bands. I’m not going to say much about each band. Let them tell us who and what they are.
The culturally and religiously conservative south-east of the USA, commonly known as the Bible Belt, isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you consider the roots of old-school, fuck-you-all death metal and black metal. Yet it’s given rise to some of the enduring stalwarts of those genres over that last three decades or more.
Extreme underground metal isn’t exactly popular in the Bible Belt. The kick-ass bands that start there go elsewhere in the US to find audiences who won’t damn them for all eternity for playing the music of the Devil. The more successful of those bands go to Europe to spread their type of music to new audiences.
The demonic-looking guy in the photo is Kelly McCoy, one of the seasoned movers in American underground metal and a champion of other extreme bands as well as his own. He invited Metal State to make a short journey into the hard, nasty, uncompromising shadowland of brutal bands from the Deep South. He introduced us to bands he’s with and to other bands who have chosen the same road to perdition.
The metal they play is raw. This certainly doesn’t mean raw in the sense of underdone or unprofessional… anything but! No, it’s raw in the sense that the flesh still drips blood when you rip it off the bones. It’s mighty powerful, deeper than the region where it originated, and I’m sure you’re going to find diabolical beauty in the music. I did. I have the scars to prove it.
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: 10 Oct 2014 (US)
Length: 53 Minutes
Previous Albums: Empire of the Obscene (2008); Existence is Futile (2009); Chaos of Forms (2011); Revocation (2013); Deathless (2014).
Location: Boston, MA USA Read the rest of this entry →
Release Date: 18 Nov 2014 (US)
Length: 47 Minutes
Previous Albums: Resurrection Through Carnage (2002); Nightmares Made Flesh (2004); The Fathomless Mastery (2008)
From: Sweden / England
FFO: Quality death metal Read the rest of this entry →