Four great albums, four short reviews. This time however it’s all picks and opinions of Noob Heavy writer Mass from Iran who has some interesting tastes and takes. Most of his listening pool is everything I haven’t heard of from places I don’t often hear from so expect some esoteric sounds to western ears as well as ruthless takes on those we are familiar with. Haha, love it. Also he gets his own format for it.
Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic (2020)
Thrash Metal – Canada
Highlights: Riot – Armed To The Teeth – I Am Warfare – Dressed Up For Evil
Ballistic? Well sure; the music is truly feral and vicious. The riffs are mostly classic thrash and pretty rough in the head, which is of course totally cool. Fabio Alessandrini’s drumming is also ruthless and fast and is on par with legends within the genre. Jeff Waters (the band’s sole constant member and mastermind) had announced that he would top his game and give us a sound which is both creative and, at the same time, aims at presenting the familiar Annihilator sound we bang our heads to. That he has done. And Sadistic? That too, especially for the fans, and specifically the lyrics and some choruses were indeed a letdown to me. This album could have been my choice of thrash, but it had noticeable faulty moments that were beyond redemption.
Take the chorus on The Attitude. That is what a 16-year-old, testosterone-filled, angst-driven teen would write and be proud of. This album offers much and leaves much to be desired as well.
Vvilderness – Dark Waters (2020)
Post-Black Metal – Hungary
Highlights: Dark Waters – It Comes With The Rain – Mist Pillars ’19
2020’s first highlight for me, this album captures the dark energy of nature’s wilderness and channels it through relentless black metal riffs and ferocious drumming into a massive effigy of affliction. It also incorporates several folk instruments and through the use of acoustic guitar and female vocals on Dark Waters, as an example, this album has succeeded in reaching beyond black metal and into a more subdued ambience. This one-man band was formed by Wildr, the vocalist of one of my top Atmospheric Black Metal bands, Realm of Wolves, in 2017 and has released two studio albums, one EP and one instrumental album.
Wildr is also behind the drawing board and in charge of the art of the album, not to mention being the producer. In a nutshell, this album is his – head to toe.
Moongates Guardian – Cold Waters of Anduin (2020)
Epic Atmospheric Black Metal – Russia
Highlights: To Isengard with Doom We Come
There are many bands who base their work on Tolkien’s timeless treasure, varying in genre from black metal to medieval folk, from symphonic to power to progressive metal and whatnot. They all have their take on this matter and reflect one aspect of this multifaceted gem of human literature. Moongates Guardian has opted for a more epic black metal approach, much like that of Summoning, but what those Austrians have, these Russians lack, namely grandeur and an innovative touch. They say nothing that hasn’t been said before, at least music-wise, as some of the lyrics are in Russian and I cannot understand them. This, however, does not mean that it is of little value;
it just suggests that this album, with all its musical and, especially, vocal quality, is somewhat above the mediocrity line. It is worth listening to if you are keen on Tolkien’s stories and Summoning is a band you enjoy listening to (as I do).
Dark Matter – Nebula to Black Hole (2020)
Dark Metal – Iran / international
Highlights: Except Love
Two huge thumbs up to Aria Moghaddam for gathering an ultimate team of metal musicians from around the globe on this album. The list includes such giants as Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema, Thomas Helm of Empyrium, Juuso Raatikainen of Swallow the Sun and Feb Regman of Antimatter among others. The music is quite diverse and dynamic in nature and touches upon melancholy (Funeral parts I and II), on the one hand, and atrocity (Theory of X) on the other. It even borders film score on the album closure (Black Hole) and depicts a scenic portrait in the listeners’ mind of the outer space and the endlessness of the universe.
I truly expect to see much more from this band in the years to come. It is also worth mentioning that the cover of this album is an image of Sagittarius A black hole whose discovery was, perhaps, 2019’s scientific news of the year.