Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Album Review – Infuriate / Infuriate (2018)

Here comes a group of Texas all-stars armed with their debut album of fast and furious Death Metal, focusing on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior.

A group of Texas all-stars, Austin-based Death Metal/Grindcore unit Infuriate was founded in late 2015 by drummer Sterling Junkin (Widower, Laughing and Lying, Venereal Baptism) and guitarist Steven Watkins (Serpentian, Sect of Execration, Sarcolytic, Images of Violence), with vocalist and guitarist Jason Garza (Blast Perversion, Slow Grind) and bassist Alan Berryman (Whore of Bethlehem, Cathexis) completing the band’s pulverizing lineup. After about a year and a half of songwriting, nine demolishing tracks of unrelenting Death Metal and Grindcore had been arranged for the band’s debut self-titled album, released earlier this year, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Deeds Of Flesh, Severed Savior, Severe Torture and Disavowed.

Featuring an obscure artwork by the legendary artist Jon Zig, as well as special images for each song for a more vivid lyric booklet, the album contains a wide range of sinister topics that focus mainly on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior, with the music being deeply rooted in late 90’s Death Metal with a modern speed. Furthermore, although the album might not surpass the 30-minute barrier, it doesn’t feel incomplete or simplistic at all. Quite the contrary, just like several renowned acts like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse have mastered doing, Infuriate were capable of condensing a gargantuan amount of violence, hatred, heaviness and speed throughout the album’s relatively short time span, positioning the quartet as one of the most promising new names of the underground extreme music scene.

The opening track Juggernaut Of Pestilence is total savagery from the very first note, led by the razor-edged riffs by Jason and Steven while drummer Sterling pounds his drums mercilessly, and their devastation goes on in the sonic havoc titled Slaughter For Salvation, with Jason growling in a demonic and rabid way, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit with the sound of the guitars getting extremely acute and flammable for our total delight. Then Collective Suffering showcases a modern-day Cannibal Corpse vibe, mainly due to the amazing job done by the band’s stringed trio, with the bass punches by Alan sounding as heavy as hell; whereas in Engastration we’re treated to a violent and metallic sonority that gets quite progressive at times, therefore enhancing its taste considerably, also presenting lyrics that reek of old school Death Metal (“Creatures of ingenuity / With voracious appetites / Lacking conscience / They gather…”).

Only Pain Remains is another hurricane of Death Metal and Grindcore for your avid (and evil) ears, with both guitars exhaling rage and madness while Sterling continues to smash his drum set, not to mention Jason’s berserk growls and roars. And the band keeps smashing our heads with their visceral music in Matando, an unstoppable Grindcore tune infused with Death Metal elements spearheaded by an inspired guitar duo, with Jason once again vociferating contemporary and aggressive words (“False sense of security / Betrayed for all to see / Bleeding profusely / From the wounds of treachery / An altercation bred from deception / You must bleed with me”), followed by Mori Terrae, where their guitar shredding is effectively complemented by the fierce beats by Sterling while Jason barks like a beast nonstop in this full-bodied hymn of destruction, and Surrogate, a frantic and pulverizing display of crushing Grindcore with the bestial growls by Jason being supported by another excellent job done on the guitars, with the song’s fulminating pace being furiously led by Sterling’s beats. And lastly we have Cannibalistic Gluttony, portraying a beautiful name for another disturbing tune by Infuriate with the music remaining vile, demented and intricate from start to finish, with highlights to the groovy and complex beats by Sterling, closing the album on an absolutely brutal mode.

In a nutshell, what are you waiting for to slam your damn skull into the circle pit to the pulverizing Death Metal crafted by Infuriate? You can purchase their debut album (available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle), as well as from your usual online retailers iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs, and keep up to date to all things Infuriate by following them on Facebook, but that, of course, only if you think you’re brave enough to face an overdose of sheer aggression and rage in the form of extreme music made in Texas.

Best moments of the album: Slaughter For Salvation, Only Pain Remains and Matando.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Juggernaut Of Pestilence 2:28
2. Slaughter For Salvation 2:56
3. Collective Suffering 2:41
4. Engastration 3:20
5. Only Pain Remains 4:10
6. Matando 3:35
7. Mori Terrae 3:46
8. Surrogate 3:18
9. Cannibalistic Gluttony 3:17

Band members
Jason Garza – vocals, guitar
Steven Watkins – guitar
Alan Berryman – bass
Sterling Junkin – drums

Album Review – Of the Sun / Before a Human Path EP (2017)

Exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination and finding balance within while embracing chaos, this high-skilled power trio is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about with their brand new album.

Self-describing their wicked music as “Southern Progressive Metal”, American power trio Of the Sun are releasing their new EP titled Before A Human Path, a highly recommended album for fans of Gojira, Pantera, Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, among other iconic groups, exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination, finding balance within while embracing chaos in each of its five unique compositions. While Of the Sun’s sound is firmly rooted in Groove and Thrash Metal, it also contains elements of Progressive Metal, creating a distinct atmosphere exactly like what you’ll be able to experience in Before a Human Path.

Hailing from Austin, the state capital of Texas, in the United States, the band formed by Patrick Duvall (lead vocals, guitar), David Duvall (bass, vocals) and Johnny Reed (drums) released their debut album AM Radio in August 2009, taking some good years for them to finally come back with new material. Fortunately, the wait is finally over for the delight of admirers of innovative and groovy music, and the final result will definitely bring a positive outcome for the band’s career. “With Before a Human Path, we pulled from personal extremes to convey a more colorful and varied storyline within the span of each song. Ultimately shunning conventional songwriting formula, we really dug in to unearth something we felt isn’t currently being done”, the band commented about the album.

The Tightrope Mile already begins in full force, sounding like a more progressive and groovier version of Pantera where Patrick has an amazing performance on vocals, reminding me of the old days of Phil Anselmo, while David blasts pure metallic lines through his bass guitar. Moreover, all its psychedelic and heavy passages make it sound like three or four songs in one, an always positive attribute in progressive music. In the kick-ass Nebulamorphous we have the perfect example of what the band calls Southern Progressive Metal, bringing the most electrifying elements from Southern Rock and Progressive Metal together while Johnny is responsible for the intricacy found in the music with his sick drumming. At the same time, Patrick takes care of the song’s deranged side with his sick growls, effectively complementing all this sonic feast of craziness and rumbling sounds.

Featuring guest musicians Phil Davidson on violin and viola, and Kullen Fuchs on vibraphone, Cantos offers the listener an exciting doomed sonority, with its clean vocals being exactly what the music demands. Furthermore, this dark and introspective creation by Of The Sun gets even better as time passes by due to the amazing guitar lines by Richard together with the low-tuned bass by David. The intricate and aggressive tune A Soliloquy brings forward Groove Metal with a lot of progressiveness and hatred flowing from its vocals and bass lines, reaching a whole new level of insanity (and don’t forget to pay attention to the excellent drumming by Johnny throughout the entire song); whereas in the sharp Southern Metal chant The Limbless God we face more demented metal music to pierce our ears mercilessly. Their fusion of anger and creativity couldn’t sound more thrilling, with highlights to the great sync once again between Richard and David, not to mention all tempo changes and endless heaviness which end up adding an extra dosage of adrenaline to the final result.

To sum up, despite being only an EP technically speaking, Before a Human Path brings to the listener a full-flavored adventure in experimental heavy music thanks to the refined skills of each one of the three musicians from Of the Sun. If you want to show your support for Patrick, David and Johnny, go check what they’re up to at their Facebook page, listen to their music at ReverbNation, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Before a Human Path at their official BandCamp page. This creative and energetic trio of musicians is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about, and you’ll be more than pleased with what they can do to your ears with their music.

Best moments of the album: Nebulamorphous and A Soliloquy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tightrope Mile 7:09
2. Nebulamorphous 5:34
3. Cantos 7:22
4. A Soliloquy 7:22
5. The Limbless God 5:31

Band members
Patrick Duvall – lead vocals, guitar
David Duvall – bass, vocals
Johnny Reed – drums

Guest musicians
Phil Davidson – violin and viola on “Cantos”
Kullen Fuchs – vibraphone on “Cantos”