Edguy - Tinnitus Sanctus
Genre: Hard rock/metal Label: Nuclear Blast Release Date: November 14
Contrary to what some of you may think, I actually prefer and wish for an album to be very good but if I can't have that I'll happily take a pile of crap, since it's often fun and easy reviewing. Sadly I'll have to say, the new Edguy is neither. It just sits happily on the Ordinary Fence, not throwing punches either way, nor does it seem to even be bothered by its own eau de mediocre. The album contains ten songs, all around 4-6 minutes (give or take a few seconds) bar the ridiculously titled Speedhoven which clocks in at 7:42. Ergo, the table is set for straight-up hard rock/metal with catchy choruses of the nature that go best with a brew in each hand, and thus one can conclude that Tinnitus Sanctus is an album to be taken lightly. It had better be that way, considering the line Sex, fire, religion, missionary position from the track Sex Fire Religion. Edguy don't try to preach political or religious beliefs, it's just a regular hard/heavy album with a few good songs, a few not so good and then a bunch that will leave you indifferent.
I suppose I could go on forever, writing a mediocre review about a mediocre album, but I'll leave it at this. Tinnitus Sanctus is pretty dull, due to too many songs that will be filed under A for average.
Satyricon - The Age Of Nero
Genre: Black metal Label: Indie Release Date: November 3
I've had a minor crush on Satyricon ever since I learned that their drummer calls himself Frost, which in itself is awesome on several levels. But, a crush can't come more shallow than that, due to their music never really clicking with me, especially if we go by the latest string of releases.
The Age of Nero is a good, solid if uneventful metal album. I like my black to have a bit more chaos and variation in terms of tempo and grooves, and after a few spins I can't really remember if all the songs are in the vicinity of 200bpm or not. Nero is not a long albums by any means, clocking in at 42-or-so minutes but I have to say that it feels a lot longer. Good tracks are scattered throughout the course of the album, with the highlights being the 1-2-3 punch of Black Crown on A Tombstone, which happens to feature a pretty catchy riff, Die By My Hand and My Skin Is Cold. A good chunk of the album is definitely worthwhile listening, but a lot of it leaves me with a feeling of indifference, which is never a good thing. It also makes it hard to pinpoint what's wrong, and as much as I hate using this phrase (due to it being very vague), I'll just have to say that the album in places is not very memorable. Satyricon is a good band, and The Age of Nero is a good album but they can do so much better than this.
The Faceless - Planetary Duality
Genre: Progressive death metal Label: Sumerian Release date: November 11
It's been a strong year for progressive releases, and The Faceless continue that fine trend. Planetary Duality mix things up quite a bit (the Cynic influence is quite obvious in several places) with their shred-happy approach, which make things quite tuneful to these ears. Even if the grunty vocals might turn you off, the sheer musicality and technical prowess of the band should be enough to keep you interested. If that isn't enough to keep your attention, then you can take comfort in that it's pretty short at just a touch above the half hour. Tasty leads are dropped at an alarming rate, mixed with quieter and softer sections to keep the grinding from getting on your frail nerves.
Planetary Duality is an exercise in musicality which grows with every listen. The album gets most things right, with solid production, immaculate playing and commendable flow. The death metal genre is nigh imploding from the sheer weight of all the bands it is currently housing, and in such a crowd it can be hard to stand out, but this album accomplishes just that. Recommended listening for sure.
Cynic - Traced In Air
Genre: Progressive metal Label: Season of Mist Release date: November 24
Tracing back to the opening review of this article, I do prefer albums to stick out and be something special and provoke some kind of emotion. Paul Masvidal & Co accomplished just that in 1993 (or 15 B.C.D as I like to call things now) with their album Focus, which is now widely considered a classic album and an influence on tons of bands. Masvidal, Reinert and Malone moved on to other projects and, luckily for us, decided to reform in 2006 and were even so kind to bestow upon us a new release.
Traced In Air and its relation to the progressive metal tag should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt. It's certainly more progressive than metal, and I wouldn't go berserk on someone for dubbing it rock rather than metal. But I digress... Yes, it's the bee's knees, the s***, the be-all-end-all of everything, it is whatever you like in fact. Focus will always be THE Cynic album due to innovation, the jazz/fusion incorporation and sheer influence, but Traced In Air can certainly hang with Focus. Unlike many bands who take forever to conjure up a new album after a long hiatus, Cynic have managed to put out something that rivals the album that made them a name in the first place.
Obviously, Traced... will be compared to Focus and sure, there're traces of that album present. Despite the lengthy gap between releases, it feels and sounds like a perfectly natural progression. Gone is the now nigh infamous vocoder and replaced, albeit with a different but more tasteful vocal effect. Masvidal's vocals over all have largely improved, to now possessing the same kind of angelic, ethereal feel as Mikael kerfeldt's clean vocals. They hover above the music and the mix, coming off more as a regular instrument rather than it being band-and-then-vocals.
Traced In Air is another album that is fairly short, around the half hour. Instead of being a collection of songs where you can choose some and skip some, it's the journey from the first to the last note that is the experience here. As things are with nigh all great albums, it's the whole engine rather than the parts that make it so special. Obviously, the individual songs themselves are absolutely killer, but it takes away too much of the experience to listen to them out of sequence.
Traced... comes off as an incredibly focused, tuneful piece of music that gets absolutely nothing wrong and absolutely everything right. It should be considered compulsory listening regardless of musical preferences, because this is as good as it gets. Thank you Paul Masvidal, here's your perfect score. Just don't leave us waiting 15 years for the next album.
All puns intended.
Profugus Mortis - Another Round [EP]
Genre: Folk/power/death metal Label: Prodisk Release Date: November 5
The best thing about writing these articles, bar satisfying my need for attention, is that I get to discover plenty of new bands. This album was a request/recommendation in last month's installment, and thus kudos go out to restless_thrash for introducing me to this band.
Profugus Mortis actually had to change their name due to a potential legal dispute, which as far as I know was announced yesterday (Wednesday the 26th) and will from now on go under the name of Blackguard. Either way, I'll refer to them as Profugus Mortis in this article, because this EP was recorded and released under that name. The EP almost reaches album length with its 25 minutes, and during the course of that we're treated to a nice mix of shred-happy death metal with a lot of folk influences, as well as some very power-esque and outrageous, but ultimately awesome keyboards. The first word that pops up in my mind when I listen to this is fun, because that's what it sounds like. When you choose to open with a little orchestrated bit like the one in Scarlet To Snow, you had better know what you're doing because the line between awesome and bad is pretty thin. Luckily, the keyboards and the small orchestral bits are delivered with great taste and don't hurt the music or vibe in any way. Kim Gosselin who is the designated widdler in the band delivers plenty of well executed leads and the level of musicality is quite high, as is the tempo. Much of the album is played at near break-neck speed but the tempos vary nicely throughout with different grooves and some nice moods shifting from full-on brutality to more light hearted and emotionally charged sections.
I often prefer EPs, because since there's less time to play with, bands often manage avoiding the handful of fillers that usually creep in during the course of a regular album. I can't really complain about much with Another Round, because it's ridiculously good. Good songs, good playing, good vibe, good times. I am very much looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us in Blackguard.
News And Tidbits From The Past Month
Primal Fear will soon enter the studio to begin work on their new album 16.6, due Q1 2009.
No rest for the Norwegians, as Darkthrone will enter the studio on December 13 to start working on a new album. Their latest effort was released in October 2008.
OSI will begin mixing their next album in December and a spring 2009 release can be expected.
Deftones bassist Chi Cheng is in a coma after a car accident on November 3. His condition is serious, but stable.
After the Burial have announced that Anthony Notarmaso is the group's new vocalist.
My Dying Bride will release their new album "For Lies I Sire" in early 2009 via Peaceville Records.
Benediction will enter the studio in January/February to being recording a new album.
Cannibal Corpse's new album Evisceration Plague will be released on February 3.
Sepultura's new album A-Lex will be released on January 26.
Lamb of God's new album Wrath will be released on February 24.
As you may have gathered, there won't be a This Month In Metal for December, but don't think you'll get off the hook that easily. There's a full year to summarize, after all. Until then, have a good one.