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2012 Leftovers - Cleaning out the review closet!
We are already almost half way 2013, so it’s really time to clean out the 2012 closet review wise. All these album are reviewed way too late, which had various reasons which can be filtered to a crash of hard drives at Metalrage, a late arrival of albums and a general lack of time and setting priorities differently. Nevertheless I think that when musicians and labels are taking their time sending us complete albums or promos (instead of sending us just some digital files or even worse listening links and bleeped promos. Come on people we are doing this out of love for music not for making any money out of it!), we are obliged to give them their moment in the sun (which differ from a warm Mediterranean sun to a cold Siberian one). So here it goes, some 2012 quick reviews!
Down – IV: The Purple EP
Score: 76
Down doesn’t need any introduction. This allstar ensemble has come up with the idea of releasing a few EPs and The Purple one is the first. This album shows that they are still able of creating some really heavy and interesting songs. ‘Witchtripper’ and ‘Open Coffins’ show that the groove is still there and especially the first song can appease my groove appetite.
Phil’s voice is being put really upfront in the mix. While I don’t agree with the pundits who think that Phil is an awful vocalist (his vocals suit this music perfectly), I wouldn’t have mind that it would have given a bit more room for the guitarists.A good example is ‘The Curse Is A Lie’. Phil’s voice just suffocates the excellent guitar play and that is detrimental for the song.
Another thing that is remarkable is that musical themes are being repeated even on an EP. ‘This Work Is Timeless’ feels a bit redundant because of that. If you release something like an EP, everything needs to be a home run and that’s not the case here. Still there are some really good songs found and I definitely will listen to this EP more, but it didn’t blow me away.
Algebra – Polymorph
Score: 68
Algebra from Suisse brings us thrash metal; not really a genre that sees only a few releases per month. Because of the overkill (no pun intended) of thrash releases of the last few years it’s really hard for a newer band to create their own space in the crowd and set themselves apart. It’s therefore not strange that only a few newer thrash bands break through to a bigger audience.
On Polymorph Algebra shows us a mix of newer death/thrash and older eighties thrash metal, where the emphasis is mainly put on the death/thrash mix. This is mainly due to the vocals of Tony. They don’t really wow me on this disc. It’s not bad, but middle of the road and that just doesn’t cut it nowadays. I miss interesting hooks, vocal lines or some musical elements that just puts you on the wrong foot.
We’re dealing with good musicians, but they need to learn how to compose their songs more interesting. This won’t bring them a lot of success, so hopefully on their next release they’ll grow a bit in that department. They haven’t persuade me to put this disc on again instead of one of the bigger thrash bands.
Loch Vostok – V: The Doctrine Decoded
Score: 64
Like the title says V: The Doctrine Decoded is Loch Vostok their fifth release. A band that clearly has already earned their stripes and also a name that pops more and more frequently in discussions on various message boards about hidden gems in the death metal scene.
I can be quite short with this review. I understand the interest of a whole lot of people for this band. They are technically sound and it shows in their songs. A lot of things happen and somehow they still know how to write a coherent song. There are only two huge problems with this album and that is the very annoying vibrato in the vocals of Teddy Moller when he uses his cleans. His grunts and screams are really well done, but his cleans are so irritating that I have difficulty to hear through it. This has as a result that continuously half way the album I just turn it off. I have heard it once in it’s entirety and next to the vocals I also miss soul in the songs. A lot of technical muscle pumping, but it makes the music sound too sterile.
This album is just not for me. People who can listen through the clean vocals I encourage to give it a spin, maybe this is something for you.

Wicked Mystic – Beware And Whisper
Score: 69
Wicked Mystic puts its face at the Dutch metal front after a long time of absence. Beware And Whisper is their newest release where old songs are being re-recorded and added with some new blood. Their biggest achievement on this album is that you don’t hear any difference between the old and new songs. The album sounds as a very coherent album.
Unfortunately the songs aren’t that interesting. It starts very promising with their thrash hybrid of Exodus and Annihilator influences and the first few songs got me excited for the rest of the album; some nice riffs, a good voice and interesting material. It’s too bad that between the songs there is not enough variation. After a few songs you’ve got the feeling that you’ve heard it all before. It’s not bad, but way too decent and the market is being flooded with discs of this kind of quality. I can imagine that it will be a nice live band, but on disc they can’t convince me.
Exile Parade – Hit The Zoo
Score:  73
The British rockers of Exile Parade already released this album in February, due to a sudden disappearance of a Metalrage reporter we had to regain this disc. Luckily we made the effort since this disc is quite enjoyable.
They give us a mixture of nineties Britpop and a more modern touch. While I dread the safe Britpop approach of bands like Oasis etc. Exile Parade makes it, finally, interesting for me by using a lot of different influences and approaches to their rock music. From more psychedelic songs (‘Shadows’) to country induced songs (‘Get Your Gun Boy’) to almost Monster Magnet like songs as ‘Hello Blue’.
Some top notch musicians at hand with an excellent vocalist who has a very flexible throat. They know how to write captivating songs. It doesn’t get a higher score, because not every song connects with me, but this has more to do with my preferences than the material. Recommended for people who like not too heavy rock music and have outgrown the terrible Britpop scene.
Involved – Chaos Order Balance
Score: 65
Involved brings us death/thrash in the Scandinavian vein. It’s a very decent affair. Nothing remarkable really. There are some high notes on the album like the drum riffs in ‘End Of Days’. They play a lot of mid tempo songs with a healthy dose of groove.
Not enough high notes to dredge it out of the pool of mediocrity. Heard this kind of music too much lately and much more interesting to be honest. This is not bad, but too safe and I am missing some songs that stand apart.
Reverence – When Darkness Calls
Score: 67
Reverence consists out of some veteran heavy metal musicians, so it wouldn’t surprise anybody that what we get here is pure heavy metal and then more the old US Metal side of things. The execution is good and people who like bands like Judas Priest, Metal Church and the like, will have a field day with this album.
Unfortunately I’m not one of them. And besides that Reverence also doesn’t stray from the beaten path. There are some nice elements like the twin solos on ‘Phantom Road’, but you won’t find anything new or interesting on this album. It’s all done according to the big book of heavy metal and like said earlier the execution is done well, but it’s all so terribly safe and the songwriting isn’t really exceptional (something that could’ve negated the unoriginality). In this type of metal the vocalist is key and he is just average in my book. Especially the singing in the higher regions isn’t pretty.
All in all an average album, but perhaps fans of Judas Priest can find something here. For me it’s been there done that and won’t revisit it ever again. 
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