Reviews for May 17th, 2013

Satan – Life Sentence

Satan is a UK metal band from the NWOBHM era and “Life Sentence” is their third overall album and their first since 1987.

With a name like Satan, these guys were bound to catch my attention as a young kid in the 80s. I remember seeing "Court in the Act" while flipping through an old black and white all-text catalog from metal mail order store Metal Disc. I never came across an actual copy of the album during the 80s, which, as an obsessive compulsive collector of metal (and eventually rare metal) made "Court in the Act" one of my Holy Grail albums. Once the internet came along I was finally able to pick up a copy of the album on CD from eBay. I would still like to find a copy on vinyl if anyone knows where I can find a copy.

When I heard that Satan were getting back together and ready to release a new album I got pretty excited. When I got the promo I was beside myself.

“Life Sentence” is like a time machine that transports me back thirty years so I can relive the NWOBHM experience. Not to liken the band to dinosaurs, but this is like going to Jurassic Park and getting to see something that hasn’t walked the earth in years. The production quality is more contemporary, but these songs are still well-crafted New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I gotta throw some horns! \m/

I was a little worried “Life Sentence” was going to be a weak attempt at a cash-grab based on the band’s nostalgia factor, but no, Brian Ross is back on vocals and this is some quality material. I am well pleased.

Oh dear. Did I just praise and hail Satan? I think I did. Make sure to check these guys out. Here is the track “Siege Mentality.”

Stone Magnum – Stone Magnum

Stone Magnum is a doom metal band from Indiana and this is their self-titled first album.

Stone Magnum has a real easy sound to describe; ever heard of Black Sabbath? Well, this is not too far off that mark. The music on “Stone Magnum” is traditional doom that ranges from oppressively slow to somewhat up-tempo. The vocals are sung fairly clean and at times even resemble the Ozzman a little bit. For a professed doom metal fan, these songs are pretty easy to enjoy.

The production sound on “Stone Magnum” is middle of the road; it isn’t ultra-clean and punchy, but neither is it overly muddy or poorly mixed. I don’t know whether this was recorded analog or digital, but it has that warm and slightly fuzzy analog sound associated with early Sabbath and doom albums. If they are going for that old-school Sabbath production sound, I’d say they nailed it.

After weighing all the positives and negatives about this album I’m still trying to decide how much I like Stone Magnum. They have a fair number of qualities that I am enjoying, but something about them is keeping me from going all-in on this album. I think the singer’s voice can be annoying sometimes, while being great at other points. This is certainly a head above a lot of the other traditional doom metal albums coming out these days, but I think they need a little more work before they become great. At this point I’d still probably reach for some Count Raven over Stone Magnum. That could change with time.

Check out the track “Fallen Priest.”

Nuclear - Apatrida

Nuclear is a Chilean thrash metal band and “Apatrida” is their recent five-track EP. The band also has four previous full-length albums and two live albums.

This is my first taste of Nuclear and so far I like what I hear. The production is quite clear and in your face, so I’m inclined to continue listening. These guys sound heavily influenced by 80s thrash. The singer makes me think of a genetic splicing of Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste and Mille from Kreator.

“Apatrida” is only five tracks long, but it was long enough for me to decide that I dig what these guys are doing. I would be hard-pressed to provide an example of a more pure form of thrash metal. These songs combine just the right mix of metal and punk and result in a South American thrashterpiece. If these songs don’t get you acting like a maniac in the pit, nothing will.

I’m definitely going to look into checking out Nuclear’s back catalog. For the rest of you, I suggest giving a listen below to the track “My Own Anarchy.” Mosh it up!

Pantheon – Intervention

Pantheon is a thrash metal band from York, England and “Intervention” is their second EP. I spent a day in York a few years ago, that is one cool British town. London was cool, but I loved York. I’m not religious, but that York Minster cathedral was pretty bad-ass looking. Granted, Westminster Abbey in London blew my mind like nothing else ever. The history there is mind boggling. When presented with King Edward’s Chair, where British sovereigns have been seated for their coronation for the last 700 YEARS, I had to sit down and just take it all in. We just don’t have history like that here. But yeah, York is cool too.

The production on “Intervention” is a little soft and quiet, I needed to really crank the volume to hear it properly, but once I found a good level it sounds good enough.

Pantheon plays thrash, but I’ve got to say, I’m also feeling a strong NWOBHM influence here too. This is not thrash like the last review, Nuclear, this is like older than old-school. This sounds more like Diamond Head than Slayer.

Alas, there are only four tracks on “Intervention”, so after a brief seventeen-plus minutes I reached the end. While my time with the EP was brief, I will say that I loved all seventeen minutes that they gave me. Pantheon blends a nice bit of that old pre-Metallica sound with a more modern thrash style to make a sound that while not entirely unique, is certainly under-utilized by thrash bands today. I like what you’re doing lads, and I hope to hear more.

Check these guys out. Here is the track “Voice of Hate.”