September 1 Release Music Reviews
"This Is Hell" By The Convalescence
Genre: Deathcore/Death Metal
The latest effort from Toledo, OH metal sextet The Convalescence sees the band moving towards a more pure death metal sound while simultaneously exploring more melodic vocal styles. Mostly in the form of keyboardist Katie McCrimmon handling more vocal duties on tracks like "There Will Be Blood" and "I Won't Survive". While the band has traded much of their hardcore grooves in favor of extreme metal speed and intensity there's still tracks like "Scum" and "With No Hope" that harks back to groups deathcore sound. Whichever style the band takes on it's all done with a consistent adeptness that the band has displayed and built upon since their beginning.
"The Solace System EP" By Epica
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Dutch metalers Epica are one of the premier bands of the symphonic metal genre. They continue to prove that fact with their new EP The Solace System which has songs written during the writing sessions of their 2016 album The Holographic Principle. You'd never be able to tell that the EP's tracks are extras that didn't make the cut for its preceding full album as each song is of the utmost quality. The grandness in the orchestration of the title track and "Architect Of Light" makes the songs sound as powerful as ever. "Fight Your Demons" is a speedy shredder of a fight song and "Wheel Of Destiny" emphasizes headbanging guitar grooves to balance the orchestral melodies. "Immortal Melancholy" is a slow, melodic, folksy effort that show cases front woman Simone Simons vocal powers as well as give the six track EP greater diversity. The Solace System is a compact package of high quality songs that displays some of the best symphonic metal you can find today. Epica is on a roll with all their recent efforts and seemingly can't do any wrong.
"Medusa" By Paradise Lost
Genre: Doom Metal
Paradise Lost is one of the progenitors of the death-doom musical style. While they've made ventures into others genres Medusa brings their sound back into the doom and Gothic styles they're most known for. The compositions are beautifully composed with slow, sludgy guitars as the foundation for some haunting lead melodies and Nick Holmes' poetic lyricism. "The Longest Winter" is a stand out track with its blend of both growled and melodic singing, keyboard dirges, and effects-driven lead guitar hazes. "Blood And Chaos" is a uniquely uptempo song for the band and is an ear catching break from the sludgy march of the album's other songs. Bonus track "Shrines" is a strong example of the band's skill for layering simple musical elements to create a powerful whole as the guitar and keyboard leads provide a strong Gothic vibe in few notes while the percussion and sludgy rhythm guitars never allows for a loss of power. All in all Paradise Lost have crafted an accessible yet powerful album that keeps doom and sludge metal relevant in today's music scene with nary a weak track on the record. Older fans and those curious about modern doom metal are sure to find plenty to like with Medusa.
"Good Excuses" By Blindwish
Genre: Pop Punk/Post Hardcore
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Rise Records. While they have several artists on their roster that I like such as PVRIS, Of Mice And Men and Fire From The Gods they're still a strong peddler of what I call "Warped Tour rock and metal". Music aimed at a demographic much younger than I and much of it falls under the tried and tired pop punk umbrella. New band Blindwish neatly fit into this style. Even with their music crossing into the more mature post-hardcore realm occasionally. Don't get me wrong though. The band plays their music competently with solid instrumentation and big choruses for quick and easy enjoyment. All aided with high quality production throughout the record. It would be a little more enjoyable however if they did anything to make them stand out from the pack and the style wasn't already done to death. Young pop punk fans will surely enjoy the band's sound but for everyone else that's over the formulaic genre Good Excuses isn't gonna entice you to come back to the punk pop fold.
"Codex Omega" By Septicflesh
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal
Ever since they reformed in 2007 Greece's Septicflesh have been on a roll of producing high quality symphonic death metal with their use of full choirs and orchestras giving the band a unique and epic sound. The quality seemed to dip slightly with their previous release Titan in 2014 however despite still being a well liked effort. The latest album from the band, Codex Omega, sees the band returning to top tier quality once more and possibly surpassing all their previous efforts. The hybridization of the orchestral arrangements with Septicflesh's extreme metal attack sounds more seamless than ever. Tracks such as "Dante's Inferno" and "Portrait Of A Headless Man" sport a grandness to them that rivals film scores. And the orchestras are so complex in their arrangements that they could stand alone on their own merit even without the power of electric instruments beneath it. The last three tracks on the album are proof of this as they are pure orchestral compositions of the utmost quality. Septicflesh have sharpened their sound to a razor edge and have produced a near perfect album. It's up to public opinion to decide if Codex Omega is their magnum opus but it's definitely one of my favorite albums of the year so far.