1/5 ratings and 5/5 ratings are rare among Heavy Blog is Heavy album reviewers but this week in the Week in Reviews, our readers got to experience both. You can do the math after the jump
Christian Metalcore is still reeling from the implosion of As I Lay Dying and Aly Hassab El Naby’s 1/5 review of the new record from War of Ages, while not as devastatingly brutal as trying hire some dude at the gym to off your wife, still won’t help matters.
You kind of get the flavor from Aly’s opening line, “Simple, straightforward and ever so slightly mind-numbing; behold, if you please, the unabashedly mediocre seventh studio album from Pennsylvania’s War of Ages.”
After searching far and wide for some redemption in this album, Alby concludes, “It doesn’t present anything even remotely engaging and it’s an album that wouldn’t add much to even the most obsessive collector. Your time would be better spent listening to lots of other albums.”
The sine wave of reviews swings wildly the other way when Colin Kauffman gives a perfect 5/5 to Plague Beasts by Cloak of Altering.
For those unfamiliar, Cloak of Altering “conjures ghastly, otherworldly visions of things that flee from the light. Psychotic, washed out hip-hop beats assail the listener, bathed in warbling reverberations of distortion, while manic shrieks and industrial, stutter-stop guitars reduce everything to mulch.”
While you’re chewing on that, Colin finds this is definitely foreground music, art that demands your full attention.
“There is almost unparalleled depth here, but it requires a serious commitment of active listening. These are dense, nigh impenetrable compositions, but when your ears finally adjust themselves to perceive the order in the chaos, it’s remarkable. There are hummable melodies here, and you shouldn’t be too surprised to find them stuck in your head at a later date.”
Nick Cusworth gives 3.5/5 to A Vivid Memory, the semi-post rock/post-metal record from Set and Setting.
In a post rock/metal context, Nick says, “the difficulty in talking about a band like Set and Setting and an album like A Vivid Memory is that it is excellent meat-and-potatoes music. It’s meticulously crafted. It hits all of the right dynamic points. It’s heavy when it makes sense to be heavy and delicate when you’re ready to pull back for a moment.”
That said, Nick finds nothing ambitious about this album.
“It all feels good, but too often it borders on predictability and safety. At a certain point there just has to be something else there beyond what’s expected to keep it from musically treading water. And that’s where the album is sadly at its most inconsistent, particularly in its saggy middle. ”
Eden Kupermintz finds a lot to recommend in Magnolia by The Pineapple Thief in his 4/5 rating this week. Part of the magic is in the color of the music.
“First of all, one can point to a certain color or texture on this album and that is blue. Beautifully mirrored in the album cover, this often-cited color really captures something about this album: a certain melancholy to be certain but also a sense of wildness and opening horizons.”
Eden notes the comparison to Porcupine Tree in The Pineapple Thief and the unabashedly post-rock/metal tone to some of the songs. Still he says it all adds up to a solid unified whole.
“The light of each track slowly mingles as you listen again and again, ending up with a brilliant tapestry that is the complete thing.”
Spencer Snitil rounds out the Week in Reviews with a 4.5/5 review of one of the most highly anticipated Death Metal albums of 2014, Cannibal Corpse’s A Skeletal Domain.
For a band that’s been together for nearly a quarter century, Spencer puts his finger on the question at the heart of new CC music.
“For a band that has done essentially the same thing for the past two decades, how can they possibly get better? How could they possibly do the same thing in a different way and make an album that truly stands out in nearly every way?”
The answers, Spencer finds, including changing production teams, getting more members involved in the writing process and the riffs.
“This album is a collection of some of the best death metal riffs ever to grace this reviewer’s earholes, and it seems to encapsulate something that the band may have forgotten in years past. They seemed to get so focused on being heavy and writing heavy songs, forgoing the riff at times.”
So there you have it, five new albums that our Heavy Blog reviewers find run the gamut from terrible to terrific. Lots more great music coming your way in the coming week so stick around.