16 February 2016

What's spinning, February 2016.

I love heavy metal, and you probably should too. I’ve compiled a list of the new releases from this month (and last) for your reading pleasure and I’ve listened to them so you don’t have to. But you should because most of them rule.

Abbath – Abbath. I love Immortal and I, but there’s just something missing here. Abbath still sounds like Abbath, and the riffs are cold and frosty and filled with mysticwintersnowice and whatnot, but the groove hasn’t quite gripped me yet. I’ll keep trying though.

Avantasia – Ghostlights. Tobias Sammet’s ginormous, bombastic metal opera project is back with more singers that you could possible hope to recognize during a single listen. Good thing Ghostlights rocks. You’ll want to spin it time and time again. I’ve heard something new and interesting every time through it.

Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins. I’ve always liked Axel Rudi Pell’s no-nonsense, pump-your-fist heavy metal, and this album doesn’t veer off their formulaic path at all whatsoever. It’s full of catchy, hard-rocking tunes and world class guitar shreddery.

Borknagar – Winter Thrice. Three times the winter, three times the awesome. I’ve always been a fan of Borknagar, both with and without Vintersorg. The band has never sounded better than they do on here. Every instrument is crisply mixed, and it really takes these talented gents to a whole new level.

Dream Theater – The Astonishing. The astonishing what? The astonishing album length?That’s got to be it. After listening to it for 5 minutes (which is an overture… Surprise!), you’re absolutely certain it’s a Dream Theater album, and I hope you’re okay with that because it’s two hours of that stuff. That’s quite a lot to expect, even from the most die-hard Dream Theater fans.

Mechina – Progenitor. This is surprisingly awesome. It’s epic, symphonic death metal with tons of melody and overloaded keyboards. The clean vocals are laden with autotune for some reason, but it actually works because the whole package feels so mechanical and synthetic. I’m a fan.

Megadeth – Dystopia. I’ve actually listened to this one quite a bit over the last month. Believe me when I say Megadeth hasn’t sounded this good in a long time.

Primal Fear – Rulebreaker. If you’re into German heavy metal that definitely sounds both German and heavy, you’ll definitely dig Rulebreaker. Primal Fear has never been a band who has been able to pen that one signature album, but they’re always solid. That being said, this album is among their best offerings.

Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend. Every now and then, I just want to listen to something that I can’t tell whether or not it’s a metal album or a film score. So, when that happens, I go to Rhapsody (of Fire, if I must). Nothing they’ve released in the last 10 years is remotely on par with their earlier classics, but it’s definitely not bad. The problem with this one, just like the rest of the albums resulting from the original band’s split, is that it’s missing a real identity to put it over the top.