Mass Deception – Revelations

Really solid thrash metal debut. Mass Deception uses this heavy, slower, and at times almost atmospheric style of thrash where the riffs don’t go as fast, but they hit much harder. The various samples throughout the album add some flavor of governmental paranoia, as well as lots of humor (LOVED the chew bubble gum and kick ass sample, got a big kick out of that). I feel like it unnecessarily trades some of it’s sticking power for heaviness. I think a bit more speed would’ve gotten me more in that thrashy mood. Unslaved is a fantastic track, and fitting of the longest track on the album. Though it’s disappointing that Criminally Insane (basically a throwaway track) follows, and Ancient Days (an almost entirely acoustic track) feels just out of place and pointless. Really, you could’ve just removed Ancient Days and this would’ve been an 8 easily. This is still very well done however, these guys should be proud they put together such a solid debut in a genre lacking solid music.


Divine Weep – Tears of Ages

Really nice balance between being melodic, and rhythmically moving. A lot of power metal albums seem to just focus so much on one or the other, instead of doing both well. You’ll either have something like Galneryus (though I wouldn’t say that’s really a bad thing) or you’ll have some random chug prog band that gets praised because they use folk instruments one time on the album. This has a nice mix of both. You can hear the influences of when this band used to be a black metal band on tracks like The Mentor. The type of riffs they use sound a bit like slowed down black-thrash riffs in a way. This is nothing absolutely amazing, but still very decent power metal without a single bad track on the album, if nothing really spectacular.


Winterhorde – Maestro

I feel like this is just on the cusp of being great, but not quite there. It’s incredibly consistent, but rarely does any track absolutely wow me (with the exception of They Came with Eyes of Fire and maybe the title track). The main melodies are pretty samey, but there’s just enough variation that I don’t mind it too much. I love the heavy progressive tinge to the record, really separates itself from other sympho black album. This isn’t just campy symphonics, there’s actual compositional skill involved. Overall this is good, but I don’t think it justifies the length at all, and consistently only gets your far if it’s consistently amazing, rather than consistently decent.


Almanac – Tsar

Well… huh. Since when is the obligatory overrated power metal album in the RYM [current year] metal top 40 actually good? I mean sure, this has very little replayability, and after the initial “hey this is actually pretty dang good”shock wears off, it leaves something to be desired, but considering all of those obvious faults, this rules.

Almanac debuts with a power metal rock opera with a very apparent progressive tinge, chronicling the reign of Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Of course, I can say that, but despite those facts, when it comes down it, this is chug power. Quite good chug power, but chug power nonetheless. Normally that instantly caps your max rating at around the 6 level on my scale, but I feel like Almanac manages to avoid this pitfall through pulling some shenanigans in how they do the chugging deed. Actually it’s not really shenanigans at all, they just use chugging as a form to setup tension and build backing for the fantastic vocals, as well as using the heavy guitars for chug-riffs rather than just mindless repetitive chords. I just really wanted to use the word shenanigans there. Fun word, needs more use outside of conversations between high school musical theater students.

Speaking of which, the theatrical aspects of this album are actually presented in quite a professional manner. I mean yeah, there’s the obvious amount of “cheese” you’re going get with power metal, but I put that in quotes here because nothing about this is actually over the top. Sure, it’s going to sound a tad goofy, as does any power metal album, but aside from sometimes slightly overly theatrical aspects of this record, I see this as quite a professionally done piece of music. The production in particular is top notch clean work, which makes me take this as seriously as I’ll ever take a power metal album. There’s a feel of genuine want to create a story that’s not just muh dragons and DnD, and I think that’s necessary for a good power metal album. As much as I like cheese, if it doesn’t feel like the band is trying to create something that’s not just goofy, it makes me feel like the band is almost mocking their genre rather than trying to embrace it, which doesn’t make them too rad of dudes in my book. Then again I like Gloryhammer, so what do I know?

The main part of Tsar that I enjoy the most is actually the guitar work. The internet has told me that Victor Smolski is a legendary guitarist, so I’ll believe them in an effort to look learned, and he displays what the lord our god Internet has told me. The single on this album, Self-Blinded Eyes, proves this fact, which as well as featuring a fantastic solo towards the end of the track, also features a bit of a riff cereal. It’s sort of like Lucky Charms, with all of the marshmallows being different colors and include all of that tasty processed sugar flavor that my 8 year old self loved. Each riff brings a bit of breakfast time memories to me, as I go off to school, ready to be picked on endlessly because my mom wouldn’t buy me Lunchables. That’s kind of a contrived analogy, but fuck it, I really like breakfast anyway, that’s good enough. Unsurprisingly, this is the best track on the album, and brings forth the driving rhythms that the appropriate use of chugging can do to a track.

However, I have to go back to what I said in the first paragraph: this is chug power, and after the initial pleasant surprise factor, the albums positive attributes wears thinner and thinner. This is a good album, definitely one of the better power metal records I’ve heard this year. But it’s the tolken overrated RYM power metal album of the month for a reason, even if it tries its best to break that stereotype.


Korpse – Unethical

I like how distraught the CGI Joseph Kony looks on the cover.

“Why am I here? What am I even cutting open? Why are there two people hanging behind me? The fuck did that fire come from? Is there more to life than mindlessly killing? I wanted to be a dentist. Why are there a bunch of suburban white kids trying to make me famous? My feet hurt. I’m tried of slaughtering children all day. I wanna go home.”

The album is good though, really fucking awesome, super heavy and brutal slam, worth checking out if you’re proud of the fact you’re cancer to metal.


Bloodiest – Bloodiest ALBUM REVIEW

These driving rhythms are amazing. It feels like each track is constantly moving forward towards the climax, and then continuing onward into infinity. It feels almost tribal, like each track that isn’t an interlude is a ritual that you’re hearing be completed. And how about those vocals? God damn these vocals are absolutely perfect. Partially strained cleans that continue to rise into high intensity screams as the climax beings. Bloodiest has Neurosis levels of buildup and climax in their tracks. Meaning they’re one of the few bands in their genre to actually know what the fuck they’re doing. There are no cheesy chord progressions, the buildup is built on dynamics (not just playing louder), rhythm, and overall intensity. The tracks have progression in them. It feels like there’s a beginning, middle, and end, despite being continually on the rise until the final climax. Is the piano maybe a tad over the top? A little, yes, but it doesn’t hurt it at all. Honestly, this is one of the best atmo sludge albums I’ve heard in a long time…

Until I realized that once I heard the first track, I’d heard the entire album. Never have I been more disappointed with a lack of variety in an album than this. Because god dammit, the actual musical formula is brilliant, and makes for a perfect atmo sludge record, like literally what I would dream a perfect record of that genre to be like. But very rarely can you make an album that is essentially all in the same key work, and rarely is an album with a severe lack of tonal variety going to get the best marks from me.

Bloodiest is fantastic at what it does, but unfortunately you can only repeat perfection so many times until it’s no longer perfect anymore.