Five Finger Death Punch – AfterLife
The biggest stick detractors like to beat Five Finger Death Punch with is that the band’s sound has largely remained the same throughout their career. AfterLife tweaks the format slightly, which its simultaneously its biggest strength and biggest weakness. Where the title track and Welcome To The Circus bring the muscle, Times Like These and Thanks For Asking both use synthetic beats, while Judgement Night could be pulled from Korn’s Issues. It doesn’t quite pay off all the time, but it’s hard to fault them from tentatively stepping out of their comfort zone.
Heilung – Drif
According to pagan shamans Heilung, the word ‘drif’ means ‘gathering’ – an apt term for a trio who invite audiences to join the wild atavistic throes of something beyond the reach of typical modern experience. It’s appropriate, as their third album is a carefully woven tapestry of ideas, sounds and inferences wherein a whisper just out of earshot or the unearthly sustain of a single bell can stop your heart in your chest.
Soilwork – Overgivenheten
Seemingly written off in their prime, Soilwork’s resurgence is one of the melodeath‘s finest tales of triumph. The Helsingborg band’s twelfth album sees them brimming with confidence to push themselves while producing instantaneous songs in the process. The lines between Soilwork and frontman Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid gets from his AOR worshipping other project The Night Flight Orchestra’s are blurred with great effect on the likes of Valleys Of Gloam. A victorious album in style.
Russian Circles – Gnosis
Russian Circles‘ eighth album offers exactly the artful, impeccably crafted post-metal you’d expect from the Chicago instrumental metallers, and is capable of evoking the glower of doom and the icy claws of black metal. If surprises are in relatively short supply, the band are still capable of throwing in the occasional curveball; Neurosis-tinged opener Tupilak, for example, is brooding, enigmatic and thoroughly magnificent.
Spirit Adrift – 20 Centuries Gone
Classic metal merchants Spirit Adrift have decided to blow off some steam with this collection of covers of classic songs by everyone from Pantera and Metallica to old school icons Lynyrd Skynyrd Thin Lizzy. Two new original tracks, Sorcerer’s Fate and the Down-esque neck-botherer Mass Formation Psychosiss, suggest that their next album proper could be their best yet.