Astral Path – Ashes Dancer

First off, Ashes Dancer would’ve made a much more interesting band name, and Astral Path would’ve been a cooler album name, for what it’s worth (especially considering another metal band named Astral Path already released an album this year). Other than that, this is just pretty good prog death. The melodies are good, but not amazing, following very predictable patterns and chord progressions, but being relatively pleasing nonetheless. The band can craft some mean solos though, especially on Drag Me Down, which is easily my favorite track on the album.

What really gets me though, is the deathcore-lite breakdowns and chugging that infects that whole album for no reason at all. I feel like there’s supposed to be a sort of spiritual element to this record (at least with indications in the band name, opening track, and prelude), going through sort of new agey/faux-indian classical elements that are brought up on certain tracks and then dropped completely. However everything about this is so god damn produced, clean, and corporate that it makes them feel like a gimmick rather than giving the album any serious conceptual weight.

Again, this album is good, but I wouldn’t quite give it the recommended tag. There are plenty of other prog death albums that are this level of quality, and plenty more than have the same level of high value production, but also offer something more than what you would typically expect.


6.75/10

Reclaiming Elysium – A Decade of Silence

I really want to like this, but the band runs out of ideas after track 2. There’s some really awesome solos here, but the metalcore elements get annoying the further you progress into the album. The band is a nice reunion story, and the title refers to the fact that the original band (named Elysium, hence the new name) never finished their first album and broke up a decade ago. But as cool of a story as it is, they brought some questionable help from some questionable bands (namely Solipsist). No matter how cool the melodic solos are, the constant chugging is annoying, and the random acoustic guitar passages don’t add anything and seem more like pointless wank than anything else. It’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be, but not really worth a second look.


6.5/10

https://reclaimingelysium.bandcamp.com/album/a-decade-of-silence

Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary

Inoffensive, over-hyped, completely generic. The melo death feels like it’s only there to get a tiny bit of an extreme metal audience, because otherwise the death growls do jack shit for this record. If you have heard any progressive metal album ever, you’ll know what to expect. It sounds like the cover and I don’t mean that in a good way.


4.25/10

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.


6/10

https://metalhellrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wrath-of-an-empire

Whispered – Metsutan: Songs of the Void

Yeah, a lot of this is campy as hell “naruto metal”. But there’s some good shit amongst all the forgettable tracks. Strike! is just fucking godly (as well as the music video), and Tsukiakari certainly holds it’s wait. And for an en epic finale, Bloodred Shores of Enoshima does the job as well as any other cheesy, nerd fantasy metal concept album I’ve ever heard does. I wouldn’t call this great, but if you can get past how “fake” the japanese folk elements sound at times, there’s some pretty damn great music here, with some Killer riffs when the band isn’t jerking off over it’s own theme.


7/10