MULTIPLE ALBUM REVIEW: New releases, 7/23-7/29

Depraved Plague: Systematic
Depraved Plague’s debut full-length album is a solid piece of work. The group avoids flash and glam, instead delivering straightforward riffs and constant rhythms. That’s not to say that there’s no skill or creativity here; on the contrary, the band keeps true to the sound while sounding original. The death metal starts right away without any of those annoying introduction tracks and keeps right on through to the end. No track is over the four-minute mark. The production is for the most part spot-on, although the bass drum is a little loud in the mix. Otherwise everything sounds balanced. If you’re looking for some no-frills death metal, this album will suit your needs quite well. I give it horns up.

Devilish Impressions: Simulacra
With their latest album, Devilish Impressions manages to incorporate both blackened death vocals with clean vocals without going all over the place. Even with the more melancholy songs (such as the third track, “Lilith”) the band still manages to sound extreme. The clean vocals can get a little annoying at times, as they delve into the realm of distracting melodrama. Overall, the album is symphonic but not pompous, relegating any orchestra or keyboards to the back of the mix. The result is an added texture to enhance the mood of each song. As such, the band doesn’t sound “gimmicky” like other bands who rely on such orchestration. Had this song been released a few years ago the band could have overshadowed bands such as Dimmu Borgir. I could do without the spoken track, “Prince of the East,” although I have to admit the acting is pretty good. Overall I give this album horns up.

Metaphysics: Beyond the Nightfall
With a band name like “Metaphysics” it should come as no shock that the band plays progressive metal. As such, one should expect some highly technical playing and complex songwriting without the band loosing sight of being a metal band. Right from the get-go the band achieves all of these goals. In fact, the first track “Fallin'” screams “progressive metal” so much that it gets into the danger zone of allowing itself to fulfill genre requirements that the songwriting could suffer. The second track “Letters from a Dead Man” gives the listener a relief in this regard. The complexity is there, but not quite as flashy. It seems as if “Fallin'” is more of an introductory track than something to stand on its own. The rest of the album follows suit, and is impressive in musicianship, composition, and production. The mood of the album can get to be too much after a while. Even so, the album (even if listened to a few songs at a time) is enjoyable enough to get horns up from me.

The Order: 1986
The title of the album is a dead giveaway of what the album is supposed to sound like, but don’t be fooled. It may pull a lot of influence from heavy metal of the eighties, but at the same time the album doesn’t sound like a time capsule. The production quality is contemporary. At times the fact that what the band is contemporary and trying to sound like the eighties becomes obvious, distracting from the overall feel of the album. Then again, this is one of those albums to rock to, not listen to intently. In that regard they succeed. Horns up.

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