BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – Abysmal

BLACK DAHLIA MURDER - Abysmal (2015)

BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – Abysmal (2015)

BLACK DAHLIA MURDER
Album: Abysmal
Released: September 18th, 2015
Label: Metal Blade
Website: Facebook
Score: 5/9 Hammers

To be honest, I really have no foothold on Black Dahlia Murder, other than the fact that a lot of people try to recommend it to me when I mention heavy metal. However, there does not seems to be that much to understand about them, as Black Dahlia Murder seems to be making a career out of a systematic stream of melodic death since the early 00’s. In fact, their album release schedule since 2003 has revolved in 2 year cycles, which puts further albums at 2017, 2019, 2021, and so on until the end of time. I do not think it is a secret that I have never really gotten this band, but let us see if the power of fast horror can warm the cold cockles of this rusted heart.

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LAMB OF GOD – VII: Sturm und Drang

Lamb of God - VII: Sturm und Drang (2015)

Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang (2015)

LAMB OF GOD
Album: VII: Sturm und Drang
Released: July 24, 2015
Label: Epic / Nuclear Blast
Website: Official
Score: 4/9 Hammers

[Editor’s Note: this release was also reviewed by Luke Maudsley.]

It is really easy to use Lamb of God as a target dummy. I mean, for the past 100 years, this band has carried the thickheaded metal legacy that was passed like an aluminum beer can torch from Pantera. Throughout the 2000s, this band has cranked out record after record of middling groove metal that reinforces the stereotypes of heavy metal being the equivalent of a punching bag used to release uninteresting anger. Lamb of God is less like a metal band and more like the indent in a gym locker from the punch of a pissed off linebacker. Continue reading

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game review: WAY OF THE SAMURAI 4

Way of the Samurai (2015)

Way of the Samurai (2015)

WAY OF THE SAMURAI 4
Developer: Acquire
Released: July 23rd, 2015
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers

Historical Japan as a setting seems to be one that game developers can only take two ways; either you end up with something staunchly historical like the Total War Shogun series or something fiercely proud of its ridiculousness, like Toukiden: Kiwami. Way of the Samurai 4 was perhaps intended as a mix of the two, blending the historical tension of the end of Japan’s isolationism and the influx of British influence with stupid names, absurd voice acting and a legal system entirely based on the threat of BDSM. It’s an odd mix, as you would expect, but what you might not is that it works in such a way that if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to become invested, you’ll find yourself in one of the most open ended RPGs ever made.
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KRISIUN – Forged In Fury

Krisiun - Forged in Fury (2015)

Krisiun – Forged in Fury (2015)

KRISIUN
Album: Forged In Fury
Released: August 7th 2015
Label: Century Media Records
Website: Official
Score: 6/9 Hammers

Krisiun are a Brazilian heavy metal outfit most famous for their incredible longevity (all twenty five years of it) and their incredibly regular output (all twelve albums of it).

Perhaps they keep busy as a way to forget, their industriousness a shield from the memories of one terrible night, all those years ago. Maybe they just love their music and hate their day jobs? It’s a question almost as compelling as how three guys managed record twelve albums without losing their collective grips on reality. Continue reading

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KATAKLYSM – Of Ghosts and Gods

Kataklysm - Of Ghosts and Gods (2015)

Kataklysm – Of Ghosts and Gods (2015)

KATAKLYSM
Album: Of Ghosts and Gods
Released: July 31st 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers

It’s not uncommon to begin an album like this with a sound bite from an obscure movie used as an inspiration. Usually it’s little more than a conspiratorial nudge for fans in the know, something to let smug dickheads like myself feel vaguely superior about for all those nights spent watching cheesy movies in the nineties when other, lesser fans were out having relationships and developing themselves as people. For this reason, they work best when they’re obscure; there’s a sense of camaraderie to spotting the villain’s monologue from some seventies Hammer horror classic, but a bit less to recognizing a recent blockbuster. Continue reading

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DUNGEON SYNTH DIGEST #2

Ulgard / Lord Lovidicus / Dungeon Lore Foundation

Ulgard / Lord Lovidicus / Dungeon Lore Foundation

Kaptain Carbon’s Reddit primer on Dungeon Synth

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Review: Masmorra Zine #1

Dungeon Synth Digest #1 [July 2015]

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One of my dreams is to become an expert on dungeon synth. Or at least talk about it enough that people think of me as an expert. Or even become an expert by default in absence of anyone else who cares. Whatever the case, this genre, that was opened to me by the work of Erang, has led me into a magical world of fantastical ambient music and obsessed musicians who create landscapes within their own heads. There are few musicians attached to this genre, and perhaps even fewer listeners, but I call this little hamlet home. Enjoy your stay here in my little cottage. Please have some tea and sit down for a while.

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comic review: RED SONJA (Marvel Feature #1-7)

Marvel Feature: RED SONJA  #1-7 (1975-1976)

Marvel Feature: RED SONJA #1-7 (1975-1976)

RED SONJA
First Published: November 1975
Published By: Marvel
Writers / Artists: Roy Thomas / Bruce Jones / Frank Thorne
Score: 5/9 Hammers

Well, it looks like we are going to get into some really nerdy territory, which is actually alright for this type of review. In going through some of the highlights, gems, and forgotten garbage that makes up a basement of fantasy related comics, I have found a genre that interests me despite its quality. Vintage fantasy and sci-fi related material is endearing and comforting despite its quality, and is even sometimes better when hacky and rushed. This may be a terrible way to introduce Red Sonja, but if we are discussing a counterpart to Conan, whose history is already mired in a less than stellar reputation, I can not foresee this going any better. Conan had at least a steady comic run. Continue reading

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LANCER – Second Storm

Lancer - Second Storm  (2015)

Lancer – Second Storm (2015)

LANCER
Album: Second Storm
Released: April 10th, 2015
Label: Despotz Records
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers

Lancer was actually somewhat of a surprise as their second album, Second Storm, came on a streaming queue while I was doing other things. It was not until halfway through the album that I realized what was playing. Holy shit, what is this sound. Holy shit, look at that cover. Holy shit, is this a Swedish band flying at the speed of light, below any known radar detection, all of this time?

It is true, Lancer has existed for a couple of years and has been making decent records to the notice of only a few. This is suprising as their sound is an almost textbook example of highly dynamic power metal, with each member supporting the weight of the sound. By the opening of “Behind the Walls,” Lancer steps out with machine guns and mows down any opposition with delicate accuracy. Continue reading

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game review: ASSASSINS CREED – ROGUE

Assassins Creed: Rouge (2015)

Assassins Creed: Rogue (2015)

ASSASSINS CREED: ROGUE
Developer: Ubisoft
Released: March 10th, 2015
Website: Official
Score: 5/9 Hammers

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue might not be the most obvious choice for review right now, considering it came out in the far prehistory of about six months ago, but in fairness this is fucking July. Nothing comes out this time of year, so it came down to this or a PC re-release of a 2011 PS3 J-RPG, and frankly, I’m not quite that desperate yet (though come back next time when I almost certainly will be). It is notable for being a pretty clear rip-off of Assassin’s Creed 4, which was the last Assassin’s Creed game I could persuade myself to enjoy. Not to mention my computer, which spent the entirety of the hour I tried to play Unity choking back digital vomit and sweating like a cow in labor. Continue reading

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LAMB OF GOD – VII: Sturm und Drang

Lamb of God - Sturm und Drang (2015)

Lamb of God – Sturm und Drang (2015)

LAMB OF GOD
Album: Sturm und Drang
Released: July 24th 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers

Lamb of God have been through some serious shit since their last album in 2012. So much shit that a combination of legal fees and Randy Blythe’s fatigue sent the whole project into hiatus, which, as we all know, is the band equivalent of booking an appointment with Dignitas. While unquestionably the dude most harmed by the whole fiasco is the guy who fucking died, it’s hard not to see the whole incident as a a bit of apocalyptically shitty luck. In the end it’s probably a good thing they let Randy out; It’s not hard to imagine a boozy recreation of the storming of the Bastille, only less powdered wigs and more Ashes of the Wake battle jackets.

He’s released now, of course, and thank mighty Thor’s equally mighty bicep for that. And if you’re concerned that the fire might have been dimmed for the heavy metal masters, think again. Not even a year of toilet wine and shank crafting have done anything to dull their edge. Continue reading

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CRADLE OF FILTH – Hammer of the Witches

Cradle of Filth - Hammer of the Witches (2015)

Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches (2015)

CRADLE OF FILTH
Album: Hammer of the Witches
Released: July 10, 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Official
Score: 3/9 Hammers

Oh Jesus, Cradle of Filth, where do I begin? Actually I do not think I can begin anywhere with this British extreme metal band. I say extreme metal because the band has toggled between so many styles that nailing them down into one specific genre is pretty impossible. From death, to symphonic black, to some sort of cathedral spectacle, Cradle of Filth has endured many changes as well as a litany of scorn from the metal community. I am not one to speak for the metal community as a whole, but I am trying to think of another band who has endured so much disdain, as well as success, in the extreme metal realm. There is a lot to take in with Cradle of Filth. Continue reading

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BLACKWELDER – Survival of the Fittest

Blackwelder - Survival of the Fittest (2015)

Blackwelder – Survival of the Fittest (2015)

BLACKWELDER
Album: Survival of the Fittest
Released: April 19th, 2015
Label: Golden Core Records
Website: Official
Score: 6/9 Hammers

Blackwelder. Mmmm. Not ringing any bells. Are they new? Oh. Members from Gamma Ray, Angra, and Yngwie Malmsteen. Got it. This is why I am listening to it. Even though Balckwelder does not have the highest profile of members, the concept of a supergroup is sort of a ridiculous way to bank excitement on, as opposed to assessing the quality of the music. I would rather take a good album from B-list musicians than a terrible album from amazing celebrities. It takes only a few minutes into Blackwelder’s debut record, Survival of the Fittest, to realize which direction this band is headed.

The fact that Survival of the Fittest is the debut record without any sort of preliminary release is telling that the band already has their shit together. The cohesion that is heard in the opening track “The Night of the new Moon,” is reassurance that the rest of the album will probably live up to the same caliber. At a hefty 47 minutes, the landscape Blackwelder creates is smooth, competent, and above all entertaining. Sure, there is little innovation in the genre that seems to be changing at a glacial pace, but the fact that Survival of the Fittest, even with that name, can be a dazzling 47 minutes locked in a vortex is a promise that power metal can deliver. Continue reading

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DUNGEON SYNTH DIGEST #1

Forgotten Pathways / Magic Forest Tales / Forgotten Kingdoms

Forgotten Pathways / Magic Forest Tales / Forgotten Kingdoms

Previous Material

Kaptain Carbon’s Reddit post on Dungeon Synth

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Review: Masmorra Zine #1

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This is the first section of what could hopefully become a lifetime series, Dungeon synth is a dark ambient sub-genre of black metal in which solo artists make synth-laden fantasy landscapes, offering deep escapism to both the listener and creator. It is a style of music that I only recently found and has since enveloped my entire existence. A month ago I reviewed first issue of the Masmorra Dungeon Synth zine. Since then, other artists playing the same type of music have contacted this site asking for reviews. It would be silly to shut this heavy wooden door on this growing genre. I am going to take up this walking stick and make my way through the wild, wandering hills of dungeon synth. Some of the roads may be treacherous, while others a pleasant walk through sleepy fields. I may never come back. Continue reading

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POWERWOLF – Blessed & Possessed

Powerwolf - Blessed & Posessed (2015)

Powerwolf – Blessed & Posessed (2015)

POWERWOLF
Album: Blessed & Possessed
Released: July 17th 2015
Label: Napalm Records
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers

Your reaction to the name Powerwolf will tell you more than enough about whether the band is for you. If you hear “Powerwolf” and think “stupid tacky nonsense” then that’s more than likely going to be your response to the music. However, if you’re the sort of person whose response is more along the lines of “Shit yeah! Fucking wolves with power and shit!” then that’s a good sign. Basically, Powerwolf as a band has lived and dies on their audience’s ability to just fucking roll with whatever awesome nonsense they throw out without overthinking it.

The thing you’re not thinking about is their frankly ludicrous theme. As themes go there’s far worse than vampires, werewolves and odd, quasi-Christian weirdness, though perhaps all at once might seem a little like overkill. In Powerwolf’s case, it does. Lyrics are a confusing mess of vaguely religious, vaguely gothic cliché and, thanks to all that vagueness, it’s never quite clear where everything fits together. “Dead until Dark” is a particularly mystifying example, whose lyrics come fast enough, and on the tails of such high quality soloing that you barely have the time to register them, let alone figure out what the song is about. It’s catchy as hell, sure, but if somebody asks you what it is that’s “Dead until Dark” as you hum to yourself, you’re not going to have a fucking clue. Continue reading

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