I am sure you haven’t heard of Digression Assassins but you can and should change that right now. “Oblivion” is the follow up to the fabulous “Merkaba” and it finds the band growing as a young band should. Digression Assassins now sound like Mew playing Alcest after attending a Dillinger Escape Plan concert.
The album starts rough with a throw away opening noise track. It still baffles me why bands do this. I didn’t even last one time through it and deleted it. Things improve immediately with the onslaught on “Slave.” It’s a hyperactive track that works well without that minute plus of noise in front of it. “The Velveteen Heroine” is another uptempo, almost bouncy number that keeps things moving well.
Vocalist David Catala definitely sounds quite “Mew-like” on those tracks. However, he uses his mid range well on the title track. The chaotic “The Devil’s Pit” would sound right at home on a Dillinger Escape Plan album. “Psychosis” is a favorite with its eerie, swirling sound and sax. Gotta love all the sax in metal bands nowadays.
The album finishes with three intense songs culminating with “True Mockery” which is another favorite song. It’s another over the top mix of craziness and deceptive tightness. Bands like Digression Assassins deserve to be heard and you can do your part by going to Bandcamp. Their music is NAME YOUR PRICE! So you have no excuses.
Release Date: February 2, 2019
“Dreamcatcher” by Aenimus is not going to be for everyone. If you look up the term “extreme metal,” this album would make a perfect definition. The band blend some of the most aggressive riffs along with the deathiest of death vocals with some incredible atmosphere and yes some clean vocals. These dynamics make the heavier parts sound heavier and the mellower parts feel more like a respite than they really are.
Similarly, The Moth Gatherer know how to mix heavy doom metal with some atmospheric post rock moments. I’ve reviewed the band previously and they are back with “Esoteric Oppression.” To call what The Moth Gatherer does “epic” might be underselling things. This is massive stuff both in size and scope. It’s far from easy. Even though you might not consider doom to be complex, speed does not make something complex. Layers and moods can be just as complex as anything. THAT is the strength of “Esoteric Oppression.”
If you like really heavy, forward thinking music, you have two very solid options with Aenimus and The Moth Gatherer. For as much as I really like each album, they aren’t background music. Both albums demand your attention, albeit in different ways. Aenimus will punch you in face if you aren’t paying attention. While The Moth Gatherer will cause you to ask “Wait, what was that? How did I get here?”
Few bands have a fan base as divided as In Flames. There are the die hards that support the band through thick and thin. Then there are the others who demand “Whoracle II” and feel the band have sold out. I’ve always given the band a chance since they are still good at what they do…it’s just different than it used to be. Bands have to evolve or they die. In Flames is no different.
I really enjoyed their last album “Battles.” It was a nice return to form for me since the album prior “Siren Charms” just missed the mark for me. Now we have “I, The Mask” and I think this is about as close to old In Flames as fans will get. Now to be clear, it’s still quite “modern” sounding. But there are tracks that are very much old melodic death metal, like the title track and “I am Above.”
But what I enjoy about “I, The Mask” is that it’s clear that In Flames know how to write melodies now. Plus vocalist Anders Fridén can really sing now. Many have accused him over the years of having a shitty clean vocal but he sounds damn good on songs like “Voices,” “Follow Me,” and the closing BALLAD (yes really) “Stay With Me.”
The one slip up on the album is the gang vocals on “(This is Our) House.” The song is actually good despite the cheesy lyrics but the intro vocals are down right silly. Unfortunately they return late in the track as well. Even that doesn’t make me skip the song! That tells you that the basic song itself really works. Now, will all In Flames love this album? Of course not. But I think if this one doesn’t win over MOST fans, nothing will.
Release date: March 1, 2019
Label: Nuclear Blast