MINI REVIEW FRIDAY #1 (07/26/13)

1. HOODED MENACE - Effigies of Evil [2012]
   Genre: Death/Doom Metal
   Label: Relapse

The third full-length release of Finnish death-doom group Hooded Menace, "Effigies of Evil," knows quite well how to generate sluggish but devastating metal. The musicianship is very well performed, from the thick, sludgy vocals down to the slow but hellish guitar play, and the buzzy production and mixing. The songs themselves are very well structured, with many gripping moments while remaining flowing and composed. They reek of evil, and not a moment passes by where the album shows any mercy to the audience from its steamrolling power. Though on paper it would make the album seem monotonous and repetitive, the formula actually works because there is enough potency to keep the listener ensnared in its suffocating fabric. The title track best demonstrates this success, a slithering specimen of murky death metal that is well-built,well-executed, and worthy of repeated listens. Though it doesn't necessarily step outside of the box in terms of the death-doom genre, "Effigies of Evil" is worth at least check. [8/10]

2. I THE BREATHER - Truth and Purpose [2012]
   Genre: Metalcore
   Label: Sumerian

"Truth and Purpose," the sophomore release of Christian metalcore band I The Breather, is a somewhat mixed bag. On one hand, the vigor behind these songs is undeniable, and it lends itself to making the album at least somewhat engaging. On top of that, the instrumentation is stellar, with fierce vocals, rather versatile guitar work, and solid but still fairly complex percussion. Sadly, what stops the record from being a great one is two elements: First, the lack of originality in terms of the melodic metalcore genre, and two, the predictability of it all. While the songs are well structured, they tend to get repetitive and lack the ability to compel listeners to give it a second spin. The best this album has to offer is its introduction track, "False Prophet," because it best showcases what positive aspects were described earlier, with how explosive and potent it is. Other than that, it's not totally mediocre, but it could have been much better. [6/10]

3. ALDEBARAN - Embracing the Lightless Depths [2012]
   Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
   Label: Profound Lore

With a name as gloomy as "Embracing the Lightless Depths," you shouldn't be expecting anything totally uplifting from this album. This record, the second full-length of sludge-doom quintet Aldebaran, does a very decent job of carrying out a slow, bleak, and somewhat ethereal blend of sludge and doom metal. Bits and pieces of these tracks definitely stick to your head while tying together in solidly built songs, such as the opening track "Occultation of Hali's Gates," which chimes in with a spine-chilling melody that transitions into the next track "Forever in the Dream of Death," which later explodes into a slow, depressive metal trance. Tidbits like these make the album quite enjoyable, topped off with great instrumentation and well-executed structures. However, the tracks "Forever in the Dream of Death" and "Sentinel of a Sunless Abyss" are too lengthy, stretching up to almost thirty minutes in running time, and it does get a tad dull at times because of this. If these tracks were divided into smaller bits, maybe ten to fifteen minutes each, the album could have been more pleasurable. As it is, "Embracing the Lightless Depths" is nonetheless a very good release that puts the dark in sludgy doom metal. [7.5/10]

4. THE TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA - Danza IIII: The Alpha, the Omega [2012]
   Genre: Deathcore
   Label: Black Market Activities/Metal Blade

Even though technical deathcore masterminds The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza has sadly closed the curtains, that doesn't mean that they can't leave without a bang. That bang would be produced in the form of their fourth full-length record entitled "Danza IIII: The Alpha, the Omega." This album is what you would expect from this band: Abrasive, crushing, and crazed deathcore that loves to pummel its audience while having an artistic side to it. In terms of that realm, the speed and gripping nature of these songs are what mainly make this album work, knowing when to stay on a part or transition out of it to keep the audience invested. On top of that, those gripping moments are excellent, with the stellar musicianship consisting of aggressive screams, outstanding guitar work, and explosive drumming carrying their weight. On the other hand, the downside is that it does get a little repetitive, and it doesn't reach the same level of smartness and power as "Danza III: the Series of Unfortunate Events." Nonetheless, it's a well-composed and carried out effort, and served as a nice grand finale for a great band. [8/10]