Suicidal Tendencies: World Gone Mad (Suicidal Records)
World Gone Mad is album no.12 from Mike Muir’s happy band, and possibly the final one if reports are to be believed. If it does come to an end then World Gone Mad is definitely a high on which to finish. A social commentary on the state of US politics at present and in particular the system that can let the indescribable fuck trumpet known as Donald Trump stand for President, World Gone Mad retains the thrashy punk aggression of the classics from yesteryear whilst also heaving in a large slab of melody and hooks.
It's pretty straightforward stuff but also superbly crafted with the instantly recognisable vocals of Mike Muir alongside long serving guitarist Dean Pleasants, newbies Jeff Poga and Ra Diaz (bass) and some blasting drumming from Dave Lombardo. From opener Clap Like Ozzy, One Finger Salute, the anthemic The Struggle Is Real and the calmer poignant album closer This World. Muir and co stand firm to their beliefs, if this is their swan song, it's a pretty damn fine one. 8/10
Alcest: Kodama (Prophecy Productions)
2014’s Shelter moved Alcest to a slightly different feel from previous releases. More accessible whilst still retaining the dreamy shoe gaze which the band has made their own. Shelter was highly acclaimed, meaning album number 5 needed to be something special. Luckily it is totally that, a beautifully constructed album which retains the ethereal delicacy of previous releases whilst adding the thunderous wall of Winterhalter’s drumming and Neige’s powerful guitar.
A concept about the confrontation between the human and natural world, inspired by the film Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki, Kodama (Japanese for Tree Spirit) is seven gorgeous crafted tracks, the majority of which are substantial in length and complexity. The deluxe album includes the beautiful Notre Sang Et Nos Pensees, well worth the extra couple of pounds. Neige once again writes all of the tracks with Birgir Jon Birgirsson taking care of arrangements, engineering, mixing and production. Haunting, melancholic and quite lovingly crafted, Kodama is a genuine stunning piece of work from a band that get better and better. 9/10
Allegaeon: Proponent For Sentience (Metal Blade)
Fusing themes of science fiction, astrophysics and alien life into a maelstrom of styles, Fort Collins, Colorado's technical death metallers fourth full release certainly provides food for thought. New vocalist Riley McShane does a sterling job, his gruff style fitting the speed and power of the band well. Proponent for Sentience is technical beyond technical, with time changes galore, intricate patterns and huge break downs. Incredibly powerful drumming of Brandon Park underpins the duel guitars of Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel. It's a long beast, clocking in at 72 minutes and with the best will in the world, at times a bit of a challenge.
With a range of styles, from the operatic introduction on Proponent For Sentience I – The Conception to the flamenco guitar intro and lengthy outro on Grey Matter Mechanics, it pushes the listener to the limits. A ragged, industrial/operatic version of Subdivisions by Rush closes the album, a brave take on a massively loved track. McShane sensibly brings the vocal down a few octaves which suits him and the song better although sounding a little like Ivan Moody is unfortunate but. It is nowhere near the worst Rush cover I've ever heard (take a bow, 3 Inches Of Blood). 7/10