Album: Germ, Loss
Label: Eisenwald
Release: October 30, 2012
Genre: Avant-garde Black Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

I’ve heard some oddball records over the years and Germ’s Loss certainly ranks up there with the top ones. There’s a mix of a ton of styles on this, with the record based in black metal. The dark, metal moments feature both grim guitar work but also many orchestral elements. And let’s not forget, screams. Screams so unholy you’d think they were coming from out of the grave. But then there’s a full blown acoustic track (“Only When Every Timepiece in the World is Smash…Part 2”) and many moments within each song that move from bleak black metal, straight to clean singing, pop elements and electronic touches. The aforementioned acoustic track is something that I could have done without as I don’t think Tim (the lone member of Germ and former member of Australian black metal band Austere) has that great of a singing voice but it certainly does add a contrasting element to his incomprehensible screaming. Even stranger is that the album ends with the five minute title track, a piano-only ballad.

This is either going to be weird or very rewarding and even after five listens, I’m still not quite sure which one it is. But I’m still listening because Loss simply feels like one of these albums that will grown on me over time.


Album: Early Graves, Red Horse
Label: No Sleep Records
Release: October 30, 2012
Genre: Chaos
Rating: 7/10

There’s a good story behind this record. Two years ago, Early Graves were out on tour with Funeral Pyre and were in a van wreck which killed their lead singer, Makh Daniels. The rest of the band decided to keep recording and Funeral Pyre singer, John Stachan jumped in to save the day. That’s a cool show of solidarity in the metal world for sure. I just wish the album was as good as the story.

I listed the genre as “chaos” which of course isn’t really a genre, but there really isn’t one for these guys. They are simply a blistering concoction of loud, fuzzy guitars, ferocious drumming and vicious screams. My biggest issue is that over the course of eight tracks, it all starts to blend together. From the very first notes there’s a wall of noise that follows them throughout the entire record and unfortunately, the record is produced in a way that makes nothing stand out at all. Red Horse is clearly supposed to punish your eardrums with power and crunch but it falls flat thanks to none of the instruments standing out in the least bit.

On the positive side, it is fierce, quite loud and something that very well could get you smashing some things. Unfortunately, this is the type of music that should get you smashing everything and think some things might still be in tact after getting through Red Horse.

Album: Ten, Heresy and Creed
Label: Frontiers
Release: October 19, 2012
Genre: AOR
Rating: 8/10

British singer/songwriter Gary Hughes has been writing melodic rock tunes for two decades now and puts out more music than most human beings can keep up with. Since forming Ten back in 1996 the group has released nine records with Heresy and Creed being the tenth for Ten (which means it better be fucking excellent). Hughes has consistently changed members of the backing band with guitarist John Halliwell being the only regular member, with them since their second record. The two of them have clicked great over the years though and almost all their records are at least enjoyable even if there isn’t a ton of variation in their sound.

The thing Hughes does really well is write a hook and work a ton of melody into his songs and that’s no exception with Heresy and Creed. Ten isn’t exactly the style of rock/metal that really works well in the US but if any one of their albums has the chance to sell some copies here, it should be this one. Tracks like “Arabian Nights,” “Gunrunning” and “Game of Hearts” are hard hitting and yet super melodic and ballads are epic works of art.

The album is just way too long with 13 tracks but mostly everything is listenable. So if you like some Power Metal or straightforward AOR, you might want to give this a chance.