As one of the most recent entries in the oversaturated female-fronted Metal market, today we have Finland’s Shear and their debut full-length release “Breaking the Stillness”. Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Imperanon, Amoral, and Omnium Gatherum among others, this band has enough Melodic Metal pedigree to impress anybody (at least on papers).
The band’s front woman, Alexa Leroux, is of course very attractive and her voice is indeed different to what everybody is used to. Her vocal approach is more in the Hard Rock / Power Metal area, and never goes into the very tired female growls or soprano style. When paired with excellent Melodic Metal, this is actually a great strength for Shear since they manage to sound powerful and somewhat different than all the other female-fronted bands these days.
Coming with the label of ‘similar to Parkway Drive’ and ‘one of the best Australian Metalcore bands’, made us have very low expectations for this release. However, having been produced by Fredrik Nordström we started listening to this release with a full-clean slate and no preconceptions about it. Curiously enough, “The Long Way Home” is actually a pretty decent release if you take all the faggy clean vocals sections and breakdowns (the whole Metalcore crap from it). Confession has some talent, but trying to fit into a cookie cutter mold is what ultimately made them unbearable at times to us.
After a trippy intro, “Confused/Hopeless” delivers pounding riffs and powerful vocals; all is good except that after a while the whole thing collapses with some horrible dreamy-ethereal clean vocals. Then the band suddenly goes back into full aggression mode only to come back very faggy after a bit. This is the main problem that we have with many Metalcore bands and that Confession imitates so well. Other tracks like “I Created This Horror” show some great chops at creating groovy sections with massive drums, but some weird elements here and there make you scratch your head (probably added in the mix).
After making us wait for 10 years since their last full-length release, Night in Gales returns in full force with 13 tracks of excellent Melodic Death Metal with a more melodic and dynamic edge tan before. With their traditional Swedish Melodic Death Metal intact, the band incorporates a few surprises here and there in order to update their sound and kick some as.
Opening with the cello instrumental “Epitaph”, the band nicely sets the mood for their aggressive ‘real’ opener “This Neon Grave”. In this track, the impeccable riffing style of Jens and Frank Basten delivers a very catchy and powerful guitar driven track. The vocals of Bjoern Gooses keep up very nicely with the music providing a multi-faceted approach, including some very effective clean vocals. Behind the melodic nature of “Days of the Mute”, the band delivers some sections that are very similar to Eternal Tears of Sorrow’s passages with clean vocals and melodic guitar sections.
Overlooking the fact that Olof Mörck from Amaranthe infamy plays guitar in this band, Nightrage’s fifth full-length album is actually a few steps up from their previous riff-tastic offering “Wearing a Martyr's Crown”. “Insidious” features 15 songs of very well crafted Melodic Death Metal in the Gothenburg style. However, what makes this release better than their previous albums is the guest appearances by Apollo Papathanasio of Firewind, Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates/ Lock Up, Gus G of Ozzy Osbourne/ Firewind, Tom S. Englund of Evergrey, and John K of Biomechanical, each of them providing something different to each of the songs they participate in.
After the traditional intro song, the album opens with solid riffing in the track “Delirium of the Fallen”. Here you can easily notice the similarities with the band’s earliest work, but when Apollo’s vocals kick in, the whole vibe of the song is very nicely changed and a very well crafted solo capitalizes this vocal change. On the album title track, the band goes for a typical drumming/guitar onslaught that made countless Swedish Melodic DM bands popular, but once again Tomas Lindberg’s guest appearance is what saves the day for this song.
Now on Lifeforce Records, Hackneyed is one of the most promising German Death Metal bands in the last few years. “Carnival Cadavre” marks the band’s third release and shows a great deal of maturity when it comes to writing catchy songs that make you want to start headbanging since the first few seconds. We all know that most DM is almost devoid of creativity, but Hackneyed manage to make the predictable and ‘traditional’ very enjoyable.
After the intro section of “Raze the Curtain” the band explodes into full on chugging DM riffs and vicious growls, this section made us start bobbing our heads up and down since literally the first riffs of the album. “Bugging for Mercy” keeps the groove going and delivers powerful guitars, elaborate drumming, and very interesting slowdowns. The catchiness level is very effective and after two songs this album got us hooked.
Deadlock, one of the most polarizing bands in the metal scene returns with yet another very diverse sound release. By polarizing we mean that people have very outrageous opinions about their musical style, some people call it Pop Metal, but we have to say their style is pretty bad ass and it really grows on you after a few listens.
Moving past their hip hop and metal track in “Manifesto”, the band consolidates their efforts in a very dynamic sounding release. Yes, there are some parts that might be considered too mainstream for ‘extreme’ metal, but in general the band has a unique sound that surely gets them noticed everywhere they play and gains them fans from all kinds of musical genres.
Finish melodic Death Metal masters Omnium Gatherum return with their best album to date: “New World Shadows”. After their killer debut album “Spirits and August Light”, the band wondered off with some lukewarm releases and finally returned to the spotlight (for us at least) with “The Redshift”.
In “New World Shadows” the band goes into darker territory and presents us with a more ‘classical’ Melodic Death Metal sound and their own brand of guitar acrobatics and solid songwriting. With this album, the band is sure to drawn comparisons to Finish Melodic Death Metal heroes Insomnium.
At The Soundawn comes from Italy and are here to show us what they are made off with “Shifting”, the band’s second release. For a band so young the musicianship in “shifting” is pretty impressive to say the least. Fusing Post-Rock, Post-Metal and even some Jazzy influences, the band will easily draw comparisons to Cult Of Luna, Mowgai and similar artists.
While there are countless of boring Post-Rock/Metal album, “Shifting” is one of the best we have heard this 2010. The band does an excellent job at creating haunting atmospheres and instrumental passages to transport the listener into a different world. Featuring healthy doses of raspy vocals and aggressive parts, this release does not fall into the ‘too much atmosphere, not enough content” category that many bands playing this genres of music do.
The ever changing French band Destiny is back with a very complex and multi-faceted album that will surely be enjoyed by fans of different styles of Metal music. “XI Reasons To See” feature a wide variety of tracks that feature a healthy combination of Melodic Death Metal, Trash Metal and Modern Death Metal.
Some people might argue that this release has too much stuff going on to be fully appreciated, but we believe that one you give this album a few listens you will start to appreciate all the layering that Destiny has done. With a strong Melodic DM and Trash foundation we greatly enjoy this release.
Dioramic makes a bold statement on their myspace saying that you can’t categorize their music and they are pretty close to reality. The German trio creates a musical palette featuring influences from Progressive rock/Metal, Post-Hardcore, Post-Metal, but in their own terms making for very diverse and interesting songs.
Signed to Lifeforce records the band unleashes “Technicolor” an 11 song album that will have you scratching your head from song to song. Trying to figure out how the songs will progress was the most fun we’ve had while reviewing albums in the last few days.