Inactive Messiah: Dark Masterpiece (Growl Records)
Greek melodic metal band Inactive Messiah have been on a relative hiatus (one would say inactive) for nearly 8 years now, their previous effort Sinful Nation was released in 2008 but since then there hasn't seemed to be any activity until now. Dark Masterpiece is the band's fourth album and sees them moving more into the melodic-death metal style of bands like Scar Symmetry (Apocalypse) while still retaining the atmospheric/industrial elements of countrymen Septicflesh. Lords Of Avarice is one track that nods it's head in the direction of Septicflesh with the pulsing electronics backing Thanos' rough guitars, and syncing with the unrelenting percussive brute force of Michalis' drums.
This track kicks off the album swiftly as a showcase for Xristos' growled harsh vocals which are counterpointed by Thanos' clean delivery giving them the traditional dual vocal approach of the melo-death genre, admittedly the clean vocals are employed only when needed and they are deeper than the normal higher register that is their to counteract the harsh vocals. 24 Carat Blood proves the industrial elements are still here in droves as it has the same chug and creepy synths as the maestro of spook rock Rob Zombie, the Gothic Blood Needs Blood slows the pace with a swinging gallows riff and the clean vocals coming to life, Whore Of Babylon has the modern breakdown style to it showing that Inactive Messiah can stretch their wings a bit on this record. If Industrial/Melodic Death metal is your bag then Inactive Messiah will be your bag most definitely, chunky riffs, harsh vocals and a cinematic edge Dark Masterpiece shows that Inactive Messiah is very much an active concern. 7/10
Eths: Ankaa (Seasons Of Mist)
French metal does tend to deal in the groove-laden more bottom heavy end of the metal spectrum with Gojira and Klone both destroying bowels around the world, well add Eths to this list. The band are now on their fourth album, which is their first with new vocalist Rachel Aspe who replaced Candice Clot in 2013, it's also the first album without founding members, second guitarist Grégory "Greg" Rouvière and drummer Guillaume "Yom" Dupré, (replaced by R.U.L). Aspe stamps her mark all over this record and while here vocals still have the stomach shredding ferocity of her predecessor she has her own style that comes across when they slow down a little adding the nu-metal influences that are also part of their unique mix of nu, alt, groove metal all bundled in with some skull crushing deathcore, se Seditio which starts off with a plaintive piano intro before the heaviness kicks in.
With just the one guitar the sound is more streamlined but still as heavy as before it's just the bass has more power than before, it's the cornerstone of every track adding the groove to proceedings. the band are not afraid to play with their sound, Nihil Sine Causa has dual screams, some haunting Middle Eastern backing chants, heavy battery, a trance middle section and breaks down towards the end, it's progressive without being too ethereal. The Nu-Metal influence is evident on Amaterasu which could have come off a Korn record with it's heavy bottom end and electronic touches. For the most part of this record it's heavy, brutal and unrelenting but done in a way that tracks such as Vae Victis which starts out slower before the stop-start riff of the middle kicks in don't let you settle into a groove Eths are a bit of kitchen sink band throwing in so many elements that you really don't know where they are going to go next, which I have to say is an endearing feature. 7/10
Celestial Ruin: Pandora (Self Released)
Styling themselves as Vancouver's first Symphonic power metal band the collective of Larissa (vocals), Eriz (guitars), Mike (bass) and Adam (drums) will appeal to fans of Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain, Leaves’ Eyes, in fact any female fronted symphonic band you care to mention. In what is an overcrowded genre bands have to really make a mark to stand out and with their Pandora EP that is what Celestial Ruin are trying to do. The EP comes off the back of a full length debut album The Awakening released in 2012 and it ramps up the songwriting a little with the band firing on all cylinders from the off filling the tracks with lush orchestrations and keys by Ruben Wijga with the rest of the band crashing in with speedy riffs, frantic drumming of bands such as Kamelot and Nightwish, that are nothing new but are done with flair and with production coming from ex-After Forever, Epica and Revamp man Joost Van Den Broek so the EP has the right amount of bombast marrying symphonic metal with the more Gothic rock of Evanescence, especially in the lyrical content which focuses on horror & fantasy. The Gothic elements are most pronounced on the second track Sense Of Exile. The five tracks on this EP all move at pace with Murder Of Crows is a strong start and exhibits Larissa's fine vocal, No Quarter is slower track telling of a pirate giving his soul to Davy Jones, with Nevermore being the albums strongest track by far, a colossal ballad that builds into a cinematic track that is the perfect center piece for the record. Pandora sees this band stepping up their game hopefully this will translate towards their next release. 7/10