Reviews - I
This band is a bunch of winter, snow and ice-obsessed blasting black metallers. Imperial Crystalline Entombment, they are. I ended up liking this album because the production is raw, but without that crappy, garage punk "production" that latter-day Darkthrone goes for. To me, it sounds like I.C.E. loves Immortal's "Pure Holocaust", the riffs are definitely black, as are the vocals, in the Quorthon/Abbath style. The blasting sounds good and the songs are memorable and distinctive. If you only buy masterpieces, then this might not convince you. It's between a B and a B+, a good album.
ICED EARTH - "THE DARK SAGA"
If you have heard ICED EARTH before, and if you like this band, then you will definitely enjoy this latest release! If you have never heard this band, then find out by reading this. This band specializes in playing metal that is heavy, metal that is catchy, melodic, and powerful. The vocalist on this release is the kind of singer who at times sounds really heavy and at times sounds really tunefully soulful. He goes from an aggressive power metal voice to a melancholic high voice. The opening track, "Dark Saga", is more or less what you would expect for an opening song. Listening to this song, one can here that they are all true to remaining true to classic heavy metal. This brings me to say something that will make no sense, unless you have followed and analyzed how the mentality of the "critics" have worked in the last decade or so. Nowadays, bands that "experiment" with mixing metal with grunge or techno are considered "cool". The wimpier bands get, the better they are received by the "critics". Anyway, if a band continues to play heavy, death, black, power, speed, thrash metal, then that band is termed "outdated" or "not with the program". So that is why it is so refreshing to hear bands like NEVERMORE and ICED EARTH playing modern, true, no-compromise, no-sellout, straight ahead shredding metal. Neither of these two bands will be popular like METALLICA, so what? (Well ,let us remember that ROCKALLICA sold out a long time ago, so therefor, let us forget this "Load"- of shit band!) ICED EARTH proves that you do not have to play grunge regardless of what MTV says! Check this band out! Buy their CD or tape and enjoy!!
ICED EARTH - THE BLESSED AND THE DAMNED
This best-of, 2-cd compilation of pre-"Glorious Burden" material has 23 songs that are an excellent introduction to Iced Earth’s brand of thrashy heavy metal. All the songs are good, and we have quite a few classics. Fans of heavy metal that has aggression and melody should enjoy this a lot. If you have "Alive in Athens," you don’t need this.
IMMOLATION - HARNESSING RUIN
OLYMPIC/CENTURY MEDIA REC.
Excellent, amazing stuff. In case you have not been paying attention, this band has turned into a monster. Their previous "Unholy Cult" was amazing. This is true again. The guitar work, in my opinion, is really distinct. First of all, they avoid any melodic riffs/clichés. Instead, they do these contorted, distorted, twisting and winding riffs and it’s great. The sound envelopes and sucks you in from start to finish. The music has different layers so that it keeps you coming back for more. The vocals are really low and guttural, but pretty intelligible, if you really pay attention (ha!). The different speeds, from the blasting to doom parts, are very well put together. This band has been around a while. You may think you know them, thinking they are some of sort of second rate band. Think again, buddy. It's time to reevaluate Immolation. Masterful.
IVORY KNIGHT - UNCONSCIENCE
This group is 100% traditional, oldschool heavy metal. I'm just guessing, but the influences for this band are most likely the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and probably other bands that continued that sound, like early Armored Saint and Savatage. Listening to this I hear virtually no influence from thrash, much less anything else that's trendy right now. You'd be surprised how different this music is compared to all the metal of today. Of course, things like speed are not very important here. The songs are uptempo, but nothing superfast. The drumming is not some sort of double-bass constant thing, but has more to do with the overall rhythm of the song. The singing is not air raid siren and screaming is not a part of the equation. The voice is midrange, which works well with the music. It's not mindblowingly good, but it works. Definitely for fans of oldschool heavy metal, for people who also like to check out more obscure bands, like Breaker. Personally, this does sound too heavy metal, too old for me. I like more speed or intensity in the guitars and drums. P.O. Box 38144/1430 Prince of Wales Dr./Ottawa, ONT, CANADA K2C1N6
IMPALED - DEATH AFTER LIFE
CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS
These eight songs are all about Carcass' "Symphonies" and "Necroticism": the combination of the low and midrange growling and the muddy-but-catchy riffing. This is surprisingly memorable and even melodic. Impaled has been a promising band, but I think this album shows a real development. The songwriting has improved a lot. I remember that I liked this band's Carcass remake better than its own songs. Well, now, they are progressing and perfecting. I look forward to their next album. Some people will criticize this band for being a Carcass rip-off. This band takes that as a compliment. They love Carcass and if you don't like the above Carcass albums, don't even bother. PROBLEM: There is one thing on here that is awful and stupid: the spoken-word samples. I am surprised that the band did not delete these "scary"/"funny" samples, which sound cheap and have no feeling and almost ruin this album. There are four of these horrible pieces on here and they sound stupid. Not silly. Stoopid. On Carcass' "Necroticism" this type of pieces were shorter and added to the feel of the album; and I don't think they sound silly or stupid even today (And yes, I did go back and listen to "Necroticism" to compare, so you know.). RECOMMENDATION: Make yourself a copy of the album and take out the spoken-word pieces; record only the songs; it will be much better
IN COLD BLOOD -"HELL ON EARTH"
In Cold Blood bring on their blistering assault of agonized metalcore with a fury that will bore a hole in your skull. While I must say that this band more or less falls into the hardcore category, they are musically a bit different than many bands of the same style. I.C.B. tend toward slower, darker guitar work, that is "very metal", and reminds me a lot of Slayer. The vocals are not really outstanding or unusual, but they are well-done and go hand in glove with the anger of the music, creating an overall aura of rage that burns a slow hole in you. Recommended!
INCANTATION: DECIMATE CHRISTENDOM
When Incantation gets down to the business of playing fast and brutal underground death metal, they are unstoppable. The guttural vocals, the blasting speed, the dark riffing just work well. What I like about it is the mood, the feel of it, which is like the band specializes in claustrophobia and does it well. All that one can say is that if you like guttural, dark, underground death metal, then Incantation should please you. But I do have one complaint: (1) when they slow down for that doom feel, then I begin to lose interest because I prefer the speed. The slow parts simply have less going for them and I think there are too many slow parts on this album.
INFAMY -"THE BLOOD SHALL FLOW"
Excellent grinding death played just the way it should be; down and dirty from the bowels of hell. The vocals are unbelievably low, and I am running out of adjectives to describe just how heavy this is! This disc will surely crush even the most hardened and jaded metal fans, and likely will appeal to most people as well. I definitely give this my 100% recommendation, and I dare you to find a flaw with this album! If you're really brutal, you will have this CD!
INSOMNIUM: SINCE THE DAY IT ALL CAME DOWN
I'm glad I got to hear this band because the stuff I have read about them does not do them justice. Yeah, they are from Finland, but they have nothing to do with the Children of Bodom clones. This is different and good.I cannot recommend this highly enough, actually. I think it's that good. The eleven songs on here are quality metal. The guitar work is good because it has its own personality. At no time does the listener get the feeling that the riffs are filler stuff. The vocals are death/growling, but--and this is difficult to get across on paper-- are actually the type of growling that does not sound cheesy or stupid. Can you believe that? There are no clean vocals here, either, but the music has its moody moments, including some brief whispering. The album is about 54 minutes long so this is not one of those quickly assembled second-rate albums. Long songs, dark, moody, heavy riffing, growling, guitar solos, catchiness..what else do you want?
INTEGRITY - "HUMANITY IS THE DEVIL"
A very intense hard core band. I actually like this. I usually do not purchase bands that play this style of music, but this band is one of the few who made it in my collection. Really heavy vocals, really catchy tunes, and excellent pounding riffs and melody compliment this fine release. My only bitch is that the songs are really short. The first 6 songs are what really caught my attention. After the sixth song, some really fucked up, hypnotic, weird talking shit came on that is hard to explain. Subliminal messages I'm sure. In the last 10 min. or so, there are like 5 or 6 more songs, and if I'm not mistaken, it's a different band, but I'm not sure, I believe that is what I heard or think I heard. That was o.k. but it wasn't for me. It was different than the first 6 songs, so hell, it might be a different band. Enough of my rambling. Any way, this is a real cheap label, what I mean by that is the merchandise they sell is really, really cheap. Not greedy bastards like the rest out there. This is also the home to other bands like; EARTH CRISIS, DEAD GUY, DOUGHNUTS, BLOODLET, and some others. All into some really heavy / extreme music should check this out.
INTERNAL BLEEDING - ONWARD TO MECCA
Recognize the name?! You do?! Congrats, Jack, you are an old fogy! This line-up is almost all new people, except the drummer. Internal Bleeding used to be strictly minor league NY death metal. Oh my, how trends, I mean, "times" have changed! Now they are strictly minor leagues hardcore!! I was laughing when I heard this! It’s so funny, trying to be a part of that plague called "metal"-core, no thank you! Oh, by the way, yeah, this is "tough" and "macho" and has annoying trendy screaming vocals and all, "perfect" for "moshing"!
IRON SAVIOR - "UNIFICATION"
this band features Piet Sielck, Blind Guardian's producer and Kai Hansen (ex-Helloween, now Gamma ray). In the 14 tracks that make up this release, you get clear production, each instrument is heard, plenty of guitar solos, riffs, etc... and vocals very much in the Blind Guardian style, medium to high. On this release you will even hear latter day versions of the Helloween classic, "Gorgar" and the Black Sabbath super classic "Neon Knights." Track #15 is a song performed by Excelsis doing a song called "Dragon Slayer", and I just don't understand why this is included. This is serious power metal done to perfection. The only downer to this release is that it's not as catchy as it could be, but in contradiction, it's really hard to find fault in this release.
IRON SAVIOR - BATTERING RAM
If you’ve heard one album, you’ve heard them all: mean, aggressive traditional heavy metal. If you want ballads and keyboards, look elsewhere, this is rough heavy metal. Piet Sielck’s singing is probably the roughest in this style. This is the opposite of melodic power metal it’s chunky, aggressive metal. The main problem is that this sounds substantially faceless and generic because thrashy riffing needs hooks, which this band lacks. Semi-thrashy heavy metal with aggression, but not much creativity.
They have catchy songs and so you'd think that only a jerk would complain. The first song is death metal, more or less. It's a nice ditty with rolls and blasts and thrashing guitars. Catchy, I tell you. Soon, though, with the clean vocals and everything it just sounds so trendy. Is everyone trying clean singing now? I think these guys love Arch Enemy's "Burning Bridges". The vocals are quite like that, which is not a bad thing. Also, and I'm being serious here, I detect a huge Guns 'n' Roses/Slash influence with the guitar solos! The bluesiness of them makes a contrast with the melodic thrash. They cover a Jimi Hendrix song called "Fire", but nothing to run to the record store for, but not bad. It just sounds so trendy, though.