These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.
Crimson Glory: “Astronomica” Deluxe Edition (Metal Mind Productions)
The masks were gone and the sun had risen on former singer Midnight with the arrival of Wade Black. Yet despite the changes, Crimson Glory remained a supremely powerful Melodic Metal force. Astromonica was a great release that showed they were not all image but instead musically proficient players. The remaster includes a bonus CD of rarities (live & demo) with expanded liner notes. A must for fans of the genre when it was still new and boundless. With reunion material pending, this is a great jumping on point for those who only heard about their legend from others who lived through those early years.
Cruachan: “The Morrigan’s Call” (Candlelight Records)
If Korplikanni gets you kicking and Finntroll finds your fancy then it’s high time to “go Irish” with Cruachan who show you how it’s done on the Emerald Isle. Rich Folk melody with a truly Irish twist will get the blood and the Guinness pumping as you rock to this one. Dark Metal elements and traditional instruments join together and deliver high-energy tunes that will turn a rousing jig into a swarming mosh pit. Points on this CD make you feel like you are in a concert hall while others have you in faraway lands on open fields with good friends. Brilliant!
Darzamat: “Transkarpatia” (Metal Mind Productions)
Darzamat might toss you for a loop originally as not only are beautiful and haunting female vocals present in the Metal, but there is also a Dimmu Borgir styled Black Metal vocal presence at hand. The combination of the two makes for a unique dynamic across the length of the album and is sure to make a few more people aware of this band, and what they bring to the table. Hailing from Poland, this group has been around since 1995 and with “Transkarpatia” seems to have matured and raised the quality of their sound. Female lead Nera haunts the tracks like a dark siren while Flauros (the male/Black Metal lead) growls in answer to her. The result is unique because under all of the back and forth singing the band is thunderous and truly bringing some great Metal to life. According to their website, the name Darzamat itself refers to a spirit guardian of the gardens and forests. Of the tracks that will find a large level of appeal are “Vampiric Prose”, “Hallucinations” and “The Burning times” based on the musicality and their adventurous premise. The production and sound on the album is top notch and it is perhaps due to the assistance in this area by Andy LaRocque (guitarist of King Diamond). It is an album that fans of both Arch Enemy and perhaps even Cradle Of Filth should look into based on some of the intrinsic similarities in style. This creative piece definitely brings you into their dark world on every track. A booklet with lyrics and photos are included to get a better grasp of the subject matter and it never hurts when it’s a band that has an interesting presence like this. There are a couple of weird moments present such as “Letter To Hell” which is mostly talking in a number of different voices by Nera. Set during a witch trial, she acts as both Accuser and Accused and it is very theatrical. Once complete you are lead into “Blackward”, which is a very Arch Enemy inspired track. The main downside to the album is in the number of instrumental segues that lead into not one, but three of the songs. While they do tend to build up a little mood for the band, it would have been nicer to use the time on an additional piece of music. Closer tune “Tribute To”, is one of these numbers as well and while quite eerie I felt it a strange way to close the album. The group stays in character in name as well, as Chris (guitar), Spectre (keyboards), Bacchus (bass) and Darkside (drums) round them out. This is a high recommendation, despite my finding too many intro parts – I think this group has a potentially bright future ahead of them so be sure to check them out.
Death Before Dishonor: “Friends, Family, Forever” (Bridge 9 Records)
Following in the footsteps of Hatebreed, DBD serves up a blend of old school Hardcore mixed with skull punching Metal. Much of the drive is that of typical Hardcore and follows one time pattern in order to allow for optimal circle pit mayhem and while this becomes a tad repetitive to the outsider, it is perfect for those entrenched in this scene. It solid and angry music and is capped off by a by an intense live set recorded at the now closed down C.B.G.B.’s club in New York. Only downside is the super loud vocal mix on the live tracks, which overshadows the musical intensity.
Destruction: “Thrash Anthems” (Candlelight Records)
When you want a good thrashing there is no better place to get it than from the music of Destruction. They decided to return to rerecord classics for this one to make it a unique hit release. Two new tracks bookend the CD and should serve well to remind the listener that there were few bands that did it like Destruction did. The clean and upfront recording process should definitely incite some circle pits once again and show that time has not slowed down the crushing brutality of this band and how they continue to excel in the genre that they helped create.
Dimmu Borgir: “In Sorte Diaboli” (Nuclear Blast Records)
In Latin the title is translated to “a faithful connectivity with Satan” and this brings us to In Sorte Diaboli; the newest release by Norway’s Dimmu Borgir. The recording is the bands very first concept album ever and with it they bring to life to story of an apprentice Priest who lived in the times of medieval Europe. The main premise of the story is that the apprentice eventually finds himself dissatisfied with the doctrines of Christianity and hence begins his journey into darker and more sinister realms of belief. As you can imagine the storyline falls right in place with that which Dimmu excels at delivering in their own unique fashion. The epic release is loaded with the expected dramatics and thundering power as one will often find in their music and it begins right away with “The Serpentine Offering” which sets up the apprentice’s descent in to the Dark Side. Musically this is as sound as what we loved most on Death Cult Armageddon and the redone Stormblast and it truly shows that as a band they are moving farther away from the pure Black Metal style to deliver more Symphonic and Technically proficient stuff that is rooted in this genres basics. This idea becomes most apparent in the extended use of Vortex and his clean vocals and the beautiful and lush keyboards of Mustis. Shagrath is of course as imposing as one would usually find him to be as he growls through this dark tale and this seems to come off easier with the powerful guitars of Silenoz and Galder who are all held together by the blistering drum work of Hellhammer. His presence is excellent to hear and I’m hoping he remains in the lineup of the group. At this stage there are probably few “old school” Black Metal fans that are even following them but the sales of their last few releases prove that new worlds of listeners are on board. The band has matured, shown growth and that experimentation with ones style offers them limitless possibility. The tale is gripping and should instill levels of fear in the belief system of the most devout (a true Dimmu skill). Bonus tracks abound on the varied editions of this release as well as a detailed storyline which makes for interesting reading. Rise Disciples of the Darkness for Dimmu Borgir has returned to guide you further along into the cold abyss.
Dominici: ”03- The Trilogy” (InsideOut Music)
Progressive Metal fans know the name of Charlie Dominici very well as it was twenty years ago when he recorded “When Dream And Day Unite”; that little debut CD by Dream Theater. He returns to front a new and exciting project and will surely impress the old school Prog-Metal crowd with its powerful riffs and super technical musicality. Vocally, he sounds as strong as ever before and the band is tight as a drum. Fans of DT, it’s time to “Unite” for Charlie once more as this is an impressive piece of Metal. It’s nice to have you back Charlie.
Dragonforce: “Inhuman Rampage” Special Edition (Roadrunner Records)
The CD is “faster than a speeding bullet” and now issued with a bonus DVD there is more reason than ever to grab this band that are capable of delivering exciting levels of Power Metal. The CD includes a bonus track and the DVD gives a fun “Rockumentary” which shows the band as regular guys having fun. The videos for “Through The Fire And The Flames” and “Operation Ground And Pound” allow you to see the blistering guitar solos up close and also enjoy a live track with “My Spirit Will Go On”. Clearly, the Force is strong in this one.
Dream Evil: “United” (Century Media Records)
Do you remember the sound of classic Heavy Metal in its purest form as with all the genres nowadays it is easy to forget. Of course, Priest and Maiden still hold the banner high but today’s bands seldom adventure down this road. On United, we get a worthy journey in the present with music that sounds just like the long revered past. Anthems are all across this CD and fists will raise as high as the voices of listeners when they sing along. It’s Traditional in style of guitar and drums with tasty hooks and melodies that make this one a solid effort that becomes a continual listen.
Additional chapters in this series of “Revisiting Metal Edge Magazine” will be posted across the span of a couple of weeks. Please stay tuned for the next batch of summaries and let us know what you thought of these items down in the comments section below.
Crimson Glory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson_Glory
Death Before Dishonor: https://www.facebook.com/deathbeforedishonorhc/
Dimmu Borgir: https://www.facebook.com/dimmuborgir/
Dream Evil: http://www.dreamevil.se