Review Round Up #79

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Crown The Lost's "Blind Faith Loyalty," M.G.R. y Destructo Swarmbots' "Amigos de la Guitarra," Gollum's "The Core," Tournament's "Years Old," and Axis Powers' "Marching Towards Destruction."

Blind Faith Loyalty

Crown the Lost
“Blind Faith Loyalty”
(Cruz del Sur 2009)

While there are plenty of death/thrash and black/thrash bands out there, Crown the Lost take a somewhat different path, and have landed on a potent blend of thrash and power metal. Armed with thrash’s speed and razor-sharp shredding, the band additionally equip themselves with a distinctly Euro grandiosity and Chris Renaldi’s rough-hewn yet soaring vocals. The music is fierce and epic without being overblown but, at 55 minutes, there is way too much same-ness going on for there to be many moments that really stand out. Crown the Lost have a winning formula that just needs to be cultivated and refined.

Sounds Like: Thrash wrestling with power metal

Key Tracks: “Finality”

B-
buy it!
Amigos de la Guitarra

M.G.R. y Destructo Swarmbots
“Amigos de la Guitarra”
(Neurot Recordings 2009)

Guitarists Mike Mare of Destructo Swarmbots and Isis/M.G.R.’s Mike Gallagher teamed up for a side project: a single, 44 minute track of haunting, slowly developing post-metal. It sounds like a clumsy idea, and in less capable hands it probably would have been. But these two pros have fashioned a hypnotizing soundscape played out over three loose movements. Forlorn, atmospheric guitar work carries “Amigos de la Guitarra” on until about the halfway point, at which point the rumbling and pounding commences, only to be quickly replaced by a ghostly, extended outro. Though there’s no clichéd “grand payoff,” the album is never boring and certainly not a waste, of time nor talent.

Sounds Like: Entrancing guitar interplay between two cagey veterans

Key Tracks: “Amor en el Aire” (duh, it’s the only track on here)

A-
buy it!
The Core

Gollum
“The Core”
(Rotten Records 2009)

This is an interesting listen, in both the “that deserves another spin” and “I’m not sure if this is any good” regards. When “The Core” runs its course, and the mold-covered, thrash inflected take on “Remission”-era Mastodon has stopped spilling out of your speakers, you’ll definitely need a few more rounds with it. The band’s willingness to throw in left-field elements like psychedelic jams, and vocalist Shawn Corbett’s wide array of shrieks and bellows keeps listeners on their toes. But this unpredictability sometimes comes across as unfocused, and a few of the left turns Gollum takes lead to dead ends. Ultimately, though, those extra few listens will be worth it.

Sounds Like: Swampy sludge metal mixed with thrash and other experiments

Key Tracks: “Blacksmith (Summoning Wrath)”

B
buy it!
Years Old

Tournament
“Years Old”
(Forcefield Records 2009)

“Years Old” is, put simply, noise rock done right. With a punk attitude and a dirty sound, Tournament rock eardrums and move bodies with an album full of both nasty hooks and surprising groove. The latter is mainly the work of Ryan Kelly, whose nimble and propulsive bass work merits its prominence in the album’s mix. Getting the short end of the production, though, is vocalist Montana Masback, whose somewhat utilitarian yowl gets buried under mounds of screaming, feedback-laden guitar snarl.

Sounds Like: Hard-hitting, gritty noise rock

Key Tracks: “Big Box Opportunity”

B+
Marching Towards Destruction

Axis Powers
“Marching Towards Destruction”
(Pulverised Records 2009)

The parenthetical title of this album’s opener is “From San Francisco to Stockholm.” The vocals are completely unintelligible, so it’s anyone’s guess where the San Francisco reference fits in, but the Stockholm connection is unmistakable. Axis Powers have transmuted Entombed’s “Left Hand Path” and Dismember’s “Like an Ever Flowing Stream,” both pinnacles of Swedish death metal, into a modern slab based around people getting shot and things blowing up. This album perfectly captures the aura of the early ’90s Sunlight Studios sound without resorting to blatant rip off-ery. And at a trim 35 minutes, there’s no filler or fluff, just a devastatingly directed artillery barrage.

Sounds Like: War themed, old-school death metal

Key Tracks: “Brutal War”

B+
buy it!