album review

If you thought Crowbar’s “Sever the Wicked Hand” was the shoe-in champ for “Most Vicious American Metal Album of 2011,” you might be well served by staying your judgment for a moment and taking a listen to this.

Sometimes, music is powerful enough that it can evoke mental images in the listener’s mind. While listening to Indestructible Noise Command’s “Heaven Sent, Hellbound,” a few pictures were clearly conjured in my brain. In no particular order, this album could be used as the soundtrack for:

1) A low-altitude napalm carpet bombing
2) A shotgun-wielding bank robbery

SoulMotor’s album “Wrong Place at the Right Time” is a studied, skillful blending of time-tested themes. One part hedonistic strip club fodder, one part sludge-drenched metal fugue and one part classic rock homage, the album is then dipped in a candy coating of pulp fiction and biker babes.

Now, this is what we like to see. As Unearth gets older, they seem to be learning more and more about how to become the best band they can be. Each album from the metalcore sentinels has been better than the previous, and “Darkness in the Light” continues that impressive trend.

2008’s “The March” was, as called in the pages of this very blog, “frustrating.” It contained several warts of noticeable size, beginning with the vocal stylings of Trevor Phipps.

Expanding on what we were talking about last week, this album from “World Under Blood” hits closer to the proper death metal mark. “Tactical” blends all the right elements of creativity and power, leaving them in a rough blend that keeps the listener off balance and explores greater artistic depth.

All Shall Perish’s new effort “This is Where it Ends,” leaves one without many words. Not because it is so unspeakably awful as to defy description, nor because it is so perfect that the clumsy words of mortals would fail to describe it.

Rather, the album simply is what it is. Which likely sounds to the reader like an aircraft-carrier-sized cop out. Maybe it is. Still, better that than to talk in circles without really saying anything.

The long running and yet on-again-off-again musical creation known as PAIN has twisted, turned, bent, changed, morphed and changed again over the years. The constant is frontman/guitar player Peter Tägtgren, who remains focused on turning PAIN into a household name. Already a dynamo in his home of Sweden because of his work with Hypocrisy among other acts, Tägtgren has assembled another compendium for this vanity project and released his latest album, “You Only Live Twice.”

Oddly enough, for an album that packs so much into the time allotted, there’s not a lot to say about Lock Up’s new album “Necropolis Transparent.” The super extreme grindcore supergroup, consisting of Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates,) Shane Embury (Napalm Death,) Nicholas Barker (ex-Cradle of Filth, ex-Dimmu Borgir) and Anton Reisenegger (Pentagram) have put together a compilation of ceaseless noise organized into songs. The album is a jagged obelisk representing the tenets of grindcore, for better or worse.

Selfish Needy Creatures’ “The Hard Way” is an album born in the shadowy, dodgy margins of the road less traveled. The efficient eight-cut record is a straight-forward runaway freight train of reckless abandon and raw, virile authority.

Not at all given to subtlety or restraint, “The Hard Way” is a punishing experience that might as well be the soundtrack to a street fight. Far more focused than the band’s previous EP (and it’s odd to use the word “focused” in reference to something so unrefined,) “The Hard Way” is a rolling diatribe of high-strung, muscled pulverization.

Probably the last thing that the current lineup of Sepultura wants is to be compared to the classic Sepultura lineup that ran five albums from 1985-96. Yet, heavy metal is a genre terribly stamped by the “what have you done for me lately?” attitude, and to that end, many of the fans of old Sepultura have eyed any of the post-Max Cavalera material with a wary eye.

As a reviewer and music journalist, sometimes the toughest task is to remain impartial and objective about a new project that slides across your desk. I’ve run into this conundrum a handful of times, where I thought I already knew that a band would be great or reprehensible; it’s hard to stifle your natural inclination and judge something on its own merits.