Them: Sweet Hollow (Empire Records)
Them are an internationally based King Diamond tribute band who have decided to write and record their own material with 'Sweet Hollow' being their debut album. The band is formed from members and ex-members of bands such as Symphony X, Ross The Boss, Suffocation, Coldsteel & Lanfear so this is no bunch of amateurs. As you can tell from their tribute act past and influenced band name there is a massive King Diamond influence throughout the album both in tone and in the horror inspired lyrical themes.
Musically though generally the band stand on their own two feet and play classic heavy metal with touches of power metal and thrash metal. With the calibre of musicians involved in the band everything is played to perfection and special mention must go to vocalist Troy Norr who ranges from King Diamond falsettos and mid range clean vocals to a harder gruffer vocal style. The songs throughout are catchy and theatrical but also hard hitting enough for fans of the heavier end of metal to still enjoy. All in all this is a very enjoyable album which has enough King Diamond influences throughout to please fans of his but also enough originality for general heavy metal fans to enjoy. 8/10
Sail: Slumbersong (Hibernacula Records)
Slumbersong is the debut album by Sail formerly known as Husk. The album incorporates many different sounds and is a big reflection on the variation currently within the sludge metal genre. The album ranges from groovy riffs to atmospheric progressive soundscapes to catchy almost poppiness. The band wear their influences on their sleeves and you can hear bands ranging from Mastodon, Baroness, Pallbearer and Torche in their sound. The album almost works as a love letter to the genre of sludge metal in 2017. The harder hitting songs such as Righteous and Old Tom work better and are more preferable than some of the most drawn out atmospheric songs which can get a little tedious. This is still a very enjoyable album which celebrates sludge metal in the 21st century though it does lack a bit of its own identity. 7/10
Basement Torture Killings: There's Something About Beryl (Grindscene Records)
Basement Torture Killings return with album number three There's Something About Beryl which is the first album with frontwoman Millie Crampton aka the eponymous Beryl. The album is 34 minutes of extreme metal insanity taking elements from old school death metal and grindcore and mixing them into a concoction of blood, guts and terror. There is very much a retro sound to this album sounding a lot like early 90's death metal and grindcore albeit complimented by a modern production sound. The songs all hurtle by with plenty of speed and ferocity and have all the common traits of the genre - savage riffs, blastbeats, guttural vocals and horror movie samples. Unfortunately there is very little in the way of variation and many of the songs are difficult to distinguish apart from each other but that being said this is a very fun and enjoyable album. 7/10