Review Round Up #77's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Inferno's "Black Devotion," Arctic Sleep's "Abysmal Lullabies," Conspiracy's "Concordat," Ninetail's "Half Truths and Hand Grenades," and Rhino's "Dead Throne Monarch."

Black Devotion

“Black Devotion”
(Agonia Records 2009)

"Black Devotion" is speed-driven, Satan approved black metal, and it sounds more or less the same as the loads of new black metal albums that get released every week. The corpse-painted guys in Inferno are good enough musicians to keep from getting overwhelmed by their peers, as the evil guitar playing is well executed and backed by precise drumming. There's nothing at all bad here, but there are just too many other bands playing the original BM card for this to truly stand out.

Sounds Like: Competent, speedy black metal

Key Tracks: "Eaten by Rats Forever," "Altar of Perversity"

buy it!
Abysmal Lullabies

Arctic Sleep
“Abysmal Lullabies”
(Dripfeed Records 2009)

So we have some deep droning, funereal acoustic guitar work, and thunderously heavy doom. And this is just the first track of Arctic Sleep's second full-length. Following that 15-minute monster, though, "Abysmal Lullabies" settles into a pocket of trippy doom existing somewhere between Isis and Sunn O))) with hushed, raspy vocals and plenty of acoustic passages mixed in. Kudos to sole band member Keith D. for putting some serious meat on this album's bones.

Sounds Like: Heady brew of doom, drone, and acoustic psych

Key Tracks: "Lunar Hollow"

buy it!

(Pulverised Records 2009)

Most one-man black metal bands sound like angry wasps buzzing around inside a paint can, but Conspiracy main dude Carpathian Wolf actually pulls off sounding like a full band convincingly. Mixing old school black metal speed blasting with epic, Bathory style riffage, the Wolf also sprinkles in death metal and lots of thrash to create a triumphantly evil assault. There are also slower, Viking metal numbers like "Faith" and "Courage," and the combined result is an inventive, refreshing, neck-snapping blackened metal experience.

Sounds Like: Thrashing black/death metal

Key Tracks: "Die in Style," "Faith"

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Half Truths and Hand Grenades

“Half Truths and Hand Grenades”
(DRP Records 2009)

Ninetail take the "Denis Leary describing Irish cuisine" approach to making metal: put everything in a pot and boil it for nine hours straight. The band mashes up some Slipknot, American Head Charge, System of a Down, and "Remission"-era Mastodon, and slops the chunky mixture onto a background of think sounding production. While not at all bad, with mosh-inducing grooves aplenty, it's just too easy to pick out the band's influences, which only serves to remind that Ninetail aren't as good as their forbears.

Sounds Like: Energetic, if not particularly imaginative, modern metal

Key Tracks: "Forgive"

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Dead Throne Monarch

“Dead Throne Monarch”
(Arctic Music Group 2009)

Rhino pound, shudder, and gore their way through this album like their namesake, albeit after it's been shot with a few dozen tranquilizer darts. Think a more sluggish, sloppier High on Fire and you've got the idea. Vocalist Javier Gálvez throws in some surprising Layne Staley-ish vocals amidst his Matt Pike-isms, and it's a welcome diversion from what can be a hard slog of an album. There are a ton of bands doing the exact same stoner shtick today, but if that's something you dig on, "Dead Throne Monarch" is definitely worth checking out.

Sounds Like: Mammoth sized stoner doom

Key Tracks: "Bahamüt"

buy it!