Album Review – Among The Prey / Only For The Blinded Eyes (2016)

A solid and energetic album highly recommended for fans of Melodic Death Metal, crafted by a Finnish band that has all it takes to become a future reference in Scandinavian heavy music.

Rating4

AmongThePrey2400pixFeaturing high skilled musicians previously known from groups such as Thunderstone, Agonizer and Before The Dawn, here comes Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Among The Prey directly from the city of Jyväskylä, the largest city in the region of Central Finland and on the Finnish Lakeland, firing a pugnacious fusion of traditional and modern Melodic Death Metal in their debut full-length album Only For The Blinded Eyes. And before I even begin the detailed review of this 9-track album, I might say this is undoubtedly an excellent choice for fans of a genre that became a synonym to heavy music from all over Scandinavia.

The reason for that is quite simple as Among The Prey deliver exactly what Melodic Death Metal demands to be truly entertaining, including enraged screams, melodic guitar lines and vigorous beats. Formed in 2013 and having released a demo entitled My Demons in 2014, it’s time for the band to reach higher grounds and send their special message to the world with Only For The Blinded Eyes. “The whole point of the album was to make music as it always should be done. If the artist has something to say, he puts himself truly in the line of fire and pours it all out. So that every played note and every vocal line would transfer those raw emotions to the listener. I hope we succeeded in that, so it can be heard why this album just had to be done”, said the band’s founder and frontman Iiro Kuntsi.

In the opening track, directly named Smile, the band offers us all huge doses of violence but with that characteristic polished sounding of Melodic Death Metal, and you’ll quickly notice how each band member masters their respective instruments. As expected, Iiro leads the attack with his sick growls and piercing riffs, making an excellent duo with the other guitarist for Among The Prey, Joni Laine. The following tune, Beyond Repair, is a modernized sonic devastation highly influenced by Groove Metal, where its nonstop beats are enhanced by its excellent guitar lines, turning this into a song tailored for igniting a fun circle pit with your friends during the band’s live performances; whereas the title-track Only For The Blinded Eyes gets darker than its predecessors, exhibiting lots of elements from the Gothenburg Sound but with the band’s own touch. For instance, especially during the song’s chorus the band seems to be paying a “tribute” to iconic bands such as In Flames and Soilwork.

Among_The_Prey_promopicDrinking from a similar music fountain of bands such as Arch Enemy, Among The Prey bring forward the very melodic and thrilling Burning Down In Hell, certainly one of the best tracks of the whole album (if not the best) mainly due to Iiro’s raging vocals, in special during the song’s catchy chorus about sorrow and regret (“Why did I do this to myself / Why can’t I make it go away / Over and over again / I’m burning down in hell”). Following that awesome chant, we have Pieces, which despite being a more introspective tune it still contains the unique fury crafted by the band. In addition, the precision by drummer Atte Palokangas is outstanding throughout the entire album, which can be witnessed in detail in his excellent performance during this song.

In Wake Up the band keeps blasting pure Melodic Death Metal, with the groovy and rumbling lines by bassist Toni Keskinen and the riffs by both Iiro and Joni elevating the overall quality of this neck-breaking chant. However, in order to avoid getting stale, the second half of the song presents a different approach from its first “act”, which in the end is a welcome breathe of fresh air and only makes things even better. In Your Face is another good display of the highly-developed skills of all band members, a solid fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal that should sound very powerful during their live  concerts, while in Two Worlds Colliding, a song about  violence and betrayal (“Left behind, forgotten / Bout to walk this path / Blinded by all your / Darkened words / Violence has left me numb”), there’s a lot of hatred flowing from Iiro’s screams, with the only problem being that the song gets a bit tiring after a while. And finally, Dancing On Our Graves comes crushing with its four minutes of blazing riffs in perfect sync with the rhythmic drumming by Atte. This is perhaps the song with the highest amount of elements from different types of heavy music other than Melodic Death Metal, which makes me wonder the level of complexity the band could have reached with a couple of extra minutes if it was slightly longer than the final result (which is already really good, anyway).

In a nutshell, as I mentioned before Only For The Blinded Eyes is a solid and energetic album highly recommended for fans of Melodic Death Metal, crafted by a band that has all it takes to become a future reference in this type of heavy music. You can get more details on Among The Prey, their music, their tour dates and their future plans at their Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Only For The Blinded Eyes at the Inverse Records webstore or at the Record Shop X webstore.

Best moments of the album: Smile, Burning Down In Hell and Wake Up.

Worst moments of the album: Two Worlds Colliding.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Smile 3:49
2. Beyond Repair 3:51
3. Only For The Blinded Eyes 3:53
4. Burning Down In Hell 3:44
5. Pieces 4:45
6. Wake Up 4:15
7. In Your Face 3:04
8. Two Worlds Colliding 4:02
9. Dancing On Our Graves 4:16

Band members
Iiro Kuntsi – vocals, guitar
Joni Laine – guitar
Toni Keskinen – bass
Atte Palokangas – drums

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Album Review – Chugger / Human Plague (2015)

A fearless band from Gothenburg bringing forth a technical and organic fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Southern Rock.

Rating4

CHUGGER - Human Plague cover artWhenever you think of the Gothenburg Sound (also known as Melodic Death Metal), forged in the 90’s amidst the harsh climate and technological progress in Sweden, names like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames will instantly come to your mind. Those bands were capable of creating something completely new in the world of heavy music, blending melody and violence in a unique way augmented by tons of catchy riffs and contemplative lyrics. Hailing from the same fruitful area comes the five-piece Groove Death Metal band Chugger, who after the 2013 EP entitled Scars are releasing now in 2015 their first full-length album, the heavy and modern Human Plague.

The initial idea behind the band came up in 2006 by guitarist Robert Bjärmyr, but it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that Chugger actually came to life with their progressive and aggressive musicality. Although they can be seen at first glance as just another Swedish Melodic Death Metal group, perhaps what differentiates them the most from all other Gothenburg bands is their ability to accurately add many interesting elements from American Southern Rock and Metal to their music, enhancing the level of belligerence found in every song in Human Plague. In addition, the album art designed by independent artist Sam Hayles at DOSEprod also effectively expresses the high-tech but organic fusion offered by Chugger in the album.

And all the modern music proposed by Chugger becomes clear as soon as The Grid starts, a song built of traditional Gothenburg sound pinched by Industrial Metal, Death Metal and even Metalcore, something In Flames have already done (but unfortunately got lost somewhere), as melodic as expected from a Swedish metal band and a great choice for jumping up and down with the band. The harsh growls by frontman David Dahl definitely help define the violence in their music, which is also the case in the first single of the album, Virus, where the band truly spreads their “virus” of metal. Furthermore, its short and effective apocalyptic chorus is more than perfect for screaming along with them (“One shot at glory / Ascending through the sky – Virus”).

CHUGGER band photo 2Rust is probably their most Americanized song, especially its heavy guitar riffs and vocals and its awesome headbanging rhythm (providing the listener once again another good opportunity to scream the lyrics with the band), while Never Alone showcases a melancholic slow intro followed by a dense atmosphere, an amazing “devilish” duet between David and Swedish singer Maria Strandén (ex- Therion), and inspiring lyrics about unity and never being alone in our society.

Feed The Fire follows similar lines as “Rust”: it’s another excellent raw and direct metal track with its main riff made for breaking your neck. Not only that, it’s important to say those guys know how to craft addictive choruses (“Burn! You feed the fire / Burn! With everything you do / Burn! You’re feeding the flames / Burn! Time to pay the price”). The following tune, Ignorance Divine, has a strong Gothenburg vibe with lots of rhythmic breaks, from a faster metallic sounding to Southern Metal/Rock riffs and Melodic Death Metal guitar solos, thanks to the great job done by guitarists Robert Bjärmyr and Fredrik Carlstedt; whereas Five Feet Down reminds me of some of the best songs by In Flames and Soilwork. The heaviness of the chorus is at the same level as the most violent Southern Metal, with kudos to drummer David Pergament for smashing his drums during the whole song.

CHUGGER - Spreading the Disease Tour FlyerIn Cut Out From Hell, which despite all its violence is a very harmonious 6-minute song, David offers some deeper guttural while the rest of the band keeps kicking ass at a high level, and after a short display of some nice riffs in The Pendulum Swing the band presents us Endgame, with its Arch Enemy-ish sonority and uprising vocals. Besides, maybe if this song was a little shorter it would have been a lot more effective. And finally closing the album with razin’ guitars and piercing vocal lines we have the title-track, Human Plague, a song that was born ready for Chugger’s live performances where the bass lines by Henrik Östlund are more solid and ferocious than ever.

There are many places on the web where you can find more information about Chugger and listen to their excellent music, such as their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, as well as enjoy an interesting reading about how Human Plague was brought forth with their online studio diary. And of course, don’t forget to purchase their music and witness their furious metal live, as their Spreading The Disease Tour 2015 is just about to take off with many dates around Europe. As the band states, “We are the voice of the voiceless. We do not fear what lies beneath. We are Chugger.”

Best moments of the album: Virus, Feed The Fire and Five Feet Down.

Worst moments of the album: Endgame.

Released in 2015 Rambo Music/Gain Music Entertainment/Sony Music

Track listing
1. The Grid 4:32
2. Virus 4:14
3. Rust 4:20
4. Never Alone 5:51
5. Feed The Fire 4:35
6. Ignorance Divine 5:21
7. Five Feet Down 3:37
8. Cut Out From Hell 5:56
9. The Pendulum Swing 1:24
10. Endgame 5:46
11. Human Plague 6:17

Band members
David Dahl – vocals
Robert Bjärmyr – guitar
Fredrik Carlstedt – guitar
Henrik Östlund -bass
David Pergament – drums

Guest musician
Maria Strandén – female vocals on “Never Alone”