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Bloodshot Dawn – Demons

DarkFortress_VenerealDawn

Every once in a while there’s a band that comes out of nowhere and completely blows one away. Bloodshot Dawn did that with their self-titled 2012 debut, coming to a scene where melodic death metal was more or less dead, and they put a very strong statement of “No it’s not dead, everyone else is just doing it wrong” out there, with emphasis on the “death metal” part of “melodic death metal”. The self-titled album was excellent, but where can the band go from there? Turns out that they still have a lot of room to develop. Their follow-up album, titled Demons, was crowdfunded and released completely independently yet again, and it goes to show that the genre still has a lot more to offer.

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twir1019In This Week in Reviews, one of the lowest scores in recent memory but also som real winners. We’ll run it all down after the jump.

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Revocation – Deathless

revocation-deathless-review

Only a handful of metal bands today can claim to be carrying the torch of the future of metal. Boston’s own Revocation are one of those bands. Back in 2008, the band released their excellent debut album Empire of the Obscene, which was an insane hybrid of thrash, progressive and technical death metal, but for whatever reason, it flew under many a metalheads’ radars. However, a year later the band released Existence Is Futile, and with that album, Revocation single-handedly took the metal world by storm. People began to pay very close attention to this young and insanely talented band from Boston, and they have been ever since. As evidenced by their subsequent albums, all of which are fantastic, Revocation have progressed and matured very rapidly from a young band to a modern metal juggernaut, and the band’s latest album, Deathless, is their finest hour yet.

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craang-universe-review

Ah, the joys of coming across the onomatopoeic band-name. To all intents and purposes, Craang sounds like their moniker suggests they should. The sudden resonant “craaannng” of strings reverberating through a mass of distortion. Actual metal on metal action. Oddly enough, as a heavy band capable of dredging up some powerful emotions, Craang are reminiscent of another onomatopoeic band, Kongh. Despite their blacker outlook and doomier “kooooonnngh” those Swedes definitely share a love for a good wall-of-sound and pounding repetition with this impressive Greek trio.

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Abysmal Dawn – Obsolescence

Abysmal Dawn - Obsolescence

In a year which has seen death metal acts breathe new life into the genre, one or two are always going to miss the mark. For most, the newest offering from California’s Abysmal Dawn will undoubtedly fall into this category. By no means a riff by numbers effort, Obsolescence just does not have the requisite charm or surprise to make it anything other than a pedestrian effort, left to stand and watch the more advanced of their peers sprout wings and take flight.

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Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum

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Amidst a debate over whether or not modern metal is too immaculately produced, Anaal Nathrakh would not be a strong defense for the dissenter. For the British band’s concoction of black metal, grindcore and industrial creates some of the most mechanical and hyper-polished music in all three of these genres. And seeing as their drums are programmed by guitarist/bassist Irrumator, the band’s inhuman sound is, in a way, literally true. All of this provided neither much anticipation nor disappointment for their eighth album, Desideratum.

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Lotus Thief – Rervm

Lotus Thief - Rervm

With Post-black metal experiencing a kind of popular renaissance, the amount of bands either jumping on the genre bandwagon or being thrust into mainstream recognition is at an all time high, and to some the genre is reaching it’s saturation point. Writing Lotus Thief off as just another post-black metal band, however, would be a grave mistake. Elements of the genre certainly do exist on Rervm, their debut album, but serve as more of a creative launch point than a genre template or set of stylistic rules. This presents an album that’s as sprawling and varied as the story it tells, and one that seamlessly blends genres into a greater whole. The one constant are the ethereal, beautiful female vocals layered atop the varied instrumentation.

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btbam-live

With the release of their celebrated 2008 release Colors Live — wherein the band performed what many still consider to be their magnum opus Colors in its entirety — North Carolina’s progressive metal trendsetters Between the Buried and Me set in place the expectation of a “full experience” when it comes to albums and their impending touring cycles. It is now no longer as acceptable in the metal realm for a record to be a mere collection of songs; an album needs to be a holistic experience with recurring themes, motifs, and emotions. Of course, BTBAM weren’t the first band to take to performing full albums during live shows — prog rock bands have been doing that for decades — but they did reinvigorate a movement of technical showmanship, conceptual songwriting, and consistent live performances that permeated throughout the metal scene.

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iamthemorning – Belighted

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Progressive Rock is a genre that is, more than anything else, hit or miss. Many times bands have come along with great songs, great musicians, but poor execution. These bands are completely indiscernible from other bands, and frequently draw comparisons to other, more popular, or “bigger” bands within the same genre. While it’s ok to wear your influences proudly, some artists, particularly in prog, let their influences define them, rather than carving out their own special sound that will set them apart. Rarely does a band come around that can take a sound that’s been around for decades and turn it into something fresh and exciting. Iamthemorning, and their Kscope debut album Belighted, have a lot to prove with their first effort. The question is, does the band fall into old or new territory? The answer is not simple; it’s a little bit of both.

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Inter Arma – The Cavern

Inter Arma - The Cavern

Some albums are just too daunting to review. The sheer scope of their canvas, the impossible to capture immediacy of their power or just plain abrasiveness and hate, create a larger than life aura that is enough to cow even the most veteran of reviewers. However, keeping in mind the hungry readers, one must take courage and attempt to make sense of these monumental creations. Inter Arma’s latest “EP,” clocking in at over 45 minutes and therefore betraying its own classification, is one of these creations. The Cavern is true to its namesake in the most profound and important ways: it channels the open bounds of a huge, underground demesne and the suffocating tendrils of constricting tunnels with equal prowess.

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