Konkeror – The Abysmal Horizons
Hailing from Detroit, Konkeror are a no-frills death metal band. They self-released their album so it was a bit under the radar, but their blend of death metal that is influenced by Nile, Behemoth and older Morbid Angel is definitely impressive for a new band. Their production is top notch; and their riffing and drumming are tight, fast and bludgeoningly heavy. The occasionally middle-eastern influenced songwriting definitely evokes their influences heavily, but their sound is original enough to be recognizable. There is something distinctly oldschool about Konkeror, the drumming doesn’t resort to having fills at the end of every measure like a lot of modern death metal bands tend to, instead it’s usually a constant assault of blast beating. This might be odd for some newer listeners, but most old school death metal fans prefer this. At other times, the riffing is very modern in the sense of newer Behemoth, and the band’s juxtaposition of these styles in a way that alienates fans of neither makes them worth attention. An incredibly solid debut with great songwriting, The Abysmal Horizons should put Konkeror on the map with other big names of death metal.
God Seed – I Begin
Gaahl and King ov Hell of Gorgoroth have reunited their project God Seed (the project has a troubled history) and they have finally graced us with a full-length album titled I Begin. With such big names at the helm of a project, expectations are bound to be high. God Seed definitely deliver. Obviously, comparisons to Gorgoroth are in order. Interestingly, a lot of Gorgoroth’s material feels restrained in comparison to this. God Seed’s blend of black metal is dark, grimy, evil and surprisingly experimental for Gaahl. I Begin definitely feels like the album that Gaahl and King ov Hell had been wanting to make. There are symphonic and electronic elements, and the album is generally quite a bit more angry and grim compared to Gorgoroth (yet it also has some weird chant-like clean vocals n one song!). This is definitely one of the better black metal releases of the year. The production is just at the right spot of being encompassing yet muddy, where modern black metal should be. The experimental elements aren’t prominent enough to bother purists (except for the last track that is basically darkwave, but it still fits the dark aesthetic of the album). Gaahl is definitely on the top of his game, and once again he proves that he is one of the most capable frontmen in black metal. I Begin is a very solid black metal album that will make fans of Gaahl quite happy (or unhappy, because happiness isn’t black metal).
Mokoma – 180 Astetta
Mokoma are a very popular and well-established thrash metal band in Finland. Just like their label mates Stam1na (another awesome Finnish band), they are virtually unknown outside of Finland because their songs are entirely in Finnish. Which is a shame, because they’re great. Their 9th album, 180 Astetta is another addition to their discography. Their brand of thrash is brutal, harsh and straight-forward. The vocals alternate (depending on the song) aggressive, angry man-yells and angelic Finnish melodic metal cleans. Their songs are mostly fast, with a lot of thrash style slow blast beating, tremolo picked riffs and chugging. The production is very crunchy and emphasizes the strong points of the band. As an overall sound, they are heavily comparable to Stam1na, but significantly less progressive and more thrashy. When they’re in their balls-to-the-walls thrash mode, the songs are fist-pump and headbang inducing, whereas when they go into melodic mode, they are memorable and melodic ballads. Overall, it’s not something to get extremely excited about, but it’s a solid easy listening metal album. The songs aren’t extremely distinguishable but they’re all above a baseline level of quality. All the songs are worth listening to and enjoyable, but they’re not special enough to incite return listenings. If you have a craving for simple, aggressive thrashy metal then this is right for you, but it’s not the high point of Mokoma’s career.