Album Review: In Mourning – “Afterglow”

COVER SMALLWhen it comes to reviewing albums, comparisons to past and larger outfits are inevitable –– necessary, even. Likening an album to a more familiar work in the metal genre gives readers a context for what to expect, and if nothing else, lays a general foundation for how to process the elements at work. But occasionally you hit a snag where you don’t just compare a work to another; you get the sneaking suspicion that the lesser album is dwelling in the shadow of the greater one. Sweden’s progressive melodic death/doom outfit In Mourning, now releasing their fourth album, Afterglow, have stepped into some new territory and certainly matured, but for the life of me, I can’t shake comparisons off and feel that it’s still a solid-at-best album dwarfed by its own influences.  Continue reading

Album Review: Polyptych – “Defying the Metastasis”

Polyptych_Defying

It’s not even June yet, but let’s go ahead and call it in the air: For those of us into music of the heavy and angry sort, 2016 is death metal’s year. While 2015 offered some scattered gems, death metal of all sorts just came roaring out of the gate from the beginning of 2016. Chicago-based Polyptych add to its formidable ranks with their third independent album, Defying the Metastasis, which continues the year’s progression in technical, forward-thinking death metal that is not short on brutal riffs, unorthodox songwriting, and an inventiveness that establishes them as a distinct voice in a very crowded (but excellent) scene.   Continue reading

The Nine Circles Ov… At the Gates

at-the-gates-bandGothenburg, Sweden’s At the Gates need no introduction. Call them pioneers, call them forefathers, call them innovators – but there are few modern metal bands who haven’t been impacted by at least one of the death metal trailblazers’ albums, whether the avant-garde tech tendencies of their first two albums or the more accessible riff-factory approach of their later works. Simply, they’re one of the most important metal bands of the 90s, and their impact continues to ring true today in their well-received reforming. They’re the kind of band we love analyzing at the various points of their career, and for that reason, they’ve earned a place in this column. Welcome to the Nine Circles Ov… At the Gates.  Continue reading

Album Review: Grand Magus – “Sword Songs”

Grand Magus - Sword Songs - ArtworkAs their career has worn on, Stockholm-based Grand Magus have morphed from a relatively standard old-school doom metal outfit steeped in the aesthetics and lyrical themes of Norse mythology into a leaner, meaner beast that combines aspects of NWOBHM, traditional heavy metal, and some slivers of speed metal. Their core sound, however, has remained intact, always reliant upon the rhythmic power and memorability of their guitar work, battle-bred lyrics, and the compelling delivery of the vocals. Their latest, Sword Songs, changes little of what they’ve established on the past few albums; it’s a fun, accessible set of war hymns, but it reaches back into some of the band’s earlier doom roots to make it even more infectious.  Continue reading

Rainbows in the Dark: Dead Register – “Fiber”

It’s nearly a given at this point in heavy music that genre lines are far more blurred than they were even ten years ago. As the tendrils of post-metal, ambient music, and shoegaze crept into black metal, death metal, and doom metal (and vice versa), it suddenly became much harder to classify bands with a rigid genre tag. The same has happened with a good amount of music tangential to metal: Post-punk has always been viewed as the big brother (or father, even) of goth rock, new wave, and industrial, but the beginning of each sound was fairly self-contained in its origins until artists started integrating more textures. It’s interesting, then, when all these worlds collide at once; Atlanta-based trio Dead Register have crafted an absolutely stunning debut with Fiber, which seamlessly coalesces influences from gothic rock, shoegaze, doom metal, and some “post” tendencies, both rock and metal.  Continue reading