Reviews by Michael O'Brien

  • Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
  • Mayhem

    Esoteric Warfare

    By Michael O'Brien | 19 May, 2014

    The veterans reach for the sky but wind up with handfuls of dirt

    Of all of the second wave black metal bands who traversed the path from obscurity into relative prominence (within underground circles at least) in the early ‘90...

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  • Hour of Penance - Regicide
  • Hour of Penance


    By Michael O'Brien | 07 May, 2014

    Another very solid and dependable release

    Italy’s Hour of Penance have been a dependable force in the technical-cum-brutal death metal scene for the better part of a decade now, having managed to release an album roughly every tw...

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  • Lord Mantis - Death Mask
  • Lord Mantis

    Death Mask

    By Michael O'Brien | 29 April, 2014

    Ambitious but quite confused

    Controversy and heavy metal are hardly strange bedfellows, but the heated debate in some circles of the Web about whether or not the cover art for Lord Mantis’ third full-length release, Death Mas...

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  • Cauldron Black Ram - Stalagmire
  • Cauldron Black Ram


    By Michael O'Brien | 30 March, 2014

    A little uneven but fun nonetheless

    You should never judge a book by its cover, the old adage goes, and while I definitely believe in the spirit of the saying, I'm often guilty of failing to adhere to it. Such is the case with Adelaide...

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  • Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo
  • Lacuna Coil

    Broken Crown Halo

    By Michael O'Brien | 24 March, 2014

    The Italians play it very safe on their latest release

    I have to say right up front that my interest in both the gothic rock of Lacuna Coil’s past and the alt-rock of their present isn’t the highest and that my exposure to ...

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  • Insain - Enlightening the Unknown
  • Insain

    Enlightening the Unknown

    By Michael O'Brien | 23 March, 2014

    The sun sets early on a talented act

    You would have to think that ‘bittersweet’ is one of the more unlikely adjectives to be uttered in relation to the act of listening to a brutal death metal album but, in the case of Fran...

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  • Wounded Kings, The - Consolamentum
  • Wounded Kings, The


    By Michael O'Brien | 12 March, 2014

    Ultimately flawed but it’s not without its charms

    It’s no great secret that doom is my thing. Yes, I enjoy and often love other metal sub genres but if I was forced to choose one genre above all others, doom would win, hand...

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  • Conan - Blood Eagle
  • Conan

    Blood Eagle

    By Michael O'Brien | 05 March, 2014

    The barbarians return, heavier and more bloodthirsty than ever

    It’s occurred to me from time to time that quantifying the meaning of the word ‘heavy’ as it relates to heavy metal is much more difficult than it may app...

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  • Junius - Days of the Fallen Sun
  • Junius

    Days of the Fallen Sun

    By Michael O'Brien | 20 February, 2014

    A more diverse and better realised vision

    Back in 2011 I was introduced to the doomy, ethereal rock of Boston’s Junius on their second full-length release, Reports from the Threshold of Death, and I walked away from the experienc...

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  • Kampfar - Djevelmakt
  • Kampfar


    By Michael O'Brien | 08 February, 2014

    Solid and well constructed but is that really enough?

    Over the course of their 20 years as a band, Norway’s Kampfar have maintained a reputation for releasing consistent and dependable albums yet, from my perspective at least, th...

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  • Indian - From All Purity
  • Indian

    From All Purity

    By Michael O'Brien | 04 February, 2014

    Like a boot on the throat

    It’s amazing what a difference nearly a decade can make to a band’s sound. My only exposure to Chicago-based sludge/doom act, Indian, is from their 2005 debut release, The Unquiet Sky – a wel...

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  • Amon - Liar in Wait
  • Amon

    Liar in Wait

    By Michael O'Brien | 28 January, 2014

    No surprises but good nonetheless

    I think it’s safe to assume that anyone with even a passing interest in death metal is at least somewhat familiar with the storied history of Amon, Deicide, and the Hoffman brothers, so I’m...

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  • We All Die (Laughing) - Thoughtscanning
  • We All Die (Laughing)


    By Michael O'Brien | 22 January, 2014

    A heady blend of prog, metal, and everything in between

    One way to foster growth in any given field and to inject some new life and excitement into it at the same time is to tackle things that are difficult or out of your comfort zone ...

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  • Lvcifyre - Svn Eater
  • Lvcifyre

    Svn Eater

    By Michael O'Brien | 17 January, 2014

    Complex, challenging, oppressive, and heavy as all hell

    I don’t know how the crew over at Dark Descent Records manage to keep digging up so many filthy, gut-wrenching death metal bands year after year but they’ve done it on...

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  • Iskald - Nedom og Nord
  • Iskald

    Nedom og Nord

    By Michael O'Brien | 05 January, 2014

    Back to the ice-cold north

    Back in 2011 I was caught off guard by hitherto unfamiliar Norwegian melodic black metal act Iskald and their third full-length release, The Sun I Carried Alone. It wasn’t that Iskald’s style was ...

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  • Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen
  • Ihsahn

    Das Seelenbrechen

    By Michael O'Brien | 11 December, 2013

    A bold creative step

    To say that I’ve struggled to get fully invested in Ihsahn’s post-Emperor solo career would be something of an understatement. While I have nothing but respect for the man as a musician and an artist, t...

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  • Eye of Solitude - Canto III
  • Eye of Solitude

    Canto III

    By Michael O'Brien | 29 November, 2013

    Easily one of the best doom albums of 2013

    2013 has been one of the leaner years in recent memory for strong, quality doom metal. There have definitely been highlights (SubRosa, Beastwars, Lycus, Batillus, etc) but, compared to the pas...

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  • Deicide - In the Minds of Evil
  • Deicide

    In the Minds of Evil

    By Michael O'Brien | 21 November, 2013

    Album 11 brings with it very few surprises

    There was a non-trivial period of time for me when Florida’s Deicide were one of the most important bands in the world but, at the risk of sounding like a joyless, crotchety old bastard,...

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