National CD Reviews

Annotations of an Autopsy
II: The Reign of Darkness
Nuclear Blast
Street: 01.22
Annotations of an Autopsy = Job for a Cowboy + Suicide Silence + Suffocation + Behemoth
As much as I do it I get tired of putting particular labels on what style of metal and it’s particular sub-genre a band fits in but with metal it’s a necessary evil because let’s face it us metal fans can be finicky about our style preferences. What’s my point, well the UK’s Annotations of an Autopsy seem like they’re trying to deceive listeners by masking their hardcore elements in a hail of death metal thus we have yet another deathcore band. It’s frustrating too, if the band decided to play full on death metal this album wouldn’t be a half bad version of Suffocation, but no they have to add a bunch of generic breakdown crap in place of what could have been guitar soloing or nice leads with some good tempo changes, because in all honesty the songwriting for this album is actually a bit catchy this could have been a great groove based death metal record but since the trend is to do the core thing we get a dud instead of a mediocre record. –Bryer Wharton

Ashes of Angels
Agonia Records
Street: 12.15.09
Aosoth = Antaeus + Balrog + Merrimack + Blut Aus Nord
Aosoth certainly don’t try to go outside the styles of black metal that encompass the already large and growing French scene, which is fine by me. Ashes of Angels accomplishes two black metal feats that make the album a worthy listen, the first is it’s production, clear yet blisteringly raw, the second is it’s core riffing structured and thick enough to give every song a clear direction but played with off kilt melodies and a nice atmospheric presence creating a darkened bleak musical realm that isn’t too muddled to differentiate sounds. The album is populated by mid-paced and blazer tunes all written well enough to hold finicky black metal fans attention especially those looking for a band with meat to their riffing instead of much of the paper thin sounding fare that populates black metal. –Bryer Wharton

The Beast of the Apocalypse
A Voice from the Four Horns of the Golden Altar
Transcendental Creations
Street: 10.19.09
The Beast of the Apocalypse = Brown Jenkins + Wrath of the Weak + Xasthur but not boring
If death and sludge metal had a black metal baby, it would be The Beast of the Apocalypse. This, being their first release, will fill your ears with six tracks of demented and fuzzy insanity. Much of the mid-tempo material here feels like Death might on your blown out car speaker system, but it is all tuned lower to give it a nice heavy feel. If I had to point out what I like best about this however, it would be more of the unconventional elements like fucked up choirs, twisty guitar leads, and other minor layers of melody strewn tastefully throughout most of the tracks. This really isn’t for everyone, including some black metal fans, but it’s almost always refreshing to hear a black creation that isn’t another Transylvanian Hunter tribute worship album. –Conor Dow

Memorial Roots
Street: 01.12
Brainstorm = Thunderstone + Pharaoh + Symphorce + Iron Maiden
Now with eight full-length albums under their belt while retaining a bit of their own comfort level in consistency and similarity amongst albums German power metal crew Brainstorm have offered up a catchy record sure to appease longtime fans and any newcomers. Yeah this record doesn’t sound too different from the bands last Downburst and after a few listens I find myself wishing for more of a vocal range but the instrumentation is solidly played and cohesively catchy. Any album will get old if you repeatedly listen too it Memorial Roots has enough strength with it’s songwriting that it gives reasons for return listens. The best part of Memorial Roots is the guitars retain a heavy groove laden value even during the ballad type tunes, leaving the normal power metal cheesiness to a minimum. –Bryer Wharton

Clipd Beaks
To Realize
Lovepump United
Street: 01.26
Clipd Beaks = Bardo Pond + Sweep the Leg Johnny + HEALTH
Clipd Beaks claim that To Realize is “a tribute to love, to moving forward, to rejecting doom.” This is a head-scratching claim given the claustrophobic, sometimes overwhelmingly caustic moments of violence that erupt across the 11 tracks. Hailing from Oakland, Clipd Beaks layer disorienting, swirling drones over tight, sinister grooves and frantic tribal drumming. Their lyrics, delivered in a scratchy caterwaul, paint broad strokes of surrealistic imagery like “screaming reptiles” and “clouds that become mushrooms.” It would seem this laundry list of nihilistic elements would render the Beak’s earlier claim null. Where does “murdering the apocalypse” fit into love, moving forward, and rejecting doom? Even though To Realize dwells on the negative aspects of life, it is only to take ownership of them, embody them for a time, and then move past them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this end up on my ‘best of’ list in December. –Ryan Hall

The Clipse
Till The Casket Drops
Re-Up Records
Street: 12.08.09
The Clipse = NERD + Pharrell + Neptunes
What a hype beast. As much as this album was plastered all over the internet, I expected there to be more out of it. Labeled on the internet as “Kaws X The Clipse X Till The Casket Drops” it was almost as if the internet leaking powers that be wanted this to fail, it’s a damn album not a collaboration sneaker. Described as “hip hop on steroids” not one single track sounds any different from any other Clipse song. Drug sales, check. Expensive car talk, check. Chicken head talk, check. It’s all there and it’s all been there before, it’s nothing new. “Popular Demand” featuring everyone’s favorite pink Timbs-loving rapper Cam’ Ron, is the first single off the album and hopefully the last. Same tired-ass beat as every other song, and I can’t figure out why “Popeyes” plays such a significant roll in the song. “Doorman” a song about the same topics as every other song on the album, is complete with a Neptune-ish beat and plenty of money talk. It seems pointless to get into details about the rest of the album, but I can tell you this, it’s a let down. –Jemie Sprankle.

Dark Age
Street: 01.26
Dark Age = Amorphis + Gardenian + Soilwork
Acedia the sixth full-length album from German band Dark Age hit me with a pleasant surprise, the record is a cohesive and catchy blend of power metal and melodic death metal. With Acedia there is definitely more melody than the death metal in fact I’m hard pressed to even call it that even though there are some death growls there is no blast beats it fits more into the realm of dark heavy metal. The album however does a great job at bridging a gap between power metal and modern melodic death metal. The songwriting with the album does a fantastic job at holding listeners attention and leaving you wanting more when the album is all said and done. The record’s simple but catchy melodies are the key here, melodic death metal fans and power metal fans can easily enjoy this record. –Bryer Wharton

Get This Right
Street: 12.15.09
Daylight = Hot Water Music + My Heart to Joy + Title Fight
Just like everything, punk rock moves in cycles. Has your favorite genre or group of bands fallen by the wayside in recent years? Well, don't worry! A band is bound to come around and give you a fix of whatever you're longing for. In this case, Daylight plays post-hardcore in the vein of Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike, combining gruff vocals with emotional lyrics and instrumentation that is both melodic and dynamic. I could leave the description at that and more than a handful of beard-sporting, flannel-clad orgcore afficionados would be interested enough to pirate Sinking (it's available free online!), but I'll dig a bit deeper. Rather than aping HWM directly, Daylight incorporates the influence of like-minded contemporary bands that are emerging from the world of hardcore to create more melodic music. This is the unholy love child of melodic hardcore, Get Up Kids-esque emo and Latterman-like passion punk, and it's damn good. If you're salivating, you should be. If not, Daylight isn't for you. –Ricky Vigil

Forge Again Records
Street: 11.17.09
Elder = City of Caterpillar + Orchid + Envy
Everything that’s old is new again. Elder’s obvious worship for late 90s, early 00s screamo is right up front on this release. With the deluge of god-awful bands using that moniker these days, to hear something that harkens back to bands like City of Caterpillar is a great change of pace. To provide a reference point, Elder is to modern screamo as Sunny Day Real Estate is to modern emo. The song craft follows the melodic-atmospheric-post-hardcore-guitar-work- interspersed-with-screaming-vocals formula, which is what brought the intensity this genre was known for in the first place. This LP only has six tracks, which is no problem. LPs can be an overextension for intense bands, and the shorter length allows Elder to refrain from pulling punches. This is a good release if you’re looking for a new band to take you back to the days when you didn’t have to be 13 to say the word screamo. –Peter Fryer

Boy Meets World
One Records
Street: 10.20.09
Fashawn = Nas + Blu & Exile
Under the full production of Exile, Fashawn made a heavy-hitting, clean debut. Exile's production alone is a masterpiece. Shown off on songs like “Samsonite Man,” “Father,” and “Hey Young World,” the perfectly chopped samples and loops fit together with carefully constructed lyrics like white on rice. In “Life As A Shorty” lines like “didn't know how broke we was ‘til I got older, didn't know I had a dad until he showed up” give you a little insight on what inspired his lyrical content. It’s nice to hear lyrics not full of Patron references and whatever wack crap is infesting songs. Instead, Fashawn provides lyrics about growing up and the battles he has faced. Along with guest spots from Evidence, Mistah Fab, and Blu, this album is as refreshing as lemonade on a hot day, and as we know “lemonade was a popular drink and it still is.”  –Bethany Fischer

Fin Fang Foom
Lovitt Records
Street: 11.24.09
Fin Fang Foom = ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead + Chevelle + Foals
With a name taken from an old Iron Man villain (an ancient, giant, alien dragon no less), Fin Fang Foom are clearly nerds from the school of epics.  When it comes to indie/post rock, that’s usually a really good thing.  Random influences foster creative approaches that make the tunes a more interesting listen.  That coupled with the guitarist/singer’s near-death experience with spinal meningitis, and the scene is set for something ground shaking.  Unfortunately, the cataclysm never materializes.  Post rock is all about the climaxes—the build and release of tension rooted in a melody—and while they’re present, none of them grabs you and overwhelmingly demands that you hear it.  Monomyth sounds too much like a hospital stay. There’s a lot of toneless-ness going on that comes from a few sources: the guitar lines are very math-rock at first but tend to blur together so that none sticks out, the vocals drone on through each song, never really messing with phrasing or range, and low-end bass and gritty guitar dominate the otherwise-crisp drumming.  The talent is obvious, but this mush all sounds similar.  Not that there aren’t high points, “Beating the War Drum” and “Regret” are both solid, just seem like something we’ve heard before countless times.  I bet these guys are great live.  Otherwise, it’s lost on me. –Rio Connelly

Former Ghosts
Upset The Rhythm
Street: 10.20.09
Former Ghosts = Aphex Twin + The Knife + tons of reverb
From the start, this album’s main sticking points for me were the vocals.  The music is glitchy beats behind reverb-drenched synth melodies—a formula that’s worked for many artists before.  But the two main vocalists of Former Ghosts, Freddy Rupert and Nika Roza, both find their work distorted to the point of absurdity on every song.  Literally, every single line is so heavily fuzzed out that lyrics almost never enter into a listener’s awareness.  Worse, each song’s vocals are distorted in roughly the same way, flanger/fuzz effects turning a human voice into a wavering, indistinct mewling, heard as if through water.  All that aside, some of the songs are still really good.  Songs like “Dreams” and “Hello Again” are more standard electro fare, but as such, really show off the lushness of the compositions on Fleurs.  Strings, synth and deep bass flow all together to make a weird Brian Eno/Digitata vibe all set in a vast, echoey cavern.  I read that this album has something like approximately 8¾  years of tone compressed into the reverb.  But like I said, the vocals ruined it for me.  This one’s only for fans of overwhelming fuzz. –Rio Connelly

Franz Nicolay
St. Sebastian of the Short Stage
Team Science
Street 11.10.09
Franz Nicolay = Guignol + a gypsy caravan + the Hold Steady
By my count, Franz Nicolay is the most talented guy playing rock music today.  As an accordion/guitar/harmonica/mandolin/saw man, he tends to stand out musically.  He really stands out.  As the pianist for the Hold Steady, Nicolay is usually the only man in the club dressed in a suit, tie and newsboy hat, and drinking from a bottle of wine.  We should have known that he would have songs of his own hidden behind his signature mustache.  This 10-inch record, two fun songs and two depressing ones, is limited to 500 copies.  All four songs are fantastic to listen to, though having the Dresden Dolls guest on New England gives that track a bit of a black eye—the expected effect when you add a pair of cabaret mimes.  The real gem of the disc, though, shows that Nicolay is more than just a miniature melodramatic gypsy hipster—he’s also a comic book geek.  The track, titled The Ballad of Hollis Wadsworth Mason, Jr., recounts the story of Nite Owl, a character from the Watchmen series, as he looks back on his storied career.  Nicolay delivers an epic biography, in a style that only he could.  It can honestly be described as the best mariachi-disco tribute to a retired superhero ever recorded. –James Bennett    

Freelance Whales
Frenchkiss / Mom + Pop
Street:  03.16
Freelance Whales = Sufjan Stevens + The Format / Loney, Dear
Weathervanes will be one of the indie breakout albums of the year. This record is fantastic. The Freelance Whales blend ethereal ambience with fast paced vocal layering. Tension builds unexpectedly, and its release is dramatic in trippy, “Let’s confront each other with our brains,” kind of way. Lyrics weave quickly and every song has at least one phrase that’s so unexpected and smart that you beg for it to stay in your head. Weathervanes is good at everything it tries; crystal clear vocals are elevated by MIDI loops, carefully timed glockenspiel chimes, and the inevitable banjo.  –Bradley Ferreira

Gift Of Gab
Escape To Mars
Street: 11.03.09
Gift of Gab = Blackalicous + E 40 + Parliament Funkadelic
I dig the sound of horns. I also dig albums that ease you into a listening session. Starting out, the first 10 seconds of the album sound like a Kenny G song, then enters the piano, and boom––the album is off. The only problem is it’s not off for long, in a world filled with ADD ridden children, I figured artists would do a better job of making albums that hold your attention. Luckily by the third song, “Dreamin,” you’re back into the album with a flow from both Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Brother Ali. One song that fell surprisingly short was “Electric Waterfalls,” the real save-the-world, anti-technology message is lost with repetitive and highly annoying choruses. The album finishes strong with “Rhyme Travel” where we get into everything wrong with hip hop these days.  –Jemie Sprankle 

The Goodnight Loving
Nothing Conquers Us 7”
Street: 11.03.09
The Goodnight Loving = Mojomatics + The Rubinoos
When people say that music is “dancey” they usually just mean that there’s a lot of bass and offensive synthesizer, but The Goodnight Loving has managed to create one of the best rock and roll dance singles since Gene Vincent’s “Blue Jean Bop” without resorting to soulless, digital trickery. The A-side sends out definite rockabilly/alt-country vibes without losing its poppy garage-punk sensibility, and the B-side, “Scary Bad,” is an organic, low-pressure garage gem that brings to mind Nuggets compilations. Put this record on at a house party and watch as cute punk girls in sunglasses put down their bottles of Yoo-Hoo and start wildly monkey-dancing. –Nate Perkins

Carpe Diem
Street: 02.16
Heavenly = Queen + Avantasia + Stratovarious
For what France’s Heavenly’s Carpe Diem the bands fifth full-length album is it’s not bad for the genre. Heavenly display a highly operatic power metal experience with Carpe Diem wide vocal ranges being the key notable quality with a large semblance to Queen sans Freddie Mercury. The positive noted the power metal cheese level lying in wait with this record is almost unbearable, take the cool rocking qualities of Queen and ham it up with some genre guitar standards and by the end of this albums nine tracks you’ll be running for the hills, unless uber cheesy operatic and symphonic power metal is your thing and I don’t mean that as an insult or anything, it just feels like if Heavenly had varied the songs up a bit instead of rehashing songs and melodies this album would be much better. –Bryer Wharton

Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering
Street: 01.16
Ingested = Dying Fetus + Annotations of an Autopsy +
I sincerely hope that what the UK’s Ingested have to offer is not the trend of what is to come in death metal. Yeah the record initially has that brutal death metal feel with the heavy bottom end riffing and oh so guttural growls and squeals but after a couple songs everything sounds exactly the same, not similarly the same, exactly the same. It doesn’t matter that the vocals sound forced and contrived or the fact that the drumming sounds like it’s coming from a machine it’s so triggered and sampled, ignore the horrifically weak lead work and lack of anything that would resemble a guitar solo or any guitar technicality. Wait don’t forget all that because if you did this album would be just over a half an hour of silence. –Bryer Wharton

Lindstrom & Christabelle
Real Life is No Cool
Street: 01.19.09
Lindstrom & Christabelle = Donna Summers + Vangelis
No one owns the tag of “minimalist-space-disco” quite like Norwegian electronic musician Hans-Peter Lindstrom. On his newest collaboration with vocalist Christabelle Solale, Lindstrom pulls the rug out from the qualifier “minimalist” and delivers straight up booty-shaking romps rolling in the filthy excesses of sine wave pulses, ridiculously cheesy synth washes, and Christabelle’s come-hither purr. Best known for his epic-length tracks with nary a key change, the addition of a vocalist helps channel Lindstrom’s meandering beats into a flurry of single-length dance tracks. While Lindstrom’s production is spot-on, Christabelle’s contributions flounder at times. Sometimes, her Donna Summers-meets-Nico-like voice sexes up a choice beat, like in “Can’t Get Enough.” Other times, her vocals sound phoned in from her bathroom where she stands in a towel singing along to a disco track she doesn’t really know the English words to. Coming soon to a Banana Republic store near you! –Ryan Hall

Local Natives
Gorilla Manor
Frenchkiss Records
Street: 02.16
Local Natives = Fleet Foxes + Grizzly Bear + Band of Horses
Local Natives, from Silverlake, Cal., have put together a surprising and enjoyable record here.  The comparisons to their contemporaries is obvious, but in an age where cookie-cutter bands are dime a dozen they've managed to set themselves apart from the pack with their symphonic clamor of reverb-heavy electric guitars, solid and moving drum beats and unfastened harmonies.  Tracks such as the opening "Wide Eyes" and "Shape Shifter" are reminiscent of the flowery past while "Warning Sign" and "Sun Hands" show their penchant for more contemporary, sometimes The Walkmen sometimes Animal Collective sounding tunes.  The album swells and flows evenly and I want to say it has a very Californian feel to it (best heard on "Camera Talk"), while still maintaining the very woodsy, nostalgic sound they've borrowed from Fleet Foxes. –Ryan Sanford

The Marked Men
Fix My Brain (Re-Issue)
Street: 10.27.09
The Marked Men = Chinese Telephones + Exploding Hearts + Nobunny
Re-issuing an album that is only three years old by a band that is no longer together seems like a bad move on Dirtnap's part, but holy fuck, The Marked Men are good. I'd heard the hype and ignored it, but Fix My Brain is one of the most fun, dirty little garage/punk records I've heard in a long time. Think Jay Reatard minus the craziness or The Briefs minus the silly outfits, and you're pretty close to the awesomeness that is The Marked Men. Fix My Brain isn't good because it's doing anything new necessarily, but because of how well it does everything old. It's fast, simple, fuzzy, sweet, dumb and damn near perfect. I can't imagine I need more than one Marked Men record in my collection, but I can't imagine anyone not having at least one Marked Men record in their collection. –Ricky Vigil

Mob Rules
Radical Peace
Street: 01.29
Mob Rules = Iron Maiden + Dream Evil + Masterplan + Dio
On their sixth full-length record sounding as if it writing it was easy as pie Germany’s Mob Rules successfully blend modern power metal with traditional heavy metal and it’s a feat to enjoy. That said if your not a fan of the genre this isn’t going to change your mind, but you should be a fan, yes it’s hard to set the stereotypical metal cheesiness aside but it’s even harder not to enjoy this set of catchy songs full of potently infectious melodies and epic power chords with synth work that blends in instead of stands out like a sore thumb. My only real complaint with this album is the vocals are a bit run-of-the mill but it’s a small one because while they sound like many of the bands peers the vocals display great range and they fit the music and in the ends that’s really all one can ask for. –Bryer Wharton

Street: 09.11.09
Nightmare = Judas Priest + Headhunter + Helloween
There’s comfort in familiarity France’s Nightmare play a good mix of modern power metal and traditional heavy metal on their seventh full-length album Insurrection, if you enjoy the genre you will have heard what Nightmare offer up before but they do it rather well. The albums faster paced songs have some nicely speedy riffing and a good vocal range from falsetto singing to snarls and higher pitched semi-screaming. The band formed in 1979 had two releases during the eighties then broke up, re-grouped in 99 and actually have had more releases in the 2000 realm than they did in metal’s 80s hey day, either way the experience shows well. The songwriting with Insurrection is diverse enough to keep listeners’ engrossed give or take a couple cookie cutter ballad/down-tempo tunes, you’ll still want to turn this up to 11. –Bryer Wharton

Smash the Control Machine
Street: 08.18.09
Otep = Walls of Jericho + Crisis + Korn + Sepultura
Otep, giving female fronted metal type bands a bad name since they started in 2000 with their nu-metal tunes filled with false or forced anger. I have a purely hate relationship with Otep mainly because the band feels like a really piss poor wannabe Crisis yet, somehow the band has enjoyed more success and major label signings, high profile tours including Ozzfest when Crisis a far superior band never really achieved the great things they deserved. All that said this new record is more of the same and it’s damned annoying vocalist Otep Shamaya sounds like she’s putting on a bad act with every song she sings and if there’s one thing I hate in music especially metal is false anger or anger put on just for the show of it. Add in a whole slew of generic nothing-special music with laughable riffing and you have what Smash the Control Machine is all about. If you have an ounce of musical taste you’ve already steered quite clear of this band throughout their career. –Bryer Wharton

Street: 11.10.09
Think Fast! Records
Outbreak = Black Flag + Bones Brigade
Outbreak is one of the hardest working bands in hardcore, no doubt. Self-Titled marks their third full-length release, and even though their sound has progressed and changed since 2004’s supremely pissed You Make Us Sick, the foundation is still there. Track One clocks in at 28 seconds of piss and vinegar, 12 seconds of which is comprised of feedback. On this release, Outbreak let some of the songs groove, but there is plenty of fast fast fast happening as well. I wasn’t a huge fan of 2006’s Failure, but Self-Titled is a stronger release. The production is clean this time around, which is a double-edged sword for a fast-sloppy band like Outbreak. On the one hand, it’s nice to hear all of the instruments and vocals separate from one another, but on the other, it decreases the intensity quotient. Those into Outbreak won’t be disappointed by this release, and those looking for something fast, old school and angry should be pleased. –Peter Fryer

Riot Squad
Street: 01.12
Paradox = Metallica + Anthrax + Artillery
Usually if you’re listening to a thrash metal album you can tell right out of the get go whether it is German style or American. Paradox surprised me to say the least with it’s mostly cleanly played guitar work and abundance of melodies and Joey Bellodona styled sung vocals, not typical of usual German thrash. The band also has an uncanny ability at adding traditional metal sounds into their thrash utilizing great groove based riffing ferocious soloing and clean leads and melodies mixed with some all out speed thrashing moments. Paradox is one of those born in the 80s dead in the 90s reborn in 2000 thrash bands but it sounds as if they haven’t skipped a beat since 1987, listening to Riot Squad has that joyous and awesome feeling like when you listened to Ride the Lightning or Bonded by Blood for the first time, it’s one memorable classic thrash metal journey well worth taking. –Bryer Wharton

Proud Simon
Anchors Aweigh EP
Street: 09.01.09
Proud Simon = Ryan Adams + Great Lake Swimmers + Josh Rouse
Proud Simon's self-released Anchors Aweigh EP is the third installment in the New York based duo's catalog.  Anchors Aweigh contains five songs of mostly straight-forward rock songs with a dash here and there of Americana.  The songs are safely penned and a few of them may fare well with some radio play, such as the title track, which has clean electric guitars picked over a harmonica and a steady drumbeat while they reminisce about driving down a winding coast some time ago.  The fourth track, "I Keep the Paintings Covered," shows them switch back to their twangy style, which they're more known for as on their previous album Night of Criminals.  Anchors Aweigh has shown them switch to a more electric guitar and pop oriented direction, leaving behind the banjos.  The EP is decent enough but I'd grab their last album or wait for a full-length release. –Ryan Sanford

Front the Final Foes
Debemur Morti Productions
Street: 10.30.09
Ruins = recent Behemoth + Dark Funeral + Marduk
Pristine production and a heavy black metal style are two things I don’t see seeping out of Australia very often but Ruins are exactly that. It’s clear from the start that they’re going for the big apocalyptic sound, but without any bells and whistles such as synthesizer, which get in the way sometimes. This is probably a smart move for these dudes, and they’re pretty damn good at the meat and potatoes. The material here does tend to wear thin on me after a while, but there are several interesting moments that give reason for repeated listening sessions. Ruins will probably never take over the world, but they have potential for growth, or at least a respectable arsenal to offer metal fans. –Conor Dow

Satan’s Host
Power – Purity – Perfection …999
Street: 10.27.09
Satan’s Host = Behemoth + Watch Them Die + Sodom + Iron Maiden
Boulder, Colorado’s Satan’s Host may have a traditional 80s traditional metal past but they’re all evil now have been for nine years, and it’s a good thing. Power – Purity – Perfection …999 has a vast mixing of sounds that all culminate into an epic oh so evil extreme metal experience. The album demands to be listened to as a whole, picking pieces here and there just doesn’t work the songs on the album are arranged the way they are to tell a story musically and lyrically. The songs weave in and out from pure raging black metal, to hauntingly melodic thrash songs with hints at classic metal all playing out in the Satanic metallic symphony that is Power – Purity – Perfection …999. –Bryer Wharton

Suicidal Angels
Sanctify the Darkness
Nuclear Blast
Street: 01.12
Suicidal Angels = Slayer + Exodus + Testament
Having heard Suicidal Angels Eternal Domination album prior to this latest effort I was expecting what I heard which is well good and bad but mostly bad. Suicidal Angels are pretty much a Slayer worship band, old Slayer, hell they sound more like classic Slayer than Slayer sounds now. I really wanted to get enjoyment from this album the first offering was so-so and I was hoping for an extra punch to the speedy thrash tunes but found monotony and rehashed and repeated riffing, drumming, and vocal patterns with solos that have no soul or anything enjoyable about them. In thrash metal land even in the current scene there are so many other options than having to listen to this, I suggest not taking the time searching out a different band because two songs into Sanctify the Darkness and you’ll be snoozing. –Bryer Wharton

Bakery Outlet
Street: 12.08.09
Tubers = Engine Down + Fugazi + Drive Like Jehu
Chalk up another amazing post-hardcore release to central Florida. While St. Augustine isn’t exactly Gainsville, nor is this 1999, Tubers craft-angular guitar lines, start-stop time signatures, and broken-glass-in-trachea vocals are like the past 10 years never happened. Taking obvious nods to seminal D.C. bands like Rites of Spring and Jawbox, Tubers thrive off anachronous (get it) elements to make this release even more compelling. The Rich Diem + Jeff Mcnally guttural vocal pairing rival the MacKaye + Picciotto partnership for vocal jabs and unrestrained caterwauls in precision timing on “Small Signs Big Posts.” If Tubers knew how to play a clean chord or could stick with a four on the floor time signature, you would never know it. Time changes and staccato guitar chugging are rolled into a cluster-cuss of Yank Crime math-rock heroics. Bummed Chuck Ragan went all country on us? Relive Florida’s post-hardcore glory with this album. –Ryan Hall

Twin Tigers
Grey Waves
Old Flame Records
Street: 03.02
Twin Tigers = The Morning After Girls + A Place To Bury Strangers + Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Another one of the million or so bands from Athens, Ga., Twin Tigers play a steady brand of indie-pop with a few shoegaze influences thrown in for good measure.  Grey Waves, a follow up to last year's Curious Faces Violet Future, is much the same but more refined in that the songs ebb and flow between loud and soft more naturally and the songwriting more polished.  The second track, "Red Fox Run," is a good song, full of energy and delayed guitars that dominate much of the album (although I'm getting tired of American bands singing about gypsies).  The catchy "Everyday" is one of the highlights of the album with its reverb-caked vocals, circling guitars and steadfast drumming.  "Feathers," a song with a BRMC face and an early Cure soul, takes control of the album next before making way for the chilled-out noise in "Crystal Highway" and the dreamy closer, "Island."  Grey Waves is a fair album that's sometimes a bit U2 and sometimes a bit Catherine Wheel.  Look for more from this band as they continue to grow. –Ryan Sanford

Various Artists
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 12.08.09
Wrecktrospective = Three chords + the truth + fart jokes
More than any other label, Fat has exemplified exactly what I want out of my punk rock: speed, stupidity and just a smidgen of intelligence. Even though the label has been criticized for being nothing more than a home for NOFX clones (Lagwagon, No Use For a Name and even early Propagandhi), they have become a favorite label for many people who claim to like variety in their punk, but really just want to hear a mixture of Screeching Weasel and Jawbreaker (and I'm definitely one of those people). Wrecktrospective isn't so much a history of the label as it is a giant sampler, featuring a disc of the label's "Fattest Hits," a disc of demos and a disc that collects the "Fat Club" 7" series from 2001. It's definitely not a bad release, but compared to the excellent BYO retrospective box set released last year, it seems lacking. It's cool to hear bands you might've forgotten about (Wizo, Randy, The Soviettes), bands you forgot were on Fat (Less Than Jake, Sick of It All) and bands that used Fat as a launching platform (Against Me!, Rise Against, Anti-Flag), but the only really compelling part of the release is the third disc. Still, Wrecktrospective is a fun comp with a tiny price tag ($15) if you need more Fat in your life. –Ricky Vigil

Street: 12.08.09
W.A.S.P = Saxon + Dio + Whitesnake + Dokken
It’s fairly hard to be judgmental towards this latest album from classic heavy metal crew W.A.S.P. because in all honestly I’ve never listened to a W.A.S.P. album from start to finish, let alone ever owned one of their albums. That said the record is comprised of six mostly solid classic metal sounding tracks with two cover tunes, Deep Purple’s “Burn,” and Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land,” coupled with the obligatory but horrible ballad track “Godless Run,” taking a third of the album into lackluster territory. That said the other two thirds of the album are great tunes that any classic metal lover can easily find satisfaction from, singer Blackie Lawless delivers a terrific clean and diversified performance. If you feel like going back to 1984 just give this record a listen and you’ll be transported there. –Bryer Wharton

Yukon Blonde
Street: 02.09
Yukon Blonde = The Birds + Matt the Hopple + Teenage Fan Club
When I first gave this record a listen, it put me to sleep in about four tracks.  As a chronic insomniac, I consider this to be useful and impressive—but maybe not such a worthy accomplishment considering that Yukon Blonde probably want their album to be interpreted as rock music rather than Ambien.  It’s not that this stuff is bad, it’s all perfectly serviceable and so easy to listen to that it might, well, put you to sleep, it’s that it sounds like every 60s-influenced rock band you’ve ever heard.  There’s nothing fresh here, and unfortunately they’re copying from bands that everyone else on the planet got to first.  –Cléa Major