Amon Amarth "Deceiver of the gods" (Metal Blade) 8/10
Upon first listen, very solid as usual from AA. Problem with AA is that they have reached that Cannibal Corpse stage where every album, while solid, is just too "proper" at this point. There is no real surprise or edge anymore, for all it's "brutality." This band is a routine for the members and it sounds like it. It all feels very cookie cutter at this point. I think they are out of new tricks. But you know what? If you can't get enough of this band - it IS another solid one. It's got greatness, just a bit too much repeated territory and arena chant cliches.
Havok "Unnatural Selection" (Candlelight) 4/10
Overproduced 3rd rate 90s Thrash Metal in 2013? Do these dudes do any homework at all? Dude, for the 50,000th time: THIS is why Thrash died the first time! Too generic, too produced, too cookie cutter...eh, fuck it, why waste my breath. You know what, if they are having fun and kids dig it, more power to em. But if you wanna hear a Thrash band doing something interesting musically, try Vektor. If you are just getting into Thrash and you haven't heard any of the good stuff yet, Havok will sound amazing.
Kalmah "Seventh Symphony" (Spinefarm)7/10
Everyone is on this band's nuts lately, so I thought I'd check out their latest. First time I heard em they sounded kinda Dissecion-y to me. Not really in an original kinda way. I can say this new one sounds much different. While very melodic, there is much more of a carnival/symphonic/pagan metal sort of vibe. Even somewhat prog,which was a welcome surprise. Very good musicianship. Much more corny than I expected. Very "commercial" sounding in a Euro kind of way. I have to admit it's very cool at points, but man - easy on the keys guys! It's cohesive in a way, but it also sound like they can't decide what the hell they are. I dunno. I'm gonna pass for now, but musically, there is some interesting stuff here. And I admire them for progressing their sound. I would tell them to lose the keys, but clearly they are way too in love with it to let go.
Toxic Holocaust "From the Ashes of Nuclear Desruction" (Relapse) 6/10
Alhough this band is kinda trendy, I much prefer this kind of "cookie cutter Thrash" over the Havok brand. It's nice and filthy sounding, they seem like they are having fun, and not just trying to be the next goddamned Testament. If you like drunken Thrash from Tankard to Witchtrap, this is recommended. Doesn't invent and wheels or claim to, just keeps it rolling.
Quick reviews...not sure if I reviewed these, but just in case, they are recent purchases...
Saxon "Sacrifice" (EMI) 9/10
Brilliant instant classic from Saxon, a welcome sound from a band that hasn't always had the best tunes since the 80s classics. Biff sounds amazing, British guitar crunch is on full blast, and every song is a killer. Thank god Saxon is back.
Six Feet Under (Metal Blade) 7/10
god I'm tired of this band. Maybe I'm just tired of similar sounding albums. I dunno, it is solid as fuck, but it's just the same damned shit. Live they are always boring, I dunno what it is. Sounds amazing for 5 minutes, then just gets old. Very solid, just nothing new that I can hear. Cannibal Corpse should form a 2nd band with Chris singing.