Brock’s 2 Cents – April/May 2022

Maryland Deathfest is coming up and I’ll be getting hyped and ready for the festival. Hopefully it’s not the last one since the organizers have taken such a hard blow due to Covid and not having the past two years. So, this is April and May mixed together and I’ll be back in JUNE. Here are my reviews of recently released albums that I think you should know about. Forget about these in-depth reviews, I’m bringing you quick reviews on multiple releases to help you guide your way through the METAL world today!
Ratings: [0(sucks) to 5(awesome)]
{Format: Band – album title = rating |label |style of metal. review}

DARK FUNERALWe Are the Apocalypse = 3.75/5 |Century Media |BLACK METAL
I’ve been a huge fan of DARK FUNERAL, when it comes to BM I like it really fast and blasting or melodic with catchy song writing. DARK FUNERAL has scratched that 1st itch for a long time. Their last album Where Shadows Forever Reign started off incredible but flopped on the back half that album. We are the Apocalypse is definitely a major improvement over their last. The back in the day vibes is present here along with a touch of modern which leads to the song writing being way better and even the slower songs have me head-banging and enjoying them. Even though this album is not as blazing fast as previous albums there’s still enough speed here with all the new elements the band has included. One thing that sets a killer veteran band apart of from others is when incorporating something new it still sounds like said band. We are the Apocalypse is a breathe of fresh air for DARK FUNERAL and proves that they are still one of the best when it comes to BM! This is one of the better albums DARK FUNERAL has released and will be in my top albums of 2022! 9 tracks, 4 are killer and 4 are good!

IRONMASTERThy Ancient Fire = 4/5 |Mojoholic |DEATH METAL
Featuring members/ex-members from AEON, DARK FUNERAL, CENTINEX, CARNAL FORGE, SCAR SYMMETRY, EDGE OF SANITY, etc… You could definitely say this is a Swedish supergroup of some bad-ass veterans! This album absolutely floored me! I wasn’t ready! This is killer Swedish blasting hard-hitting DM that smacks you in the face with a groove here and there and a little touch of melody/other surprises that work perfectly on this album. I’m not sure if this is a side-project or a main band but I definitely want to see them live! Thy Ancient Fire is a powerful, in your face example of top-notch DM! This is one of those albums that will leave your neck hurting the next day! IRONMASTER is f’n incredible and it will be in my top albums of 2022! 10 tracks, 5 are killer and 3 are good.

MESHUGGAH Immutable = 1/5 |Atomic Fire |DJENT METAL
The creators of DJENT are back 5 years since their last album. MESHUGGAH has basically covered all their bases throughout their career from the initial groove-laden barrage to the ultra-tech/wild tempo changes to the blazing speed domination (ala Obzen album) then returned with a more groove-oriented mind with Koloss. The last album The Violent Sleep of Reason was a hodgepodge of everything they’ve done but now Immutable is here and it’s boring… really boring. It took me multiple listens to finally start feeling the basics of this album, but it’s bland. It sounds like a last minute put together album. The grooves on here are a repeat riff pattern that’s on a monotone level, the overall energy is not there, the speed and technicality is not there, this sounds like an end of a career album where they just don’t have it anymore. Basically, MESHUGGAH has done it all already, I’d rather have an overall basic groove album similar to their earlier albums than this. Immutable should be muted. This is their worst album. 13 tracks, 3 instrumentals, 3 are good and 3 are so-so.
ffo: Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects, Sisthema, Sybreed

WATAINThe Agony & Ecstasy of Watain = 3/5 |Nuclear Blast |BLACK METAL
WATAIN seems to become one of the ultimate love ’em or hate ’em type bands which I’m not a huge fan but I do listen to their albums every now and then. With Lawless Darkness and Trident Wolf Eclipse being more of my favorites when it comes to the band this new album even in a slight turn in direction is very good also. The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain explores new ground by adding tons of melodies ala DISSECTION feel and catchy riffs to make a very accessible record. The WATAIN sound is still there just a few songs are a big more melodic and a bit of black’n’roll feel. My favorite songs on here are the more vicious and faster pace ones as I feel WATAIN spent a lot of energy to make this an “epic” type album. Overall, it’s good, the savagery is still there but also enough catchy melodies for these songs to get stuck in your head for days later. 10 tracks, 3 are killer and 4 are good.

ANALEPSYQuiescence = 3.5/5 |Miasma |BRUTAL DEATH METAL
5 years later and only one original member left we finally get a new album. Guitarist Macro Martins is the only original member left so I was a little bit worried about the sound of the new album but it’s pretty much on par with the debut. Their debut, Atrocities from Beyond, was a force to be reckoned with, gaining tons of praise from fans and critics so after a long period can the new album stack up? Quiescence is a wave of unrelenting brutality from technical hooks to unbearable crushing grooves to complete pit inducing chaos. Expanding a bit on their sound there’s complexity to the song writing without being overbearing so there’s enough for the average brutal DM fan to sink his teeth into. This is top notch when it comes to brutal DM and ANALEPSY is not a one album wonder! This album is a must! It will be in my top albums for 2022. 10 tracks, 1 instrumental, 5 are killer and 3 are good.

MANEGARMYnglingaattens Ode = 3.25/5 |Napalm |VIKING/FOLK/BLACK METAL
I was introduced to Viking/folk metal in the early 2000s and really enjoyed a few bands with the same premise of power metal as the music was fantastic but didn’t take the rest of the band too seriously. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate Viking/folk metal along with power metal and really enjoy a good handful of bands. MANEGARM was one of the first few I heard and been a fan ever since, I really loved their first few albums, then they kind of dipped in mediocrity with their middle albums but things turned around with their last album Fornaldarsagor as the band has hit a new level of incorporating their two decades plus of music into some well written craftsmanship! Ynglingaattens Ode is one of their best albums! Their tenth album translated as “the fate of the Ynglinga kin” and based on an old Norse poem entitled Ynglingatal. If you love beer/mead drinking folk music mixed with BM then this is a must! MANEGARM delivers a perfect balance between the folk/viking vibes with BM and DM aggressiveness to keep you head-banging all night! This album feels like a majestic adventure. If you’re a fan or want to check out viking/folk metal, this is the band to start with! 8 tracks, 3 are killer and 3 good!

KVAENThe Great Below = 3.75/5 |Black Lion |BLACK METAL
Jakob Bjornfot released KVAEN‘s debut album The Funeral Pyre in 2020 and it was incredible! It made my top albums list for that year! Now, he’s back with his sophomore album, The Great Below, and Jakob is setting himself apart from the rest of BM into the top echelon. That is why KVAEN is one of my favorite newer BM bands and this sophomore album is just proving why you need to take heed! KVAEN has expanded on The Great Below with adding a darker atmosphere without sacrificing on what made the debut album so good. Also, the album finds a good balance of mixing melodic BM with aspects of speed, thrash and Viking metal. Clocking in under 40 minutes this album is a tight precision of aggressive dark sinister head-banging greatness. I’m not sure if this album beats its debut but it’s very close, I’ll have to jam to these albums more to finally pick. The Great Below will appear in my top albums of 2022! This is a must for BM fans to check out! 8 tracks, 4 are killer and 3 are good!

DAWOHLLeviathan = 3.75/5 |Dolrem |BRUTAL DEATH METAL
A new band from France and this came right out and punched me in the face! DAWOHL is out here to destroy! Ranging from pure violence to technical ecstasy to warlike grooves to get the pit started, DAWOHL doesn’t hold back on this debut album. Offering up a raw yet still clear production sound of this precision tight DM with a touch of BM will pummel you into the ground. Leviathan is top notch from start to finish and definitely a multiple listens album to full grasp all the chaos that’s in these songs! Only negative thing I have to say is that it’s only 6 songs and a cover song of MERCYLESS which is good too! Check this out now and a damn good chance this will be in my top albums for 2020! 8 tracks, 1 intro, 1 cover, 4 are killer and 2 are good.

IN APHELION Moribund = 3.5/5 |Edged Circle |BLACK METAL
Wow I wasn’t expecting this! Featuring members from NECROPHOBIC, NIFELHEIM, AVSLUT, etc… This new group explodes from the start with fast paced melodic BM that’s relentless and savage yet lets the melodic riffs grab you by the throat and makes you head-bang nonstop! The band doesn’t pound you over the head with unrelenting brutality as there are a few songs grace the mid-pace vibe and have a touch of thrash/NWOBHM feel to them. This is one of those albums that is a perfect example of how to do melodic BM right. This is a must for those fans! Overall, this really feels like a more vicious NECROPHOBIC type album which I’m all for. Killer album from start to finish. A strong maybe for my top albums of the year list! 10 tracks, 4 are killer and 4 are good.

THYRARGO Impulses = 3/5 |Unsigned |DEATH METAL
A new band featuring ex-guitarists from CHILDREN OF BODOM and DE LIRIUM’S ORDER offering up something I was not expecting at all expecting. Impulses is pure wrath and aggression into that DM sound from the late 90s into the early 2000s. No melodic riffing, no keyboards, this is just plain flat-out DM similar to bands from the Netherlands/Germany! Solid grooving DM here, definitely worth checking out if ya miss those bands from that era. 4 tracks, 2 are killer and 2 are good.

ABBATHDread Reaver = 1/5 |Season of Mist |BLACK’N’ROLL
I’m a big fan of IMMORTAL, but not much of ABBATH. Really not a big fan of Black’n’Roll either. The debut album was good, sophomore was ok and now the third, Dread Reaver, is so-so. I’m not sure what Abbath is trying to do; become the Lemmy of Black Metal? Dread Reaver is very boring, way too far down the rock’n’roll path with a horrible production. It definitely shows that this is his band and usually when that happens, you get garbage like what we have here. Let your band members have input! The only positive is the tracks “Acid Haze” and “The Deep Unbound” which sound like they were picked up off the cutting room floor from previous IMMORTAL recordings. Other than that, not much to say but *YAWN*. 9 tracks, 1 METALLICA cover, 2 are good and 2 are so-so.

PAGANIZERMarch of the Insane = 3/5 |Iron, Blood and Death Corporation |DEATH METAL
PAGANIZER has been crushing our eardrums for the past twenty plus years and lately has fine-tuned their sound into an old school DM juggernaut! Their last two full length albums were some of the bests in their career. March of the Insane is a new EP delivered right before the new upcoming album Beyond the Macabre. With two brand new songs that still deliver the solid well written old school intensity that PAGANIZER is now known for along with 3 tracks that were meant for another split that didn’t seem to happen. If you’re a fan or love old school DM this is a must! This just get me hyped for the new album coming out in a few months. There’s a lot of bands riding that old school DM trend lately and most of them need to listen to PAGANIZER to hear how it’s done right! 5 tracks, 3 are killer and 1 is OK.

PURGATORYApotheosis of Anti Light = 3/5 |War Anthem |DEATH METAL
PURGATORY has been pumping out solid DM since the mid-90s and has delivered some top-quality albums throughout their career that’s been going under the radar for the average DM fan. I was taken back by their last album Omega Void Tribvnal as I didn’t think it was up to snuff with their previous albums. Now, 6 years later, PURGATORY returns with a shift in direction as the new album has a strong BM vibe along with the normal DM. I’m definitely all for it as it was brought a new sense of anger and aggression to their song writing! This album is fast, filthy, and a fury of brutality. Overall, good song writing lets PURGATORY to assault you with intense riffs but also knows when to the let the tempo slow down and hit you with some head-banging grooves. It’s always good to hear that a band that’s later in their career drop and album that up there with the best they’ve produced. Another top-notch album that DM fans need to take heed and check this band out! 9 tracks, 4 are killer and 3 are good.

EMBRYONIC DEVOURMENTHeresy of the Highest Order = 2/5 |Unique Leader |TECHNICAL DEATH METAL
Their 4th album debuting on Unique Leader records, they’ve been out producing a DM vibe that would definitely fit within the early days of the label. Heresy of the Highest Order brings their weird take on tech DM with lyrical themes are influenced by the writing of David Icke who theorizes that reptilian beings inhabit the earth and must drink stem cell-rich menstrual blood to take and remain in human form. It’s been 8 years since their last album and EMBRYONIC DEVOURMENT still continue their smorgasbord of tech meets dissonant meets uber-shred meet grind meets brutal slam. That creates something totally different but at times leaves you very stretched on listening and comes across as too much. Heresy of the Highest Order is one of those albums that can make it’s run time fell twice as long with everything they are cramming into their songs but for me it’s a bit too over the top and not enough to cling onto for normalcy. I like what they do but the song writing just doesn’t hold my attention. 8 tracks, 2 are killer and 4 are OK.

CENTINEXThe Pestilence = 2/5 |Agonia |DEATH METAL
Here’s another band I stumbled across while hosting a college metal radio host in the early 2000s and loved them ever since. The broke up in 2006 then returned with two killer albums but their last album Death in Pieces was kind of boring to me. CENTINEX released this new EP and I was hoping to would punch my lights out but it’s just OK. There’s nothing bad here just nothing to really get me excited. Much like the last album is a back to the roots of old school DM which is OK but mostly it’s too simple and needs more aggression. I was really hoping for more… oh well, maybe the next album. 4 tracks, 1 is good and 2 are OK.

DESERTED FEAR Doomsday = 1/5 |Century Media |MELODIC DEATH METAL
DESERTED FEAR started off playing damn good old school HM2 style DM with their first few albums but then shifted their sound towards a modern feel that would attract more listeners. The shift went towards the Gothenburg sound mixed with the modern melodic DM sound that recent KATAKLYSM and HYPOCRISY are doing nowadays. Me, personally, was not happy about this shift and was not impressed by their last album Drowned by Humanity and now the new album Doomsday is here and it’s more of the same as the last album. Now fully a modern melodeath band this doesn’t hold my interests at all. I guess I’ll just listen to their earlier albums. 11 tracks, 2 are good and 4 are OK.

AbbathAnalepsyBrock's 2 CentsCentinexDark FuneralDawohlDeserted FearEmbryonic DevourmentIn AphelionIronmasterKvaenManegarmMeshuggahPAGANIZERPurgatoryThyrargoWatain
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