Sepultura – Machine Messiah (Nuclear Blast – 2017)

Sepultura is one of those bands that never really interested me. I saw them live back in 04 or 05, opening for Motörhead. Being really impressed by the show, I went out and bought a couple of records; Roots, Beneath the Remains and Chaos A. D. I soon tired of all of them, Beneath the Remains held up a little longer then the rest

They have been on my radar, and I have listened to most of their releases in one form or another, most of them not really cutting it. I hated A-lex, it was just horrible from start to finish, and the Dante record I just didn’t understand.

 

Anyhoo, one day I was checking out new releases on my chosen streaming service and Phantom Self came on and I loved it straight away. It was an instant reaction. The riff is just super heavy and groovy, the vocals are distinct and catchy. I had to check out the rest of the album, when one of the songs was this great.

The album starts off strong; the title track is a slow moody number. It reminds me of Beneath the Silth off of Machine Heads Bloodstone & Diamonds or maybe Planet Caravan. I am the Enemy is a super heavy song, but kind of predictable; fast paced complete with the scream along chorus are known for. Iceberg Dances is the kind of track that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Great song!

 

Sadly, the next four songs don’t cut it for me. They’re predictable and sound a bit by numbers. They’re so formulaic that they turn annoying.

The final track is a good finish. Cyber God is punishing and grueling and extraordinary heavy. With a full on headbanging beat, this must be a great live track, it just has to.

 

I’m not going to join a Sepultura fanclub after this release, it brought them higher on my mountain of metal bands to listen to. But the four song, or the middle part of the album, just … bleh

 

Recommended tracks: Machine Messiah, Cyber God, Phantom Self

Rating: 3 / 5

 

Overkill – The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast 2017)

Overkill continue to release consistent quality records. The Grinding Wheel is a solid piece of thrash metal and, in my humble opinion, it has a slight edge over other surviving 80s outfits. The Grinding Wheel is an overall stronger record than For All Kings, Dystopia, Repentless, Hardwired … to Selfdestruct, Under Attack  and Gods of Violence. The only one of my old heroes to come close to Overkill these days are Death Angel, in terms of new music.

All the hallmarks of Overkill are pushed to the front on this record. Blitz is screeching and screaming, Linsk and Tailer sound great, cohesive and blistering; pushing out riff after riff of headbanging / foot tapping intensity. DD is both rumbling and keeping the wall of sound solidly grounded. Lipnicki is solid on the kit. Everything sounds great!

Overkill sound like they’ve got an abundance of energy, where Metallica sound uninspired and Megadeth tired, Slayer bored. Overkill seem to still have the fire burning and some real, honest anger left in their hearts. I could have wished for a bit more diversity and experimentation. Overkill is balancing on the edge becoming their own parody. Just like Kreator, the lack of experimentation is apparent. I feel White Devil Armory had more variation in sound and style, as this record is in your face throughout.

As for the songs, I’m totally into Red, White and Blue as it combines groov, a bit of silliness, gang vocals, thrashing speed and blistering guitars. Overkills energy owes a lot to punk of the late seventies and that inspiration flows to the surface on high energy songs like The Mean  Green Killing Machine and Our Finest Hour.

The main issue with this release is the lack of room to breath or the time to think. But then again, I kind of like that.

 

Recommended tracks: Red White and Blue, Our Finest Hour, Lets all Go to Hades

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Kreator – Gods of Violence (Nuclear Blast 2017)

Yet another of the great surviving thrash bands seems to have grown stale. Kreator had a major relaunch of their sound with the release of Violent Revolution in 2001, this sound and style was perfected with the release of Enemy of God in 2005. Every release since then has been made from the same blueprint. Some songs have been excellent, some songs sound too much like previous releases and some songs seem tired. Slowly, but certainly, the lack of originality becomes apparent and the music seems stale and unimaginative.

Enemy of God is one of my desert island records and I’m glad that they stuck to this style of songwriting, but I would still like to see some experimentation and development of sound and songwriting. Gods of Violence contains loads of kick ass tracks; Totalitarian Terror, Hail to the Hordes, World War Now or Lions with Eagle Wings to name my favorites. Oh, the title track is also excellent.

The building blocks of Kreator’s sound that I particularly like are the furiousity of Milles vocals, the technicality of the guitar work; here I should point out Samis excellent soloing and sense of melody. The drumming of Ventor is also a trademark of the band. All of these are present on every single track, but for some reason this album doesn’t sit right with me.

When it comes to it, I think the similarities with previous releases is the thing that I can’t get passed. In a way it doesn’t feel like a new release, I have heard these songs before with slightly different lyrics or arrangements. BUT I  LIKE THE SONGS.

In all honesty this release drives me insane, I like it and it tires me. I recommend: Gods of Violence, Totalitarian Terror and Hail to the Hordes

Rating: 2 of 5 for lack of originality, 4 of 5 for the headbandingness of the tracks, 3,5 of 5 in total?

Black Star Riders – All Brakes Loose (Nuclear Blast 2013)

The debut from Black Star Riders is kind of hard to consider a debut, seeing that the band had been playing together for a number of years, but as Thin Lizzy. The decision to release new music was a good one, but the decision to release the new music under a new name was even better. Had this album been released as a Thin Lizzy album, it would’ve gotten a totally different welcome, from me at least. I understand the drive to write new music, but with Lynott dead it would be kind of disrespectful, in a way.

The music is a continuation of the sound and songwriting style made famous by Thin Lizzy. The guitar leads, double or not, all have that melodic tinge to them. The record is kind of uneven, some of the songs lack a little in the completion, and they don’t all come together.  Some songs seem like they’ve been thrown together, or recorded as separate riffs and put together in the mix.

I rather concentrate on the songs I enjoy. Bound for Glory is totally working the Lizzy sound, the double lead is magnificent and chorus is catchy as all that. Hey Judas is great, from start to finish. The main riff is so strong, and the melody is magnificent. Hoodoo Voodoo  is contagious in it’s catchiness, even though I got kind of sick of it after some time. Blues ain’t so bad  is a heavy blues song with some monstrous bass going on.

This album is nothing new,  it’s not original in any way. The album is probably close to what Lizzy could have sounded like if Lynott hadn’t passed away. This band, this record is a great tribute to the sound that Lynott was a big part in creating. The uneven songwriting will change before the next record, thankfully.

Recommended tracks: Bound for Glory, Hey Judas

Rating: 3/5

Destruction – Under Attack (Nuclear Blast 2016)

Destruction is a bastion of german thrash and, in my opinion, the second best of the german big four. Destruction have three wastly different sounding periods, it’s the early material, the 90’s confused experimentation and then the comeback/reunion. The reunion has been going since 2000 and the sound hasn’t changed an inch since then, not even a smidge. Thats sixteen years, three drummers and eight albums with the exact same sound and interchangable songs, that is a lot of songs.

This album falls into the familiar pattern and nothing is new, nothing … except maybe the lyrics. Im really into this style of thrash metal. It might not be original, it might not be that creative, it might be cashing in on old glory, but it still sounds good.

The oping track, Under Attack, has a nice melodic intro, that bursts into a punishing and galloping thrash metal tune. The second track, Generation Nevermore, has that scream along chorus made for live settings. Dethroned is nothing special, and kind of goes by without notice. Getting Used to the Evil has that weird kind of riff that only Sifringer writes, kind of childish, but extremly fast and with a lot of notes.

Elegant Pigs is fun. Stimgatized is one of the better Destruction songs. Nice vocals, quality riff and a good pounding rhythm.

I’ll say this, if you have a Destruction album of the reunion-era, and you just kind of like it, there is no need get this album. It sounds exactly the same as the others. If your fan of this era of Destruction than this is up there with the best of them. I, for one, really love this style and sound, so I’ll listen to it again and again … and again.

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Recommended tracks: Stigmatized. Under Attack, Getting Used to the Evil, Elegant Pigs