Fallujah: Dreamless (Nuclear Blast)
The metamorphosis that Fallujah started on their 2013 EP has climaxed on this their third full length, from their early deathcore roots the band have gradually transitioned their sound into the atmospheric death metal sound that they are the main exponents of today, the band fuse brutal, destructive death metal with more ambient sequences, clean guitars, and female vocals , this time from Tori Letzler on The Void, Dreamless and Wind For Wings and Katie Thompson on Abandon, Dreamless and Lacuna its these dreamy vocals and swathes of programming and clean guitars that are the counterpoint to the band's heavier elements meaning that Fallujah sound a lot like the now sadly defunct Cynic (who's Tymon Kruidenier contributes a guitar solo on the song Dreamless).
With the brutal vocals of Alex Hofmann in direct opposition to to the clean guitar lines that slice through the rhythmic power of Face Of Death, the pace picks up on Adrenaline which has a barrage of drumming, some jazz based low end battery from Robert Morey but once again there's the juxtaposition between the outright heaviness of the record with the more melodic guitar lines that come out of the classic metal soloing. It's the jumps between this sound that makes Fallujah such an interesting band, one minute they can be blowing your head off with savagery and the next lulling you with the ethereal ambient melodies, praise indeed go to guitarists Scott Carstairs and Brian James who are the keys to the sound building upon the percussive, palm muted battery with both the aggressive riffs and the pristine flowing clean guitar pieces (Abandon)
The highest praise though goes to the man behind the kit Andrew Baird who cannot be human, his drumming is unbelieveable akin to Death or fear Factory (who notoriously use a drum machine). Dreamless is an intense listening experience, if you don't like your music in the extreme category then parts of it will be a little too much to handle however with so much musical expression the record, the parallels between light and dark are highlighted and exploited to their furthest by an immensely talented band that have carved somewhat of their own niche. 8/10
Nitroville: Cheating The Hangman (Mighty Music)
Nitroville are Southern styled heavy blues four piece from London England, Cheating The Hangman is the band's second album and right out of the gates fans of hard rock will be on to a winner as the riffs are heavy, melodic and groove laden with a immediacy from the rhythm section thrusting the songs like the nitro-boosted muscle car on the album's cover. Motorocker is a typical opening song a rocker that draws you in to the album but it's on Louisiana Bone that the band show their true colours country influenced southern rock that shows the incredible vocals of Tola Lamont who sounds like Ann Wilson with a bit of Southern grit thrown in. Lamont is a great vocalist with a massive set of lungs meaning she can croon and boom equally as mightily.
Luckily the band are no slouches either, the locked in groove of Steve Parsons and Cyro Zuzi are the power behind the tracks allowing Kurt Michael Boeck to riff and lead break as much as he possibly can conducting the electric blues of Aerosmith and the good ol boy mentality of Skynyrd all in one. After the more countrified Louisiana Bone comes the harder heavier faster double tap of the unstoppable Spitfire (which along with Dead Man's Hand both have air of Maiden) and the title track which kicks up the dust of a Leone movie. Cheating The Hangman is a thumping rock album with some stomping hard rock songs making the cut on album that is also sequenced properly meaning that there is a sense of flow to the record.
Apophis 2029 is a sci-fi influenced shot of fire that leads into the muscular ballad Let it Roll with some bluesy guitar work from Kurt which slows the pace just enough for Dead Man's Hand to bring back the country picking rocking and speed the record back up again, with Trophy Hunter adding a swaggering groove. There really isn't a weak track on this record (other than the slightly lazy Ransom) the performances too are top class throughout, I personally want to see if this power is translated on stage as I think it would make Nitroville a formidable act, on record anyway they have the capability to blow your speakers with their bluesy hard rock power. 8/10
Eisenhauer: Horse Of Hell (Self Released)
Eisenhauer is classic meat and potato metal mixing NWOBHM with a dash of thrash (Sail My Soul) and some Sabbath like doom all evident on this four track EP. Eisenhauer are from Germany and as such the lyrical content is as you would expect from a Teutonic metal band albeit wrapped up in the same package as Grand Magus and band who Eisenhauer share a lot of similarities with. Much of this is due to the baritone vocal of the bands singer/guitarist but unlike Grand Magus' JB his vocals don't seem anywhere near as strong staying in their lower register for most of the songs, what also distances them from their Swedish compatriots is that their song-writing is nowhere near as good as Grand Magus after the second song you can leave this record it's all a bit boring and the vocals actually start to great with their lack of depth. Horse Of Hell is an EP that isn't going to make you gallop to pick it up, for trad metal maniacs maybe but for anyone that has more discerning taste there are not enough bones to make glue nevermind another album. 4/10
Craving: Wielder Of Storms (Self Released)
Another EP now from German folk-black metallers Craving who I've reviewed here before, Wielder Of Storms is an EP that has been a long time coming but due to lots of outside factors (life threatening illness being one of them) it has had a long gestation period but finally they are back with yet more Amon Amarth meets Blind Guardian via Cradle of Filth folk influenced metal that draws from numerous ethnic heritages as well as black/death and power metal. The title track starts things off strongly with the Blind Guardian style backing choruses getting your fists in the air and showing a wide vocal range and some superb guitars and riffs, all of which continues on the other three tracks on this record the middle two being a two part epic that owes a lot to Wintersun in terms of composition and delivery, moving between an all out black metal assault and the folk metal choruses for both parts of the track, before the more atmospheric final track wraps this EP that show that you can't keep a good band down, Craving are deserving of praise as they seem to be able to get the music they play, it works in all the right ways, here's hoping there is a third full length on the horizon. 7/10