[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Armageddon - Captivity & Devourment (Listenable)
I admit that I wouldn’t have paid much attention to this release were it not for the presence of Chris Amott, the on again/off again other half of Arch Enemy’s fantastic guitar duo. This release is the band’s 4th album, but their first in 13 years and features Amott as the sole founding member. It’s basically a standard melodeath record with hints of power metal scattered throughout. The vocals and the weirdo electronic elements don’t do much for me, but the guitar work is excellent enough to propel this one into the recommendations.
Chapel of Disease - The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art (FDA Rekotz)
The German quartet unleashes a fury of old-school death metal with doom influences on their second album. The death metal parts are pretty standard – massive riffs, double bass blasting, death growls – but the doomier parts are what really struck me when listening. When they slow the tempo down, they get about as creepy as it gets. The doom riffs, reserved drumming and solos combine to form a goosebump-inducing deluge. There have been plenty of solid (and not so solid) doom/death releases lately, but this one breaks the mold a bit.
Nachtreich/Spectral Lore - The Quivering Lights (Split) (Bindrune/Eihwaz)
I don’t usually review splits and I’ve never reviewed a neoclassical/folk/ambient album, even though I’ve enjoyed quite a few. However, this one is too good to keep to myself. Nachtreich, a German duo with two albums under their belts, sticks mainly to neoclassical stuff with piano and violins, but a little bit of black metal seeps in from time to time. Spectral Lore is the heavier side of the split, with the solo Greek musician featuring more traditional metal guitar work and vocals.
Satan's Host - Pre-dating God, Parts 1 & 2 (Moribund)
These dudes have been around since 1977, but I had never heard of them until now. The Denver quartet has released 8 previous full-length records and is fronted by the longtime vocalist of Jag Panzer. They pretty much just crank out some standard metal on this double album, but they’re all over the map, from power metal to classic heavy metal, with some more extreme elements at times. They kind of sound like the Ripper-era Iced Earth, which I enjoyed. These albums won’t end up on any year-end lists, but I had fun listening and I assume you will, too.