Immolation: Atonement (Nuclear Blast) [Review By Paul]
The 10th release from seminal death metal outfit Immolation is a real beauty. Never a band to rest on their laurels, Atonement contains some of the heaviest metal you'll hear this year whilst also challenging the stereotype of the genre. More melody, atmosphere and changes of pace allow the band to display an even heavier approach this time around. Opener The Distorting Light mixes pace and power, the blasting drums of Steve Shalaty furious and raging whilst the down tuned guitar sound adds venom.
The monstrous When The Jackals Come drips with power and might, the slower pace enhancing the pure evil racing through the track. The death growl of Ross Dolan, supported by his thunderous bass lines haunts you whilst the cutting duel guitar work of Ross Vigna and Alex Bouks is much more intricate and detailed than one might expect. The crushing riffs and slightly more reserved pace continues on Fostering The Divide, the aural senses heightened by the power. The pace quickens for Rise The Heretics, the stunning technicality is consistent and excellent from start to finish. There's even some Opeth type time and mood changes here whilst Thrown To The Fire boils with malevolence.
This is some album and for a band now entering veteran status a real statement and a challenge to all those pretenders to their crown. Slower than you might expect at times, the real beauty of this majestic album is the technical balance, perfectly pitched for maximum heaviness. Above All bristles with explosive energy whilst penultimate track Power Of The Gods is just huge. This may already be my album of the year.
It's absolutely massive and stands alongside Hour Of Penance’s recent Cast The First Stone and the much anticipated debut from Memoriam as a defiant demonstration of how strong the genre is. 10/10
Arthemis: Blood-Fury-Domination (Scarlet Records)
Arthemis formed in 1999 (previously they were known as Nemesis) led by guitarist Andrea 'Andy' Martongelli and fronted by Alessio Garavello (also of Power Quest) the band changed wholesale in 2009 leaving just Martongelli as the sole surviving member, he quickly assembled a new line up which has undergone a few changes with the two constants since 2010's Heroes being Andy and singer Fabio D. The band have released 7 full length albums with this one being their eighth, however I must admit I'm only aware of the band through a Pop Covers' EP they did in 2010 that came free with Metal Hammer and featured one of the most haunting, cannot un-see covers ever (Google it).
Blood-Fury-Domination comes after their well received live album recorded in London that gave an insight into their ferocious live show. Capitalising on this is vital for the band that many over this side of the English Channel may not be familiar with their work, so Blood-Fury-Domination has it's work cut out for it, however with massive production, uplifting songs, sing-along choruses the record does it's best to demonstrate the bands live power. From the thrashy Undead which sounds a bit like Trivium singing about zombies through to the more industrial touches of Black Sun the band play their nuts off with particular kudos to Andy who's guitar solos are amazing playing off against himself on so many of the songs it sounds like two men duelling against each other.
Their eighth album is full of shredding power thrash tracks that sit comfortably in the Iced Earth/Firewind style, displaying the husky tones of Fabio behind the mic. They slow things down with If I Fall which is the slowest most overwrought song on the record but it comes early meaning the rest of the album can kick your ass with the heavy, modern power metal. I had my expectations reasonably low when putting on this album but they have proven me wrong, this is a very pleasant surprise that takes in many of the styles I love and projects them with real skill. Bellissimo! 8/10
Cloud Catcher: Trails Of Cosmic Dust (Totem Cat Records)
Denver natives Cloud Catcher are clearly making full use of the legalisation of Marijuana in their state as their second full length is really just one long boogie jam. The eight songs all link sonically making the album more of journey than just a set number of tracks, while listening to the record I found myself nodding to one particularly long jam session and then realised it had been three songs in a row that just seamlessly transitioned into on another built upon a single signature Sabbath-like riff.
The songs on this album puts the three piece in the same kind of sound as the proto-metal acts like Captain Beyond, Grand Funk Railroad, Sir Lord Baltimore and Budgie. With expressive drumming (including numerous solos and fills), pounding groovy bass-lines, wild fuzzy guitars and bellowing vocals Trails Of Cosmic Dust is a record that is really a recording of cosmic freakouts that are build upon solid hard rocking playing from the trio.
If this record is any indication their live show should be incendiary. They call themselves acid heavy boogie and it's hard to argue as this band from the appropriately named Mile High City make a freaked-out racket as good as any of their influences. 8/10