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I never would have guessed four years ago that I would be talking about a Bad Wolves album. My introduction to this band was their god awful cover of the Cranberries "Zombie" in 2018, and I felt I had every right to steer clear of these Five Finger Death Punch wannabe edgelords. Well the time has come, and it seems like it may have been at a decent time as Tommy Vext is out as primary vocalist. Their replacement is frontman of deathcore act The Acacia Strain, Daniel Laskiewicz.
And while Daniel is significantly more impactful on the microphone, it does not change the fact that this is still a Bad Wolves album. This group has a horrendous sounding mix; the compression in the breakdowns to songs like "Classical" and "On The Case" sound like liquid ass. I had a similar problem this year with Spiritbox, but that group managed to salvage the radio friendly compression by having very sticky refrains. Bad Wolves has good refrains, probably the best in the entire discography, but they are nowhere near as plentiful as Spiritbox. "Wildfire", "Gone" and "House of Cards" are good, but "Springfield Summer" and "Classical" are quite forgettable. And that's before you even get into the cringe on "Comatose". Text abbreviations? 🤢; I didn't know I could hate anything more than "Zombie", but here we are!
The compositions are fine, I guess. They are pretty predictable since this is radio rock/metal, and the promo singles "Lifeline" and "If Tomorrow Never Comes" are adequate. The biggest problem with Dear Monsters is that is the entire formula for all twelve tracks. Some songs are heavier, some songs are softer acoustic ballads like the closer "In The Middle". But these differences are all surface level. I don't like using the term "butt rock", but if any band fit into that mold, it would be Bad Wolves. It's super generic, the mixing is hot garbage, and the growing maturity in the lyrics may be commendable, and the new vocalist is an upgrade, it does not hide fact that most people who are going to enjoy Dear Monsters are never going to hear it. Instead, it'll be "get out those Monster EnergyTM and lets punch some drywall, YEAHHHHHHHH!!!" as Kyle blasts "On The Case". It'll have it's audience, but the only "Monster" I'll be is to this bands fanbase.
I've been following Olde for some time now and they are proving themselves to be a band that just keep getting better and better with each subsequent release. Pilgrimage is their third full-length album and is their tightest and heaviest with undoubtedly the best production job to date. These Canadians play a brand of sludgy doom metal that doesn't really aim for the usual grief-drenched melancholy of doom metal, but is an angrier, more aggressive-sounding beast altogether. A lot of the credit for this more aggressive sound must be attributed to Doug MacLarty's vocals, which owe a lot to hardcore punk's menacing and violent style - as I've pointed out before, to me he sounds very much like Sick of it All's Lou Koller.
Greg Dawson and Chris Hughes make for an ultra-heavy guitar pairing with some solid, heaving doom riffs and a few nice solos, the one during Medico Della Peste being one case in point. I particularly love the ringing, clean-sounding, recurring melody at the beginning and throughout In Defiance, which seems heavily influenced by the intro to The Devil's Blood's Voodoo Dust, a track which is a particular favourite of mine. A major beneficiary of the great production job is drummer Ryan Aubin whose efforts, along with bassist Cory McCallum to add additional depth and heft to the tracks, are well showcased without being thrust too heavily to the fore.
Initially I was reasonably impressed by Pilgrimage, but repeated listens have opened up new treats I may have initially missed and, I have got to say, this is an album that just gets better the more time you're willing to put into it. One of the absolute standout moments for me is guest Nick Teehan's unexpected and brief sax solo during The Dead Hand that all too quickly gives way to a short explosive guitar solo, but I applaud the intention and I hope this is an avenue the band choose to explore further on subsequent releases as it sounds amazing.
This album is of sufficient quality to break the band out of the murky underground shadows they have been inhabiting for too long and will hopefully garner them a bit more recognition which they undoubtedly deserve. If you're a fan of quality doom I heartily recommend this album to you for your perusal.
Gloosh is a solo project of Siberia's George Gabrielyan (Георгий Габриэльян) who is also the instrumentalist behind duo Frozenwoods. The project seems to be unfairly hindered by having a name that doesn't really fire the imagination of most English-speaking black metal afficianados (despite being Russian for wilderness it doesn't translate well into English) and consequently doesn't glean the attention that he may have otherwise, which is a great shame as Gloosh are a step up from a majority of Russian black metal outfits. He plays a dramatic style of atmospheric black metal that is at once extremely expressive and viscerally savage. Opener Swampsong, for example, is a real whirlwing of a track, blasting along at an impressive tempo, whilst the terrific, ragged vocals shriek about how they are the natural elements that make no concession to Man (all the lyrics are in Russian), a concept I'm certain is familiar to someone who lives in Siberia! It's not all breakneck blasting however, there are some nice tempo changes, sometimes even verging on doom metal pacing, and several more melodic, medium-paced sections that give the tracks plenty of variety and allow for some nice builds and climaxes. The track that was released as a promo, Hexenring, is the prime example of this variety, from an all-out blasting assault of an opening to a funeral doom-like central section it climaxes with a dual female-vocal that is reminiscent of Lindy-Fay Hella's vocals for Wardruna.
Thankfully, despite the thematic predominance of nature and the natural world, Gloosh never resorts to hokey folk metal cheesiness, but keeps within the realms of black metal, in the manner of more talented black metal naturalists, such as Wolves in the Throne Room. I quite enjoyed Gloosh's debut Timewheel, but I consider this a considerable step up in quality, both with respect to the songwriting and dynamism of the performance and also the production values - the album sounds absolutely fantastic. Although it isn't by any means a perfect release, it certainly shows enough potential that allows optimism that he may one day produce a Two Hunters of his own.
It's 1994 and "the 90's" are in full swing. Metal is all but dead, with most of the genres big arena bands being relegated to smaller venues, grunge reigns supreme. But throughout all of this, many groups stuck to their metal guns, and in the case of Megadeth, released some of their most polished and confident albums.
1992's 'Countdown to Extinction' saw the band steer away from the thrash metal sound they helped pioneer to much mainstream success (as much as any metal band could have in the early 90's, anyway), and so 'Youthanasia' sees Dave Mustaine and his merry men delve deeper into a more stripped-down approach, and it sounds like they're settling quite comfortably with the idea of slowing down and focusing more on musical content than cramming as many intricate riffs as possible into each song. As a result, 'Youthanasia' has a lot more gusto and finesse than its predecessor.
Mustaine's vocals are also really starting to come into their own as well. While they've always been a bit of an acquired taste, he's certainly made the most of his somewhat unique voice, emphasizing his high range and renowned snarl to great effect.
With songs like 'Reckoning Day', 'Train of Consequences', 'Family Tree', 'Blood of Heroes', 'Addicted to Chaos', the hugely underrated 'Victory' and one of the bands strongest compositions, 'A Tout le Monde', 'Youthanasia' sees the foursome continue to evolve and grow. With a strong line up of musicians and a beefy production, this is easily some of Megadeth's finest and most often overlooked work.
Morbid Reality by US thrash metallers Hexx is the first release I have ever heard by the band. As usual with me, the artwork caught my eye at first and I soon found myself listening to their 1991 offering as part of my weekly rotation. I understand these guys have a penchant for changing direction/styles having started out as a NWOBHM act in their first iteration. By the time they got to album number three they appeared to have adopted some death metal elements, most notably with the vocals now being handled by guitarist Clint Bower who deployed a very harsh screeching yet gruff style for Morbid Reality.
Alongside these death metal influences the band show some technical aspects to their playing, changing pace deftly and avoiding the obvious progressions of a traditional thrash metal album. As such, I would pitch Morbid Reality as somewhere between Sadus with the strong bass presence and Metal Church with the over-the-top vocals supported by a strong riff artillery. Long term guitarist Dan Watson in no small part adds dimension to Hexx’s sound here; ably supported by Bower the guitars map an interesting if not overtly complicated ecosystem across Morbid Reality. The lead work has the rabid energy of a player with unpredictability balanced with the genuine talent required to carry such spontaneity off. Yes, there are times when the band do get a bit muddled with all the moving parts (Blood Hunter) but overall, they manage the frantic pace and almost schizophrenic structures well enough.
Frustratingly for an album with some technical prowess it does suffer in some regards with sounding a bit similar in places. Whilst my enjoyment stays solid throughout the eight tracks it is tested sometimes by the track lengths and the abominable stupidity of the instrumental wankery (Spider Jam) to close the album really does grate.
However, this is clearly an album made by an established band with all the chops you would expect from such a no-nonsense approach to thrash metal. It is more than capable without ever being exceptional, interesting without ever straying over to being innovative, challenging without ever being avant-garde.