– Back From the EdgeGenre:
Progressive Power MetalRelease Date:
October 24th 2014Label:
Inner Wound RecordingsAuthor:
adg211288Back From the Edge
(2014) is the second full-length album by US metal act MindMaze
. Having released their debut album Mask of Lies
(2013) independently the band have moved up in the world and Back From the Edge
is released through Inner Wound Recordings
. The band have also added bassist Mike LePond
to the line-up, a notable musician best known for none other than the mighty Symphony X
among others. Additionally the band has garnered some high profile guest appearances such as Jens Johansson
adding a keyboard solo to Moment of Flight
and Matt Johnsen
adding a guitar solo on The Machine Stops
I'm going to take a little time out from my usual review structure to apologise to my readers, as I had made the promise to try and cover some other genres for a time after realising that a good majority of my current group of 2014 release reviews were for power metal albums. A follow-up to the excellent MindMaze
debut Mask of Lies
was always high on my personal hype list for the rest of this year, but I thought I'd be safe with my promise when a promo for the album came my way, as in my opinion Mask of Lies
was mainly a traditional heavy metal album with power metal and progressive metal leanings, more so the latter than power metal. Turns out though that Back From the Edge
is not a heavy metal album, but a progressive power metal album. So sorry readers, the promise is going briefly on hold.
Wait...I'm really not all that sorry about that, for in Back From the Edge MindMaze
have produced an album that is possibly the best case of genre evolution I've ever heard, changing the band from a good heavy metal band to an excellent power metal band.
While there are some moments on Back From the Edge
that are more like straight-forward power metal songs, such as the lead single Dreamwalker
, the album is mostly made up a perfect blend of power and progressive metal ideas so while you'll be getting plenty of those speedy power metal riffs to propel the music along the guitar playing by Jeff Teets
in particular has a tendency to veer off into more complex ideas, with the occasional use of keyboards adding another layer to the sound, though the band usually stick to a typical song structure, with most on the album clocking between the four and six minute marks.
At the other end of the spectrum though there are a couple of longer tracks, namely The Machine Stops
and Onward (Destiny Calls II)
. The latter is obviously a follow-up to the closing track from Mask of Lies
. It's these longer songs of course that really bring the progressive side of the music out, and Onward (Destiny Calls II)
is especially impressive, even including some flute usage that gives the song a very slight folksy vibe. This is the most progressive song on the album and is probably the only one here that I'd call a progressive metal song over a power metal song and despite being the power metal maniac I am, it's also my favourite. Back From the Edge
is quickly impressive for the same reasons that made Mask of Lies
such an great debut, but the difference is where Mask of Lies
seemed a little unsure about what the band wanted to be, Back From the Edge
is a focussed piece of work with strong musicianship all round, amazing energy, and powerful vocals by Sarah Teets
have been a pretty unknown entity on the metal scene up until this point, but Back From the Edge
is the album that sets out to change that, and will if there is any justice in the world.
I mentioned earlier about trying to leave off power metal reviews for a while because of the large amount I've done this year, but what I neglected to say is that only one of those albums was awarded a top tier score, and folk-power metal albums like that one (Elvenking
) are nearly always more recognisable as folk metal releases so really Back From the Edge
is the first power metal from 2014 that is a power metal album before it is something else (in this case progressive metal) that I've felt the need to go up to the top tier for. Back From the Edge
is really everything fans of female voiced power metal could want, and I don't feel like I'm overhyping it by putting up a perfect score. Consider me blown away by the massive progress MindMaze
has made in such a short time since their debut. 100/100Comment
– The Experience of HorrorGenre:
Death/Thrash MetalRelease Date:
UMUR"The Experience of Horror"
is the debut full-length studio album by German death/thrash metal act Assorted Heap
. The album was released through 1 MF
in 1991. The original vinyl version only contained 6 tracks while the CD version featured 9 tracks. I´m not sure why because the vinyl version is definitely on the shorter side with it´s 27:20 minutes long playing time and even if they had added the CD bonus tracks to the vinyl version it would still only have lasted around 37 minutes. You can´t excuse that with loss of sound quality, which was sometimes the explanation back then with vinyl albums longer than 45 minutes.
The music on "The Experience of Horror"
is US influenced death/thrash (or brutal thrash metal if you will). As far as I recall it´s not often I´ve heard music like this coming from a German act. There´s not a hint of teutonic thrash here. Instead the music is aggressive and at times brutal thrash metal played with great technical skill. Acts like Dark Angel
and early Invocator
come to mind. The tracks are well written, energetic and powerful and while the sound production isn´t without flaws, "The Experience of Horror"
still comes off as a quality death/thrash release. I guess some tracks could have been a little more memorable, like for example the title track is, but it´s not a major issue."The Experience of Horror"
is a rather obscure release and probably not that easy to find, but if you are a fan of late eighties/early nineties death/thrash and you are able to find a copy, I´d recommend a purchase. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved. 70/100Comment
– The RackGenre:
Death MetalRelease Date:
April 13th 1991Label:
Century Media RecordsAuthor:
is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Asphyx
. The album was released through Century Media Records
in April 1991. After leaving Pestilence
, bassist/vocalist Martin Van Drunen
teamed up with guitarist Eric Daniels
and drummer Bob Bagchus
to form Asphyx
. Apparently Martin Van Drunen
didn´t agree with the rest of the guys in Pestilence
about the more sophisticated death metal sound that they wanted to pursue as his interest was in filthy old school death metal.
more than fits that description and in fact "The Rack"
is probably one of the most filthy and brutal old school death metal albums out there. Martin Van Drunen
has a rather distinct vocal style. A kind of desperate sounding growl/howl and he pushes his voice to the full on this album and sometimes even beyond what I find pleasant to listen to. So beware that the vocals on "The Rack"
might be an acquired taste. Asphyx
play a filthy doomy death metal style with an organic and authentic almost sloppy touch. There are some crushingly brutal doomy riffs on the album, but the band play both mid- and faster paced parts too. A track like "The Sickening Dwell"
has always stood out to me, but the album is generally consistent in quality. But that also means that the album doesn´t feature many highlight nor many lows.
The sound production is noisy, distorted and at times almost unbearable to my ears. Filthy, filthy stuff."The Rack"
is a classic old school death metal album from the golden year of death metal 1991. It´s not a personal favourite of mine, mainly because of the extreme vocal delivery and the equally extreme production values (I´m simply not butch enough to enjoy this album all the way through), but it´s an original and distinct sounding death metal release and deserves recognition for that. a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted. 70/100Comment
– Doomed Dark YearsGenre:
Black Metal/Symphonic Black MetalRelease Date:
Black Lotus RecordsAuthor:
666Sharon666Doomed Dark Years
, the first full-length Astarte
album, was released in 1998. As far as I know Astarte
were one of the first (maybe even the first) all female black metal bands, originally forming under the name Lloth
in 1995. Some tracks from Lloth
’s demo Dancing in the Dark Lakes of Evil
appear as bonus tracks on certain reissues of Doomed Dark Years
. The version I have is an original 1998 pressing though.Astarte
's take on black metal varied a bit in their five album career (which sadly came to an end this year due to the death of band leader Tristessa
). On Doomed Dark Years
it's a mix of pretty standard early black metal ideas and some symphonic black metal. The atmosphere is raw and vocalist Kinthia
can be hard to follow, but that's all things I'm sure black metal listens are used to and even look for depending on their point of view on so called 'true' black metal. While not revolutionary by today's standards and perhaps not even then in 1998 (aside from them being female, session drummer aside, which is completely irrelevant from a musical point of view), being four years after albums like In the Nightside Eclipse
) or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
), I've always found the Astarte
debut to be quite the accomplished piece of work, featuring not only the raw riffs and blast beat drums but eerie symphonic melodies, acoustic guitars and even some piano. All in all, a more accomplished debut than many of the bigger black metal acts out of Norway, including my personal favourites Immortal
.See Older Reviews