[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (Metal Blade)
The 10th album from the veteran Swedish quartet sounds exactly like an Amon Amarth album. That’s not a bad thing, of course. These guys have their sound and they don’t stray from it. I like Melodeath and I like Vikings, so sign me up for more of this every few years. Even after you skip past the dreadful drinking anthem and the questionable, forced collaboration with Doro, you’re left with 10 songs about vanquishing enemies and bloodstained swords and whatnot. Yes, the band is widely known and even (gasp) popular. That’s okay. It’s okay to enjoy music from a band that more than 60 people have heard of.
Beastmaker - Lusus Naturae (Rise Above)
Fantastic throwback Doom Metal on the debut from this Fresno, CA trio. When I say throwback, I’m talking about the 1990’s, by the way, Of course, that was all a throwback to the 1970’s anyway and this record has Sabbath DNA for sure, but it’s not an overt 70’s nostalgia trip. It sounds more like the early Sleep and Electric Wizard albums, before the object was to simply make a racket and bum people out. As a bass player who has been ripping off Geezer for years, I fully endorse the multitude of gnarly bass fills that stand out predominantly throughout the record. Another big step in the right direction for a record label that used to dominate the genre.
Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
This is more in line with what Rise Above has been releasing lately, and while I’m officially off of the 70’s retro train, I’m making an exception for this one because the band is just too awesome to ignore. On their 4th album, the Toronto quartet continues to invoke dark spirits via Psychedelic Doom and Occult Rock, heavily relying on the flute once again to counter the fuzzed-out guitars and the witchy lead vocals. While the flute may seem like an attention grab and obvious nod to certain 70’s prog rockers, I say if you can jam on the flute like that, flute it up.
Deadsmoke - Deadsmoke (Heavy Psych)
Clocking in at 5 tracks and just under 31 minutes, this is somewhere between a full album and an EP, but if the debut from this Italian trio is a sign of things to come, we have another Doom monster on our hands. There’s a fair bit of Electric Wizard influence in the tempos, tone and riffs, but the vocals are much more pained, relying on Sludge Metal shouts and shrieks to convey the band’s wretched messages. I’m not a big Sludge guy, as I prefer a bit more tact, but these guys straddle the line just enough to turn out a fine Doom record.