Origin: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Released: January 28th, 2014 on Instigator Records
Ixion is the solo project of Ryan Meranda (ex-Only Human) and is characterized by pretty extensive and ferocious riffing, solo breaks, (programmed) double bass drumming, and some vicious vocals that at times resemble a high, rasping growl and at other times is more of a surly, gruff grunt.
I am a pretty big fan of discovering obscure, underground bands that are just starting out. Ryan Meranda has a nice thing going here with Ixion. Dirty distorted guitars give the music a certain catchiness with the appropriate griminess for that thrash metal feel, and of course, it wouldn’t be thrash metal without a plethora of thrash-y, wailing solos. Meranda’s vocal style is also a unique approach for a thrash album. The high pitched growl is something you might hear in black metal more than you would in thrash metal, but it is a cool, blackened flavor to the album as a whole.
I think Strategy and Violence has a couple of weak points. The programmed drumming isn’t bad, but it has its limitations (such as on “New Gods”), and when Ryan’s vocals drop into the cleaner gruff grunting style, which lands somewhere in between James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine, it doesn’t quite have the uniqueness of his harsher style.
All in all, though, this is a pretty solid effort and debut. Definitely worth the listen and support.
RIYL: Megadeth, Metallica, Only Human
1. Beyond Beast
5. Chaos and Control
8. Heir to Hell
Ryan Meranda: All instruments, All vocals
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Rock
Released on January 31st, 2014 on Roadrunner Records
Within Temptation have changed their style quite a bit since their Enter/Mother Earth days of the late 1990s. Gone are the dark gloomy gothic riffs and hooks, and the fantasy and nature themes are no more. Instead we have accessible metal/rock that is very radio friendly that relies on Sharon den Adel’s vocals, which are very pretty and a strength of the band; Hydra in particular, relies on several guest vocalists which include: Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage), Xzibit (yes, that Xzibit), Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), and David Pirner (Soul Asylum).
The album isn’t bad, at first I was dubious, with the change in styles and the array of guest vocalists, but the album really is a diverse and dynamic affair that certainly picks up in ambition a bit at right around the halfway point. That being said, there are some points on the album, where the flow just dies as the music slows down for the occasional love song that could never hold my interest; and overall is fairly inconsistent despite its diversity. Certain tracks, simply come across as derivative and lack any sort of musical hook, but the album isn’t bad.
RIYL: Nightwish, Delain, Lacuna Coil, Epica
1. Let Us Burn
2. Dangerous (features Howard Jones)
4. Paradise (features Tarja Turunen)
6. Silver Moonlight
Sharon den Adel – Vocals
Robert Westerholt – Guitars
Ruud Jolie – Guitars
Jeroen van Veen – Bass
Martijn Spierenburg – Keyboards
Mike Coolen – Drums
Stefan Helleblad – Guitars
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Self Released on January 20th, 2014
Valtari is the one man project of Marty Warren, and is a very cool style of death metal; the guitars are almost atmospheric in nature, and are really catchy and melodic. The vocals are gravelly and fierce; and the drums are heavy hitting. This album is super catchy, has some great atmospheric keys, and excellent guitar hooks.
RIYL: Be’lakor, Okera, Insomnium
4. Shatter the Myth
5. In Slides
6. With a Child’s Smile
9. The Gift
10. Hunter’s Pride
Genre: Black Metal
Released on February 14th, 2014 by Northern Silence Productions
Woods of Desolation play a heart-wrenching, melodic style of black metal bolstered by the rhythms and dense showers of BM-guitar noise, and massive overall sound that invokes a melancholic or nostalgic atmosphere.
RIYL: Agollach, Germ, Drudkh, Austere, Gris
1. Like Fallen Leaves
3. And if All the Stars Faded Away
4. This Autumn Light
6. Withering Field