HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Twelfth Gate - Summoning
(Crash)

Chicago upstarts Twelfth Gate have recorded a slightly downmarket, messy and distorted album that oddly works in crushing concert with the rough sounds, the band ending up with a dark, powerful debut power metal album that grinds a few vaguely death riffs to eminent distinction. Vocalist Scott Huffman is like a gruffer Geoff Tate, maybe a bit like Steel Prophet hand-to-mouth exile Rick Mythiasin, but his vocal melodies are odd, refreshing (think John Arch), sometimes outside his capabilities, but in general, welcome and successful. Summoning's a weird one, messy sounding, a bit demo-ish but I somehow welcome its raw retro vibe, the album certainly standing out from the prissy tones from overseas. Pound back a few beers and you'll be banging, bloody and bruised after the old Fates fry of this thing, Twelfth Gate reminding me of a time when leather and studded rock dogs lived in their cars unable to make a standard living because they had been unfortunate enough to have heard Stained Class.
Rating 7.5

The Heavils - The Heavils
(Metal Blade)

Connecting the dots through metal, garage rock and punk rock with a line that zigs jaggedly from Faith No More's Angel Dust through Mr. Bungle, Fishbone, Slipknot and Mudvayne, The Heavils have an incendiary sound here, tribal, blown up, continually unexpected, not nu, more like upsetting of nu. Distill it down and what you might have is mathcore dissected and assembled into songs. Not crazy about the (self)-production though, The Heavils cranking the hi to mid on the drums, deciding to go with high bass, deciding to go with mid, fatiguing guitars. Vocalist (and guitarist) Brian Carter is a blast though, sounding like a skate cross between Rollins and Clutch's Neil Fallon, leading the band on a romp through progressive punk, whatever that means. Carter is also known for making instruments out of whatever is lying around, which is a pretty ceramic metaphor for his band's fresh Frankenmonster of a sound. So yeah, to sum up: the production blows (no bass) but the songs are wiseacre for Rockford Illinois acres.
Rating 7.5