SOS Metal Reviews: Accept “Blood of the Nations,” Bonded By Blood “Exiled To Earth,” The Acacia Strain “Workwood,” And More…


German metal masters Accept return with BLOOD OF THE NATIONS, a 12-track album that displays this Teutonic unit’s classic loud and fast dynamic with some discernible twists. This disc (the band’s first studio offering in 14 years), brings on some major changes in the lineup for starters, as former TT Quick singer Mark Tornillo replaces the mighty Udo behind the microphone while Herman Frank returns to the fold to reform one of metal’s most underrated twin guitar tandems alongside the blistering six-string blitzkrieg of Wolf Hoffman (“No Shelter”, “Rollin’ Thunder”). Despite these massive shakeups and the decade-plus long studio layoff, Accept sounds as determined and rejuvenated as ever, retaining their vintage musical bite while exhibiting a hard rock snarl that finds Tornillo formidably projecting an Udo-like presence while interjecting slices of his vocal personality into Accept’s tried and true slabs of concrete hard rock seasoned with the contagious songwriting that puts this troupe squarely in the annals of metal history. This disc truly has everything a fan would want in a comeback album and more, as the changes the band endured allows them a greater range for the music to develop and organically venture into unseen territory while never getting in the way of the band’s patented classic gang vocal choruses (“New World Comin’”), stomping style (“Beat the Bastards”) or underlying mission to deliver the most heartfelt and hard rocking traditional metal excursion possible with a potent and polished metallic punch giving this band a solid second wind. -Mike SOS


New Jersey quintet Chambers kick out the jams with a spirited old school rock ‘n roll swagger and a fierce hardcore sensibility on their raw 11-track affair OLD LOVE. Striking down with bountiful arrays of pit stomping rhythms and razor sharp riffs while displaying an infectious sing a long quality that lies somewhere between Sick of it All, American Nightmare, AC/DC, and The Bronx (“Old Love”, “Take My Juice”), Chambers proudly maintains the unremorseful and honest approach of yesteryear’s hardcore punk while opting to abrasively apply a slash and burn attitude to a batch of seething compositions with an inescapably vitriolic vocal delivery unfettered by excess. Chambers is far from innovative yet they stay cranked to the max without fail, exhibiting a relentless sheer sonic force that gets the job done. -Mike SOS


Serbian black metal unit Kozeljnik projects a consistent stream of mid tempo bleakness on DEEPER THE FALL, the latest six-track effort by the recently paired down duo. Exerting disdain with vengeful wrath via a set of meandering old school tinged black metal compositions, Kozeljnik sticks a bit too close to the blackened playbook for the more demanding yet reveal the propensity to explode with a flurry of fury when needed, dynamically dispersing rage with rapid fire drums and discontenting downtuned guitar runs. Applying influence from the likes of Mayhem, Celtic Frost, and Immortal to develop a reliably glacial blend of black metal, Kozeljnik meshes in lush string arrangements and modern atmospheric elements for pizzazz yet the squad’s drawn-out song structures require modest amounts of patience in order to get to the points of interest, derailing the meat and potatoes music’s intended maliciousness. -Mike SOS


Re-releasing their first album with extra tracks, Dutch female-fronted symphonic power metal act Delain present LUCIDITY to those who missed this formulaic yet fierce unit’s amalgamation of soaring Gothic rock and metal while offering longtime fans bonus material to savor featuring acoustic renditions of tracks from the album, with “See Me in Shadow” standing out in particular. Bolstered with sufficient dollops of melancholic piano and heartstring tugging falsetto vocals, the reintroduction of Delain’s debut disc offers a graceful and grandiose metallic experience catering especially to followers of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Leave’s Eyes. -Mike SOS


Thrash revivalists Bonded by Blood return with a conceptual sophomore album entitled EXILED TO EARTH. This California quintet once again makes no bones about their influences, as ‘80s thrash is the order of the day for these metal mavens, referencing everyone from Testament and Kreator to Vio-lence and Overkill throughout this blatantly brazen 11-track retread while an alien versus human sci-fi storyline is set to the band’s borrowed backdrop of frenzied guitars, thunderous drums, and high pitched vocal sneers. Showcasing a particular affinity for early Exodus (from whom the band derives its name from), songs like “Sector 87” and “Prison Planet” could be mistaken for cleaned-up outtakes of Baloff-era material with its tantalizing twin guitar work while tracks like the title cut melds Megadeth with Forbidden and “Genetic Encryption” gives props to modern day Slayer with its dastardly riffing and mighty percussion work. While their rapid-fire interpretations are far from original, Bonded by Blood does a fine job in shaking up their thrash metal concoction to produce a palatable offering that produces a solid listen for those concerned with nothing besides banging their head. -Mike SOS


It is plain to notice within the first few minutes of near 10-minute opener “Falling Dream” that Polish progressive metal troupe Votum leaned on the obvious suspects for inspiration while crafting the atmospheric sounds heard on their latest seven-track affair METAFICTION. Nonetheless, possessing the adroit ability to retain intensity without fully shifting into overdrive is a trait not so easy to pull off, and this sextet comfortably nestles in where boundary lines between Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and Karnivool intersect, fusing soaring guitar lines and haunting synths with hypnotic tribal rhythms bathed in melancholy to emanate a morose yet majestic feel. Chock full of breathy vocals with a sense of danger lurking underneath bursts of knotty musicianship, Votum’s softer stance assuredly showcases the band’s elegant style yet rambles through waves of psychedelic rock too often for anyone who would enjoy Votum’s music to make sense of the multifaceted direction. -Mike SOS


Renowned NYC power trio The Brought Low have returned after a five-year studio hiatus to unleash a bare bones rock ‘n roll record with the fittingly no frills title of THIRD RECORD. Infusing jolting surges of Southern rock hospitality into gritty blues-rock paradigms peppered with twang of country is what this band specializes in and truly delivers in spades here  (“Slow Your Roll”, “Old Century”), yet songs like the acoustic stomp “A Thousand Miles Away” and the somber shuffle “Last Man Alive” strips the usually thick and meaty band’s sound down considerably but still manages to come off as cranked to 11.  Fusing a Black Crowes-esque smoothness, a stoner rock swagger and a majestic ‘70s hard rock rumble, this nine-track record is lean, mean, and bad to the bone and rocks with refreshing efficiency and a rolled-up sleeves sense of organic intensity that screams retro in all the right ways. -Mike SOS


Tennessee’s favorite grinding math metal mavens The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza return after a major lineup overhaul with a 12-track face melting affair entitled DANZA III: THE SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. Melding punishing rhythmic blasts with skronky shrills, nasty shards of dissonance and brutal palm muted riffs galore courtesy of a shining guitar performance (“Hour of the Time”), this disc displays an unrelenting modern metal aggressiveness yielding no shortage of pit moving tunes for the kids to go insane to (“W.A.L.L.S.”, “The Lost and Damned”) while alternatively offering technical metal followers a bevy of abrasive off-kilter arrangements to swoon over (“Suicide’s Best Friend”). This pulverizing album allows TTDTDE to usurp the deathcore circle and turn it upside down with their dauntingly daring and dastardly songwriting, gaggles of gargantuan grooves, and devastating low-end bitterness spearheading this unsung squad’s callous aural assault. -Mike SOS


The Acacia Strain demonstrates a blunt and belligerent melding of modern brutality and metallic melody on the polarizing quartet’s latest endeavor WORMWOOD. Earning their ominous deathcore stripes once again with a bevy of volatile nuances exploding like neutron bombs throughout the duration of the disc yet not entirely entrenched within the redundancy of it all to lean completely toward a full-on deathcore assault, Vincent Bennett and company provide minor shakeups within their sonically crushing rage-filled rants, throwing in some Meshuggah-esque odd time signatures and a hint of Crowbar-like nihilism to illicit response from beyond the normal demographic but still make enough room for their patented bombastic breakdowns and punishing low-end wallop to keep the misanthropic Hot Topic folks satisfied. -Mike SOS


Defunct Swedish black metal duo Armagedda raided the vaults and unearthed four malice-laden tracks in the process, entitling the discovery I AM. This seething affair displays a welcomed minimal production value (it was made between 2000 and 2001 after all) with a bevy of fierce compositions created to be performed by a band with the unadulterated raw black metal spirit that this tandem expounds. Harsh and haunting at times, Armagedda’s excavation yields a fruitful experience for those who tread the darker end of the metal spectrum with a penchant for a primal blast of black metal evisceration. -Mike SOS


New Jersey troupe Karma Never Forgives is a grizzled quintet featuring members from such bands as Bulldoze and Agents of Man whose multi-faceted hardcore assault employs a number of styles as shown on the three-song sampler CORRUPT STATE. Discernible tough guy influences wrestles with a progressive Snapcase-esque edge throughout while catchy choruses display dance floor potential with threads of modern melodic metalcore, developing a sound that falls somewhere in the middle of Freya and Madball. Karma Never Forgives embraces broadening their musical approach while incorporating a decisively metallic influence but retaining a hardcore songwriting style, resulting in a jarring and compact shot of infectious aggression. -Mike SOS


Misanthropic Ukranian unit Blood of Kingu unleash a belligerent yet atmospheric black metal onslaught with discernible similarities towards the pioneers of the genre on the seven-track SUN IN THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION. Meshing elements of exploratory doom and drone with harsh screams and cavernous riffs sounding as if captured from underneath the core of the earth, this troupe also implements ample rounds of velocity and seething levels of scorn into its songs to recreate the threatening sense of dread usually reserved for its Norwegian forefathers while bleak buzzsaw guitars, glacial tempo shifts, and lush instrumentation intertwine to conjure a creepy yet chaotic feel that lingers throughout the duration of the album. -Mike SOS


Washington DC/Virginia based bruisers King Giant deploy dollops of down and dirty southern stoner rock on the quintet’s aptly titled 10-track album SOUTHERN DARKNESS. Despite this band drawing inspiration from a more than obvious set of influences spanning everyone from Godsmack and Volbeat to Black Sabbath and Danzig, their ornery adaptations of standard sludge and doom metal melodies reveal the band to be much more than a mere offshoot of the many faces of Wino combined with some COC and Clutch thrown in for good measure. King Giant finds a fair share of back alleys and shortcuts to venture in within a bevy of wah-wah solos and downtrodden rhythms which assist them in gliding through a gritty mix of grunge, sludge, and space rock drenched in whiskey with threatening dark clouds constantly hovering overhead. -Mike SOS


Female fronted modern rock quintet What Remains exhibit a cut above mix of vocal-driven melodic hard rock on their five-track EP LOST WONDERLAND. Taking cues from the likes of Evanescence, Flyleaf, and Lacuna Coil on how to deliver poignant rock with potent vocal power, this NYC squad employs thick walls of guitars with tasty fills and skilled rhythmic strikes that keeps the pace brisk while adroitly balancing moods between heavy and fragile (“Unwanted”). Veering into familiar territories while hitting with a supercharged modern rock attack assisted by punchy songwriting techniques, What Remains displays a panache for creating engaging music laden with hooks with its fair share of bite. -Mike SOS


The output from Polish quartet Proghma-C emits a complex style of heaviness that intertwines divergent influences and off-kilter sounds to form the eclectic 10-track offering labeled BAR-DO TRAVEL. Demonstrating the versatility to disperse both paint peeling polyrhythmic blasts and airy ambient soundscapes (usually entrenched within the same song) while proudly showcasing the Tool and Meshuggah brandings making it all possible in plain sight, this act’s ambitious endeavor runs on fumes at times and leans a bit too much on the side of the aforementioned to be considered wholly original yet backs its claim of substantial idol worship with enough downtempo elements a la Katatonia and a rash of forward-thinking synth-induced twists and turns to alter the overall mood, ultimately setting this band aside from being castoff as just another retread in the endless line of bands emulating metal’s most daring artists. -Mike SOS


Austrian metal unit Heathen Foray (not to be confused with the British band of the same name) unleashes an aggressive assault suitable for any wayfaring minstrel or nomadic warrior to rock out to on their debut 10-track disc THE PASSAGE. Straddling the line between melodic death and folk metal, this clan does an sufficient job of hammering home the undeniable gallop necessary to conquer lands by (“Winterking”, “Dragon’s Eyes”) while exhibiting the propensity to rip out soaring solos over dastardly death growls (“Chants”), yet fall a bit short by sounding a bit too formulaic to get past the point of cohesiveness and break through the mold, though a few tasty guitar riffs found here do instill some hope (“Fortress of Faith”). -Mike SOS


The teaming of Japanese experimental doom metal merchants Boris and The Cult’s lead singer Ian Astbury seems like a very disparate pairing any way you slice it, yet a four-song EP entitled BXI demonstrates an organic shot of mystical rock as only this colossal collaboration can deliver, but take heed fans Boris fans; this release bears little from their exploratory side. In fact, it’s almost as if Boris stepped into custom made leather pants from the SONIC TEMPLE era for this one, as this unit renowned for their unpredictability obliges to this notoriously cavernous crooner’s strengths and readily kowtows to basic tempos and direct structures sans a round of breathy vocals by Boris guitarist Wata on the trippy cover of The Cult’s “Rain”. Adapting Astbury’s murky hip shaking rock ‘n roll swagger into their gameplan to produce sweeping rock anthems with scattered traces of the ambience you’d expect, this disc displays Astbury at his most wistful in a long time and Boris at their most restrained by choice and still light years ahead of most. -Mike SOS


Doom-laden sludge metal quartet Moth Eater have cut their teeth in acts such as Dirty Rig and Scar Culture, yet their newly-formed unit takes a decisively darker tone and employs a foreboding pace as heard on THE THUNDER GOD OF MONSTER ISLAND. Merging the down tempo fury of Eyehategod with the quirky metallic firepower of early Clutch, this foursome churns out deliberate dollops of snarling vocals, rumbling bass, and nimble fretwork without losing the intent to obliterate everything in its path, creating an ominous sound drenched in metallic lava spewed from the core of the volcano. Showcasing three original tunes and a delectable downtuned cover of “Rockin’ in Ma Business” by unsung rock troupe The Four Horsemen, Moth Eater produce a volatile entity geared to melt faces and break spirits. -Mike SOS


Underground NY grindcore quartet Warfear showcase the capacity to whip up chaos at the drop of a dime on latest six-track offering 4 LEFT DEAD, an album chock full of splattercore splendor and crust metal cacophony drizzled with d-beat delights. This sordid affair is noisy, abrasive, offensive, and downright nasty from the phlegm-riddled screams plaguing the entire disc to this outfit’s punishing blend of face-ripping quickness and suffocating heaviness consistently jabbing into your cranium until you have no choice but to submit. While their modern hardcore nuances come off a bit undercooked and a tad cliché, Warfear’s overall presentation exhibits a know how of what violent music should sound like, yielding a fast and furious joyride straight to hell. -Mike SOS


New Jersey stoner doom metal quintet Solace have experienced an inordinate share of hardships during their decade-plus career, going through drummers quicker than Spinal Tap while enduring unexpected hiatuses, serious medical situations, and lineup rearranging, yet this unit’s unsurpassed perseverance with a shred of good fortune has rewarded this hexed crew with a sensational sinewy nine-track offering entitled AD. From the persistent streams of blistering twin guitar to the ominous Black Sabbath shadow cast over the entire collection of tracks (especially vocally), this disc willfully wallows in sludgy recesses of the hard rock continuum with a Monster Magnet-esque warble, a hardcore backbone, streams of grizzled melodies, and a thick and plodding bottom end keeping the atmosphere brooding while leading their sojourn through the haze. Seven years between albums is an eternity especially in today’s rapid-pace world, yet Solace took their time, assembled the proper band, and created a mammoth multi-faceted stoner metal tour de force full of the molten riffs and dynamic compositions that demand attention and deserve respect in the process. -Mike SOS


Massachusetts-based quintet Hell Within tenaciously tows the metalcore line on their latest 11-track endeavor GOD GRANT ME VENGEANCE. Armed with a well executed assault that deviates from genre expectations and a paint by numbers formula just enough to warrant repeated listens for subtle guitar changes and undeniably catchy Swedish metal jumpoffs (“Lament for the Fallen”), this seasoned troupe’s metallic mixed bag takes equal parts from fellow statesmen Shadows Fall, Unearth (“Assembly of the Locusts”), Diecast (“Remnants of a Failed Creation”) and Killswitch Engage to concoct a durable yet predictable outpouring of emotional heaviness chock full of a much maligned yet utterly resilient sweet chorus and knuckle-dragging breakdown one two punch. -Mike SOS


Veteran trio Master maximize their two-decade long experience to craft a nefarious and downright nasty slab of extreme metal on their tenth studio offering THE HUMAN MACHINE. This unit’s brazen 10-track affair champions the technical side of brutal music much like Death with a crusty D-beat demeanor and tons of thrash metal nuances peppered into a relentless and deliberate old school death metal assault. Throw in a distinct vocal style whose venomous demonic rasp bolsters the music’s overall impact and never sounds less than crushing, and this Midwest meets Eastern European squad strikes a balance that never wears its welcome out or merely rehashes prior glories without any decisive progression, resulting in a multifaceted face-melting rampage that fans of classic bands like Obituary and Celtic Frost as well as folks that dig the likes of High on Fire and Lair of the Minotaur will have little problem getting into. -Mike SOS


Sarah Jezebel Deva steps out of the background for her debut solo effort entitled A SIGN OF THE SUBLIME, providing a moderate departure from Deva’s lauded Goth metal repertoire. Best known for her work with Cradle of Filth, the bombast associated with this singer’s usual work is still very much a part of the program here (“The Devil’s Opera”), yet songs like “Daddy’s Not Coming Home” and an authentic cover of the very non-metal Meredith Brooks song “Bitch” allow Deva to spread her wings and display other influences with her commanding vocal sweetness in full effect (“They Called Her Lady Tyranny”). Exhibiting an eclectic array of styles built around a convincing Goth rock foundation thanks to a solid collection of musicians behind her that skillfully succeed in finding the comfort zones to nestle between Deva’s past projects, fans of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish should embrace this disc wholeheartedly. -Mike SOS


American black metal mavens The Funeral Pyre have created a malicious yet misguided eight-track collection entitled VULTURES AT DAWN. Drawing from both traditional genre philosophies and darkened modern progressive thought for inspiration while opting for a raw and ruthless sound drowned in drone and dipped in depravity (“To Watch the Earth Rot”), The Funeral Pyre’s shifting stylistic stance seems to be lacking something between their glacially sprawling atmospherics and blistering black metal battering to properly link the entities together and make the most of their monstrous presence. Yet when the evil outfit fires at full capacity and settles into a singular destructive vision, a shot heart-pounding creepiness with unadulterated metallic mayhem much like a blast of Nordic disdain ensues as the dread-laden end result (“Blistered Hands”). -Mike SOS


UK quintet Trigger the Bloodshed effectively employs a simpler streamlined approach to their strand of technical death metal on the eight-track effort DEGENERATE. Chock full of a malevolent mix of belligerent growls with a massive sonic musical crush, songs like “Dead Vein” comes off as a well designed merciless beast while “The Soulful Dead” condenses punchy riffs with face-ripping percussion to create a wallop mired in sheer brutality sans the typical trappings most bands in their realm fall towards. Solid guitar runs and an attention to song arrangements also assist this album’s overall intensity while raising the bar on the unit’s bludgeoning aggressive tendencies (“A Sterile Existence”), in turn making a focused and ferocious modern death metal album worth seeking out. -Mike SOS


UK psychedelic rock pioneers Hawkwind epitomize the never say die spirit of rock ‘n roll, as this legendary troupe continues to boldly go where no man has gone before in their musical travels after 40 years as documented on this outfit’s latest journey through sound BLOOD OF THE EARTH. Leader Dave Brock may be pushing 70, yet this resilient artist and associates still push musical boundaries by doing what this act has been doing since 1969, building alternate universes with a blend of synths, guitars, and studio wizardry to create galactic soundscapes that radiate an unmistakable cosmic glow with an impenetrable rock ‘n roll soul at the core of it all. Even though this disc lags at times and demonstrates a lack of an earthbound focus even by this lauded unit’s standards, plenty of moments where the listener can tune in, turn up, and embrace their inner space cadet can be found on Hawkwind’s latest exploratory offering to appease the rabid follower as well as serve as an ample introduction to this prolific band’s work. -Mike SOS


Swedish metal mavens Quest of Aidance have produced a six-song near 15-minute EP inspired by the PREDATOR movie series entitled DARK ARE THE SKIES AT HAND. Armed with a punishing death metal sensibility with a grindcore-esque sense of brevity, the first three songs of the affair are pure Swedish meets British extreme metal savage indications that this band means business despite their odd choice of subject matter. The band then takes an ill-advised left turn into Hollywood sound effects and movie soundtrack land that disappointingly eats up a majority of the album’s running time before redeeming themselves with a crushingly blunt closing tune that puts things back on track. A focus on less frills and more kills would have made this a must-have, but given the limited scope Quest of Aidance chose to work with, this disc provides a short subtle shock to the system. -Mike SOS


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! All of the above releases can be found in our store.

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