APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2011

2011 was a very productive and enjoyable year for extreme music, perhaps the best in years. Thus, it was not an easy task choosing what we enjoyed best since they were just so many. 2011 also gave us unforgettably bad albums by LOU REED and METALLICA, flops by THE HAUNTED as well as controversial ones by MORBID ANGEL.

We look forward to another strong year in 2012 in which we will celebrate our 10 years online. Cheers for all of your support in 2011! Radikult!!
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ARCH ENEMY, DEVILDRIVER, SKELETONWITCH, CHTHONIC @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles (9/27/11)

The North American Khaos 2011 Tour had a metal genre for everybody – black, thrash, nu, and melodic metal were all represented nicely.

CHTHONIC has gained quite an increase of popularity in the U.S. since their first go around at Ozzfest in 2007, and that notion was proven by the rabid crowd that showed up early giving full support to the “Orient metal” from the Far East.  The band performed tracks mostly from the new album, Takasago Army, and new tracks like “Takao” and “Southern Cross” went over tremendously well in the live setting. Vocalist Freddy Lim owned the crowd with his enthusiastic charisma and wowed onlookers whenever he pulled out the er-hu to accentuate why CHTHONIC stands out as a unique band.
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Underground Gems: DARKANE’s Rusted Angel

With the recent great news about original vocalist Lawrence Mackrory returning to DARKANE, it instantly triggered fond memories of the band’s excellent debut album, Rusted Angel.

Originally released in 1999 by Swedish label, War Music/Wrong Again Records (now known as Regain Records), DARKANE made their debut at a time when the Swedish scene (post-Stockholm scene) was starting to make big waves in the underground.

Unlike their countrymen in Gothenburg, DARKANE‘s bread and butter wasn’t centered around melody per se. Rusted Angel was a fresh new sound combining vicious thrash (i.e. latter day TESTAMENT) and death metal with a very impressive technical flare. There was just a special energy and power to it. Songwise, Rusted Angel is a solid album. No bad eggs in the bunch.

Guitarists Christofer Malmström and Klas Ideberg riffing style was so unique for the time and still is. There were lots of riffing variations with plenty of intensity and flavor. Their guitar solos were great too. They have chops and weren’t afraid to show it.

Peter Wildoer‘s drumming is absolutely excellent. His style is so musical and dynamic. Wildoer adds endless ear candy with his tasty fills and unique style. The Amott brothers should’ve never let him leave ARCH ENEMY.

Vocalist Lawrence Mackrory was unique as well. He didn’t emulate the higher death metal vocals of his Swedish peers. Instead, his vocals were more abrasive, raw, and varied. He even had a semi-clean vocal style that he used kind of like TESTAMENT‘s Chucky Billy.

Outside of nostalgia value, Rusted Angel is an underground classic and holds up extremely well against today’s releases. Mandatory music.

[blipfm 72104633]

ARCH ENEMY – Khaos Legions

Set in the midst of a storyline/theme of societal anarchy and revolution, ARCH ENEMY follow up what is, arguably, the best album of their career in Rise of the Tyrant with Khaos Legions. The good news is that the new album is more or less in line with its predecessor in style and quality.

As with any ARCH ENEMY album, it’s all about the twin lead guitars of brothers Mike and Chris Amott bedazzling the listeners with their all around guitar talents. Those warm guitar tones, godly melodies, pristine death and thrash metal riffing, and beautiful guitar solos are all here again.

Vocalist Angela Gossow does her thing here – lots of emphasis on the enunciation of words, lots of effort and energy towards sounding savage and brutal, and that overall lack of power behind the vocals.

Khaos Legions starts out with plenty of energy but the 14-track record gradually loses momentum towards the last 1/3 of it. That’s not to say that the songs towards the end are bad per se. It’s more about the fact that by the eighth or ninth song, you get the idea of what the record is all about and don’t necessarily need any more material. Also, the lyrical themes of anarchy, unity, “us” vs. “them,” independence, and social revolution run thin as it’s safe to say that most ARCH ENEMY fans don’t take the band’s lyrics too seriously.

Those with keen ears will spot the little nods to heroes of the past with each ARCH ENEMY album. There are nods to JUDAS PRIEST and AMEBIX among others on this record.

There are no surprises on Khaos Legions but I don’t think that comes as a surprise at this point in the band’s career. It’s the band doing what they do…and they do it well. While it may not be as good as Rise of the Tyrant, Khaos Legions is a good ARCH ENEMY record. If you enjoy their godly guitar work and precise, pounding drumming, then you’ll be happy. (Century Media Records)

ARCH ENEMY Commence Recording New Studio Album

Swedish melodic death metal titan, ARCH ENEMY, has begun recording a new studio album, the long awaited successor to 2007’s acclaimed Rise of the Tyrant album. After releasing the Tyrants of the Rising Sun – Live in Japan live DVD/CD (2008) and the re-recordings album, The Root Of All Evil (2009), the band’s ninth studio album will mark a return to new, original material.

The yet-to-be-named album will be self-produced by ARCH ENEMY, and engineered/mixed by Rickard Bengtsson (whom produced 2005’s Doomsday Machine). The band has recently entered Sweetspot Studio in the south of Sweden for the album’s recording process.

Here is the first studio report from the band:

WITCHERY – Witchkrieg

After taking a breather in their respective other bands, namely THE HAUNTED, OPETH, and ARCH ENEMY, the members of WITCHERY offer Witchkrieg, the first album with vocalist Legion (ex-MARDUK) on board. Upon first glance, Legion’s vocals are much more varied than when he had the monotone screech in MARDUK – unfortunately, most of his vocals are masked by too many effects, which cheapens the excitement of the new vocalist.

Witchkrieg” opens with the crunchy, old school WITCHERY sound, with nice, crisp production, as the album starts off with a lot of promise. Kerry King’s trademark solo fits the opening track perfectly, and sounds completely in tune with the music. But the album is quite bi-polar, as a song like “The God Who Fell From Earth” opens with a bland nu-metal riff, and even guitar master Hank Shermann cannot save this blunder. “Conqueror’s Return” has a few headbanging riffs, but the layers of effects on the vocals make the song almost unbearable. Witchkrieg thrashes away with “The Reaver,” and the trade off solos from EXODUSGary Holt and Lee Altus show that this album has glimpses of brilliance.

Witchkrieg falls into the cliché of cheesy songwriting, as “From Dead to Worse” has a great opening, but the chorus is so bland that it sounds like Nathan Explosion of DETHKLOK is singing; fortunately, the solos from Andy LaRocque adds a nice flair to the end. “Devil Rides Out” is classic WITCHERY material, and “Hellhound” is a fast, brutal, and all out thrash attack.

Witchkrieg is an average effort, as there are good riffs scattered around here and there, but is mostly mediocre and somewhat disappointing. The band should always be looked upon as just a side project, as guitarist Jensen has used up all his good riffs in THE HAUNTED. While the plethora of guest musicians add a nice touch to the album, it’s safe to say that people have given this band more credit than they deserve. (Century Media Records)

RISE – Pentagramnation

It’s been eight long years since we last heard new music from Los Angeles’ RISE. However, the wait was not all in vain as their new album, Pentagramnation, is easily the band’s strongest and most sophisticated work.

Stylistically, Pentagramnation‘s dark tone is created by a contemporary blackened death metal sound that equally uses blast beats and various driving mid-tempos. Fans of DIMMU BORGIR, OLD MAN’S CHILD, and BEHEMOTH may find much to enjoy on this album. Melody is a significant part of their attack whether it be in the riffs, guitar solos, or keyboards. And speaking of the guitar solos, vocalist/guitarist Istvan Lendvay‘s melodic, emotional solos are a pleasure to listen to. Perhaps his best solo can be found during the ending to “Conqueror’s of the Ninth Century.” Acoustic guitars are used sparingly yet effectively enough to add further color to the album. The album ends just as dramatically as it began with “Opus Requiem” in which the band enlists the help of ARCH ENEMY vocalist Angela Gossow and the lead guitar talents of Dave Suzuki (ex-VITAL REMAINS).

Pentagramnation is not an album of singles but best enjoyed as a one work. While the band’s peers may be on well-known record labels with plenty of media pull, RISE is good enough to compete with the big boys. Let this review be a notice to all. (Hymnus Records)

ARCH ENEMY to Headline North American Tour; Support from EXODUS, ARSIS, MUTINY WITHIN

Sweden’s ARCH ENEMY have announced the Tyrants of Evil headlining tour of North America in support of their latest release, The Root of All Evil (which came out last week via Century Media Records).

Frontwoman Angela Gossow commented on the tour: “Hells Yes! We are more than ready to return to the US and Canada for a head banging and neck breaking tour experience! Totally stoked about the killer package – ARCH ENEMY, EXODUS, ARSIS and MUTINY WITHIN. We personally handpicked these bands for you! A full on extreme, versatile and so very METAL line-up. You will be hurting in a good way after we have been through town! The Tyrants Of Evil are ready to kill!!!”

Presale tickets for the upcoming dates will go on sale this Wednesday, October 14, at 3PM Eastern, at ArtistArena.com: https://tix.artistarena.com/archenemy/

Jan. 20 – Towson, MD – Recher Theatre
Jan. 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
Jan. 22 – New York, NY – Nokia Theatre
Jan. 23 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
Jan. 25 – Montreal, QC – Le Medley
Jan. 26 – Quebec City, QC – Theatre Imperial
Jan. 27 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
Jan. 29 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
Jan. 30 – Minneapolis, MN – The Rock
Jan. 31 – Winnipeg, MB – The Garrick Centre
Feb. 02 – Calgary, AB – MacEwan Hall Ballroom
Feb. 03 – Edmonton, AB – Edmonton Events Centre
Feb. 05 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
Feb. 06 – Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market
Feb. 08 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Center @ The Grand
Feb. 09 – West Hollywood, CA – House of Blues

For all the latest info on ARCH ENEMY, visit:
http://www.archenemy.net
http://www.myspace.com/archenemy

ARCH ENEMY to Release The Root of All Evil on October 6th

Sweden’s ARCH ENEMY will be unleashing their new album, The Root of All Evil, on October 6th (September 28th in Europe) through Century Media RecordsThe Root of All Evil is a special release featuring a selection of re-recorded songs from the band’s first three albums, Black Earth, Stigmata, and Burning Bridges.

Guitarist Michael Amott comments: “This one took some time to get done, despite the fact that the actual songs were already written a good few years ago! The album was recorded at a few different locations locally here in Sweden – produced by ARCH ENEMY, with Daniel Erlandsson (Drums) handling a lot of the engineering. It was then sent to Andy Sneap in England for the mixing/mastering and I simply can’t stop listening to this since I got the final mixes!”

Regarding further details of the process, Amott adds: “We basically headed down to our rehearsal studio, got reacquainted with the tunes, picked out our favorites and proceeded to give a breath of new life to those early songs, with the idea to have the possibility to re-add them to the live set and follow up with some touring activity! I’m loving hearing these songs with a fresh new sound and performance, everyone in the band did a killer job on it – especially Angela’s vocal performance is astoundingly intense and brutal and it was also cool to hear Sharlee lay down some great bass tracks on the early songs! The production and mix is crushing and heavy as hell – it really makes these old songs shine – it sounds like a brand new thing!”.

In the meantime, the band have a full summer of festival touring ahead throughout Europe, Asia, and then a headlining tour of Australia with support from SUFFOCATION and WINDS OF PLAGUE.

“Summer Tyranny 2009”:
29-June-2009 @ Rockwave Festival (Greece)
09-July-2009 @ Norway Rock Festival (Norway)
10-July-2009 @ Rockweekend Kilafors (Sweden)
11-July-2009 @ Rock Harz Open Air (Germany)
12-July-2009 @ Masters Of Rock (Czech Republic)
17-July-2009 @ Uni Rock Festival, Istanbul (Turkey)
18-July-2009 @ ProRock Festival – Kiev (Ukraine)
24-July-2009 @ Zwarte Cross Festival (The Netherlands)
25-July-2009 @ Lorca Rock Festival (Spain)
14-August-2009 @ Bloodstock Open Air (England)

Mexican Tour – August 2009:
20-August-2009 Mexico City, Mexico @ Circo Volador
22-August-2009 Monterrey, Mexico @ Café Iguana

Asian Tour – October 2009:
17-October-2009 @ Loud Park 09, Tokyo (Japan)
18-October-2009 @ Liberty Square – Taipei (Taiwan)
20-October-2009 @ World Trade Center – Manila (Philippines)
21-October-2009 @ Hitec Auditorium – Kowloon (Hong Kong)
23-October-2009 @ The Star Live House – Beijing (China)
25-October-2009 @ Venue TBA – Seoul (Republic Of Korea)
28-October-2009 @ Senayan Tennis Indoor Stadium – Jakarta (Indonesia)

Australian Tour – November 2009:
01-November-2009 @ Capitol, Perth*
03-November-2009 @ Fowlers Live, Adelaide*
05-November-2009 @ The Forum, Melbourne**
06-November-2009 @ The Roundhouse, Sydney**
07-November-2009 @ The Hifi, Brisbane**
* with SUFFOCATION / ** with SUFFOCATION & WINDS OF PLAGUE