SOILENT GREEN – Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction

Unlike the vast majority of extreme metal acts that sing about death, murder, suicide, disaster, pain and suffering, few have actually lived through these situations as the mighty SOILENT GREEN has. Soldiering on with more conviction and perseverance than most of the allegedly tough hardcore bands in existence, these sons of NOLA have emerged from the swamps with possibly their finest album since the classic, Sewn Mouth Secrets. Despite the band’s long-running trademark of cramming in as many riffs as humanly possible in the span of one song (witness the amount of changes that go down in the mere two-minute “Blessed in the Arms of Servitude“) the songs seem to flow almost effortlessly. Inevitable Collapse also displays a new found maturity as the band grooves more often, helping to make the album’s seemingly never ending roller coaster-like changes blend smoother than in past efforts. Dynamics also play a more prominent role on songs such as “In the Same Breath,” “Lovesick,” and “For Lack of Perfect Words.” They also sparingly feature guitarist Brian Patton‘s effective usage of a banjo-mandolin styled instrument known as the Mcnally strumstick, which provides a welcome breather from the otherwise relentless onslaught. In what must have been an emotional creative process, “All this Good Intention Wasted in the Wake of Apathy” pieces together older SOILENT GREEN material that former singer Glenn Rambo was involved in as a tribute to their friend who died in Hurricane Katrina. Although the chaotic structure of the band’s songs may make it difficult for listener’s to find a riff to grasp on to, Sewn Mouth Secrets is a triumph in every sense of the word. A true album, best experienced from beginning to end, SOILENT GREEN has delivered the strongest and most deserving comeback of the year. (Metal Blade Records)

ARSON ANTHEM – Arson Anthem

Formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina from jam sessions between Phil Anselmo and EYEHATEGOD‘s Mike Williams, ARSON ANTHEM‘s debut EP unleashes eight blistering tracks of muddy, DISCHARGE meets NEGATIVE APPROACH hardcore punk. Fans lamenting the demise of SUPER JOINT RITUAL will find much to like in ARSON ANTHEM as the band delivers quick, no-nonsense punk with urgent, spastic delivery. Although far more stripped down than SJR (and less-metal influenced), the band could almost be looked at as a reimagined version of SJR with some role reversal. Anselmo concentrates solely on guitar this time around, passing on the vocal duties to Mike Williams. Hank Williams III switches from bass to drums as he and newcomer Colin Yeo display a stripped down, bare bones approach to the proceedings. But if there’s any star to this show, it’s Mike Williams whose abrasive, anguished vocals fuel the rage of the band with fury and disgust. At barely longer than ten minutes, ARSON ANTHEM‘s debut is short and to the point, wearing their influences proudly on their sleeves with no apologies. If there’s any complaint to be had, it’s that the songs tend to blend in to one another with little distinction, and since the EP flies by at such a rapid pace, the lack of hooks makes it difficult for the listener to grasp on to anything substantial. Nonetheless, the band’s conviction and delivery make up for these shortcomings. And since this Louisiana crew doesn’t over stay their welcome, eleven minutes is plenty of time to get their pissed-off point across. (Housecore Records)

DOWN – Over the Under

The release of a new DOWN album has always been regarded as more of an event in the world of metal, as opposed to just another new release, and the band’s latest, Over the Under, is no exception. Deep in the grief of five years of personal tragedy and frustration, the NOLA crew somehow managed to triumph over these obstacles, bringing forth the band’s most complete, mature offering to date. Although Over the Under isn’t as immediate as the band’s debut, the album packs plenty of punch with “Three Suns and One Star,” “Pillamyd,” and “N.O.D.” leading the charge, in the metal department. “Never Try,” “Beneath the Tides,” and “In the Thrall of it All” on the other hand counter with some of the band’s most bluesy material yet, with Phil Anselmo effectively delivering some of the most soulful singing of his career. The guitar tandem of Pepper Keenan and the criminally underrated Kirk Weinstein have come into their own, balancing Southern rock and blues with layers of thick Louisiana sludge with the second nature of veterans who have done it all. The rhythm section of Rex Brown and Jimmy Bower is another hidden weapon as the duo grooves like no tomorrow, anchoring the band under the surface with minimal flash but with ample feeling. It’s this collective chemistry that separates DOWN and Over the Under from the rest of the thrown together assembly-line, cookie-cutter drivel that labels and bands seem to content to disperse these days. Over the Under is a strong album from a reinvigorated band that flows powerfully from beginning to end, delivering this year’s most inspiring and deserving comeback. (Down Records/ILG/WMG)