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ALBUM REVIEWS

Tooth and Nail/Solid State and also a spattering of EPs with notable underground hxc label Life Sentence. Thusly, new Overcome material is always met with a certain amount of anticipation. This can be a great thing for a band's legend/myth/ cult status, but also a tough legacy to live up to. Fortunately, Overcome have never disappointed, but can they ever release Immortal Until Their Work is Done again? They've upped the metal ante in recent years – having formed as a fairly unconventional early '90s chugga-chugga hardcore – and fortunately this trend continues on this lengthy EP. At times vocalist Thomas Washington has a rasp that recalls Scott Angelacos (of the evilcore Bloodlet/ Hope and Suicide), particularly on the title track, but as evidenced by the title of this album, Overcome's lyrical department shows a swift departure from that influence. Another highlight are the gang vocals on "Depredation of the Cherished," which recall Sleeping Giant and xDeathstarx. If you're a fan of Overcome, you probably already own this. If you are a metalhead who is sceptical about anything -core, this band could potentially convince you otherwise. [Facedown] Loyd Harp

KLANK URBAN WARFARE It's been a lot of years since Klank's aggressive brand of industrial/nu metal has been in active circulation, and it's been sorely missed. Circle of Dust alumnus Daren "Klank" Diolosa put out Still Suffering, The Downside EP, and Numb between 1997-2000 and Urban Warfare marks his first all new studio album since that time. The new disc, boasting 14 songs with special guest Dug Pinnick on the closer, put out by the band itself and sold in cardboard sleeves, picks up largely where Numb left off. The mood is still dark in this guitar-heavy blender of Rammstein and Korn styled metal mayhem. The choruses tend to get a bit repetitive, but maybe that's why they end up stuck in my head over time. [SmokeDogg Productions] Chris Gatto

STEP COUSIN EXPERIMENTS IN SOUND Step Cousin are a heavy metal band formed by Kelly Matthews (Drums, Bass, Vocals) and Jeff Grady (Guitars) in Missouri, USA. Kelly and Jeff also make up the core of Lordchain. Experiments in Sound was the band's first full-length album, originally released in 2000 on the band's own Corduroy Records. The album was only pressed in limited quantities and was nearly impossible to find. Finally in December 2012, the album was remastered and finally re-released on CD with five bonus tracks. Experiments in Sound

is more than just the title of this album, it's also a statement of what to expect. For the most part Step Cousin play their own brand of thrash metal fused with a lot of early death metal influences. In fact, at times the band reminds me of Mortification. As a matter of fact, "Raised from the Dead" and "Despise" both could have been recorded by Mortification. However, this band doesn't stick rigidly to this style and throw in plenty of surprises. Nothing is more of a surprise than a flute solo in the middle of opening track "Where the Door Leads." The song is a midpaced number with heavy, crunchy guitars and the whimsy flute solo stands in stark contrast. As well, Kelly Matthews doesn't stick to any one style of vocals on this album. While the lion's share of the vocals are of the growled thrash metal variety, there are also clean vocals and even some hardcore-style shouts mixed in. "Slide the Wheel" opens with some clean vocals while "Take It All Away" starts off with guttural death vocals that later morph back into the thrash style then into some clean vocals during the chorus that almost sound out of place in this song. Of course this all falls under the banner of "experiments" in sound. The 2012 comes with a four page insert and has five bonus tracks. Though the insert isn't fancy, it does feature a song by song commentary by Kelly Matthews. [Corduroy] Scott Waters

ABSOLON DARKNESS RISING

Never heard of Absolon? I hadn’t either, but through the Christian Metal Realm I followed a couple of threads there and discovered that former Malachia/ Vision vocalist Ken Pike was involved. Curiosity got the best of me and requested a copy of their debut CD, Darkness Rising – The Tale of Derek Blackheart. Ken had mentioned there had been some comparisons to Kamelot, so I was even more intrigued. Absolon is self described this way, “Absolon … is a symphonic/goth power metal outfit. Influenced by old school metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Queensryche; and the newer power metal bands like Kamelot, Epica and Nightwish. Absolon has brought together a blend of metal that will please old school/European metal heads and symphonic/goth metal fans. We just call it epic metal.” Darkness Rising: The Tale of Derek Blackheart is a well-thought-out and extremely well-produced independent metal album. The songwriting is top-notch and the performances are exceptional. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if this album was gonna grab me

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or not. This is a concept album – make no bones about it. The melodies here are soaring with plenty of superb guitar work courtesy of Ed Dumas. Grab is not the term to be used here, hook-in is! Concept albums don’t often lend themselves to the simple verse-chorusverse-chorus formula and this album is no different. Yet the melodies are hypnotic. Ken Pike never sounded better. Yes, there are moments where his tonality reminds you of Queensryche, but pay it never mind, that is how he sounds. Songs like "Pretender" and "Nail in the Head" is almost hypnotic, strong European power metal with driving rhythms and explosive lead work. Contrast that with songs like "Even Heroes Fall" – a bit of whimsy that exceeds in nuance and dynamics all the while moving the story of one Derek Blackheart’s fall into a pit of despair. Wonderful keyboard stylings that expand the sound and add layers of depth, which enhances the overall mood and feel of this release; but don’t worry – the crunch of the guitar is definitely the driving force. The lyrics tell the story of one Derek Blackheart, a kid who dreams of nothing more than being a heavy metal legend. The fable speaks of his ascendency and the emptiness that he realizes once he reaches the peak of his profession. This story ends badly, but not without a lot of introspection and questioning of the meaning of things. Based on the classic story A Picture of Dorian Gray with a modern interpretation, Absolon have scored a knockout. You won’t find ten songs of Jesus saves. As a matter of fact, you won’t find any direct mention of the Alpha and Omega. However, His presence is there by His absence, there are several slight allusions that scream out to me as I read the enclosed lyrics. Without a doubt this is a cautionary tale. “What is it worth to have fame and fortune only to lose your soul, Derek Blackheart?” This is art that can be enjoyed by anyone, much like a Christian painter who paints landscapes. Similarly, it reminds me of the old Rez Band tune "Tears in The Rain" from their Hostage album. Darkness Rising: The Tale of Derek Blackheart is a melodic bit of heavy metal whimsy that is lyrically original and musically superior. Fans of the aforementioned bands should really enjoy this. I know I am, which is why I’m swinging 8 axes at this album. [Absolon] Keven Crothers

March 2013 - HM Magazine  

The March 2013 issue of HM Magazine featuring Hope for the Dying.

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