CD Review: “Woe To The Vanquished” by Warbringer

Warbringer return with a new album and line-up after a four year absence. Woe To The Vanquished is eight tracks of thrash with a slight progressive influence. The initial single “Silhouettes” is based on a pounding mid-tempo beat and swirling guitar riff that speeds up during the chorus. The song has several rhythm changes and some thrashing riffs, but it sounds juvenile and a bit forced. Things improve on the title track which sounds like vintage Warbringer. It is dynamic thrash metal with manic drumming and guitarists Adam Carroll and Chase Becker throwing out some solid leads. The song’s lyrics delve in to the savagery of war as civilians are abused and killed and nations are conquered. “Remain Violent” touches on police brutality which is a hot topic in America. The song maintains a mid-tempo beat focusing on the lyrics more so than the music. One should commend the band for tackling controversial subjects and not sugar coating them. “Descending Blade” has an intense build-up that bursts into a thrash-fest. This song wades towards Exodus worship with its composition and riffing. The grooving mid-section will incite a mosh pit during the band’s shows and the track concludes in heavy fashion. “Divinity Of Flesh” is a mash of blastbeats and choppy guitar riffs. Somehow, the band keeps it together. The ethereal guitar lead during the mid-section and intertwining riffs are the track’s highlight. The final track “When The Guns Fell Silent” is a morose and dowtrodden 11-minute affair broken up in to five parts. The lyrical themes are inspired by English poets Siegfried Sassoon and Gilbert Frankau, giving an aura of authenticity to the music. It is a fitting end to an album centered on war.

Woe To The Vanquished shows the band has matured with its lyrical content. John Kevill is a doctoral student in history and it is obvious that his love for history influenced this record. War is an extremely popular subject in heavy metal, but few bands have written songs on it that standout. While Warbringer have not written a “One” or “War Ensemble,” Woe To The Vanquished as a whole is a strong concept record about war. The band has improved musically as well, although Warbringer is no Heathen or Exodus. It is good for a band to expand its sound, although some bands can do it quicker than others. Warbringer stumbles when it attempts to play complex progressive metal. However, it sounds good in increments and integrated in to the band’s signature sound.

Warbringer does it right on Woe To The Vanquished. The album may grab listeners instantly or it may grow on you. Still, the quintet has matured as a band and with this record are sure to increase their stock in heavy metal. The band’s devil-may-care approach to metal is still present and it is not a bad thing. In fact, Warbringer’s may be on its way to crafting its masterpiece.

For news and tour dates, check out Warbringer’s official website:

https://www.warbringermusic.com/

CD Review: “The Immortal Wars” by Ex Deo

Ex Deo’s members don their armor once more to unleash a barrage of epic death metal on its third album The Immortal Wars. The band’s love for Ancient Roman history is in full effect on this record, focusing on Carthaginian military commander Hannibal. The opening track “The Rise of Hannibal” stomps like a Roman legion with its militaristic drumming and pummeling guitar riffs. The song captures the war-like theme of the album and captures the listeners attention from start to finish. “Hispania (Siege of Saguntum)” mixes symphonic strings over tremolo picking and a galloping beat to stunning effect. This track deals with Hannibal’s victory in Sanguntum Spain, which ignited the Second Punic War. Guitarists Stephane Barbe and Jean-Francois Dagenais seamlessly shift from doomy riffs to classical arpeggios while drummer Oli Beaudoin’s relentless blast beats maintain the pace of the battle. Album closer “The Roman” ends this record in glorious fashion. One instantly feels the victorious emotion of vocalist Maurizio Iacono as he proudly declares that he is Roman. A fitting end to an aggressive album that’s as education as it is brutal.

The Immortal Wars is musically and lyrically a captivating album. Maurizio has researched Roman history as the song titles deal with major battles and the politics during the Second Punic War. The band is sure to draw comparisons to Nile, whose founder Karl Sanders is known for his love of Ancient Egyptian history and mythology. That is not a bad thing, as it disproves the stereotype that heavy metal fans are ignorant or uneducated. Musically, the band plays as tight as a Roman unit. The syncopated musicianship is disrupted by chaotic blastbeats that only heightens the record’s energy. The production is clear and gives the instruments breathing room to blast from all directions.

Ex Deo pay high tribute to Caesar on The Immortal Wars. The band accomplishes its mission in a mere 38 minutes, which solidifies the saying “brevity is the soul of wit.” Fans of epic death metal in the vein of Nile and Amon Amarth should purchase this album. Furthermore, fans of Maurizio’s main band Kataklysm should buy this record. Rome eventually fell, but the spirits of its warriors are present on this album.

For news and tour dates, check out Ex Deo’s Official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/exdeo/

CD Review: “Dim Days Of Dolor” by Sirenia

Sirenia’s newest release, Dim Days Of Dolor, is a majestic journey of heavy twists and melodic turns. This record marks the debut of Emmanuelle Zoldan as lead female vocalist. Zoldan has sung back-up with Sirenia for 13 years, making her familiar with the band and its sound. Her mezzo-soprano vocals are a major highlight on this record as they soar but never overshadow the songs. The opening track “Goddess of the Sea” sways back and forth like a ship at sea with its lumbering riffs. Zoldan’s operatic vocals are powerful and match the crushing music accompanying her. The title track is a fusion of symphonic metal and electronica bordering on pop metal. It is a bit surprising that this track is not the album’s initial single due to its accessibility and commercial appeal. “The 12th Hour” is the initial single for Dim Days, which is interesting as it is the longest track on the record and one of the heaviest. There is a strong death metal vibe on this song due to band founder Morten Veland’s shrieking vocals. “Cloud Nine” is another hard hitter with its staccato riffs and hammering drums. The choir sample fits well on this track adding to its heaviness. Album closer “Aeon’s Embrace” is a sorrowful piano ballad with Zoldan’s melancholic vocals underscoring the sadness on this song.

Dim Days of Dolor is a varied album that showcases Morten Veland’s musical abilities. He successfully blends heavy metal, electronica and symphonic music to stunning effect. However, Zoldan’s vocals accentuate the emotions on each track, giving the music greater impact. The production is bombastic which is suitable for an album like Dim Days. The riffs, samples and of course the vocals are pushed to the forefront but the sound is clear and never choppy or noisy.

Fans of Sirenia and symphonic metal should purchase Dim Days of Dolor. It is an epic record with solid songs and incredible musicianship. The album’s 56 minute length is not tedious as there is little to no filler on this album. Zoldan’s vocals are superb throughout the record, and fit well on each track. There is nothing dim or sorrowful about this record and it is more than worth a listen.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://www.mortenveland.com/sirenia/

CD Review: ‘Codex Atlantis’ by Serenity

Serenity keeps its songs short and sweet on Codex Atlantis. One of my main grips with progressive and symphonic metal bands are the tedious song lengths. That is not the case on this record, as every track is under six minutes. Thus, the songs are fairly dynamic and never drag. The driving “Follow Me” pushes along with simple riffs and clean vocals. The stringed instruments and choir samples add to the uplifting feel of this song. Things get heavier on “Sprouts of Terror” which opens with a trashy riff leading to an explosive symphonic crescendo. This is a headbanging piece designed specifically to incite a circle pit. The bombastic “Iniquity” is the antithesis of the track’s title. It is majestic and regal with a stirring guitar solo. The tranquil piano and violins on “My Final Chapter” contrast with the morbid subject of death on this track. Here, the narrator is ready to sleep eternally and the end is a peaceful one. The peace abrutply ends on “Caught in a Myth” with its galloping riffs and hard hitting horn samples. The occult lyricism on this song regarding the search for truth complements the epicness of the composition.

Codex Atlantis is a strong record because of the song compositions. The tracks are well written and do not deviate into Pretentious Prog Land. You will not hear Serenity play the same riff for 8 minutes and call it “prog metal” on this record. The production is crystal clear and frontman Georg Neuhauser’s vocals are a highlight on this record. The classical samples are so good it sounds like a real symphony played on this record. The band also successfully balances its metal sound with symphonic flair.

Progressive metal fans will enjoy Codex Atlantis. It is a good record with some great tracks and solid musicianship. It may be too soft for people that prefer their metal with blast beats and guttural vocals. However, the band knows what its fanbase wants and it delivers.

For news and tour dates, check out http://www.serenity-band.com/