National CD Reviews

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Aeon
Path of Fire
Metal Blade
Street: 05.25
Aeon = Suffocation + Behemoth + Vital Remains
I hate, absolutely hate, the word “uninspired,” it’s just too blah having very little or too broad a meaning. Sweden’s Aeon’s third full-length, Path of Fire, dishes out the genre standards of brutal death metal in scores and not offering anything that feels all that brutal, just really damn boring. The core riffing of the album—you know, that super low E-tuned stuff—just chugs along, offering little in the realm of being memorable, and is ungraciously overproduced and sounds about as varied as a lawnmower. The drumming, obviously triggered, isn’t actually half bad, but in the end, coupling it with stupid riffing just makes it sound like a kid hammering ketchup packets on the sidewalk. Every aspect of this album makes me want to unleash bad analogy after another. The guitar soloing feels blatantly forced and doesn’t fit any sort of vibe that the other portions of the music are shooting for. I’d rather listen to Six Feet Under playing their cover of “Purple Haze” than this borefest. –Bryer Wharton

Allegaeon
Fragments of Form and Function
Metal Blade
Street: 07.20
Allegaeon = At The Gates + Scar Symmetry + The Duskfall
Ugh, who produced this album? Its drum sound is awfully over-triggered, which is actually a sad fact, because Allegaeon’s drummer is not a bad drummer (and I honestly have nothing against triggers when used right) but upon hearing the double-bass clickety-clacking and blasting too loudly in terms of volume over the guitar riffing, it’s a shame. Their repetitive sonic nature coupled with a laughable generic vocal performance that sounds as forced as a disgruntled married couple’s obligatory birthday sex makes too much negative for me to get any excitement from this record. Negativity aside, the band’s guitarists aren’t bad at coming up with some solid, memorable hooks and melodic death-metal pandering, Jeff Loomis-similar-sounding as they may be. Fragments of Form and Function will appease the appetites of fans looking for something much meatier for their metal diet than the latest so-called melo-death offerings coming from bands like Sonic Syndicate or In Flames. But through all their technical, gloating glory, the riffs can’t save the rest of the record from winding up in mediocrity. –Bryer Wharton

And Hell Followed With
Proprioception
Earache
Street: 06.29
And Hell Followed With = Hatebreed + Kataklysm + Black Dahlia Murder + Bury Your Dead (early)
My normal disdain for all things metalcore is getting set aside for this release for one reason—I’m not absolutely bored to death listening to it. The hardcore/melodic death metal scowling vocals harbor a pissed-off nature that keeps the record in tune with the destructive force behind the heavy hardcore-styled breakdowns, melodic guitar work and death-metal blasting. Yes, I wish these Detroit fellows didn’t rely on the breakdown as much as they do, because after a while, it does get damn redundant. Also, the vocal patterns, while they do carry a good amount of sheer pissed-off power, could use a bit more changing up, because as they are, they are quite predictable. Proprioception has the potential to be huge in the metalcore world; it’s strongly produced and blows many of the other metalcore/deathcore genre stalwarts into oblivion. The fact that its songwriting is strong enough to hold my extremely cynical-natured attention towards the genre in check is a rare occurrence: These guys did something right. –Bryer Wharton

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Before Today
4AD
Street: 06.08
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti = Pocahaunted + Vivian Girls
Ariel Pink, notorious for lo-fi basement recordings, has created another album full of spooky vintage songs easily mistaken as a soundtrack from the 80s. Songs like “L’estat (Acc. To the Widow’s Maid)” hold quirky back-up vocals, starting the desire to throw handfuls of sparkles about while dancing in neon spandex. Though the album holds more post-production clarity, making it easier to understand such fine lyrics as,  “rape me, castrate me, make me gay, lady, I’m a lady from today,” the lo-fi distortion is still strong and both new and old fans will be swaying and singing along in seconds, marking another addicting album released by Ariel Pink. –Jessica Davis

As I Lay Dying
The Powerless Rise
Metalblade Records
Street: 05.11
As I Lay Dying = The Devil Wears Prada + Killswitch Engage
The Powerless Rise is power-metalcore perfection.  Every drum, guitar, and bass track couldn’t be any more crisp and flawless, and the vocals are pitch-perfect from beginning to end.  Every kick drum is perfectly matched with every palm-muted guitar, and every solo is unerringly executed––TGFPT (Thank God for Pro Tools).  Here’s my problem:  This description could be written about any other power-metalcore band’s new album.  For me, this whole genre is starting to resemble pop country (let me finish).  Just like pop country, you could take any vocalist and any band track from the genre, randomly reassign everyone, and not one fan would ever notice.  All fans care about is that the music sounds a certain way, and that the vocalist sounds a certain way.  All of the musicians, while talented, are becoming interchangeable.  Pretty brutal, I guess. –Andrew Roy

Blood of Kingu
Sun in the House of the Scorpion
Candlelight
Street: 08.10
Blood of Kingu = Melechesh + Negura Bunget + Hate Forest + Beherit
From the artists who brought us the extreme metal world Drudkh and Hate Forest comes this mind-blasting and soul-crushing/devouring sophomore record from Blood of Kingu. I haven’t heard anything in the realm of black or death metal deliver the vibe and verbose aural punishment that this album offers. It has rich thematic and atmospheric elements stemming from Sumerian, Egyptian, Tibetan and other mythologies, all laced in massively punctuated and carnivorously produced raw guitar riffing in line with pristine jackhammer black metal drum-blasting and gruff, blackened vocal scowls that demand immediate audible attention with full-on fear as a response. Sun in the House of the Scorpion derides so many black-metal albums in the current scene, I only wish the record were just a bit longer. All the instrumentation, including the audible bass-picking, cede a diverse range of rhythmic distortions, culminating in the result of giving yourself an uppercut just to shut your stuck-open jaw. –Bryer Wharton

 

The Body
All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood
At A Loss Recordings
Street: 07.27
The Body = Khanate + Isis (early) + Eyehategod + Moss
In the age of extreme music, when originality is a thing of the past, I’m happy to say that The Body’s second full-length, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, has a strongly unique sound and atmosphere to their apocalyptic-drenched distortions. While dosed with influences from the likely and legendary subjects of sludge metal, The Body can haunt your music listening location with ghostly apparitions peering at you from every corner in addition to songs that full-on bludgeon you senseless with slow, feedback-engulfed, drum-driven guitar passages. The album starts out in the more experimental realm of things, with one of the more creepy and ominous introductions from a guest choir called The Assembly of Light, followed by tracks with sampled ferocities to indulge the minds of experimental audio fiends. The Body offers a great interspersed mix of unconventional and conventional sludge that sets a tone of an ominous, defeated, and energy-depleted feelings. –Bryer Wharton 


Bonded By Blood
Exiled to Earth
Earache
Street: 08.10
Bonded By Blood = Slayer + Megadeth + Warbringer
The fact that this album was given to me as a “beeped promo” with shrill Maury Povich censor-esque clangs pervading the entire album was sort of a bugga-boo. That being said, Exiled to Earth is super thrashy and an intense listen. Vocalist Jose Barrales has a unique timbre with a sort of Dave Mustaine type of strain, and the rhythm and guitar harmonization in “Sector 87” definitely gets your blood pumping. Other than that, though, the tracks don’t really stand out too starkly from one another. I mean, don’t get me wrong, these guys tear it up from start to finish, but I don’t think I could really pick out a track other than “Sector 87” that caught my attention. Songwriting notwithstanding, Bonded By Blood sends it fast and vicious. –Alexander Ortega

 

Canvas Solaris
Irradiance
Sensory Records
Street: 07.13
Canvas Solaris = Dream Theater + Dysrhythmia + Behold… The Arctopus
Canvas Solaris can definitely be declared at the forefront of instrumental prog-metal. Irradiance is the band’s fifth full-length offering in 10 years. I’ll hand it to the band—their instrumental prog-metal has pronounced, strong song structures, progressive themes, mad improvisational skills, and a unique atmospheric quality—all keeping you, the listener, attentive from start to finish. This prog-monster is brimming with technicalities in every instrumental layer. At times, they play in conjunction, in a harmonious nature with each other, and at times, layered effects give listeners parts to dissect and listen to individually. Irradiance pulsates and swirls in complex, almost mathematical polyrhythms that leave listeners latching onto every little note and nuance. Add some outright shred-guitar-type portions and bass guitars that will leave you drooling, and you have a summation of what Canvas Solaris are all about on Irradiance. –Bryer Wharton


Chali 2na
Fish Market: Part 2
Decon Inc.
Street: 06.08
Chali 2na = old school funk + Barry White + Jurrasic 5
On this mixtape, the sequel to Fish Market: The Official Mixtape, Chali 2na can’t really seem to decide which direction to go. One smart turn was having DJ Dez Andres of Slum Village produce the damn thing. Another one of the best turns he takes is on “No Bad Mon,” using the prominent reggae vocals of Tanya Stephens. It’s a dope contrast of his deep baritone vocals to her strong, bouncing tone. The last song of note is “Across The Map,” featuring J-Live, who shines and adds some needed balance on the track. Aside from these few decent tracks though, the majority of the album is all over the place. Fish Market: Part 2 finds 2na stepping away from his normal clever jumping lyrical content and adding more aggression to his delivery. It doesn’t match the funk and soul undertones of the album. Unfortunately, a lot of turns he takes lead to dead ends. –Bethany Fischer

Child Bite
The Living Breathing Organ Summer
Joyful Noise
Street: 06.15
Child Bite = Mewithoutyou + Beep Beep + Man Man
Instrumentally, this band is awesome. Vocally, they remind me of a time long gone, when post-punk bands roamed the earth. They are intense, dark and sinister in an Ugly Organ sort of way, which almost comes off as slightly humorous. Listening to them, I can picture exactly who would like this album—anyone who went to more than one show at the Loom house. It is pretty good overall, although the vocalist, Shawn Knight, gets on my nerves at times; as his voice often becomes an over-the-top punk rock holler that sounds slightly forced. Get the album: It’s worth checking out, it sort of sounds like the Mewithoutyou album Brother, Sister, but without all of that shit about God. –Cody Hudson


Coliseum
House With a Curse
Temporary Residence
Street: 06.22
Coliseum = Fucked Up + Torche + Baroness
I dare to say that the new Coliseum album sounds a lot like Hot Water Music covering Torche; i.e., it’s not as heavy on the hardcore leanings. Whereas their past album focused on fast beats and a hard edge, House With a Curse shows Coliseum has more in their songwriting arsenal than just fast speed and a thick sound. Melody and catchy (well, as catchy as they can be) choruses are strewn throughout, and the songs are crafted well. Although the track “Everything to Everyone” is a cautionary tale to a person who is trying too hard, it would also be appropriate to view it through the lens that Coliseum can’t follow that reasoning either. They’ve struck out beyond the box on House with a Curse, creating not only a more accessible album, but a richer one as well. –Peter Fryer

Danzig
Deth Red Sabaoth
Evilive/The End
Street 06.22
Danzig = 90s Danzig - 00s Danzig + Black Sabbath
You can say whatever you want about Glenn Danzig, but the guy does exactly what he wants to. He started playing metal in the late 1980s, at a time when most of his fans thought he should still be playing punk rock. He added an electronica edge after Nine Inch Nails made that sound popular and eventually swapped out every member of his band and started over. This record finds Danzig in a good place. He sings and plays bass on most of the tracks, and fills out his band with former tour drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative) and guitarist Tommy Victor (Prong, Ministry). Samhain cohort Steve Zing also makes an appearance on bass. Danzig himself produced and recorded the record in Los Angeles over the course of 2009. It sounds very much like an early Danzig record. The guitars are heavy and squealy, and the drums haven’t hit this hard since the Chuck Biscuits days. Highlights include the song “Black Candy,” a hard-hitting track that features Danzig on drums, and a wickedly evil two-part song called “Pyre of Souls.” There is even the requisite power ballad, “On a Wicked Night,” that follows the formula of starting slow, exploding and then mellowing out again. If you like Danzig at all, then you’ll love Deth Red Sabaoth. There isn’t a single surprise on the entire disc, but predictability isn’t a bad thing as long as you know what you’re getting into. –James Bennett

Decrepit Birth
Polarity
Nuclear Blast
Street: 07.27
Decrepit Birth = Death + Decapitated + Morbid Angel
Creating tech/death metal isn’t a hard accomplishment—a band just needs the talent to actually play their instruments proficiently. Many bands possess said talent and play with great technicality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to listen to what all of them have to offer. However, Decrepit Birth’s third full-length album, Polarity, is by far the band’s most technical offering to date, but they dish it out with doses of awesome brutality. The songwriting is done in a manner that keeps listeners attentive and ready to devour song after song with feelings of improvisational techniques, soloing and lead guitar masterfully worked so they’ll drain every thought process from your mind. Polarity offers a textured and dynamic album reminiscent of the musical greatness of later-era Death and the demandingly brutal punctuation of Morbid Angel. Polarity goes above and beyond the criteria for genre fans to enjoy—it’s gut-smashingly heavy, seizure-inducingly technical and will absolutely devastate live. (Club Sound: 08.14) –Bryer Wharton

Delain
Lucidity (re-issue)
Sensory Records
Street: 06.22
Delain = Within Temptation + Nightwish + Leave’s Eyes
I’m not exactly sure why this album, released in 2006, is getting the reissue treatment from Sensory Records, other than I assume it was a Europe-only release at the time. Delain have a really good reason to sound extremely similar to Within Temptation, because said band’s former keyboardist is one of the founding members of Delain—even still, you’d think you’d want to make some sort of stylistic change instead of sounding exactly like your former band. Lucidity, the Delain’s debut full-length, is far superior to the band’s follow-up, 2009’s April Rain, mainly because of the bountiful guest appearances, giving it that much more of a dynamic than April Rain had. This album is pretty cut and dry. If you enjoy the bands in the equation, you won’t have trouble finding some satisfaction on Lucidity. But if you require something more than rehashed guitar riffing and stale keyboard work and a whole bunch of boring songs, you’ll pass on this one. –Bryer Wharton

Delta Spirit
History From Below
Rounder
Street: 06.08
Delta Spirit = Deer Tick + Tallest Man on Earth
I have been a fan of Delta Spirit since I saw them at the 2008 Twilight Concert Series. This year, we see them releasing the follow-up to their debut, Ode to Sunshine, and they certainly don’t disappoint. On History From Below, we find them progressing their bluesy folk sound. The album is more produced than its predecessor, but that isn’t a bad thing at all. Opening with the fairly upbeat political ballad “911” and closing with the 8-minute epic “Ballad of Vitaly,” the album is solid all the way through. My personal favorite is “St. Francis”—with its noodly guitar reminiscent of Kickball and minimalist intro, it builds into something incredibly fun. –Cody Hudson


Dew-Scented
Invocation
Prosthetic Records
Street: 05.25
Dew-Scented = Carnal Forge + The Haunted + Darkane
German modern thrashers Dew-Scented have delivered what one should expect from the band in their 18-year career—consistently mediocre music. Invocation, the band’s eighth full-length record, will definitely satisfy thrashers that enjoy a bit of death metal for a period of time (point of comparison: fans of the early albums of The Haunted will definitely like the punch on Invocation), but it’s a mere appetizer to other, more deserving, death/thrash records. Yes, the punchy, fast thrash-riffing that has a good knack for causing involuntary head-banging will satisfy a metalhead’s appetite for a few listens. But the record is doused with quite a bit of filler and rehashed vocal and drum patterns that won’t sustain discerning appetites for long. –Bryer Wharton

 

D.O.A
Talk - Action = 0
Sudden Death
Street: XX
D.O.A. = Dead Boys + Motörhead + the Ramones
D.O.A. will undoubtedly go down in the annals of punk rock history. They’ve not only refused to go gently into that good night, but they’ve actually gained momentum as of late, and the evidence can be found on their two most recent records. All of which have been good, but Talk - Action =0 comes straight out of the hardcore glory days of the 80s. Joey “Shithead” Kiethley has led his trio to the promised land of their legendary record Hardcore ’84. “The R.C.M.P.” takes on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which it’s obvious that, like any other police organization, Kiethley does not think much of. They take on religion with the cynical track “That’s Why I’m an Atheist.” They also take on two interesting covers, the French love song “That’s Amore” and the Bob Dylan song “Times They Are a Changin’,” and the two become altogether different animals in D.O.A.’s hands. If you’re into punk rock, this record is for you, and fuck everyone else. –James Orme

DREAMEND
So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite
Graveface Records
Street: 08.10
DREAMEND = Do Make Say Think + Neutral Milk Hotel + Kid Dakota
SIAMBbB pitches a fantastically dark, first-person narrative of murder against a collection of unrelenting catchy tunes with a persistent, upbeat tempo. The main character’s descent into madness is marked by a mid-album shift into darkness, marked by the brooding “A Thought.” Lyrics “I cannot stop in the middle” accumulate dread when placed in the context of the album’s narrative. The intricate, instrumental folk arrangements replete with verse-chorus arrangements, banjos, various bells and oddball percussion mark a distinct break from their long-playing post-rock/shoegaze records of the past and expand on the vocal and lyrical focus of 2008’s Long Forgotten Friend. Ryan Graveface, member of Black Moth Super Rainbow and sole owner/proprietor of Graveface Records, displays musicianship approached by few here, but in terms of physical presentation of the record, he is peerless. To all record collectors: Make sure you get this on wax—the artwork by William Schaff is unspeakably good. –Ryan Hall


Drivan
Disko
Smalltown Supersound
Street: 08.17
Drivan = Lali Puna + Psapp + Phantogram
Out of all the albums titled “Disco” (or some derivation of it) the Swedish experimental group Drivan is tied with Health for producing the most un-disco-sounding record ever. Disko’s thesis is interesting enough: skeletal folk arrangements played on acoustic guitars and piano augmented by Stockholm producer/visual artist Kim Hiorthøy’s hip-hop inspired electronic beats. Drivan succeeds in spades when it sticks close to that formula on tracks such as “Campingvagn” and the downright awesome, motorik-inspired “Det gör ingenting.” Disko often strays into quieter folk numbers that are pretty, improvised, and loose, but lack the immediacy and driving persistence of the tracks mentioned above. To what extent do you need an album sung entirely in Swedish in your life? Drivan makes a good case for at least one. –Ryan Hall

Early Man
Death Potion
The End
Street: 07.20
Early Man = Voivod + The Lord Weird Slough Feg + Metallica (old)
Finding good, straight-up heavy metal records from new bands these days are few and far between. Early Man’s Closing In debut album got some fairly good reviews, so I had some high hopes for Death Potion. But while not a bad record, there’s too much filler and rehashing with some of the guitar riffs as well as vocal patterns to exclaim sheer heavy-metal goodness. That noted, there are a fair amount of nice speedy metal cuts that have some creative and awesomely fun riffing, fast tempos and more than a few good songs: “Killdrone,” and “Unseen Tormentor” stick in my mind because of the guitar change-ups instead of the regular riff-churning, and they also have better vocal change-ups. I will give some good credits here for having a highly distinctive classic nature on the record with an updated modern sound. Just a little more diversity amongst the songs and this would be a damn fine record. –Bryer Wharton


Fashawn
Ode to Illmatic
DJ Green Lantern, Orisue & XXL
Street: 06.11
Fashawn = Young Nas + West Coast Flavor
When I received the assignment to review Fashawn’s mixtape, Ode to Illmatic, I could’ve peed my pants. Nas’s 1994 album Illmatic is one of my favorite hip-hop albums and Fashawn is one of my favorite new rappers. I had extremely high expectations for the album. Did it disappoint? Hell no, it didn’t. Not only does Fashawn pay homage to one of the greatest artists and albums ever made, he does it amazingly well. Tracks like “CA State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours” and “Memory Lane (Sittin in Da Park)” provide the same lyrical undertones with new content. Fashawn blends classics with new freshness for a unique twist. While nothing will ever top the original, Fashawn provides an amazing journey and effort in giving thanks to the music that inspired him through his life. All the original beats from the album with beautiful new lyrical content makes this an instant constant repeat listen for me. –Bethany Fischer

Flowers of Hell
Come Hell or High Water
Unfamiliar
Street: 06.15
Flowers of Hell = Kayo Dot + Anathallo + Brahms
Put on your fancy tux and dress up your partners in lavish cocktail attire. It’s time to get sophisticated and appreciate some psychedelic drone chamber pop orchestral action. Flowers of Hell are like a million-piece orchestra from Canada and London. Okay, they don’t actually have a million members, but they do have a lot and by listening to their music, you would think a million instruments are being played. While I appreciate the fact that Flowers of Hell are trying to do something different within the instrumental genre, their music is just a little delicate for me—I feel like I am listening to the soundtrack from Disney’s Fantasia Part 2. If you want to get all astute and you like a dash of Tchaikovsky mixed with your Godspeed You! Black Emperor, then this is the band for you, sir or madam. –Jon Robertson

 

He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named
Sunday School Massacre
Greedy
Street: XX
He Who Can Not Be Named = the Ramones + Backyard Babies + Dwarves
I’m pretty sure that the fact that this record exists is a sign of the apocalypse, because it was at the top of my list of things I never thought I’d see in my life. I don’t know whether to listen or run. Maybe the most mysterious character in all of rock n’ roll, He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named has been a mainstay of The Dwarves. Always in his trademark mask, He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named has been a part of one of the most fascinating, eclectic bands in all of punk rock. This record is through-and-through fun, twisted rock n’ roll, with songs that speak to the weird in you, like “Bill vs. the Gnomes,” and “Sinister Sal.” Sunday School Massacre is very based in hard rock n’ roll, which still comes across very different and very odd. “Since I tied you up, you’re all I’m livin’ for, there’s gotta be more,” is just some of the poetry found on the increasingly evil track “Duct Tape Love,” one of the many songs with dark themes, but my favorite has to be the rocker played at breakneck speed, “Daddy is Dead.” The surprise to me was how straight-up rock this record is—The Dwarves use dance beats, synth beats and anything under the sun, but leave it to He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named to do what’s not expected. A great, strange record that is as noteworthy for its songwriting and guitar work as it is for its abnormal subject matter. –James Orme

Jex Thoth
Witness EP
I Hate
Street: 06.15
Jex Thoth = Black Sabbath + St. Vitus + Sabbath Assembly + Witchcraft
Jex Thoth, previously unknown to me, after listening to this brief yet superbly sweet three-track EP, has already sent me back-tracking to snag the band’s only full-length, released in 2008. The homages here are easily shown, especially the influence of classic Black Sabbath, yet Jex Thoth doesn’t sound much like a rehash, just a simple “inspired by.” There is a slow and enchanting sound on the EP derived from syrupy riffing and smooth, somber keyboard; however, there is also larger-than-life doom riffage that would crush one’s spirit, but the throaty vocals from Jessica Thoth sweetly give a lullaby feeling or almost religious hymn undertone. Each track here is world-immersing; you know, the kind of songs that inspire you to paint vivid and outlandish pictures in your head. Yes, mind-altering substances may enhance the effect of the musical drug that Jex Thoth is dealing, but the dosage supplied by the music contained on Witness is mind-altering enough. –Bryer Wharton

Kathryn Williams
The Quickening
One Little Indian US
Street: 07.06
Kathryn Williams = Joni Mitchell + Beth Orton
With a sound described as “chilled-out folk,” English singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams has just signed to prestigious One Little Indian records (Björk, Lloyd Cole) and her pretty voice reminded me instantly of Beth Orton. Like Orton, she doesn’t seem to be afraid of experimentation and sampling. Already critically acclaimed when it was released in the UK earlier this year, The Quickening is actually Williams’ eighth studio album and it shows both her confidence and delivery. Recorded completely live in-studio over the course of only four days and co-produced by David Wrench in Wales, these short acoustic-based tracks highlight her gentle voice, but like labelmate Ólöf Arnalds, she is completely alluring, as on the arresting first track, “50 White Lines.” There is smooth listening throughout the album’s 12 cuts and the samples and experimental noises are complementary to the songs they inhabit: They never override that voice. On the gorgeous “There Are Keys,” Williams even vocalizes experimentally with herself for a bit. By the time the dreamy “Up North” ended, I found myself listening from the start all over again, which is always an indication of a great album. –Dean O Hillis

 

Killah Priest
The 3 Day Theory
Man Bites Dog Records
Street: 07.06
Killah Priest = Wu Tang + Jedi Mind Tricks
Killah Priest hasn't come out with anything that blew me away in the last few years. I was pretty skeptical since this album came out pretty quickly after the album Elizabeth. This particular album doesn't have me jumping up and down, but it does strike my interest more than the last. Killah Priest has always had decent word play and content. It’s not definition that he lacks, but a sense of completion. All the puzzle pieces finally are fitting a little easier and cleaner this time. His hand-picked guest spots from the likes of Sabac Red and Ill Bill on the track, “Psalm of Satan” provide a well-groomed mixture. Story-telling and clever lyrical content as well as clean production from Kount Fif all come together, giving it an eerie, aggressive and deep foundation. The little pieces are all in place to really get some heat going. –Bethany Fischer

Kozeljnik
Deeper the Fall
Paragon Records
Street: 06.22
Kozeljnik = Enslaved + Negură Bunget + Funeral Mist
Serbian depressive black metal duo Kozeljnik are stout and blunt-forced purveyors of the notion that not all black metal is the same. With an EP and a full-length behind them, Paragon Records is giving Kozeljnik some much-deserved attention. Deeper the Fall goes well beyond the black metal standard—this is a starkly depressive and dismal record filled with plenty of concise and sedative yet sinister songwriting. The album reminds me somewhat of the late 90s/early 2000-era of Enslaved, but with an added feeling of the need to pop some Prozac. Vocals from guitarist and bassist Marko “Kozeljnik” Jerkovic are grim and gloomy from the very beginning; the scowling is quite enough to cause soul-engulfing shivering and his sung clean vocals echo just above abysmal states. Deeper the Fall delivers down to mid-tempo bleakness, all arranged in high regard for fluid and memorable songs. Fans of the gloom and the blackness that lies in depressive black metal: Take heed, and join Kozeljnik on Deeper the Fall for a journey to the beyond, where there’s no coming back. –Bryer Wharton 

Kruger
For Death, Glory and the End of the World
Listenable Records
Street: 02.22
Kruger = Unsane + Mastadon
Switzerland’s Kruger sound like they are in a hurry, even though the songs are all in a similar, medium tempo.  It’s like For Death … is a senior citizen who’s running late, cursing at other drivers, but refuses to go more than three miles per hour over the speed limit.  But there’s a subtle, epic undertone to each track on this album that keeps me listening.  This is deliberate, thought-out post-metal, a bit like Dream Theater with monotone yelling.  “Villains” is the standout track, blasting out of the gate with driving musicianship and holding onto the main theme just long enough before slowing things down to 10 below the speed limit for a monster ending.  Kruger will do will well within the whole European metal scene right now. –Andrew Roy

 

The Last Felony
Too Many Humans
Lifeforce
Street: 08.17
The Last Felony = Origin + Krisiun + Kataklysm + Beneath the Massacre
The Last Felony’s debut for Lifeforce records and follow-up to their 2008 debut album, Aeon of Suffering, is definitely poised to take the extreme metal world by the nuts and twist quite hard. The record’s weakest part is a big hindrance—its rather monotonous death growling, set at the same tone and, for the most part, speed and pattern, for the entire album, giving a heavy redundancy to the album’s songs. In the world of faster, heavier, more brutal and more technical metal, The Last Felony do achieve. Their form of guitar technicality lies in the dual guitars and the almost black metal-tremolo style that they played instead of other tech/brutal acts that use math-styled polyrhythms or lots of tempo changes. Too Many Humans plays out as quite a large, blasting festival, with an emphasis on the wall-of-sound technique. Fans of the new breed of brutal death/deathcore and tech/death have a hell of a lot to engorge their appetites with Too Many Humans. –Bryer Wharton

Mad Sin
Burn and Rise
Century Media
Street: 07.13
Mad Sin = the Cramps + the Sharks + Oingo Biogo + The Dwarves
Mad Sin is one of the most interesting musical acts on the planet for nearly 20 years and yet most people have never heard them or heard of them. These German rock n’ roll stalwarts have traveled the world and all over the map musically. They’ve changed psychobilly forever and show no signs of slowing down. Now, with a 19-track monster of a record as their 13th studio release, Mad Sin is still pushing themselves as to what they can accomplish on a recording. More focused than any other offering, Burn and Rise is a standout record among a catalogue of amazing material. Tracks such as “Nine Lives” is an acoustic, roots-driven track that is a direction they’ve never gone in before. “Last Gang Standing” is a psychobilly opus that displays Mad Sin doing what they do at their absolute best. Mark my words, Burn and Rise should go down in history as a landmark record for the psychobilly genre. –James Orme

Magica
Dark Diary
AFM Records
Street: 07.20
Magica = Edenbridge + Edguy + Hammerfall
I wish I could say Romanian Magica’s fifth full-length album was a strong power metal album, most likely because I’m on a huge power metal kick at the moment. But Dark Diary is comprised of hits and misses, and lacks the full-on catchiness that makes power metal appealing in the first place. The female-fronted vocals are decently ranged, but somehow still wind up as being the album’s main weak point. The vocals do deliver a wide range from operatic to just straight powerfully sung or calmly serenading, but they fall a bit flat as far as pushing the highlight of the album—the guitars. Most times, the guitars are riff-crunchy and nicely heavy, with simple yet effective power chord structures, but also with some technical, outright speed-metal momentum. Dark Diary is decent background music, especially for straight-up power metal guitar junkies, but I can’t help but think if there were more true emotion behind the vocal performance, this album would be so much better. –Bryer Wharton

Mahjongg
The Long Shadow of the Paper Tiger
K Records
Street: 07.20
Mahjongg = Nice Nice + Glitch Mob + Chromeo
Trying to convey Mahjongg in words proves difficult. Fortunately, they invented a word to describe themselves: Chicagotronics. The definition is jazz electronic blips interspersed with danceable beats in the excitable BPM ranges. Add some nice vocal tweakings (hopefully processed live à la Gang Gang Dance, I’d imagine) and the Chicagotronics scene sounds as varied as the Windy City’s notorious skyline looks. I’d really enjoy seeing these guys live to test the hypothesis of how they create their effected sound, and this is a marker of a band worth seeing, indeed. I also really dig their creativity in lyrical content and song title-inganother factor to look for in a worthwhile band. Songs like “Miami Knights” and “Gooble” being good examples of their creativitythe latter of which has a repeating loop of the phrase “the long shadow of the paper tiger,” from where the album appropriately takes its name. –JP

Mates of State
Crushes (Covers Mixtape)
Constant Artists, Inc
Street: 06.08
Mates of State = Stars + Matt & Kim
Husband and wife Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have been making their shiny indie-pop for over 10 years now, and apparently, they feel like it is time to pay tribute to some of their favorite artists.  Crushes features covers of songs by artists such as Daniel Johnston, The Mars Volta, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie, and Tom Waits. I was quite disappointed with this album; it makes Mates of State sound like a slightly awkward, more polished Matt & Kim. There are a couple of songs that are OK (“Sleep The Clock Around” and “Son Et Lumiere”). However, Gardner tries way too hard when she sings, and for some reason that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as on their original material. The biggest WTF moment for me came pretty early in the album: turntables scratching on their cover of Girls’ “Lust For Life.” The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” is probably the most obnoxious song on the album, though—something about their voices makes me want to take a sharp object to both of their tracheas. This is what it would sound like if Disney put out indie albums. –Cody Hudson

Microtia
Spacemaker
Independent
Street: 08.24
Microtia = Oceansize + The Receiving End of Sirens
You know what I like? I like me some progressive, crazy, intense, space-rock/post-punk action, and the new Microtia album gives it to me good. It’s nice to hear an unsigned band like this make music of this caliber and recording quality independently.  I can’t pick a favorite track, because all nine tracks are sweet dope. The instrumentation throughout is captivating, but the best aspect of Microtia is their clarity and non-yelped vocals, which sound like a stiff concoction of Jam Jamte from Khoma and Paul Mullen from Yourcodenameis:milo. If frontman Eric Leskovar ever comes over to my house, I will most likely invite him in for a one-night stand—that’s how much I love his vocal prowess. The band has made some giant leaps in their song-writing abilities since their 2007 EP, Distance Is Oval. This is definitely an independent band that deserves some serious attention. I just hope I get my one-night stand first. –Jon Robertson

Mystery Jets
Serotonin
Rough Trade
Street: 07.13
Mystery Jets = The Shins + Bombay Bicycle Club
This album would have been really fucking good were it released in 2005 or 2006. The band sounds like a more epic version of Bombay Bicycle Club, which is a good thing at times. However, much like Bombay Bicycle Club, it gets pretty fucking boring. The second track, “Too Late to Talk” really threw me for a loop. The song starts out with an organ line that is everything bad about MGMT’s “Electric Feel” and just as I choked down a mouthful of vomit, the song becomes a slow Sunset Rubdown-esque piano ballad that sounds like something off of Dragonslayer. The album as a whole is pretty decent, just sort of boring and slightly confusing at points. –Cody Hudson

 

Peg Simone
Secrets From the Storm
Table of the Elements/Radium
Street: 05.25
Peg Simone = Patti Smith + Lou Reed + Flannery O’Connor
Secrets from the Storm is a collaboration between proto-punk/blues singer/guitarist Peg Simone and poet Holly Anderson. Peg Simone narrates Anderson’s pseudo-biographical, stream-of--consciousness ruminations on floods, rock n’ roll, and the malaise of an oppressive patriarchal relationship. Simone’s husky, smoke-yellowed voice acts a tour guide on a slow riverboat through the muddy Mississippi deep into the heart of Southern darkness. “Levee/1927” is a sprawling 22-minute composition in which Peg Simone and drummer Jonathan Kane slowly move from simple strummed blues chords to noise-influenced guitar freakouts and then back again. Simone finds her voice late in the record when she abandons the spoken-word art-song and rips through a heavily distorted blues burner on “Mist & Avel,” as well as the traditional folk tune “Henry.” “Henry” is deconstructed in characteristic Simone style, with droning guitar lines, oddly tuned acoustic instruments, and Simone’s cracked, menacing voice. –Ryan Hall

 

Phantom Glue
Phantom Glue
Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records
Street: 08.10
Phantom Glue = High on Fire + Black Tusk + Eyehategod + Torche
Phantom Glue are an aesthetically pleasing band for the genre of doom/sludge/stoner metal. The band has nailed the style, sound and energy of the music, but the originality factor lacks—they just sound like so many other acts before them. I respect the fact that this quartet is doing what they want to do and playing what they want to play, but here’s my main gripe that’s happened quite frequently with a few albums I’ve reviewed: The playing time is under a half-hour. Are the seven tracks that make up the playing time of 27 minutes contained on this offering all that the band could muster up for a full-length? It’s more like an EP, or in kinder way, an MCD. Phantom Glue use the genre standards—i.e., big crushing riffs, gruff, gargled alcohol-and-tobacco grizzled vocals, and loud, yet simple, drumming—effectively. If you enjoy the style, the band won’t turn you off, but you won’t exactly have much desire to return to the record all that much. –Bryer Wharton

Pontiak
Living
Thrill Jockey Records
Street: 05.18
Pontiak = the National + the Doors + Grunge
Think about a time when you were eating cake.  After the fifth swallow, your pallet started yawning, but a few gulps of 1% milk perked you right up.  After the ninth bite, you were done.  Living is that cake and milk.  This album is really good most of the time.  Their blend of cardigan-rock really does sound like what you’d hear if the National played a Doors tribute concert in Seattle in 1991.  “Lemon Lady” is shoegaze-grunge, and it (along with the rest of Living) is delightfully low-fi and under-mastered.  They repeat themselves a lot, relying far too much on the interludes between songs––well, most of the interludes are actually kind of cool for 30-60 seconds.  Yep, that’s it––Pontiak should have cut all the interludes to under a minute.  Doing so would have made this album a 9 instead of a 7. –Andrew Roy

 

Rage
Strings To A Web
Sonic Unyon
Street: 06.22
Rage = Hammerfall + Saxon + Edguy + Accept
Strings to A Web is chockful of anthem-spouting heavy metal songs that churn out awesome, hard-hitting, powerful guitar riffs like it’s 1986. To note, for comparison’s sake, I’ve only heard the modern version of this legendary German metal crew—their last two albums, each one a different entity, but all embodying some powerful, fast-tempo, fist-pumping, rock-the-hell-out goodies. The new offering has a bit of prog-metal sensibilities in it as well as some great orchestrations. It all feels much larger than life and quite easily likeable and more than enjoyable to listen to. Yes, people latch on to the cheese factor of traditional heavy metal/hard rock, but it’s just as cheesy or silly as any other genre of metal. All that needs to be said is, if you like metal, or cleverly crafted, hard-edged rock played at blazing tempos full of highly memorable riffing, Rage’s Strings to a Web is a damn fine album that you’ll welcome into your musical collection. –Bryer Wharton

Razorhoof
Razorhoof EP
1912 Records
Street: 01.19
Razorhoof = Keelhaul + Black Flag
I admire Razorhoof’s devotion to simple, crushing metal.  Razorhoof EP opens with what could be a tribute to the song “Black Sabbath,” which is actually pretty rad.  After this 1:49 intro, the band starts into five songs of straightforward garage-metal.  “Crawl” has moments of brilliance, especially at the beginning, where they have a tight-knit batch of riffs that evolve naturally without sounding predictable.  I can only imagine how loud Razorhoof is live––they just sound loud.  Each song is around or over four minutes, which doesn’t sound long.  But a lot of the riffs wear out their welcome, like the guest at your party who goes through all of your stuff and double-dips their chips in the bean dip.  Razorhoof is a great, no-nonsense three-piece, but you’ll probably skip to the next track at around 2:30 into each song. –Andrew Roy

Real McKenzies
Shine Not Burn
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 06.22
Real McKenzies = Sham 69 + Dropkick Murphys + The Pogues
Let me just say the Real McKenzies should be on every punk rocker’s iPod. This Scottish folk punk band from Vancouver has been around since 1994, has put out four full-length records and toured the world with the best. For their latest, the McKenzies took favorites of their material, and set out to do an acoustic show with a more traditional folk take. Even though we’ve heard all these songs before, they add new life to these already vibrant tunes. Founder and frontman Paul McKenzie holds court with razor-sharp wit, and his charming, thick Scottish-Canadian brogue. Bagpipes, mandolin, pennywhistles, and an assortment of traditional folk instruments come into play, but don’t think for a second that the punk rock side is forgotten, as Paul can be heard yelling at another band member, “Fuck your hippy shit!” Every preceding Real McKenzies record is great, but Shine Not Burn is a perfect musical moment captured on tape that I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life. –James Orme
 

Realmbuilder
Summon the Stone Throwers
I Hate
Street: 05.18
Realmbuilder = Iron Sword + Black Sabbath + While Heaven Wept + Candlemass
New York’s Realmbuilder are quite easily a picture-perfect representation of the type of music that I Hate Records usually releases: epic, doomy, classic and most of all, metal. Upon initial listening, the vocals from Craig “Czar” Zahler (also of black metal act Charnel Valley) are a bit quirky-sounding, close to being almost in the realm of spoken word—they definitely take some getting used to. The album’s pacing is slow; it’s only a little more than a half-hour in playing time, but it feels much longer. Summon the Stone Throwers is a record that takes time to sink in and requires patience, because when it hits you, it’s massively fantastic. The album feels like it’s telling a story, and the emphasis on songwriting over fancy musical technicalities makes things shine even more. In a world where you feel like every doomy, slow-churned-type riff is copied from another band, Realmbuilder shatter that notion. The riffing and soloing propel this album into bombastic epic territory. Give this one a chance before dismissing it; the payoff is grandly rewarding. –Bryer Wharton

Severe Torture
Slaughtered
Season of Mist
Street: 06.29
Severe Torture = Gorguts + Cannibal Corpse + Morbid Angel + Decapitated
It’s been three long years since Severe Torture’s last offering, Sworn Vengeance, which still sees playing time in my musical listening schedule. Slaughtered doesn’t offer some new insight into what brutal death metal is—it isn’t overly technical in its guitar work, and its vocals are distinctly Cookie Monster-styled. But I don’t care, and neither should you, because damn good straight-up death metal that does try to be something new and fancy usually falls flat on its stupid face. Slaughtered offers some monolithic pummeling in its fast tunes and even more pummeling during its slower tunes, bearing a strong semblance to being held underwater and only being let up for short breaths of air. It’s not uncomfortable at all—this is “put your weary feet up and get your brutal death-metal ass-kicking on.” Forget all that modern garbage that thinks it needs breakdowns to be heavy or jazz-fusion pandering to be hip. Severe Torture might as well piss all over their equipment, light it on fire and laugh as said bands watch in panic. –Bryer Wharton 

Soilwork
The Panic Broadcast
Nuclear Blast
Street: 07.13
Soilwork = In Flames + Dark Tranquillity + Disarmonia Mundi
Sweden’s Soilwork have been in a perilous love/hate relationship with the metal world for a good solid decade now. The band got the ball rolling back when melodic death metal was huge. The sad fact that all the whiners and cynics have to face is the fact that Soilwork sells records. So what if they’ve morphed their sound to a more accessible, dare I say, popular form of music. Thankfully, the guitar-driven melodies coupled with Born “Speed” Strid’s excellent clean singing voice and death/thrash snarls and some minimal yet effective keyboard work make The Panic Broadcast so much more enjoyable than the overly repetitive and under-produced last album, Sworn to a Great Divide. The pure and simple fact with this new offering is if you didn’t like Soilwork before, this album won’t change your mind; fans of the band or fans of the current trends of melo-death metal will dig this. The Panic Broadcast is a highly effective, catchy and guitar/groove thick-hook-laden album that will inspire sing-alongs, head-banging, air drumming and everything in between. Keep doing what you’re doing, Soilwork, I’m quite content with it. –Bryer Wharton

Sorgeldom
Inner Receivings
Nordvis Produktion/Relapse
Street: 07.13
Sorgeldom = Agalloch + Alcest + Whirling
Inner Receivings is one of those albums that has a fantastical dynamic in its abilities to be calm and soothing as well as depressive, and also quite feverishly dissonant and blasting and heavy. The morphing ability of the band to change emotions and atmospheres either subtly or quite fast is an astounding accomplishment. This adept ability to shuffle and journey through feelings in the music on Inner Receivings is a unique and impressive part of what Sorgeldom has to offer—it’s trance-inducing as to where you can be completely immersed in what’s going on but not notice some of the transitions. Add a terrific cover of Slowdive’s “Summer Day,” and a huge attention to songwriting, both individually and as an entire piece of music, and Inner Receivings arrives at a beautiful, mind-transfixing juncture that blurs all boundaries of black metal/shoegaze and folky acoustic serenading. –Bryer Wharton

Spoek Mathambo
Mshini Wam
BBE Records
Street: 08.30
Spoek Mathambo = Zomby + Ruff Sqwad + Diplo
If your only introduction to South African music has been the incessant drone of the vuvuzela or the interwebz hi-jinx of Die Antwoord, Spoek Mathambo will make you forget everything you ever knew, even if you wanted to already. Spoek Mathambo, one half of like-minded Sweat.X and Playdoe, releases a much-anticipated and highly visionary debut with Mshini Wam. Mathambo combines the crushing low-end and wobbly tones of UK dubstep with traditional African tribal rhythms, and wraps all of his call-and-response choruses and commanding vocal delivery in a sleek “Afro-futurist” philosophy that is as political as it is escapist. Already signed to Boyz Noize Records, it is just a matter of time before Spoek Mathambo becomes a household name and the face of South African hip-hop, a scene virtually unknown in the United States. This is like, totally next level. –Ryan Hall
 
Triosphere
The Road Less Travelled
AFM
Street: 06.29
Triosphere = Evergrey + Madder Mortem + To-Mera
Something tells me that Norway’s Triosphere aren’t too high in the realm of popularity in the US, let alone where prog/power metal has a hardy grip on fans in Europe, since they are relatively new and I haven’t seen much press on the band prior to this release. That stated, The Road Less Travelled was a surprise enjoyment to me and can easily break the band out of obscurity. Normally, female-fronted prog/power has a tendency to wear thin or get grating after a bit, but after the near hour’s worth of chunky and catchy guitar rhythms on this album, my mind set was in the state to go back to the beginning or just long for more new tunes. In the instrumental aspect of the band, the record plays out as tight and well-executed; the songs build on each other and, better yet, grow on you, the listener. There is some seriously monstrous riffing going on with this album as well as shredding fast momentum and floor-quaking drumming. If the strong instrumentation wasn’t enough of a selling point, the vocals from Ida “Pico” Haukland are ranged with astonishing emotion and talent. –Bryer Wharton

Various Artists mixed by Jerry Bouthier         
Kitsuné x Ponystep
Kitsuné France
Street: 07.06
Kitsuné x Ponystep = Laurent Garnier + Vivienne Westwood in Heaven
London fashion/style/music web mag Ponystep meets überchic Parisian label Kitsuné and the results of their collaboration, mixed by French DJ Jerry “JBAG” Bouthier are as fiery cool as the hottest super models strutting down the runway.  Bridging the gap between dance and fashion, this is the second time the label has worked with the magazine, the first being their legendary 2007 release BoomBox (named after Ponystep maestro Richard Mortimer’s London club of the same name), which was also mixed by Bouthier.  What sets these releases apart from the seemingly endless clones of mix CDs is Bouthier’s music choices, many of which are his own edits under his nom de plume, “JBAG.”  Confused?  Don’t be, all you really need to know is that the music is fantastic. Róisín Murphy’s hypnotic “Momma’s Place” seamlessly morphs into Bag Raiders’ “Turbo Love,” which then seems to birth Munk’s gorgeous “La Musica.”  This is where Bouthier excels: no simple beat-mixing here, but true blends of one track into the other. Things really start to ignite on a trio of cuts that starts with the Voltaire Twins “D.I.L.” (featuring JBAG’s own “hot pop remix”), which turns into Florrie’s furious “Call 911,” then the delicious “X Ray Sex” (by the man himself and featuring the distorted vocals of Louise Prey).  Things peak several more times, especially with Lo-Fi-Fnk’s “Steppin’ Out” and Bunny Lake’s divine “Army of Lovers,” which effortlessly gives itself to Mustang’s instrumental jam “Try To Dance,” which finally signals Das Pop’s “Fool For Love,” which ends things, rightfully so, on a nice high level.  –Dean O Hillis

Waking the Cadaver
Beyond Cops. Beyond Good
Siege of Amida/Candlelight
Street: 08.10
Waking the Cadaver = Carnifex + Job For a Cowboy + Vomit the Soul
Waking the Cadaver’s second full-length offering, Beyond Cops. Beyond Good, plays out like a loud fart with no after-stank. This Jersey-based quintet seem quite content with their brand of breakdowns and slam n’ groove-styled death metal; yes, one could state that the music has brutality to it. But like the aforementioned analogy, the band is all big booms, thuds and gurgling and no putrefaction. The tunes don’t incite the listener to hang on to its grooves and pump their fist, it just makes them want to listen to something else. I’ll admit a personal bias to disliking this style, mainly because I think the standard hardcore/deathcore breakdown is a cop-out guitar riff that just makes people go “ooo … let’s mosh to this shit,” but there are actually a few bands that I listen to and enjoy that do so much better what Waking the Cadaver attempt to do; for example, Italy’s Vomit the Soul. Ultimately, this record that tracks in under half-an-hour feels so much longer than it should and death-slams its way into dismissive auditory boringness. –Bryer Wharton

Watain
Lawless Darkness
Season of Mist
Street: 06.08
Watain = Dark Funeral + Marduk + Averse Sefira
Watain has received some high praise and fan notoriety and this praise is not without good reason—there is noticeable talent in the music, which contains a great depth of memorable songwriting, something that lacks in most produced black metal (a category that Watain falls into), let alone raw black metal. I heard a few select cuts from Sworn to the Black, but Lawless Darkness is my first real revelry into the world of these devious Swedes. The album’s production is richly clean, making the guitar-riffing sound precise and quite memorable throughout the album’s over-an-hour’s-worth of grim-frosted darkness. Again, I emphasize the songwriting on Lawless Darkness is a huge factor and it makes for a terrific album that doesn’t wear thin or get old; there’s no question the band put big thoughts and efforts into this album. There’s some melody seeping in, there’s raw, blackened blasting, stark, howling solos and intermittent atmospheric goodies. Lawless Darkness just put Watain on the top of the Swedish black metal listen list. –Bryer Wharton

Wolf Parade
Expo 86
Sub Pop Records
Street: 06.29
Wolf Parade = Handsome Furs + Sunset Rubdown + Destroyer
In first listening to Expo 86, I’m slightly disappointed. The draw of quirky vocals and synth catchiness found on previous albums Apologies to the Queen (2005) and At Mt. Zoomer (2008) is sparse. Songs “What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way),” and “Two Men in New Tuxedos” hold the familiarity of Wolf Parade, but could also easily be forgotten. Though as I listen through again, first “Ghost Pressure” then “Cave-O-Sapien” set in with that ideal comfort of tremolo vocals, tinkling synth and steady bass. It’s the familiarity of a candled piece of chocolate cake. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s an enjoyable reminder as to why you should get excited for new albums and why you continue to listen.  –Jessica Davis

Woodsman
Mystery Tape
Lefse Records
Street: 06.01
Woodsman = Woelv + Stag Hare
Woodsman blends an array of distant chanting, magical forest tinkering and continuous delay, giving reason to lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, not quite focusing on shapes in the stucco. Similar to watching flames of a bonfire, there’s not a specific point in the album that draws attention in at first listening, but more so lies the mystical unknowing that keeps you entertained. Each song moves smoothly into the next, but taken separately, each song has a small defined character. “Beach” has the distant, revolving sounds similar to sonar while “Balance” blends scientific then commercialized voices with the bouncing instrumentals. It’s a mellow album and with five songs, Mystery Tape is the perfect length to leave you dazed, but not bored. –Jessica Davis