Metal Round-Up

A semi-regular (i.e. whenever we get around to it) overview of new(ish) metal releases. \m/

by JJ McCabe

Over Kill – The Electric Age
For their 16th studio album, the veteran New Jersey thrash quartet has unleashed a lean, vintage thrash record that could have been recorded in ’86 if the production didn’t sound so good. The drums are tight and punchy and the guitars thick and shredding, and surprisingly the bass is very prominent with a trebly lead tone more reminiscent of Flea than your average metal bass player. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s Halford-esque vocals are starting to show his age a bit, but considering he’s been at it for 32 years, he sounds better than he has any right to.

3 Inches of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal
With song titles like “Metal Woman,” “Leather Lord,” and “Die for Gold,” 3 Inches of Blood has given up on knowingly winking at some of the inherent humor in power metal and has instead made a full-blown parody album. If you’re looking for an epic laugh, pick up the new Tenacious D in a couple of weeks, and if you want to bang your head to some gloriously silly high-pitched wailing about trolls and stormy seas, pick up some old Blind Guardian records. Either way, I’d give this one a pass.

Meshuggah – Koloss
Whenever I hear Meshuggah, I like to imagine kids trying to mosh at their live show, and then I giggle a bit. The polarizing group is the Godfather of “djent,” and whether you love or hate them, Koloss probably won’t change your mind either way, as it’s more off-kilter odd time-signature groove prog heaviness with Jens Kidman’s guttural hollers. Not as strange and complex as Catch-33 or Obzen, this album finds them focusing more on the groove elements, resulting in an album that’s probably much more accessible (read: commercial) but may turn off some more “extreme” metal fans.

Bonus: YouTube video of dancing at a Meshuggah show

Naglfar – Teras
Don’t let the epic opening with the buried chanting fool you into thinking you accidentally picked up a tankard-swinging Viking metal record – this is modern Swedish black metal, kind of reminiscent of Watain’s most recent output. Melodic, but lacking the theatricality (or lame keyboards) of your Dimmu Borgirs, this is a pretty fun, grim, mid-tempo black metal album. The clean, high production and hard rock tempos make it accessible to black metal beginners, and I appreciate the blast beats and harsh vocals.

Asphyx – Death Hammer
Another band that’s been kicking around for quite a while and is approaching metal with a “If it ain’t broke…” attitude, Death Hammer sounds like it could have been written at the same time as the seminal “The Rack” album, though the production is noticeably better. Martin Van Drunen’s distinct howl (sounds to me like a Norwegian Obituary) is in place, as are the shifts between crushing death-doom (“Minefield”) and blistering thrash fury (the title track). In a year that has seen bands like Disma and Vallenfyre successfully rediscover old-school Swedish death metal sounds, it’s exciting to see bands like Unleashed and Asphyx releasing new records that embrace their roots.

Acephalix – Deathless Master
I love Amebix, and I love poorly recorded, murky, filthy death metal from the early 90’s, especially the sludgy doom-laced variety practiced by bands like Grave, Paradise Lost, and Unleashed. So not to be narcissistic, but it feels like the metal gods have gifted me personally with the filthy crust-doom brutality that is Acephalix. Real meat and potatoes death metal that sounds like it was recorded on a reel-to-reel live in a friend’s basement minutes before ritually sacrificing a virgin to the mindless Other Gods. And even better – they’re from San Francisco, typically home to melancholy and experimental (though often excellent) hipster black metal, so it’s even more surprising to discover such a Beast running loose just miles from the epicenter of the Summer of Love. My favorite new death metal band.

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