This Month In Metal: February 2009

Lamb of God, Cannibal Corpse and many more in the February edition of TMiM

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

Hammerfall No Sacrifice, No Glory

Released: February 20 Genre: Heavy/traditional/power metal Label: Nuclear Blast

Hammerfall is turning into one of those bands that won't surprise you much with what they do. You know it's gonna be heavy, melodic, filled with catchy choruses and songs that remind you of the hey-day of traditional heavy metal. With this, their seventh studio album, they offer precious few surprises. The lyrics touch upon the usual topics: glory, war, victory, metal warriors and the like. Fortunately, it's done quite well and the album doesn't reek of cheese nearly as much as one could expect. Joacim Cans still can belt out those high notes (just listen to One Of A Kind) and there're quite a few choruses and melodies on this album that have the potential to really stick in your head.

The opening trio of songs are firmly positioned in the traditional/heavy area of the genre, but Legion helps the album pick up speed and gives glimpses of their early works, with a much more power-esque sound. It's a pity the song is dragged down by the horrendous opening minute where someone, aided by immense vocal effects, tries to impersonate a demon or somesuch. However, the actual song is very nice with some great leads by newcomer Pontus Norgren (ex-Poodles). In fact, catchy choruses aside, Norgren's tasty and melodic leadplaying is the highlight of the album. Stefan Elmgren was/is a great player, but Norgren manages to fill his shoes very well.

The album continues in more or less the same fashion delivering as many surprises as a regular pint of milk would. Some heavy songs, some with a bit more power, a cover and a ballad-y number make up the rest of this 50-minute effort.

If you're looking for an album to throw you curveballs and surprise you, then this is not your album. Hammerfall do what they do, and this time around they've done it quite well, delivering metal the way it sounded 25-or-so years ago. The album is good for a spin every now and then, but don't look for this to be anywhere remotely near a respectable top 10 of 2009. Hammerfall are milking every cent out of their sound, and good for them.

UG Review Rating: 5.5

God Forbid Earthsblood

Release date: February 17 Genre: Modern metal Label: Century Media

God Forbid is one of those bands that never managed to properly crack the mainstream in the same way their contemporaries in Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and the like did. I quite enjoyed their previous effort, The Constitution of Treason and have always viewed them as a band capable of putting out a great record, but the pieces just haven't fallen in place for them.

Sadly, Earthsblood is another album for this band that's quite good, but not much more. I can't complain much about the musicality, for the riffing and soloing is indeed very good. It's not the most original thing you'll hear, but the infusion of 7-string guitars have certainly helped them create something resembling their own sound. The album is full of catchy riffs, like in The Empire of the Gun and the brothers certainly have stepped up the plate and delivered on this album. The soloing is much improved, and I'm happy that they have tried to expand on their sound and implemented more acoustic guitars and really tried to branch out.

The praise ends here, however. Byron is a decent growler/screamer, yet I can't help but keep pinning him as the weakest link of the group. God Forbid would be a much better band if they had a better vocalist, that much is clear. Earthsblood differs in many ways from their previous works, and the most obvious example would be the heavy usage of clean vocals. Now, I'm not entirely sure who does most of them, but that person needs to stop doing it as soon as possible. Several of the harmonies are nothing but sheer torture to my ears. Take the second track, The Rain, for example. It starts off very well, with some nice riffs and several good lead sections, then breaks down into a clean section with a vocal harmony that makes me cringe and undoes all the good things they'd accomplished up until that point. It's not so much the actual notes, but more the vocal character of the guy(s) singing that ruins it for me.

Earthsblood, much like God Forbid's career up until this point, is full of a good intentions but also contains a number of poor decisions. I applaud them for trying to branch out and expand their sound, but with this album in the bag it's time for them to realise that they can't pull off an epic album. If I would be the producer for their next album, I'd tell them to write an album no longer than forty minutes, split onto no more than 8-9 tracks and make every track feel like a hammer to the face, because that's what they do best and that's what they should try to do.

UG Review Rating: 6

Cannibal Corpse Evisceration Plague

Release date: February 3 Genre: Death metal Label: Metal Blade

Cannibal Corpse know what they do best and obviously they don't see any reason to change it. Long story short is that Evisceration Plague brings nothing new to the table, but CC still manage to produce an interesting album. Hell, I'd even call if a fun album, mainly because of the over-the-top lyrics, perhaps best summed up best by a line from the track To Decompose, Morbid Fascination With The Dead. As absurd as it might seem to some, Evisceration Plague is a very, very catchy record. The band manages to keep the music fairly complex and technical, while balancing the grooves and tempos to achieve maximum effect for the sections aimed at smashing your face with the sonic hammer.

Evisceration Plague is a reliable, textbook example of death metal performed by one of the unholy cows of the genre. It's short, to the point and catchy as hell at times. Webster is a monster on the bass and the guitar tandem of O'Brien/Barrett lock in perfectly to deliver a very, very brutal album. Solid and pretty predictable, but entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless.

UG Review Rating: 7

Obscura Cosmogenesis

Release date: February 17 Genre: Technical/progressive death metal Label: Relapse

First off, let it be known that recommending and notifying me of albums works, for this review was requested by boyan89, and I'm very glad he did for I might have missed out on this excellent album otherwise.

Obscura's line-up is somewhat of an All Star Team of technical death metal players. Guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer aside, you have drummer Hannes Grossmann (ex-Necrophagist), fretless bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (ex-Pestilence) and then finally guitarist Christian Muenzner (ex-Necrophagist). I'm of the opinion that hearing Thesseling's playing is worth the cost of the CD alone, because he is really that good. Of course, the other musicians are no slouches on their respective instruments and the whole unit is really firing on all cylinders on this album. The technical death metal tag might scare some people away, but this is one of those albums that is so much more than just growling, blasting and over-the-top lyrics. The Cynic-influence on the vocal side of the album is obvious on songs like Choir of Spirits and Infinite Rotation, but the way it's done makes sure that they never come off as copy-cats. It just adds a softer touch to some sections and helps keep the album interesting.

Obscura gets nigh everything right with this album technicality is present in abundance, yet it still retains a certain amount of catchiness, the drums burst into the required groove when it's called for, the vocals range from guttural to screamed to Masvidal-esque clean vocals and despite being incredibly progressive the album comes off as very, very purposeful and coherent. You never know what type of ball the song will throw at you, but rest assured that it'll come. The guitarists most certainly shred at times, but the majority of the album contains a more melodic approach which helps keep things at an even keel and even if massive sweeped arpeggios are present, they never get old or come off as showboating without purpose.

I'm certain this'll be ranked as one of the top albums at the end of the year, and I doubt we'll hear a better technical death metal metal album. Cosmogenesis is compulsory listening for any metal head with an interest in death metal.

Rating: 9

Lamb of God - Wrath

Released: February 24 Genre: Modern/thrash/groove metal Label: Roadrunner

Lamb of God hooked me several years ago with As the Palaces Burn, so perhaps it's not surprising that I never was that a big fan of Sacrament. I was quite fond of Ashes... and I suppose that Sacrament was a logical progression from that sound, but in the end I found it to be too sing-song-y for a band like Lamb of God.

Now, enter Wrath. I had several complains about Sacrament, such as overall length, songs lacking direction, hooks and the multi-layered vocals which I felt, and still feel, held back the snarly and more sinister side of Randy Blythe. As things turn out, nigh all of my complaints have been amended and Wrath has helped 2009 get off to a very good start.

It'd be pushing it to say that they've gone back to the sound on Palaces.., but certainly the attitude and overall vibe is closer to their early releases. The cruise control is thrown out of the window and aided by a much rawer and more fitting production and Lamb of God anno 2009 certainly don't sound like a band a few albums into their major label career. In fact, Wrath would be what I could hear a band early in their career put out.

Picking out my favorite moments on Wrath would render this review somewhat bloated, but songs like In Your Words, Grace, Set To Fail and Dead Seeds will keep me happy for months to come. In terms of instrumental prowess, the rhythm section is top notch as always, with Campbell and Adler locking in as tight as ever. Morton and Willie Adler deliver many riffs to die for, but what pleases me the most about the guitarplaying is to hear the infusion of the acoustic guitar and Morton's continued improvement as a leadplayer. The acoustic element certainly adds a lot of flavour and renders the sound much more dynamic than before. Finally, Randy Blythe seems to have grown another pair (his third? fourth?) of balls for this album and he has never sounded this good. His screams are sharper, more precise and for lacking of a better word, more evil than before. Not only has the screaming improved, but the new types of voices he tries out on In Your Words work out very well and certainly don't hurt the final product at all.

However, before this review starts turning Wrath into a sacrament, I'll try to bring it down to earth. As previously stated, Wrath gets a lot of things right, but not everything. Sure, well over half the album is worthwhile and recommended listening, with some ridiculously good songs but also some songs that I'm somewhat indifferent to. It's a good album, in fact a damn good album, but it's not the bee's knees.

UG Review Rating: 8

News and tidbits from the past month:

Alex Auburn has left Cryptopsy and reports he might start his own band when he has taken time away from music.

Ektomorf will release their new album"What Doesn't Kill Me" on March 20th.

Danish death metal Urkraft have called it quits.

Municipal Waste have begun recording a new album tentatively due in August.

Jesper Strmblad of In Flames recently checked into rehab to gain control of his alcohol addiction and is forced to sit out a number of upcoming tours.

Susperia have signed a worldwide deal with Candlelight Records.

Mike Stone has quit Queensryche to focus on other musical projects.

Nautic funeral doom band Ahab have entered the studio and are recording an album tentatively due late spring/early summer.

All Shall Perish have parted ways with guitarist Chris Storey and announced that Jason Richardson will fill his place in the band.

Obituary are in the studio recording a new album tentatively due in the summer via Candlelight.

German progressive metal band Vanden Plas are recording a new album and are aiming for a release in the fall.

Amorphis' new album Skyforger will be released on May 29 via Nuclear Blast.

Dark Funeral's new album will be produced by Peter Tgtgren of Hypocrisy/PAIN.

Heaven And Hell will release The Devil You Know on April 28th via Rhino.

Paradise Lost are recording a new album at Fascination Street Studio in rebro, Sweden and are aiming for a late 2009 release.

Devildriver have finished recording their new album Pray For Villains due in the summer via Roadrunner.

Tim 'Ripper' Owens will release his solo debut Play My Game in May via SPV/Steamhammer.

Daath's new album The Concealers will be released on April 20th in Europe and April 21st in America.

Faith No More have announced a full-blown reunion.

And finally, guitarist Miika Tenkula of long-defunct Finnish metal band Sentenced was found dead in his home on February 19th. He was 34 years old.

112 comments sorted by best / new / date

    boyan89
    Oh and Pete I know I sent you an email for Kathaarsys, but you should look into Pestilence's new album and Thanatos new album.
    Wall_of_sound
    boyan89 wrote: archaicenigma wrote: Wall_of_sound wrote: I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger +1,000,000,000,000 hahahahaha!! that was classic!!! actually I haven't heard the Obscura album but now im gonna d/l it and listen for those garbage can lids!!! lol It's actually a very good drum sound... I don't know why he said that.
    Like most modern death metal, the drum sound sounds like crap, super triggered drumming, no feel to it whatsoever. Sounds digitally processed to the max. Makes a good metal drummer sound bad, if only they stopped trying play at like 50,000 bpm hahahaha. Modern Death Metal should be renamed Grand Prix Metal, cause it seems like the fastest band wins in this genre... Try an old skool album like Symbolic by Death if you want quality death metal drumming and I am in no way old skool when it comes to metal. The modern Death Metal genre is just so stale and boring. Thats my 2 cents worth. Get angry, whatever....I don't give a f..k
    boyan89
    archaicenigma wrote: Wall_of_sound wrote: I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger +1,000,000,000,000 hahahahaha!! that was classic!!! actually I haven't heard the Obscura album but now im gonna d/l it and listen for those garbage can lids!!! lol
    Sorry to quote you again, but how the hell can you say + 1,000,000,000,000 if you haven't even heard the album?
    6sic6_blank
    Has anyone else noticed that Death Metal has like...THEE best album covers? I'm listening to some of the songs on the Obscura cd now. Sounds BAD-FREAKIN'-ASS! I'm goin' to buy this cd.
    boyan89
    archaicenigma wrote: Wall_of_sound wrote: I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger +1,000,000,000,000 hahahahaha!! that was classic!!! actually I haven't heard the Obscura album but now im gonna d/l it and listen for those garbage can lids!!! lol
    It's actually a very good drum sound... I don't know why he said that.
    archaicenigma
    Wall_of_sound wrote: I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger
    +1,000,000,000,000 hahahahaha!! that was classic!!! actually I haven't heard the Obscura album but now im gonna d/l it and listen for those garbage can lids!!! lol
    Reviewer Pete
    bassdrum wrote: If lamb of god can't be in the metal forum, why are they in this month in metal..? confused.
    My article, my rules.
    Golem29
    bassdrum wrote: If lamb of god can't be in the metal forum, why are they in this month in metal..? confused.
    Because the metal forum on this website is full of morons who know nothing about the genre they're trying to stay tr00 to. Whatever that even means.
    bassdrum
    If lamb of god can't be in the metal forum, why are they in this month in metal..? confused.
    Reviewer Pete
    IRONMAIDENTLICA it may seem like hes got a thing for tech death, but so what if anyone was writing reviews of course they are gonna be slightly biased to what they like, so just shutup come up with your own opinons
    I wouldn't call myself biased towards any genre. I have given favorable reviews to bands of all genres I can think of, but fact is that the big labels DO push death metal and the different versions of that genre very hard. I'd estimate that 80% of the stuff I get sent to me is death metal in some form, and I turn away a good deal of them because I most certainly don't want this article series into a This Month In Death Metal. But, still, the fact is that death metal is one of the biggest and most productive genres out there. I try to "cater to the readers" by reviewing big releases, but I also want to review albums by lesser known bands who deserve some spotlight, while keeping things fairly even between the genres. That thin fine line is not always very easy to tread, as the content of the article is determined by the albums released every month. But I do appreciate your opinion and criticism, don't get me wrong.
    henkka_potku
    Cosmogenesis is the best progmetal album since Traced In Air (they are very similar though) and I think will be for a long time.
    kfkslayerkfk
    the new obscura album is the most ****ing best album ive heard in a long time. it kicks so much ass. Same with Evisceration Plague
    thephilguy
    Cosmogenesis is one of the best metal albums I've heard in a while. Blows me away every time I listen to it. It should easily find its way into this year's top 10.
    ascendancy2
    I found that the 3 bonus tracks on Wrath (inc the Japanese one) much better than some of the stuff they put on the actual album! LoG have a history of using really good tracks as bonuses :/
    IRONMAIDENTLICA
    beelaal85 wrote: Almost every ug's issue of "This Month In Metal" is dedicated to black/death metal which could lead this genre into the mainstream thing...
    Only 2 of the above bands (CC and Obscura) are really death metal...i dont even see a black metal band?...anyway....people need to stop attacking this guy about his review for LOG or CC, we all have our opinions i think pete does a great job of staying fairly unbiased, it may seem like hes got a thing for tech death, but so what if anyone was writing reviews of course they are gonna be slightly biased to what they like, so just shutup come up with your own opinons, i like these reviews because every month it turns me on to a new band
    beelaal85
    Almost every ug's issue of "This Month In Metal" is dedicated to black/death metal which could lead this genre into the mainstream thing...
    boyan89
    Mcasares wrote: "Wrath" is one of the best albums put out by Lamb Of God, so screw this guy. Maybe next time we can get someone who can spell. This album is one of their hardest yet melodic albums to date. What more do do you skanks want?
    Read the review VERY CAREFULLY!
    thepatient001
    ruker wrote: LoG's riffs have become stale. Progressive passages don't hide the fact that they used their good/catchy riffs in the first 3 albums (4 if you include BTP). The only bright side I see from this album is that Randy chilled out on the ear-piercing screams. He sounds like a douche trying to hard now, but whatever... no more singing like a whale.
    Yeah i agree with what you said about the riffs. To me it sounds like old riffs just churned out into slightly new ones...there are some good ones but yeah. Solo wise is where i think they got lazy. LOG solo's have always been different and cool and LOGlike..but the solo's really failed on this album. One sounds like trivium even, though (i like trivium). You wrote a confusing thing about Randy's vocals. I like them..took me abit but i like the new styles. I love every pitch Randy can put out. Wether it's really high like in songs as blood of the scrive and vigil. I think you should think twice about how hard it is to what he does/has done vocally. And where are the new drum rhythms!?!?
    Reviewer Pete
    Mcasares wrote: "Wrath" is one of the best albums put out by Lamb Of God, so screw this guy. Maybe next time we can get someone who can spell. This album is one of their hardest yet melodic albums to date. What more do do you skanks want?
    I never said anything different, did I?
    boyan89
    I go to the metal forums and Lamb of God is one of my favorite bands.
    Dakkstar
    That's a shame that God Forbid is so unliked. I find they are far superior to bands like Killswitch. My own opinion though.
    HagstromSpeed
    I just bought Obscura...dude, after listening to the bass lines, especially in track 4..and the guitar SOLOS ARE FRIGGEN INSANE....I just drizzled down my leg a bit lol I was really excited for LOG and God Forbid's albums, which are amazing, but Obscura is def. my fav from last month, any musicians ears will be astounded by it, its a MUST buy...and I totally agree with the God Forbid review, the vocalist is horrible compared to the instrumental talent presented, if they had a new vocalist theyd be a band I could listen to non-stop instead of my ears getting tired of his voice
    The_Metalfreak
    Wrath is definitely one of my all-time favourite albums...but I'm a complete Lamb of God addict so I'm a tad biased... ...but I still disagree with Pete on the album being a little inconsistent quality-wise...I think that they have finally got the consistency right. All their previous albums have had some absolutely awesome tracks and then a few duds, but Wrath is just 100% awesome, there is no song that feels like a let down. Just my two cents.
    RAH7747
    ok i didnt intend that winky face there.. dont know how it got there..
    RAH7747
    I gotta thank the one who made me visit this site an year or so ago now.. It's the best thing that could happen to me.. These reviews are the best coz they introduce me to a LOT of new bands, new amazing bands! Like Cynic,Meshuggah (ok they aren't "new").. Now obscura.. Awesome! In cosmogenesis, the first thing that will strike you like a bolt of lightning is the BASS.. especially in Incarnated.. damn, mind-blowing bass track on that.. And the interlude in it and the ending is absolutely pleasing.. awesome song that one... And also anticosmic overload..
    boyan89
    Wall_of_sound wrote: HagstromSpeed wrote: Wall_of_sound wrote: I just tried listening to the new Obscura album, it has the worst sh*tty triggered drum sound I have ever heard. Sounds so fake..... I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger Man you have got to have $hit in your ears then, or you dont have the CD I have lol, obviously you dont like good death metal drumming then,the drumming is sick, esp. with the bass lines mixed in, btw I can list a bunch of parts where its not too fast for the wil' boys ears lol Ok, I'll give Obscura another chance...Everyone is fricken ravng about it! Either my ears are completely screwed and I don't know a single thing about good metal, or it's just another cheesy tech death album that deserves the bin!!
    Their not even close to cheesy tech death metal, not even close my friend. As a matter of fact I'd call them very original in the Tech Death/Progressive Metal department. They are basically the guys who are leading the genre right now.
    Wall_of_sound
    HagstromSpeed wrote: Wall_of_sound wrote: I just tried listening to the new Obscura album, it has the worst sh*tty triggered drum sound I have ever heard. Sounds so fake..... I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger Man you have got to have $hit in your ears then, or you dont have the CD I have lol, obviously you dont like good death metal drumming then,the drumming is sick, esp. with the bass lines mixed in, btw I can list a bunch of parts where its not too fast for the wil' boys ears lol
    Ok, I'll give Obscura another chance...Everyone is fricken ravng about it! Either my ears are completely screwed and I don't know a single thing about good metal, or it's just another cheesy tech death album that deserves the bin!!
    Lion_Slicer
    AARRGH its just too good... :'( I knew 09 would own metal-wise, but this is beyond expectations... I'd never even heard of Obscura--haha good band name. Not for long though, if Cosmogenesis gets the recognition it deserves.
    HagstromSpeed
    Wall_of_sound wrote: I just tried listening to the new Obscura album, it has the worst sh*tty triggered drum sound I have ever heard. Sounds so fake..... I'd rather listen to lars' snare on St. Anger
    Man you have got to have $hit in your ears then, or you dont have the CD I have lol, obviously you dont like good death metal drumming then,the drumming is sick, esp. with the bass lines mixed in, btw I can list a bunch of parts where its not too fast for the wil' boys ears lol
    HagstromSpeed
    Dude....check out track 4 at about 38 seconds...the bass line sounds like a ghost or something really eerie lol...he just slides his hand so smoothly from note to note, that 6 string fretless playing bad ass...this CD rules, the overall musicianship is nuts
    Lion_Slicer
    Reviewer, can I just say that I love you? I went out and bought Cosmogenesis based on this column and it is AMAZING. The guitar really hit the sweet spot, technically amazing, melodic, brutal, and never over-the-top. It's nearly perfect. Right now I have in my head the stop-and-go riff that comes into Anticosmic Overload at 1:40, that riff seriously made my day. And the BASS! Not only audible, but freaking awesome! Song 5, the instrumental, sounds like Call of Ktulu rearranged by Opeth and played by Cynic. I hear a lot of Atheist and late Death, too, but it all sounds so original despite being remniscient of those other kickass bands... Hope Mastodon will be able to deliver like this in a few weeks.
    COBHC728
    Obscura are absolutely awesome. I am starting to like them a bit more than Necrophagist. I like his vocals better, and I think Obscura writes better SONGS, even though Muhammed is just about untouchable when it comes to shredding.
    BobMarleysGhost
    Obscura are awesome! Thanks for introducing me to them! I officially give them the honourary title of 'Cynicrophagist'.
    ShadesOfNight
    Have to say...Wrath is one of my favourite albums in my collection now. Along with The Blackening, Vulgar Display of Power and...probably Karma & Effect. First heard Contractor and immediately the whole album lost all hype for me, but thankfully it wasnt a generalisation of the whole album, and the rest is ****in immense. I also think that We Die Alone should have made the final cut. Oh and last point...check out Condemn The Hives on youtube. I have no idea what version of the album it was on, but apparently its the 3rd bonus track and its awesome =D
    boyan89
    atroxus wrote: Habs wrote: Where's Origins of the storm by The Sorrow? Yeah man,great Album, great Band missing here! go to http://www.myspace.com/thesorrowmetal support them! nice sound
    They had a new album, cool I'll check it out. I got into them 5 months ago. Pretty good stuff.
    Reviewer Pete
    Prft, I AM prog metal! Rawrr! No, seriously, I like bands and genres that push the envelope and they should be rewarded for what they do.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    Noremak wrote: thanks for the reviews, pete. youve introduced me to some of the most influentual lesser-known bands! cynic...swallow the sun...sculptured...agalloch... Now im a big prog junkie!
    +1, same happened to me. Pete is doing alot for prog metal