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Dark Matter Dimensions (CD Digipack)
Scar Symmetry - CD
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The first thing to say on this review that everyone was wondering; no, the new vocalists aren't individually as good as Christian was. Yes, they are still bloody good. And yes, working in tandem they REALLY work rather well.
Right, that out of the way, the review proper. The album is more progressive than previous efforts, not losing out on the metal edge however. The sci-fi lyrics and sweeps are still there, Kjellgren and Nilsson are still nutty professors of shred, and the rhythm section is firing on all cylinders.
Need further convncing? Listen to 'Noumenon and Phenomenon', 'Ascension Chamber' and 'The Consciousness Eaters' and then tell me you're not going to buy it. That's what I thought as well. You have chosen well.
Adversary - CD
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Let's not beat around the bush, this album is going to hit your eardrums like a Muay-Thai spinkick to the face. It's an outright beast, snapping just at the end of its lead, ready to literally tear your face off.
Lofty analogies, these, and yet appropriate, for this album is easily one of the best of the decade. The band have a solid instrumental foundation - all players have great technical ability and know when to use it and when to kick back - and coupled with Will Clapp's incredible pipes (on par with Jesse Leach and Alissa White-Gluz), you've got something really special.
Opening with 'Hedonist', the band immediately show what they're about - speedy drumming, technical riffing and epic choruses that, despite following the 'metalcore formula' are anything but formulaic, and heighten the experience. The lyrics are of great quality as well, especially the none-too-true subject matter of 'Dying Art'. Other standouts include 'Singularity', 'By Apathy Undone' and instrumental 'The Ashes Of Faith'. In fact the only negative to this album is that on the final track the snare drum has been almost mixed out of audible range, but it's a minute quibble on a disc as incredible as this.
Sad then that rumours about of the band's demise - but don't let that put you off; if a band were to do just one album, then one of this quality will do me just fine!
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This doesn't seem to know what genre it wants to be - is it Swedish melodic death metal? Is it power metal? Progressive metal? All of these things?
An amalgamation is what it is - tracks straddle the melodic and brutal sides in a normally even unison, and yet one doesn't detract from the other at any stage. Moving through an epic storyline that wouldn't seem out of place in a Peter Hamilton novel, the album will take you on a journey, and in the process through one of the most incredible hours of music you're likely to hear.
Omnicide: Creation Unleashed (2CD)
Neaera - CD
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Considering the preceding and succeeding albums in the timeline of Neaera, this album is unfortunately a little lacklustre.
Perhaps exhaustion from touring took its toll, but save the opening three songs, the album sounds a little tired, and quite samey. It's not bad per se, just not a patch on any of the material from Armamentarium or Forging The Eclipse. However, the DVD is well worth the price of the CD alone.
Forging The Eclipse
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Having picked this album up after seeing the band at a recent show, I can honestly say I'm blown away. It's leaps and bounds ahead of their previous disc, Omnicide.
It opens softly, before lurching into the crushing (true) opener 'Heaven's Descent', featuring some of the tastiest riffs of the year. From there on it's brutal riff after riff, with blastbeats and melodic riffing throughout. Other standout tracks include 'In Defiance', 'Rubikon', and album closer 'To Posterity A Plague'.
Impressed? You will be.
Avenged Sevenfold - CD
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As far as difficult albums go, it doesn't come much harder than one where a primary songwriter in the band has died prior to the album's recording.
Still, the band have persevered and produced a very strong set of songs - some of which don't work (notably the more ballad-style numbers) and some of which work very well, such as the title track, 'Welcome To The Family', 'Natural Born Killer' and 'God Hates Us'.
Perhaps the most poignant track on the entire disc, however, is James Sullivan's final composition, the guitar-free 'Fiction'. Haunting and eerie, the song's lyrics, coupled with the fact that it was the final composition of his life, makes it almost sound like a musical suicide note.
Fans of their first two albums may not enjoy this disc so much, but it encompasses all facets of their sound throughout the years, and Mike Portnoy does a bang-tidy job of performing the drum tracks. It's a very enjoyable disc on the whole.
The Panic Broadcast (CD & DVD)
Soilwork - CD
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After the previous, slightly lackluster album that Soilwork released, this disc proved a breath of fresh air in so many ways.
The return of Peter Wichers has put a lot of progressive bite back into the guitar lines, with some utterly phenomenal leads and solos. The riffs as well - they'll melt your face.
In fact the level of instrumental proficiency has really been emphasized here - Dirk Verbeuren should rightly receive acclaim as one of this generation's best metal drummers for his performance - and Speed's vocals have expanded in range greatly. The production is a lot clearer than their last two albums as well, which adds a level of clarity to the music which had been missing for a while.
All in all, this is possibly the best Soilwork disc since Natural Born Chaos. Standout tracks include 'Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter', 'Deliverance Is Mine' and 'King Of The Threshold'.
Passenger (Limited First Edition Digipack)
Mnemic - CD
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This album is a major step up from 'The Audio Injected Soul', and similarly better than current album 'Sons Of The System'.
It lurches into a vicious intro, before one of their catchiest numbers yet, 'In The Nothingness Black', which showcases new vocalist Guillaume Bideau's strong vocals - he's noticably stronger in the pipes than Mnemic's prior vocalist Michal Bogballe.
The instruments are crushing as well, with the closing tracks on the album proving to be some of the best the band have crafted.
Well worth getting? Well, yes.
As Daylight Dies
Killswitch Engage - CD
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In retrospect it had to happen; the mighty Killswitch were bound to release a sub-par album at some point in their career, and this is that album.
The first two tracks are promising, with some meaty riffs and melodies, but after there the only song I could consider worth listening to was 'My Curse'; the rest proved limp, lifeless and far too radio-friendly for a 'metal' album.
If you're a fan of the band then you may want this, and at five pounds it's pretty cheap for what it is. But it's by far their weakest effort to date.
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I was very wary about buying this album after the epic disappointment that was 'As Daylight Dies'; that album was so far removed from all that made Killswitch great that you could say it shook my faith in them.
So when I finally got this CD and gave it a spin, my fears were well and truly allayed. From the opener to the finisher, it's a far stronger album, more on par with their excellent 2004 opus 'The End Of Heartache'. Standout tracks would include 'Never Again', 'Starting Over' and 'Reckoning', with subsequent tracks remaining strong enough to carry the album.
No, it's not as good as their first two discs (and thusly the original self titled). Is it worth getting? Most definitely yes. It's received regular spins in my media library and isn't showing any signs of being dropped yet.