album review

To say that I was less than enthused about putting This Is Hell's "Black Mass" on my 'to-do' pile is probably an understatement. The band's press speaks volumes about the prowess of this evolving hardcore crossover band that lays down sobering, realistic lyrics....snore. I felt like I read those exact words about Hatebreed in 1999. Which only made me more withdrawn from the album. After all, hardcore has never truly died, but the last decade has seen a precipitous fall in both quality and popularity of the once crowded genre.

The reputation of Hammers of Misfortune precedes them, even with all the tumult and lineup changes over the years. With only two original members remaining and two new additions on this latest effort, cynical fans might expect that the halcyon days of Hammers of Misfortune are over. Yet, they soldier on with "17th Street," the band's fifth official studio release. The band's press tells you that this is an album blending elements of doom metal, progressive rock, NWOBHM, and probably a dozen other long-winded buzzwords.

Balanced on the precipice of widespread fame with the engine running, Five Finger Death Punch has released their third album, “American Capitalist” to the world. There are certain universal truths of all 5FDP releases, and those haven’t changed; Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook’s combined guitars will push the envelope for grit and distorted destruction, while the rest of the band operates in that framework. Additionally, the songs will be brimming with concepts of spite, defiance and personal perseverance.

This is Jane’s Addiction. Or is it? Truly, it depends on what the name “Jane’s Addiction” means. If the name is synonymous with west-coast style funk influenced near-psychedelic alternative rock and roll, then “The Great Escape Artist” is not Jane’s Addiction. Contrarily, if the name “Jane’s Addiction” is less about the serialized sound of a band and more about a cadre of musicians constantly looking to experiment and broaden their aural horizons, then “The Great Escape Artist” is perfectly adept at carrying the umbrage of the title “Jane’s Addiction.”

Ripper Owens, the mercenary singer for hire, gives the impression that he's a man trying to prove something. His tumultuous career began while filling in for Rob Halford's sabbatical in Judas Priest. He carried that into a spin with Iced Earth, and then was the singer for Yngwie Malmsteen (and is reported to be again.) An album with Beyond Fear and a solo project thrown on the pile for good measure, and Ripper has been around the block at least once.

More work to do. That's was my initial and lasting impression of Rose Funeral's "Gates of Punishment." The band prides themselves on their unique character of groove-based death metal, but that quality doesn't come through quite like the band would have you believe.

Night in Gales’ “Five Scars” touts itself as one of this year’s finest efforts in melodic death metal. That’s both true and not true.

Where “Five Scars” succeeds is in precision. Every note is timed perfectly, the measures attaching together like links of a long, unified chain. The drums of “This Neon Grave” alone should serve as testament to the band’s dedication to timed perfection.

To observe Glorior Belli's album "The Great Southern Darkness" objectively is to examine what seems like a collection of unaffiliated styles and locales. Bubbling up from the outskirts of Paris, the band carries a blend of extreme metal, black metal and late 90's-bred desert rock.

Crowned By Fire's "Prone to Destroy" is an album that makes connections with all the touchstones of basic, straight up heavy metal. No flowery dalliances, no tangential expositions, no long, emotive complexities. Just guitar, bass, drums and vocals, all locked together with a growling attitude and a blues-backed sensibility.

There’s a fair chance that much of this review will seem like a paraphrased version of our journey through Warbringer’s “Waking Into Nightmares” in 2009. That’s probably fairly accurate, but it stems from the fact that refreshingly little has changed about Warbringer.