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Lord Mantis – Death Mask

lord mantis death mask

Imagine the most horrific/traumatic thing that has occurred in your life. Now, imagine that event in audio form and stretched out over the course of 7 tracks that clock in at 48 minutes. This is a perfect representation of the new Lord Mantis record, Death Mask. This is a journey that you have to be fully willing to embark on, as it is not for the faint of heart or the weak willed. It is a grueling slog that will make you question your existence and whether or not you should end it immediately. It will lead you down narrow hallways filled with corpses, vast caverns that light could not survive in, and mud thickened by the blood of weary travelers who just couldn’t live any longer or walk any further. Believe it or not, this is all meant positively.

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Thou/The Body – Released from Love

thou the body

There are many approaches to the darker sides of the human psyche. Some would rather focus on rage or hatred, spewing forth a torrent of caustic vitriol. Others sink deep into the far reaches of human sadness, exploring ponderous and overbearing depressions and melancholy. Rarely can a band do both, as each segment requires different vocabularies and outlooks on life. However, in those rare cases, anger and depression mix together, creating a potent and heady elixir that is truly disturbing on a deep level. Both acts featured on this EP have spawned  numerous ventures into this field. Thou have recently released a brilliant full release titled Heathen, spanning depths of anger and misanthropy which are truly unique. The Body, often mistakenly labelled as dealing with fear, have a long and prolific history of exploring the myriad forms of depression and melancholy.

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ronnie james dio tribute review

Ronnie James Dio. Roll that name off your tongue, for it holds the stuff of legends. Dio is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the development of metal and heavy rock. From his time in Rainbow through his Black Sabbath years, Dio was one of the most prolific rock artists to have ever taken the stage. Countless artists grew up on his voice and peculiar antics. This writer managed to see him perform live with Tony Iommi, as part of their Heaven&Hell tour, and no eyes remained dry that night. When Dio passed away in 2010, the world of metal truly took a massive blow, losing a man that did not stop recording and performing even when he was battling cancer. Now, Rhino Records have gathered a tremendous number of artists to celebrate music from across this great man’s career. Names like Metallica, Russell Allen, Rob Halford, Corey Taylor and Tenacious D have all brought their considerable talents to the table in order to do justice with this giant among men. The end result? An electric ode to a great voice, a tour de force of a career spanning 40 years of heavy metal.

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Nexilva – Eschatologies

nexilva eschatologies

Many contemporary metal bands, regardless of genre, are often found guilty of band worship in their material – too regularly one can hear the exact song that inspired a riff, too often a band tries too hard to be THAT BAND 2.0. Nexilva have broken the mould of paying direct homage to their musical heroes by — instead of copying or emulating — creating a record that drops in and out of genres and sounds, each page turning into a new wicked adventure. Eschatologies is full of evil, grooving death that fights tooth and nail for it’s place among it’s peers. And wins.

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Triptykon – Melana Chasmata

triptykon melana chasmata

When Celtic Frost disbanded in 2008, the metal world lost one its great innovators. The mastermind behind Celtic Frost, Tom G. Warrior (also known as Thomas Gabriel Fischer), is a force to be reckoned with; he is a master composer of darkness and a true musical genius, and as evidenced by Celtic Frost’s varied discography, he is constantly evolving as a musician. Celtic Frost’s swansong album, the now-classic Monotheist, marked yet another evolution in the band’s storied history, and when Mr. Warrior formed Triptykon from the ashes of his beloved band and released the powerful Eparistera Daimones to critical acclaim in 2010, it served as a natural progression from the direction Celtic Frost was heading towards. With Eparistera Daimones, it became very clear that Warrior wasn’t finished leaving his mark on music, and now with Triptykon’s sophomore album, Melana Chasmata, Thomas Gabriel Fischer has created what will likely be heralded as his masterpiece, his magnum opus, for future generations to come.

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Sockweb – Werewolf


The grindcore gameplan is to typically be as pissed off, ugly, and disgusting as possible — you know, the furthest thing from sugar, spice, and everything nice.  Virginian duo Adam Young and his seven year old daughter Joanie however have turned this idea upon its head, creating a (relatively) kid-friendly atmosphere with modern grind aesthetic with their band Sockweb. Instead of references to over-the-top violence, drug abuse, religion, and politics, we’re treated to an endearing concept album wherein Joanie befriends a Werewolf that lives under her bed. This may be the first and only time you’ll hear a grindcore record and leave with an “awwww!”

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Lesser Key – Lesser Key

lesser key

We’ve covered the issue of influence before and here arrives another example to drive the point home. This example takes the form of Lesser Key‘s self titled debut release. It features Paul D’Amour, one of the founders of Tool, playing the bass. Subsequently, it bears the unmistakable imprint of that seminal group. And indeed, how can one escape the influence of such a massive name in one’s history? It’s a hard feat, what with expectant fans who are obviously going to compare your two endeavors. However, hard as it might be, that is the veteran artists’ duty; to explore new avenues of sound and creation, in order to present something fresh. Unfortunately, Lesser Key faulters in that respect, never rising above the familiar Tool sound. The end result is an album that simply sounds tired instead of ponderous, slow moving and worn out instead of somber.

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Orion – Yugen

orion yugen

Influence is a divisive subject in any artistic community. Where does influence end and plagiarism begins? How can you define originality and is it more important than skill? The metal community has had its share of controversy on the subject, in recent times as well. We won’t pretend to give a definite answer in this review, but Orion‘s debut album Yugen is a strong case in favor of a view that sees influences and roots as crucial things. Relying on them, cultivating your connection to them and giving them your own voice is a powerful tool for creation. This is evidenced by the fact that when Orion channel their predecessors well,  the album is strong and evocative. It’s when Orion try to strike out on their own, introducing a foreign sound to aforementioned predecessors, that the album loses a lot of its edge and impact. It’s not bad at any point but some parts carry much less force.

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Coffinworm – IV.I.VIII


Indianapolis, Indiana’s Coffinworm uncompromisingly embrace the primitive, the raw, and the just plain ugly in the face of a technologically advancing age of music. Their sound is a potential palette cleanser if one ever feels bombarded with the squeaky clean and wants to get a little dirty. After two well received releases in 2010’s When All Became None and 2012’s Great Bringer of Night, the band return with IV.I.VIII, another potent fist in the face of all things holy.

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