Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

In their twentieth year as a metal band Gojira issues their seventh full-length studio album and it is one of the very best.

Gojira is from France and they play heavy metal. The music has groove and progressive elements to it, and you do not mistake Gojira for another band when you hear their music. Magma (2016) is the most recent album up to now, and while they have been quiet on the recording front since it came out they have been playing live and dazzling fans continuously. The band is Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (guitars), Joe Duplantier (guitar and vocals).

There are eleven tracks on the album, beginning with “Born For One Thing.” The drum lays in a march cadence while the guitar wind-up does not prepare you for the metal when it kicks in a few seconds later. The composition is heavy and complex, syncopated and variegated, groovy and mysterious – all these things at once. “Amazonia” comes up next, with its subtle slither and shimmer. Its every element is mesmerizing, like an shamanic chant. The narrative is compelling and delivered with authority.

The songs on Fortitude are big and ambitious. Some are delivered on a softer register throughout, like “Another World” and others demonstrate an incredible range from peace to aggression, as in “Hold On.” Progressive influences live in and amongst the growling metal. And then there is the title track, which is a short reflective piece that transitions into “The Chant,” a song that builds into a powerful statement before handing off the torch to “The Sphinx” with its heavy and sinister posture. This set wraps on “Grind” featuring punishing percussion, whispering vocal savagery, and stabbing, whirling guitars.

I was expecting something big from Gojira on this new album. What they have done is even more than I expected. We are all going to be reading about how this album is setting a standard others will be compared to and let me add my voice to that chorus. I am sure Fortitude will be on the 2021 Best Of list. Highly recommended.

Fortitude is out now. Hit the website link below to investigate the options.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock Festival 2019.


Website, https://www.gojira-music.com/?frontpage=true

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic

Roadrunner Records, https://store.roadrunnerrecords.com/gojira.html

Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

Motörhead, Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin (Silver Lining Music 2021)

One of the best late-career concerts from Motörhead is now available for the reliving.

The storied history of Motörhead does need reiteration from me – their place in heavy metal history is foundational. I miss the band, and Lemmy, gone now these many years. One good thing about recorded music is you can always listen to it again.

Captured live in Berlin in 2012 during the Kings of the Road Tour, this full concert runs over an hour and features stalwart fan favorites as well as timelies. One surprising feature is the eight-minute “Overkill” closer when members of Anthrax join Motörhead on stage.

Every time I saw the band live it was a great show, and this is the long-running lineup I remember best with Lemmy, Phil Campbell, and Mikkey Dee. There is a companion video of the performance that is well done and comes along with the CD and in the bigger bundles. Since there will never be an opportunity to ever see the three play together again, the video is especially poignant.

Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin is out now. There are choices to be made and they are all degrees of good. Recommended.


Website, https://imotorhead.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead

Motörhead, Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The third full-length album from Sweden’s Domkraft is an inflexion point for Doom Metal music.

I first heard (a recording of) Domkraft play live as part of the Day of Doom event put on by Magnetic Eye Records at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, November of 2019. It was a killer bill and Domkraft gave an amazing performance. Since then I have been eagerly awaiting any new music from them. The band is Martin Wegeland (bass and vocals), Anders Dahlgren (drums), and Martin Widholm (guitar). They play heavy, measured doom metal that can shake the rivets lose in a seismograph.

There are seven tracks on Seeds: three long, three medium, and one transition piece. I usually look out for the longer songs because I like the way you can feel transformed in the drawn out expansive space so the first two tracks, “Seeds” and “Perpetrator,” running as they do about eighteen minutes together looked like the perfect launch pad. And they definitely are, both having gigantic, crushing riffs and relentless rolling rhythm. I was immediately taken back to the live recordings and the contemporaneous experience mixed together with my memories of what I had heard before, generating something bigger.

The three tracks in the middle are shorter, but they hit me just as hard, especially “Into Orbit” which I came back to a couple times after the first run through. The anchor song is “Audiodome” and it starts out at full blast, arguing that turning the power down is not an option. The arch toward the vanishing point is subtle and deliberate. There is nothing to do but hold on. When it is over, you are right where you want to be. Every time I listen to Domkraft I like them even more. Highly recommended.

Seeds is out on Friday, April 30th, and is available through finer discerning retailers.


Bandcamp, https://domkraft.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/domkraftband

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/domkraft-seeds.html

Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

Yellowtooth, The Burning Illusion (Orchestrated Misery Recordings 2021)

The Indiana metal band Yellowtooth lay down a fresh slab of heavy music to menace your listening hours.

The band has been around for more than ten years, releasing a handful of demos, an EP, and two previous albums, most recently Crushed By The Wheels Of Progress in 2015. It is good to have some new music to get the summer started. The band is Peter Clemens (bass, vocals), Henry McGinnis (guitar, vocals), and Dave Dalton (drums).

The album has eight songs and one transitional piece. The first track, “From Faith To Flames,” has a solemn beginning that quickly flips into a more threatening tone. The use of two disparate vocals is very effective and unusual. Combining this with the slow heavy rhythm and the lead guitar that has a Woody Weatherman quality to it at times is very effective and compelling. “Atrocity” is up next, a more up-tempo piece that has a flickering, stabbing urgency. There is an eerie intro segment for the next track that brings us into heavy doom territory, “Astronaut’s Journey.” A surprisingly light touch with the guitar eases the music along and stands in direct contrast to the vocal style.

The ideas and intimations established at the front of the record are carried on throughout. The trio makes the most of every instrument and puts forth new ideas combined with fundamentals to generate heavy music with a broad appeal. I will definitely be looking for Yellowtooth on festival rosters and venue flyers from now on. The band’s Bandcamp note reads in part, “We are not out to reinvent the wheel but to jam and drink.” They definitely have the jamming part down and I will trust them on the drink. Recommended.

You can get the digital version of The Burning Illusion now and the CDs start shipping on Friday, April 30th.


Bandcamp, https://yellowtooth.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Yellowtoothband

Yellowtooth, The Burning Illusion (Orchestrated Misery Recordings 2021)

Void Vator, Great Fear Rising (Ripple Music 2021)

The new set from Los Angeles metal masters Void Vator will shake the winter off you and get you reaching for the moon and stars.

Stranded came out in 2019 and I knew immediately this was a band I needed to keep track of. The music was crisp and piercing, fast and ferocious, and wrapped up in a delivery system that went straight into your bloodstream. “Put Away Wet,” “Everything Sucks,” “Monster” … one song after another a festival for your ears, and endless reservoir of adrenaline. The music is up-tempo metal fearlessly riffy and recklessly speedy on the curves.

“I Can’t Take It” is a disruptor, the perfect attention-getter. What’s this, you think, and it gets you walking that way. “I Want More” is second on the album and if anything it is a notch up on the frantic. A more urgent clip, a tenser atmosphere. The vocals are stabbing in the verses and salving in the chorus. The lead break is a blur or whirling blades. “There’s Something Wrong With Us” is Caesar crossing the Rubicon. There’s no turning back after you hear it.

“Great Fear Rising” strikes a monumental accord while “MacGyver’s Mullet” is a clipper cruising down country roads in the summertime steam. Something here for everyone – “Poltergeist” has an eerie story with a sinister feel and “Infierno” feeds into delirium like Act II of Peer Gynt. There are all manner of shades and tints on the album and for me nothing to dislike. I would call it a step up from the previous record even though I don’t have any serious criticisms about that earlier one, either. What you get here is great hard-hitting music flowing from every opening and crack.

Out now from Ripple Music, Great Fear Rising will sign you up to the Void Vator legion forever. Recommended.


Bandcamp, https://voidvator.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/voidvator/

Void Vator, Great Fear Rising (Ripple Music 2021)

Dinosaur Jr., Sweep It Into Space (2021)

The thirteenth album from New England’s Dinosaur Jr. is another leg in the journey of alternate rock that never ceases to wind on.

In 1993 Dinosaur Jr. had a huge radio hit with “Out There” from the Where You Been album, but by then the band was already on its fifth album and the song was no surprise to the fans who knew them. I’ve always thought that this song opened the door for the Meat Puppets to have a big day with few months later with “Backwater.” Hmm. This early-to-mid 1990s period had a lot going on, a lot of flashes and bangs. The mainstream (whoever they are) caught a glimpse of bands like Dinosaur Jr. that loyal fans had known about for a long time. That was a good thing, but it was short lived. Pretty soon the road bent again and, while the mass of humanity might have globbed of in another direction, Dinosaur Jr. kept rolling.

The new album is the first in a few years. There are twelve tracks in the laid-back, easing in and easing on style that defines not only Dinosaur Jr. but the genre they helped to create. The signature voice and fuzzy guitar that has kept you coming back all these years is there for you now. I wonder what it would be like for someone to come across this band now for the first time and have to wrap their head around the idea that there are a dozen other albums to immerse themselves in, uncovering wonder after wonder. That has to be a good day.

My favorite songs are the up-tempo pieces, like “Hide Another Round” but I don’t skip ahead or shy away from the softer ones either. I wouldn’t throw stones at any of the band’s albums but I will say I like this new one as much as I liked Farm (2009), and that was a big one for me. Recommended.

Sweep It Into Space is out now. Check out the Dinosaur Jr. website for merch and music or the ever-reliable Bandcamp.


Bandcamp, https://dinosaurjr.bandcamp.com/album/sweep-it-into-space

Website, https://www.dinosaurjr.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DinosaurJr

Dinosaur Jr., Sweep It Into Space (2021)

Crypts Of Despair, All Light Swallowed (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The sophomore album from Lithuania’s Crypts Of Despair is a grand leap in their emergent Death Metal approach.

The band is Dovydas Auglys (guitar, vocals), Benas Juskus (guitar), Simonas Jurkevicius (bass, vocals), and Henri Mall (drums). In 2017 the group’s first album appeared, The Stench Of The Earth. The new one is some ways appears to be very different and in other ways can be seen as a shift or even an evolution of what the first record started.

There are nine tracks on the album running from the medium to short side on length. It all begins with “Being – Erased,” a song that flashes a metallic clanging first before the blast beat and barrage of ferocious sound. It is overwhelming to your senses, but if you listen to it, you’ll hear the individual pieces that make up the whole and the richness of the music is revealed.

The center of the writing is the rhythm and percussion. The explosion of the vocals on “Anguished Exile” has a noticeable Black Metal tint while the music overall is heads-down Death Metal aggression. In the middle, the music slows to Doom proportions before slowly rising again to end as it began.

And then there is “Choked By The Void,” which has a slow and deliberate pace that works up to rival the zeal of its predecessors. Throughout the album this is what you can expect – it is not just one thing, but is instead an amalgamation of heavy music influences that branch out, combine, and explore while staying true to the Death Metal lineage from which it sprang. Recommended.

All Light Swallowed is out now from Transcending Obscurity Records in the usual bewildering array of versions ranging from colored vinyl to merch bundles to the simple digital download.


Bandcamp, https://cryptsofdespairdeath.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/cryptsofdespair/

Crypts Of Despair, All Light Swallowed (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Endseeker, Mount Carcass (Metal Blade 2021)

Mount Carcass is Endseeker’s monumental follow-up to the previous high water mark of The Harvest.

Endseeker is from Hamburg, Germany. They released their first EP in 2015 and their first long-player, Flesh Hammer Prophecy, in 2017. The Harvest came out in 2019 and showed that a firm foundation had been set by this five-piece act. They make good use of the two-guitar approach to creating a big sound and the heft comes from the strong rhythm grounding of the compositions.

This is heavy metal, power metal. The music at times has a feel that reminds me a little of Rob Halford’s band Fight on their A Small Deadly Space album – it has that relentless rolling metal insistence. The themes are in the death metal constellation, with a deep and deliberate cast of darkness.

Nine radio-length songs populate the set. The song structure often features a lead guitar pairing with the vocals and then continuing the melody, set upon steady pounding percussion that rolls out the occasional blast. If I pointed only to one song it would be “Cult.” It showcases all these elements and houses an eerie story in lyrics. When you hear it you know you want more.

I can’t leave off without mentioning the surprising closing song, an instrumental cover of John Carpenter’s theme to his movie Escape From New York. I would never have thought to put this together in a metal version but man does it work. It obviously transports the listener back to the movie and it also reminds us of how great Carpenter was at setting a dramatic tone in the soundtracks he wrote. It is a monster track and a most excellent way to wrap this album up. Recommended.

Mount Carcass is out now so there is no reason to be without it. Metal Blade has a lot of varieties to select from at the label link below.


Label, https://metalblade.com/endseeker/

Website, http://endseeker.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/endseekermusic/

Endseeker, Mount Carcass (Metal Blade 2021)

Dirty Honey, The Dirty Honey Album (2021)

The long-awaited debut album from Los Angeles blues-rock band Dirty Honey is out this week.

Marc LaBelle (vocals), John Notto (guitars), Justin Smolian (bass), and Corey Coverstone (drums) are Dirty Honey, a 1970s-influenced hard rock band that blends blues stylings seamlessly into their music. I saw them live several times in 2019 and the show they put on was always a highlight of any music festival.

The band has previously released an EP in 2019, and two of the singles from it were big hits, “Rolling 7s” and “When I’m Gone.” They find a way in every song to get your attention, sometimes with a big front and sometimes with a subtle insinuation. Every track’s a keeper and they all make you feel like being outside and living life whether the story the song tells is raucous or sad.

The first single off the new album is “California Dreamin’” and it is a goodtime rocker with catchy hooks and a great lead break. Opening the album as it does, it’s your first pass at LaBelle’s voice and it is at once lyrical and forceful, insistent and understanding. All the pieces of the band match up in rare ways that create consistent appeal to rock fans across a wide range of inclinations.

Other favorites of mine include “Tied Up” and “No Warning” because of the rhythm and the way elements land – all the separate parts can be heard on their own and when your brain puts them all together there is synergy. Of the eight songs on the album, seven of are up-tempo, straight-ahead rock songs. The closer is “Another Last Time” and while it is a little more on the somber side than the others, it has a big lead break and it is a powerful send-off for the set. I’d be glad to hear all of these songs live and I hope we get the chance to do that later this year. Recommended.

The Dirty Honey Album is out on Friday, April 23rd. Get your summer started early – music and merch can be found at the link below.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 Sonic Temple Festival.


Dirty Honey Website, https://www.dirtyhoney.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DirtyHoneyMusic/

Dirty Honey, The Dirty Honey Album (2021)

Monnier, Monnier (HPGD 2021)

Grindcore duo Monnier sign with Horror Pain Gore Death and release a compilation to the wider world.

Jasper Swerts (instruments) and Makiko Suda (vocals) are Monnier. They have issued two EPs, Monnier (2018) and EP2 (2020), collected here for ease of acquisition. The music is hard cracking grindcore, and it gets under your skin.

The sixteen songs contained in Monnier rarely break the two minute rule. They are raging, savage attacks, all of them. Titles like “Writhe In Agony,” “Excruciation,” and “The Abyss” give you a pretty good idea of the themes. But then “grindcore” gives you a pretty good idea of what you are in for, too, doesn’t it.

The titles of the second set of eight tracks are in Japanese, and they are written in the usual combination of kanji and hiragana, which I can’t read. There is no preemptive expectation this way. You can definitely hear a difference between the first half and the second; between the two EPs. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other, but there are different emphases, in the percussion especially.

What I like about this music particularly – and what makes it different from the usual tumult – is what happens in between the dissonance and the roar. The hooks and riffs, the musical progressions. These are the elements that make you want to listen to the music rather than just hear the sound. Monnier does these things in rare and compelling ways.

The compilation is out on Friday, April 23rd so get yourself together before then. Recommended.


Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/monnier

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/monniergrindcore/

Label, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Monnier, Monnier (HPGD 2021)