From the opening track, you get a pretty clear sense of what TBDM's Nightbringers is all about: shreddy melodeath, with some extra hints of... hair metal. That rubbed me the wrong way on first listen, apparently. But to truly appreciate TBDM, you need to look past the typical expectations of the genre, and embrace the band's indefatigable goofiness. What's new here is the sonic quality of the band's tongue-in-cheek attitude. Still, those are embellishments to what should by now be a familiar and comfortable sound.
Awaken, the debut from Fleshkiller (the new band from ex-Extol mastermind Ole Børud), is something else altogether. It's tonally unlike anything else that's come out this year. It's heavy, and definitely enshrouded in the Gothenburg metal style, but it's got a lot of major keys! I'd describe it as old Meshuggah with new Meshuggah production, crossed with King's X and Leprous. Intriguing, isn't it! Also, the musicianship is faultless. What may wind up becoming a liability for the band is that you never quite shake the feeling of this being conspiciously novel; the best music finds its way into your marrow, but in some vague way Awaken is more of a maddening itch. Yet, all that is still enough to give them a surprising edge over TBDM, who are sent home in a first-round upset.
Tomorrow, I decide just how the fuck to spell "Rivière." Also, we listen to Byzantine.