Iron Fire: Among The Dead (Crime Records)
The kings of Danish power metal once again bring a speed metal assault to the masses, Among The Dead is their 8th record and their first as a three-piece with vocalist Martin Steene taking up bass, he's joined by Gunnar Olsen on drums and Kirk Backarach on guitar. As soon as the intro fades we a thrown into the title track which is more downtuned than before. On this opening rager the band show they have become a much leaner, angrier band they were before, Steene still has a low rougher vocal than many of his speed metal peers, he even does some growling on the title track, but it's only on this record that his vocals has really fit the music.
Among The Dead sees the band channel the thrashier elements of their sound moving away from the power metal sound they had early in their career. It benefits tracks such as Tornado Of Sickness, Higher Ground, this newest album still focuses on the theme of war and battle putting the band lyrically in the same boat as Sabaton but as I've said a heavier sound. Iron Eagle is a fist raising shout along, The Last Survivor has backing shouts on the modern thrash sounding song. Iron Fire have been doing this stuff for a long time now and there is little chance of any change, yes their sound is probably a little more aggressive than before (except on When The Lights Go Out) and the cover of Whom The Bell Tolls adds nothing really, but really the record is just another Iron Fire album. 6/10
Noveria: Forsaken (Scarlet Records)
Noveria are an Italian progressive metal band that take their cues from the progressive power metal scene with the keys and guitars the major elements in the music much like Symphony X and Pagan's Mind. Forsaken is their second record and the band say the record "is a concept based on the theory of the five stages of death by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross" It was "written in memory of a brilliant young woman who was taken away from her family by an aggressive cancer with each track describing the different states of mind of a person facing a fatal illness".
It's a heavy concept then and delivered in the style you would would only expect from a band that plays this type of music. With thumping rhythms given by DGM's Andrea Arcangeli on bass and Omar Campitelli on drums, the heavy riffage of Francesco Mattei, electronic/symphonic passages with Julien Spreutels and sky scraping wide ranging vocals from the incredible Francesco Corigliano all the members of the group are all excellent musicians and play with a fluidity and style of many of their peers and influences. The record also features some guest vocals from Kelly Sundown Carpenter (formerly of Firewind), Claudio Pietronik (Ancient Bards) both of whom give their own contributions to this record. Noveria will have very big career ahead of them if they carry on like this, their second album is a so strong it will be near the top of a lot of people's progressive power metal albums list. 8/10
Tardive Dyskinesia: Harmonic Confusion (Playfalse Records)
Tardive Dyskinesia are a progressive/experimental band from Athens, Greece and they sit uncomfortably in many genres with the album drawing a lot more on it's experimental rather than progressive nature, there are lot of time signature pass-the-parcel throughout the records as songs get faster and slower sometimes in the same section. In fact the album's title is very apt in describing the musical endeavour, there seems to be a confusion in what style they want to be but they do what they do very well indeed. If Mastodon took more risks they would sound like Tardive Dyskinesia, (the name comes from a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary movements of the jaw and face) with the cacophony of noise topped with Manthos Stergiou's vocals that sound like Troy Sanders at his noisiest and Brent Hinds in his more melodic moments.
From the off this album throws riffs upon riff on you each song featuring extremity and experiments in equal measure, there's death and tech metal styling but also prog rock, hard rock and even jazz type rhythms present. Opening an album with an instrumental is always a risk but when it's the palm muted riffs of Insertion it sets you up for the fiendishly heavy Fire Red Glass Heart which is the first song to have the quiet loud dynamics with the Mastodon style heaviness going into the more stoner passage in the middle while The Electric Sun is one of the fastest tracks on the record with intricate guitar playing and a barrage of heaviness. Tardive Dyskinesia are a band with a sound that draws from the more extreme sounds with technical ferocity and experimental spirit, great stuff! 8/10