It’s time once again for me to dig through the new albums we’ve been sent at Overdrive HQ and see what cool stuff I find.

M.I.GOD. – Specters on Parade

First pick this week is Specters on Parade the new album from German metal band M.I.GOD. These guys bill themselves as a new genre, sophisticated metal, which practically speaking is power prog with a dramatic flair. Specters on Parade is a long album (well over an hour), padded with preludes, postludes, interludes, and everything in between. When M.I.GOD. are focused on the full-length songs, they are seriously good. “The Solitary Ghost” features heavy, almost Epica-esque riffs and killer singing from vocalist Max Chemnitz. ”Tears of Today” is a strong power ballad, and “We All Belong To The Dark” sounds like it could have been written by Kamelot circa 2008. Unfortunately, there are too many interludes (between almost every song), they often don’t flow well with the rest of the album, and the sampling tends to be really cheesy. The sheer volume of filler bogs down what would otherwise be a killer album. The good parts, though, are worth holding out for, and there’s enough of them to make this worth a stream.

Verdict: A high-quality outing that unfortunately suffers from too much filler and not enough killer.

Specters on Parade was released on February 15, 2019. You can check out “The Solitary Ghost” here The full album is also on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

Conny Ochs – Doom Folk

Also up this week is German dark folk artist Conny Ochs with his new album, Doom Folk. Doom Folk covers a lot of genre ground between its’ 12 tracks, from folk rock intro “Dark Tower” to the minimalist “Moon” to a dip into Delta blues on “Crawling”. The presentation is great, though the songs themselves aren’t terribly memorable. Most of the songs occupy a middle space between acoustic rock and folk, and frankly, there’s no real darkness and not a lot of folk on this album. There’s not a lot of really memorable lyrics and storytelling to carry it either – there’s definitely some clever turns on songs like “Gun in the Cradle” and “Moon”, but in general the lyrics are good but not great. Though not an amazing album, it’s still some good lazy Sunday listening if you need something to chill out to.

Verdict: Doom Folk is well-crafted but plays it too safe.

Doom Folk was released February 15, 2019. You can check it out here, It’s also available on streaming services.

Crystal Lake – Helix

Last album for the week this week is Helix, the new album by Japanese metalcore act Crystal Lake. Helix’s opening can only be described as frenetic. “Aeon” is a bit disjointed but grabs the listener’s attention instantly, and the first half of the album doesn’t let it go easily. There’s a hip-hop influence to some of the cadences on tracks like “+81” and “Hail to the Fire” that works fantastically with deathcore. Much like countrymen Crossfaith and Coldrain, Crystal Lake load their songs with electronics, and try out a softer, more hip-hop/electronic sound on tracks like “Outgrow” and “Just Confusing”. Some of the softer songs work – “Outgrow” has some weak sections but is saved by a few good breakdowns – and some really, really don’t – thanks to some subpar rapping and odd instrumentations, “Just Confusing” is just weak. Fortunately, the band returns to its’ metalcore side for the rest of the album, closing with the solid “Apollo” and “Sanctuary”.

Verdict: When it’s being a deathcore album, Helix is great, though it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis on some tracks.

Helix was released on November 28, 2018 in Japan and on February 15, 2019 worldwide. You can check it out here, and it’s also on major streaming platforms

So, what should you check out this week?

If you like power metal: M.I.GOD.

If you like your face melted: Crystal Lake

If you’re really hungover and not ready to face loud noises: Conny Ochs

See you next week!