If you’re going into this album expecting it to sound anything like Linkin Park, then remove all traces of those thoughts. Amends is a haunting, yet thrill ride from the unreleased material of Grey Daze. The plan with Grey Daze was to reunite and release a new album, but due to the sudden passing of Chester Bennington five months after they got together to make the album a reality, the plans never came to fruition. Until now. Due to the wishes of Bennington, the band have released the album with pre-recorded and slightly remastered vocals.
Amends is somewhat of a compilation album, featuring songs from GD older material, although if (like me) you never experienced any of the band at all, the entire record is a new experience. Sickness shows the band work perfectly together to create a beautiful sounding song with the signature vocals of Bennington. Sometimes & In Time are two haunting songs that bring the album down low and showcase the raw talent of Bennington with the soothing vocals mixed with his harsher tones. Just Like Heroin is the only track that REALLY sticks out to me. The nature of the song is evocative. Knowing Bennington suffered with drug abuse, mainly heroin, is unnerving at times but the song is a masterclass. The band themselves have created an atmosphere like no other with the music. It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking. It’s an amazing sounding album.
With the entire album it’s hard not to feel somewhat choked up and on times I myself felt uncomfortable listening to Chester’s performance, but if you make it through the entire album you'll be greeting with such an amazing piece of art. I’m not a fan of the lighter side of Rock, but Amends is a classic tribute to the man that was Chester Bennington. 9/10
Enslavery: Placitis Infectas (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]
If being pinned to the wall for 40 minutes by some sheer brutal death metal that doesn’t allow a breath from start to finish, then this bludgeoning debut from Finnish outfit Enslavery should be on your shopping list when it is released. The riffs are thick, dirty and downtuned, the drums batter from the off and the vocals are a gruesome combination of guttural roars and demonic mutterings. For a three-piece the sound is astonishing, a generated wall of noise, heavier than the bus full of elephants or the bag full of anvils. Take your pick. Whilst I could find little on the old interweb about the band, Metal Archives informed me that the searing heat is generated by drummer Roope Hokkanen, the barrage of machine gun riffage from guitarist Taneli Välimäki and the bowel disturbance from bassist Eetu Vehkaoja, the latter duo sharing the vocal duties. Shades of Derrick Green emerge on Humans As Parasites, the roar reminiscent of the Seps vocalist at his angry best. Whilst the band are a combination of a fist to the face and a kick to the gut, content wise they are clearly raging at humanity in a variety of ways. The human is truly the scourge of the planet. That’s a bonus point right there. Having been in existence for a decade, this debut is mind-blowing. Huge, and I mean massive slabs of death metal with an old school groove surging through everything they do. It’s mighty impressive and when you finally get up after this album finishes, there is little doubt that the urge to wipe off the dribble and do it all again is uncontrollable. 8/10
NeverBreath: To Defile Is To Transcend (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]
This is the debut release from Tempe Black Metal project NeverBreath. Ambitious in content, the album is lyrically about the self-destruction of a disciple of Lilith. As you rush towards Wikipedia, I can tell you that Lilith is historically a Jewish demon, originating as far back as the third century AD and referenced multiple times through history ever since. According the blurb, the disciple in question outlines their self-destructive course through the song’s titles and lyrics as the album progresses, holding a dialogue with Lilith, the Seeress of Snakes.
It’s an interesting lyrical theme, and musically there is plenty to interest those who worship strong blends of black and death metal. Vocally, Mark Garrett’s snarling roars swing between the unique delivery of Martin Walkyier and the frenetic pressure generated by Nergal and Eric Danielsson of Watain. A battery of blast beats dominates each track, and the wall of noise due to duel tremolo riffing is intense. The songs hold together well, full of character and emotion, heavy and boisterous but also fiery and intricate. Underneath the sheer nastiness of such an evil assault, there is melody and passion. Tracks like And I See The Profane Through Torn Eyes and the powerful anthemic closing song In Burning My Flesh And Consuming The Ashes, NeverBreath have managed to capture a ferocious style that stands strong for a debut, worshipping as it does at the altar of Scandinavian Black Metal. They have moved a step away from the rawness of those original groundbreaking legends, with a polished production that enhances their modern take on the old school style.
The band includes Nico Mirolla – Guitars, Composition, Recording, Editing and Mastering; Mark Garrett – Lyrics and Vocals; Sean Lang – Drums; Paul Robles – Bass, Lyrics and Guitar Solos with Tyler Allen – Lyrics and Mixing and guest vocals on My Lips Are Flayed Open In Praise! by Adam S. Plenty to get your teeth into here, should the mood take you. 7/10
Bishop Of Hexen: The Death Masquerade (Self Released) [Liam True]
Symphonic Black Metal is always an odd genre because of the amount of things going on at once. It’s not news that there hasn’t been a surge of bands like this is recent years, although there have been some exceptional outputs by others bands. And Bishop Of Hexen have joined the ranks of great records in this genre. With their third full length album to date and their newest album in 14 years, they bring everything they’ve got. Spanning 8 songs over the course of 51 minutes it’s quite the adventure listening to the record. It bodes better for you to listen to the entire album as one instead of plucking out odd songs as it’s a macabre musical more than an actual album.
The sound is great. The production is great. The orchestral compositions arranged by keyboardist Dimrost are gigantic. The thunderous sounding drums and bloodcurdling vocals are performed by Lord Koder. The putrid sounding lead and bass guitar tones of Avicious echo through your brain and are permanently implanted to make sure you never forget this album. It’s an arena sounding album that needs to be caught by the masses and blasted everywhere. The ferocious album is a bitter adventure through the minds of the Israeli Metal bands Symphonic minds which all comes to a halt with album ender Sine Nomine. I won’t spoil it as you need to hear it for yourself. But if Behemoth and Pavarotti ever had a secret love child. You’re looking at it. 9/10