Review Round Up #84's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Overmars' "Born Again," Dial's "Dial," Jodis' "Secret House," Orwell's "Endeavors," and Malfeitor's "Incubus."

Born Again

“Born Again”
(Crucial Blast 2009)

Originally released in 2007 on an overseas label that guaranteed nobody would ever hear it, Crucial Blast is now reissuing "Born Again," the second album from French collective Overmars. An impressive rejiggering of Godflesh's methodical pummel and the bleak oppression of Neurosis, the album's smothering atmosphere is punctuated by a constant ebb and flow of low-end thudding and quieter doomscapes. The fact that it's so unrelenting and has no track breaks will irk some people, but this the kind of album that's meant to be listened to in one shot anyway. Preferably on a decent stereo with headphones, of course.

Sounds Like: Unstoppable piece of dynamic, industrial-ish sludge

Key Tracks: Well, there's only one, so...

buy it!

(Robotic Empire 2009)

Listening to the tightly constructed clamor that makes up this five song EP, it's quite surprising to learn that this is Dial's first recorded output. The banshee shrieks, thundering percussion and shuddering-machine riffing mesh together into a well oiled noise-rocking operation, showing no signs of the band figuring themselves out or the indecision that comes with inexperience. Having already developed their precise, bottom-heavy sound, Dial are well-poised to deliver a knockout whenever they release their first full-length.

Sounds Like: A throwback to AmRep's noise rock heyday

Key Tracks: "Always at the Border"

buy it!
Secret House

“Secret House”
(Hydra Head 2009)

Another in a seemingly limitless number of side projects from Isis mainman Aaron Turner, Jodis sees the Hydra Head boss teaming up with Khanate dronemen James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida to make one of the sparsest, most barren albums you'll ever hear. "Secret House" drops in solitary guitar plucking, occasional ghostly/screamed vocals and ultra-minimal drum hits that yield only slightly more musical action than empty space. Funny, though, how it really does conjure a certain mood despite the lack of anything really going on most of the time. Closer "Slivers" finally ups the ante, creating an anticipatory, ominous atmosphere that the rest of the album falls a bit short of.

Sounds Like: Minimalist atmospheric conjurings from members of sharper bands

Key Tracks: "Slivers"

buy it!

(Zero Budget Records 2009)

Someone forgot to tell Orwell that metalcore is dead. On "Endeavors," the eager Midwesterners come off as a 3rd generation As I Lay Dying clone. Not even the occasional streaks of outright death metal can save this album from its beaten-to-a-pulp style of melodic yet heavy riffing. The
production does the band absolutely no favors either, as the bush league recording job renders some talented musicianship a drab, indistinguishable mush. A change of direction, not to mention a new knob-twiddler, is in order for these young bucks.

Sounds Like: An enthusiastic young band flogging the dead metalcore horse

Key Tracks: "Distance"

buy it!

(Agonia Records 2009)

This is some black metal. There you go. Malfeitor have no interest in pushing any sort of boundaries whatsoever, instead nailing with glee all of the conventions that anyone even remotely familiar with BM will appreciate. At 55 minutes, it's a bit overlong, as the band more or less says everything they're going to say about halfway through. Still, these guys play the shit out of their music, and there are some standout moments, like when the title track locks into a forceful gallop. This isn't essential, but you could find far worse things on which to spend your time or money.

Sounds Like: No-frills black metal

Key Tracks: "Incubus"

buy it!