Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre
by Nathan Hare
Der Weg Einer Freiheit’s latest album, Finisterre, cements the band’s reputation as one of the leaders of melodic black metal. The record is a sublime mix of driving black metal aggression and heartbreaking melodies that have a slight post leaning. These post moments give the album a modern edge, but without sacrificing any of the more traditional blackened fury I’ve come to expect from this band. This is an album that won’t be leaving my rotation any time soon.
Bonehunter – Sexual Panic Human Machine
by Shawn Miller
Bonehunter unleashed one hell of an album with their 2015 debut, Evil Triumphs Again, so you can bet your ass that I was salivating at the thought of a new full length when a new one was announced. Sexual Panic Human Machine does not disappoint in the least bit. It takes everything that worked so well on the debut and cranked it all up to eleven. To those not in the know, Bonehunter play filthy blackened thrash with tons of crusty punk vibes. Think Aura Noir meets Discharge meets Venom meets Abigail. It’s a nonstop hellride of pummeling riffs, destructive percussion, and gnarly, barked vocals; all combined with a filthy, nasty punk aesthetic. Viciously deranged in all the right ways.
Ulvedharr – Total War
by Matej Makovický
Very rarely does it happen that such an old-school sounding album provides also the freshness and staying power required to rise above. Total War has it all: it is riff-drenched, hook-laden, technical, sometimes melodic, but always well-written. These Italians simply utilize a huge arsenal of tools, mostly inspired by the legendary Swedeath and Teutonic thrash scenes. Between the aggression of “Wolves” and the melodic licks in “Legion”, you never quite know what is going to hit you next. There are quite a few technical sections scattered around, proving that the band is no slouch in terms of musicianship. And even after nearly a month of being on heavy rotation, Total War has proven to have significant staying power.
Vulture – The Guillotine
by Jamie Cansdale
Jaw-dropping releases from the likes of Akercocke, Attic, Demon Eye, and Ruby the Hatchet have set the month of August ablaze, but it has been the blistering inferno birthed from Vulture’s debut The Guillotine that has proved to be the most entertaining. To quote a certain metal connoisseur, I literally got wet eyes because of how incredibly metal this album is!
A raging blitzkrieg of Agent Steel-meets-Razor-meets-Dark Angel, these Germans tear through their material with such unrelenting intensity it is a wonder any necks will survive their onslaught, save from the corny 80’s-style intro of songs like ‘Adrian’s Cradle’ and ‘(The Night Belongs) To The Dead’ before ripping through the flesh of their followers with riffs and licks galore, and one majestic solo after another. Wearing their influences sliced into their skin, this quartet do them more than proud with this salivating frenzy of evil dripping from the wretched mouth of metal’s most metal era. The Guillotine is simply thirty-eight minutes of uncensored musical pleasure to set your souls (and denim) on fire.
Accept – The Rise of Chaos
by Larry Best
For a band in their 4th decade of existence, sounding relevant is equally as important as sounding fresh and alive. German legends Accept have been on a winning streak since their re-rebirth in 2010, and The Rise Of Chaos is yet another triumphant notch in their heavy metal bedpost. With this collection of stomping anthems, they don’t just succeed in sounding revived, but also hungry – hungry for harder riffs, flashier solos, catchier choruses etc. This record has an almost propulsive forward momentum with its upbeat tracks like “No Regrets” and “Race To Extinction” driving the pace along. Mark’s voice reaches stratospheric heights, and Wolf’s inimitable charisma absolutely shines—you can almost hear him sneer through the riffs. Defying age and marching on in the name of heavy metal, Accept circa 2017 simply refuse to be ignored!
Crafteon – Cosmic Reawakening
by Hans Rot
Swedish black metal usually comes in two flavors: uncompromisingly brutal or beautifully melodic. Crafteon, hailing out of Colorado, dished up a debut that is quite liberally seasoned in the style of the latter—piling on multiple layers of thoughtful, charismatic riffing that conjures many greats of the past, such as Katatonia, Daylight Dies, Allegiance, Thyrfing and, yes, even Amon Amarth. Interestingly, though, the album has a uniquely nonchalant and at times jaunty character that typically isn’t found in its source material, which gives each arrangement its own signature appeal and makes the overall approach just as fresh and invigorating as pretty much anything that was released in 1996.
Xanthrochriod – Of Erthe and Axen
by Alex Melzer
California’s Xanthochroid started to make a name for themselves in the melodic black metal field courtesy of their 2012 album Blessed He With Boils. Now their long-awaited second effort, Of Erthe and Axen, sees the band take this already cinematic foundation and transcend it in almost any way possible—leaving their black metal roots behind in many cases for a far more open and progressive approach that will blur genre borders in favor of a highly varied and immersive sound. Drawing from a wide range of influences such as prog metal, black metal, even light folk and more, Of Erthe and Axen is sure to appeal to a wide variety of fans with its dense musical tapestry.
Cormorant – Diaspora
by Neil Bird
I first heard of Cormorant after their second album came out and they toured with Yob and Norska. They impressed the hell out of me at that show and I rushed to their merch table to buy the album and listen to it on the way home. That being said, I was sad about the bassist/singers departure before their last album came out and never have it a fair shake. However, I’m glad I went back for Diaspora.
The first listen I have this new album was a definite “holy shit” moment. The riffs were great, the vocals were interesting and varied and the length of the songs didn’t come off as over blown or grandiose. It all felt natural. A few more listens and while the initial wow factor has subsided a bit, there is no denying this is solid work. This four track, hour long record may be dense but is it ever rewarding.
Brand New – Science Fiction
by Joshua Bulleid
Here I was trying to work out which of the two hyper aggro releases I’ve had on high rotation this month (Thy Art Is Murder and Get the Shot) would be my August pick; and then on a complete whim I went and checked out the brand new Brand New record, which instantly blew everything else I’ve heard this month—this year even (and potentially last year as well)—completely away. Brand new are a band I’ve never really paid any attention to outside of being actively put off everytime I’ve had Déjà Entendu (2003) recommended to me as some kind of modern classic. However, Science Fiction sounds nothing like that album and nothing like what I expected.
Instead of angsty turn-of-the-century post-emo-core, Brand New’s surprise swansong persistently brings to mind the likes of The Pixies as well as Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins more subdued compositions, and more than a touch of (’90s) Neil Young. As simple as that might sound, this record is beyond powerful. There are so many moments and lyrics on this record that will stop you dead in your tracks and demand your full attention, and the album as a whole is absolutely captivating. Science Fiction is definitely not a metal album, but it is also utterly incredible and a convincing contender for album of the year.