Sepultura: Machine Messiah (Nuclear Blast)
The biggest problem with Sepultura is their heritage which means that you always end up comparing the current,long established line up with the classic outfit responsible for the metal behemoths Arise, Chaos AD and Roots. Machine Messiah is the 14th release under the Sepultura banner and it contains some very tasty work.
The opening title track is a brooding hulk of a song, with some brutal riffs and hauntingly heavy passages. It's followed by a Testament/Slayer-like thrasher in I Am The Enemy which hurtles along, totally out of control. Brazilian rhythms return on Phantom Self, with a Latino beat before Andreas Kisser’s brutal riffs kick in. Meanwhile Derrick Green continues to deliver his punk edged vocal assault with real venom throughout. His form is immense, vicious snarling spittle soaked As imposing on record as he is in the live arena.
Alethea slows the pace, a crushing riff building in intensity and pressure, elements of hard core fusing with tribal drumming and skull crushing heaviness. Although the album is blisteringly heavy, it does contains a return to the occasional diverse approach the band experimented with after Iggor left in 2006. Iceberg Dances is a wild chaotic instrumental, shades of Gojira, progressive rock and samba rhythms all mix into a rampaging musical tapestry.
Silent Violence and Cyber Violence tip more than a nod to the industrial with Fear Factory’s riffing coming immediately to mind. Overall this is a brutally aggressive release which adds to the bulging catalogue. Few stunning tracks but enough blood to keep the heart pumping comfortably. Worth checking out 8/10
Grave Digger: Healed By Metal (Napalm Records)
Teutonic legends that will not die are back with yet another album, less than a year after 2016’s The Reaper Shall Return which got a mighty 5/10. I'm afraid to say that despite the band’s longevity and total dedication to heavy metal, this is just further garbage. Musically it's okay with some traditional riffs and pounding drums. However, the lyrics remain cringeworthy and the awful vocal delivery of Chris Boltendhal highlights the poor lyrical compositions.
Title track Healed By Metal is stereotypical German metal whilst Lawbreaker follows the Judas Priest Haynes manual to heavy metal. Other laughable tracks include the classic Ten Commandments in Metal with lyrics right out of the Manowar stable and Kill Ritual which is well creepy. Opening line “can't wait to touch you, I watch you night by night, my blood red staring eyes, watch you move, perverse delight” and the fabulous chorus “dying is no miracle, kill, kill ritual” make this uncomfortable listening in the most unintentional way.
Musically this is solid if unremarkable speed metal and the level of musicianship is sometimes impressive. The band have released voluminous works since they started in 1980 but this latest offering is on a par with the averageness of previous releases. 5/10
Modern Day Outlaws: Day Of Reckoning EP (Self Released)
Stomping out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida with plenty of aggression and confidence, the quintet known as the Modern Day Outlaws return with a five track EP which finally follows their 2012 debut album Southern State Of Mind. It's full of power, Southern influences and a mixture of influences which produce a sound which sits somewhere between Five Finger Death Punch and Black Stone Cherry.
Lead singer Ron Brown has a touch of the Ivan Moody at times but has a better vocal range whilst there is some solid work from guitarist Jake Nicholson. Days Of Reckoning isn't original but does add a real kick to some of the more turgid bands around. They would kick up a storm as an opener for some of the more established “country metal/hard rock” acts around. Worth a listen, especially for the balls out blast of Headwake. 7/10