by: Chris Rigney -KUCI Loud Rock Director
Devin Townsend Project "The Retinal Circus" [InsideOut]
For those who have enjoyed Devin Townsend's longstanding and wacky career of both truly heavy and progressive material, he has put together a 2-disc live release of his performance under the moniker 'Devin Townsend Project' at the famous Roundhouse in London. This 2-disc set covers material from the majority of his career and other bands/projects including Infinity, Ocean Machine, Physicist, Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Band, Ziltoid the Omniscient, and the Devin Townsend Project. Steven Vai (!) himself presides over the performance providing some narrative and commentary throughout. (For those unaware, Devin previously played in Steve Vai's band at the beginning of his career and is actually featured on the cover of Vai's album "Sex & Religion".) Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering, Ayreon) provides backing female vocals during the performance for some stellar moments. This is an amazingly fun an rollercoaster ride of a live album, but do beware of the random swearing that Devin spews both mid-song and between songs.
Carcass "Surgical Steel" [Nuclear Blast]
One of the finest pioneers of death metal have returned after a 17 year hiatus to drop a massive, excellent album for your pleasure. Carcass was one of the first British metal bands in the late 80s to drop the satanic tropes of death metal in favor of themes about complex medical procedures and surgery gone wrong. Many fans were left disappointed and upset after the lackluster 'final' album "Swansong" released in 1996, but fans can now rest assured that this new album lives up to the band's previous gory glory. A truly great return to form, "Surgical Steel" should be an instant success for this legendary band.
A Pale Horse Named Death "Lay My Soul To Waste" [SPV]
Consisting of the remnants of post-Peter Steele Type O Negative and Life of Agony, this band made a great impact with their prior 2011 debut album "And Hell Will Follow Me" with their doomy goth rock that packed a punch. Their sound is best described as a mix of Alice in Chains at their lowest and Type O Negative. Vocals are reminiscent of Jerry Cantrell, Marilyn Manson, and Lex Icon (The Kovenant) with a grittier vibe. They continue along their dark lyrical path that explores the misfortunes and tribulations of the music industry, love, drug use, suicide, and murder. A highlight on this album is the track "Day of the Storm," since it sounds like it should have been a Type O Negative track released when Peter Steel was still alive. Other standouts are "Shallow Grave," "Killer By Night," "Dead Winter," and "Devil Came With A Smile."
Necrogoblikon "Power" EP [Goblin]
Necrogoblikon have quickly become one of my favorite bands in the short term, and who can truly refuse a band whose lyrics concern the mightiness of goblins and their shenanigans? If you mashed up Children of Bodom with Unexpect and Dog Fashion Disco, then you have a fairly good idea of what this band sounds like. Ultimately, they are a more experimental melodic death metal band, but that simplified description does not do justice to the hilarity and ridiculousness (in a good way) that ensues in this band's music. Xylophones, synthesizers, and accordions make frequent appearances throughout, and this five song EP is a great introduction to the band. Vocals consist primarily of mid-range rasps and deeper growls but have occasional spoken word clean vocals.
Born of Osiris "Tomorrow We Die Alive" [Sumerian]
This is only the second band I've heard that successfully combines industrial and dubstep-esque electronics with deathcore (with the first band being The Browning). Although many of the songs contain the same tempo, the material still sounds fresh compared to the other sounds in deathcore out there right now. Big breakdowns, mostly deep and growly vocals, and catchy guitar work are all over this album, but it's truly the electronic aspects that make it stand out as so unique.
Karnivool "Asymmetry" [Workhorse Music]
These progressive art-rock/metal artists come back with new music that is more reminiscent of Tool and Maynard Keenan's other progressive rock meanderings than anything else. This album moves in a darker, heavier direction than prior outings and does not feature as many of the 'progressive' elements. However, this is an interesting departure from some of their earlier material, and it's not a bad thing. The musicianship is great all around, and the songwriting is both interesting and memorable, which is hard to do these days.
Grave "Morbid Ascent" EP [Century Media]
Long-time Swedish death metallers Grave have releaseed a new EP that's definitely worth checking out. This release contains some new material, a Possessed cover, and some remixed songs. This band is evolving beyond their old school death metal sound, and I really like the direction they have been taking. Highly recommended for old and new fans alike.
Eminence "The Stalker" [Self-Released]
This Brazilian metal band has been around since 1995, and they feature ex-Sepultura bassist Jairo Guedz. On this album, these guys present a modern rock/thrash sound in the same vein as Devildriver, Hemlock, and Soulfly with some occasional grindcore squealing vocals thrown in for good measure. The production is well done, and the music rocks hard. For those looking for some heavy tunes without delving into death metal or more extreme genres, this would be a good fit for you.