UTG Metal Review Roundup (April 2012)

UTG METAL REVIEW ROUNDUP. This column is exactly as simple as it sounds. Lots of metal albums come out and resident metalhead Jordan Munson is here to give you the skinny on a litany of these albums. No frills, no extra, no nonsense–just the information you need to know.

Demon Hunter – True Defiance

Demon Hunter show just why they’ve had such lasting success on their latest album, True Defiance. An incredibly well-balanced mix of metal styles with a familiar accessibility of many “radio metal” acts. Ryan Clark’s signature vocal sound and style paired with a litany of tasteful guitar licks and catchy songwriting make for a very easy listen, even if there really aren’t many remarkable moments throughout the album. Not only that, but True Defiance features some of the slickest production on a metal album in 2012 so far. Score: 7/10

Brendon Small’s Galaktikon

Has there been a more anticipated album amongst the cartoon-watching metalhead community since the first Dethklok album? I know it’s a small community, but the answer is probably not. Brendon Small’s signature guitar work is all over this album, some of the riffs almost sounding like recycled Dethklok riffs. All in all, Galaktikon is a fun album that feels a lot like Dethklok’s less br00tal little brother who really, really likes James Hetfield and rock operas. You’ll find no shortage of triumphant guitar licks and grand stories on this album, and we’re definitely okay with that. Score: 8/10

Beneath The Massacre – Incongruous

Montreal is known for its hyper technical and ultra brutal metal bands, and with Incongruous Beneath the Massacre have cemented themselves as one of this scene’s elite. Every release since 2007’s Mechanics of Dysfunction has seen the band make huge strides in their music and they’ve now created what may be their magnum opus for years to come. Though it may be one of the heaviest records of the year so far, Incongruous does not find itself short of great songwriting or memorable passages–something very rare for such heavy and technical bands. Score: 9/10

Veil Of Maya – Eclipse

In four albums and six years time, Veil of Maya have found a way to stay very relevant and mostly one-dimensional in their music. Eclipse displays nearly nothing new for the band stylistically, but rather find the band becoming a slight amount more erratic in their songwriting. A very technically impressive album, it doesn’t leave much for distinctive or memorable riffs, and there are certainly no memorable vocal passages (save for the one a cappella guitar riff on the album). Another flawlessly tight, but mostly forgettable, release from Illinois troop Veil of Maya. Score: 6/10

Upon A Burning Body – Red. White. Green.

In a scene that’s becoming over-saturated with copycat bands, it’s pretty tough stick out as being something truly special. Upon A Burning Body are definitely doing a solid job at finding a way to do exactly that with their latest album, Red. White. Green. Everything that is great about “Sumeriancore” can be found on this album, and even a bit more. Fun gang vocal sections, infectious groove riffs, and just enough style variance to not be pigeonholed. Proving that you can be fun and technically proficient without being a cheesefest, Upon A Burning Body bring a lot of freshness to Sumerian’s roster. Score: 8/10

Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast

Anyone who has listened to Municipal Waste before this album should know exactly what to expect from it, and they’ll likely be spot-on. Municipal Waste do one thing, and one thing only: thrash hard and fast. Normally, remaining so one-dimensional as a band is a totally faux pas, and not welcomed in any way; fortunately for Municipal Waste, they’re undeniably fun and thrashing. The Fatal Feast is your standard-issue crossover thrash from Municipal Waste… except now set in space. It’s a good thing. Score: 7/10

Emmure – Slave To The Game

What is there really to say about Emmure at this point that hasn’t already been said? Hilarious lyrics, prototypical slamz, and Frankie’s two-face vocal parts. Though they’ve introduced a bit more melody to Slave To The Game than they had before, it still remains a pretty one-dimensional album that doesn’t translate all that well to sitting at a desk. Play it live where people can jump around and pick up pennies or practice karate and it works perfectly. If you didn’t like Emmure before, this album certainly won’t make you a fan. If you already knew and liked the band, you’ll most likely enjoy this one as well (unless you’re Sergeant D). Score: 4/10

Wretched – Son Of Perdition

Floating the line between melodic death metal and pure death metal proves to be a pretty tricky task for most bands, but a short list of bands really nail it–The Black Dahlia Murder being one of these bands. You can now add Wretched to that list. Son Of Perdition is a major step forward for the band, and is perhaps one of this year’s biggest surprises so far. Certainly not a run-of-the-mill Victory Records band, it looks like Wretched might be around for the long haul, perhaps the label’s best metal band since the departure of Between the Buried and Me. Score: 8/10

Job For A Cowboy – Demonocracy

Are you of the camp of people that still chastise Job For A Cowboy as another “crappy deathcore band”? If so, you really ought to give Demonocracy a try, as you’ve been missing one of the most technically proficient death metal bands of the last handful of years. While Ruination and Genesis were both very solid, Demonocracy is at least a slight step up in just about every facet of the band’s music. Still much too early to tell, but this album will probably flirt with being in the top ten for a lot of people come year’s end. Score: 9/10

Meshuggah – Koloss

In typical Meshuggah fashion, Koloss delivers on the expectation of gargantuan polyrhythms the band has constructed over the years. Much differently than previous releases, however, the intricacy is much more subtle on Koloss. Presented in a seemingly routine package, it’s not until a handful of listens in is it apparent just how complex some of the sections throughout this album are. Mixing neck-breaking speeds with monolithic heaviness from song to song, Meshuggah have found yet another way to slightly reinvent themselves for the better while still remaining the Meshuggah that the metal world has come to know and love. Koloss is a definite frontrunner for album of the year so far. Score: 10/10

High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

Shirtless, sweaty, pissed, and now produced by Kurt Ballou. Is there really any better combination of things for a band like High On Fire? De Vermis Mysteriis is the follow-up to the band’s somewhat pedestrian Snakes for the Divine and can definitely be seen as a return to form. Harkening back to the plodding and aimless grit that were the band’s first three fantastic albums, High On Fire have certainly found the re-energizing they so desperately needed. De Vermis brings to the table everything that High On Fire fans wanted from Snakes and then some, perhaps to be considered as the band’s most impressive and raucous work to date. Score: 9/10

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