Arch Enemy / Will To Power

Will To Power [Explicit]

Will to Power is the tenth studio album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy, released on September 8, 2017 via Century Media Records. This is the first album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis who joined the band in November 2014. It is also the first Arch Enemy album to feature clean singing as lead vocals

The Analysis—-

Set Flame To The Night—-Immediate and high tuned, this lends a surprisingly melodic sound that leads us directly into….

The Race—-Full brutality is unleashed….the music just covers your head with the speed and urgency. You notice a slight down tempo sound as compared to earlier releases from the band…but the vocal is as magnetic and powerful as ever….leading you to wonder how the hell this chick can sing like this. Incredible…..

Blood In The Water—–A bit watered down from what I expected from this release…as if the band has grown tired of all the brutality. The guitars are still sharp and dynamic….the drums are fantastic….but the urgency of the band seems to be lagging to me. There is a remarkable melody underneath everything that I love though.

The World Is Yours—-The guitars at the onset of this track are just magnificent….the soaring notes are exquisite. The drums pummel the way through the song…and rising above the gut vocal is an incredible soaring guitar that surprises me. This is nothing what I expected…but perhaps a new direction for the band.

The Eagle Flies Alone—-The lead off single and video for the release, the intro almost reminds me of a throwback to 80’s hair Metal style….so far, this release has failed to impress me….where is the power and the intensity? The voice is in great form….it just seems the writing is really suffering and missing. The chorus is a magnificent affair…but you can’t live off 45 seconds of a song….

Reason To Believe—-I’m not going to lie…..this was a fucking shock to my system….I don’t like this at all!!!! If I wanted an alternative Evanescence….I would have bought this….what the hell is going on….the good points of the track can never outweigh this travesty….you are not Epica…..

Murder Scene—-Huge intro……followed by a fuckin brilliant vocal….the guitars literally singe my hair…This is much more what I signed up for. What is going on with this band,,,,everything seems so inconsistent as far as the sound and the initial concept goes. This goes back to the good old days….perhaps the best track on the release.

First Day In Hell—-An odd and ‘progressive’ intro to this track leaves me shaking my head in wonderment and disappointment. This sounds like a hundred bands you can find online these days….the vocal enters and redeems the song a lot…but the music is so different for me…I’m really not putting this as something I would listen to on a regular basis. I’m upset…..

Saturine—-Where did the brutality go? This gentle sweet intro shit is ridiculous. Even when the guitars and vocals open up…I’m not even 75% convinced that the band even cares anymore. This is lacking vision….brutality,,,purpose and meaning. I can’t stand this release! If you thought all of these progressive sounds would propel you forward…..you took many steps back….

Dreams Of Retribution—-A bit better of a track for me……but this damn pervading ‘progressive’ sound keeps trying to creep in….what the hell happened to this band?

My Shadow And I—-All of this preposterous grandiosity is for the freakin birds….I find it very hard to even try to get through this disaster of a record…..who ever is making decisions for this band needs a firm shake. This is nice….for a few seconds…..but this is not the fans band….this is lackluster and uninspired.

A Fight I Must Win——Nice at certain moments……the voice sometimes gives me hope….but the swirls of nonsense in the background is ridiculous…..and the repetitive chorus……really…not enough words……horrible.

Cry Baby Attacked By Rats—-Nice and punky…..of course no one in the band wrote it…..the only track I would pay attention to twice.

* out of 5

 

 

 

 

Cradle Of Filth / Cryptoriana-The Seductiveness Of Decay [Bonus Tracks]

Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay

Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is the twelfth studio album by the British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth. It was released on 22 September 2017 through Nuclear Blast Records.

Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that. ‘Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”.

The first promotional single, “Heartbreak and Séance”, premiered alongside an accompanying music video on 11 July 2017.

The second single, “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw”, premiered together with a lyric music video on 8 August 2017.

The third single, “Achingly Beautiful” was also released in conjunction with a lyric video on 15 September. Vocalist Dani Filth stated the single “has a very old-school Cradle vibe.” and compared it to the song “A Gothic Romance” from the album Dusk and Her Embrace.

The Analysis:

Exquisite Torments Await—-The one thing you can always count on with a new Cradle release is consistency. This begins much in the vein as you would expect…orchestrated and atmospheric…interrupted by a gut wrenching scream, then the growl of Dani Filth that wanders between squeal and bark. The remarkable chorus is fantastic….with what sounds like a choir of voices and orchestration. The drumming is fantastic….and the guitars soar as well as the vocal.

Heartbreak And Seance—-The intro for this track melds from the previous track…allowing for a cohesive transition. The simple fact that Filth can still scream like this is incredible. The song moves at a blistering speed…the words come at you fast and furious with a generous amount of evil spit included. Filth sounds incredible…..but the band on this outing sounds even fresher and more driven than ever.

Achingly Beautiful—-Teasing us with a gentle instrumentation at the onset, there is only 30 seconds before all hell breaks loose and we are off and running again….trying to keep up with Dani Filth and his blistering fast lyrics. The way the vocal changes tones is amazing….from screams to growls in a split second. The addition of trademark female vocals add a depth and fullness to the song. The rhythm section of this band is ON POINT!!!! The drums are just amazing. I am falling in love with the band all over again. The toy like piano and the orchestration with the conclave of voices add a nice break in the song and make it sound literally huge.

Wester Vespertine—-Beginning slow and overblown, the band enters…sounding a little muted to me like a huge wind is blowing over them. The bass guitar is literally huge on this track…..you can feel the chug chug chug in your temples. As usual, Filth never disappoints with his vocal. The nice overdubs add another sense of harmony to the entire thing. This is fantastic! The spoken female parts of the song give it a nice demonic edge…..Happy Halloween!!!!

The Seductiveness Of Decay—-With a deeper more plodding intro, you can only guess what will occur. The song builds and builds on the bass sound…slowly adding nice guitar leads and then the bullet fast blast of the bass line. Dani again…sings so damn fast…you wonder how he can fit so many words in a single bar of music. This is aggressive and made a bit uglier by the gutter vocal…the song lightens up here and there….nice breaks in the aggression…but then enters back into the fray of mayhem. I love this track…..at the midpoint…there is a rhythm and melody that is almost addictive. At times the bass line sounds straight out of the Steve Harris playbook!!!

Vengeful Spirit —-Ha…..fool me once and all that Cradle…..this pretty interlude is all a facade…lol. Dani almost whispers in the aggressive guitar attack that emerges….and then delivers line after line of scary storybook horror stories. The band sounds so incredible to me on this release…the female vocal adds depth and body to the song…taking you to an even higher level. This is the best Cradle in quite awhile.

You Will Know The Lion By His Claw—-No gentle introductions here, this track is pretty much off and running right from the get-go. The band sounds incredible….does all this orchestrated sound come from just a keyboard…the result is huge. Filth sounds demented on this track…urging you to do unworldly things….and you just dying to comply. The bass section again….just drives the track….giving it a groove underneath everything that sucks you in. I love this….Filth can scream like a Mother Fuc&er!!!!

Death And The Maiden—-Rounding out the proper release, this track begins much with the same atmosphere as the opening track. The orchestration that introduces the song is almost bordering on beautiful. The band kicks in with the most melodic delivery of anything thus far on the record. This is remarkably intricate and almost pretty at times…the music has all of these small nuances that catch my attention. The track gives you many moods…but the vocal….delivered in a matching word for word at times sucks you right in…this is remarkable…..a really top notch release.

Bonus Tracks—-

The Night At Catafalque Manor—-Organized mayhem from the very onset, the band pummels through the intro before the addition of another blistering vocal from Filth. This song sounds…to me….literally huge! Dani, at times on this track, literally sounds possessed…aided in the backdrop by the soaring oohs of the female vocalist. This is a magical moment…well worth paying for the bonus version of this release simply for this huge, monumental masterpiece of classic sounding Cradle. When Dani adds that classic spoken word interlude…it makes me want to re-listen to everything again!

Alison Hell—-Another acoustic and gentle interlude, the bursts of power eventually over ride the beauty and transport us back to Metal Heaven. Again….I listen to this and think of Iron Maiden again. This is fantastic…the mood changes throughout the song are damn near perfect…..giving you LOTS to pay attention to. This is fantastic…..Dani finally enters and delivers a true Metal vocal….sounding as good as he did when the band first began. This is a fantastic release!

****3/4 out of 5

 

Dimmu Borgir & The Norwegian Radio Orchestra & Choir / Forces Of The Northern Night

Forces of the Northern Night

Dimmu Borgir (/ˌdɪm ˈbɔːrɡɪər/ or Norwegian: [dɪmmʏ bɔɾgiɾ] or Norwegian pronunciation: [dɪmmʏ bɔʁgiʁ]) is a Norwegian symphonic black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. The name is derived from Dimmuborgir, a volcanic formation in Iceland, the name of which means “dark cities” or “dark castles/fortresses” in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The band has been through numerous lineup changes over the years; guitarist Silenoz and vocalist Shagrath are the only original members who still remain with guitarist Galder being a longstanding member.

The Analysis—-

Xibir [Orchestra Only]—-If you are a fan of Dimmu, or even slightly acquainted, this recording seems only natural in the grand scheme of things. What an experience it must be as an Orchestra member to play with such a dark and epic band. This track is lush and full of orchestrated moods and energy. Combining the choir of voices with the overblown music comes together to create something damn magical.

Born Treacherous—-The opening strains of the band are greeted by a huge swell of excitement. The music played by the band is bolstered and made so much larger by the Orchestra. Shagrath and his growl seems to wrap itself around the magnificent strings. This only makes the band seem even larger. I love this recording. When the choir joins in on the chorus it is an incredible journey in itself.

Gateways—-With a huge swell full of strings and those magnificent drums and bass line. this song becomes literally huge. Like an epic journey through guttural vocals accompanied by a beautifully landscaped Orchestra, the dichotomy is incredible. Shaw makes an appearance here….I never cared for her very much.  She nor a full choir can even come close to the incredible vocal style from ICS Vortex…..a huge mistake for the band to lose him.

Dimmu Borgir  [Orchestra Only]—-Serving as almost an introduction to the proper song, the choir soars with a huge anthem style delivery that just sounds beautiful. The swells of voices, strings and movements are like a huge movie come to life. Magnificent.

Dimmu Borgir—-Perhaps one of my favorite tracks from the band as of late, this is delivered with a huge and intense grandiosity. As Shagrath takes his proper place at the microphone and urges the crowd toward mania, the Orchestra and choir keep pace with the venom remarkably well. This is even better than the original version of the song. I am enthralled and in love. The swells and huge string delivery with the backing choir all come together to create a perfect magnificent storm.

Chess With The Abyss—-This seems a bit more straight forward in delivery…the orchestration is there…but not overly pronounced. The vocal here is the powerful force….along with the lead guitar that is blistering fast. The choir does an incredible job with the backing vocal, but Shagrath is the star here…sounding driven and demonic.

Ritualist—-With sound effects and an almost gentle acoustic intro, the sound falls away to invite the mayhem to the center stage. The vocal from Shagrath just seems so comfortable with all the members of the choir and orchestra. This is an amazing endeavor and recording.

A Jewel Traced Through Coal—-Delivering an incredibly huge sound, the energy of the recording threatens my ears and speakers. The strings swell to an almost bursting apex. The vocal from Shagrath always front and center and never drowned by the band or all the other musicians on stage. The choir adds a back swell that makes the song so huge. Just incredible.

Eradication Instincts Defined [Orchestra Only]—-Jaunty and overblown, this is delivered with a lot of flourish and grand choir overtones. I like it….but I can take or leave this…it all has a same like quality to it.

Vredesbyrd—-Stepping out of the depths of hell with a vocal that that belies and grandiosity, this track is pure and simple classic Dimmu. You almost miss the overblown backdrop of the orchestra simply because the vocal is so aggressive. This is fantastic….the crowd seems literally out of their minds…and the participation in fantastic. A stand out track…I have not heard this song in a long time.

Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse—-Perhaps the most well known track from the band, I love the backdrop of the swells of music, but the choir can not even come close to replacing the soaring vocal of former member Vortex. This is a bit of a disappointment for me…..I just miss that classic clean vocal line.

The Serpentine Offering—-Perhaps my favorite track from In Sorte Diaboli, the orchestration here makes the sound and the energy seem even larger than could be imagined. The orchestration was always here on this song from the original…but here it becomes even larger. What surprises me is how Shagrath never loses the power of his vocal despite all that is going on. Just remarkable.

Fear And Wonder [Orchestra Only]—-Overblown and moody, this serves as a slight transition I suppose….but to me….it would be a lot to sit through…..

Kings Of The Carnival Creation—-Jetting into the back catalog for another fan favorite track, Shagrath sounds just as evil as he ever did….despite the delivery of the song. The buildup is maddening before the band truly kicks in….and for me, the song loses some of its venom in his setting. I like it….but I will take the original any day…..

Puritania—-Huge and incredible drums introduce this track…the distortion on the vocal adds to the credibility of the band. The sharp and quick bursts of music takes me back to the days when the Black Metal sound of Dimmu was more pure if you will. This is delivered with a nice energy…it is easy to remember the old days.

Mourning Place—-True in sound and delivered with just the right attitude and tone of venom this is just magnificent. I love the snarl that Shagrath delivers….backed by the higher tones of the choir…..it all comes together to create an incredible sound and energy.

Perfection Or Vanity [Orchestra Only]—-Ending what must have been a very long evening, this is delivered with the same beauty and intricacy as the opening track. This is certainly a journey all of it’s own. Now….it’s time for Dimmu to return to what they do best…….recording….please?

**** out of 5

 

Jasta / The Lost Chapters

 

The Lost Chapters [Explicit]

Jamey Jasta (born James Vincent Shanahan; August 7, 1977)[1] is an American musician from New Haven, Connecticut, best known as the lead vocalist of the metalcore band Hatebreed and sludge metal band Kingdom of Sorrow. Jasta also fronts metalcore band Icepick.

Jasta owns Stillborn Records, a hardcore and metal-based record label from West Haven, and “rock themed apparel” line called Hatewear.

In 2011, Jasta released a solo album entitled Jasta, collaborating with Randy Blythe and Mark Morton (Lamb of God), Zakk Wylde, Philip Labonte (All That Remains), and Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying).

Jasta was the host for MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball from 2003–2007.

Jasta created the music for “Stat of the Day” for the nationally syndicated radio and TV talk show, The Dan Patrick Show. Jasta appeared on air with Dan Patrick on January 25, 2013 discussing the making of the song.

He follows a straight edge lifestyle but does not identify with its subculture.

The Lost Chapters is the second solo effort from Jasta.

The Analysis—-

This Is Your Life—-Chugging out of your speakers from the first second, there is just the right amount of sludge and Hatebreed style vocals to appeal to everyone. Delivering the classic positive lyrical message that belies the intensity of the music, the intermittent clean vocals on the chorus are really nice. This is a huge song.

Parasitic—-Deep and dense in sound, Jasta actually sings a bit here rather than the usual constant screaming. the chorus is damn contagious and serves as a nice hold over until the next proper Hatebreed release. The clean melodic vocal on the chorus is actually damn pleasant. I love when Jasta actually sings. This is great!

The Same Flame—-Coming out f the speakers with sharp and aggressive bursts of energy, the vocal is classic. The ‘chorus’ seems to be an over layed band effort…words and melody coming from all directions but the heavy bass guitar and drums are never diminished throughout. Fantastic!

Back To What Matters—-Slower in tempo with a more present higher tuned lead guitar, Jasta enters with his maniacal vocal delivering line after line of life affirming messages. Again, the strong part of the song lies in the melodic clean styled chorus….this has that magic ability to stick in your head for quite sometime. Really nice….a favorite track of mine.

Until We Bleed Again—-Returning to a more aggressive sound…peppered with blistering machine gun styled bass and drums, the chorus is a big sing along affair that is going to play live very well. I still find it amazing that Jamey can scream and holler like this endlessly without hurting his voice. This is another extraordinary track…..even if just for the chorus.

Chasing Demons featuring Howard Jones—-Melodic and toned down a bit on the aggressive scale right at the onset, Jasta’s vocal always take a song to that other level though. The guest vocal from Jones is intense…the clean style melodic chorus’s on this release are unforgettable and makes every song threaten to live in your head for a time. Another standout track!

The Immortal—-From the very first strains of this track, I knew it was going to become another favorite. Opening up with the clean, melodic style chorus instead of the death yells, this gives a whole fresh dimension to the recipe of the band. The breaks in the song allow for a soaring higher tuned lead guitar that gives the song huge body and likability. I really like this release!

Deadly Business—-Back to aggression with a vengeance, the vocal right from the very beginning reminds me so much of Slayer I look to see what is playing! This is a track that is actually sung most of the time….with gigantic crushing bass lines and crazy drums….all accompanied by the sing song vocal that sucks you in.

Buried Alive—-Again, this closing track open up with a surprisingly accessible vocal that is more melody than screaming and thrashing about. With a nod to pure Sabbath style vocal delivery, I am again amazed and incredibly disappointed that this release is so short. This is a must have if you are a Hatebreed fan! They do this cover justice…..I love the cover version.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2016 Metal Album Of The Year—-Devin Townsend Project / Transcendence

Transcendence

Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972) is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He was the founder, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist in extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad from 1994 to 2007 and has an extensive career as a solo artist.

After performing in a number of heavy metal bands in high school, Townsend was discovered by a record label in 1993 and was asked to perform lead vocals on Steve Vai‘s album Sex & Religion. After recording and touring with Vai, Townsend was discouraged by what he found in the music industry, and vented his anger on the solo album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing released under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He soon assembled a band under the name, and released the critically acclaimed City in 1997. Since then, he has released three more studio albums with Strapping Young Lad, along with solo material released under his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records.

Townsend’s solo albums, a diverse mix of hard rock, progressive metal, ambient, and new-age, have featured a varying lineup of supporting musicians. In 2002 he formed the Devin Townsend Band, a dedicated lineup which recorded and toured for two of his solo releases. In 2007, he disbanded both Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band, taking a break from touring to spend more time with his family. After a two-year hiatus, he began recording again, and soon announced the formation of the Devin Townsend Project. The project began with a series of four albums, released from 2009 to 2011, each written in a different style, and Townsend continues to record and tour under the new moniker.

Across all his bands and projects, Townsend has released twenty-three studio albums and three live albums. Townsend’s trademark production style, featuring a heavily multitracked wall of sound, has been compared to the styles of Phil Spector and Frank Zappa. His versatile vocal delivery ranges from screaming to an opera-esque singing, and his songwriting is similarly diverse. Townsend’s musical style is rooted in metal, and his albums are written to express different aspects of his personality.

Transcendence is the seventeenth studio album by Canadian musician Devin Townsend, and the seventh album in the Devin Townsend Project series. It was released on September 9, 2016 via HevyDevy Records.

The Analysis—-

Truth—-Brilliant and bright at the onset, this will actually be my first excursion with this band. The sound, for me is rather epic and filled with all the sounds that attract me to darker musical entities. I love this thus far…it is accessible…but enough out of the mainstream to keep me interested. This is so layered and textured I can only define it as beautiful right at the beginning…..this is incredible.

Stormbending—-With a bit more of a powerful punch to the music, the vocal enters and sucks me into a pleasant vortex I never want to climb out of. This is certainly different than Strapping Young Lad….this is experimental…progressive and damn articulate. I am in love….literally amazing!

Failure—-Again with a pleasant and accessible intro, this seems to cross all genre boundary lines. This is so easy to listen to…but still maintains a perfect mix or rock and experimentation to catch everyone’s attention. the vocal is exquisite….soaring and crashing and literally becoming one with the music. This is sublime….wonderful and damn addictive.

Secret Sciences—-Bright with a layered sound of instrumentation, the guitar and the vocal enters and almost takes me out of my body. The vocal is so damn pleasant and accessible….I just keep wondering why this band is not huge all over the world. I’m not even sure you could define this music as Metal……it IS very progressive and beautiful though.

Higher—-Stark and filled with beautiful acoustic guitar and melodies that threaten to make me weep like a little girl…I am just amazed that I have not invested more time with this band. The song becomes more powerful…but never loses the beauty and construction that started the entire thing off. This is just phenomenal…I sit here in awe….

Stars—-Almost seeming to be part of the previous song, the melody line is very familiar but still utterly addictive and filled with a beautiful resonance. This is a spectacular record…a true journey through the mind of what I think must be a musical genius. I can’t understand how this got past me…..I love this man.

Transcendence—-This trio of songs fit together like a glove in a gloved hand. Epic and beautiful….the songs are like a journey through space and time…I can find no fault with anything on this release…the movements are just incredible….I love this so much…..I can’t say enough good things about the epic nature of these compositions.

Offer Your Light—-A bit more aggressive musically,  this song is much faster and soars above my head with an incredible beauty. The vocal is so superb….I can’t get over the slight aggression but the subtle beauty of the whole thing…this is a journey….fantastic and littered with enough melodies to stick in your head for days.

From The Heart—-Again….the brightness of the music threatens to bring me to tears….I have not heard such incredible beauty and meticulous song construction in a very long time. This is a huge epic track….it feels so big and large to me…I love the power chords that hearken back to power metal days of the 80’s….a melody and chorus that inspires lighters in the air….and a vocal that is so accessible it should be on radio.

Transdermal Celebration—-Amazing…..this band can even take a Ween song and turn it into something full of beauty and pleasant feelings. I intend on buying everything I can get my hands on…..I fully encourage you to do the same…..a truly beautiful journey this one.

***** [!!!!!] out of 5

 

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2015 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / Book Of Souls

The Book of Souls

The Book of Souls is the sixteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 4 September 2015. It is the band’s first studio double album, and therefore also their longest to date, with a total length of 92 minutes. Its launch and supporting tour were delayed to allow vocalist Bruce Dickinson time to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumor in early 2015.

Produced by long-time Iron Maiden collaborator Kevin Shirley, The Book of Souls was recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris from September to December 2014, which they had previously used for 2000’s Brave New World. The band wrote and immediately recorded many tracks in the studio, resulting in a spontaneous live feel. The album’s first release, “Speed of Light“, was issued as a music video on 14 August, and simultaneously as a digital download and CD single exclusive to Best Buy. In addition to being their longest studio record, it also contains the band’s longest song, “Empire of the Clouds“, at 18 minutes in length, which was also issued as a single for Record Store Day on 16 April 2016. While not a concept album, references to the soul and mortality are prominent, realized in the Maya-themed cover artwork, created by Mark Wilkinson.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

If Eternity Should Fail—-Coming out of the darkness with an eerie hum, Dickinson emerges with a lone vocal that adds to the slow build and atmosphere of the track. I’m sure everyone had baited breath wondering how the voice would sound after the cancer battle…but it sounds better than ever. It isn’t long before the Harris bass line brings the song to life….the vocal line huge and bringing mysticism and power to the track. With a damn catchy chorus, this is classic Maiden.

Speed Of Light—-With no huge introduction this track, what you are greeted with is a huge banshee scream from Bruce that is incredible in power and volume. The musical power is incredible….the energy level very high. The prominent bass line takes a bit of a backseat on this track…allowing for a more straight forward metal track. At times, Dickinson seems to strain…but have no doubt…next to Rob Halford…..one of the best Metal singers in history. The drums are excellent on this track…as well as the barrage of guitars. This just has a HUGE sound.

The Great Unknown—-A full  return to the heavy bass line of Steve Harris, Dickinson enters with his vocal….wrapping around your brain with symbolism and mysticism. The track takes a bit to open up….slowly building with typical fanfare and anticipation. Finally the proper song commences but does not seem quit as epic as promised. I like this….it is Maiden after all…but not quite as huge as promised.The guitars are really nice on this track though….the twin attack…actually triple attack…..sounds huge.

The Red And The Black—-Seemingly to build off the previous track, the bass line that greets you is almost acoustic and Spanish in sound…for the first 20 seconds! The the galloping Maiden sound propels the song forward at a nice speed and level of anticipation. The lead from Gers is fantastic….can you say ‘glory days’? This is classic Maiden….the sound and the mood takes me back to the earlier releases.

When The River Runs Deep—-Higher in instrumental tone and straight forward right off the bat, Dickinson delivers a stellar vocal that is without fail. The mood of the track shifts and takes shape as it progresses…there are some nice double track vocals which are rare on their recordings. The ‘chorus’ has a musical downshift sound to it that makes the entire thing play a bit odd to me…but it is a welcome break…something different to provide variety.

The Book Of Souls—-Again with the Spanish flavor from the guitar intro? This track takes a bit to get going but when it does…I smile. The sound of the band is deeper and more plodding than normal. Dickinson delivers very dark lyrics….the words he writes are like a vivid picture book. The ‘chorus’is huge….offered with a catchy hook and a stellar vocal. This delivers as only a title track should. This is 100% classic Maiden! Well worth the wait.

Disc Two:

Death Or Glory—-At the onset,this track sounded a bit muddled to me…the clear and concise tones were drowned out by the deep bass tones of Harris. Dickinson delivers a vocal that lightens things up a bit and Adrian Smith adds backdrop vocals to make the song even larger. This is typical Maiden fare…..mayhem and battles and tales of adversity.

Shadows Of The Valley—-One of my favorite tracks on this release….I love the urgency of the music….it drives the song forward….line after line and word after word. The drums are incredible….I don’t think Maiden drum get enough credit…its all about Harris and Dickinson. This has nice mood shifts…the lyrics are perfect….the song has a dark edge….true Metal for me.When the band all sings together,it is a huge free for all!!!

Tears Of A Clown—-With a propulsive progressive intro, the song seems like is is dragged like a tugboat into itself. The excitement dies down a bit with the entrance of a remarkably clear vocal from Bruce. This is a nice break from the previous two tracks…this has a different sound to it…I love this song.

The Man Of Sorrows—-A soaring, almost beautiful lead guitar ushers in this track…..with the vocal following soon after…with clarity and sincerity. This is really nice…showcasing the recovered voice remarkably well. The ability to match the vocals with the music is a talent. When the song opens up a bit, it becomes even larger and darker…..even though Bruce is pushed to the back a bit…you can catch every word. The galloping Maiden sound returns and you have a full fledged classic track.

Empire Of The Clouds—-At over 18 minutes in length, this is practically a mini album in itself. This combines all of the great parts of this release and makes it into one huge song. A bit overblown but none the less epic, this is a nice ending to a superb release. Moody and full of many movements, this track plays much faster than you would imagine…despite all the musical interludes…there are few breaks…the song stands on its own two feel very well. This is moody and huge.

**** out of 5

Loudwire.com 2014 Metal Album Of The Year—-Behemoth / The Satanist

The Satanist

Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground.

Until the late 1990s, the band played a traditional black metal style with heathen lyrical content, but soon changed to that of occult and thelemic themes written by their lead vocalist Nergal and Krzysztof Azarewicz. With the 1999 release of Satanica, the band demonstrated their presence in the death metal scene, while retaining their own signature style characterized by the drum work of Inferno, multi-layered vocals and Middle-Eastern influences. Despite Behemoth having been labeled as death metal or thrash metal-influenced, Nergal has mentioned that he does not like the band to be labeled.

The Satanist is the tenth album by Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. The album was announced on 31 May 2013 and released on February 3, 2014 through Nuclear Blast and on February 4 in Poland via Metal Blade Records and Mystic Production, respectively. Release was preceded by digital download single “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and 12″ EP under the same title released on December 4, 2013.

The Analysis—-

Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel—-A favorite band of mine for a very long time, there is little in my eyes these guys go ever do wrong. Nergal came back from his leukemia battle sounding huge and more possessed than ever. The music is dark, dense and layered with sounds….the voice comes at you from the dark with natural…not forced…evil overtones. This is a huge epic release…..the intro song just sets you up for the incredible journey to follow.

Furor Divinus—-Right from the onset, the sound of this track is a bit muddier and dark. The drums are incredible….the rest of the instruments all seem to play to there own song which makes this sound layered, textured and almost like pure mayhem. Meanwhile the vocal slides over the top of everything with dark and evil overtones that make you feel as if you are going mad. Stellar in every way.

Messe Noire—-With loud and raucous odes to Satan, the vocal smacks you in the face from the very first note. After the first bar or so, the song takes off at a pace that literally leaves you breathless and shaking your head in amazement. This is so dark…it’s light and intense. I love this band. Nergal has never sounded more driven or possessed by his message.

Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer—-With an actual build up to the vocal, I find myself waiting with baited breath for the mayhem to commence. Once the drums kick in at hyper drive, the vocal is right there to tell you about the glories and redeeming powers of Lucifer. Driven through this dark tunnel your mind almost begs for light….but instead you drive deeper into the tunnel….just incredible.

Amen—-Incredibly fast drums and a bass line from hell smack yo in the face from the very first notes….with a slight downshift in the music, the vocal enters and then everything kicks back p again leaving you in a trail of black dust. The puked vocal is so intense I fear I could lose my mind….but the loss would be so magnificent at the hands of this band.

The Satanist—-A bleak and dark tone introduces this track…leaving you a bit confused by the calm nature of the whole thing….although the sound is huge and epic. The plodding feel of the music is offset by incredible drums and a static lead guitar line that still leaves the mind breathless. The vocal enters and sounds less driven than anything else on this release thus far…but the sound is monstrous anyways. The ‘chorus’ of the song has a brilliant melody line that runs through it…..I am always surprised by the brilliance.

Ben Sahar—-Incredibly dark in tone and layered with a bass line melody that makes you want to sway back and forth, the kick drum hits you right in the fuckin forehead. Nergal delivers his patented vocal that magically rides over all of the noise of the instruments and tells his tale of being Satan’s ally. Monstrous and incredible.

In The Absence Ov Light—-BAM!!!!! smacked right in the forehead at the first note, the melody line that is present in this song is incredible…you can pick it up despite everything that is going on around you from the different instruments and the sewer filled vocal of Nergal. The song has downshifts….a gentle almost acoustic guitar line allows for a spoken word verse in Polish that sounds even more evil than it would in English. This is freak in fantastic.

O Father O Satan O Sun!—-Loaded with a remarkable almost accessible melody line right from the first note, this is perhaps my favorite track on this release. The song has everything that made this entire release incredible….darkness…melody…evil…..drums…..a fantastic vocal….a great higher lead guitar line. this is an epic end to a fantastic release.

***** out of 5