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.


6/10

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.


7.5/10

https://metalscraprecords.bandcamp.com/album/divine-weep-tears-of-the-ages

Sunburst – Fragments of Creation

Perfect, that’s how I wanted to end my evening, chug prog that desperately tries to disguise that fact with soulless technicality. Fantastic, this’ll be a short one. Fragments of Creation is another drop in a sea of unmemorable power prog that’ll be released this year, and the only reason I’m even being arsed to write a review about it is because I happened to be dumb enough to give it a shot. Not a single memorable song lies on this album, essentially being a 56 minute waste of your time. If you like solos that have been played endlessly, if you like prog metal that’s “totally not djent guys, really honestly it’s just a slight influence, we’re our own thing I promise”, and if you like dry reflections of power metal that do nothing but add insincere “cheese” to the album, be my guest. Go ahead, like it, I can’t stop you. I’ll admit, once in a while there’s a riff that kinda cocks my head a bit. Beyond that, there’s nothing worth saving here. Move along folks, nothing to see, just joining the endless crowd of other albums like it released on a yearly basis.


5/10

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.


7.5/10

Sinbreed – Master Creator

This album is actually magical. It has a good guitar tone, good vocals, good production, and sounds like it was made by a competent band, and manages to actually make nothing of note for 45 straight minutes. The second and third track are literally in the same key, back to back, and sound nearly identical. It’s astonishing. It’s like the rhythm guitar has a 20 inch cock, and the whole album is just a one long masturbation session. It isn’t even chugchore, it’s just nothing but pretty good singing and backup guitars for an entire album. Oh and there’s a weird emotional piano track that’s really bad, but that’s kinda par for the course in power metal so whatever.


5.25/10

Shortstacks 3/1/2016

The second ever batch of shortstacks has a bit of a drop at the top in terms of quality, but the same overall value across all the ratings. Yesterday we had one album crack the recommended tag, if just barely, in Eissturm’s The Oak, while the remaining two meddled in the average to bad category. Today we have two albums who have merit, but don’t quite reach that level, and two that are just… really bad. One of which being the second worst album I’ve rated this year. I guess that’s quality in itself, isn’t it? I mean, why else read the shitty rated albums if you don’t simply want to feel better about your own failed musical endeavors? Well don’t worry, we have that for you today. Without further adieu, here are today’s 4 horsemen of the mediocrepocalypse.


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Witch’s Heart – The Crvshing Waves of Silence Wash Over My Wretched Soul

Well this certainly is spooky. I’m not sure how good it is, but it’s a hard listen. Witch’s Hearts create a really unique sound of combining droning sludge guitar tones with heavy and dark industrial synths and noises. It utilizes these disfigured blackened “vocals” (???) along with blast beats to create a terrifying musical sight to behold. At first it’s really a cool experience, opening up with these angelic choirs combining with darkness the rest of the influences hold. Unfortunately, the album gets old pretty damn fast. I love dark industrial stuff, but I can only take so much of one droning overall sound per track. There just isn’t the variety here to keep me interested. There’s potential for good stuff, these guys just need to figure it out.

6/10


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Nova Serpens – Oculto en las sombras

Not bad. Generic, but not bad. Once the novelty of “Mexican power metal band that sings in spanish” wears off, there isn’t really much substance here worth mentioning. Standard stuff that’s done pretty well for what it is, but doesn’t break any mold in terms of the larger scale. I will say that the vocals are actually quite good, having a bit deeper range than most other power metal bands while still maintaining quality. That said, everything else here is something that’s been done before, and been done better.

6/10


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Avitas – Pioneers

Complete mess of an album with equally messy song titles and production job. Everything sounds chaotic in all the wrong ways, like the band just doesn’t know how to write a song. When it isn’t just a mess, it’s just one riff over and over again over some incredibly insipid lyrics (which are mostly bigoted, but there’s reasons beyond that why they’re bad). It’s a real shame it isn’t anywhere near as good as the cover art, because I was pretty excited to listen to this based just on that. Awful album that is to be avoided.

2.5/10


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Panoptitron – Swansong

Imagine Dream Theater, if they never got a record deal. If they never even left their garage. Having been disappointed in not getting attention, they go for a lofi-black metal aesthetic while still being a prog band. So what you get is some of the worst quality production jobs you’ll hear in a non black or death metal record, coupled with copious amounts of awful quality midis and drum machines, resulting in climaxes that have the extremely mediocre vocalist singing his guts out while nothing but midi horns and empty synth drums back him up. Swansong gives approximately the same feeling as watching a severely autistic child try to play the recorder. You feel a mixture of audible pain, immense sadness, trying empathy, and just a tiny but of happiness because you know that despite their poor results, they’re trying their best. This record is why you give your friends constructive criticism rather than just blindly praising their work. Because otherwise they never realize how shitty what they’re doing is, and go on to make albums like this, which is actually part 4 in a series of concept albums. So please, criticize your friends. It can save a life.

1.25/10