In This Moment: Ritual (Atlantic Records)
Ritual is LA ban In This Moment's sixth album and it sees them yet again advance their sound, they have successfully tackled metalcore before moving towards the more industrial soundscapes of their most recent records. This album sees the band adapt their sound again with guitarist Chris Howorth saying "stylistically, I think we went a little bit more raw" while vocalist Maria Brink went as far as to say there is a definitive less sexual side "I wanted to show people and definitely women a different side of strength in me that was a really powerful force in me that didn't need the sexual part" the change is obvious from the outset the electronics have been toned down in favour of mystical blues vibes.
The album was inspired by Brink's trip to Salem Massachusetts and you can really hear the occult, spiritual side come through, struggles with God and the Devil are evident on the clap and stomp of Oh Lord as Brink prays for mercy, you can hear Howorth really playing up a storm aided by Randy Weitzel, Black Wedding has the throbbing heaviness of previous albums riffs on Billy Idol's White Wedding and features the Metal God himself Rob Halford on guest vocals, this heaviness moves through to Joan Of Arc and the crushing River Of Fire.
Ritual is an impressive, dark record that shows a more mature side of the band, they even manage to pull off a evil sounding cover of Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight. Those who thought the band were a little style over substance will be pleasantly surprised with this record, it's the band playing at their best and taking their sound in another direction, In This Moment have reinvented themselves again and this time their serious. 8/10
Minus Inferno: Blizzard Of Souls (Morning Star Heathens)
Classic heavy metal or traditional heavy metal is best from the UK, sorry everyone else, we invented it. The NWOBHM was instrumental in creating thrash, power and black metal, it made global superstars of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and yes even Def Leppard. In more recent times the genre has been adopted and some may say perfected by both the Swedes and the Canadians but the plucky Brits can still strap on a bullet belt, skin tight trousers and rock it like it's 1982. This is where Minus Inferno come in, they play the classic dual guitar slinging metal that was born in the NWOBHM they pay tribute to it on the song Minus Inferno which tells you to rock out and that the metal will be both forever and for life. Musically they don't stray too far from the trad metal blueprint with James Ennis and Charlie Peterson trading riffs and solos as Casey Hastings and Craig Meadows lock down the rhythm section and James Mitchell has an ideal vocals for the band. The production is a bit wispy but it means there is an authenticity to the record, it's neither big nor clever but it's proper British metal from the Gloucester band. 7/10
The Kindred: The Weight EP (Sumerian Records)
Well...this is a bit good. Ottawa natives The Kindred are right at the cusp of the modern progressive rock curve, they have intense technicality, but they also have a knack for songwriting shared by UK act Haken. It's not djent as it's not strictly metal, though they have a heaviness and a groove of acts like Tesseract, they also have a alternative element due to Johnny's melodic vocals and the huge keyboards of Matt Young. Stray Away takes a big vocals hook and pairs it with Gojira fret slides, building to a anthemic end. Wake has a driving rumble from Eric and Kenny as Ben and Steve play the off kilter guitar riffs. The Weight EP is a very strong EP that is right at the forefront of modern progressive music, emotive, heavy and technically gifted without slacking on the songwriting. 7/10