Complete Failure – Crossburner

American grindcore maniacs Complete Failure finally & proudly unleash the latest full length “Crossburner” which could be easily categorized as one of the most relentlessly angered album of the year.

The vicious album opener “Schadenfreude” relies on a violent rhythmic backbone where guitars and drums try to be as fast as possible creating a rather chaotic whirlwind yet there is also a calmer introvert breakdown favoring modern atmospheric nuances.

“Suicide Screed of Total Invincibility” starts with somber low guitar phrases evoking a contemplative mood but at times blasts of rebellion take over with a crescendo of belligerent guitar driven force and hateful screams.

Some groovy guitar riffs on “I Am The Gun” gradually gain brutality that will eventually lead to breakneck speed rhythmic dynamics and insanely furious screams.

With a dismal mood on “Curse Of Birth” the whole instrumentation concocts another round of old school particularly harsh rhythmic patterns.

“Demise of The Underdog” can definitely be ruthless with impossible speed and an intensely crunchy riffing galore yet eventually the rhythm slows down and you get some space to breathe.

Maintaining the aggressive dynamics that characterize the whole album “A List With Names On It” doesn’t show any sign of weakness with relentless guitars riffs but once again the band introduces slower introspective passages that still hold super heavy dynamics.

“Crossburner” aptly delivers a chaotic inflamed sonic assault with scattered darkened atmospheres as Complete Failure just never seems to take a break with a full blown infectious grindcore formula that true lovers of this subgenre will certainly comprehend.

Archspire – Relentless Mutation

The third album in any bands career can be tricky. it is usually seen as the pivotal release to see if a band can evolve their sound or phone it in by reworking material mastered from their first two. With the well received The Lucid Collective, one wouldn’t blame Archspire for going the route so many have and play it safe. Quite the contrary, the Vancouver crew have achieved something few bands in the tech death scene have been able to accomplish, namely expand their melodic foundation at the same time as doubling down on technicality and retain integrity. While these two elements have of course been featured exclusively in their previous work, Relentless Mutation brings a fresh perspective to their writing and progressing upon it tenfold.

The most notable improvement, which cannot be understated, is the guitar work of axemen Dean Lamb and Tobi Morelli. On previous efforts, majority of the riffing, while technically impressive and played with conviction kinda lacked any real impact. A lot of the parts kind of felt like sped up technical exercises and not really song-like. While any tech death band worth their salt will have the obligatory masturbatory shredding aspects, Relentless Mutation offers a balance to this chaos. The contrapuntal nature to the guitar and bass parts adds a serious depth to the brutality. The progression of the guitar writing from the previous album is so much more advanced its somewhat jarring.

From the neck break pace of opener “Involuntary Doppleganger” with its almost neo-classical main theme that lowers down to the 8th string bowels of the guitar,  featuring a melodic solo, and finally leading way to a somewhat jazzy clean guitar part really showcases whats in store for the listener this time around.  “Human Murmuration” starts with a Muse like arpeggiation leading to a grooving guitar drum dialogue, which is unlike anything found on TLC. “Remote Tumor Seeker” doubles down on the signature machine gun-esque hyper blasting courtesy of Spencer Pruitt. And while a song like this may have previously been filled with guitar exercise riffs, the faster “tech” parts found here almost sound like Johan Sebastian Bach on a cocaine fueled bender: unrelenting 16th notes, with cascading notes playing counterpoint at its most extreme. All of this leading up to the grooviest and catchiest outro on the record.

The production is also of notable improvement. The guitars are so much more full sounding across the sonic spectrum, for both highs and lows. The bass sits just under them, offering a nice low end foundation for the drums to further fill out. The snare drum is prominent in its auditability, but thankfully it sounds like a “real” snare offering a satisfying attack during the insane barrage of blasts found throughout. The vocals are just above all of this, but never overwhelming. This is no small feat considering the vocals from Oliver Rae Aleron, which are spit out & quasi-rapped with the same intensity and vigor as the other instrumentation.

Relentless Mutation while still holding true to their self-described “Stay Tech” aesthetic in which Archspire revels, heightened melodicism and songwriting not only stand out from the pack, but all the while decimating the competition. Opposed to the masturbatory endless shredding and noodling found on the previous releases, the deep counter point and song craft offered here is something to behold. If tech death is your game, Archspire is the name you need to check out, and quick. Stay Tech indeed.

Virvum – Illuminance

Following a record deal with Season Of Mist Swiss quartet Virvum has re-released their punishing technical death metal debut album “Illuminance”.

“The Cypher Supreme” immediately starts with mind blowing tempo variations as the whole instrumentation draws clear inspiration from modern virtuoso prog style and certainly guitars tend to be fundamental in the creation of flamboyant progressions.

In the beginning the title track evokes luminous minimalist soundscape with the softest melodies but swiftly enters a particularly intense technical sonic realm that relies on precise guitar progressions marching through a claustrophobic fast rhythm which continues to mutate from primordial brutality to ambiance driven patterns.

“Ad Rigorem” continues to impress and surprise the listeners with a majestic series of guitars progressions following borderline abstract rhythmic patterns and showcasing great prowess & creativity in fact all the virtuoso guitar leads simply hold a strong charisma.

On the complex lengthy album closer “II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension and Trespassing” Virvum goes beyond any expectation seamlessly creating dazzling technical prog oriented moments where guitars simply engage in eclectic progressions that inevitably steal the spotlight in the midst of savage death metal dynamics. Also the polychromatic melodies shine for the guitar sound clarity and the surreal atmospheric tonalities.

Overall, Virvum definitely hold an aggressive death metal core yet the truly noteworthy moments of “Illuminance” must be found in the instrumental technical variety that certainly showcases great potential and high expectations for the future of the band.

Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pacifisticuffs

Those familiar with the avant-garde Swedish ensemble Diablo Swing Orchestra will have an idea of what to expect on the newest insanely eclectic work of music “Pacifisticuffs”. Diablo Swing Orchestra fearlessly puts together a collection of highly entertaining songs that draw inspiration from all kinds of music styles and never fails to surprise the audience.

“Knucklehugs (Arm Yourself With Love)” opens the flamboyant show with a super catchy rhythm featuring many lovely instruments such as cello and trumpets to ensure maximum uniqueness (don’t forget the cute bluegrass moment!) and everything is always embellished by eclectic vocals often engaged in the creation of fancy musical style big choruses.

The artsy music piece “The Age Of Vulture Culture” starts with elegant classical strings delivering pure melancholy but with surprising savoir faire the orchestra shifts to a more carnivalesque concoction with aptly dazzling swing flavors and this track becomes just incredibly delightful with an impressive mix of triumphant trumpets, trombone and smooth strings.

On “Lady Clandestine Chainbreaker” lead vocalist Kristin Evegård leads the scene showcasing her vocal prowess and wide-ranging delivery as the song’s shapeshifting structure favors a catchy melodic chorus as well as cinematic soundscapes where trumpets again hold a rather fascinating role and guitars acquire darker crunchy tonalities.

“Interruption” acquires modern atmospheric flavors and holds loads of surprising variations of pace & style but mainly revolves around Kistin’s multifaceted vocal performance as her voice can be exquisitely dramatic or quite malicious while it seamlessly flows through a stylish intricate instrumentation that towards the end becomes extraordinarily majestic with symphonic vibes.

The brilliant retro swing galore of “Karma Bonfire” cannot be missed as the orchestra crafts an irresistible rhythm full of bombastic trumpets and refined strings that will inevitably force you dance & stomp all night long while the vocal duet successfully matches the song’s exuberant essence.

“Climbing The Eyewall” evokes poetic soundscapes as the strings ensemble provides magnificent layers of dreamy classical melodies spiced up by Kristin’s edgy vocal performance and a catchy rhythmic crescendo that once again holds a witty swing mood but also a contrasting growing darkness embodied by the heavy rock guitar driven core.

It would be hard to find another band that manages to incorporate so many music styles in one album and to execute each song with such exceptional musicianship therefore you should keep an open mind listening to “Pacifisticuffs” and simply join Diablo Swing Orchestra on this wild sonic rollercoaster.

Appice – Sinister

For more than forty year brothers Carmine and Vinny Appice have worked with many renowned artists in the metal scene and the first joint studio album “Sinister” showcases these drummers’ exceptional talent and also features some great guest vocalists/musicians.

Featuring Jim Crean on vocals the title track takes some time to get the groove going as melodic atmospheres prepare the listeners for a more rambunctious rhythm attentively built by crunchy guitars and eclectic drumming.

With Paul Shortino on vocals and Bulletboys guitarist Mick Sweda “Monsters And Heroes” immediately channels groovy hard rock flavors as gritty guitar riffs craft catchy dynamics leading to a big old school chorus while polished guitar leads add flamboyant melodic variety.

“Drum Wars” is a way to impress the audience with the Appice brothers drumming skills and the result is certainly entertaining as it doesn’t just feel like putting together a bunch of drums solos since guitars actively participate to ensure a groovy rock essence.

Featuring guitarist Bumblefoot and vocalist Jim Crean “In The Night” tends to favor inspired melodic tonalities with a majestic guitar work full of several simply outstanding leads/solos and the easy chorus effortlessly enhances the overall hard rock style.

“You Got Me Running” is quite unique as it features Carmine on vocals delivering a true veteran rocker style yet there aren’t incredible surprises in terms of songwriting as, once again, guitars and drums focus on the creation of accessible rocking grooves.

On “War Cry” vocalist Paul Shortino joins forces with Whitesnake stringsman Joel Hoekstra to deliver a full blown classic hard rock rhythmic galore with a mix of raw riffing and fancy melodic guitar leads that inevitably hold a sense of nostalgia but also a solid headbanging friendly groove.

With Jim Crean back on vocals, Erik Turner on guitar and keyboardist Erik Norlander the enjoyable “Sabbath Mash” pays homage to Black Sabbath successfully putting together a diabolically wild medley of “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” and “Paranoid”.

“Sinister” stays true to a cohesive classic rock/metal formula packed also with plenty of catchy melodic moments and as expected the drums in each song tend to stand out for ability and passion as the Appice brothers carefully put together a quite entertaining record.

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

As a classic rock revival is taking over the world the high voltage rock style of Nashville’s young talent Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, who shared the stage with amazing rock giants, seems to match this particular mood with the exciting self-titled album.

“Heartland” can certainly channel authentic gritty rock energy resulting in an absolutely addictive rhythm filled of steady classic rock guitar riffs & melodies and let’s not forget the empowering role of the true rocker style vocals.

“Don’t Mind The Blood” relies on an overdose of guitar driven rock grooves that inevitably build super catchy rhythmic vibes and as expected Tyler’s wildly entertaining vocal performance makes everything more interesting.

If you are in the mood for bluesy guitars and mellow melodies you will appreciate “Ramblin’ Bones” as this song has a charming retro quality as well as powerfully soulful vocals.

You cannot avoid falling in love with the inflamed rock/blues essence of “Easy Target” which is filled with hummable melodies and absolutely groovy guitar work.

“Aftershock” will rightfully become a hit with its inner melodic emotions yet guitars can always deliver a familiar dirty rock mood skillfully embedded in the engaging grooves and the explosive guitar solo.

On “Into The Black” the whole instrumentation acquires a moody melancholy overload that favors lovable mellow guitar progressions and enhances Tyler’s heartfelt vocal delivery but it should not be classified as your average love song.

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown put a lot of healthy rock ‘n roll energy and undeniable true passion for music on this album which does have a big stadium rock sound but is also meant to simply reach the hearts of the listeners.

Nullingroots – Into The Grey

Since black metal and shoegaze inevitably combined, many bands emerged to embrace the niche yet trendy underground blackgaze subgenre and California based Nullingroots fully embrace this atmospheric style in the new album “Into The Grey”.

“Subsistence” immediately ensures a ravenous blackened assault that involves immensely somber nuances as guitars follow a fast riffing pattern but also focus greatly on bleak melodic layers that often slow down dramatically to depict cold melancholic soundscapes fully channeling the ethereal nature of shoegaze.

With such darkly poetic title “The Morning That Killed The World” does hold an apocalyptic tension as well as desolate atmospheric quality as tight guitar riffs draw inspiration from the ominous depths of traditional black metal supported by fast drumming fury yet manage to weave all kinds of melodic tapestries that actually feel much more interesting.

On the multifaceted title track minimalist melancholy infused harmonies introduce an aggressive rhythmic momentum skillfully built by unrestrained guitars and drums and amplified by growls filled of pure black metal obscurity until everything shifts to slower gloomy bleakness with elegantly emotive guitar phrases.

With “Into The Grey” Nullingroots mainly stay true to the blackgaze music formula successfully demonstrating the band’s ability to seamlessly blend a chaotic blackened sonic realm with refined shoegaze melodic depth.


Narcotic Wasteland – Delirium Tremens

Since Narcotic Wasteland is the full-time project of former Nile frontman Dallas Toler-Wade surely you can expect loads of infectious technical death metal grooves on the newest full length “Delirium Tremens”.

Brutally honest since the very beginning “Introspective Nightmares” is filled with insanely thick guitar riffs and drums creating a proper wall of sound breached only by fancy technical lead guitars.

“Faces Of Meth” is a headbanging wonderland as drums could not be faster and guitars are just relentlessly vicious rightfully accompanied by enraged growls and really you are not given a chance to breathe through this punishing metal galore until the arrival of the expected technical guitar solo.

“Bleed And Swell” keeps a brutal death metal core but introduces a highly somber mood always enhanced by noteworthy slower guitar leads that shine particularly for the gloomy melodic quality as well as stylish technical details.

The title track returns to a more primordial death metal sound with devastating guitar riffs and ferocious growls well supported by punishing drumming dynamics building a breakneck rhythm that will eventually give way to the fancy technical nature of another enthralling guitar solo.

There is no escape on “Husk” as according to modern death metal style the mind blowing tight guitar riffing follows an incredible speed until guitar leads bring some necessary slightly melodic technical variety.

“Pharma Culture” is definitely the most introspective track channeling darkened tonalities with great guitar work and more melodic progressions but still holds a quite anger driven essence.

Lyrically concerned about negative human behavior and drug addiction, “Delirium Tremens” can become a bit monotonous but successfully expresses wrath and spite through relentless death metal anthemic tunes.

GWAR – The Blood Of Gods

It’s a long story but we all know that GWAR do not belong to this world yet this brave rock band, famous for the blood soaked live theatricals, continues a massive battle against all the wrong in the world, so obviously against the humans who are destroying the planet, on the new album “The Blood of Gods” which is the first without the fallen leader Oderus Urungus.

“War On GWAR” certainly has an epic mood with soulful warrior screams that introduce an irresistible doom crescendo full of thick guitar riffs that might announce an impending catastrophe or the rise of a beast, anyway GWAR is willing to channel multiple music styles to create an insanely groovy metal rhythm with a proper fancy guitar solo but never puts aside the earlier powerful doom nuances.

“Viking Death Machine” truly amplifies the strength of mighty guitar driven grooves but also super chunky bass lines play a big role in this heavy yet intensely catchy tunethat includes hints of classic metal.

On the rebellious anthem “El Presidente” loads of crunchy heavy guitars & bass lead the instrumental sections with the addition of majestic orchestrations yet the addictive quality of this track can be found in the mischievous theatrical chorus.

“I’ll Be Your Monster” will become a hit song due to a series of infectious rocking guitar riffs and the overall shock-rock infused rhythmic patterns leading to a lovable dirty rock ‘n roll solo while the edgy vocal delivery certainly enhances the high impact gritty catchiness.

“Crushed By The Cross” becomes heavier borderline furious channeling a familiar ‘90s thrash rhythmic assault that definitely matches the bold lyrical anger and guitars are constantly engaged in a frenetic groove that bears a quite somber mood amplified by solemn choirs.

Although the entire album relies on an entertaining mood the power ballad “Phantom Limb” evokes a profound sadness as the band crafts a sincere tribute to Oderus with heartfelt melodic guitar dynamics and a softer contemplative approach.

Both longtime fans and new curious listeners will be delighted to enter the crazy fun sonic realm of “The Blood Of Gods” as despite adversities GWAR fearlessly maintain an explosive creative force.

Anguis Dei – Ad Portas Serpentium

Self-proclaimed True Satanik Black Metal secretive collective Anguis Dei are ready to unleash the spine chilling debut EP “Ad Portas Serpentium” and already the title gives you an idea of the absolutely arcane vibes that linger throughout this demonic opus which will be followed by the band’s first full length.

“Maythorns Over Uroboros” opens the gates of hell with triumphant orchestral glory swiftly followed by inhuman screams and all kinds of blackened flavors borrowing a familiar primordial black metal formula with breakneck speed and crunchy guitar riffing but always enriched by baroque arrangements and creepy atmospheres.

“Angela Krudeliis Ambitiosa Nokturniis” relentlessly follows a similar damned pathway with vampiresque atmospheres and unrestrained guitars shifting from traditional blackened riffing to diabolically refined melodies surrounded by ominous horrific growls & screams and generous symphonic layers leading to a grotesque theatrical breakdown.

“The Lionel” is another hymn to darkness and irrational untamed black metal force with brutal drumming and painfully fast rhythmic guitars that simply support the omnipresent devilish gutturals and the occasional dramatic clean vocals surrounded by the dark orchestral incantations.

If you’re in the mood for flamboyant sinister black metal and are willing to enter this perilous Black Magick realm then you should feel comfortable with the overwhelming obscurity of “Ad Portas Serpentium”.