Morbid Angel: Kingdoms Disdained (Silver Lining Music)
Six years since the controversial Illud Divinum Insanus was released, Morbid Angel is back with Kingdoms Disdained. I say Morbid Angel, because the line-up bears no resemblance to the 2011 line-up, with only sole original member Trey Azagthoth still in the line-up. Steve Tucker has returned to the fold for his first appearance since 2003’s Heretic whilst new members Scott Fuller (Annihilated) and Dan Vadim Von make their debut. Now I’m not the world’s biggest Morbid Angel fan and I would struggle in any argument about classic line-ups.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Illud Divinum Insanus although I applauded the band for their change in style at the time. So, what does Kingdoms Disdained do? Well, it hits all the right spots in classic death metal, with the expected blast beats, crushing riffs and technical intricacies that make a solid album with Azagthoth returning the band to its roots. From the opening salvo of Piles Of Little Arms, the crushing The Righteous Voice through to album closer The Fall Of Idols Tucker’s visceral growl unnerves, Fuller’s blast beats demolish and the guitar work is brutal. In a year of mighty death metal releases, Kingdoms Disdained is yet another that can hold its head high. 8/10
Jess And The Ancient Ones: The Horse and Other Weird Tales (Svart Records)
Trippy psychedelic rock from Finland? Why not. Jess And The Ancient Ones’ third album, and the first for four years is a superb 35 minutes which takes you on a journey through the kaleidoscope. It’s bat shit crazy but totally addictive. Two tracks clock in at over seven minutes whilst the rest are closer to three tops, so it’s accessible and so groovy. The meander of Shining, with Abraham’s keyboards a delight, the bizarrely titled Your Exploding Heads has your foot tapping from the start whilst the seven minute You and Eyes perfectly paced with a sound akin to The Doors, the keyboard sound reminiscent of Ray Manzarek.
Much of the album is similar in style to Sweden’s Blues Pills but with a more dominant keyboard feel. It’s hard not to make vocal comparisons with Elin Larson but there’s also bits of the smouldering of the late Amy Winehouse here. Jess is no tribute act though with a style and power all her own. This is an enjoyable album which combines the sounds of the 70s with a modern twist. Fast paced and neatly delivered, Jess And The Ancient Ones are well worth checking out. 8/10
Lord Of Cyclopes: Karma Hammer (Crewl Sound/Rambo Music)
Karma Hammer is the debut release from the stoner rock outfit Lord Of Cyclopes who hail from Gothenburg. Combining elements of Muse,QOTSA, Mastodon and Red Fang, the opening musical track Inverted Midas Touch races by, lots of crashing drumming, muted vocals and jangling guitar work. The production isn’t the best, but you live with that as the title track screeches into play, chunky riffs leading the way. Albanian Rollercoaster will get you groove on with its infectious rhythm and drive.
There’s a certain repetition in the band’s style but this doesn’t detract in any way as the album charges ahead. Pelle Stubelius’s vocals fit well whilst the rest of the band, Joe Johannsen, George Winnberg and Jorge B’Atz all hammer the shit out of their instruments to great effect. By the time you reach the six minutes plus album closer Our Faces, with its country tinged edge outro, the chances are you’ll be quietly content inside. A very decent debut. 7/10
Palpable Defeat: Dystopia (Self Released)
An interesting mix of progressive rock, aggressive metal, jazz and numerous other genres, the debut album from Palpable Defeat takes several listens to get your head around. Intricate time changes and numerous lengthy passages really make you work. Take the title track Dystopia. A ten-minute epic, rhythmic movements fusing with clean harmonies and challenging sections all wrapped up with some layering that belies the fact that the band are a four piece. Josh Padgett’s clean vocals give a crisp and pure edge to the tracks, whilst his guitar work alongside that of Ben Daniels is sweet. There is nothing simple going on here, but there is hell of a lot going on here.
If you had to look for influences, then I’d be struggling. There is everything from The Mars Volta to Manic Street Preachers in this package. Dystopia is neatly balanced with shorter tracks complimenting several lengthier selections, such as album closer Untitled Journey, which builds impressively over its 12 minutes. I’m not sure on the death metal vocals that are scattered through the album as I don’t think it adds anything but overall this is well worth a listen if you want more than meat and two veg metal. 7/10