I was kind of expecting this to be a little better than it actually is. Not that it's bad, but after all I'd heard about it (and the fact that the fairly picky Southern Lord label put it out) I expected it to kill all. As it stands, these guys play a completely adequate but nothing special metallic crusty hardcore with a lot of samples mixed in. Their song structures are a little more complex than most of these types of bands, but the production is a little thin, and therefore the sound isn't as heavy as, say, Tragedy or From Ashes Rise. Decent stuff, but nothing to go out of your way for.
Spermbirds - "A Columbus Feeling" (2010)
Well done catchy (but not pop) punk from these old school German veterans. One thing that really stands out is the excellent lyrics- snotty, witty and smart, and quite poetic for a punk band. People wanting them to sound like they did in the '80s (and those into hardcore and harder stuff exclusively) probably won't care much for this- it's punk rock, with about as much rock as punk, but it still has bite (kind of along the lines of Wild In the Streets era Circle Jerks). The songs are very well put together, and besides the excellent lyrics, features some of the best leads since Peter And The Test Tube Babies "The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs". It starts losing steam a little over halfway through, but I like it a bit better than their last release (Set An Example).
Hummingbird Of Death/ Sidetracked split 7"ep (2010)
On this release, the highly prolific Hummingbird Of Death play faster and shorter than ever before, however it's not as grindy or power violency as on other releases. Just pretty straight out fast hardcore. Sidetracked take it even farther, thrashing out 9 shards of hardcore that make up in intensity what they lack in substance. Not the best H.O.D. stuff, but a decent release.
White Lung - "It's the Evil" (2010)
There are some forms of music that are hard to describe; you just know it when you hear it. Two forms of music like this that are related are death rock and post punk. White Lung play both, tho they fall a bit more in the death rock camp (their music sounding almost like a cross between Super Heroines and Samhain's November~Coming~Fire). I like this a lot- atmospheric and a little gothy, but with some punk bite and female vocals, mostly screamed (some early C.R.A.S.S. records influence creeping in). There seems to be a small revival for stuff like this in recent years (previously not heard much from since the early '80s), but White Lung do it better than most of the others I've heard. They're just a little harder, for one thing, and have a little more atmosphere. Overall, I guess they're just a bit more convincing.
Tumorhead/ Gut Bucket split 7"ep (2010)
Gut Bucket return with 3 of their best songs (one track from their last album plus 2 new ones). Some of the heaviest but also catchiest death metal ever, with a great distorted bass that'll rip your head off and gutteral vocals from hell. Tumorhead sound a bit like the punkier Abscess stuff- crusty punk death metal with weird progressions (and even whistling in one song) that ends with a cover of the "Gilligan's Island" theme, but about Cthulhu instead of Gilligan.
Iron Maiden - "The Final Frontier" (2010)
From the start, they make you think this is going to be a different side of Maiden. But then the offbeat instrumental intro clumsily changes into one of their most straight rock and roll songs since the first album. After that they fall back into the mold of their past few albums (which I liked a lot better than the entirety of their '90s output), but with a little more rock and roll, and even a more melodic edge to it. They've gotten a little too comfortable with the martini and golf lifestyle, and have became a bit formulaic in their autumn years. A lot of the intensity and passion is missing, but their musicianship and songwriting ability aren't lacking in the least (bloated as some of the songs may be). Make no mistake- this is Maiden and it sounds like Maiden, power metal ballads and galloping bass and Bruce's characteristic vocals soaring above it all. If you like Maiden, you'll like this. If you're a big fan, you'll eat it up. If you don't know that much about Maiden, check out Piece of Mind instead. This is a decent album, not anywhere near as good as their best, nor near as bad as their worst.
Madball - "Empire" (2010)
If you know Madball's sound, then you know what this sounds like. Tough guy metallic hardcore along the lines of Hatebreed (tho Madball's been around longer) but with a little more hardcore and a little less metal in the mix. This one was produced by Eric Rutan (and features him doing guest guitar on two tracks), but the production is a little weak- the guitars don't have the punch of past releases, and it's way too clean over all. They make up for it for playing faster on more songs than on past releases, and Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret (who is, of course, Madball vocalist Freddy's big brother) lends his unmistakable vocals to one track.