Suicide Silence – Become the Hunter Album Review

What’s up guys! You knew I HAD to cover this one. Three years after the unmitigated disaster that was the 2017 self-titled record, Deathcore leaders Suicide Silence are back and looking for redemption.

After the self-titled LP triggered so much backlash (some of which included the band tussling with their own fans online), I was curious to see how they bounced back. Two potential mistakes they could make here are a) double down on this heavily criticized new direction, or b) run scared and play things too safe, resulting in a borefest.

Did they manage to avoid these pitfalls? Here is my full review of ‘Become the Hunter’:

 

Essential Metal: Atheist – Unquestionable Presence

And here we are, our first 2020 installment of my Essential Metal series! This time around, I’m digging into Atheist’s 1991 classic Unquestionable Presence, a record that helped lay the groundwork for what would become Technical Death Metal. And despite being considered a key release in the Florida Death Metal explosion of the late ’80s and early ’90s, it actually had very little in common with its peers, as I argue in this video.

In case you’re playing catch-up, a full playlist of every album I’ve covered for the Essential Metal series is available here.

For my full thoughts on Unquestionable Presence, check out the video below. Thanks for watching!

 

Essential Metal: Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane

This might just be the best Essential Metal video I’ve ever done. Actually, it might be the best video I’ve done, period.

In this latest addition to the Essential Metal series, I “dissect” (yes, pun oh-so-egregiously intended) the classic second album from Dissection, Storm of the Light’s Bane, which I refer to in this video as “the Old Testament of Blackened Death Metal”.

If you’ve never heard this record, PLEASE go give it a listen (as soon as you watch this video, of course!). If you’re at all into Extreme Metal, chances are you’ve heard it already. But if you’re not, this could be your perfect gateway in. Check out the full video below:

 

Betraying the Martyrs – Rapture Album Review

What’s up guys! Got a brand new Metal review for you today! This week I’m unpacking the fourth full-length record from French Deathcore band Betraying the Martyrs.

I was just introduced to these guys about a month or two ago, and I thought Rapture would be a great opportunity to stretch my tastes a little bit and do a deep dive into something I typically wouldn’t check out. A majority of bands either on the Sumerian Records roster, within the Deathcore movement, or of the “verb-the-noun” persuasion tend to not be my cup of tea – and Betraying the Martyrs happen to check all three boxes. So I purposely went into this review hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Full review below:

SLAMMING New Exhumed Single “Ravenous Cadavers”: Listen Here

Wow, here’s something to jolt you awake this Tuesday morning!

Extreme Metal veterans Exhumed have just announced album number nine – it’s called Horror and it drops October 4th via Relapse Records.

If this first single is any indication of the full 15-track release, we’re really in for a treat. “Ravenous Cadavers” turns its attention much more towards the Thrash-on-steroids, Carcass-influenced part of the band’s sound, rather than the Grind side of things. Frontman Matt Harvey’s voice sounds as brutal as ever. Check it out here and let me know if you love it as much as I do:

Metal Release Day 6/14: Baroness vs. Hate!

Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to our Metal Release Day Battle Royale!

In one corner: acclaimed Georgia metallers Baroness, coming through with Gold & Grey, the fifth and final installment of their wildly successful chromatic-themed releases, each one more lauded than the last (2015’s Purple even garnered high praise from Metallica frontman James Hetfield himself). Anticipation for Gold & Grey is through the roof – Stereogum even referred to it as a “masterpiece” before it even came out. Relax, guys. Still, Gold & Grey will likely be a contender for many year-end metal lists, and I haven’t even heard it yet!

In the other corner: Polish extreme Metal band Hate, whose Blackened Death ferocity is perhaps only matched by the almighty Behemoth. I reviewed 2017’s Tremendum quite positively, complimenting it specifically for embracing more of Hate’s Black Metal side, and am hoping that Auric Gates of Veles blows it out of the water.

Whoever emerges as today’s victor, just know that it’s a great day to be a Metal fan! As for who this blog will declare the winner….well, my forthcoming Mid-Year Metal list may or may not be a good indication….

Dark Tranquillity’s “Atoma”: Three Singles Deep

DT season approaching!

Swedish Melodeath legends Dark Tranquillity are one of the most consistent bands in Metal history. Not only did they kick start their career by leading one of the genre’s most influential movements, but they’ve churned out album after fucking album of world-class Extreme Metal for over two decades without so much as a slight misstep. Their forthcoming LP Atoma (out November 4th on Century Media) will be their eleventh full length, and they’re going into it with a ten-album winning streak.

One of my personal Mount Rushmore bands, DT are completely singular in the world of Melodic Death Metal. Their unique take on the genre is to be more somber than seething, more unassuming than technical, to sprinkle in keyboards and clean vocals without ever veering in a commercial direction. Vocalist Mikael Stanne’s signature snarl is somehow inviting and menacing at the same time.

I can’t say enough about how much I love these guys. But on the flip side, their sound hasn’t fluctuated significantly, and there’s only so many ways you can describe how head over heels you are for Welch’s fruit snacks. After a while, all you know is that you’ve loved them since you could remember, that life is always better when they’re around, and that they’ve never let you down. But with Atoma ten days away (!), I wanted to check in and see how these three pre-release singles are stacking up.

“Atoma”

 The first single I heard, the title cut is far and away the best of the three. The keyboard-centric intro bears a slightly resemblance to “Endtime Hearts”, a career highlight off their last record Construct, so this track was immediately in my good graces. Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals – something bands like Killswitch Engage credit him for popularizing to this day – are some of the most powerful he has ever delivered. His deep baritone has a bit more force behind it, stripping back some of the croonage (definitely not a word) that he has dabbled in. Though the lyrical themes aren’t transparent here, the chorus has a certain triumphant and motivational feel to it as he growls , “hold your head up high”. I’d also like to point out that DT are a band that thrive on subtlety – notice those quietly-mixed harmonized guitars in the chorus that boost the keyboards and create an incredibly FULL sound.

“Forward Momentum”

 “Forward Momentum” trades off between bleakness and aggression. The gloomy keys in the chorus are desolate and We Are the Void -esque, but elsewhere the guitars roar with chugging riffs. For Melodeath fans, that combination of chords in the post-chorus should be quite familiar (see: every Trivium song ever), so this track offers up no surprises. It’s run-of-the-mill DT, although “run-of-the-mill” generally bears a positive connotation for these guys.

“The Pitiless”

 A big factor in Dark Tranquillity’s singularity is that Mikael Stanne’s vocals are so easily deciphered through his raspy screams. It makes DT a bit more lyrically centered than other bands of their ilk, and “The Pitiless” is a prime example. I’m definitely curious as to what Stanne is specifically referring to in the chorus when he delivers the lines: “Alone in silence/Yes I am frightened and so are you/against pitiless indifference/we stand alone”. But either way, the sentiment of taking action in the face of apathy is heard loud and clear.  This song is also the most aggressive of the three singles. Not necessarily known for their riffing, that harmonized hammer-on section at 0:37 is the catchiest guitar part these guys have played in some time.

Essentially, these three tracks sound like a fusion of the last two Dark Tranquillity albums (2013’s Construct and 2010’s We Are the Void). They find the gents going about business as usual, and indulging in absolutely zero experimentation. That’s totally fine for three tracks, but I’m hoping for a curveball or two come November 4th.