To The Grave – Director’s Cuts (deathcore)
In the longstanding tradition of Carcass and Cattle Decapitation, the volitile vegans in To the Grave turn the everyday atrocities of the meat industry back upon humanity in order to bring you some of the gnarliest and most extreme metal their genre has to offer.
You can certainly hear the influence of modern deathcore titans like Lorna Shore and Thy Art is Murder on To the Grave's sound, but there's something refreshing about the Sydney slaughteresrs' more straightforward approach to the genre. Despite its gory imagery, Director's Cuts is as pristine as they come when it comes to the production. The songwriting itself, however, throws back (and down!) to the days when deathcore was all about being as ignorantly extreme as posible and getting as many bodies moving as possible while you're at it. There's a touch of early Sumeriancore about the album as well, that's sure to have genre fans old and new bouncing along.
Host – IX (goth rock, new wave)
Paradise Lost's much maligned Depeche Mode-aping Host (1999) somehow becomming one of the most influential and forward-thinking albums of its generation is one of the more surprising about turns in extreme metal. Having said that, its reappraisal is much deserved. Host was never that bad to begin with and is still leagues ahead of most modern efforts by the glut of sudden synth and new-wave appreciating extrem metal acts that have flooded the scene over the last half-decade.
IX goes one better, delivering a tighter collection of songs bolstered by a modern production that makes sure the songs hit harder while also accentuating their inherent gloom. The only thing really holding IX back is that it's not actually a Paradise Lost record. They're a band I've always loved, but they've lost me bit with their recent return to their doomier and gloomier roots, at the cost of the compelling, goth and electronic undertones that made their mid-period output so distinctibve and satisfying. There's no real reason for this not to be a Paradise Lost record, other than the backlash the original Host received, and by distancing themselves from this style in favour of protecting their more doom-oriented modern image doesn't seem like the kind of move worthy of the once bold band that made that album in the first place.
It's great to hear vocalist Nick Holmes and guitarist Greg Mackintosh dabbling in that sound again, but it would be great to hear the rest of the band there alongside them. At thirty-nine minutes, IX also seems somewhat slight and a touch monotonous. Blending these songs in with a bit mor eof the traditional Paradise Lost sound might have made for something truly special but, whether or not Holmes and Macintosh bring some of the synths back with them, or forge further on their own, IX certainly shows they have it in them.