ZT REVIEWS: 21 RELEASES SCRUTINISED

Deadlines are a head-scratching time and some reviews, for one reason or another, miss publication in Zero Tolerance Magazine when it heads off to the printers. Rather than leave them on the bench, we’ve put them together here for you to read while you wait for the next installment of the printed magazine!

VERDICTS
6 Masterpiece
5 Exceptional
4 Commendable
3 Solid
2 Second rate
1 Firing blanks
0 Sitting Duck

 The_Anomalies_of_Artificial_OriginAbominable Putridity
The Anomalies Of Artificial Origin
Unique Leader
The Anomalies Of Artificial Origin originally crawled into the light back in 2012, but Unique Leader have seen fit to offer it a second chance at life? Is this merited? Well if you’re a brutality addict then maybe – it’s certainly one of the most proficient examples of the form. Crisply produced, unrelenting in its savagery, and complete with vocals that dredge the depths of an overflowing sewer, this ticks all the prerequisite boxes. There are definitely some fine riffs here and Abominable Putridity are head and shoulders above a lot of their peers. Not really my bag, but if brutality is your god then kneel before Abominable Putridity.
ck 3

allhell-theredsect-cover2015All Hell
The Red Sect
Horror Pain Gore Death
I spent most of my first listen to All Hell’s The Red Sect imagining Cronos’ bulldozer bass underpinning tracks like ‘Funeral Feast’ and his maniac vocals leading the charge. That’s when I wasn’t playing spot the Frost/Hellhammer riff. However, when I began to formulate a dismissive review, I suddenly realised how much I’d enjoyed listening to the likes of ‘Graveyard Dust’ and ‘In My Command’. Yes, All Hell’s influences are obvious, but they rip this stuff out with such aplomb and they’re damn good at it. Expect nothing new, but do expect to enjoy yourself!
ck 3.5

chron goblinChron Goblin
Backwater
Ripple
Canadian rockers Chron Goblin’s third opus is as groovy and riff-laden as the others, with the self-assured quality expected by album three. Aggressive but comfortable, it’s easy to like; the band knows a good riff when they hear one and Josh Sandulak is, crucially, a proper rock singer with the charisma to bring the band out of the stoner ghetto. Though indebted to bands like Monster Magnet and Kyuss, the catchier songs have the crossover appeal of a mainstream act like Shinedown and with a few more of them onboard they could be big.
wp 3

Cretus_Dux-Mea-Lux-wpcf_300x294Cretus
Dux Mea Lux
Pavement
Cretus have painstakingly created a mythology around themselves that brilliantly augments their already incredibly atmospheric music. Even putting all the cult of Cretus paraphernalia to one side, Dux Mea Lux remains a wickedly potent piece of dark, occult metal. From the beguiling beginning of ‘Price Of Immortality’, through the energy charged metallic attack of ‘The Leader’, to the multifaceted, unnerving conclusion of ‘Little Children’, this is a stunning debut release. Whether or not you choose to explore the tenth dimension with The Pig, or sign up to enter their secret commune in the Louisiana woods, Cretus are creating magic.
ck 5

crutchesCrutches
Förlorad
Distro-Y
Really weird when you get a promo that name-drops Framtid right away like it’s no big deal. For those of you who keep your toes wet in hardcore punk, that’s both a big deal and not one at all: in the realm of heavy post-millennial HC, Framtid are now as weighty/convenient a reference as Disclose, Tragedy, Totalitär, or Forward. Anway, Crutches don’t sound like Framtid – not by a long shot. Not a bad thing at all – for one, they’re recorded too cleanly and lean much more heavily on the metallic side of D-beat to be anywhere near paradigmatic crasher crust – and I bet they’re great live, but this is pretty identikit Swedebeat. You’ve already heard this.
ntb 2.5

dead templeDead Temple
S/T
PRC
I have never really come round to the countless bands currently peddling the ‘70s style doom rock thing, and sadly this Colorado troupe are a prime example of why this is the case. For me this is a very tricky era of music to emulate, and quite frankly it was done better 40 years ago and there it should stay. What can be said in favour of Dead Temple is that the female vocals are refreshing, however they don’t quite compensate for the tired riffs and the overall ‘heard it somewhere before’ vibe this record gives off.
tb 2

denialDenial
11°22.4’N 142°35.5’E 7”
Blood Harvest
This is a quite magnificent 7” slab of death from Mexico’s Denial. And not only have they produced their own piece of catacomb dwelling darkness in ‘The Involution Of Kingly Spirits’, they’ve also covered my all-time favourite Dream Death track on the B-side! Incredibly, Denial have done complete justice to ‘The Elder Race’ as well, capturing the spirit of the song and instilling an additional cavernous blackness to the slithering riffs. Two masterful tracks of a many-tentacled madness that sound as old as eternity and twice as mysterious. Complete with some awesome cover art, this is a must have.
ck 5

dragonheartDragonheart
The Battle Sanctuary
Pitch Black
Dragonheart are a band full of talent that seem to be a little unsure of where to place themselves, even after the best part of 20 years of existence. When they are picking up on a Grave Digger vibe, that not quite power metal, not quite heavy metal thing, with some ballsy, rough vocals driving the music they do pretty well. But, that’s only one of their facades, and they drift towards a more average power metal style too often for my liking. Cheesy lyrics aside, there is some good stuff going on in places here, but lacking overall consistency.
pc 2.5

evil armyEvil Army
Violence And War
Hells Headbangers
While I can appreciate the crisp riffing present throughout this new EP from Evil Army and their stripped down, hard as nails aesthetics, these five tracks are just too one dimensional. Rob Evil’s characterless vocals are part of the problem as they become wearingly monotonous and the sparse production only serves to emphasise the simple song structures. There’s something to be said for Evil Army’s bare bones approach – there really isn’t a shred of excess fat present here – but the songs just aren’t strong enough to withstand the scrutiny afforded them by this unforgiving presentation. Plenty of verve and adrenaline, but not enough substance.
ck 2

FatesWarning-APleasantShadeofGrayFates Warning
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
Metal Blade
I love a good concept album, I love progressive rock, but this album just does my head in! It’s so flat, so boring, so… well, just bloody awful. What’s more, this horror show of a re-release comes not just with the original inducement to suicide, but adds a complete live version of the same (even worse!) and an extra disc of demo versions too! This is the height of sadism. This is the second time A Pleasant Shade Of Gray has been re-released since its original spawning in 1997 as well… will it never go away?
ck 1.5

flightFlight
S/T
Black Bow
They’ve got the valve amps, the vintage denim and the outrageously good band logo but, alas, Norway’s Flight haven’t quite got the songs to back all that up. At least, not yet. These guys play a knowingly retro blend of proto-metal and NWOBHM, their sound tailored to conjure up the spirit of the late ‘70s. And on the whole, it sounds very convincing, but none of the tracks here are anthemic enough to take root in the brain like the best NWOBHM from days gone by. There’s a lot of potential here though, so if Flight can refine their songwriting I’m sure we’ll be hearing lots more about them in the future.
tc 2.5

novelistsNovelists
Souvenirs
Arising Empire
This debut full length from Novelists is noteworthy for being the first album released through Arising Empire, Nuclear Blast’s new imprint. The driving force behind this French outfit are the Durand brothers, Florestan and Amael. They’ve linked up with a trio of former A Call To Sincerity members to form Novelists and have already chalked up a handful of singles. Here though their blend of metalcore that also embraces prog elements, clattering riffs and bellowing harmonies does not sync entirely satisfactorily. They will get the chance to convince you otherwise on their UK visit in November.
pcas 2

obscene entityObscene Entity
Lamentia
Tridroid
Some very impressive death metal here – from Bury St Edmunds no less! Obscene Entity combine an array of vital death metal ingredients with their own sense of flair and come out winning. Tumbling Cannibal Corpse style riffs, a classic Morbid Angel edge of darkness, a bang up-to-date, single-minded brutality and an unusual, characterful twist to the arrangements make Lamentia a full-length debut of huge promise. The super sharp production is the icing on the cake, and Obscene Entity should be very proud and pleased with what they’ve achieved.
ck 4.5

orcumentary-destroy-the-dwarvesORCumentary
Destroy The Dwarves
Orc Rock
Novelty bands should possess at least one of the following attributes to be successful – humour, a clever concept, and musical talent. ORCumentary possess none of the above, and in fact are not even a band. This is one man playing a keyboard (terribly) and growling (terribly) over it, with some of the most childish lyrics about orcs and elves ever conceived. Note to ORCumentary: listen to Summoning and then give up. Summed up in one sentence, this album is the soundtrack to that one time you wandered into a Games Workshop, realised why you’d never been in before and walked out again.
tb 0

pneuma hagionPneuma Hagion
Trinity
NWN!
Either Will Rahmer from Mortician’s formed a new band or someone’s stolen his octave shifter. This Texan group, whose promotional material reveals them to have a surprisingly keen interest in Gnosticism, sound just like Mr Rahmer’s death metal mob. The vocals are delivered in such a low register that only dogs will be able to pick out any individual words; the bass is inaudible; the guitars distorted and frantic; and the drumming alternates between frenzied blasting and monolithic bludgeoning. It’s all very well in its way, but this is just a couple of horror movie samples and a clicky drum machine away from being a tribute to Hacked Up For Barbeque.
tc 2

rendezvous pointRendezvous Point
Solar Storm
Karisma
This is not entirely what I was expecting from the Karisma stable. But, unlike at Xmas when you get a load of crap you don’t want, sometimes surprises are good. This is a pure progressive rock/metal release from a band that manages to find a fantastic flow to their music. They know that prog can be an enjoyable experience that doesn’t need to come with a scientific calculator to figure out what is going on at all times. There are moments that put me in mind of Watchtower and The Gathering, but this is a band with their own sound, style and method of creativity.
pc 4

Rex-Shachath_Revocation-of-the-Blood-Elect-294x300Rex Shachath
Revocation Of The Blood Elect
Great Dane
This is a solid slab of unflinching death metal from Northern Ireland’s Rex Shachath. There’s a powerful, muscular approach to the songs and no let-up in the bludgeoning assault. It’s tough to be critical of such a well put together collection, but ultimately I have to say there is nothing overly inspiring about Revocation Of The Blood Elect. It delivers, it does the job, but aside from some occasional electrifying leads. The fabled ‘X’ factor is missing. The vocals need more character and having clearly mastered the death metal essentials, Rex Shachath need to add their own flavours to the mix.
ck 3

synapsesSynapses
Devoutness
Cimmerian Shade
The second full length album from Synapses is another twisted and torturous tablet of technical death metal. The time changes come thick and fast and are so oblique at times you almost have to check your watch. The complexity is almost indigestible although the Italian quartet certainly don’t want to make it easy for you to understand their somersaulting riffs. In fact Devoutness has so many sharp edges you almost need to wear gloves when listening to it. If Meshuggah and Ulcerate work for you then Synapses will speak your language. Others may need the help of an interpreter.
pcas 3

twitching tonguesTwitching Tongues
Disharmony
Metal Blade
Formed by LA brothers Colin and Taylor Young, Disharmony is the third album from Twitching Tongues. The brothers provide the double-barrelled vocal onslaught while the rest of the lineup was recently boosted by the arrival of ex-Hatebreed guitarist Sean Martin. Unfortunately, Disharmony at times proves to be more a case of disjointed. There are enough metalcore attacks to spark a little pit movement but all too often Twitching Tongues flicker between all-out warfare and introspective gloom such as on ‘Love Conquers None’. ‘Insatiable Sin’ at times gets swallowed up into a total dirge while the use of clean harmonies on tracks like ‘Sacrifice Me’ struggle badly.
pcas 2

visceral throneVisceral Throne
Those Who Have Fallen Beyond The Grace Of God
Comatose
This five-track EP successfully builds on the positive impression created by Visceral Throne’s debut album Omnipotent Asperity. The Indiana trio play a bludgeoning form of death metal but one with more variance in tempo. While still racketing up the pace at times, Visceral Throne is a slower, grinding and all consuming weapon. At times it almost congeals into an almost doom-like dirge yet without ever sacrificing any of the DM savagery. In fact if anything this creates an even more distinct offensive on tracks like ‘The True Sin’. The final feral firework is a cover of the Internal Suffering’s ‘Colossal Vortex’.
pcas 3.5

whitechapelWhitechapel
The Brotherhood Of The Blade
Metal Blade
Recorded in their hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, this live album includes 12 tracks from the ten years Whitechapel have been active and five full-lengths they’ve put out. Intended to capture the energy of the live environment and show the band at their best, this falls a little flat in places. Maybe it’s because the vocals seem to be at the forefront of everything here and a clean production that only features background noise at the end of each song, but unfortunately the raw power of their deathcore styling just doesn’t come across that well. Existing fans may find something to grasp but don’t raise expectations.
gm 2.5

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