This Month In Metal: May 2008

Moonspell stay dark, Sikth called it quits, Sepultura began recording new album and a bunch of other news!

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Textures - Silhouettes

Release date: May 5 Genres: Metal/Death/Progressive Label: Listenable

After checking some of your comments, this album has received somewhat of a mini-hype. I expected pretty big things, or at least an album that would get a pretty favorable review. Well, we can brush away any doubt, 'cause this is a good album.

Textures are a Dutch six-piece, now on their third release, dishing out their mix of progressive and rhythmic compositions, layered with some keyboards and a varied growl/scream/clean approach in the vocal department. The chops and musical talent of these guys can not be denied. They don't beat you over the head with their technical prowess though, you can just hear it in their compositions, timechanges and how they effortlessly seem to go from one groove to another. The vocals, as previously stated, are pretty varied. There're shades of death growling, mixed with some screaming that somewhat reminds me of Peter Dolving (The Haunted), and then some clean singing to round things out.

Textures are really talented, and they do pack quite a punch. Musically, it's all very tasty, not over-the-top and they mix brutal sections with cleaner passages quite well. But somewhere along the line, they don't go the whole nine yards with the songwriting. Textures come across as a band whose primary focus are the song, yet the songs aren't to be found, if you understand where I'm going with this. It's all very competent, pleasant to listen to, but apart from the killer tracks bookending this album, as well as "Laments Of An Icarus", I don't find all that much to hold my attention. Sorry guys.

  • Rating: 6.5
  • Sabaton - The Art Of War

    Release date: May 30 Genres: Heavy/Power Metal Label: Black Lodge

    Ah yes, Sabaton, the Swedish version of Manowar, except with leather pants and blood instead of loincloth and body oil, and a touch of power instead of heavy. They're back with a new album, obviously. If you haven't guessed the main themes of the album yet, check eBay and see if you can buy yourself a brain. The boys also thought it to be a good idea to have a woman between the proper songs, citing some words spoken by great commanders, like Sun Tzu, who must thrilled to know that his writings have inspired this musical piece.

    I'll stop beating around the bush -- this album blows the big one. It's a cheesefest of epic proportions, and if you like that, fine. I hear a ton of generic power-esque heavy riffs, a vocalist who tries to be melodramatic, yet he only succeeds in delivering some of the worst rolling 'R's outside of the British Isles, and to round it all off: some of the cheesiest, most predictable lyrics and rhymes you'll ever find. You might opt for the "lyrics aren't all that important"-approach. Fine, have a lollipop and cry to your mom about me being a meanie. In this column all aspects of an album are to be scrutinized and examined, and if a band decides to write words along with their music, I'll damn well see if if they've done a good job or not.

    The bog-standard musicality, the horrendous lyrics, the dull delivery and the utter predictability of the whole album renders it impossible for me to label this anything but an utter turd. You may say that this music isn't to be taken all that seriously. Well, then they're awfully disrespectful considering the topics they've chosen. I'd rather stand on my nads than call this album good.

  • Rating: 2
  • Kataklysm - Prevail

    Release date: May 27 Genres: Death metal Label: Nuclear Blast

    Kataklysm have churned out quality death metal for some time now, and I've always thought they're a band with the potential to churn out a killer album. But it seems that album will have to wait for a bit, for their latest effort does not reach such heights.

    Soundwise, their brand of death metal is not overly melodic, nor is it overly brutal or technical, it's just a nice blend of the major characteristics of the genre. I've often thought of them as a less accomplished version of their countrymen Quo Vadis, and I find the comparison to fit quite well. "Prevail" manages to get off to a pretty good start with the first three tracks hitting home really well. "The Chains Of Power" carries a vibe and some of the riffing is more reminiscent of the old school death metal you'd find on an Entombed album, and it's all good.

    But, as so often, the album runs out of steam pretty fast. I'm not asking for big arena-rock choruses, but the tunes presented lack that certain something that would turn them into memorable slabs of metal. A riff, a hook, a catchy solo or melody, something that would elevate the songs from good or competent to a higher tier. Kataklysm's main problem throughout their discography have been just that -- lacking the ability to pen tunes that stick. It's a decent effort, with good playing and good intentions, but I'm afraid I can't give out mercy points for just that.

  • Rating: 6
  • Tyr - Land

    Release date: May 28 Genres: Folk/Metal/Progressive Label: Napalm

    Definitely the least commercially viable release in this month's edition, and certainly one of the more interesting too. How many bands from the Faroe Islands do you know of? Tyr are very proud of their heritage, mixing traditional metal with touches of progressive elements and then cover it all in a big veil of folk. The folk element is especially pleasant, for it's done very well. Lyrics in, from what I gather, their native tongue about topics such a vikings, mythology (their name is a referens t the Norse God of the same name) and other stories from the Nordic lore.

    Let's cut to the chase -- "Land" is a very good album, that should stand up and receive proper accolades once this year is summed up. The folky vibe, accompanied by beautifully harmonized melodies and the animated, yet never bothersome, vocals makes this a pretty special release. The heavy and progressive elements are well balanced with the folk, so the album doesn't go overboard, nor overly rely on one of them. The quality of the compositions, the melodies and the ability to let the songs breathe with the mix of heavy and soft is what makes this album so good. Some criticism is due however -- it is a tad on the long side, clocking in at well over the hour. Some of the material isn't as enchanting and persuasive as the opener "Gandkvaedi Trondar" or the beautiful "Valkyrjan", but I can forgive a failed track or two, for this album certainly does a good job of presenting itself.

  • Rating: 7.5
  • Cryptopsy - The Unspoken King

    Release Date: May 26 Genres: Death Metal Label: Century Media

    Hands down the most controversial release so far this year, given the leaked tracks and the changes in Cryptopsy's line-up, Cryptopsy have indeed managed to anger a large portion of their fanbase. With the exodus of Lord Worm, Cryptopsy decided to take in vocalist Matt McGachy, whose mixed of guttural growling, screaming and clean singing inspired the band to embrace a new direction.

    "The Unspoken King" is a departure for the band, embracing a more dynamic sound with slower and softer sections, utilizing McGachy's clean vocals. The technical aspect of the music has also taken somewhat of a backseat compared to their previous work. While comments on the album have included this being a sign of the apocalypse and whatnot, I won't go that far. It is a pretty shoddy album though. The playing is fine, the production does the trick, but what's that without songs? Nothing. I'm all for dynamic sounds, it's usually a good idea and if you can pull it off, great. But, as things are, Cryptopsy fail miserably at delivering that. McGachy is no Lord Worm, and that is fine, but his clean singing leaves a lot to be desired. The compositions lack life and at times they make you cringe -- such as the opening minute of "Bemoan The Martyr". Dumbed down and chock full of flaws, "The Unspoken King" fails in delivering a coherent and interesting product. It's not the end of the world, or the worst album in the history of the world, but that's faint praise in this case.

  • UG Review
  • Rating: 3
  • Moonspell -- Night Eternal

    Release Date: May 19 Genres: Metal/Gothic Label: SPV/Steamhammer

    Moonspell have managed to gain quite a few fans over the years, and "Night Eternal" should satisfy most of them. Dark, depressing and very moody, it's filled with gothic undertones. The lyrics are very strong, where apocalyptic lyrics mingle with darkness, love, tragedy and everything else under our dying sun. There are catchy elements present in abundance, especially evident in the melodies, be they vocal, guitar or keyboard. Often the keyboard takes on the role of outlining a melodic theme behind the guitars who provide the metal onslaught, and they complement each other very, very well. The diversity in the vocal department is very pleasing, ranging from death growls/screams to soft and emotional.

    Not all the tracks are absolute killers, but you'd be hard pressed to find a dull one. "Dreamless" is a contender for one of the best tunes I've heard this year, and the opening trio packs a punch you'll have a hard time outdoing.

  • UG Review
  • Rating: 8.5
  • News And Tidbits From The Past Month

    Exhorder have once again reunited. Plans for the future are sketchy, but the band who gave us the classic "Slaughter In The Vatican" promises to keep us posted.

    Jeff Loomis, of Nevermore fame, has finished his instrumental solo album with the help of producer Neil Kernon. Yours truly expects a shredding release via Century Media sometime in late summer/early fall.

    Finnish metal band MyGrain, whose album "Signs Of Existence" featured here a few months ago, have parted ways with their guitarist Matthew. As of yet there is no word on a permanent replacement.

    Mastodon have decided to work with producer Brendan O'Brien for their highly anticipated and as of yet untitled album.

    All That Remains' new album will be called "Overcome", and is scheduled for a late summer release.

    UK-based progmetal band Sikth have called it quits. No clear reasons have been given, but the band members will be involved in other projects in the future.

    German thrashers Kreator will enter the studio in July to record the follow-up to 2005's "Enemy Of God". The new album is scheduled for a January 2009 release.

    Sepultura have begun recording their new album, apparently based on the Anthony Burgess novel "A Clockwork Orange". The album is expected to be released in October, via SPV.

    And finally, guitarist Michelle Meldrum has passed away at an age of 39. The cause of death was a cystic growth on her brain which restricted oxygen and blood flow to her brain, rendering her braindead. Meldrum were currently finishing up the writing process for their new album...

    58 comments sorted by best / new / date

      kennyvspenny
      how bout a "this month in..." for some other genres? not all of us dig blastbeats under lyrics about dragons and unicorns. that aside, well written article.
      Reviewer Pete
      ascendancy2 And what the hell is Loomis doing!? concentrate on Nevermore dammit! Any news on when Nevermore are coming out with new material?
      Q1 2009 is the plan, from what I remember. But we'll see how that goes.
      Wookieslayer
      TheAmenCorner89 wrote: Kataklysm's new album deserves a higher rating in my opinion, some really killer songs on there, and I think there are alot of hooks in there to keep the interest too
      /agree i liked their last two albums
      I_I
      I loved Sikth, but I can understand how hard it must have been trying to replace Mikee and Justin.
      ICreamsodAI
      Nothing about The Faceless? I understand they're not the most popular band, but PLEASE look at their new song on their myspace Best band ever imo
      Whiskky
      Great to see such good ratings for Moonspell. I'm proud of them, for being of the few portuguese (metal) bands which are known out there, and quite rightfully so.
      MuffinMan
      Tyr released a new album?! HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?! This article just made my month.
      Langerz1991
      ascendancy2 wrote: doesnt that guy from Gojira play bass for the Cavelera Conspiracy? Or am i thinking of something else?
      Yep, joe does play bass for em =D
      TheDave1552
      Well, I'm going to try really hard not to expect another Fall of Ideals from All That Remains cause I really don't want to be disappointed. That album was actually amazing and it really will be hard to top. Also, has anyone else heard anything about Killswitch Engage? It's been two years since they've really released anything new and I need to hear some more from them. Hopefully they'll release something in 2009...
      Reviewer Pete
      TheDave1552 Also, has anyone else heard anything about Killswitch Engage? It's been two years since they've really released anything new and I need to hear some more from them. Hopefully they'll release something in 2009...
      The new album is tentatively due Q1 2009, they start writing when they've had some rest after wrapping up touring mid-August.
      troyponce
      Reviewer Pete wrote: Somewhat dull. Was fairly sure Sabaton and Cryptopsy wouldn't be good, but I wanted to review them anyways. Was a bit disappointed with Textures as you can see, and I was originally gonna review Ihsahn - Angl too, but I just didn't have time.
      I've had Angl since it first leaked and I can assure you and all the readers that it's quite good and a huge improvement over The Adversary. Absolutely worth checking out.
      TheDave1552 wrote: Also, has anyone else heard anything about Killswitch Engage? It's been two years since they've really released anything new and I need to hear some more from them. Hopefully they'll release something in 2009...
      Adam D has been working with Ken Susi (Unearth) and some other big-name metalcore musicians on the side project Burn Your Wishes, which has sort of a screamo/poppy sort of vibe. PM me if you are interested in their half of the split EP they did with The Awards.
      Rational_Gaze
      Big shame about Sikth, but Mikee and Justin were pretty much unreplacable...hope they all get back together in the future and give it another go! Textures new album is amazing! Deserves at least 8/9 imo! And KsE's new album will probably be even more Kerrap! friendly and less original than the last 2. Should have quit after Jesse left imo...
      Brad52
      crazymetalheadg wrote: Where the **** is the new Opeth album? and textures it's that bad.
      yea... what about opeth and does anyone else think that Moonspell sound like a way heavier Queensryche
      123-Trav
      Watershed was released on the 2nd or 3rd of June and this article is for May so we'll see it next month guys.
      Mullen2105
      shadowsofbodom wrote: mastodon and all that remains..... interesting, i may need to check them out soon
      are you saying you dont know who they are or you need to check out their new stuff?
      xXChimairaXx
      kreator AND sepultura coming out with new stuff. pinch me i'm dreaming. as for all that remains, dam it will be hard to top that last album.
      CalisAlfírin
      Wo. Really much happening last month. And that's really bad with that female guitarist dieing. The world needs more female guitarists. In metal/hard rock females almost allways only sings. Looking forward to the new Kreator album!
      guitartilldeath
      yeah true, All That Remains are gonna have to work their asses off to top The Fall of Ideals. there is not one bad song on that album.
      bootyguard
      EXHORDER!!! hell yes. they were awesome thrash metal back in their day hopefully they can release another wonderful album.
      Neo Evil11
      how funny that no one says anything about the death girl, shame on you guys/girls!!
      Reviewer Pete
      diminishedtobme wrote: Hmmm alota low ratings, was it a slow month in terms of releases?
      Somewhat dull. Was fairly sure Sabaton and Cryptopsy wouldn't be good, but I wanted to review them anyways. Was a bit disappointed with Textures as you can see, and I was originally gonna review Ihsahn - Angl too, but I just didn't have time.
      sepultura are the cavalera people arent they?
      Were. Both Max and Igor have jumped ship.
      chimpinatux
      SikTh split....i actually want to cry and im serious this is the most upset ive been this month..i need to get out more
      messenjah
      i saw textures a while back in belgium supporting arch enemy... decent band but not really all that great
      Reviewer Pete
      chimpinatux wrote: SikTh split....i actually want to cry and im serious this is the most upset ive been this month..i need to get out more
      It's only the 7th day of this month man. :p
      Hoodoo Child
      sepultura are the cavalera people arent they? Were. Both Max and Igor have jumped ship.
      and they formed cavalera conspiracy!
      RhythmsMethod
      Kataklysms new album is amazing to me, I think it's pure death metal fans that really don't like the album, but i'm a fan of all genres of metal mostly so thats why I think this is one of the best releases so far.