Review Round Up #76

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Dusted Angel's "Dusted Angel," Assaulter's "Salvation Like Destruction," Black Breath's "Razor to Oblivion EP," Pan.a.ce.a's "All or Nothing," and Hellbastard's "Eco War EP."

Dusted Angel

Dusted Angel
“Dusted Angel”
(Corruption Recordings 2009)

If you're familiar with High on Fire, Monster Magnet, or Electric Wizard, you know where Dusted Angel is coming from. They hit all the touchstones of stoner rock: consistent head-knocking tempos, crunchy guitars, and scratchy as hell vocals. This three song 7-inch doesn't do much more than serve as an introduction to the newbies, but hopefully this is an indicator of what we can expect whenever this Santa Cruz quintet get around to putting out a full-length.

Sounds Like: Riff-driven stoner metal

Key Tracks: "The Thorn"

B+
buy it!
Salvation Like Destruction

Assaulter
“Salvation Like Destruction”
(Pulverised Records 2009)

It's a real shame that the production is so amazingly poor on this album; the drums sound like plastic buckets, the guitars are limp, and the overall mix is uneven and flat. Otherwise, Assaulter know their way around raw blackened thrash, turning in some quality mid-tempo burners with a distinct Celtic Frost riff sense. The vocals are black metal in tone, but delivered with a Jeff Walker-style staccato. Now they just need to pair their mean tunes with someone who can lay them down properly.

Sounds Like: Stripped-down black/thrash

Key Tracks: "Glory Alone," "Between Gods and Men"

B
buy it!
Razor to Oblivion EP

Black Breath
“Razor to Oblivion EP”
(Southern Lord 2009)

There's a lot going on in this debut EP from Black Breath; their palette includes the riffage of classic thrash, the attitude of punk, Motorhead's griminess, the unrelenting pummel of d-beat and more. That's a hefty number of influences to work with, but their sound never feels confused or lumpy. The savage guitar tone and N.T. McAdams' desperate yowl pile the ferocity onto this four-song gem. With their first full-length soon to be released, this is group that metalheads need to keep their eyes on.

Sounds Like: A high-octane combo of punk, thrash, and stoner metal to name a few

Key Tracks: "Beneath the Crust," "Murder"

A-
buy it!
All or Nothing

Pan.a.ce.a
“All or Nothing”
(Susquehanna Entertainment 2009)

Tune into the local modern rock station and you'll hear a hundred bands that sound exactly like Pan.a.ce.a. Seriously, "All or Nothing" is a dead ringer for Seether, only more generic, if you can believe that. "Additive" adds some interesting, Middle-Eastern sounding string arrangements; Pan.a.ce.a should look into mixing in different elements like this more often to separate themselves from all the other hard rock bands kicking around out there. Then again, sounding different isn't quite the path to getting one's band on the radio, is it?

Sounds Like: Stock rock radio

Key Tracks: "Additive"

C+
buy it!
Eco War EP

Hellbastard
“Eco War EP”
(Selfmadegod Records 2009)

After a 15-plus year absence, UK crossover crusties Hellbastard return to make the metal world a little bit smellier with "Eco War," which features 3 original songs, a re-recording of an older tune, and a cover. The band may wear punk jean jackets, but they're covered in classic thrash patches. There are not so subtle hints of old (read: good) Megadeth, old (read: good) Sepultura and Slayer on this EP. And their take on "Die by the Sword" hammers the point home.

Sounds Like: Filthy crust punk with globs of thrash

Key Tracks: "Woe, the People"

B
buy it!