It's finally here folks, one of the most anticipated albums of the year; does The Faceless' new one deliver? Kind of (don't hate me). My angry elitist review should be enough to get you all inside, but just as a bonus we'll also take a look at the perfect end-of-summer album by Korpiklaani, the new and fabulously British release from A Forest Of Stars, and the most recent jazz-metal experiment from those crazy Italians in Ephel Duath. Here are all the new releases coming out today:
The Faceless – Autotheism
Genre: Progressive Tech-Death
Country: United States
Label: Sumerian Records
Lets get some things out of the way: Devin Townsend, Opeth, Between The Buried & Me. Three bands that have been name-dropped repeatedly in every piece even superficially related to Autotheism. Let me add one more: Ihsahn. And in all honesty, these are justifiable references; take Devin Townsend's voice minus the range, emotion, and comedic bombast, add the melodic phrasings of Opeth, the circusy-organ-chaos of BTBAM, and the rhythmic, jazzy poundings of Ihsahn's solo work; presto chango, I present you Autotheism. There is a little of The Faceless swimming around somewhere in the mix, but not much. And don't get me wrong; with flawless and monolithic songwriting, virtuosic technical skills and an epic artistic vision all at its disposal, I think the album is pretty incredible. It's just not "The Faceless" incredible, as I've heard all of these ideas before and elsewhere. It'll be awhile before I can determine whether The Faceless have executed them better than their contemporaries, or whether this album is a natural progression from Planetary Duality or something else entirely. But these questions, to me, will determine the musical success or failure of Autotheism; as it stands right now, The Faceless have created an amazing and ambitious album in someone else's image.
Korpiklaani – Manala
Genre: Folk Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Listen: "Levan Polkka"
Well, summer's almost over; but allow Korpiklaani to provide the soundtrack for those final few days of reckless abandonment and alcohol consumption. There's really no reviewing this band. I personally find it impossible to say anything either bad or good; you either like them or you don't (and really, how could you not?). Manala follows in the exact same vein as every other Korpiklaani release, so expect on onslaught of traditional Finnish music mixed with bouncy polka beats, 4-chord song progressions, and lyrics in another language (though I somehow still gather that they're all about alcohol). I personally look to Ensiferum for my folk metal needs, as I find Korpiklaani to be happy and cheerful to a sickening degree, but if you're in the mood and you want to party like it's 1439 then I suggest you pick this one up.
A Forest Of Stars – A Shadowplay For Yesterdays
Genre: Progressive Black Metal/Classical/Avant-Garde
Label: Prophecy Productions
Listen: "The Underside Of Eden"
Unlike most people, I was not blown away by Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring; the previous work of abstract madness conjured by this entirely way too British, steam-punk inspired, kind-of-black-metal-but-also-neo-folky-classical outfit. I found that album to be tedious, overdrawn, lacking in emotional highs and utterly flat. Songs often went nowhere despite the myriad of tools at the bands disposal; from the unusual artistic themes, to the frequent inclusion of flutes and violins, to the varied and impassioned vocals. All of these elements are still present on A Shadowplay…, and I'm happy to say that they're used to much greater effect. The songs are much more melodic and involved, hitting both cinematic highs and raw, depressive lows through each unorthodox journey. Conceptually and atmospherically the album is solid, as the black metal elements help to keep a unifying melancholy over each note; an engaging aspect of the music, unlike the oppressive repetition that so tarnished their last effort. I'll say this: I'm still not entirely captivated by this bands work, but A Shadowplay For Yesterdays is a major improvement and certainly a step in the right direction.
Ephel Duath – On Death And Cosmos EP
Genre: Avant-Garde/Jazz Metal
Label: Agonia Records
Listen: "Black Prism"
Ephel Duath are an enigma; always have been and always will be. They are avant-garde metal without all the comedic and over-the-top elements that have come to be associated with the genre; a pure fusion of jazzy eccentricities, chaotic song structures, and genuinely filthy, heavy death metal. Unfortunately, none of those things come through on their new EP. On Death And Cosmos is, by and large, boring as fuck, plodding endlessly along at mid-tempo, with generic "slithery" jazz chords providing a foundation for some truly horrible sounding vocals. Steve Digorgio is on bass, but you would never know it; even further, Marco-fucking-Minneman is on drums, but it could be any shmuck from a shitty open-mic jazz lounge for all the blandness he contributes to the music. Performances aside (I'm assuming both of these dudes were just told what to play), the songs go absolutely nowhere; repeating the same progressions endlessly into oblivion, and the production is way too thick and bloated sounding for what really needs to be a sharp, piercing, treble-heavy sound. This is just a giant mess of a recording, which is disappointing given Ephel Duath's reputation for quality material; but aside from the cool title and decent artwork, this EP has absolutely nothing going for it.
Acherontas/Nightbringer – The Ruins of Edom Split (Agonia)
American Me – III (Rise)
Black Light Burns – The Moment You Realize You’re Going To Fall (Rocket Science)
Ash Borer – Cold Of Ages (Profound Lore)
The Chant – A Healing Place (Lifeforce)
Darkness By Oath – Near Death Experience (Metal Blade)
Deiphago – Satan Alpha Omega (Hells Headbangers)
Doro – Under My Skin (AFM)
Downspirit – Bulletproof (Metalville)
Dragony – Legends (Limb)
Dublin Death Patrol – DDP 4 Life Re-Release (Mascot)
Dublin Death Patrol – Death Sentence (Mascot)
The Forsaken – Beyond Redemption (Massacre)
The Foreshadowing – Oionos Re-Release (Metal Blade)
The Foreshadowing – Second World Re-Release (Metal Blade)
Fozzy – Sin And Bones (Century Media)
In This Moment – Blood (Century Media)
Locrian – The Clearing/The Final Epoch (Relapse)
Loudness – Eve To Dawn (Frostbyte)
Marty Friedman – Bad DNA Re-Release (Prosthetic)
Marty Friedman – Future Addict Re-Release (Prosthetic)
Marty Friedman – Loudspeaker Re-Release (Prosthetic)
Master – The New Elite (Pulverised)
Mountain Man – Two (No Sleep)
Necrovation – Necrovation (Agonia)
Nuclear Death Terror – Chaos Reigns (Southern Lord)
Oiltanker – Shadow of Greed/Crusades (Southern Lord)
Poison Idea – The Fatal Erection Years Re-Release (Southern Lord)
Polarization – Chasing The Light (Mediaskare)
Seth – Les Blessures de L'ame (Season Of Mist)
Sophicide – Perdition Of The Sublime (Willowtip)
Such Gold – Misadventures (Razor & Tie)
Texas Hippie Coalition – Peacemaker (Carved)
Waylander – Kindred Spirits (Listenable)
Xibalba – Hasta La Muerte (Southern Lord)
Zonaria – Arrival Of The Red Sun (Listenable)