Ignea – The Sign Of Faith
by Alex Melzer
Out of nowhere the Ukraine spit out the debut album of Ignea, a symphonic/oriental metal outfit that is nothing short of fantastic. Taking cues from both the Orphaned Land camp and the more traditional symphonic metal prairies, they fuse their influences into a pretty unique set of songs.
The Sign Of Faith combines sweeping symphonic grandeur with excellently integrated Middle Eastern influences into a grand, cohesive whole that will give the greats of the genre a run for their money—culminating in a truly bone chilling cover version of Ultra Sheriff’s “Leviathan”. A hot contender for the Olympus of year-end lists, and a band that labels world wide should battle to sign!
Overkill – The Grinding Wheel
by Larry Best
The New Jersey thrash machine rolls inexorably on, churning out album after album of balls-to-the-wall, east coast, ‘fuck you’ attitude. The Grinding Wheel doesn’t vary as much as previous outing White Devil Armory – and this makes it feel like a more concise package. There are still monstrously heavy grooves laying among the punkish thrash assault, and Blitz’s voice only seems to age like a fine wine.
For a band in their mid-to-late 50s, it’s simply inspiring how much unbridled energy oozes from their albums. It may feel like business as usual for Overkill but, 37 years into their career, that’s the least we can ask for.
Persefone – Aathma
by Joshua Bulleid
Two of the most enticing hypotheticals in progressive metal are: what if Cynic hadn’t broken-up (again), (and/or got a bit shit before they did so); and what if Dream Theater got a vocalist with some decent lower range and stopped being self-indulgent wankers all the time?
Aathma is the answer to both those questions, while also being so utterly incredible in its own right so as to stand alongside the best material either of those, or any other progressive metal act, have ever produced. I know it’s early days yet, but I’d be very surprised if Persefone’s magnum opus didn’t wind up being my album of the year for 2017.
Miserist – Miserist
by Shawn Miller
The cryptic entity known as Miserist have just released their debut EP through Krucyator Productions. A pummeling and dissonant black/death metal blend with a mechanized, industrialized feel and rampant experimental touches combine to make this one of the most interesting—and unsettling—releases in recent memory.
Disjointed, jarring percussion and thick, crushing riffing level everything in its wake, while bits of experimental ambient and noisy, hellish movements follow close behind. For all of its writhing, abysmal noise put to tape, Miserist is an extremely listenable release. That being said, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and is pretty much the stuff nightmares are made of.
Orbitus – Slaves Of The Vast Machine
by Hans Rot
Totalitarian black metal art? Obitus has seen a vision of the future, of a boot stamping on a human face forever, and has decided to convey the message through their sophomore album, Slaves of the Vast Machine.
A single, monolithic 45-minute track, Slaves eliminates all traces of individuality that comes with “track order” and hammers its message through violent, swirling maelstroms of riffs that never relent, only increase in force and power. If given the choice, surely the band would continue for another 45 minutes, for there is no escape from this gulag, but like any form of indoctrination, you have no choice but to return to its punishment.
Tomb Mold – Primordial Malignity
by Nathan Hare
After a few promising demos, Tomb Mold are back with their debut album. While a lot of newer death metal bands are steeped in the Swedish or American style, Primordial Malignity is raw, filthy death metal that recalls the classics of 90s Finndeath.
It also possesses the nastiest guitar tone I’ve heard this year and has that off-kilter, funky sound that made bands like Demilich so revered. Highly recommended for fans of putrid, foul death metal.
Horisont – About Time
by Jamie Cansdale
A band’s tenth anniversary is always a special occasion, and the only way to celebrate is by crafting stellar material that would make even the older gods jealous. Not only is About Time an extravaganza of everything anyone could want from a classic rock album, it is proof Horisont continue to shatter expectations and relentless outdo themselves with each release. The ten songs here are overflowing with surges of creative electricity, a well-balanced array of tracks to get the pulse racing (“Electrical” and the Phil Lynott homage of “Night Line”), as well as those to make your hairs stand on end (the proggy psychedelia of the title track and the galloping riffs along the river of synths on the highlight “Boston Gold”).
Whilst nine-tenths of the track-list falls short of ten minutes, the band make it look easy to fill every second of space with meaningful and heartfelt rock music for the ages. The retro rock style may appear to be over-saturated but when bands like Horisont continue to release glorious masterpieces such as this one cannot help but want this trend to continue. That being said, it is “About Time” these Swedes get recognized as the rightful heirs to the throne the ‘70s have left vacant for decades, for this is the standout album from the pack and one of the finest records to ever come out.
All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War
by Eric Ward
Sleeping Through the War sees All Them Witches taking their established sound and building on it to create a unique and entrancing album that will thrill the listener with its creativity. This album is an intricate mix of blues, 60s psychedelia, hard rock and stoner rock, with a distinct Southern drawl. The ethereal guitar melodies, pleasant but ultimately haunting 70s inspired keyboard melodies, and blazing guitar riffs beefed up by fuzzy bass riffs will send you over the moon.
All four musicians turn in stellar performances but Robby’s incredible drumming drives this album at just the right pace for the listener to really dig into everything the album has to offer. Whether it is driving fills or extremely creative cymbal work, Robby is a unique and incredible force behind the kit. The band displays plenty of versatility on this album from the tripped out, psychedelic infused “3-5-7” to the stoner goodness of “Alabaster” and the incredibly bluesy closing track “Internet”. This album is a unique and fascinating listen that is highly recommended for fans of blues, stoner rock, and psychedelic rock but if you are a fan of music as a whole, this album’s diverse range of styles will delight you in all the best ways.