Reviews for March 22nd, 2013

Chosen – Resolution

Chosen is an Irish melodic death metal band and “Resolution” is their full-length debut. The band also has a number of well-received EPs dating back to 2005.

Well this was certainly a nice surprise. I can always count on Jon Asher of Asher Media Relations to send me some great new metal bands that I’ve not heard before, and damn if he hasn’t done it again. The album kicks off with such a rich and clear production that I immediately sat up and took notice before the guy even started singing. This is the kind of production I always hope for when I put on a new album. I bow down in appreciation before whoever engineered this album. Based on the wonderfully detailed bio sheet I received, I believe that must be Alwyn Walker and Westland Studios in Dublin. Mighty hails!

This is not your typical melodic death metal album. The album is built on a foundation of melodic death metal, but at the very least one has to acknowledge a bit of progressive as well. I’m not going to speculate any further than that, you will just have to hear the album to understand how much more than “melodic death metal” this album is.

All this wonderfully lush and full sounding music was created by just two guys; Paul Shields handles the vocals and guitars, while David McCann does the drums and percussion. I cannot overstate how impressed I am with “Resolution.” This is a top-notch metal release that damn well better get heaps of praise from the metal press this year. Anything less would be an embarrassment to metal reviewers the world over.

“Resolution” drops next week, and everyone should be sure to check it out. Here is a taste to whet the appetite. This is “Engines of Belief.”

Wandersword – Waiting for War

Wandersword is a Russian melodic death/Viking metal band and “Waiting for War” is their first full-length album. It was released last year in Russia and is being re-released next month in the U.S. and digitally world-wide by Blasphemour Records.

The vocals on “Waiting for War” are harsh and dry sort of like some of the Amon Amarth vocals. There are some clean vocals as well which helps keep things from getting monotonous. The music on the album is certainly heavy metal in origin, but to call it “merely metal” would be doing it a disservice. These songs are pretty epic and there are folk elements and clean guitar parts, and I think I hear some keyboards in there too. These guys obviously put a lot of thought into their songwriting and the results pay off.

When there are harsh vocals involved I’m not usually put out if I don’t pick up any lyrics the first time through an album, so I wasn’t surprised that it took me a few songs to begin to notice that while the song titles have been translated into English, the lyrics sound like they are all being sung in Russian. This is just a disclaimer for those who might want to know that ahead of time. The album is still really good in my opinion.

I like what I hear. Maybe you will too. Check out the track “Northern Gate.”

Lothorian – Welldweller

Lothorian – Welldweller.jpg

Lothorian is a Belgian doom band and “Welldweller” is their six-track second EP.

The EP starts off with the five-minute-plus instrumental track “Witchhunt.” It has a super fuzzy atmospheric sound and is pretty cool, but by the time it ended I was ready for some vocals. The second track, the title track, continues along the same fuzzy, bass-heavy path but now we hear some vocals. There is some kind of flange-type effect on the dude’s voice that brings to mind some early Cathedral. It’s ok for a single song, but I was glad to find it isn’t applied to the whole EP. Come to think of it, the music has a bit of a Cathedral sound to it as well.

Given the style of doom this is I can be lenient on the less than crystal clear production, but I will say I would like the vocals to be a bit louder and more distinct in the mix. They sound kind of thin compared to the thick and heavy music. Sing with conviction sir, and belt out those vocals.

All in all I like what these guys are doing. Give the vocals a stronger presence in the mix and I think you’ve got something worthwhile here.

Here is the track “Doomsday Calling.”

Usurpress – Trenches of the Netherworld

Usurpress is a Swedish death/sludge band and “Trenches of the Netherworld” is their first album.

I gotta ask. What is it with bands made up of all men naming themselves something that has a completely female meaning? Priestess is one example, and Usurpress is another. I feel like there is another, but it isn’t coming to me. It’s not a big deal, but it just makes me wonder what makes dudes in a testosterone-soaked genre choose a feminine band name.

The music on “Trenches of the Netherworld” has a crisp-sounding rumble that at times reminds me of fellow Swedish band Entombed. The vocals are harsh, deep and heavy. The production is perhaps a bit tinny but at least the drums and guitars sound strong and clear. The mix and separation of tracks is pretty good too.

Once I got the Entombed comparison in my head it was hard to get out. This didn’t particularly bother me since I’m an Entombed fan, but I thought it was worth mentioning. The level of musicianship on the album is good enough to make me overlook it, regardless.

“Trenches of the Netherworld” grows on me the more I listen. Given only a quick listen I could see writing this off prematurely, but once it got its hooks in me it quickly infected me and brought me around.

Here is the track “Coronation of the Cripple King."

Miasmic Theory – Sound of Desperation

Miasmic Theory is another Swedish death metal band and “Sound of Desperation” is their first album. The band’s bio sheet labels them as death ‘n’ roll, a style which I have always associated with Entombed. Unlike Usurpress, these guys don’t really sound at all like Entombed, nor like anything that I would call death ‘n’ roll. The sheet also puts them somewhere between Pantera and The Haunted. I can hear The Haunted, but not Pantera.

The music comes across as what I would expect from melodic death metal from Gothenburg, and it is pretty well produced. The vocals are in the higher screechy end of harsh vocals. On the one hand this helps them stand out from the music and cut through the mix, but on the other it kind of gets on my nerves after a while.

I’m pretty burned out on this style and sound, but I have to admit that these guys do a pretty good job with it. If you still enjoy the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound then perhaps this is just the album for you. Check out the track “Failure” and see what you think.