Falkenbach, Tiurida (Napalm)
US Release Date: January 28th

You know, by now I should be an expert in Norse mythology. With all the metal I listen to based on this topic, I should be able to write a book on it. But I can’t. Maybe it’s because most of what I’m listening to isn’t in English, or maybe because metal lyrics usually are impossible to understand but damn if I don’t listen to an album focused on this topic at least every other week.  Maybe instead of writing that book I should just read one instead.

When you listen to Falkenbach you know what you’re going to get. Viking metal mixed with blackened folk. After the intro track you get “….Where His Ravens Fly…” which mixes clean vocals and an epic melody in with strings and calm folk passages. This is followed up with “Time Between Dog and Wolf” which has dark power riffs and gritty black metal vocals throughout.  Over the seven tracks on this record, you get much more of the same catchy power just described.  Tiurida is grand in scope, grand in presentation and grand on the ears. Anyone that knows the viking metal genre should love this album.

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Full Blown Chaos, Full Blown Chaos (Metal Blade)
US Release Date: February 1st

According to Full Blown Chaos the end of the fucking world is upon us in the form of “Doomageddon.” God, I certainly hope not as it took me until now to find these guys and I need to catch up.

My increasing love of this brutal but hook filled hardcore sound grows with every album I hear like this one, the 4th effort from New York’s Full Blown Chaos. Sometimes what you need is simply some fucking energy to work your shit out, know what I mean? This is the type of album I can put on in the car and get out the anger from the work day before arriving home. Tracks like “Rise & Conquer” and “Battle Hymns and Broken Bones” pummel you with riff after riff — well, actually I guess I could say that about the entire record to be truthful. And what I have learned about hardcore over the past year is that I don’t care that a lot of it pretty much sounds the same. Like the awesome records last year from Terror and Pro-Pain, this is about raw power and in hardcore what makes you stand out is less the disc of music, but more of the chaos that you bring in concert. I’ve never been to a Full Blown Chaos show but I think it’s safe to say they don’t put you to sleep. Take the album, rock out to it and punch someone in the face. It rocks.

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Lazarus A.D., Black Rivers Flow (Metal Blade)
US Release Date: February 1st

For those of you that were a little underwhelmed by Lazarus A.D.’s first album (The Onslaught, 2009) come on back and try again. I was one of those guys that wasn’t really feeling the record at all. They got a lot of comparisons to Testament which probably didn’t help matters at all because Testament is one of my favorite bands and the record just didn’t feel together enough to be compared to a great band like that.

Black Rivers Flow might as well wipe the slate clean for the group though. The songwriting is very solid, the riffs are killer and from start to finish the record feels like four guys that are totally on the same page. The record has elements of thrash in it as well as groove metal but overall the blanket tag of simple heavy metal, fits just perfectly.

With this recording the band apparently set out to record the best songs they could and not pigeonhole themselves into one genre and they did a fine job at that. Granted, there are moments like the last few minutes of “The Ultimate Sacrifice” that sound like a clone of “Walk” by Pantera but the overall vibe is one of just plain kickin’ ass no matter what style they choose to play in or which bands they choose to play off of. Black Rivers Flow won’t win any awards for the most unique record of the year but it will keep your energy and interest high for 40 minutes.

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Stryper, The Covering (Big3)
US Release Date: February 1st

Yeah, it’s what you think it is. A cover album by the yellow & black attack!

I’m one of those characters that thought that 2009’s Murder by Pride was one of the best albums Stryper had ever done, keeping in mind of course that being one of the best Stryper records isn’t a tough thing to accomplish. It wasn’t a big surprise that they followed up a decent record like that with another so quickly but I definitely didn’t expect a cover album. Murder by Pride was considered somewhat of a comeback album and I always equate the cover record as being the first recorded statement of a band trying to make a comeback, not the second. But if you pick the right songs, let’s face it, they make money. You’re either curious how the band can pull off classics, you like a few of the originals and you love covers of them or you want to hear it to see how fucking bad it is. But you need to hear it. It’s just the way it works.

So what works the best here?  Their cover of Sweet’s “Set Me Free” is bad-ass. Strangely enough their cover of “The Trooper” from Iron Maiden sounds surprisingly epic like the original and the one original “God” is a pretty rockin’ tune.

And what doesn’t work? How about Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” which sounds totally tame without Ronnie James Dio singing it.  Zep’s “Immigrant Song” is missing the excitement from the original and songs like Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” and Priest’s “Breaking the Law” are note-for-note recreations.

Overall, The Covering is bland and doesn’t take many chances but is an interesting piece for collectors of covers or those who are die-hard Stryper fans (??) Otherwise, it’s safe to say you can avoid this.

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Defiled, In Crisis (Season of Mist)
US Release Date: January 18th

I missed this one last week but not because it sucks or anything. I think I just didn’t have much to say on it. But the record deserves a look since it’s pretty damn killer.

Defiled is a Japanese band that have been around almost 20 years now but have only four albums to show for themselves. They took a break in 2003 but are now back with their brutal death metal sound. There’s not a whole lot of brutal death metal coming out of Japan so they probably have a nice niche carved out for themselves in their home country. Only the guitarist remains from the original lineup, with new growler Kenjo Sato taking over the vocal duties. WIth the new lineup, what you get is a pretty fantastic mix of the brutal with more melody than most bands in this genre put forth. Usually it’s all about brutality, but Defiled have actually crafted some well put together songs as well. The really interesting thing throughout the disc is the bass which is very prominent in the mix so much so that you can easily pick it out on every song. Since that’s not usually the case in death metal, it makes for a bit of a different sound. Whether that’s good or not is up to you but the record slays so a little too much bass shouldn’t detract from it.  Despite all the new music in my queue right now I’ve been going back to this one a lot in the last few weeks which says something as brutal death metal is something I don’t normally go for.

About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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