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Other Recent Reviews
Code – Augur Nox
Author: UMUR
Rating: 80

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Slayer - Implode
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Autopsy - The Tomb Within
Author: UMUR
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Judas Priest - British Steel
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 75

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Recent Reviews
1349Massive Cauldron of Chaos
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
Release Date: September 29th 2014
Label: Indie Recordings
Author: adg211288

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Massive Cauldron of Chaos (2014) is the sixth full-length album by Norwegian black metal act 1349. It's been four years since the release of their last album Demonoir (2010), which was the follow-up to the fanbase divider that was Revelations of the Black Flame (2009). I haven't personally heard a lot of 1349's work prior to Massive Cauldron of Chaos, though I was intrigued by the backlash that Revelations of the Black Flame received and gather from what I've read up on the group as research for this review that Demonoir was a much better received album.

Being my first proper experience with the music of 1349 I obviously wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first stuck Massive Cauldron of Chaos on to play. I usually see the band listed as just a black metal act, sometimes with dark ambient influences mentioned, especially regarding the more recent work. What I found in Massive Cauldron of Chaos is indeed black metal, but black metal than has a very strong thrash metal edge to the guitars. I'm quickly reminded of some of Immortal's later releases. Damned in Black (2000) and Sons of Northern Darkness (2002) are definitely valid points of reference. 1349 frontman Ravn's growl can even remind me of Immortal's Abbath at times but it's musically that puts Massive Cauldron of Chaos in the same niche more than anything. This makes Massive Cauldron of Chaos not as raw or atmospheric as some black metal can be, but a more direct and aggressive piece of work.

There are eight tracks on the album with a total of about thirty-eight minutes of music. The duration feels about right for the style as the album doesn't vary itself too much. It doesn't outstay it's welcome in other words and certainly fills its running time to bring in an assault of riffs, riffs and more riffs. There are still some more traditionally orientated black metal parts to be found though, and the growled vocals are in that vein too. Massive Cauldron of Chaos is very thrashy but it is still a black metal album first and foremost. Mengele's is a good example of where things turn towards more of pure black metal sound while Slaves really shows off just how well 1349 infuse thrash metal into their music. They save the best song for last in the form of Godslayer. A real triumphant conclusion to a great album.

Overall this album isn't as strong as those Immortal ones I compared it to but as a fan of those Massive Cauldron of Chaos is good complementary material from 1349. 4 Stars are very much deserved. 84/100

:star: :star: :star: :star:


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AutopsyMacabre Eternal
Genre: Doomy Death Metal
Release Date: May 16th 2011
Label: Peaceville Records
Author: UMUR

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Macabre Eternal is the 5th full-length studio album by US death metal act Autopsy. Macabre Eternal was released through Peaceville Records in May 2011. It´s the first album release by the band since Shitfun from 1995. Shitfun saw Autopsy go out on a punked death metal note. A musical direction guitarist Danny Coralles and lead vocalist/drummer Chris Reifert would further explore with their Abscess project. Despite releasing several studio albums and other minor releases Abscess has never reached the success that Autopsy had in the early nineties, and they´ve remained an underground act that is probably unknown to most. Autopsy officially reunited in July 2009, but they had already briefly reunited in September 2008 to record two new tracks, which were to appear on the re-release edition of their 1989 debut full-length studio album Severed Survival. Maybe as a consequence of the reunited Autopsy and the focus on that band, Abscess folded in June 2010.

Autopsy are one of the pioneers of the filthy, raw and gore themed US death metal genre alongside acts like Deceased and Necrophagia, so a comeback album after 16 years (they did release The Tomb Within EP in 2010 though) is not a small deal in death metal circles.

...and fans of the band probably won´t be disappointed by the result. Macabre Eternal is every bit as vile, gory and filthy as the early releases by the band. Autopsy still has a dark and organic sound, that sits far from the clinical productions that grace many contemporary releases. The band also add an organic touch to their playing, so you are never in doubt that it´s actually humans playing the parts. Chris Reifert´s drumming is as always one of the assets of the band´s sound. He is no technical wizard, but he understands what makes the songs on the album move forward in the most effective way. His vocal delivery is varied and powerful ranging from deep growls, to desperate, insane sounding ditto (apparently guitarist Eric Cutler sings on a couple of tracks too, but you could have fooled me). If you stand too close to him there´s a chance you´ll be able to smell rotten flesh on his breath. The lyrics are vile and gory as usual, which is obvious when you read song titles like Dirty Gore Whore, Born Undead, Bludgeoned and Brained and Sadistic Gratification.

The punk infused death metal years with Abscess and the Shitfun (1995) album haven´t gone completely unnoticed, and while most of tracks on the album are slow- to mid paced death metal with some filthy doomy touches (there are faster paced parts on the album too but no blasting), the punk influence is still there. This time it´s better incorporated into the band´s sound than ever, but it doesn´t always work wonders with the simple punk elements.

If you ask me 12 tracks distributed over 65:27 minutes are couple of tracks too much for a death metal release like this one. Granted the 11:33 minutes long doomy highlight of the album Sadistic Gratification does take up quite a few minutes of the playing time, but with more focus on fewer tracks I think the album would have been a little more intense. There are moments of monotony that could have been prevented.

With that said Macabre Eternal is still a very good comeback album by Autopsy. The filthy doomy death metal sound, the morbid sounding lead and harmony guitars, the brutal and insane sounding growls, the punk elements and the gory and vile lyrics. It´s all there. Autopsy are in the fortunate position that they don´t need to reinvent the wheel or push boundaries with this album to satisfy their fans. They been there and done that. I think Autopsy have done just what they should with this album and that´s meet the expectations of their fans. Bearing that in mind Macabre Eternal is an almost 100% successful album that deserves a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating. 75/100

:star: :star: :star: :star:


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AxenstarWhere Dreams Are Forgotten
Genre: Power Metal
Release Date: November 28th 2014
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Author: adg211288

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Where Dreams Are Forgotten (2014) is the sixth full-length album by Swedish power metal act Axenstar. The band has moved to Inner Wound Recordings for this release and it's the second album to feature the line-up that debuted on their last album Aftermath (2011); Magnus Winterwild on vocals, bass and keyboards, Joakim Jonsson and Jens Klovegård on guitars and Adam Lindberg on drums.

On Where Dreams Are Forgotten Axenstar play a brand of power metal where I can't shake the impression that I've heard it all before. Lots of speed and melody and some semi-symphonic keyboard use. I guess that's what happens when you listen to a lot of albums from a particular genre. You start to get selective. I can't say that Axenstar do anything wrong here as far as a power metal album goes but eleven tracks and approx fifty minutes later I simply haven't heard anything that manages to make the album stand out. The songs themselves are decent enough I guess but the album as a whole doesn't really offer up any surprises and I don't find that the album has as much energy to it as it possible could do, which is often the determining factor for me with a power metal album. The first couple of songs Fear and Inside the Maze are really quite good however, as is Greed later in the album, so it's not as if Where Dreams Are Forgotten is totally without highlights.

I haven't heard any of the previous Axenstar work to say how Where Dreams Are Forgotten compares to them, but as a first impression for the group it definitely comes up short, making the band seem very B grade to me. It is good album, but only one that will have appeal to power metal diehards. I count myself as such a person, but I do have to be objective here. The lasting impressions of the album are not great and don't encourage repeat spins. But it is competent if unremarkable work with good vocals and musicianship. 3.5 stars seems fair in this case. 72/100

:star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


Comment.

Judas PriestPoint of Entry
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Release Date: February 17th 1981
Label: Columbia
Author: 666Sharon666

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When I started writing my series of reviews on the Judas Priest discography I mentioned right at the start, in my Rocka Rolla review, that despite most of their work fitting the traditional heavy metal genre that there are also a few oddities present. Albums that are a bit different (or very different in some cases) than most of their stuff. Their seventh album Point of Entry from 1981 is one of them. This is not a good thing in this album's case.

Point of Entry is the most hard rock orientated Judas Priest release since their debut and one of their most commercial sounding albums. I wouldn't go as far to say that it is my least favourite record by the group but it's certainly in the bottom three along with Turbo and Demolition. It's not that it's actually a bad record based on its own merits, in fact I really like the song Desert Plains, but it's not really a record that I really expected to hear from Judas Priest. And it certainly doesn't sit too well between British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance, both of which are stronger efforts although not top tier Judas Priest by any means for me. I suppose this one is worth hearing if you enjoy hearing the different sides that Judas Priest sometimes display but it's not a record I stick on too much and one of the reasons that I consider 1980's Judas Priest to be so inconsistent. Fortunately this one marks the end of the declining quality heard on the few records before it. 60/100

:star: :star: :star:


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Album of the Month
MindMazeBack From the Edge
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Release Date: October 24th 2014
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Author: adg211288

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Back 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 of Stratovarius adding a keyboard solo to Moment of Flight and Matt Johnsen of Pharaoh 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. MindMaze 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. 100/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :star:


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1349 - Massive Cauldron of Chaos
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