Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Lord Weird Slough Feg

The Lord Weird Slough Feg
New Organon
Cruz Del Sur Music
14 June 2019
The year 2020 will be 30 years since they formed in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Hiatuses, relocation to California, member changes, record company changes, hair loss, and this is the tenth studio album, according to Metal Archives. The band plays its own peculiar style of dueling guitars, very much influenced by the 1970s. In the mid 1990s the band’s debut stood out as so different from groove-bro-macho-man metal, death-growl-eat-mic-chop-chop metal, black-makeup-jail-dude metal, industrial-what-what metal, melodic-so-called-death metal, so on and so forth. They formed in 1990, but it seemed like they wanted nothing to do with anything that had just happened in the 1980s, and who could blame them. Here we are, then, if you have not heard them, let’s cut to the chase. On this new album there is a huge Thin Lizzy double guitar sound (as pretty much always has been the case), the production is wild and unpolished like much of hard rock in the 1970s, the singing is melodic but maybe a bit nasal and kind of raw. Humans, not robots, says Slough Feg. The lyrics seem like a person that has been reading lots of literature at the bar, while downing some libations, perhaps too many, and is now explaining that literature to other intoxicated people at the bar. They sound like a close relative of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, with 1979 as a good year, if you will.
The lyrics might come across as inebriated, educated, folky, pub philosophy or all of the above. For instance, they have a song called “Coming of Age in the Milky Way,” which if you can figure out what it means, then you are a very special person. There’s also “Sword of Machiavelli,” which is a two-minute discourse on power, and speaking of discourse, they also have a song called “Discourse on Equality,” and that’s the kind of band they are. They have a song called “Being and Nothingness,” and they talk about crime, time, wine and rats in less than three minutes, which is great because it is way better than actually reading the book itself, and a good way of avoiding that other book called Being and Time.
Rock and roll, friends, it’s all in the name of classic rock and roll by way of heavy metal by an Irish-by-way-of-California-Pennsylvania band that still sounds like themselves after decades, and it’s like the 1980s never happened. Slough Feg went straight from 1979 to 1990, and that was such a cool maneuver that they pulled that it is necessary to figure out what they did with the time machine. The groovy year of 1969 turned into hard rock 1979 to Slough Feg in 2019, and the boys are back in town (the boys are back in town) for some good ole rock and roll philosophy.
thelordweirdsloughfeg.bandcamp.com

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Moonlight Haze

Moonlight Haze
De Rerum Natura
Scarlet Records
21 June 2019
Moonlight Haze (Italy) is a new name in symphonic power metal, but the personnel comes from established names like Temperance, Elvenking, Sound Storm, Teodasia and Overtures. They apparently only began in 2018 with singer Chiara Tricarico and drummer Giulio Capone, and now they have Marco Falanga and Alberto Felinato on guitars, and Alessandro Jacobi on bass. The new music is fully concentrated on the writing memorable songs that can gain favorable audiences quickly. It takes the template of power metal and adds operatic singing and the sweet sounds of keyboards, and keeps the music fun and animated through a variety of uptempos, with lots of power metal and pop symphonic melodies. Some songs have more of a guitar-based energy, while others work the sound of the keyboards. Even though the album maintains a good pace of upward vibes, they have worked on making the songs develop their own feel. Only one song, the penultimate track “A Shelter from the Storm,” is a true ballad that calls for the lighters to come out during the shows.
The songs are the star show, of course, but in this genre the style and quality of the singing is of high importance. Longtime fans already know Chiara Tricarico from her work with Temperance, amongst others. On this particular album we hear various shades of singing, sometimes we hear the voice at an almost speaking voice in which it seems effortless, in a good way. Sometimes the voice goes for that angelic, ever so soft tone, while at other times it sounds more intense, though still melodic. Naturally, what would a symphonic power metal album featuring Ms. Tricarico be without some glass-shattering operatic singing?! For instance, the song “Time” is a guitar-focused song and the chugging is quite heavy for this style, and it is one context in which the glass-shattering operatic singing shows up, to great effect. This song, by the way, also has a bit of male growling, too. At any rate, this is only the debut. They are just getting warmed up.
facebook.com/Moonlighthazeband/

Glare of the Sun

Glare of the Sun
Theia
Lifeforce Records
June 21st, 2019
Glare of the Sun (Austria) is atmospheric heaviness that draws from post-rock and doom. In this music, which has a gentle heaviness, the guitars are used for the creation of moods. Of course, this music does not attempt to overwhelm the audience with power chords, speed, chugging, shredding or obnoxious loudness. If anything, it could be thought of more along the lines of a question: “Do you think that you’d like to feel, experience something that is musically different?”; that difference is the area where you can begin to explore what they are doing. Patience is necessary because the album is some 66 minutes and the 12 tracks do not have titles, except for the use of Roman numerals I through XII. For this band, they don’t want the titles of the songs or the lyrics to be the main thing. The idea is to listen to the vibes and let that be the main thing.
Listening to the album and reading the lyrics, it is not clear even what the lyrics are saying because, for the most part, the vocals are another layer of the music, not the centerpiece. These lyrics are rather abstract. Some of the lyrics are whispered, and some are growled, some are sung, but in all cases there is a sense of absence, like the vocals are not there to catch your attention but to make you feel a sense of slow, subtle moods of watching the waves of the oceans or the clouds moving across the sky or something else distant.
This album is heavy, it’s heavy in the sense that is heavy post-rock, it is doom-ish, and it’s an inward-looking heaviness. Patience and let go. facebook.com/glareofthesun/

Ravensire

Ravensire
A Stone Engraved in Red
Cruz Del Sur Music
14 June 2019
Ravensire is battle heavy metal, the type that the band imagines goes well with movies of wars in the ancient times of the Greeks, Romans, Persians, and similar contexts. Battles and tests of fighting will, ancient heathen idols and the powers of dark magic, heroes and villains, violence and brutality, and betrayal and royalty are all at the center of the music, and this band conjures it up with their songs as odes to those times and spirits. History and mythology, and tales and legends form vehicles for the band’s music of bravery and treason. The audience’s vision of those images from a long time ago have to play a role in the enjoyment of the music. People with little imagination or little interest in the empires and wars of ancient times might find it difficult to understand or stomach what these “warriors of metal” do. In case it is not clear, in contradistinction to some modern/contemporary norms, this band will never, ever write a song about how their boyfriend/girlfriend does not treat them well nor will they write songs about how bad their relationship with their mom/dad is. However, they will write songs about a queen that married her mother’s lover, then murdered the king, in order to ascend to the throne of a kingdom in ancient Iberia, Carthage or Mesopotamia.
The musicians of Ravensire might be History Channel junkies. They might not know what is going on in the latest popular sitcom that coworkers discuss at the water cooler, but they know about the differences between the weaponry, armor and army formations of the ancient Athenian and Spartan militaries. As a matter of fact, they might have either written songs about the topic already or are planning to do it on future recordings. In addition, Ravensire has decreed that Ravensire tunes must be odes to the warrior values. The songs must say, “Arise, warrior of metal, raise your fist, and bang your head.” The songs must not be too slow that you cannot rock out nor too fast that you don’t know what to do. Uptempo rockers is the main tool at their disposal and they wield it willingly and efficiently. Finally, readers should be sure to hear for themselves the vocals. It’s a gritty, and perhaps a bit nasal type of lower singing, and rough around the edges. “Keep it true” is no convenient slogan for these Portuguese men o’ war, it is their mission.
ravensire.bandcamp.com

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Kval

Kval
Laho
May 22nd, 2019
Hypnotic Dirge Records
Kval is chill, relaxation, atmospheric, one-person black metal from Finland. The vocals are extreme, but they are not super harsh and end up sounding almost as background landscape. Keyboards are important and for fans of this genre, this is something along the lines of the aural themes of forests-and-mountains vibes. It is chill rock with a bit of tremolo picking and some gentle-giant, softer growled vocals. Some of this music is just keyboard sounds for meditation or for helping people fall asleep, for chilling out, for a personal comfort zone, for yoga, for meditation, for doing homework, for working on a school project, so on and so forth.
The music might not perhaps sound all that impressive to the outsider’s ear, but in this genre what matters is not how wealthy the production is or the technicality of the musicianship. Feeling is perhaps more important than anything. For this reason, this recording should hold the attention of the devoted fan of this general style. At times the vocals might recall desperation or something different, like a vibe of tranquility, while the music itself often works melodies and if not direct melodies, then a general ambiance of melancholy or a greyness of a state of mind. The quality of the recording is not professional level, and if that bothers some listeners, they probably won’t change their minds with this DIY recording. While it might be accurate that this album will not necessarily convert masses who are not already on the inside track, the music is pretty catchy and competent in this field. The person behind this project at this point has years and years of experience in making this type of music, so it’s going to be worth your while if you are already a big fan of the genre. hypnoticdirge-records.bandcamp.com/album/laho
hypnoticdirgerecords.bandcamp.com/album/laho

Striker tours North America this summer (Seattle included)

Striker
Play to Win
October 26th, 2018
Record Breaking Records
This summer of 2019 the new heroes of traditional-melodic heavy metal are heading out to the highway to bring their wares to people of Canada and the United States. Active for more than ten years now, their debut came out in 2010, followed by albums in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018, which is this album right here. They write very catchy, rocking songs, and they have a really good singer. In case you missed it, in 2018 Striker issued the album Play to Win, which is 10 tracks, for 41 minutes, a pretty perfect duration time for rock albums. It features a very ear-friendly guitar tone, and rocking riffs and crystal clear, cool solos. All the songs seem like hits because, you better believe it, that’s exactly how this band intends it to be. It works! The singing is outstanding, the voice is melodic and strong at the same time. Striker delivers an awesome mix of scorchers, rockers, anthems and it includes a ballad at the end to wind it all down. The only question now is: Will there be a new album in 2019 or do we have to wait until 2020? Check to see if they are coming to your town this summer. The Seattle date is July 5th at the Funhouse. facebook.com/strikermetal

Mavradoxa

Mavradoxa
Nightmarrow
May 2nd, 2019
Hypnotic Dirge Records
1.Maple 07:41
2.The Carrion Shade 09:25
3.Nightmarrow 09:34
4.Rustling Leaves 01:45
5.Black Crystal Snowfall 10:57
6.Umbra 03:40
total time 43:02
Black metal, as interpreted by this New York State band, means an effort to make the recording as real as possible, that sounds like human beings playing music; less software; more playing. This band does well in their use of melody on this, their third album. It is very likable to hear a recording in which the drums sound real, the extra noisiness of real cymbals, and the overall labor that is drumming. The bass guitar is there and if you pay attention you hear the low rumble, that pulse of the rhythm.
One thing that stands out right away is the guitar melodies. There are plenty of moments in which the guitar melodies or guitar harmonies shine brightly. Starting on the first song, the guitar harmonies catch the attention of the listener. The second song shows another cool moment for the guitar to have its place at the front. This time, the melodies build up expectation for quite a while and then they arrive in the form of an uptempo segment that takes the song to the end. The third song also has its clear moment of simple but effective guitar melody, although as a song this one underlines the band’s tendency for longer compositions. The music does require more of an effort in order to stay with it because nine minutes is pretty long for a song no matter how you slice it. There is one more long song. By this time, one is more used to the ambitious songwriting. Mentally, it is easier because one knows that this is how these New Yorkers roll. In the end, the progressive side of the music is manifested and hopefully fans can appreciate the goals of the band to incorporate various elements into the music as a more colorful work.
The vocals are rather traditional, raspy and pretty harsh, so be aware that you have to be a fan of the style, and it is best to find out for yourself than to have some reviewer tell you what it sounds like. This work is for those looking for DIY BM recordings.
hypnoticdirgerecords.bandcamp.com/album/nightmarrow

Kat

Kat
Without Looking Back
Pure Steel Records
June 14th, 2019
1.Black Night in My Chair 04:40
2.Poker 06:03
3.Medieval Fire 05:32
4.The Race for Life 04:33
5.Flying Fire 06:05
6.Wild 08:42
7.Walls of Whispers 06:05
8.Let There Be Fire 05:05
9.More 08:15
10.The Promised Land 05:57
total time 01:00:57
In the international Western world of metal music, Kat is not a known name, at least not in the United States, but for some longtime fans of 1980s metal bands in Poland and Eastern Europe, Kat is a familiar name (as is Turbo, another veteran Polish band). The oldest generation of heavy rockers in Poland, they undoubtedly tell stories about what it was like during the time of Stalinism. The band formed in 1979 or so. They had a debut album in 1986 in English, and the Polish-language version that same year. In 1988, which is right around the time that the end of the Stalinist Communist Party rule is in sight, the band had a second album (in Polish). It looks like they had four albums in the 1990s. On and off, changing sounds and members, with periods of inactivity, here they are in 2019 with a new album (their ninth, according to Metal Archives). In the interest of brevity, let’s limit the discussion to this particular album. It is traditional veteran heavy metal, close to the general sounds of the reunited/old New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands and of the reunited/old American bands that Europeans call U.S. metal, close in lineage to the current sounds of the old 1980s Ohio bands. In other words, the calling card of Pure Steel Records.
The music features traditional structures that check all the necessary boxes. The fans will be pleased with the traditional heavy metal sequences in the songs. In addition, the songwriting focuses on solid tracks that people can remember and grasp immediately. Kat 2019 is handling their business. This is a mix of uptempo rockers and midtempo sing-along songs, and the tracks show a very good use of some bluesier moments, giving the audience a nice variety of moods. The parts that show a blues side of their heavy metal sound are particularly attractive, and add an excellent, different side to the album.
The guitar work emphasizes functional riffs and memorable melodies. That is the operating procedure for all the songs, as a general protocol. There are lots of awesome guitar melodies throughout the entire work. Similarly, the singing serves the functions of the songs, although the singing by itself is a main attraction on the album, and will be of interest to fans of singing, especially the gritty, bluesier singing with melodic tones. In short, fans of big, catchy, rocking guitar melodies and good vocal melodies should make this June 2019 veteran album a top priority.
facebook.com/KATofficialprofile/

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Haze of Summer

Haze of Summer
Stuzha
March 1st, 2019
The most recent recording by this band (Russia) is a boatload of fun, upbeat music. If you want to hear melodic extreme music that will make you feel good, and why not, make you want to dance, then things will not get much better than this recording in extreme metal. It is done remarkably well, and let’s find out why. As a way to rebel against the uptight, cranky metal music rules, they call themselves “hipster black metal.” They have no lyrics about dragons in the rainbows’ dungeons and there are otherworldly demons and devils here, either. Human emotions and relationships is the substance of the lyrics in Russian. An online translation shows a general style of poetic lyrics about love, lost love, the loneliness of the seasons, including a poem by the classic Russian writer Pushkin. The music is melodic extreme metal, but this label does not even begin to scratch the surface of what is going on.
The music is fun and upbeat and a main reason is the free nature of the melodies. The drumming is extreme metal drumming, but with a beat, and then there’s the guitars which go far in delivering an abundance of melodies that sound like happiness. That’s just the beginning because it’s all going to get even better. The band uses fun keyboards melodies and this practically bursts at the seams. There’s more. They have invited friends to play horns (and other instruments) and this takes things to a greater level of catchiness. Black metal + fun keyboards + saxophone, trumpets, violin, accordion + more = Haze of Summer.
They also have done something that some of us have been wondering about. At least for some of us, this is new and very cool: the band has gone and made a performance video of the entire recording from start to finish. Of course, this may not be new to you if you have seen many bands do this already, but it’s new to some of us, and it’s pretty cool. You can hear the entire recording on Bandcamp or be entertained by the whole recording performed as a long video on YouTube. If you want something fun, really fun, then your stop bus is here. Your ticket is Haze of Summer.
hazeofsummer.bandcamp.com/album/stuzha

Friday, June 14, 2019

Temple Koludra

Temple Koludra
Seven! Sirens! To A Lost Archetype
Transcending Obscurity Records
14 June 2019
1.Trimurti 09:24
2.Vajra 06:18
3.Grey Apparition 05:02
4.Namapura 09:44
5.This Diadem Will Last 08:46
6.Vertigo 09:10
7.White I Trance 12:27
total time 01:00:51
This German entity is a challenging trip into black metal experimentalism. Let’s take three out of seven tracks and let’s see what there is: number three, five and seven. Number three is “Grey Apparition” and it is about five minutes. It is a tightly-packed sound of a machine and human synthesis of black metal with a certain air of futuristic, processed dystopia. It would be generally accurate to refer to this song as fast, melodic black metal, with a very hi-tech feel, for the percussion does not sound like live drums. It is not five minutes of total blasting, but it’s a pretty fast one, for sure; this is a headbanging track.
“This Diadem Will Last” is song number five. The industrial-robot-machine-dystopia of the slow-churning atmosphere is in full force. What is real and what is machine? The machine-human synthesis results in the processing of vocals, drumming, guitars and everything else, and the only certain thing is an industrial, cold machine world. This slow-paced tempo lasts for pretty much the duration of the track. This one, in that regard, is smooth, relatively easy to understand as atmospheric roboblackmetal or industrialblackmetal.
“White I Trance” is number seven. Here’s a rough outline of the situation. The first four minutes is all-out black metal, more or less. Then a quieter segment until about 05:18, then the black metal returns until about 5:56, then silence, and by about 6:30 and forward, there’s a bit of random sounds (to make the listener think of space, machines, etc.). By the 08:00 mark, some guitar sounds are more distinguishable. By the 09:54 mark, all of a sudden, the fast black metal has come back to life and dies again by the 11:15 mark, and it is quiet/silence again until the end of the time.
In summary, it is the black metal fans that will be main and first group of cyborgs to sign their names on the dotted line. Of the black metal cyborgs, it will be the more adventurous ones that will take this experimental entity like fish to water. Despite the experimentalism, there is a certain order, and catchiness, to the racket. Fun. Weird. Left field. Relax. Breathe. It will all make sense when you wake up again as a robot.
templekoludra.bandcamp.com

Nucleus

Nucleus
Entity
Unspeakable Axe Records/Me Saco Un Ojo Records
14 June 2019
Nucleus is in some ways some of the most old-school, classic-style death metal. The growling is low and is kept low throughout, and that’s it, in terms of vocals. The rhythm guitar tone and riffs are strictly along the lines of the classic styles. This may be the year 2019, but the band is going for something more timeless, something that won’t immediately stand out as a 2019 thing that listeners will identity. On the other hand, something is different and peculiar. On top of the chunky riffing, they consistently have somewhat odd-sounding notes. The reason that it sounds kind of odd is that the top-layer guitar parts are clearly not common in metal music forms. Usually, in these situations, death metal that is old-school might have some thrashy hooks, maybe some fast soloing, perhaps some melodic solos or licks. Usually there are these types of things that the listener subconsciously expects, and because they are not here in this old-school-minded band, Nucleus comes across as something a bit unique in 2019. Mostly, one could say that these are somewhat dissonant notes and these top-layer guitar parts is something that avid death metal fans really should hear for themselves. It is not super weird stuff, just off the beaten path, but overall this is not music that freaks out the genre’s loyal fans, just make them notice the little bit of uniqueness of this Chicago band.
Nucleus is very purposefully unmelodic. If you are hoping for a catchy melodic thing, forget it, they will not throw you even a little bone. Instead, there are all sorts of guitar sounds that can be somewhat dissonant, sometimes it sounds like the lead guitar is heading in a different direction from the rhythm, almost as if the idea were to keep the listener at a certain distance. Science fiction is important to the concept of this album. The artwork is not easily discernible, and it requires a bit of observation to make up your mind as what it is that you think you see. Similarly, the music functions in a way that it does not match the expectations of certain formulas. This is music for fans of serious forms of death metal. If you have tons of death metal albums and they bring you joy, you enjoy checking out the many varieties of styles that fall under the umbrella, then Nucleus will be of interest. nucleus.bandcamp.com/album/entity

Sawyer Path

Sawyer Path
Toxic Temptation
April 13th, 2018
This recording is not from 2019 but from 2018, but it has only recently come to the attention of this publication. In terms of genre, it is metalcore. More specifically, melodic metalcore (or posthardcore, as the critics might call it today) with a big sense of catchiness and vocal melodies that are associated with, in very broad terms, pop punk. The fact is that they are good at writing songs that the listener will remember after the recording stops, and this should be of special interest to fans of metalcore and also maybe pop punk (but this guitar tone is thicker and tighter than pop punk, of course). Having the audience shouting back the lyrics during shows is important for the band, given the shout-along style on display. The lyrics are of a personal and emotional nature. Most of the lyrics reflect some relation with a close person, oftentimes very confrontational, very emo style, sometimes very vulgar or profane (lowering the intelligence of the music, but increasing the anger), and this will mostly seem attractive to audiences that want the lyrics to be a form of therapy. In other words, the shorter-song format and the personal lyrics means that audiences into the various styles of metalcore will find something to enjoy in this Canadian band. sawyerpath.bandcamp.com

Thursday, June 13, 2019

hell bent

hell bent
Apocalyptic Lamentations
Horror Pain Gore Death/Armageddon Label/Atomic Action!/Metal Swarm
14 June 2019
What a way to make a much wilder, more real, surprisingly good-sounding huge racket in extreme metal. This recording sounds so refreshing. It almost seems like a live recording at which the listener is present: the drums sound big, good and noisy, in which you can see and hear the movement of the cymbals, and the human that is playing the drums. The drumming by itself is a central attraction on this recording. Moreover, the way that the drums have been recorded is outstanding. Overall, the drum sound and the drumming itself adds so much to the identity of this recording. They refer to themselves as D-beat thrash, so I guess the category-loving people can put them in there somewhere in the more savage forms of crossover.
The vocals in this case truly sound as close as possible to a raging, maniacal lunatic, this side of actually being an insane person in an explosive rage. It is not that the vocals seem angry and all that, it is the way that the screaming, ranting and raving sounds good. It is not brutal-macho-posturing growling nonsense, it is not evil-posturing screechy-cat vocals, it is the art of working the voice muscles towards approaching the unfolding of unleashed rage at the top of the lungs while still remembering this is part of a song. This type of vocals has historically come from the faster, rawer, heavier forms of punk meeting metal, and it would be astounding, almost unbelievable, if this vocalist has not been screaming for at least several years in this or other extreme punk-metal bands.
It is refreshing to hear a band play extreme metal this way. The songs are quick and efficient. This is nine songs in 24 minutes (including a two-songs-in-one-track cover of the 1980s cult thrash act Znowhite). All the songs are easy to grasp and it does not take repeated listens to feel the energy. The first time will do it. For many metal fans, this band might shock them because of how non-computerized, non-safe, non-clinical and utterly wild it all sounds.
facebook.com/hellbentri/

Hate

Hate
Auric Gates of Veles
Metal Blade Records
14 June 2019
For fans of the genre, Hate (1990, Poland) is practically the perfect illustration of modern extreme metal. It’s eight songs in 39 minutes of blasting good times. The vocals are gruff and low, but they are project well, with strength and power. Things are going to go fast and they are going to stay fast for the duration, more or less. It’s 39 minutes of headbanging modern-current 2019 Polish death metal. The tempos stay upbeat pretty much the whole time, but there’s a bit variety here and there, like on the title track, where they explore some slower moments, but even then they spice it up with double kicks. Granted, this is a whole a lotta drumming, a whole lotta blasting, and it’s a whole lotta death metal. The fact that they know how to play blasting metal and find ways to keep listeners engaged speaks volumes about how good the songwriting is. The riffs are distinguishable and pretty catchy for this style. Death metal heaviness is sometimes paired up with tremolo picking for melodies. The guitars is pretty direct, not too complex, and they stay on the message the vast majority of the time. It’s not very melodic, but it is pretty memorable nevertheless. The band does not make great use of soloing; when there’s soloing, it tends to be brief.
Like it is normal in extreme metal, Hate in the past has had clichéd, teenage-like lyrics against religion, as opposed to an intelligent, thought-out critique. It was more anger, less intelligence. It looks like this new album continues 2017 Tremendum’s effort to have more intelligent lyrics, although the anger is still there and I do hear some cursing. Coming from a Catholic-majority country, Hate, like lots of Polish extreme bands, uses religion as a go-to topic for lyrics, which fits the formula in international extreme metal, too. In conclusion, the band delivers a very economical, compact and direct album with an effort to cut out the unnecessary fat. Frankly, it sounds awesome. It’s a play-it-again-Sam album for sure. Don’t sleep on Hate. This band is considered some of the best modern-current death metal from Poland for a reason. hate.bandcamp.com/album/auric-gates-of-veles

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Vulture

Vulture
Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves
Metal Blade Records
7 June 2019
The Germans in 2019 follow up their 2017 debut The Guillotine. A crazed bunch devoted to the art of speed metal, the reverb-loving squad is characterized by keeping the guitars fast and the echo-filled vocals maniacal. It’s not that the vocals sound angry or filled with hate, it is that they are uplifted by their love of fast heavy metal for headbanging. At heart, they dedicate themselves to exploring the area where the guitars deliver sharp riffs and fast melodies, and they work that niche with skill. The vocals seem crazed, but done well. It is not the tough-guy screaming and yelling that comes from genres like punk rock or groove metal or middle-America bro metal. The vocals are along the lines of the maniacal vibe of early/young extreme metal, in this particular case, the high screams of early/young phases of Slayer and Destruction; dark, screw-loose type of vocals. It’s not operatic power metal high screaming, either. This is too crazy for that. It’s more like a madman using reverb as a cloud in which to operate. Unashamedly metal, leather, spikes and bulletbelts, the band makes headbanging, fast metal music for the speed metal heaven of tomorrow. vulturekills.bandcamp.com/album/ghastly-waves-battered-graves

Skelator

Skelator
Cyber Metal
Gates of Hell Records
21 June 2019
Plague and pestilence, rain and fire, kings and criminals all have tried to destroy Skelator, and the armor may have some scars and stains, but in 2019 the Seattle grandfather of the new-generation traditional heavy metal returns firing on all cylinders. From where I stand, some of the other traditional heavy metal bands in Seattle in the recent period have succumbed to attrition, and the ranks right now are not in full force as was the case a few years ago, but Skelator, this Skelator, the Seattle one, has not died and the rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated.
Here is the game plan, according to Skelator’s understanding of the Xs and Os: Whereas classic heavy metal (CHM) is the best, the 1980s (BD [best decade]), and old video games are the most fun (OVG), in addition to an updated production (UP), plus a bit of good ole cheese (CHE), Skelator completes the equation with its own version (SV), which gives us the following result:
CHM + BD + OVG + UP + CHE = SV, i.e. Cyber Metal.
You’re welcome for the calculations, Skelator fans.
Another way to solve the equation will be to put aside your Rubik’s Cube and calculator, and take off your glasses, and start banging your head as an experience in Skelator music. Nerds and bullies, geniuses and mediocres can come together, if only for a while, and coexist in peaceful harmony of headbanging heavy metal, as laid down by this Seattle tactical operations squad.
What’s new with Skelator? Lots. Nowadays they feature a slick and shiny production, which is big news for you, for me, for the city of Seattle and for the United States of America. Skelator has gone and gotten themselves a real pretty production and it is something else, for sure. If I did not know any better, I would have thought that they were a European band, sounding fancy and stuff. I feel like I need to dress more elegantly now when I listen to Skelator. As an entire work, the boys keep the pedal to the metal. There is not much in the way of time-wasting introductions and stuff, and they have just about sliced all the fat that they could. Of course, in this genre some fat you just can’t eliminate because the populace must have their guitar solos, and if you eliminate that, you might as well retire because the traditional heavy metal masses require that your guitar players be competents and trues. trueskelator.bandcamp.com

Wykan

Wykan
Brigid: Of The Night
7 June 2019
There are only three songs on here, but there is enough to know what the deal is. The first song begins in an awesome way. Bluesy and slow guitar, taking it slow and easy. Very nice three minutes, then guitar change and it’s now a black metal guitar tone playing some Iommiesque vibes, with necro black metal screams over it. What do we have here? The black metal blues? It’s the black metal blues! The thing is, this is not bluesy as the blues fans would like, it is not black metal enough as the die-hards want, and it is not as slow and doomy as the devoted stoners would demand, and this might be exactly the point of this band. Confuse everyone and rock with everyone. Do you know what probably happened? These three musicians did not want to be in the same band because the vocalist wanted to form a black metal group, the guitar player just sits at home listening to the first four Black Sabbath albums and old Pink Floyd stuff religiously, and the drummer prefers to avoid human contact. However, they had to join together because they could not find the right people in their neighborhood and that’s how they got together in my fictitious account of their biography. The black metal blues might surprise you. Here is an important question for the future: How will this band continue making progress in their quest to transition smoothly between the genres within the songs? wykan.bandcamp.com/album/brigid-of-the-night

Stargazery

Stargazery
Eye on the Sky
Pure Steel Records
June 14, 2019
This is Stargazery‘s debut album from 2011, issued again by Pure Steel Records for June 2019. It does not matter that this is not new. The production stills sounds good, and the overall recording still sounds great. Musically, the album features midtempo and uptempo songs, songs for singing along, with big riffs, melodic keyboards, and a strong singing voice. The album is nine songs, plus a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Headless Cross,” and an additional bonus track. Stylistically, the album is midtempo/uptempo melodic heavy metal with some neoclassical and stadium rock vibes. In other words, every song sounds like an anthem and a hit. There is a sense that this is melodic metal for grown-ups and for the grown-ups-at-heart. The music sounds completely confident, without any regard for whatever the latest trend in metal music is. There is no thrash, no growling, no extreme metal stuff, just classic-style melodic metal anthems with a strong presence of keyboards and good singing, all made with the intention of creating the ever-illusive timeless melodic metal. facebook.com/stargazery

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Anthrocene

Anthrocene sent in their new album Nucleation that will be released on the 28th of June, 2019. Below is some official information about the band and album. Anthrocene is Jesse Mazur and Danny Tormoen on guitars, Matt Ward on drums, Bo Sagal on vocals, and Keith Wyss on bass.
BIOGRAPHY: Hailing from Seattle, Anthrocene has accumulated a sonic arsenal that draws elements from wide-ranging influences across many metal sub-genres, while maintaining a consistent sound and style. Anthrocene performances take listeners on a journey spanning from blackened thrash bangers to neo-classical power metal anthems to melodeath breakdowns. In support of this musical variety, the lyrical content draws from a cautionary world created by singer Boris Sagal, featuring cosmic perils, nihilistic lumberjacks, Slavic oligarchs, space travel, and mole people.
They are ready to take the metal world by storm with the release of their debut album Nucleation. Nucleation is a concept album telling the story of a self-inflicted global conflagration, exploring themes of survival, loss, and transcendence with a sardonic sense of humor. Anthrocene teamed up with Aaron Smith (Jeff Loomis, 7 Horns 7 Eyes, Ghostship Octavius) for mixing, and Caspian Priebe to create a lyrical comic book that accompanies the musical experience.
Anthrocene
Nucleation
release date: 6/28/2019
1.Spirit of the Maelstrom
2.Acceptance of Decay
3.Agent of Chaos
4.Lumberjack Daniels
5.Witness the Sublime
6.Immolator
7.Celestial Steel: The Cursed Black Blade
8.Battle Unseen
9.Defcon 0
10.Taking on the Water
11.Children of the Earth
12.Nowhere to Be
13.Departure of Humanity
14.Surveyor of the Surface
15.Exogenic Eyes
total time: 61 minutes
The most general observation about the 61-minute, 15-track album is how cohesive the various subgenres of this prog power band come together. If one listens to just one segment or even one song, chances are that this cannot provide a good view of the differences in the terrain covered. Given the duration of the album, I have been working my way through it and will do a brief commentary on the songs.
1.Spirit of the Maelstrom. There is a sense of American raucousness to this prog power song. It sounds like prog power but the neoclassical shredding and the bits of extreme vocals hint that there are other components at work. The instrumentation is top notch, and the guitars practically sing melodies. The singing itself has a certain theatrical aspect to it. This song is a good, not-too-complicated way to begin to introduce the album. Personally, I have grown to really enjoy this track.
2.Acceptance of Decay. This track is a roller coaster ride. The theatrical vocals, the growling and screaming. The fury. The breakdowns. All of it. However, the most poignant thing has to be the band’s dare to make a song so anti-anthem. To be sure, there are parts that are repeated, but even after having heard the song at least a dozen times it is still impossible to speak of a chorus. The song seems to have a unique and odd energy because the mind is used to hearing a chorus part of some sort, and in my experience, I don’t feel like there is a big chorus here. This one is more out there in left field. Kind of a twisted little piece, this one.
3.Agent of Chaos. This one sounds a lot easier to grasp. There is a sense that it is more a linear track. The guitars take it easier on the listener and the drumming even sounds like traditional heavy metal grooving, most of the time. (The one negative nitpick here is the prominent potty-mouth word in the song. When bands do this, it means that I cannot play the music to my tribe of children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. No Anthrocene for the children; I guess the kids can keep listening to “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Alexander the Great.”) Anyway, this song is a good rocking time. I find this one to be closer to power metal yet it sounds like melodic death metal; that’s the charm of Anthrocene, friends.
4.Lumberjack Daniels. The bass guitar seems more prominent here. The groove on this track is so easy to get into. The vocals are kind of demented in some places. Mr. Daniels must not be having a wonderful day because he’s kind of ready to rumble. There is a chainsaw involved here, but you’ll have to read the lyrics (I don’t have them) to find out what he is planning to do. A good mix of the various components of the DNA of the band. The melodic thrashing riffs make it easy for headbanging. (I think I heard another potty-mouth word towards the end; this one will also have to be disqualified from children’s listening, too; that’s ok, always keep “Withstand the Fall of Time” handy for the kids.)
5.Witness the Sublime. This is probably the catchiest song so far. The singing is very melodic, but underneath it there is some gremlin growling going on at some points. (The background growling is only slightly distracting, as I would have been 100% satisfied with just the awesome melodic singing.) This seems like the most ear-friendly track. I like the singing and the chorus a lot. The guitar solo sounds really good. It has a bit of guitar hero vibe; like it! I also like the slightly more subdued part, a bridge-like mini-segment in in the solo. Towards the end, the song launches into a faster, double-kicking speed and the more extreme vocals sound perfect for it there. This one should be a hit with all Anthrocene fans.
Alrighty, then, I gotta jet. I will have to come back to the other songs later.
facebook.com/anthroceneband/

Leathürbitch

Leathürbitch
Into the Night
release date: May 31st, 2019
label: High Roller Records
One succinct formulation to call the question would be: Are you interested in a 2019 metal version of glam-sleaze rock? The answer will depend on whether you are a fan of Poison, Warrant, BulletBoys, Pretty Boy Floyd, Jet Boy, White Lion, Great White and the hundreds of other lipstick-and-hairspray 1980s bands. Does the idea of a heavier form, more current heavy metal version of the glam of “talk-dirty-to-me” Poison and “she’s-my-cherry-pie” Warrant and “Smooth-up-in-Ya” Bullet Boys seem good? This is glam sleaze from the state of Oregon, U.S.A. The album is replete with talent. The guitars, the rhythm section, and the singing is all good. Actually, this is speedy, uptempo heavy metal, headbanging music and one would have to be dishonest to dismiss the talent on display. It sounds good and the band has the horses to compete.
However, it remains to be seen whether glam-sleaze lyrics are accepted by metal fans. Generally speaking, the post-1980s fans have rejected the glam stuff, while the older, more casual 1980s hard rock fans still go to see those bands (and tributes) at the local casino or bar as a nostalgia trip or as a funny joke. Again, speaking in general terms, fans have respect for Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and similar bands, but have frowned upon the glam bands and that image. Will this band change anyone’s mind? facebook.com/HeavyChains/

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Inquinok (Washington state) returns with new black metal

Inquinok (2001; Washington state) returned with a new EP on June 1st, 2019. The band is known for its melodic and symphonic black metal, and the new EP for fans of the genre should be a delightful return after the previous three albums. Sadly, this publication missed the boat when the EP first came out, but fortunately, the new Inquinok music is available in full at the link below and we can all listen for ourselves.
Inquinok
The Hallowed Shall Serve
Release date: June 1st, 2019
1.Night Terror 05:33
2.Death Throes 03:31
3.The Order 05:06
4.The Altar 03:25
5.The Hallowed Shall Serve 03:32
6.Desolation 04:44
total time 25:51
inquinok.bandcamp.com/album/the-hallowed-shall-serve-e-p

the return of Washington State's Mysticism Black

On June 28th the black metal band Mysticism Black (Washington State) will have its new album out. The band has now made one song available for fans to hear. Go to the link below to hear it for yourself. The following is the band's announcement.
We've been waiting to share this for a long time and here it finally is! The artwork, tracklisting and the 14+ self-titled track from Mysticism Black's new album "Return of The Bestial Flame"!
Mysticism Black - Return Of The Bestial Flame (2019)
Tracklist:
1. Black Fire Seance (4:09)
2. Return Of The Bestial Flame (14:28)
3. The Black Never Dies (9:25)
4. My Lord (5:04)
5. The Blade Unsheathed (10:55)
6. Glory Beyond Life (Power Beyond Death) (9:05)
Lineup:
Nick "OldNick" Superchi - Vocals/Guitars/Bass/Keys
"Bloodhammer" Matthew Mattern - Drums/Percussion
Artwork done by the legendary Kris Verwimp. Mastered by Joel Grind.
We are currently talking with labels, but we will announce the release date shortly. The album will be released digitally and on varied limited physical formats
More announcement coming soon. Thank you all for the support!
themysticismblack.bandcamp.com

Fifth Angel (Seattle region) posts entire performance at Rock Hard Festival in Germany

Today the Washington State resurrected veteran band Fifth Angel posted on their Facebook page the video of their show in front of the crowds at Rock Hard Festival in Germany. For those that are new to Fifth Angel, here is an older biography. The end of the biography is not accurate anymore because the new music album is already released in 2018.
BIOGRAPHY: Back in the glory days of traditional metal in the 1980's, with the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Ronnie James Dio, Led Zeppelin and many others as an influence... Ed Archer, Ted Pilot and James Byrd had a vision. This vision was to blend their various musical influences and backgrounds together to form a new version of traditional metal. Thus, the inception of the band "Fifth Angel". Ken Mary was brought on board on drums, and would later move on to much success playing in bands such as House Of Lords, Bad Moon Rising, and Alice Cooper, to name but a few.
From their beginnings in 1984 in Bellevue Washington (near Seattle), Fifth Angel sought to create a musical landscape of their own to express ideas, thoughts, opinions and emotions in the most eloquent form, in the form of music and story-telling through lyrics. Fifth Angel recorded a demo with the now famed Terry Date at the mixing desk and was first signed to independent label Shrapnel Records, which opened the door to an international following and a very positive acceptance of their vision. John Macko was brought on board to become the permanent bass player around this time.
Through fate and happenstance, the band caught the ear of Derek Simon with Concrete Marketing and Management in New York, NY. This again opened new doors for the band leading to offers from various major labels including Atlantic, Elektra and Epic, the latter being the label which seemed the best fit. Epic Records re-released the original "Fifth Angel" album, giving it new life with re-mastering and cover art and the band began the journey of composing new material for a second album, to be the debut for the Epic label. This was also a time of change for the band as Kendall Bechtel became the new lead guitar player.
"Time Will Tell" was recorded with Terry Brown producing, from Rush fame, and was released to a much wider world audience through Epic's far reaching distribution network, being met with much anticipated acceptance. The song "Midnight Love" was featured as the theme song for Howard Stern's cable television show for several years.
In a short period of time the collective musical landscape and listening audience of the world changed...Seattle became a Mecca for a new sound called "Grunge". Fifth Angel was caught in a grey area that many of the up-and-coming 1980's/90's metal bands were in...established enough to be known world-wide to a certain degree, but not established enough to be seen as a profitable investment by record companies when competing against the wildfire known as grunge. The realities of the "business side" of the music industry began to settle in and the writing was on the wall. Ed Archer decided it was time to leave and start a new path in life. Fifth Angel continued on, but as record companies faced the realities of the very profitable grunge music against their bottom line, Fifth Angel was released from their contract with Epic.
The band members went their separate ways, some intertwined with music, some not. Eventually, as fate would have it some of the core band members reconnected and decided it was time to re-visit music and the band became active again in 2010 with a successful reunion gig at the "Keep IT True" Festival in Lauda-Koenigshofen Germany. for that show, they enlisted Jeffrey McCormick on drums, and Peter Orullian (who sang Keep It True with Heir Apparent a few years before) to fill out the Fifth Angel roster.
Fifth Angel then went back to Keep it True in April of 2017 with the same lineup.With "real life" responsibilities dictating progress, it has been slow going....but Fifth Angel is working towards a goal of releasing new music to round out the previous releases from so many years ago.
facebook.com/fifthangelofficial/

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Tanagra

Tanagra
Meridiem
Self-Release
Release: 26 April 2019
Tanagra (2010), despite operating out of the nearby state of Oregon, is a new name in the pages of this publication. They are a progressive power band, with sing-along good vocals and ambitious songwriting that should be a cool, challenging listen while still offering lots of melodic elements. The album is a gargantuan 65 minutes in seven songs. It is important to tell the truth. No matter how melodic and catchy an album is, if it’s more than an hour, it’s going to be a challenge because it’s really a double album. It is asking a lot from the audience, and the band is purposely separating the wheat from the chaff, the dedicated listeners from the casual. Think of it this way: If these musicians have poured their efforts towards making an album that can withstand the ravages of time, then it’s only right that they ask for some serious fans, too. This band, as you can tell, is talking the talk, but do they walk the walk? The sound quality is pretty solid. This is an independent release, and unless someone in the band is wealthy, it means that they are not going to make another album soon because they won’t have the money. Even so, this is not their first album, it is their second one in their near-decade existence, the previous one being from 2015.
The skill level here is very high. The prog and melodic guitar fan will get quite the bang for the buck. This is what it sounds like when guitarists are obsessed with being good guitarists. You are going to tell right away that this is the realm of the guitar. The songwriting is prog power through and through. It’s not simple-and-easy songs, but in their defense, they have thankfully avoided the curse that plagues progressive bands: they have not forgotten to rock. That saves the album because if this did not have the rocking, then that would be a deal breaker with such a long album. The singing is one of the best things about the album. It is a strong, midrange tone that sounds good to just about any human ear that is listening. This is how the male voice can sound when it stays in its strong point. It’s melodic, not too high, and it projects rather well, with a certain gentleness to it on the recording. tanagraband.bandcamp.com

Lahmia

Lahmia
Resilience
Scarlet Records
Release: 18 January 2019
Lahmia (2001, Italy) is European-style melodic death metal, from head to toe. Fans looking for the sweet encounter of growling and polished thrashy, melodic riffing should be very pleased. More specifically, the vocals are low, pleasant growling (no high-pitched screaming and no U.S. metalcore screaming/yelling), and there is no melodic singing. This feature (the consistent growled vocals) will really be attractive to those fans who don’t like the mish-mash-salad vocal styles. The album has some definite highlights like “Her Frantic Call,” a song that is ridiculously infectious. Hear it once and you’ll want to hear it four more times, and then one more time for the road. “The Age of Treason” is the album’s centerpiece, clocking in at more than 11 minutes. This is the song that probably took them the longest to compose and arrange. It’s a good representation of all that the band does in its style. This is an album for die-hard fans of European melodic death metal, for those seeking new bands in this particular field, especially in the classic style, with that melody and grace in the songs. facebook.com/lahmiaofficial

Aubzagl

Aubzagl
Eilífa Kuldinn
Release date: June 6th, 2019
1.Núll 00:34
2.The Hermit 05:14
3.Varaha 04:03
4.The Oath of Blood 03:23
5.Voices of the Aether 03:50
6.Ógilt 01:01
7.The Adversary 03:10
8.The End of All Things 06:30
total time 27:45
Aubzagl has just come to the attention of this publication. Right off the bat, here are some important traits about this Yorkshire, England music. If one were to describe the sound, it would be headbanging black metal, with speed in the drumming and raging classic-style vocals. To the best of the information available, this seems to be a full band with Paul Priest on bass, Arron Healy on drums, Jamie Silver on guitars, and Andy Wears on vocals, and it appears that guitarist Martyn Hare is now a former member. This information is mentioned here not because it is 100% accurate (only the band knows that), but to show that this is not some anonymous one-person project, but rather a band, and it sounds like it, it sounds good. Basically, fans of traditional black metal should be the first group of people to sign up for this covenant of metal music. This recording aims to please the desire to hear raging black metal. Be confident that the band is dedicated to that art. In fact, the only non-black metal moments, strictly speaking, would be the two very short intro-type tracks on here, but they are very short, so it's not like it is 10 minutes of nonsense wasting your time. In a word, for anyone that wants fast black metal with the purpose of banging your head, then there is one new word in your vocabulary: Aubzagl. aubzagl.bandcamp.com

Protector

Protector
Summon the Hordes
High Roller Records
Release date: 26.04.2019
Protector is here to destroy robotic metal music. Considering that they initially began doing demos in the middle of the 1980s, by the time their 1988 debut album Golem and the 1989 album Urm the Mad came out, they were pushing the boundaries of thrash with more speed and harsher vocals than their U.S. and German peers. It makes sense that Protector stand up for the older values of extreme metal. Their 1991 scorcher A Shedding of Skin is just as much death metal as it is thrash metal, especially for the sound of those times.
Eventually returning after years of inactivity, nowadays Protector has been for years on a second life with different personnel. This new album features a very robust sound: guitars, bass, drums and growling. Do not expect things to get melodic. The only little bit of melody available is some of the guitar solos. The drums sound rather thick, saying that they want a sound that is realistic, that approaches the feeling of live drums in concert. The double bass does not sound clicky, suggesting that they went for a realistic sound in that department, too. They are concerned with sounding realistic, like they can pull off these songs live and make them sound rather close to the album versions. This is not a garage recording, though. It sounds professional and good to the fans of old-school thrash, with the truly legendary Harris Johns taking care of the sound engineering work.
The guitars stay on task at all times. Thrashing riffs, and that’s pretty much the story. The vocals are growled, in the style that is aggressive and fast, in a percussive way, as if the drumming and vocals are often matching on the points of impact. Protector is taking care of business with one mission assignment. You come here to Protector to thrash and you’ve come to the right place. The times have changed, the members have changed, the hair is thinner, but the attitude on the album remains the same as in the old times.
facebook.com/Protector.666not777