My view is blocked by a pile of snow on the porch and I am sore from shoveling... the joys of winter. However, the music needs to be reviewed.
Barren Earth: The Curse of the Red River
A supergroup with both current and former members of Amorphis, Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, and Kreator who released an EP in 2009 that was pretty well received by the melodic death fans. This album comes across as a mash-up of the two “eras” of Opeth, the death and prog metal bits of their career stuck in a blender. The only wee grumble with this band is the lead singer’s “clean” vocals are a tad wispy and weak, while his rough vocals provide significant oomph. They might want to add a second voice to add to the gravitas.
That said, this is a damn good release, and the vocal complaint may just be a quirk of mine. This bunch of Finns truly know the level of musicianship expected at this end of the metal scene. They deliver it in droves, while never getting hung up on getting over clever or poncy. There are touches of 70s doom and metal about in places. There is enough variety to keep the most pedantic, technical metal fan happy. It is no wonder why this band is being hailed as ones to watch. It will certainly keep you happy until the next Opeth or Therion opus comes out.
Earth: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I
This bunch produce sludge metal as much as they do treacle metal. It's slow and druggy stuff which almost stops time when you listen to it. Don’t expect to do anything that requires firing synapses while listening to this release. That said, there is something oddly compelling about its depth and intricacy. It's more doom, ambient music than anything like Trouble. It's mostly instrumental music, which is probably good as lyrics would just get in the way.
Although grunge is seen as a dirty word by some in the metal community, it is worth noting that what few vocals the band have used in the past, Cobain provided several instances of them. This band is probably the pioneers of the drone, doom scene. There is something about that evokes the pacific Northwest for anyone who has spent time there. This is certainly not party music but it's contemplative stuff that is heavy yet mellow. They're a band for your introspective movements.
If it weren’t for lead singer Gary Cherone (Yeah, that one who left Extreme ruining it, and then participated in the worst ever Van Halen album before trying his hand out at reggae.) you could give this release a break. Alas, Cherone and his brother on guitar have produced a collection of musical dross that almost defies belief. There is a heavy Christian element here and as well as hippy peace elements. Now rather than going for the fun style of Enuff Znuff, most of the tracks on here just come across as preachy. The cliché’ ridden lyrics on here are sometimes hard to bear.