Friday, September 22, 2017

Dark Tranquillity in Sioux Falls, SD: September 21, 2017

Well, I am really not sure about going to Sioux Falls for a concert more than once every few months or so.  Particularly if it is on a weeknight.  Not to say the experience was bad, but getting home at 3:00 a.m. and having to get right back up in a few hours is definitely tough on me.  I'm getting old.  Anyway, last night Swedish melodeath pioneers Dark Tranquillity appeared at The Icon Lounge along with Warbringer and Striker, and a couple local bands.  It was a long concert, but it was still a lot of fun.

First on stage was the unfortunately-named local band Tons of 'Em.  They were playing when we walked in and played only two songs that we saw.  The sound was interesting enough, somewhat technical, and a little doomy.  The most interesting aspect of the band was that the two guitarists and bassist were all in their 20's, while the drummer appeared to be in his 60's.  I made the joke to my wife that it was nice of the band members' dad to play drums for them.  Apparently that is partially correct.  He is only one of the members' dad.

The next band was Traverscion, a prog-death metal band from Sioux Falls, led by a Sheldon Cooper-lookalike and a Thor lookalike, which thrilled my wife by the way.  This band I really enjoyed.  Their sound had kind of a Lovecraftian murkiness to it and the three vocalists complemented each other quite well.  The times when they would play more melodic sections were the definite highlight.  I will be keeping an eye on this group.

Side story: I made a comment at the Kreator show to my wife that there would probably be some scary-looking guys there.  She responded that they are probably more scared of her than she is of them.  The ratio of men to women at most of these concerts probably bears this out.

And we are back.  Canada has become quite the fertile ground for traditional metal bands over the last decade or so.  And Striker is just one example of this.  I have heard one of their albums and quite enjoyed it, so I had a decent idea of what to expect, but for some reason I thought they were thrashier than they actually are.  They played a blistering 20 minute set with some of the catchiest songs of the night.  They definitely looked like throwbacks to 1980's metal too.  I will have to check out more of their material.  I wish they had had a t-shirt with their Armed to the Teeth album cover on it.  I would have grabbed it quickly.
Where was this t-shirt, Striker?
Hell, my wife would have bought one!

Next up was Warbringer.  I saw them about five years ago when they were an up-and-coming band in support of Overkill.  They played their entire new album Woe to the Vanquished.  A little unexpected, but that is a monster of a modern thrash album, so it was damn good.  Of particular note is the absolutely infectious neck-breaker "Remain Violent".  They looked like they were having a blast too, which was true of each of the five bands of the night.

And finally, Dark Tranquillity took the stage.  I have been a big fan of the band since I was in college, though I preferred their heavier material prior to their more gothic metal-influenced melodeath (my favorite of their albums is still the Of Chaos and Eternal Night EP).  That being said, they have some damn great songs and they played a lot of that material last night.  Mikael Stanne was a very charismatic presence and explained some of the stories behind some of the songs.    My wife stated that Santa Claus has a lot more tattoos than she remembered, referring to bassist Anders Iwers, who does bear a resemblance to a badass metal Santa.  The best song was "ThereIn" from the Projector album, which surprised me at its inclusion.  The band played in front of a projected screen that played music videos the band did, which also surprised me.  They were in top form last night and sounded just as potent as they do on their albums.

I was definitely glad I went, though my wife was not nearly as pleased.  It was a damn late night, but seeing Dark Tranquillity for the first time was well worth it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dying Fetus: Wrong One to Fuck With (2017)

Dying Fetus was one of the first brutal death metal bands I got into.  Much like Suffocation, the band has always existed somewhere on a continuum between grooving slam death and technical brutal death metal, but they marry the two seemingly disparate styles quite well.  I always make it a point to check out new releases by the band, but they have been away for about five years prior to the release of this album.  And there was quite a bit of hype for this one.

A few things were immediately apparent which did not even require listening to the album to be able to tell that this was going to be a very strong release.  First off, the band brought back their early band logo that has not been used since their demo days.  Secondly, the gory album cover, promising violence.  And third, the name of the album itself.  Dying Fetus has never really been subtle, but those three factors raised my hopes that this was going to be one hell of an album.  Dying Fetus did not disappoint.

From the beginning of this album, a highly technical lead riff leading into a pummeling opening track, it was clear that the time off has been just what Dying Fetus needed in order to rejuvenate their sound.  The rest of the album follows suit with equal parts technicality and brutality.  The production is crisp and clear, allowing each of the instruments to be heard well, which helps emphasize just how impressive John Gallagher's guitar leads are, the punishing throbbing of John Beasley's bass, and how impressively Trey Williams plays the skins.  Dual vocalists Gallagher and Beasley continue to complement each other well, barking their vocals in their own distinct extreme styles.

This is a damn impressive album.  I have been a big fan of Dying Fetus for about ten years now, but this is easily their best album they have released in that time.  Everything about this grabs attention and refuses to let go.  This is an absolutely punishing, uncompromising slab of metal that forces itself to be heard and does not let go.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Goatwhore: Vengeful Ascension (2017)

Goatwhore is quickly becoming the Motorhead of extreme metal.  They are amazingly consistent, yet most of their songs are fairly similar in structure, and led by rumbling riffs.  Speed and intensity are the name of the game.  They have become one of my personal favorite bands and I jumped at the chance to see them live earlier this year.  I also had to put their new album on pre-order as soon as I became aware of it and looked forward to it.

Unfortunately, this album was something of a letdown.  The band did not truly alter its sound in any way.  The album is very much in line with Goatwhore's releases that came before it.  The problem is that this particular album sounds a little phoned in.  It is too similar to the stuff that came before it, without much growth, and certainly without anything that stands out and demands attention.

The first track is something of a plodding crawl, at least as far as Goatwhore is concerned.  It is a somewhat slower track and not the most dynamic of openers.  Several of the following songs were more mid-paced and tended to blend together a bit.  A lot of the breakneck speed from earlier albums has been replaced with more of a rumbling groove.  Not to suggest that Goatwhore is suddenly trying to become Pantera, but they were always at their best when they were thrashing all around.  This is much more relaxed.  That is simply not something I am used to from Goatwhore.  "Mankind Will Have No Mercy" is probably the closest thing to the the sound I would expect from Goatwhore.

There is nothing really bad here.  All of the elements that one would expect from a Goatwhore album are present.  From Ben Falgoust's demonic vocals to Sammy Duet's Motorhead-inspired riffing to Zack Simmons's insane drumming, the band is every bit as talented and crushing as ever.  Unfortunately, they seem to have mostly become complacent in their songwriting.  Every band has a misstep, hopefully this is just that, and the band will return to the fire and fury of their earlier works next time around.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Suffocation: ...Of the Dark Light (2017)

After the last couple of albums, it appeared that Suffocation was mostly just spinning their wheels.  They still have yet to release a bad album, but most of their releases of late have been mostly the same.  Still good, but mostly unmemorable.  So it was with a little bit of trepidation that I checked out this latest release, their first since 2013.  But, this has to be the best Suffocation album in a very long time, which is saying something.

There are certain fundamental elements that are expected for a Suffocation album.  The first of these is definitely brutality.  Suffocation is not a subtle band and does not rely on melody.  Crushing, yet technical riffs, blastbeat-driven drums, and deep guttural roaring vocals are the band's calling cards.  Their music is violent and intense, but their best material is also infectious.  That has been the one thing that has been lacking of late, truly memorable material.

This is Suffocation's strongest album in years.  It contains some absolutely memorable songs, such as "Clarity Through Deprivation", "The Violation", and "Some Things Should be Left Alone."  The band has really not done anything differently musically on this album.  It just comes across as a tighter sound, with more energy and passion.  The band sounds rejuvenated somehow.  Perhaps this is due to new members Eric Morotti and Charlie Errigo at drums and guitar respectively, neither of whom had even been born when Suffocation released their first album.  Whatever it is, the band sounds better than they have in over a decade.

This is without a doubt, Suffocation's strongest album in years.  The band has re-captured the spirit and energy that made them one of the greatest death metal bands ever.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

God Dethroned: The World Ablaze (2017)

God Dethroned is back!  The Dutch blackened death metal band has split up twice now, only to reform just a couple of years later.  Most recently, they split up in 2012, some time after I saw them in concert as one of the supporting bands for Overkill.  They were not gone too long as they technically reunited in 2014, but this is the first new material since then.

God Dethroned has found something of a niche in crafting their albums around the atrocities of World War I.  It started with their amazing Passiondale album in 2009 and continued with Under the Sign of the Iron Cross.  This is their third release in that vein.  This is never more apparent than on the terrific, heart-pumping "On the Wrong Side of the Wire".  Ah, trench warfare.

The lyrical content is not the only thing that has been re-created on each of the last three albums.  The general sound of the albums is also very similar.  No one will ever accuse God Dethroned of being mainstream-friendly (talking mainstream metal obviously), but the music is similar to the lighter material by Behemoth and tends more to melody than brutality this time around.  It is like the band took some of the more epic, dramatic moments that appeared on Passiondale ("No Survivors"), and stretched them out into an entire album.  Most of the black metal-leaning elements have been stripped from their sound, leaving a more streamlined approach similar to the melodic death metal stylings of Amon Amarth, just with a different historical period as a focus.  They have been trending in this direction for awhile now and this is definitely the closest to mainstream-friendly as God Dethroned has ever been.

The band can still dial things up when they really want to, and a lot of the time, they still sound like a well-oiled machine of warfare.  "Annihilation Crusade" is a loud, bulldozer of a song with riffing that sounds like heavy artillery firing.  And as mentioned, "On the Other Side of the Wire" is a monster track, with a fantastic lead melody.  The vocals are delivered in Henri Sattler's standard gruff bark throughout the album.

I enjoy this album quite a bit, though it is not as impressive as Passiondale.  It is a strong comeback album, even if it is significantly more melodic than we are used to from God Dethroned.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sepultura: Machine Messiah (2017)

Way back in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in high school, I gravitated toward Brazilian metal legends Sepultura.  It was the first extreme metal band I was ever really into.  Of course this was at the time that Roots was released.  I picked it up and then quickly picked up a number of their other releases, including singles, EPs, and other oddities (including one bootleg).  Now, I recognize their earlier material as their best, but Sepultura was a very important band in my evolution as a metalhead.  Then, Max Cavalera left the band and after being very disappointed with the album Against, I stopped picking up new releases by the band.  Until just recently.

After Derrick Green took over vocal duties from the departed Max Cavalera, Sepultura cratered for a while.  Their sound went in more of a hardcore direction and the passion was simply not there.  It seems apparent now that the band was often following trends: evolving into a groove metal band when Pantera hit it big and then nu-metal when Korn was the flavor of the day.  Then when extreme metal came back into popularity, the band once again shifted in that direction.  That being said, the quality of the band's albums has been gradually improving over the last several years, to the point that I was actually impressed enough to pick this one up.

Things get off to kind of a weird start on the opening title track here.  Sepultura is not really known for their melodic sensibility, and we have a more subtle, softer sound on this track for the first few minutes.  Green eventually starts screaming, but the tone of the song remains more melodic and somber than their typical rage and anger.  It returns to that rage and anger from the second track on.  "I am the Enemy" definitely has more of a defiant punk edge to it, and the simple, groove-laden riffs certainly help.  The band still utilizes some tribal drumming ("Phantom Self"), an element that gained the band mainstream notice in the mid 1990's.  For the most part, this album is more of the same groove metal that the band has been playing for the last several years, but there is something much more savage and bestial this time around.

The album is something of a concept album, about technology taking over people's lives, and the problems that would likely arise from technology taking over.  Think Terminator.  I have not spent any time reviewing the lyrics to look at the story of the album, I just know it is there.

This is easily the best album Sepultura has released since Max left the band.  That really is not saying that much though.  It is probably better than Roots, but maybe not as good as Chaos A.D., so of course the older stuff still blows it out of the water.  Still though, it is nice to hear something decent from the band that I loved so much going into high school.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Exodus in Omaha: September 11, 2017

A few weeks back I talked about Bucket List Bands, bands I would love to see live some day.  That particular conversation was about Iron Maiden, which was definitely a band that qualified.  I went about formulating a list, and one of these days I will share it.  But one of the bands that made it onto the list was Exodus.  Now, I am not a massive fan of Exodus's entire catalog, but I have previously said that I believe that Bonded by Blood is one of, if not the, greatest thrash metal albums of all time.  On Monday night, Exodus came to Omaha, and my wife and I made the trip to see them.

The show was at the Slowdown, a fairly new venue, at least it appears that way.  It was a very nice venue and I hope to see more shows there.  Opening up for Exodus were a couple of local bands, one of which I have previously seen and the other of which I have heard before.

We were a little bit late, but did not miss much.  Orpheus was already on the stage when I walked in, while my wife decided to go for some ice cream.  I saw Orpheus as one of the opening bands at the Goatwhore concert a few months back.  I was pretty impressed with their brand of death/thrash metal at the time.  I was even more impressed this time.  Their music was fast and brutally intense and they were the biggest surprise of the night.

Narcotic Self is a Nebraska band that is reasonably well-known.  I would argue that they have the feel of a band that is right on the cusp of making a big name for themselves.  On their most recent album, they managed to secure the guest vocals of Soilwork's Bjorn "Speed" Strid.  And their brutal thrash metal sound is damn impressive as well.  They also have a very strong stage presence and really got the crowd into their set.  This band could be going places.

Exodus was next to the stage and they played a blistering set that covered much of their history.  Bonded by Blood was well-represented, as it should have been.  The band also played select songs from their most recent album (which I love) and the Atrocity Exhibit albums (which are not as impressive).  The band sounded like a band half their age.  There was a ton of energy and enthusiasm and some damn impressive riffwork.  Steve "Zetro" Souza sounded great as he screeched out his vocals and he kept the crowd involved, though some people got a little too into it.  One person had to be escorted out after getting into a fight in the pit.  "The Toxic Waltz" was a particular crowd favorite and really had the pit moving.  Overall, Exodus was terrific.  They were well worth the wait, though I am not sure my wife agreed.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pallbearer: Heartless (2017)

Doom metal has been going through a massive resurgence over the last few years.  One of the top bands in the center of this resurgence has been the Arkansas natives Pallbearer.  Pallbearer released a monster of a debut album in 2012 and are on their third album with this year's Heartless.

Pallbearer's sound is epic, slow-moving, melancholic, and melodic.  The songs are typically longer with rather atypical song structures.  The songs are not in standard verse-chorus-verse compositions, and in fact they typically do not have choruses at all.  Therefore, the songs are not really catchy in the traditional sense.  Rather, they are infectious in their own ways.  The songs are typically dreary, with clean, heart-wrenching vocals and razor-sharp guitar leads.  The album is incredibly heavy and yet heart-breaking.  The vocals are so pained and tortured and the guitar melodies are so somber, that the emotion is impossible to not be contagious.  It is beautifully tragic.

The only real issue is that the album does tend to drag in places.  This is mostly to be expected with such a slow-moving release that is focused more on sorrow.  By and large, the depressive tone works quite well with the dragged out songs, but on occasion it seems to lose focus and meander a bit.  But the band does a great job of pulling things back together quickly.

It took me a while to get into Pallbearer initially.  There was a lot of hype for their debut release which often tends to turn me off.  But once I checked them out, I was hooked.  And this album hooked me almost instantly.  It is a terrific doom metal release with a ton of heaviness and emotion, two things that are often difficult to combine in such an effective manner as Pallbearer does here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Kreator: Gods of Violence (2017)

I covered Overkill yesterday, so it is time to cover another thrash metal titan, this time Germany's Kreator.  I had the opportunity to see Kreator live earlier this year and see them play some of the songs from the album.  I will come right out and say that the band generally sounds even more ferocious live than they do in recordings.

Kreator's sound has changed a little bit over the last few albums, since their more experimental period came to an end.  Their sound has embraced more melodic death metal elements over the last few releases, and this has become a major part of their sound on this album in particular.  Some long-term fans have cried foul over this, but the band pulls it off fairly well.  It is simply a fact that the take-no-prisoners brutality of their 1980's material is not going to be revisited.  The band has matured and keeping up that level of aggression is not easy.

The band still has songs that bring to mind the Kreator that released "Endless Pain" and "Pleasure to Kill".  "Satan is Real" and the title track certainly have that kind of anthemic, fist-pumping, neck-wrecking energy.  Vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza has been the band's MVP for a long time now and his vocals sound just as pissed off as they always have.  His snarling has long been the band's most identifiable characteristic and it retains its power here.

Kreator is never going to release another "People of the Lie".  We need to learn to accept that and embrace the band that they have become.  They are more melodic these days, but they can definitely still break some necks.  This is a damn fine album for a band that has been going for nearly 35 years.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Overkill: The Grinding Wheel (2017)

I have never really been able to stick to a concrete list of my favorite bands.  My tastes are constantly changing and one bad album, or an exceptional album from a different band can tend to completely throw a wrench into things.  But Overkill has to be among my top bands because they are so insanely consistent.  That is not an easy thing to find in the world of thrash metal in particular.  Sure, Overkill did the groove metal thing for a little bit after Pantera success shocked everyone, but even those albums were great.  And so, when a new Overkill album is released upon the world, I have to pick it up.

Now, just because I said the band has been consistent does not mean that there is not a weaker album here and there.  Weaker in the sense that it does not reach the heights that other releases do and tends to be a little more middle-of-the-road.  Not weaker in that it is a bad album.  Overkill has never released a bad album.  Unfortunately, this is one of those slightly weaker albums.  It is not as dynamic as some of the band's other albums in this era of their careers.  It does not have the same ferocity as say, Ironbound, which was a true monster of an album and their best since the early 1990's.

The album definitely starts off strong, with the anthemic "Mean, Green, Killing Machine", which I imagine will be quite the popular song at their concerts (it has been several years since I have seen Overkill live and they did absolutely slay).  Unfortunately that song does kind of overstay its welcome over its nearly eight-minute run time.  And that is a lot of the problem with this album in a nutshell.  There are only two songs under five minutes, and those are just barely under.  It is hard for a band to maintain intensity over that long of a run-time, particularly a thrash metal band known more for speed.  The songs tend to meander a little and lose focus.  Now, Overkill has certainly made long albums before, but this album just loses something.

Now, again, this is still a damn good album.  It just does not quite hold up to the standard set down by the band over the last 35 years, which is a long time for any band to keep up this level of quality.  And Overkill has been consistently putting out great thrash metal throughout their career.  It is only natural that some albums will hold up better over time.  This is just not one of those.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Power Trip: Nightmare Logic (2017)

Since I have been doing this blog thing, no band has taken home Album of the Year honors twice.  Now, I really have not been doing this THAT long, and it is not as if bands have not been in the Top 10 more than once.  This year, that COULD change.  Power Trip's debut album was my Album of the Year in 2013 and this follow-up is definitely a contender for 2017.

Crossover is a genre that I have really gotten into in the last few years, and a lot of that has been due to Power Trip, who sounds like Nuclear Assault on steroids.  Power Trip manages to stick a little closer to thrash metal than punk on this release, but maintains the punk aggression and attitude.  The riffs are straight out of the early days of thrash metal, but are delivered with a fresh and modern flair so that the music does not fall into the trappings of the retro thrash wave of a few years ago.

Second track "Executioner's Tax" is led off by a fucking steamroller of a riff.  It is the clear highlight of the album, though Power Trip never wavers in intensity and each song is a neck-breaker.  This is a relatively short release, at just over half an hour in length and with just eight tracks, but it is a non-stop, crushing album from start to finish.

Nightmare Logic is a worthy successor to Power Trip's monstrous debut album, further refining their take-no-prisoners approach and contending for Album of the Year on this blog once more.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Nethermancy: Magick Halls of Ascension (2017)

Black metal has become such a varied beast over the years.  Other genres have seeped their influence into bands.  Regional styles have popped up.  There is just very little that sounds like the more known sounds of the early 1990's in Norway, which in itself was really the second wave of black metal.  There are certain styles of black metal that appeal to me, and certain styles that do not.  I generally prefer bands whose sound is based in thrash metal riffs with hateful-sounding vocals.  And luckily, Nethermancy is exactly that type of black metal band.

Nethermancy's sound is based in the old school.  It is the kind of black metal sound you would expect to hear from Norway in the early 1990's, with a little bit of early 90's Swedish black metal thrown in for good measure.  The riffs are tremolo-picked, repetitive riffs, played over blast-beat driven drums, with the occasional keyboard flourish.  The vocals are delivered in a throaty rasp.  If I had to pick one band to refer to for a point of reference, it would be the most aggressive stuff from Ancient.  The lyrics deal mostly with occult mysticism, similar to the works of Absu or the black metal output of Satan's Host.

This album manages to hit all of the right notes for me for a black metal album.  It is fast, aggressive, and intense.  The lyrics are dark, the vocals are definitely hateful.  The fact that this band came from Portugal and not Scandinavia is shocking.  It is less surprising to know that the band has been together since the mid 90's.  Their style definitely suggests they probably date back to that time period.  This is a very good, old school style black metal album.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for black metal the way it used to be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Scarlet Records Round-Up Post

I am going to try to catch up on the label submissions.  Not that some of these albums do not deserve their own posts (all of them do), but I am way behind and would like to start reviewing some of the albums I have sought out myself.  Here are the last of the Scarlet Records releases:

MY REGIME: DERANGED PATTERNS (2017)
My Regime is a Swedish thrash metal band, featuring legendary Spiritual Beggars singer/songwriter Spice and several other members from other Swedish metal bands.  Swedish thrash typically has a distinctly different sound, with an often cavernous guitar tone.  For some reason I have never gotten quite as into Swedish thrash as the German style.  My Regime's sound is rooted in late 1980's prime-era Slayer, with punk-like intensity, snarled vocals, and fast, crushing riffs.  My Regime has only been around for a couple of years now, but I definitely like their sound.  I am looking forward to more.  "The Sound of Dying Dreams" is the best song on the album.

SINHERESY: DOMINO (2017)
Italian band Sinheresy apparently started their career as a Nightwish cover band, and it shows.  Keyboard melodies and operatic female vocals are in heavy supply throughout this album.  As far as a Nightwish era that the band most resembles, I would probably suggest their earlier period, before they became famous.  There is an intensity and distortion in the guitar riffs that is more similar to that period.  The songs are catchy as hell, with some impressive vocal interplay between singers Stefano Sain and Cecilia Petrini.  I do not really listen to much Nightwish these days, so this album is a bit lost on me, but I can appreciate the songs on it.

ULVEDHARR: TOTAL WAR (2017)
You do not see too many Viking-themed bands come from Italy, but apparently that is what Ulvedharr is going for here.  This is a Viking-themed band in the vein of Unleashed or Amon Amarth, meaning that even if the theme is Vikings, the music is far more aggressive.  Ulvedharr play fast and intense thrash/death metal with pounding drums, sharp riffs, and growled, death metal-style roaring vocals.  This album could honestly sneak into my Top Albums of 2017.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

God Root: Salt and Rot (2017)

Reading through the description of the album, I came across the section "For fans of", which listed bands like Swans and Neurosis, and I realized that I am probably not the target audience.  I have never gotten into groups like Neurosis, and I have tried.  I have an open mind, but things were not looking good for God Root.

This is just a four-song EP, but it clocks in at just over 30 minutes.  I tried to keep an open mind, but after the first track was nearly six minutes of occasional drumming and meandering chords, things were not really looking too promising.  The second song started off well, but then eventually tailed off into the same guitar dissonant chord progressions, with shouted vocals.  The sound is definitely sludgy and eerie, but it is simply not doing enough to keep my interest.  The drumming is probably the highlight of the album, with some interesting complex rhythms.  The atmosphere definitely has a creepy vibe due to the dissonance and shouting, but there are no real riffs through most of the album and the songs mostly wander from movement to movement without a lot of structure.  That is likely the idea, and while it may appeal to a number of people, it is simply not for me.  The third track is mostly distortion and feedback picking up where the end of the second track left off, along with some drumming.  The final track is a slow burning ramp up into loud feedback and shouts.  It is probably the most interesting track here, but it too is mostly devoid of riffs until closer to the end.

Ultimately, post-metal simply does not do enough for me.  I suppose if you like Neurosis, you will likely enjoy this EP.  I personally never understood the love for Neurosis, so I do not personally care for this one.  

Kalopsia: Angelplague (2017)

Holy shit.  I have often talked about certain death metal bands having a quality, a certain intensity, that is hard to define but nonetheless makes the band an absolutely spell-binding listen.  I have attributed this quality to bands like Thornafire, Cenotaph (Mexican band), Apophis, and a few others over the years.  They are bands that I absolutely believe should be much better-known and are therefore criminally underrated.  Well, I am here to argue that Kalopsia should be added to that list.  This is one of the best death metal albums I have heard this year, if not the best.

This is an album of uncompromising old-school-style occult death metal in the vein of Immolation, Angelcorpse, Sinister, Morbid Angel, and others of that ilk.  The riffs are thrashy and aggressive, having much more in common with the earliest death metal bands, when the style was just starting to come into its own than many of the current bands going.  Perhaps it is this riffing style that is really the quality I am looking for.  The drumming and bass are thunderous and captivating.  It is clear that both musicians know their old school death metal.  The vocals are also steeped in early death metal style, delivered in a deep, blood-soaked roar.

All of the tracks on this album are incredible, but I want to specifically bring attention to "Scorched Earth and Blackened Skies".  When the band starts into the more melodic bridge sections, they come damn close to crafting the absolutely perfect death metal song.

The only complaint I have about this album is that it is too short.  Kalopsia are definitely front-runners in the death metal album of the year for 2017.