Serious Black – Mirrorworld

The album honestly feels like something that was designed to be thrown into the bargain bin. It was released only a year after their initial debut, and is even shorter than said debut. Tracks like As Long as I’m Alive, Castor Skies, and to some extent Mirrorworld are decent tracks, but the rest of the album feels totally uninspired, by the book acceptable power metal. Serious Black does the bare minimum to make their songs entertaining, and as a result comes out with something that listens more like a bag of junk food. It fills the gap in your stomach, but gives no nutritional value, and acts as nothing more than a stop gap for when your next real meal takes place.


My Purest Heat For You – Guilt Had Ambushed Me Once Again

This EP is apparently about the artists struggle with anxiety. Generally speaking, my anxiety is not fulfilled in terms of repetitive, noisy blackgaze, but to each their own I suppose. The last track is the only thing even worth mentioning here, the first two are just total waste’s of time. Thankfully it’s the longest track on the EP, but the first two tracks are essentially copies of each other, and there are only 3 tracks on here. It’s kinda nice, but the shtick gets old fast, there are much better ways of spending your time than listening to this.


Stormtide – Wrath of an Empire

Surprisingly alright. Not reinventing the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but they got the epic aesthetic down pat on their first try. Band just needs any kind of variety and they’ll be turning out some pretty damn good albums. For now though, it was a bit of a difficult listen due to how samey it was. All the attempts to add flavor fell flat, most of the riffs sounded the same, folk elements blended too much with the generic symphonic ones. There’s potential, but Stormtide’s nowhere near there yet.


Fates Warning – Theories of Flight

I don’t think I’ve ever so desperately wanted to like an album in my whole life than this one. I don’t even know why, it’s not like it’s a genre of music I love. Generic prog is something I have a hateboner for in all forms, so this would seem to be the exact thing I would want to hate. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really appreciate Fates Warning’s 80s stuff, so I want to make up for that by giving them credit for what they’re doing now. Maybe it’s just the acclaim Theories of Flight has gotten so far. Regardless, the result is I couldn’t get myself to like this. The album feels like a disingenuous attempt at prog that ends up having more in common with pop rock than any form of progressive metal.

You know, maybe I wanted to like this so bad because From the Rooftops is actually really good. The intro is as stellar a beginning to an album as you can have, the rest of the track being charged with emotion, and a great lead into the album. But then on the 3rd track you have the chorus to SOS. Just what in the name of Jesus Christ’s hairy asshole is that fucking chorus? That sounds like a pop rock song. I would hear that shit on the radio in the mid 2000s as my mom drives me to middle school, what the fuck. And there’s shit like that on the album all the time. Various sections of songs that I can’t tell if the band is trying too hard or absolutely not trying at all. The Light and Shade of Things is fucking great, but White Flag again sounds like they’re pandering to moms and their 14 year old sons from 2007. I don’t understand, sometimes this is an awesome, technical, and wickedly catchy progressive metal album, and the other times it’s like the band sold the fuck out but didn’t want people to catch on to that fact.

Let me be clear, nothing on this album is astonishing. You’ve heard this shit before if you’ve heard 10 prog metal albums from after 2005. But when it’s clicking, it can convey some pretty intense emotions. As mentioned before, The Light sounds like a real diverse prog opus, albeit in a modern sense, and watered down on the pretension. It’s the shorter tracks that sound like complete fucking filler. Theories of Flight is the most filler track you could possibly put on your album, and it’s the closer. I just, I don’t know what possible purpose it serves on the album. It’s not even really a song, it’s just staticy noise and samples with guitar noodling. Why the fuck even put this on here? What does it add to the album that The Ghosts of Home (a 10 minute prog journey that is almost on part with The Light and Shade of Things) doesn’t?

I really feel like this deserves a rating in the 5 range, I really do. But I can’t give it that. Because even though it’s lows are definitely low, when it’s good, it rests somewhere in the high 7 range consistently. And I don’t know, sometimes you just enjoy records even though all analysis points it towards not being great. This record is like that one awkward kid you should absolutely dislike on every level, but for some reason you can’t help feel a mixture of sympathy and shame for. You feel guilty that you don’t like it, so you give it better treatment. Music is weird man.


Fallujah – Dreamless

In a twist of irony, Dreamless goes about to create a dream-like state, with spacey riffs, and electronic tracks, and makes an album whose entire premise has been done before, and done better. Fallujah has gone much more into the djent category, to the point where I would almost say this is more djent than tech death. Rarely do the guitars have that monstrous growl you find in death metal, mostly residing on a clean, gutteral, mechanical burps you find in djent. While there is plenty of technicality, I feel like any melodic composition is thrown out the window in favor of atmosphere, and by atmosphere I mean ambient chugging. It doesn’t feel like a tech death album, or at the very least, feels like a tech death album that went through the entire Nuclear Blastify process, instead of showing any kind of resistance. Any time you have that many guest artists for the vocals on a death metal album, you know something is not right. Dreamless feels like manufactured product, made specifically to be sold to the masses.

And that wouldn’t be so bad if the ideas on the album were at least somewhat coherent. Tracks like Adrenaline sound like the band picked what fucking ideas they thought of in the shower, and threw any that sounded good in the track, without thinking on whether it made a coherent song. And to be fair, in the most superficial level possible, it definitely “sounds good”. This is one of those albums that doesn’t really have a defining lovable aspect to it, or any reason for me to heavily praise it, but I’m sure if I listened to this as just background music for uh, idunno, whatever the fuck people who listened to the Black Dahlia Murder one time and then posted on facebook about how they’re ordering the satanic bible from amazon prime do for fun, I would probably very much enjoy it.

Dreamless lacks any sort of depth or replay value that’s required for a great album, but for a commercial product I can’t really fault it for having it’s, well, faults. It’s a pretty nice album. It’s the epitome of a band selling the fuck out, and basically represents a lot of what is wrong with commercial technical death metal. But it’s nice enough.