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Release Day Roundup: 7/5/24

Rounding up new releases from Orden Ogan, Wormed, Krallice, Piah Mater, Liminal Shroud, Octoploid, Vimur, Motivik, Vulvodynia, Isle of the Cross and more.

15 days ago

Top Picks

Orden Ogan – The Order Of Fear (thrashy/melodic power metal)

They might have been in a bit of a creative rut of late, but make no mistake about it: Orden Ogan are still the best power metal band out there not named Blind Guardian. Admittedly, they've largely attained that position by sounding as much like Blind Guardian as humanly possible, without actually being Blind Guardian themselves, but no other bands have come even close and when it comes to their post-2006 output, Orden Ogan take the cake hands down. That's an almost twenty-year reign under their belt, if I may mix in another metaphor, which almost matches their forebears in their prime.

Following a somewhat shaky outing in 2021's sci-fi-themed Final Days, the semi-eponymous Order of Fear sees them back at near-peak performance, delivering their strongest and most consistent set of material in almost a decade and an all-time great Metal Moment™ when their Frankensteinean frontman headbutts his way out of his coffin right as the riff kicks in at the start of the video for album highlight "Moon Fire". The gothic horror theme fits their sound far better than the future setting of Final Days,* in both sound and visual style and the album as a whole feels like a much more natural continuation of the similarly spooky stylings of both Gunmen (2017) and Ravenhead (2015) before them.

The Order of Fear doesn't quite live up to the Blind Guardian-esque level of quality Orden Ogan maintained from 2012's To the End (2012) through Gunmen, but it comes damn close. Whereas Final Days and its friendly re-imaginings signaled a somewhat unexpected and semi-ambitious left-turn, Order of Fear largely sounds like Orden Ogan by numbers. That's hardly a bad thing, given the bar the band have set for themselves and it's hard not to get swept up in everything once they get going. The super-shiny production can get a bit sterile at times, and it would be nice to see a bit of the grit they began ironing out after Ravenhead being brought back into their sound for future releases.

The album's only real drawback is its sequencing. The abruptness with which "Kings of the Underworld" kicks off and the odd positioning of an intro track titled "The Journey Thus Far" right before the final track come across like a genuine mistake, or at least unforced errors. I'm sure the band have their narrative reasons, but I personally think the album works way better by making its last two tracks its first. Orden Ogan may never make another Ravenhead, but no one else is likely to either and (with some slight sequential tinkering) Order of Fear is probably as close as they or anyone else can hope to come. If they can keep putting out albums of this quality there'll be no disputing their title as the true kings of power metal.**

*Shout out to when not even Eden liked my review on Facebook and I got told "that's what you get for reviewing an album with a cyberpunk top hat on the cover"!

**They should probably also decide which logo they want to use at some point.

Last Week's Most Unjustifiably Overlooked Release

Big Sun – Rite De Passage (industrialised occult/disco-metal)

I missed quite a few things last week, it seems, although nothing that I think would've drastically increased its overall quality. One album I did have on my radar that deserved/s highlighting though is Big Sun's Rite De Passage, which is is one of the weirdest albums I think I've ever heard, and also one of the most fun. The album kicks of with "The Sun", which sounds like King Diamond fronting Ministry or Killing Joke. ...which would be strange enough, but then the rest of the album sounds like Ghost if they listened to even more Abba, or maybe another long lost album from Lordi's disco/AOR/speed metal era(s), before returning to more industrialised pastures for penultimate track "Ra Horaktus", which sounds like a collaboration between Rammstein and Merciful Fate and closer "The Totem" which sounds like Wayne Newton of all people (cf.). All of these songs are also extremely good.

Despite its eclecticism, Ghost are very much the main point of comparison. As with Orden Ogan and Blind Guardian, however, Big Sun do a phenomenal job of aping their inspiration. Given Ghost's success, it's genuinely shocking that more bands haven't tried their hand at imitating their sound, though few could hope to do as good a job as Big Sun do here. "I Was Loving You" and "Lovers Die at Midnight" are instantaneous disco metal bangers that could easily be per-production leftovers from Prequelle (2018)* or Impera (2022) (and are a hell of a lot better than that new Ghost song they dropped for their "movie"), while the more mid-paced and menacing "Maiden Sacrifice" would fit snugly on Infestissumam (2013) or Meliora (2015). These are the kind of songs I wish rest of the new Royal Republic album had been packed with, and while I might have forgotten to listen to it when it came out, I've hardly stopped listening to it since.

...Oh, and the whole thing's apparently based on a clandestine group of Freemasons who allegedly controlled Sweeden during the nineteenth century. Because why wouldn't it be?

*While we're at it, I also realised this week that the riff from Creeper's "Cry to Heaven" is totally just the one from Ghost’s “Dance Macabre” but with added synth and more distortion, which I am totally cool with.

Release Roundup

Abhorred – None Shall Be Spared (deathgrind)

Abysswalker – A Spire at the Gates of Heaven (heavy metal)

Aeons – The Ghosts Of What We Knew (progressive metal)

Aposento – No Safe Haven (death metal)

Arx Atrata – A Reckoning (progressive black metal)

Autumnfall – The Archaic Shadows (meloblack)

Azketem – Azketem (progressive post-black)

Baryon – Hypnos (post rock/metal)

Black Hole Deity – Profane Geometry (brutal death metal)

The Blast Wave – ΩMega-Drive (extremely bad hair metal)

Blind Girls – An Exit Exists (math/metal/noisecore)

Bloodcross – Gravebound (meloblack thrash)

Bloody Run – Decapitate the Tyrant (grindcore)

Crucifliction – Trinity (groove thrash)

Crushing Brain – Cenizas (thrash/speed metal)

Cryptic Hatred – Internal Torment (blackish death metal)

Duel – Breakfast With Death (stoner thrash)

Eldergrey – Well Of Souls (doom metal)

Exterminio – Favsto (death metal)

Filthy Hippies – Share The Pill (doomy shoegaze)

Horned Almighty – Contagion Zero (blackened death metal)

The House Flies – Mannequin Deposit (shoegaze)

Humanity’s End – Plague of Cancers (death metal, melodeath)

Inerth – Hybris (sludgy groove death)

Insane Desecration – Visions of Horrific Decay (brutal death metal, slam)

Isle Of The Cross – Faustus The Musical (way-better-than-it-should-be prog metal)

iwatchyousleep – The Killing Of Character (creepy alt-rock/punk)

Kick The Giant – Presence (prog metal/rock)

Kissin’ Dynamite – Back With A Bang (hairy butt metal)

Krallice – Inorganic Rites (weird doomy black metal)

Kryptos – Decimator (thrash)

Limbes – Liernes (ecstatic/post black metal)

Liminal Shroud – Visions Of Collapse (progressive post-black/death)

Luca – Azalea (groove shred)

Madicide – Madicide (groove thrash)

Malconfort – Humanism (weird black/goth metal)

Meifu – Haunted Dreams (weird/trad doom)

Mine Road – Tomorrow’s Sky (hard rock)

Motivik – Renouncement (heavy thrash metal)

Nyktophobia – To The Stars (meloblack)

Octoploid – Beyond The Aeons (blackened psyche-prog)

Of Deities and Dust – Beyond This Place of Wrath and Tears (doom metal)

Old Horn Tooth – Mourning Light (fuzzy funeral doom)

Palmar De Troya – II (noise punk)

Partholon – The Ocean Pours In (post-sludge)

Piah Mater – Under the Shadow of a Foreign Sun (Opeth)

Primitive Dread – Merciless Indifference (crossover thrash)

Quasidiploid – Deconstruction (weird/progressive/brutal tech-death)

Rainswept – No Threats Allowed (brutal hardcore)

Regicide – Resist Control (death thrash)

Robot Monster Army – Assembly Required (hard rock/metal)

Satan’s Satyrs – After Dark (garage rock, doom metal)

Scuba Cop – Scuba Pop (noise sludge)

Selias – Headshot (groove death)

Sijjeel – Affiliation Of Horrid Containment (brutal death metal)

Starspawn of Cthulhu – Alienum (black doom)

Steinras – Steinras (black metal)

Stormriders – Whispers of the Void (stoner doom)

Suffering – Cult (instrumental blackened death)

Terminal Sun – All That Will Burn Is Already on Fire (blackened death metal)

Traumatomy – Triumph Of Enslavement (slamming brutal death)

Triddana – Breaking from the Fold (heavy/power metal)

Unholy Altar – Veil of Death! Shroud of Nite (black metal)

Vimur – The Timeless Everpresent (black metal, meloblack)

Vulvodynia – Entabeni (slamming brutal deathcore)

WarHymn – Occult Fire (black metal)

Wormed – Omegon (brutal/techish death metal)

Xasthur – Disharmonic Variations (another one?)

 

Joshua Bulleid

Published 15 days ago