[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Dopethrone - Hochelaga (Totem Cat)
I was a tad bit wary of a band that borrowed their name from an Electric Wizard album and basically plays recycled EW riffs, but really…is more EW a bad thing? I think not. On their fourth release, the Montreal trio channels the reigning UK doomlords from the massive riffage right down to the soundbyte song intros. The vocals are a bit harsher than Jus Oborn’s drugged-out wails and there’s a little more sludge going on, but other than that, it’s pretty much like hearing a new EW release. Again, that’s not a bad thing. I really dig it, in fact. If you’re going to ape a band, might as well ape the best band on the planet.
Impalers - God from the Machine (Crime/Evil Eye)
The Danish quartet returns with their second album, a ferocious Teutonic-esque Thrash record sure to please fans of Sodom and Kreator, et al. It’s a pretty standard 80’s thrash metal throwback, but the musicianship is solid and the songs are well-written. The riffs are monstrous and the solos are spot-on. The vocals are generally in the aggressive vein, except on the obligatory “Fade to Black” rip-off ballad. The Thrash revival isn’t going away any time soon, but as long as it’s in the capable hands of bands like this, I have no complaints.
Pohjoinen - Pohjoinen (Inverse)
This is one of the best Stoner/Doom releases so far this year. In a pretty crowded scene, the Finnish trio manages to stand out with their debut record. It’s hard to find a comparable band, but if you like fuzzed out guitars, clean vocals and killer riffs, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. The lyrics are all in Finnish, but since I care about my readers I did some translating and they have some pretty cool themes about despair and lizard beasts and space invaders. Imagine Sleep’s Holy Mountain without all of the obvious Sabbath overtones and with a few more progressive tendencies.
Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere (Ván)
I generally shy away from Death Metal, because it’s been done to, well, death. That being said, it takes a stunning DM album to get through my exhaustive review process and into this column. This German trio manages to do just that on their second release. I’m a sucker for Lovecraft themes, so that was the initial thing that caught my eye here. Add to that the punishing riffs, incredible song structures and just the right amount of melody and you have one hell of a release. Like I said, I don’t listen to Death Metal, so you’ll just have to listen and draw your own comparisons.