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Dark Tranquility

Fiction

(Century Media; US: 24 Apr 2007; UK: 23 Apr 2007)

Review [30.Jul.2007]

11


Death metal can have a personality. The only band of the so-called Gothenburg sound to still doggedly march the melodic death metal path, Dark Tranquillity is easy to take for granted, but Fiction is yet another classic in its oeuvre. The influential six-piece effortlessly shows the younger bands how to do it properly, crafting a record both brutal and catchy, blessed with an electronic, vaguely futuristic production that runs hand in hand with the band’s famous guitar-keyboard interplay. The lyrics question modern society in a way that is thankfully meaningful and appropriate, and Mikaal Stanne, whose growl has evolved into one of the most emotive in the genre, delivers them with the ardor of a veteran.
—Andrew Blackie


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Machine Head

The Blackening

(Roadrunner; US: 27 Mar 2007; UK: 26 Mar 2007)

Review [20.May.2007]
Review [9.May.2007]

12


For all the ups and downs the Bay Area band has experienced over the years, Machine Head has remained a resilient bunch. But while the fans have been loyal, the rest of us couldn’t have predicted the kind of astounding return to form their seventh album would be. Instead of attempting bold stylistic changes, main man Robb Flynn takes a step back, incorporating sounds from his 20 year career, from downtuned late ‘90s riffs, to Burn My Eyes-era groove, to even further back to the days of Bay Area thrash, the epic title track kicking off this comeback in spectacular fashion.
—Adrien Begrand


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Ulver

Shadows of the Sun

(The End; US: 9 Oct 2007)

13


Ulver have become a law unto themselves, outcasts of the Norwegian black metal scene they were once at the center of. Yet their self-imposed exile has opened a creative vault inside the band that we’d never have imagined from their early days, and they deliver yet another sign of their amazing evolution on Shadows of the Sun, a somber masterpiece, icy and sparse but desperately sad and funereal at the same time. Vocalist Kristoffer Rygg’s musings on the cosmos, set to a haunting, Gregorian chant-like backing, have a quiet, compelling ring to them that goes side by side with the subdued strings and horns. Best of all, a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude” is even better than the original. You can just imagine the embers of a fire, burning quietly while this album supremely, quietly unfurls.
—Andrew Blackie


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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High on Fire

Death Is This Communion

(Relapse; US: 18 Sep 2007; UK: 10 Sep 2007)

Review [27.Sep.2007]

14


The ultimate hesher band, High on Fire celebrates the old school appeal of classic metal: the bombast, the tribal intensity, the catharsis, the escapism of fantasy-themed epics, and best of all, the godly riffs. In fact, Matt Pike and his boys just might have outdone themselves on this one, with the monolithic production of Jack Endino, Pike’s relentless shredding, Des Kensel’s tom-heavy beats, and the melodic sensibility brought by noob Jeff Matz on bass making this beastly sucker more earth-shattering than the great Surrounded by Thieves.
—Adrien Begrand


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Shining

V: Halmstad

(The End; US: 23 Apr 2007)

15


Sweden’s Shining is at the head of an extreme metal subgenre tagged depressive black metal, led by Niklas Kvarforth, who incites suicide in the band’s fans and openly practises self-harm. A dubious honor, perhaps, but his hateful sado-masochism (sung entirely in Swedish) is supported by impressive, even captivating, scores on Halmstad, a record that sounds as mentally unstable as the ideas he advocates. It’s hugely diverse and extremely progressive for the unfairly stereotyped black metal label, including several very well-placed, manipulative samples, while keeping a firm hold over the musty, blackened atmosphere and obsessions with sickness, disease, and self-infliction that Kvarforth works so hard to portray. The acoustic guitars in particular are eerily unsettling and bone-chilling, but the best example of him stretching himself out comes on “Åttiosextusenfyrahundra”, which borrows Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”.
—Andrew Blackie


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Om

Pilgrimage

(Southern Lord; US: 2 Oct 2007; UK: Available as import)

Review [13.Nov.2007]

16


A languorous, hypnotic combination of classic doom metal and ragas, the duo of bassist Al Cisneros and percussionist Chris Hakius perfect their dreamy sound on their third album, adding subtle improvisation atop a series of repeated riffs and melodies. The overall effect is absolutely sumptuous, Cisneros chanting gently over arrangements alternately somber (“Pilgrimage”) and ominous (“Unitive Knowledge of the Godhead”), and with the great Steve Albini providing an impeccable mix, Om now ranks as the pre-eminent name in American doom.
—Adrien Begrand


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Astarte

Demonized

(Avant Garde; US: 4 Apr 2007)

17


The blessing of Arch Enemy’s indomitable Angela Gossow goes a long way in the female-fronted metal world, and Greece’s Astarte do her one better on their latest disc. Based around an all-female trio calling themselves (rather appropriately) the Sirens, this is a havoc-wreaking line-up of modern black metal.  Blazing guitar harmonies that stampede all over the jagged, hellfire thrash collide with vocalist Tristessa’s possessed rasping to ancient pagan gods. This is a truly ferocious CD, one that shows that, when it comes to the extreme, the girls can do it just as well as the guys.
—Andrew Blackie


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Caïna

Mourner

(Profound Lore; US: 19 Jun 2007; UK: Available as import)

Review [23.Jul.2007]

18


Twenty-year-old Andrew Curtis-Brignell could pass for your usual indie folk artist, but the prolific UK musician delves into far darker territory on Caïna’s second full-length. With a thoughtful, poetic take on Satanism that few like-minded artists can equal, Curtis-Brignell, who performs everything himself, veers off into different extremes, from dark ambient, to shoegaze, to the goth of early Cure, to post rock, and yes, even folk, yet his eclectic musical tastes work exceptionally well, as Mourner‘s black metal core, warmer and more soulful than we expect, is never very far away.
—Adrien Begrand


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Witchcraft

The Alchemist

(Candlelight; US: 23 Oct 2007; UK: 8 Oct 2007)

Review [22.Oct.2007]

19


While Sweden’s Witchcraft continues to faithfully duplicate the proto-metal sounds of nearly 40 years ago, The Alchemist sees the quartet broadening the sound considerably. The Sabbath influence remains strong (Volume 4 is the record of choice this time), as is that of Pentagram, but the band also tosses in doses of psychedelic and progressive rock, “If Crimson Was Your Colour” and the phenomenal epic title track both making a similar creative leap as countrymen Dungen achieved three years ago.
—Adrien Begrand


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

 



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Within Temptation

The Heart of Everything

(Roadrunner; US: 24 Jul 2007; UK: 12 Mar 2007)

Review [24.Jul.2007]

20


2007 was without doubt a big year for Within Temptation, the time they finally managed to break out from being just another female-fronted band and take their vivacious pop sheen to the world, thanks to The Heart of Everything. Fans cried, “Sellout!”, but sometimes hooks are all metal needs, and the album is infinitely spinnable, with “The Howling”, “Hand of Sorrow”, and “All I Need” carrying melodies to be envied, power ballads “Forgiven” and “Frozen” irresistibly winning hearts, and the bombastic, sweeping orchestras offset only by the maturity of frontwoman Sharon del Adel’s seductive yet earnest high-octane singing.
—Andrew Blackie


Multiple songs: MySpace


 

Andrew Blackie:
Alcest, “Printemps Emeraude”
Porcupine Tree, “Anesthetize”
Ministry, “Let’s Go”
Evile, “Enter the Grave”
Chimaira, “Ressurrection”


Adrien Begrand:
The Dillinger Escape Plan, “Milk Lizard”
Alcest, “Ciel Errant”
3 Inches of Blood, “Night Marauders”
High on Fire, “Fury Whip”
Pig Destroyer, “Loathsome”


The worst metal albums of 2007:


Andrew Blackie:
1. Avenged Sevenfold, Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Bros.)
2. Hellyeah, Hellyeah (Epic)
3. Annihilator, Metal (SPV)
4. Dimmu Borgir, In Sorte Diaboli (Nuclear Blast)
5. Emmure, Goodbye to the Gallows (Victory)


Adrien Begrand:
1. Avenged Sevenfold, Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Bros.)
2. Manowar, Gods of War (SPV)
3. Iced Earth, Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1 (SPV)
4. Helloween, Gambling with the Devil (SPV)
5. Entombed, Serpent Saints (Candlelight)

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