CD review: “Death Becomes My Voice” by Ringworm

Ringworm’s eighth release, Death Becomes My Voice, continues the band’s vicious hardcore metal assault over the past three decades. The title track is a pugnacious combination of hardcore drumming and thrashing guitar riffs that grip your jugular for five minutes. HF’s harsh, maniacal vocals stand out on this track. “Carnivores” is another fast number with some brief blast beats thrown in for good measure. The song speeds up towards the final minute before guitarists Matt Sorg and Mark Witherspoon pull out a grooving riff while the track fades. The dissonant riffs and brutal drumming sounds like The Haunted meshed with Napalm Death. “Acquiesce” is an uncomfortable slower track thanks to the apocalyptic main riff and HF’s guttural vocals. The scooping riff on “Do Not Resuscitate” is reminiscent of a hook slicing in to human flesh. Drummer Ryan Steigerwald delivers the punishment on this track as it is pure Slayer worship from beginning to end. “The God Of New Flesh” is the shortest track on Voice, a chaotic assemblage of thrash, punk and grindcore. The band never falters through the constant tempo changes, keeping the listener on their toes until the song concludes. Album closer “Final Division” is a pummeling requiem that ends with a doom riff and sorrowful guitar solo.

Bands playing across extreme musical genres has occurred for roughly 35 years. Metalcore and deathcore have enjoyed varying degrees of popularity in the U.S. for roughly 15 years. Quality is the key issue, and while many bands attempt to meld genres, few succeed. Ringworm are one of those few bands and Death Becomes My Voice solidifies its status in the metal underground. The tracks on this album hit like a bat to the spine and a rusty blade to the lung. The brevity of the tracks and slight diversity makes Voice an interesting listen. There is little monotony due to stellar drumming and above average guitar work.

Fans of Ringworm should purchase Death Becomes My Voice. It is a fun, thrashing record that induces headbanging from the first track. Fans of crossover and thrash will enjoy the band’s speed and demonic guitar harmonies. Thrash ’til death.

Check out the band’s official Facebook page here:

www.facebook.com/Ringworm13/

CD Review: “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” by Legion Of The Damned

Dutch metal quartet Legion Of The Damned have unleashed its unholy seventh record, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.

Album opener “The Widow’s Breed” is a blistering track with chainsaw guitar slicing through thrashing drum beats. The lyrical imagery of African witchcraft is especially interesting and a wonderful departure of the conventional satanic/anti-Christian themes.

“Nocturnal Commando” continues with the African lyrical content the previous track as a tribute to Ogun, the God of Iron in the Yoruba religion. Guitarist Twan van Geel’s unrelenting riffs easily keep pace with Erik Fleuren’s ferocious drumming.

Things briefly slow down on the “Charnel Confession” which maintains an uneasy rhythm throughout the song’s duration. There are numerous guitar fills that complement “Confession’s” fierty atmosphere.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” is a demonic grooving tune as the band plays in the pocket before speeding things up during the midsection. The chopping guitar riffs and double bass drums conclude the track in hellish fashion.

“Warhounds of Hades”commences with a colossal drum pattern before descending in to a crushing thrash number. Geel’s aggressive double picking in the main riff drives this track, and the midsection will arouse a mosh pit.

“Priest Hunt” features a haunting symphonic sample that segues in to a galloping pattern and a meat hook guitar riff. A contrast from the thrash fused black metal on prior tracks, yet it still fits on Shadow Realm.

Album closer “Dark Coronation” is the longest track on the record at a shade under six minutes. There is a hardcore punk influence on this track that elides with some complex guitar riffs making it a killer album closer.

Shadow Realm is a collision of black, death, thrash metal and punk but Legion pulls it off for most of the record. Some songs are a bit too long, causing the record to drag. Luckily, Legion’s musical prowess compensates for the album’s few low moments. The production is on point, especially on tracks like “Priest Hunt” with the extra scoop on the guitars. The band also experiments with symphonic samples and a melancholy piano intro “Slaves Of The Demonic Mind.” There are a few good surprises on this record.

Legion Of The Damned bring the goods on Slaves Of The Shadow Realm. Fans of Goatwhore and fellow Dutch metal band God Dethroned will appreciate the band’s melding of metal subgenres. However, this album falls slightly short on some tracks. Still, it is a very good album to lead us in to 2019. The dark gods will appreciate this offering.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://www.legionofthedamned.net/

CD Review: “Psychosis” by Cavalera Conspiracy

Max and Igor Cavalera continue their brotherly brutality on Cavalera Conspiracy’s fourth record, Psychosis. Sepultura fans can rejoice as Psychosis is primarily based on Arise and Chaos A.D. with its fusion of hardcore, groove and thrash. There is even a smidgen of industrial to liven things up. Album opener “Insane” is a thrashing blitzkrieg with riffs that can slice through a tank. This track is relentless and annihilates everything in its path. “Terror Tactics” continues the metallic assault with maniacal drumming and skull splitting riffs. The song’s tempo abruptly changes into a nice groove with stomping riffs to conclude this track. “Crom” pays homage to the world of Conan the Barbarian. This ode to the Cimmerian god opens with tribal drums before Max breaks out a pummeling riff and Marc Rizzo plays an ear piercing solo and then chaos breaks loose. Rizzo’s hellish solos perfectly fit Max’s cacophonous rhythm guitar. The record takes an industrial detour on “Hellfire” with its repetitive robotic drumming and hypnotic guitar samples. This track seems slightly out of place halfway through a record of straight metal, but hats off to the guys for bringing in Justin Broadrick of Napalm Death and Godflesh to deliver vocals. Luckily, this is a brief detour as “Judas Pariah” is a mix of grindcore and groove metal that works quite well. Of course, a Cavalera album is not complete without a track rife with tribal percussion and we get that on the title track. This four minute instrumental is an amalgamation of tribal beats and electronica that is both mysterious yet uplifting. Oftentimes people underestimate how musically diverse the Cavaleras are and can compose very good world music. Album closer “Excruciating” is pure butchery as are privy to an endless firestorm of fast, sharp riffs and drumming. The track’s midsection then switches gears with a slower tempo and disturbing sound effects that concludes the record in haunting fashion.

Psychosis encapsulates everything fans love about pre-1997 Sepultura with its successful blend of metal and hardcore. The songs transition seamlessly from break neck speed to mid-tempo head movers. Max, Igor, Marc and bassist Andy Rizk can play in the pocket when necessary and then breakout without hesitation. This should not surprise anyone as Max and Igor have played together for over 30 years and made some of the most influential albums in heavy metal. One of the album’s few weak spots is the lack of lead playing from Marc Rizzo. Marc’s guitar work in Soulfly is incendiary and diverse, yet he is afforded few spots on Psychosis to showcase his playing. Hopefully he will show off his chops on the upcoming Soulfly record.

Ultimately, this album is a crusher that will please fans of Sepultura and extreme metal in general. It is Max and Igor Cavalera afterall, yet these brothers do not rest on their laurels and clearly put their hearts and souls into making this record. Psychosis is a lethal dose of thrash, hardcore, grindcore and industrial making it an unpredictable, but exciting listen from beginning to end.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

https://www.facebook.com/cavaleraconspiracy/

CD Review: “Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume” by Integrity

Darkness abounds on Integrity’s ninth release, Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume. The trio conjures imagery of black magic and devilry over a serrated blend of hardcore and metal. “Blood Sermon” morphs from black metal to d-beat throughout the song’s three minute duration. Equal parts Darkthrone and Discharge, the track provides a glimpse of the album’s sound. The Slayer-esque “Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame” is speedfest with hacksaw guitars and dissonant guitar leads. It is a short, but relentless track that packs a punch. Things come to a gloomy halt towards the middle of the record. “Serpent At The Crossroads” and “Unholy Salvation Of The Sabbatai Zevi” are slow, crunching dirges with melancholy, sinuous riffs. The classical guitar leads provide the perfect contrast to the downbeat mood on these tracks. There is a gothic beauty here, especially on “Unholy Salvation.” The band takes the swampy riffs of Autopsy and combines it with Gothenburg inspired leads. “String Up My Teeth” is a mid-tempo rocker more in tune with Motorhead or 80s rock. However, it fits on the album and has a nice bluesy solo.

Integrity take risks on Howling, which makes it a good record. Bands have mixed hardcore and metal for over 30 years now. However, Integrity take things further by blending thrash, doom, hardcore and black metal on 11 tracks. It manages to not sound disjointed and still retains a degree of complexity to it. The crunchy production is a highlight as it encapsulates the dark and menacing tone of the music. It is not muffled or tinny as the instruments blare from the stereo.

Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume, is a dark but fun record that show Integrity can hang with the young guns. Last year, Integrity’s label mates Ringworm released Snake Church, which has a sound similar to Howling. It makes one wonder if Integrity heard that record and had a creative spark, or wanted to fire back. Regardless, the band sounds great on here and has not lost its edge in its 29 year career. The music on this record is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

https://www.facebook.com/INTEGRITY.HT/

CD Review: “Busted, Broke & American” by M.O.D.

Method of Destruction unleash a nail bomb of hardcore rage on Busted, Broke & American. “The Final Declaration” is two minutes of vitriolic American bravado over pulverizing drums and thrashing guitars. Frontman Billy Milano has not slowed down a bit, possessing the same energy he displayed in 1985 on Stormtroopers of Death’s classic record Speak English Or Die. The obnoxious “You’re a F*cking D*ick” is a blend of punk riffs and bluesy guitar leads. It is vintage thrashcore with a modern twist. “Fight” is a frenetic number that stops and starts before settling in to a grooving midsection. The following track “Hooligan” is a blasting piece of hardcore with chorus shouts and Milano hoarsely calling out anyone brave (or foolish) enough to fight him. The short breakdown allows the listener to catch their breath before things speed up again. Of course, the album is not complete without an homage to Milano himself. “Billy Be Damned” is the little brother to “Milano Mosh.” It lacks the relentless brutality of the former, but at 53 Billy is still that angry, offensive unpredictable pitbull the metal community loves, or loves to hate. We are treated to a short instrumental with “All Out of Bubblegum” which has a fairly decent shredding guitar lead. However, things get confrontational on “Go Go Revolution” which has a nice contrast with its catchy chorus and barrage of rapid riffs. It is one of the best tracks on the record and hopefully the guys will play it live.

Busted, Broke & American is hardcore metal done right. The grizzled veterans seamlessly meld punk, thrash and traditional metal with no problems. It is no frills metal that gets the job done and moves on to the next track. However, M.O.D are not going through the motions. There is a youthful exuberance to this album and it is obvious the band had fun in the studio. The album has a political overtone as it opens with a speech by President Eisenhower and concludes with a speech by President Kennedy. People familiar with Milano’s previous work knows his political beliefs. He does not hold back and will certainly offend some people. However, provocation is certainly what metal is all about.

The band’s first album in ten years is worth the wait. M.O.D still play offensive crossover thrash like no other with ten mosh inducing tracks on here. Folks offended by Milano’s right-wing politics should probably avoid this album. However, fans and those not easily offended should enjoy it. The insults are a bit forced at times, but that does not lessen the album as a whole. Busted, Broke & American is the hardcore record to play this Independence Day week.

Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MethodOfDestruction/

CD Review: “The Serpent Only Lies” by Crowbar

The Masters of Sludge get back to the basics on their 11th record, The Serpent Only Lies. The return of Todd Strange may play a role in this as Crowbar aim for heaviness over experimentation on this album. This is not to say that 2011’s Sever The Wicked Hand and 2014’s Symmetry in Black were not heavy. However, Crowbar included lush, ambient tracks that worked to diversify the mood on both records. On Serpent, the boys mean business and prove this out the gate with “Falling While Rising.” The stomping riff lumbers like a giant down a mountain before taking off in to a galloping beat.

This is the band at its finest and is sure to become a fan favorite. Crowbar also return to its hardcore punk roots with “I Am The Storm” with its dysmorphic d-beat and Kirk’s lyrics of self-empowerment and unconquered strength. It gets the job done in less than 3 minutes and shows Crowbar’s superb ability to blend hardcore and metal. “Surviving The Abyss” has a dreamy, melancholic riff that paint a bleak picture of walking in the darkness. This track is in the same vein as “Planets Collide” on the band’s 1998 release Odd Fellows Rest. Thus, it serves as another example of the band rediscovering its old sound. The title track is another highlight with its punkish riffing but monastic chorus. The molten, dissonant riffing of Kirk Windstein and Matt Brunson is in full form here.

This record is more focused than Crowbar’s past couple of releases. This record features only 10 songs and clocks in at 45 minutes. Serpent is not generic by any means, and the band does not play it safe. However, there are fewer avant-garde songs on this album than on the band’s past few records. Serpent shows Crowbar playing the somber, sludgy, doom metal that brought the band recognition in the first place. However, Kirk and company are not remaking Time Heals Nothing or Obedience Through Suffering. Serpent is a modern take on the quartet’s old school sound and it works. The production is stellar and the album is a great follow up to Symmetry in Black.

The Serpent Only Lies is another notch in the belt for Crowbar. Fans of the band will enjoy hearing Todd Strange pluck out his godly basslines in the band that he helped form. The record is not trite and there is still an experimental element that is refreshing. Crowbar has delivered once again and that is no lie.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s Facebook page.

CD Review: “Snake Church” by Ringworm

Cleveland hardcore-metal outfit Ringworm spread the crossover gospel on its eighth record, Snake Church. The title track fires like shrapnel in the air piercing all in its path. The rollicking guitar riffs and hardcore drumming are relentless as vocalist HF belts out occult lyrics that would make Venom’s Cronos raise his chalice. “The Brotherhood Of The Midnight Sun” continues the satanic punk assault. The track is a solid meld of gothic riffing and hardcore speed that could wake the dead. Then there is the one two punch of “The Black Light Of A Living Ghost” and “Destroy Or Create.” These tracks clock in at less than two minutes and are sprinkled with some nice leads and riffs. The eerie spiraling guitar chords on “The Apparition” sound like several evil spirits chasing you in the forest in the dead of night.

Without question, Ringworm are all about speed on Snake Church. The band’s technical prowess is on display, however it does not overshadow the group’s aggression and pugnacious attitude. This mars Snake Church at times as some songs can grow a bit generic. However, the record is diverse enough that it is not a major hindrance. The quintet are solid musicians and are not afraid to throw out a complex time change or flashy guitar solo. The production is good and has a vintage 80s feel to it. It is neither murky or over polished and complements the gritty content on the record.

Snake Church is a charmer. The thrash meets hardcore sound will satisfy fans of Goatwhore, Toxic Holocaust and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. Ringworm keep things interesting but terse which keeps the album from sounding stale. Snake Church is crossover thrash in all its unholy glory.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

https://www.facebook.com/Ringworm13

CD Review: ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’ by Walls of Jericho

An eight year absence has not dulled Walls of Jericho’s aggression. The stalwarts of American metalcore return with its fifth record, No One Can Save You From Yourself. Frontwoman Candace Kucsulain’s guttural vocals grab your attention on the colossal “Illusion of Safety.” The track is pure hardcore stomp with blocky riffs and pounding drums. The thrashing title track is notable for its blunt, yet empowering lyrics. Candace advocates the importance of self-improvement and that only you can help yourself. The urgency of the music complements the lyrics as the world will not wait on you to get it together. The chugging riffs on “Forever Militant” drive the song forward as Candace belts out that she is walking proud despite the scars she wears. This is just a heavy slab of hardcore that makes one stand tall and dignified. The bouncy “Fight the Good Fight” gets the blood pumping and a music video was filmed for it. It is one of the more accessible tracks on No One and will become a fan favorite. The album’s initial single “Relentless” is good summary of the track. It is a maniacal, fast paced song that jumps from thrash to breakdown and back again. Once again, the lyrics center around persistence and courage in the hour of darkness. You believe Candace when she yells “without struggle there is no strength!”

No One Can Save You From Yourself is metalcore done right. A common mistake bands in this subgenre make is playing too intricately or too simple. Metalcore bands are often criticized for attempting to play Swedish death metal and sounding watered down. On the other hand, some bands just play dumbed down hardcore. On No One, Walls of Jericho know when to play it straight and when to get technical. The songs are not dumbed down for the sake of heaviness nor does the band overdo the musical complexity. This makes the album a strong listen from start to finish.

The wait was worth it. No One Can Save You From Yourself only solidifies Walls of Jericho status as one America’s best metal bands. Fans of the band will appreciate the positive lyrics and no-nonsense riffs. Walls of Jericho struck gold and are once again ready to unleash relentless metal on the world. Keep fighting the good fight.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WallsofJericho

CD Review: ‘X-No Absolutes’ by Prong

Prong keep the creative ball rolling on X-No Absolutes. The band’s third studio LP in four years, (fourth if you include the group’s 2015 covers album Songs From The Black Hole) X is a heavy, versatile record with the trio performing at its best. The opening track, “Ultimate Authority,” is signature Prong with a tight groove and crunching guitar. There is a strong sense of confidence from the first note. “Sense of Ease” shows the band reaching back to its hardcore/crossover roots. There are several tempo changes and an off the wall solo that only adds to the madness of the track. The no nonsense riffing on “Cut and Dry” is heavy like a concrete slab on glass. Art Cruz’s jackhammer drumming beats the listener into the ground while Tommy unleashes a sinister lead towards the end of the song. There is a slight industrial influence on the title track. The robotic riffs and electronic samples are a nice change from the hardcore thrash of the earlier tracks. The song does not sound out of place at all, as the band keeps the industrial influence to a minimum. Another highlight is the doom meets djent track “Belief System.” The dowtuned dirgey guitars have a minor Meshuggah feel without sounding like a ripoff. Once again, Prong shows its willingness to try new things and blend subgenres to interesting results.

The biggest strength on X-No Absolutes is the band’s confident attitude. Prong takes musical risks on this record and succeed because of the band’s abilities. Then again, Prong has always thought outside the box since its formation in 1986. However, on this record, the band takes influence from doom, industrial, goth and even pop. The album is not soft in the slightest. Fans will have plenty of tunes to headbang too. However, folks unfamiliar with Prong will probably find a few tracks they will like. Production wise, the record sounds just as good as its previous releases on SPV/Steamhammer. There is no clicking or muffled vocals, nor does one instrument drown out the others.

Prong can add another notch to its belt with X. The songs are heavy, the production strong and the band’s attitude is positive. The band continues to improve after 30 years and that commendable unto itself. This record is a must own and that is an absolute.

For more info on the band check out www.prongmusic.com

CD Review: ‘Voice of Rebellion’ by Pro-Pain

Pro-Pain’s newest release, The Voice of Rebellion, is the band’s 15th release in its 24 year history. The title track is a hard-edged slab of hardcore aggression. The track’s chunky groove is signature Pro-Pain while guitarist Adam Phillips throws out a nice lead to keep things interesting. Frontman Gary Meskill sends out a stern warning on “No Fly Zone” to anyone that steps to him. The ambulance sample and uplifting lyrics compliment the rigidity of the music. The battering “Righteous Annihilation” is a frenzied riff-fest with manic drumming giving a feeling of speeding down a crowded hill. The band shows its hardcore roots on “Take it to the Grave,” which is a straight does of fast-paced hardcore punk. “Age of Disgust” is a three minute breakdown with crushing double bass and a constricted rhythm that explodes in the middle. There is also the venomous “Blade of the Cursed” with its sweeping guitar riffs and unorthodox song structure.

The songwriting on Voice of Rebellion surpasses the band’s previous release, The Final Revolution. The songs are not conventional hardcore, with chugging riffs and the expected breakdowns. While breakdowns and chugging riffs are present, the songs twist and turn with solos and complex drumming. Pro-Pain is often overlooked and generalized for releasing the same record, but it is untrue and unfortunate. Voice of Rebellion is an amalgam of punk, hardcore and thrash with superb musicianship.

The production on Voice of Rebellion is thick thanks to Corey Williams and Gary Meskill himself. There is no clipping on this record nor do the instruments drown out the other. Meskill’s vitriolic vocals are mixed fine while the leads are properly laid over rhythm guitar and bass. The record reminded me of Terry Date’s work with Pantera and Prong in the 90s.

Voice of Rebellion is a solid Pro-Pain album. The songs are great and rarely monotonous with several tracks that standout. Fans of the band and those unfamiliar with this group should buy the album. The rebellion cannot be quelled.

Visit www.pro-pain.com for more information.