Rebel Extravaganza

Heavy Metal And Other Occasional Musics And Cultures

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW RATING SCALE:
**Please note that this rating scale serves as a reference for albums reviewed prior to 2023.
Numbered ratings will not be added going forward, in hopes that the writer’s impression of the work will suffice.
It will have to.** 

6 – Rarely bestowed. An honor reserved for undeniable classics (or those that should be). The Apex Predator.
5 – Impressive.
4 – Worthy of special recognition.
3 – A solid effort.
2 – The participation trophy.
1 – These are the albums that the 2s beat up on the way home from school.
0 – A waste of both our time and yours.

Album Review: Absorb – Smog [EP]

Hamilton, Ontario’s ABSORB bashed out two respectable full-lengths between 2015 and 2018, then poof (or puff?)! Like ‘The Smokeman’ himself, the band were in the mists until last year’s stench-ridden return by way of the EP. And now, just over a year later, the Smog be upon us… What shouldn’t also escape notice here is the sense of Confessionalism found in the lyrics of the band, especially prevalent in “I still think it’s 2020 / I never really dream / Circling the drain / I’m moulting – alone / On a dog day afternoon in the middle of summer / […]

Album Review: Octoploid – Beyond The Aeons

Merriam-Webster defines pedigree in part as “2a: an ancestral line (Lineage) b: the origin and the history of something”. Well, when the bloodline of a band includes current/past members of AMORPHIS and SWALLOW THE SUN (among others), to say that OCTOPLOID has “an impressive pedigree” is a bit of an understatement. Still, that’s no guarantee that what emerges will be anything more than a blending together of two already near-cousins in sound; possibly even something that would’ve worked better kept within each’s respective outfit. Alright, that’s the last of the comparisons made, now let’s get to the important thing – […]

Album Review: New Horizon – Conquerors

Conquerors starts with such an incredible barrage of quality that I really thought this might be the best power metal album I’ve ever heard. Well, things do start to slip by the middle of the album, but even with that “slippage”, this is still one Hell of an awesome melodic metal album. When God was handing out voices, he loaded Nils Molin up with more talent than just about any other human being I’ve heard. Good…God…Almighty! What a golden set of pipes Nils has! This is a singer for the ages, right up there with the late Ray Gillen, early […]

Album Review: QAALM – First Light Of The Last Dawn [EP]

QAALM arrived seemingly from nowhere in 2022, a quintet who kicked up its share of interest with debut Resilience & Despair. Now trimmed to a three-piece (Family Size to Snack Size…maybe I’m just hungry…), drummer Dave Ferrara and guitarist/vocalist Henry Derek join forces with guitarist Minsu Dylan Kim to “usher in” what purports to be “a new era” for the band. A droning intro, populated by sparse fingerings and even more spacious bass, QAALM never in the greatest rush to get anywhere. This can harm some bands more than help, as a good many just don’t know how to give […]

Album Review: Brazen Tongue – Of Crackling Embers & Sorrows Drowned

‘The Weight Of Self’ suffers from a more lightweight guitar tone than the style demands, session drums of Kevin Paradis busy as all Hell, but somehow coming across as laid down after too few listens to the scratch tracks sent ‘cross the pond to result in anything he’s emotionally involved in. Vocalist/guitarist/synth-ist (synthesizerist? synther?) Scott Skopec has a fine death delivery, no doubt heavily influenced by the other guitarist – and only other actual member – Ethan Gifford’s Gothenburg surroundings, and both ‘Metaviral’ and ‘Walking The Parapets’ wave proudly the flag of G-burg’s melodic death past both in arrangement and […]

Album Review: Ascalapha – Somber Vampyric Night

Does the world need another bedroom black metal “band”? Turns out, “need” or not, we’ve certainly had far worse than ASCALAPHA foisted upon us. ‘Dark Moon’ slowly begins her westward arc, tasteful and tunefully caressing the sable half-dome of the night, belying the grim subject matter, the resignation to the end. Lyrically, we find Monstro – and thus, ASCALAPHA – to be sparse, more a collection of handfuls of water (tears?) from life’s cold stream than traditional rhyme, which then affects the musical form; no “verse-chorus-verse” here. After a ‘Ceaseless Drought’, we stride the ‘Nameless Path’, filled more of determination […]

Album Review: Castle Rat – Into The Realm

There’s getting to be so many cosplay metal bands around now that it’s almost a rarity to see a band with no image. CASTLE RAT goes all-in on the dress-up aspect, but in a pretty low rent way, with very home-made looking get-ups good for a quick trip to the RenFaire. Almost all of this band’s interest is going to center around the statuesque Red Sonja-looking frontwoman the Rat Queen aka Riley Pinkerton. With chain mail brassiere, thigh high boots and an enormous mas of red curls, she cuts a striking figure without a doubt. Is the music any good […]

Album Review: Huntsmen – The Dry Land

‘This, Our Gospel’ leads off HUNTSMEN’s third, swirling scales and surrounding sonics until the psychedelia the band has toyed with before is ushered into the forefront with chanted refrain and off-kilter meter. Then, sadly, not even three minutes in, we’re back in typical post-gaze-whatever-land, where we stay for the remainder of this 8+-minute opener. Sure, there are moments that pique the interest, but they’re brief and peripheral, a grasp too light to hold the attention; vital when you’re dealing with any style, but this one most especially. Digressionary from the start, ‘Cruelly Dawns’ repeats the pattern, an appealing vocal melody […]

Album Review: Alarm! – Alarm!

There’s just something about Swedish hardcore/punk that stands apart from any other movement. From ANTI-CIMEX to Mob 47 to the ‘90s crust influences of SKITSYSTEM and DISFEAR, it just hits different. The members of ALARM! have pedigree up the wazoo but, refusing to rest on the laurels of their past (bands such as VICTIMS and OUTLAST), the foursome has crafted a brief but boisterous album in Alarm!. A tellingly ominous bass/drum opens up ‘Into The Dark’, and when I say “opens” up, I mean “sonically eviscerates”, all speed and high register screams/spits. Not slowing down for ‘Alerta!’ (which I think […]

Album Review: Julie Christmas – Ridiculous And Full Of Blood

Fourteen years after the laudable debut from JULIE CHRISTMAS, The Bad Wife, she of the many projects and of the many voices returns with Ridiculous And Full Of Blood. With a backing band is composed of members from CULT OF LUNA, CANDIRIA and KENMODE (as well as others), ‘Not Enough’ begins, tribal, percussive and ritual, a “calling up” of spirits before drifting into trip-hop/electro momentarily, more reminiscent of the singer’s past than much found here. Tom Tierney’s ever-present keys take the lead for much of ‘Supernatural’ cementing, as they will come to throughout Ridiculous And Full Of Blood, how much […]