Kontinuum "Earth Blood Magic" (Candlelight)6/10
Icelandic hard rock/drone metal with various injections of black metal, prog, and new wave/goth. Very somber. Recalls a million bands I can't be bothered to place right now. Some good obscure epic moments here and there. Can't decide if it is really good or too cliche to get into. I guess it will take a few listens. For sure it falls a bit too far into that "arty" territory I hate, but it's got plenty of redeeming qualities as well.
Nine Covens "On the Dawning of Light" (Candlelight)6/10
Very solid, straight forward Black Metal from England. The only reason the rating is not higher is because this shit is like cream cheese on a bagel (everywhere).
Zatokrev "The bat the wheel and the long road to nowhere" (Candlelight)5/10
Real heavy and droning. High screaching vocals. Kinda like Burning Witch or Noothgrush but with really clean production and with one testicle removed. They really seem to want to be Neurosis at times too.
Ptahil "The Almighty Propagator of Doom and Despair (Wraith Productions)6/10
Somewhat buzzsaw guitar tone with some real fake sounding drums. At times seems intentionally industrial, at others it sounds like it's trying to sound like real drums. If it is, it is quite stiff sounding. Vocals are pretty "black." I can't tell what direction this band is going. It sounds like they wanna be harsh black metal with an old school feel. The sound has inherent contradictions which cancel itself out. You can't have a drum machine but also try to sound like vintage black thrash metal. And if you can, it wasn't accomplished here. It's kinda cool and catchy at times in a real cheap ass way, but if you're gonna put out something so unoriginal, at least meet he MINIMUM bar set by the countless others that came before you. For all its' attempts to sound "EVIL," it never gets any scarier than the silly cartoonish drawing on the front. That is a nice buzzy guitar tone though. Some great simple riffs too. Maybe these are punk rockers who recently discovered Metal? Whatever the case, this needs real drums to be taken more seriously. Or a better sounding drum machine.
Circle II Circle "Seasons will Fall" (Armoury)7/10
I guess this is the former Savatage singer. I never listened to Savatage much, but I can hear the obviouse similarities. Very melodic, clean production, fancy guitar work, nice full/heavy sound - a bit of keyboards floating around. Vocals are very melodic and clean. Nothing glass shattering here but just very solid and steady. Some gay interludes that the Europeans will love. This is basically the American version of stadium power metal/hard rock. This is music Europe is generally known for these days, but CIIC do it convincingly, and not surprising since the veterans involved helped shape the sound to begin with. There are some good heavy riffs, but the silly keyboards seem almost to exist just to soften the sound, which is a detraction if you ask me.
Defeated Sanity "Passages into Deformity" (Willowtip)6/10
I'm surprised anyone in germany is THIS into early Death Metal. I mean they have the gorguts "considered dead" tone DOWN. Even the snare has been made to get that cheap "recorded in a shed" tone. But wait, we also have the chops of crazy modern math-death. Thankfully it is kept under wraps for the most part, so the 90s demo death fest is not spoiled completely. But unfortunately, all I can see is a bunch of kids who look like Phil Anselmo and baseball hats banging their bald heads rediculously when I hear this. This music has become too infected by the latter type of Nu-Death, making it hard for me to listen to this with open ears. I will leave it at this: if you like anything from Suffocation to Decapitated you'll probably like this. For me it's just too much of what I don't like and not enough of what I do. But it does manage NOT to be annoying or offensive, so I will give it that.
The Resistance "Rise from Treason" EP (Armoury Records)-5/10
In Flame's dude's attempt to do something with more "street credibility." Has that almost jokingly obvious "Swedish Death tone." Super duper generic Swedish Death Metal vocals (now known as "Hardcorde influenced.") It really doesn't get anymore generic than this. I piss on this recording (and then throw the wallet chains on top, after ripping them off the corpses of the band members.)