Mini-Reviews 1/19/18: Black Label Society, Anvil, Cane Hill, Inquisitor
"Too Far Gone" By Cane Hill
Whether or not you'll enjoy Cane Hill's Too Far Gone really comes down to the question of, "Do you generally enjoy the genre of nu-metal?". If yes, the band does a solid job making use of many of its popular traits such as eerie atmosphere, downtuned guitars, and funky grooves. If no, the band doesn't do anything too unique or to a high enough level to convince you to enjoy the divisive genre. Tracks like "Lord Of Flies" and "Why?" are highlights that showcase the dynamic skills of drummer Devin Clark and the versatility of frontman Elijah Witt. But stylistically everything heard on Too Far Gone has been done and done better by bands like Korn, Nothingface, and Flaw. It also doesn't hold the unique spins on the style from their modern contemporaries like King 810 and Backwordz. There's potential to be found, but Cane Hill is going to have to do more to stand out among the nu metal revival crowd.
"Pounding The Pavement" By Anvil
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal/Glam Metal
Anvil's "Lips" Kudlow isn't exactly what you would call a wordsmith. The lyrics on this thing are pretty abysmal. This is exemplified with the opening track "Bitch In The Box" which is essentially a play-by-play of driving somewhere following the audio directions of a GPS. And the rest of the album follows a lot of lyric cliches that you've heard plenty of times before. However, Anvil's music has always been more about fun than topical depth. And there's plenty of fun to be had on Pounding The Pavement. While Kudlow isn't the greatest singer or lyricist he's a strong guitarist that is well complimented by the stellar percussion of Robb Reiner. A testament to the duo's 35+ year career together. "Ego" is a driving, punk flavored track adorned with a catchy main riff and constant double bass drum work. "Warming Up" is pretty unique with its jazz leanings that allows Robb Reiner to really show off his skills and is a fun, outside-the-box song for a classic metal band like Anvil. The favorite track however is "Nanook Of The North". A heavier song with a slick groove that details a story of Canada's native Inuit people and the exploitation of the land they inhabit. An outlier to the light-hearted tone of the album. Overall, Pounding The Pavement is solid fun if you're not looking to think too much. The band has plenty of talent for performance and is good for those interested in new material from a band birthed during the classic era of heavy metal.
"Stigmata Me, I'm In Misery" By Inquisitor
Genre: Thrash Metal/Death Metal
Inquisitor plays an extreme form of thrash metal that pushes the genre to its absolute limit in terms of speed and aggression. Blast beats and shredding guitars are the name of the game for these Dutch metalers and it's definitely an intense experience. Vocalist Alex Wesdijk provides some maniacally raspy vocals over top the dizzying speed of guitarist Erik Sprooten and drummer Wim van der Valk. Bassist Alex Bakker gets to stand out more than the average metal bassist with a high treble tone that cuts through the mix and dynamic bass lines that add a layer of depth to the tracks. Especially on opener "Castigate Into Divine Apostle" and "I Am Sick I Must Die". Despite the dynamic nature of each of the songs in riffs and percussion, there's a constant focus on pure speed and aggression that doesn't allow much room for the songs to breathe, This gives a feeling of sameness throughout the album and makes many of the tracks hard to tell apart from each other. Thankfully the album is only nine tracks and 34 minutes long so it doesn't over stay its welcome. While Stigmata Me, I'm In Misery is unrelenting in its heaviness it needs to show more than speed to be more memorable.
"Grimmest Hits" By Black Label Society
Genre: Blue Metal/Southern Metal
No Grimmest Hits is not a cleverly titled compilation of Black Label Society's top songs. It's a totally new batch of tracks from Zakk Wylde and company. And with this being album number ten, fans pretty much know what to expect from the band at this point. Twelve tracks of groovy, blues-soaked heavy metal with some southern fried ballads thrown in for good measure. "Room Of Nightmares" and opening track "Trampled Down Below" are standouts among the heavier tracks. The ballads "The Only Words" and "Disbelief" are highlights among the slower tracks. And the song "A Love Unreal" bridges the gap between the two styles beautifully. While a solid album, Grimmest Hits is Black Label Society by the numbers. Though it's plenty good enough to satisfy long time fans of the band.