Byzantine: To Release Is To Resolve
Byzantine is a band well into their career and seen as one that deserves much more praise and limelight compared to the quality of their work. To Release Is To Resolve is better than most of what similar sized bands produce but nothing revolutionary. The vocals are generic and the cleans are cringe worthy, bringing to mind horrible visions of the low tier bands from the NWOAHM movement. Byzantine is a band on the cusp of something better, but their songs straddle the line between becoming more progressive and a more riff focused vision, with clean choruses, and predictable structure. Unfortunately it never decides to stay on either side and ends up feeling messy as a result. To Release is To Resolve is not offensive but nothing groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, but there are moments of greatness under the mire of cheesy vocals and Pantera worship.
Hate Eternal: Infernus
Infernus is intense, harrowing and brutal. Producer and band lead Erik Rutan has created a rare treat in metal, something that sounds crisp and clear but retains a sound that is not over-produced like so much of modern metal. The guitars tear with demonic strength and the drums kick like a mule. None of the tinny, hollow qualities that permeated albums like Abiotic’s Casuistry are found here. The strength of the production shines on repeated listens, as does the song structure and Rutan’s vocals. Infernus was an album that originally seemed messy and unedited, but further inspection helped promote the realization that Rutan is a master of his craft, whether it is in Hate Eternal’s crushing riffs or perfect production. Infernus is a poster child for death metal production and songwriting.
Cancer Bats: True Zero
Cancer Bats represent something rare in music, a band with punk sensibilities, a southern twang and incredibly catchy songwriting. Songs like ‘True Zero’ and ‘Satellites’ show Cancer Bats at their most infectious, with vocalist Liam Cormier sounding a little like Randy Blythe at points. True zero is a little on the short side and even then, the end of the album feels a little like a release as the bands brand of crusty punk can be exhausting by the close of the record. True zero is as succinct as it can be but a little more variety in songwriting would drive the album to true greatness, at the moment it stands as a breath of fresh air for those looking for a break from the battle to be the heaviest thing in the world.
Carach Angren: This Is No Fairytale
Carach Angren love their concept albums, and This Is No Fairytale does not break that mold. The album lives and dies by the concept, and at times sounds less like a metal album and more like a spoken word story with ripping guitars and growled vocals. Tracks like ‘There’s No place Like Home’ exemplify the best parts of the album, a song that is catchy and memorable without suffering in terms of structure, just to tell a story. Other tracks help make the dark, horrifying tale that much stronger with strings and operatic elements, the songs are not meant to be taken individually, but as a whole album. This is the best and worst element of Carach Angren’s latest, an album that stands as a story and much like a novel, you won’t necessarily be revisiting it repeatedly.
Amputory: Ode To Gore
Amputory, as if their name did not give it away, are classic death metal through and through. Songs like ‘Enslaved In The basement’, ‘Unclean’ and ‘Bludgeoned’ help push this idea, Ode To Gore is intense, fun and brutal. The riffs are memorable, the structure strong and the production is dirty yet clean enough to keep the band above the glut of poorly produced death metal bands that plague the scene. Amputory scratches an itch, with so many bands trying to break the mold, and so many others failing the most basic death metal qualifiers, Ode To Gore is comfortable, familiar and entertaining as all hell.