This Month In Metal: August/September 2009

A double dose of news and reviews, featuring Megadeth, Immortal, Behemoth and many more in this edition of This Month In Metal.

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Municipal Waste Massive Aggressive

Released: August 24 Genre: Thrash metal/hardcore Label: Earache

If I was forced to define Municipal Waste in as few words as possible, I'd probably opt for no nonsense. Four albums into their career, I'd still argue that it very much applies. Massive Aggressive is simply put more of the same. The same aggressive thrash rhythms, barked vocals and the occasionally hilarious lyrics about partying and moshing.

Municipal Waste are what they are, and if you dig their previous output, I'm sure you'll like this. I wouldn't rate it as highly as their previous two but just like those albums Massive Aggressive has its moments of old school cross-over grandeur, and some songs that fortunately will just blow right by you. Massive Aggressive is a short album with little variation, and I suppose it's fitting that the review is pretty short. After all, it took me longer to type this than to listen to the actual album.

Rating: 6.5

Vader Necropolis

Released: August 21 Genre: Death metal Label: Nuclear Blast

It has been a turbulent couple of years for one of the elder bands of the death metal genre. Three members out, three new in and obviously several questionmarks follow in the tracks of their new album.

I've never been the biggest fan of Vader, but they will always get a huge amount of respect from me for persevering through some hard times in the 80's and managing to break out from behind the Iron Curtain. Necropolis does not differ much from previous Vader albums. It's heavy, well-produced and has enough pent up aggression to keep you raging until next year. Vader is the type of band that works best when they stick to songs ranging from 2-4 minutes, and Necropolis does just that, clocking in at around 40 minutes split onto 13 tracks. Two of the thirteen tracks are covers (Venom's Black Metal and Metallica's Fight Fire With Fire). Neither of the covers do much to help nor hurt the overall score of the album, although it is nice to hear 2009 versions of both tracks. Necropolis is an album with a lot of positives the opening 1-2 punch might be the best you'll hear all year in the death metal genre, and the album manages to keep an even level from then on, and if one omits the two covers, the ending punches delivered by We Are The Horde and When The Sun Drowns In Black makes Necropolis end on a high note.

Rating: 7.5

Behemoth Evangelion

Released: August 7 Genre: Blackened death metal Label: Nuclear Blast/Metal Blade

Is Evangelion the most hyped black/death album of the year? Whatever the answer to that is, one can be sure that the people handling the promotion have been doing their absolute best to make sure that Evangelion tops The Apostasy when it comes to numbers and dollars. I could be blunt and say that Evangelion is just another Behemoth album, with the good and bad that comes with it, but we all know that one sentence won't cut it. Evangelion is, as per expected, very well produced. It's not slick by any means but it manages to retain clarity while having a dirty, aggressive sound. There's no slacking to be found on this album every member is locked in and never do you get the feeling that one instrument is more important than the other.

The album reaches home after 42 minutes, split onto 9 tracks, but at points I have to say that it drags a bit. Towards the middle and the end there's a noticeable drop from the opening trio of songs, and while there's nothing wrong with the latter songs, it's quite obvious that Evangelion suffers from being frontloaded. That being said, the appropriate label for the closing songs would be less interesting, as opposed to not interesting. The opening of the album sets the bar and Behemoth never seem to be able to reach those heights again as Evangelion rolls on. With all that being said, Evangelion is a very good album. I'd put it down to an album where all the individual parts are good, solid songs but when it comes to the running order, it makes the final product seem lesser than it could have been. But Evangelion is still a good listen with some killer cuts, and you should check it out.

UG Review Rating: 8

The Black Dahlia Murder Deflorate

Released: September 15 Genre: Death metal Label: Metal Blade

To these ears, The Black Dahlia Murder managed to realise their potential with their previous album Nocturnal. Everything up until that album had been promising, if not as mesmerizing as Nocturnal turned out to be.

Deflorate continues where Nocturnal left off. It's brutal, fast, in-your-face modern death metal with a nice touch of tuneful melody present when required. The thing about TBDM is that while there's a lot of blasting and growling going on, the overall vibe is very catchy and the songs manage to stick, at least in this reviewer's head. There's been yet another change of personnel, with Ryan Knight (ex-Arsis) replacing John Kempainen. I always liked Kempainen's melodic approach to the soloing, but Knight proves with his tasty performances that he very much fits the bill. Instrumentally, the band is incredibly tight and Shannon Lucas continues to impress me with his tasty drumming and sense of how to make a song flow. Deflorate is a very good album by a band that has just hit its prime. The band knows how to play to their strengths and realise that this kind of metal is best delivered in short, ferocious bursts. While not every song is a hit, there's sufficient material to keep your head banging for months to come. I'm hesitant on whether Deflorate reaches the level of Nocturnal, but it certainly puts up a good fight.

UG Review Rating: 8.5

Megadeth Endgame

Released: September 15 Genre: Thrash metal Label: Roadrunner

As nigh all classic thrashbands, Megadeth (or Dave Mustaine, depending on your perspective) have gone through some rough patches. When and even if that rough patch has ended for Megadeth is another discussion, but personally I'd call Megadeth's output post-Rust In Peace questionable. A lot of good songs but few albums I'd call good. My personal expectations for Endgame were pretty low, but as all albums do, Endgame arrived into my stereo with a clean slate. Dave Mustaine is The Man when it comes to his band, and as is evident, not all things pleased him when it came to the guys he was playing with. Out went Glen Drover and in came Chris Broderick. I quite like Broderick since he's a great player and seems like a good guy who is easy to get along with. Whatever the reason, Mustaine seems to have found some sort of comfort zone with Broderick, and I will have to say I am both impressed and surprised.

Endgame is a very good album and I'd have to say it's a notch or two above everything they've done since Rust In Peace. While recent outings have flirted with the technical thrash side, Endgame embraces it to an extent unseen for almost two decades. Endgame is extremely solid and there're no songs that will make you reach for that skip song button on your stereo. Obviously some songs are better than others, and the album is a tad frontloaded with cuts such as This Day We Fight and 44 Minutes being a head above the rest, but the album is definitely worth a few spins even if you gave up on Megadeth several years ago. Guitarwise, Mustaine hasn't been this intense with his riffs since, well, Rust in Peace. I hate to sound like a broken record, but that's really how I feel about Endgame. Dave has been very public about his affection for Chris Broderick and his abilities, and for those of us familiar with Chris pre-Megadeth, such praise comes as no surprise. My only questionmark regarding Broderick was whether he could pen his own solos, or if he was just a guy able to mimic other guitarists. It somewhat saddens me, but Endgame is probably the first Megadeth album since So Far So Good where I find that Mustaine outplays his partner. Chris Broderick is the complete package in all aspects but one, and that is when it comes to penning memorable leads, he falters. But details and minor componenets aside, Endgame is a fitting return to form for Megadeth and Dave Mustaine. My own personal dislike for Mustaine's antics can't make me ignore that Endgame is one of the best thrash albums we'll hear all year.

UG Review Rating: 8

Shadows Fall Retribution

Released: September 15 Genre: Melodic metal/thrash Label: Ferret/ILG

I've always had a soft spot for Shadows Fall and have considered them to be the Testament of the New Wave of American Metal. Very talented, very capable but never seem to get the same recognition as their contemporaries. The issues with their label in recent years have been pretty public, and to be honest I'm just pleased to see them still making music.

I quite enjoyed Threads of Life, despite being much more melodic and accessible than The War Within and The Art of Balance. Given their recent issues, it perhaps comes as no surprise that Retribution is a much more aggressive and thrash-rooted affair. The band's sense for including pop melodies without it all turning into cheese is still present, but not as front and center as on Threads of Life. That being said, the choruses to songs like Dead And Gone, Still I Rise and The Taste of Fear are pretty monumental and Brian Fair continues to use his pipes in whatever way he can to help further the song. Retribution is a solid album that gets a lot of things right. I'll have to say that I preferred the more core oriented style of albums like The War Within, but all in all it's a minor complaint seeing as Shadows Fall are still growing and developing their sound. As far as simple, modern American metal goes, this year has seen few better.

UG Review Rating: 8

Immortal All Shall Fall

Released: September 25 Genre: Black metal Label: Nuclear Blast

It is always problematic when an established, well-liked act returns from hiatus. Expectations are often enormous and very rarely does the band manage to produce an album on par with their earlier releases. Occasionally a band does manage to live up to these expectations and occasionally exceeds them, but such a feat is a rare sight indeed. So now, after 7 years since going out on a high note with Sons of Northern Darkness, where do Immortal stand?

Upon my initial listen, I began thinking along the lines of they must have been woodshedding for years, because All Shall Fall is packed with quality black metal riffs. From the opening riff of the opening song (which is also the title track), it's quite clear that All Shall Fall is Immortal firing on all cylinders, burying us all in an avalanche of frostbitten metal. During the course of it's 40-minute running time, All Shall Fall is void of mid-tempo tracks until the closing Unearthly Kingdom, which is also the first time Immortal let a song truly stretch out. The first six tracks all range from 4-6 minutes in length, give or take a dozen seconds, and all of those six tracks are up-tempo affairs. Picking out favorites amongst the seven tracks is a tough task, as I dare say all of them are of a very high standard except perhaps Unearthly Kingdom which does a good job of closing out the album, but it's just not as good as the preceeding six cuts. The production of All Shall Fall is perhaps the album's greatest strength, actual songs aside. Immortal's latter albums all had good, fitting productions but they never quite hit the bull's eye like All Shall Fall has done. It is seemingly raw, yet open enough to allow multiple layers and clarity for the respective instruments. The band has also embraced modern recording and production to achieve the punchy, thick wall of sound that is the standard of today's metal albums. Where the production truly has succeeded however is in the details department. The small, subtle effects like the phaser in the mid-section of the title track and other small additions that on the surface make a very small contribution help push this album to new heights.

All Shall Fall is front-to-back one of the best albums we'll hear all year, and one of the best comeback albums of all time as well. Immortal have done the musical equivalent of blowing their load and I wouldn't be surprised if this album sorts out the issue with global warming, because it most certainly sounds like true, grim, frostbitten winter.

Rating: 9.5

Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us

Released: September 28 Genre: Gothic metal Label: Century Media

Music to get murdered by is how vocalist Nick Holmes describes the new Paradise Lost album, and it's most certainly a fitting description. Faith Divides Us is a step back for PL in terms of style, as it resembles their earlier efforts much more than their latter.

I personally prefer PL in their most melancholic, somber and down-tempo efforts. Occasionally during the course of Faith Divides Us, there are more up-tempo, riff-oriented and heavy efforts that just don't seem to click with me and to be honest I find them to be somewhat ill-fitting given the style of PL. However, songs like As Horizons End and the title track are killer tracks that deliver pure sadness and angst from the first note to the last.

Vocalist Nick Holmes aside, the main attraction for me with PL is guitarist Greg Mackintosh who delivers tasty melodic solos and melodies in abundance. As always, he shines on Faith Divides Us and helps to keep things together with his well-placed melodic outburtsts filled with emotion. While I do think Faith Divides Us is a pretty good album, in certain sections it feels a bit out-of-place. That being said, it's hard to disregard from the fact that the album contains several good songs and is book-ended by killer cuts.

Rating: 7

News and tidbits from the past months:

  • Keep of Kalessin have begun work on their new album and are currently in pre-production.

  • The Dillinger Escape Plan is currently working on their new album, entitled Option Paralysis, tentatively due in early 2010 via Season of Mist.

  • Katatonia are mixing their new studio album Night Is The New Day, due on November 2nd via Peaceville.

  • Dimmu Borgir has split with vocalist/bassist Vortex and guitarist Mustis. As of right now, it's hard to be specific about the reasons for the split, but it seems safe to say that it boils down to disagreements about the commitment of the two departed musicians.

  • Zakk Wylde is in stable condition and has returned to his home after being forced to drop off the current BLS tour, due to blood clots in his lungs and legs.

  • Dark Funeral has set Angelo Exuro pro Eternus as the title of their new album, due on November 18.

  • Ex-Gorgoroth vocalist Gaahl has announced his retirement from the metal genre.

  • Armored Saint will enter the studio on October 3rd to begin work on a new album, tentatively due in early 2010 via Metal Blade.

  • Greg Reely will mix the new Fear Factory album, tentatively due in early 2010.

  • Tony Iommi will have surgery to repair the cartilage in the thumb on his fretting hand.

  • Ozzy Osbourne has hired Gus G as the new guitarist in his solo band.

  • Shadow Gallery will release their new album Digital Ghosts on October 26 via Inside Out. It will be their first album after the death of singer Michael Baker, and will feature new vocalist Brian Ashland.

  • Finntroll have signed a three-album deal with Century Media.

  • Partick Mameli of Pestilence has begun work on new material.

  • Soulfly will enter the studio in November to begin work on a new album.

  • As I Lay Dying have begun work on a new album, aiming for a Q1 2010 release.

  • And finally, word on the street is that Metallica are trying to put together a tour with the Big Four of Thrash, being Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.

  • 131 comments sorted by best / new / date

      Astyan
      I'm also surprised by Evangelion getting an 8. In fact, to me the article sounded like a weak attempt at minimizing the album's quality because Behemoth is a mature band with solid commercial success. The random analysis telling us how "the last songs fail to achieve the quality of the first three" sounds like utter bullsh*t to me, considering it includes tracks such as "The Seed ov I" or especially "Lucifer". I'm not a fanboy, but Evangelion is up there with the most brutal productions Black and Death Metal have ever created, an excellent mix between Death Metal's aggressiveness and Black Metal's sinister mood. Plus, it features flawless musicianship from all the band members. Still haven't checked Endgame, by the way, going to give it a listen right now.
      TheAmenCorner89
      The JesterHead wrote: Rysis wrote: Immortal 9.5? this must be a joke Yeah, albums here are brutally overrated... Pretty much anything reviewed gets a minimum of 7.
      No way, Pete is always very strict with his reviews, this is possibly the most positive TMIM i've read, very often most of the albums only just scrape a 6. I don't always agree with his comments but it seems like this month was goooood. Definitely going to have to check out the new Immortal album
      thecheat3224
      I was really impressed with Behemoth, The Waste, Megadeth, and BDM. Evangelion is an amazing release for anybody who likes blackened death metal, or death metal at that. Fast blasting, awesome solos, and dark vocals from Nergal. Massive Aggressive seemed like it wasn't long enough even though it's longer than Waste Em All and Hazardous Mutation. Endgame is thrash metal at its best. Deflorate blew me away.. amazing solos and great drumming from Shannon Lucas. I still need to check out the new Immortal.
      duncang
      The JesterHead wrote: Rysis wrote: Immortal 9.5? this must be a joke Yeah, albums here are brutally overrated... Pretty much anything reviewed gets a minimum of 7.
      You should read this article more often.
      The JesterHead
      Rysis wrote: Immortal 9.5? this must be a joke
      Yeah, albums here are brutally overrated... Pretty much anything reviewed gets a minimum of 7.
      B455GU174R
      i want endgame but the stupid commercialistic conformist music shops in my area dont have it
      tamotots
      Ex-Gorgoroth vocalist Gaahl has announced his retirement from the metal genre. that surprised me
      EmancipatedSoul
      IMMORTAL!! \m/ Saw them live 2 months ago; and didn't know they were releasing a new album! Will take a listen to it as soon as I can! Also; great review on Evangelion by Behemoth. Although I love the album, and think of it as one of their best, it is true that some songs seem to drag, and are less-interesting than others.
      SkepsisMetal
      Shadows Fall new album? Why was I not informed?! Im off to grab a beer and check it out Laters
      Cantplay4penuts
      word on the street is that Metallica are trying to put together a tour with the Big Four of Thrash, being Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.
      HOLY SHITTTTT OMGOGMOMGOMGOMGOMG GOING
      Jondy
      someone mentioned sonata arctica... ^Oh if anyone was wondering, the new Sonata Arctica... if you were a fan of their old stuff, I'm not gonna say it's good, not gonna say it's bad, I haven't even decided yet. But it is most certainly interesting. Coming from these guys, this album just seems so weird. I like how they're beginning to evolve away from just straight up power metal into something that's everything we like about powermetal but less cliche and cookie cutter. Like Kamelot. Kamelot is the best evolved band I have ever had the pleasure of listening to the discography of. Epica's new album? I can tell exactly what's gonna be like. More bitching about religion. Just straight up constant bitching about religion over top of what sadly could have been an excellent sound for a band if only they would explore more subject material than "religion sucks." OK WE GET IT! So religion sucks! Musically I didn't like the direction their last album took. I like heavier music, but i think in this case it threw their sound off balance. I hate the fact that After Forever split this year. imo, they own Epica in every way. Invisible Circles ftw.
      Jondy
      Awokmyweewok wrote: d00mtickle wrote: Dethklok is a joke band and I don't see the purpose of putting it here, nevermind bothering to put my dislike of them into words. How about you get off your high horse for 2 seconds and realize that 99% of metal bands today are "joke bands", just not intentionally. Dethklok just has the balls to poke fun itself while rising to the forefront of a genre polluted with a bunch of talentless teenage monkeys who drop tune and bang away on the first 5 frets. I love metal, but I don't take myself so seriously that i can't be entertained by humorous lyrics accompanied by some of the tastiest riffs and solo's i've heard in a while. Get over yourself. Agreed. I love Dethklok. Funny thing is, they write better riffs jokingly than alot of the bands on this page write seriously. Just because a band has joking lyrics doesn't make it bad music. Music isn't completely reliant on lyrics (unless you count rap as music, which I do not). And the show is awesome.
      Dethklok's lyrics are deeper than alot of actual bands in the same genre. I mean yeah, it's "funny" but I wouldn't really say that cannibal corpse isn't. dethklok often goes beyond just imagery and humor and will make a bold statement about society or the music industry. I especially like the lyrics to detharmonic. Funny? Yes. But also, it's about greed in the music industry.
      Reviewer Pete
      d00mtickle How about you get off your high horse for 2 seconds and realize that 99% of metal bands today are "joke bands", just not intentionally. Dethklok just has the balls to poke fun itself while rising to the forefront of a genre polluted with a bunch of talentless teenage monkeys who drop tune and bang away on the first 5 frets. I love metal, but I don't take myself so seriously that i can't be entertained by humorous lyrics accompanied by some of the tastiest riffs and solo's i've heard in a while. Get over yourself.
      Entertainment and quality do not necessarily go hand in hand. I do get entertained by Dethklok, but as far as artistic value goes, they hold about zilch. If that sounds as if I'm still on a high horse, please get over me.
      tigerking615
      Ican't wait until the new Heathen album comes out, whenever it does. That should be amazing.
      Shinsen88
      Cool. Lots of high scores this month. Deflorate is insane. I have yet to hear much off of Endgame, but I want to pick it up soon.
      cobainAnselmo
      Finally, Pete... All Shall Fall is ****in amazing... I am completely sure that it will be at top ten at the end of 2009... But, no Scar Symetry?
      Lion_Slicer
      marianoarnaiz wrote: KAMELOT ON STUDIO AND WITHOUT LABEL SONATA ARCTICA MISSING HERE EPICA NEXT TO RELASEA NEW ALBUM. I HAVE NOTICE THAT THIS COLUMN IS ALLMOST COMPLETLY BOUT DEATH METAL NOT GOOD
      1. God why don't we get someone get on here and whine about every other band not being on here? Does anyone on earth have the time to review every metal release every month? I nominate you. 2. 3 out of the 8 albums this month are death metal. If this column is "allmost completly" about death metal then I guess you are "almost 32 years old" 3. CAPS LOCK
      Awokmyweewok
      d00mtickle wrote: Dethklok is a joke band and I don't see the purpose of putting it here, nevermind bothering to put my dislike of them into words. How about you get off your high horse for 2 seconds and realize that 99% of metal bands today are "joke bands", just not intentionally. Dethklok just has the balls to poke fun itself while rising to the forefront of a genre polluted with a bunch of talentless teenage monkeys who drop tune and bang away on the first 5 frets. I love metal, but I don't take myself so seriously that i can't be entertained by humorous lyrics accompanied by some of the tastiest riffs and solo's i've heard in a while. Get over yourself.
      Agreed. I love Dethklok. Funny thing is, they write better riffs jokingly than alot of the bands on this page write seriously. Just because a band has joking lyrics doesn't make it bad music. Music isn't completely reliant on lyrics (unless you count rap as music, which I do not). And the show is awesome.
      marianoarnaiz
      KAMELOT ON STUDIO AND WITHOUT LABEL SONATA ARCTICA MISSING HERE EPICA NEXT TO RELASEA NEW ALBUM. I HAVE NOTICE THAT THIS COLUMN IS ALLMOST COMPLETLY BOUT DEATH METAL NOT GOOD
      ZombieDuck
      Did anyone other than me think that this was a great month in metal? I mean, most of the albums here got above 7 and we even recieved a 9.5 on Immortals new album! If you remember last month, you'll see just what I mean. Last month there wasn't a single album over 7.5 or so. Well done all.
      evil_in_you
      These reviews seem hurried and half-made. Commit to the project or let someone else handle the work.
      xXChimairaXx
      evil_in_you wrote: These reviews seem hurried and half-made. Commit to the project or let someone else handle the work.
      Couldn't agree with you more. I can't say I expect much from baboons *cough UG cough*
      AWilhelm22
      Looking forward to your October reviews, a lot of good releases set for this month!
      Dust_and_Guilt
      Lazarus.Bird wrote: Behemoth's album was their best to date, and an amazing one at that. How it can have the same rating as a Megadeath or Shadows Fall album is beyond me. Then again the review scale on this site is always oddly skewed. Good article though.
      Evangelion was their most derivative album to date. Utterly worthless.
      Golem29
      evil_in_you wrote: These reviews seem hurried and half-made. Commit to the project or let someone else handle the work.
      TMIM has never been made up of full reviews, it's an overview.
      webbtje
      Slovak_Ghost wrote: Reviewer Pete wrote Dethklok is a joke band and I don't see the purpose of putting it here, nevermind bothering to put my dislike of them into words. I just lost a lot of respect for you sir... Musically they play better songs than most any other band.
      Better songs than any other band? K.
      RAH7747
      Reviewer Pete wrote: bodom_reaper wrote: BTW Mustis was Dimmu Borgir's keyboardist not a guitarist!!! /facepalm Sorry about that
      that answer's the above question i think..
      Your41Plague12
      Dimmu Borgir has split with vocalist/bassist Vortex and guitarist Mustis. Ok, did they get the name mixed up or the title? If they split with a guitarist, it's not Mustis. If they split with Mustis, it's not a guitarist.
      TobyCarter
      The only releases I picked up out of these were The Black Dahlia Murder and Behemoth, and I agree totally with the reviewers opinion of Evangelion. Although imo Deflorate should have got a 9.5. One of the best albums this year by far.
      Slovak_Ghost
      Reviewer Pete wrote Dethklok is a joke band and I don't see the purpose of putting it here, nevermind bothering to put my dislike of them into words.
      I just lost a lot of respect for you sir... Musically they play better songs than most any other band.