Review Rundown: OTEP, Shadows Fall, Black Dahlia Murder, It Dies Today, Trigger Effect

Metal rules the day in this edition of the review rundown as some well known and unknown bands release new albums, like Shadows Fall, OTEP, Black Dahlia Murder, It Dies Today and Trigger Effect.

It Dies Today – ‘Lividity’ (Trustkill Records): They may be as crushing and powerful as they have been in years, but ‘Lividity’ finds the Queen City boys in It Dies Today as balanced as they have ever been. They have always been a band who has made their living on being both heavy and melodic at the same time, which is the driving force factor behind the success of ‘Lividity’(listen to ‘Martyr of Truth’ for a 3:38 minute example). While frontman Jason Wood will bring Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody to mind, his melodic voice is as striking as his throaty growl. This is a piercing album, one with no fine print, no red tape. With It Dies Today you know what you are getting and the same goes for ‘Lividity’ – what you see is what you get, and what you get is one hell of a modern metalcore record from one of the best metal bands Buffalo, NY has ever spawned. Hell, with the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres in the states they are in, someone had to carry the flag, right? (

Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Bled Out in Black and White’

Shadows Fall – ‘Retribution’ (Everblack Industries): If at all possible, ‘Retribution’ finds New England’s Shadows Fall at their finest yet, faster and more aggressive than they have been in recent memory. They are back, but this time they sound more focused and somehow more pissed. A running theme of ‘Retribution’ is Shadows Fall showcasing their penchant for melody. Another one would be the bands decent down the same path as others like Trivium and Bullet for My Valentine, going the way of more grandiose guitar riffing and epic sounds, although for a good amount of ‘Retribution’ the does what it does best – write barn-burners that will incite furious mosh pits. ‘A Public Execution’ is one of those tracks; a powerful and anthemic call to arms which features a chorus shouting ‘F!@# It Up!’ If that doesn’t get the circle pit rotating then nothing will. Shadows Fall has always been a band that you can headbang to while singing along, a characteristic that ‘Retribution’ flaunts. These guys have been all about a few things during their tenure on the scene – tasty guitar shredding, epic soloing and flat out ass-kicking. Why would they give all that up now? (

Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Still I Rise’

OTEP – ‘Smash the Control Machine’ (Victory Records): While these guys definitely are not reinventing the wheel, they might just use it to run you over. With ‘Smash the Control Machine,’ Front woman and prognosticator Otep Shamaya continues her tirade against all things government and organized religion. It should be no small secret what the lyrical content of this record is – socially conscious and politically aware diatribes focused squarely on exposing the truths behind most of today’s current events. OTEP’s whole mantra hasn’t changed with ‘Smash the Control Machine,’ judging by Shamaya’s screaming rants of ‘I prayed for Armageddon on the day I was born’ (‘Run for Cover’) and ‘thank god for the atom bomb’ and ‘I have a splinter from carrying the cross (‘Unveiled’). While the late track ‘Ur a Wmn Now’ is endearing and heartfelt, it just doesn’t fit and comes off slightly awkward. It seems odd for OTEP to include the track on such an otherwise aggressive effort, even though it is one of Shamaya’s best vocal performances to date. ‘Smash the Control Machine’ isn’t without its confusion (‘Where the River Ends,’ ‘I Remember’), but what else have we come to expect from OTEP. Maybe it was that whole nu-metal thing that made them crazy. (

Grade: C
Go Download: ‘Rise Rebel Resist’

The Black Dahlia Murder – ‘Deflorate’ (Metal Blade): Militant blast-beats, dizzying tempos, swirling guitars, staggering pacing and Trevor Strnad’s typical vocal wizardry make up ‘Deflorate,’ the Black Dahlia Murder’s most definite release yet. From top to bottom, stacked with layered progression and stunning aggression, ‘Deflorate’ is the kind of record that will have you speechless long, leaving you saying ‘wow’ when it is all said and done. The Black Dahlia Murder have never been this on-point, this musically precise. Although the record plays through rather swiftly, it is thoroughly satisfying, nimbly weaving its way through ten deft works of art, while adroitly avoiding sounding stale, with highlights like ‘Necropolis’ and ‘I will Return’ leading the charge into battle, or the pit, you make your choice. ‘Deflorate’ has TBDM drawing a line in the sand. With this remarkable album, they are on one side and all other death/extreme metal bands are on the other. With this disc, TBDM has sent out a message to every other heavy band – it’s time to step your game up.

Grade: A
Go Download: ‘I Will Return’

Trigger Effect – ‘Dare to Ride the Heliocraft’ (Signed By Force): This is one of the most off the wall, out of control energetic rock albums you have never heard. ‘Dare to Ride the Heliocraft’ is unbelievable youthful, painfully unapologetic and just any number of things a good rock record should be. This record is as lively as it is unabashed, a vibrant rock mix that really pays homage to the type of controlled chaos Every Time I Die made famous, well, still are, making famous. ‘Dare to Ride the Heliocraft’ might just be the best record Amen never wrote. It is short and sweet, sparing no moment to get right to the point – raw rock and roll. (

Grade: B
Go Download: ‘You Now Have’