Multiple album review: releases 7/15-722

Haiduk: Spellbook
At first Haiduk’s debut full-length sounds pretty impressive. The massive death metal blast-fest starts right from the get-go and stays consistent throughout. The riffs are catchy with momentum, reminiscent of Arch Enemy and Children of Bodom. The vocals are brutal as hell. The album becomes even more impressive when you find out that everything is performed by one man by the name of Luka Milojica. As somebody who has produced a one-man band album myself, I can tell you it isn’t easy; for somebody to make such an energetic death metal album is quite a feat. If you think about it, you can tell Milojica used a drum machine. This isn’t an album to think about, though. It’s to blast away and scare the neighbors. Even aside from the considerations such as it being one guy and it’s a debut album, it’s still deserves horns up.

A Forest of Stars: A Shadowplay for Yesterdays
It’s hard for a band to produce such progresive, avante garde music without going all over the place. Throughout this album, A Forest of Stars comes dangerously close, walking the line between variety and weird for weird’s sake. Yet they never quite cross it, instead playing off the tension this creates to enhance the mood. There’s still always an undercurrent in every song that ties all the parts together. The result is dark and atmospheric, with the different parts (such as violin, extreme vocals, clean vocals, etc.) floating in and out without sounding out of place. The band is often listen as “avante garde black metal,” yet the black metal elements on this album are sporadic at best. A Shadowplay for Yesterdays pulls influences from all over the map while maintaining a consistency that is all its own. A closer sub-genre of metal to group this album under would be “gothic” due to its dark tone, although even that’s a stretch. This is one of the more artistic albums released from the extreme metal realm in a long time. Horns up.

Aegaeon: Being
Aegaeon is too far into the deathcore genre for me to cover here. I’m still giving them a quick mention because they still cross over into melodic death metal territory. Their new EP, Being, is a collection of short but sweet songs that have a consistently ominous tone. There’s still too many breakdowns for my taste, but it’s still worth a listen. Horns at rest, although of deathcore will find this a quite pleasurable, albeit repetitious piece.

Sceptor: Take Command!
If the beginner’s class of metal school had to release an album, this is probably what it would sound like. Take Command! isn’t bad per se, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. The album starts with a rather trite introduction track that’s completely skip-able. The lyrics follow up the corniness, although they are rather competently sung by vocalist simply going by the name “Todd.” The guitars have a distortion that sounds like it’s whatever can come out of a cheap amp without pedals. The riffs and drums plod along at a pace that wants to go faster but can’t. The solos are simplistic and sometimes unnecessary. The songs have a simple yet adequate arrangement, overpowered by the poor production and basic playing. Don’t get me wrong, Sceptor doesn’t drive you away… they just don’t invite you back. It will be interesting to hear how they develop over time, because there is promise here. Because of that I have horns up slightly.

Black Majesty: Stargazer
Black Majesty’s newest album is an enjoyable power metal album. It isn’t highly inventive but it’s pretty straightforward and gets the job done. Vocalist John Cavaliere sounds like he’s straining a bit to hit the high notes. The solos rely too much on tapping to get by. Otherwise, the performance by all of the members is dead on. The album gets a bit repetitious after a while, but is otherwise quite listenable. Horns up.


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