CD Review: “Spirits Of Fire” by Spirits Of Fire

Metal super group Spirits Of Fire’s self titled debut album is a cauldron of prog, power and thrash metal that unfortunately is slightly generic.

The quartet is comprised of metal legends Tim Owens, Chris Caffery, Steve DiGiorgio and Mark Zonder that are masters of their respective crafts. However, the band is too restrained on this record, dampening the excitement and preferring to play on cruise control.

There are some solid tracks like “Temple Of The Soul” with its driving guitar riff and Zonder’s constant rhythm changes. Chris’s bluesy lead perfectly fits this track while Owens soaring vocals reach the heavens.

The title track comprises of a stomping tempo that transitions to a rolling beat that encircles the listener before reverting to the main riff. The song twists and turns but moves forward with standout guitar leads and interesting time changes. However, other tracks fall short like the seven minute long song “The Game” which is both platitudinous and tedious. The track is a run of the mill epic metal track that falls short of the band’s potential.

These guys played in bands like Judas Priest, Death, Savatage and Fate Warning, thus the bar is high when it comes to creating epic metal material. It is a downer when the band play it safe and sound like an above average American progressive metal act. Album closer “Alone In The Darkness” redeems this record albeit slightly with a somber clean guitar riff, however Owens’ vocals fall a bit flat which diminishes the power on this track.

Spirit Of Fire were burdened with the expected task of releasing a high quality metal album. Sadly, the band play it self and there are few ear grabbing moments on this record. Steve DiGiorgio is one of the greatest metal bassists and his role is greatly diminished. Tim’s vocals vary track by track as he sounds great on one track but drowned out on another one. Caffery’s guitar work is the one consistent element on Spirits, a pity as it suffers due to naff songwriting.

Spirits Of Fire sadly does not live up to its title. There are some fiery moments on the record, but ultimately it is by the numbers prog/power metal. It is a shame as Spirits have the potential to play some ear ripping metal. Perhaps the band will pull out all the stops on its sophomore effort.

Check out the band’s official Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/SpiritsOfFireBand/

CD Review: “Creatures Watching Over The Dead” by Charred Walls Of The Damned

Heavy metal supergroup Charred Walls Of The Damned returns with its third record, Creatures Watching Over The Dead. Creatures is the band’s first record in five years, which is understandable considering the busy schedule of its members. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio currently plays in Testament and guitarist Jason Suecof is one of the busiest music producers in the metal genre. Suecof produced records for Battlecross, Deicide and Death Angel these past five years so his plate was full. Creatures is not a serious record, and the guys are having fun. The vibe on the album is laid back, but still carries a degree of intensity. The initial single “The Soulless” combines thrash with 80s power metal resulting in a catchy metal anthem. Richard Christy’s double bass drumming is lockstep with Suecof’s jackhammer riffing. Vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens’ operatic vocals soar like a falcon and do not seem out of step with the music. “As I Catch My Breath” is an interesting blend of clean guitars and a dissonant main riff. Musically, the track recalls Fates Warning and Megadeth due to the progressiveness of the music. The technical thrash of “Reach Into The Light” hits with the precision of a guided missile. Owens’ high pitched vocals are again in top form, but do not take away from the music.

Creatures is not an exhuastive record and that is a plus. The band does not waste time playing eight minute opuses, opting instead to play shorter songs. This keeps the songs interesting and the listener will not drift off or reach for the “skip” button. As I mentioned earlier, the band is having fun on this record. There is no need to make a 70 minute long album with long, drawn out epics for the sake of pretentiousness. Suecof produced the record and it is loud and clear. There is not much to pick out except that Steve’s bass should be higher in the mix.

Creatures Watching Over The Dead is a good metal record. It should satisfy fans of technical death metal or progressive metal that are not looking for something too deep. This record may get lost in the shuffle due to the other high profile albums coming out this year. However, one should not overlook Creatures as it definitely holds its own.

For news check out the band’s website at http://www.metalblade.com/cwotd/

CD Review: ‘Agony’ by Nervosa

Brazilian-thrash trio Nervosa brings the thrash on its second record, Agony. The record opener “Arrogance” rips like a scythe through a torso. There is a strong blending of early Sepultura and Death as frontwoman Fernanda Lira screeches like Chuck Schuldiner. The speed continues on “Theory of Conspiracy” with its blinding guitar riffs and ferocious drumming. Nervosa plays tight, never missing a step. “Intolerance Means War” is the initial single off the record with a riff that hits like a mallet with a few blast beats thrown in for good measure. It is a solid track filled with twists and turns. Things slow down a bit on “Surrounded by Serpents” with its descending, spiraling opening riff and pounding basslines. However, the band cannot slow down for too long and the songs speeds up.

Nervosa sticks to the basics on Agony as the songs are dynamic and nearly void of fluff. That does not mean that the songs are simple, but straightforward. The trio are excellent musicians and throw in several rhythm changes to keep you alert. Nervosa has studied from the temple of Sadus, Sepultura and Slayer and know how to thrash. Of course, where there is thrash, hardcore punk is not too hard to find. There are traces of the band’s hardcore influences throughout the album, especially on “CyberWar.” The production is solid and has a slight vintage feel.

Agony avoids the curse of the sophomore slump and should put Nervosa on the map. The songs are fast and heavy and Nervosa never overdo it. If you like thrash, speed metal or old school death metal then you should purchase this record. There is ecstasy in Agony.

For news and tour dates, check out Nervosa’s official website at http://nervosaofficial.com/site/eng-band/

CD Review: ‘Forged in Fury’ by Krisiun

Four years have passed since Krisiun’s last album, The Great Execution. The gap has not slowed the death metal outfit at all. Krisiun is all business on album opener “Scars of the Hatred.” The unorthodox song structure, mechanical riffing and relentless drumming is signature Krisiun. The track maintains a mid-tempo beat, with chaotic blast beats in the mid-section. “The Ways of Barbarism” is as savage as the title describes it. The hypnotic bass and guitar lines fit over the manic drumming before converging in to a nice groove and then breaking out in to an auditory assault. At 6 1/2 minutes, “The Ways of Barbarism” is the longest track on Forged in Fury, and avoids monotony. Things speed up on the blistering “Dogma of Submission.” The song is merciless and is reminiscent of Krisiun’s excellent 2008 release, The Southern Storm. The track seamlessly transitions from blast beats to groove without hesitation. Vocalist Alex Camaro’s bass playing also takes center stage as he plucks like a man possessed. “Strength Forged Fury” follows in the same vein with a monolithic drum build up before an eruption of molten riffs. The fiery guitar leads only accentuate the violent nature of this track. Things slow down on “The Soulless Impaler” with its mystical, clean intro and tribal drumming. The track has a minor Nile influence, which is interesting, however the band does not imitate its South Carolina peers. The song is straight Krisiun with its restrained composition before going full throttle towards the middle of the track.

Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) produced Forged in Fury and did a solid job capturing the group’s compressed chaos on tape. Max Kolesne’s drums are the highlight on Forged as every cymbal crash and blast beat is clear. The album is also commendable for the audible bass, which so often is drowned out by guitars on death metal albums. The production is thick, but never distorts or hinders the musicianship of the songs.

Forged in Fury was worth the wait. It would have been nice to hear this record 2 years ago, but late is better than never. Krisiun fans will like Forged, as will death metal fans in general. Some may criticize the record for its length, which clocks in at 51 minutes. However, the songs are varied and the record does not sound repetitious. Forged in Fury is unbreakable, unyielding, and unstoppable.

For news and tour dates, check out www.krisiun.com.br.