SOS Metal Reviews: Nonpoint "Miracle," Jackyl, Triumfall, Big Ball, and more…

NONPOINT: MIRACLE

Admirably remaining intact despite enduring bouts with the music industry’s infamous waves of uncertainty, the latest release by veteran Florida act Nonpoint entitled MIRACLE showcases a reinvigorated unit determined to not just survive but thrive. Produced by Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett of Mudvayne and self-released on the band’s own label, this 12-track endeavor demonstrates a decisively beefier overall sound than previous efforts (“Dangerous Waters”), seemingly incorporating influence from the men behind the board into groovy yet gritty melodies such as “Looking Away” and “Throwing Stones” while continuing to roll out the notoriously infectious and hard hitting refrains that put them on the map back in the day (“Miracle”). Adroitly straddling the line between Incubus and Sevendust with their distinct Latin flavor kicking up on occasion (“What I’ve Become”), this album amplifies the band’s familiar dynamic nuances with all sharpened edges exposed, resulting in a powerful album full of expected stop-start jabs and a rejuvenated attitude fueling Nonpoint’s fierce fires . www.nonpoint.com -Mike SOS

SEASONS AFTER: THROUGH TOMORROW

Seasons After is a Kansas-based quintet who apes the nu-metal template ad nausea on their 12-track release THROUGH TOMORROW. With a mixture of equal parts Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, and Bullet for My Valentine, this group’s hard hitting but extremely predictable output comes with a flurry of twin guitar assaults and a pounding percussive performance while the vocals fluctuate between creamy choral parts and throat-ripping screams. Adding in a cover of “Cry Little Sister” from THE LOST BOYS for a touch of instant pop culture notoriety, the debut by Seasons After may seem edgy to those unfamiliar with the heavier edge of the spectrum, yet the entire affair culminates in a cookie cutter presentation whose calculated and formulaic sense of songwriting yields the kind of music perfect for mainstream radio to push to the stars. www.dirtbagmusic.com -Mike SOS

ROSETTA: A DETERMINISM OF MORALITY

Philadelphia, PA’s spacey hardcore troupe Rosetta returns with A DETERMINISM OF MORALITY, a sensational seven-track offering from this galactic-minded quartet. Opting for shorter song lengths this time around, Rosetta tightens up their distinct brand of shoegazing metallic goodness and add a few new tricks to their arsenal (“Revolve”) without sacrificing the remarkable buildups the band has utilized on previous offerings (“Blue Day for Croatoa”). Intertwining colossal rhythmic shifts, masterful manipulations of the drums, gutwrenching vocals, and shimmering and soaring guitars, Rosetta provide the perfect balance between calamity and calmness with a bounty of atmospheric waves and crushing ambience leading this unit’s dynamic surge. www.translationlossrecords.com -Mike SOS

YEAR OF NO LIGHT: AUSSERWELT

Ambient French metal troupe Year of No Light present a four-track, 48-minute multi-layered post metal attack with AUSSERWELT. Bolstered with a barrage of sonically supercharged orchestral metallic movements, this album’s most predominant features include shimmering guitar lines that walk the line drawn by Isis and retooled by Pelican, well-measured rhythmic thumps whose thunderous thumps thicken the listening experience, and a nasty disposition that yields bleak pools of sludge and shards of progressive black metal, all without the benefit of vocals to cloud the thorough comprehension of the doom-laden world Year of No Light concocts. Best served in one sitting (though multiple listens of singular track are surely bound to reveal all sorts of blissfully aggressive accentuations), this album does a suitable job of unleashing a powerful slab of heaviness with both cinematic overtones and a flair for drama. www.conspiracyrecords.com -Mike SOS

JACKYL: WHEN MOONSHINE AND DYNAMITE COLLIDE

Jesse James Dupree and company returns after a lengthy hiatus with WHEN MOONSHINE AND DYNAMITE COLLIDE, a high octane low brow hard rock hootenanny chock full of down and dirty double entendres from this Atlanta based quartet. Maintaining an unadulterated love for AC/DC with barnburning riffs galore (“I Can’t Stop”, “Get Mad At It”) and James’ whiskey-soak wail manning the helm (“She’s Not a Drug”), this 12-track excursion allows the listener a firsthand account of what it’s like to ride shotgun with the band with a Mason jar of homemade brew in your lap and a team of strippers shaking their assets on the back of the flatbed. Turn off your brain and turn up Jackyl’s tried and tested yet contrived blend of no frills southern fried hard rock anthems perfect for both the stripper pole or the parking lot all-nighter and leave your responsibilities and inhibitions at the door. www.faebook.com/officialjackyl -Mike SOS

SCHLEUSOLZ: THE WEINHEIM EXPERIMENT

The sophomore effort from space cadet German troupe Schleusolz is anything but predictable, as the 18-track THE WEINHEIM EXPERIMENT thrusts this duo’s versatile and uninhibited blend of sounds and beats chock full of frivolous synths and quirky melodies out past the outer limits. Imagine game show theme songs from the 1970’s colliding with any one of Mike Patton’s off the wall efforts jamming with the band from the Creature Cantina to get a start to where this band and their distinctly European mindset is headed, as this eclectic offering consistently flows a myriad of fresh music equally embracing the riches from early ’80s new wave, world, dance, electronica, and pop genres while throwing convention to the wind and turning everything they can sideways in the process. Composed with both modern sensibility and vintage know-how, Schleusolz’s latest release demonstrates a flagrantly flamboyant style with an unbridled irreverence unencumbered by time and space, allowing this act the freedom to boldly roam the cosmos for intergalactic inspiration or dip into the vaults of time to construct a musical entity throbbing with offbeat charm (“Polyphobia”). www.myspace.com/schleusolz -Mike SOS

ANCHORED: LISTEN TO THIS

Contrived and cliché, Anchored deliver an obligatory blend of Kid Rock, Nickelback, and Papa Roach with a decisively adult country twang perfect for frat boys to hook up, bro down and wild out to with this Texas quintet’s 11-track LISTEN TO THIS. Summoning down and dirty riffs, rhythmic power and lyrical inspiration from directlybelow their belts, this disc gets as insufferably derivative as you could imagine anything that sounds like edgy supermarket background music could, complete with a slew of half-rate hooks and the kind of adolescent simplicity and forced execution that elicits groans yet seemingly remains in the mainstream’s sightline despite the ultimately generic and soulless nature.  www.myspace.com/anchoredmusic -Mike SOS

DOWNSHALLOW: THE NEW FASHION

Downshallow returns to a heavier mindset after dabbling in acoustic alchemy on their previous effort with their latest 12-track album entitled THE NEW FASHION. This New Jersey quartet projects an enormous sound that references everything from the left of center metallic vibes of Chevelle and Deftones to the soaring melodies of Our Lady Peace and Finger Eleven while maintaining a distinct identity whose sonic brew brims over with cascading hooks, unexpected rhythmic movements, and a massive vocal presence leading the alternative metal leanings on cuts like the sinewy “Crash”, the psychedelic blues shuffle of “Ashes” and the bass-driven groove of “All For Nothing”.  Balancing modern rock nuances out with a clever array of teeth gnashing riffs (“Without a Reason”, “Subway Vampire”), Downshallow’s artsy brand of hard rock allows for both functionality and fashionability via a series of brooding emotions guiding the listener through this veteran act’s moody musings and angsty hybrid of hard rock, metal , and alternative. www.downshallow.com -Mike SOS

EARLY GRAVES: GONER

Early Graves dole out a crusty and chaotic blend of hardcore, death metal, and grindcore on their sophomore effort GONER. This San Francisco based unit’s latest 10-track offering is resolutely leaner and meaner than their debut, melding the warmongering tones of Entombed with the vitriolic nature of bands like Trap Them and His Hero is Gone to form a viscous and vile collection of short and tight songs heavy on the seething anger (“May Day”). While there’s little diversity to be found here, this under 30-minute affair caustically cuts to the chase and aims straight for the jugular with a rusty razor in hand, guaranteeing to inflict all sorts of damage. www.ironcladrecordings.com -Mike SOS

DIABULUS IN MUSICA: SECRETS

The musical output from Spain’s Diabulus in Musica does not resemble the Slayer album of the same name in any way, shape or form, as this unit derives a balance of sound from both the Gothic and symphonic metal genres, complete with standout heavenly female vocalizations intertwined with the occasional beastly male growl, oodles of atmospheric keyboards and a slew of piano tinklings and string arrangements accentuating the standardized metallic overtones. Referencing the usual suspects to a fault (Nightwish, Epica, Theater of Tragedy), this 13-track release follows its influences extremely closely and displays a serious lack of originality, yet still manages to pull out a string of solid melodies powered by the rousing vocal performance (“Under a Shadow”, “Lonely Soul”) despite doing little else to differentiate themselves from the pack. www.metalblade.com -Mike SOS

MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT: THE VIOLENCE BENEATH

Atmospheric sludge metal troupe Mouth of the Architect marks their return with a massive sounding four-track EP entitled THE VIOLENCE BENEATH. Sticking to their guns by continuing to incorporate a gazing metallic stance bursting with shimmering guitars, harsh vocals, and cavernous rhythms that readily land the band into the Isis/Pelican/ Neurosis bin, this Dayton, OH unit stacks the deck with bruising buildups and a colossal wall of sound that can be felt surging through your being as much as it is heard through your ears (“Buried Hopes”). Throw in a studio-quality live recording of a new track (“Restore”) and a captivatingly clever cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and this post metal act showcases a penchant for both thinking outside of the box and smashing the same box into tiny pieces on this stopgap offering. www.translationloss.com -Mike SOS

FATAL EMBRACE: THE EMPIRES OF INHUMANITY

Despite curating their blend of old school since the mid-‘90s, German thrash metal group Fatal Embrace come off to be cut from the same cloth as bands currently riding the waves of the golden age of the Bay Area scene on their latest release THE EMPIRES OF INHUMANITY. With an obvious obsession with Slayer with touches of Destruction, Sodom, and Kreator very apparent throughout this 10-track excursion, this purebread headbanging crew dishes out a sinister cavalcade of galloping riffs (“Another Rotten Life”), throat-ripping screams, and frenetic drums with a powerful precision-driven performance that deters the glaring lack of originality long enough to warrant multiple listens for the most ardent of followers of the thrash metal movement. www.metalblade.com -Mike SOS

INGESTED: SURPASSING THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMAN SUFFERING

UK metal mavens Ingested adopt the new philosophy of extreme heavy metal to an almost fault on their debut effort SURPASSING THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMAN SUFFERING. While broad strokes of deathcore and slam adorn much of this squad’s musical output, hints of bands such as Dying Fetus, Suffocation and Devourment slip in and out between the standard squealing guitar fills and guttural vocal rants to give this nine-track affair a bit of depth that goes beyond the breakdown and studio trickery. And while titles such as “Anal Evisceration” and “Intercranial Semen Injection” border on downright ridiculousness, it’s all part of Ingested’s relentless quest to brutalize at any and all costs, yielding redundant blasts of slamming grooves, an unsettlingly gore-obsessed lyrical vision, and the kind of mechanized mayhem with misogynistic overtones that gets old and stupid rather fast. www.candlelightrecordsusa.com -Mike SOS

TRIUMFALL: ANTITHESIS OF ALL FLESH

Serbian black metal unit Triumfall start their debut eight-track album ANTITHESIS OF ALL FLESH off thunderously with a orchestral yet spooky feel, setting the tone for this unit’s Dimmu Borgir meets Emperor style of black metal malevolence. While some may argue that Triumfall brings nothing that hasn’t been heard if you’re a follower of the darker end of the metal spectrum, they do manage to present it with a raw quality and the glacial conviction that stirs emotions on cuts like the rousing “Omega Overeasts The Presence”. Carefully carves harsh vocals, tremolo-picked guitars, and bastardized blast beats from the playbooks of the top of the genre to comprise a devious yet often visited blend of symphonic black metal complete with all of the trimmings (“Within Their Midnight”), Triumfall concocts a straightforward slab of menacing metal that doesn’t stray too far away from the nefarious middle ground it was birthed from. www.regainrecords.com -Mike SOS

OCTOBER FILE: OUR SOULS TO YOU

The rebellious streak of British metal act October File is alive and well in their music as shown on latest disc OUR SOULS TO YOU. Furiously pounding out with a punishing array of clanging Ministry-esque rhythms while supporting a string of conspiracy theory inspired political rants and social diatribes akin to arguably the band’s biggest influence Killing Joke, this quartet’s angst-ridden hardcore punk contains an anarchistic aura that you can’t buy at the mall (“Isolation”) propelling their harsh hybrid of metal, punk, and industrial past the point of angry into a whole new level of contempt. Juxtaposing metallic brute force with a mechanized heartbeat fueled by repetitive mantras revealing excessive fits of displaced rage towards the powers that be (“Dredge”), this 10-track release comes with a bonus four tracks remixed by industrial metal pioneer Justin Broadrick, who tacks on more throbbing beats than a discoteque on a Saturday night while subtly accentuating the band’s condemnation for those in control via samples and atmospheric reinterpretations of October File’s intended themes and viewpoints. www.candlelightrecordsusa.com -Mike SOS

BIG BALL: HOTTER THAN HELL

Deriving their familiar sound from a strict diet of Brian Johnson-era AC/DC with a hint of Accept while taking their album title from KISS (surprised Gene Simmons hasn’t reached out to them yet), there’s very little in the way of creativity coming through on the 13-track disc HOTTER THAN HELL by German hard rockers Big Ball. There’s a lot of good time big beat down and dirty rock and roll to be had here, but if you own any of AC/DC’s later material, you know what to expect and can definitely do without this clone. The crude nature by which they ape the formula of the aforementioned and incorporate it into their sleazed-up version only manages to add their name to the long list of bands that do their best to emulate Angus and company and fail miserably. www.afm-records.com -Mike SOS

THE DAISY ANTHESIS: SURFACE AND THE SKY

Making a startling transformation from acoustic act to progressive deathcore squad sounds like an impossible mission, yet the Canadian trio The Daisy Anthesis have defied the odds and done just that. Proving that they are an eclectic unit, their debut endeavor SURFACE AND THE SKY documents this group’s amazing stylistic jump with every odd time signature movement and chaotic rhythmic switch (“Transparent (Part 3)”). This 11-track affair is definitely not your run of the mill heavy album, as this troupe does a fine job of keeping things lively with a bevy of sweeping dynamic shifts, spurts of technical musicianship, jarring dissonant bass and guitar runs, and an overall herky-jerky offbeat quality woven into the framework of each song (“In the Eyes of the Prosecutor”), channeling bands such as Candiria, The Red Chord, and Psyopus with touches of Strapping Young Lad and grindcore strewn in the process while a manic vocalist screams his lungs out the entire duration of the album. Perfect for heavy music fans that prefer a challenge, SURFACE AND THE SKY is a release chock full of intriguing twists and turns with the musical chops and song structures to support The Daisy Anthesis’ left of center tendencies. www.diminishedfifthrecords.com -Mike SOS

PORTAL: LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD

Avant-garde Australian death metal squad Portal are all about turning convention sideways, and their latest re-released offering taken from this whacked out outfit’s demo tape entitled LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD is now available via a picture disc thanks to the folks at Chrome Leaf. Truly showcasing why this band is so revered on the underground circuit, this act doles out an array of warped metallic nuances spun with a woozy aura that induces panic from the onset. Despite only featuring two tracks that run under 10 minutes in length, this affair’s unbridled barrages of weird noise permeate a long-lasting unsettling vibe bound to stick in your craw and give nightmares long after the last cacophonous guttural blasted strand is played. www.chromeleaf.org -Mike SOS

THE BREATHING PROCESS: ODYSSEY (UN) DEAD

The Breathing Process is a New England metal troupe that incorporates a hodgepodge of modern metal nuances into their latest 13-track presentation ODYSSEY (UN) DEAD that don’t always gel well together. Armed with a overbearing Goth-esque barrage of keyboards and pianos infiltrating through new school Euro metal structures laden with gloppy stabs at atmospheric grandiosity and taciturn triggered to death percussion (“The Living Forest”), The Breathing Process provides flashes of an imaginative edge but remains too bogged down with second-rate metalcore tendencies (“The Opaque Forest”) to fully realize the fruits of their labor, almost as if the band tries too hard to force elements and implement mindsets into their music that don’t really belong just to fit in with the Hot Topic crowd or into a particular tour package. Instead of servicing songs properly, The Breathing Process utilize a type of cut and paste maneuvers that come off as an insincere and half-baked metallic exercise drill whose promising parts are outweighed by the band’s overwrought issues with identity. www.candlelightrecordsusa.com -Mike SOS

LOCUSTA: LOCUSTA

Ohio-based extreme metal quintet Locusta unleashes a hellacious flurry of blackened death metal on their 10-track eponymous debut. Implementing a dastardly blend of dark and furious riffs that wield both progressive death and Swedish melodic metal tendencies (“Mutiny”) with an ample throat supplying the belligerent growls necessary to invoke curses and frighten the masses (“Dusk at the Mausoleum”), Locusta showcases the bloodthirsty aptitude to rip you to shreds (“War of Knaves”) as well as the ability to take a more stylized approach without losing any thunder (“2012”). Drawing its sinister sound from the likes of Immolation, Skeletonwitch, and Suffocation with a level of musicianship that is a cut above the norm, Locusta boast the chops and the songwriting acumen to make waves in the extreme metal genre on musical merit alone. www.myspace.com/locusta614 -Mike SOS

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Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off! Many of the above releases can be found in our store.

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