Day 4: Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia

Here is the final daily photo teaser. More images to follow, short features for every band, and look for a feature article about the festival in Ryze-Up magazine coming soon.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Mastodon
Jelly Roll
Fame On Fire
A War Within
Cursor
We Came As Romans
Detroit Voodoo
Ill Nino
Redefind
Splintered Reality
Ignite The Fire

Day 4: Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia

Day 1: Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2021, Danville, Virginia

I am going to post daily photos to tide you over until the full article is ready. Here is the first batch.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Black Label Society
Sabaton
Testament
MX The American
Testament
Sabaton
Zakk

Day 1: Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2021, Danville, Virginia

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The ninth full-length studio album from the resilient Chilean thrash band Criminal shakes the pillars of the heavens.

For thirty years now Criminal has been making a salty combination of death/thrash/groove metal. The band’s first long-player, Victimized, came out in 1994, and in the decades since then the consistently excellent work of Criminal has drawn increasing attention. As with most long-lived bands, there have been a number of line-up changes through the years. On the new album, founding vocalist and guitarist Anton Reisenegger is joined by Danilo Estrella (drums), Danny Biggin (bass), and Sergio Klein (guitar).

There are twelve searing tracks on Sacrificio, starting with the ripping “Live On Your Knees.” It is a rough-edge thrash song with a timely message, a catchy bridge, and a soaring lead break. On its heels is “Caged” fostering a jagged stabbing attack, aggressively rejecting any limits. And then “The Whale” has a more expansive attitude, edging up the theatrics, shifts, and syncopation. And Criminal is only getting started at this point, just three songs in.

The percussion has a prominent presence on every track, with blasts beats and clever, technically stunning execution. Speed in the rhythm section is a consistent motif, as are tempo shifts sharp enough to make the ground move beneath your feet. Reisenegger’s rough and aggressive voice never falters, delivering a powerful performance throughout.

Stand-out tracks for me include “Theocracy” with its hardcore hammering and “Sistema Criminal” for its hair-raising lead work. Add “Hunter And The Prey” to the list for its sheer, raw urgency. This is an album that will get spin after spin from me – every time I listen to it I like it even more. Recommended.

Sacrificio is out from Metal Blade Records on Friday, September 17th through all the usual outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://criminalband.bandcamp.com/album/sacrificio

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Criminal.Band/

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/criminal/

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Lvcifyer, The Broken Seal (Dark Descent Records 2021)

Let the darkness surround you with the new album from Lvcifyre, The Broken Seal.

You might be able to guess from the name of the band that their musical leaning is in the Black and Death Metal direction. Lvcifyer released their first EP in 2009 and two long-players after that, The Calling Depths (2011) and Svn Eater (2014). Another EP, Sacrament, staved off fan cravings in 2019 until The Broken Seal entered the cosmos. Of course the music is heavy and fast and ravaging, and the themes of chaos, darkness, and woe are ever-present. Naturally.

The opening bars of the first track are a dark ramp of emergent noise and growls and then a punishing attack on your senses. This is what I expected. Speed and ferocity in the opening salvo. But in the second song, “Tribes of Khem,” the perspective deepens and branches out in measured and fascinating ways. The tempo moderates and the vocals exude dark power. The riffs are not desensitizing and the blast beats become judicious.

“Black Beneath the Sun” is even weightier in its musical expression, displaying eruptions along with a discernable linearity. Indeed, the music becomes positively theatrical at points. These compositional choices give the album balance and make the tracks individually more memorable and the set overall more powerful.

Other stand-out songs are “The First Archon” with its pushing, enlivening insistence and the closer, “Black Mass,” with its gorgeous Blackened Doom palette. This album is my first serious listen to Lvcifyre but it will not be my last – it has made a big impression on me. Recommended.

The Broken Seal is out today, Friday, September 10th from Dark Descent Records in the US and Norma Evangelium Diaboli in Europe.

Links.

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

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

Dark Descent Records, http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Lvcifyer, The Broken Seal (Dark Descent Records 2021)

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new Carcass album is a raucous affair, filled with sinister chuckles and Torn Arteries.

Carcass is such a well-known band I don’t think much background is needed here. Their history is fascinating, being on the forefront of Death- and Goregrind, and later also being influential in the early days of Melodic Death Metal. The initial run was in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, then they reformed in 2007. Since that renaissance, they have released EPs, splits, and the full-length Surgical Steel in 2013. The new album is the band’s seventh long-player, if I counted right, and it is a rager.

The title track is the opener and it spins directly at you with a vigorous multifaceted attack. The vocals are gruff and full, the riffs and percussion are fireworks set on solid steel poles, and the lead work is aching and familiar. Without a breath, “Dance of Ixtab” whips in with active parallel rhythm that fosters direct and immediate catchiness. And then “Eleanor Rigor Mortis.” Come on. Is there any way you are not going to love a Carcass song with a title like this? No, no way. It is an excellent entry that features a vocal-lead guitar pairing. And we are still on side one.

“Under The Scalpel Blade” has a slower tempo up front, and “The Devil Rides Out” does Dennis Wheatley (and also Hammer Studios) proud. “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited” is the longest track, landing at ten minutes, and it is a theatrical presentation with a compellingly dramatic arc that manages sorrow and anguish, terror and regret in the fullness of its articulation. The final strokes occur on “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing,” the fittingest of all possible closers.

It has been eight years since the last big album from Carcass so I expected Torn Arteries to be something special. It turns out I was right – it is instantly one of my favorites in their distinguished and storied catalogue. Highly recommended.

Torn Arteries is out through Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, September 17th. Join the fray.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carcass.bandcamp.com/album/torn-arteries

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/2lp/carcass-torn-arteries-red-.html

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Back with a new collection of beautifully dark songs, Plum Green releases Somnambulistic.

Plum Green is from Melbourne, Australia. She has released a string of captivating albums in the last decade that that convey solemnity, almost as a berceuse for the grave. This is especially true on the new album. The music is dark and quiet, and it leaves an impression.

The opening song begins with beautiful, soothing, lyrical passages, but in a way that could be the soundtrack to euthanasia. That first track, “Raspberry Vine,” is very much what I mean when I talk about Acoustic Doom. In the press materials, the music is described as “atmospheric dream folk,” and I like that description, too. It is the emotion that is heavy and that does not require loudness.

There are strong gothic elements here as well. In the second track, “Eyes Shut,” the vocalizations draw a strong eidolon of Johnette Napolitano without really sounding much like her. It is bewitching, this music. It takes you away with its gentleness and at the same time has an emotionally penetrating effect. Like the singing of a wraith that means you no harm – or appears to mean you no harm – you find yourself trusting the music to have a meaningful effect on you.

The strings on “Grave Snuggler” have a hypnotizing effect. And Green’s voice, of course. Every track is enchanting and mysterious. The vocal duet on “Belleza Nocturna” was a surprise and it fit in perfectly with the rest of the set. Eerie, engaging, and unforgettable, Plum Green is an artist you should know about. Start with this new album and work your way backward through the catalogue. What you will find might surprise you. Recommended.

Somnambulistic is available on September 17th through Nefarious Industries. Explore the links below.

Band photo by Zach Salar.

Links.

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

Plum Green website, http://www.plumgreenmusic.com/

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

Nefarious Industries, https://www.nefariousindustries.com/collections/new-releases/products/somnambulistic

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Replicant, Malignant Reality (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

New Jersey Death Metal extremists Replicant hit hard on their second album, Malignant Reality.

Replicant is a trio. They released their first recording in 2016, the EP Worthless Desires, following it up with a long-player two years later, Negative Life. There has been more since then, enough to whet the appetites of fans and wind up their cravings for a longer course. And here it is now: Malignant Reality. The musicians are Mike Gonçalves (vocals, bass, and guitar), Pete Lloyd (guitar), and James Applegate (drums).

Let’s begin at the beginning. In “Caverns of Insipid Reflection” the vocals are often reminiscent of the excruciating emotion of an animal caught in a trap from which it cannot escape. The general dissonance of the compositions and the jarring juxtapositions of the melodic with the noise further the disorientation the listener experiences. “Relinquish The Self” is next and it is a bit more linear but, never fear, it has more than enough crooks and splits to fragment your understanding of what is going on. This song continues directly into “Excess Womb” in a sort of draining extension leading toward a proper stop.

The approach established early in these first three tracks continues, with innovations and explorations cantankerous enough to surprise even the most jaded. Even on the anchor piece, “The Ubiquity Of Time,” unlikely events occur. Quiet at first, like a demented lullaby, the guitars kick you hard in the teeth a couple of minutes in and the vocals grind you up. There is no tactic of evasion that will be successful; there is no escape. Once you start you will be there until the end.

Listening to Malignant Reality is a disturbing and upsetting experience. Recommended.

The new Replicant album is out on Friday, September 10th from Transcending Obscurity.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://replicantband.bandcamp.com/album/malignant-reality-dissonant-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Replicant, Malignant Reality (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Austin, Texas heavy metal band Witchcryer offer up a new set of songs filled with beguiling incursions.

Witchcryer has its origins in the upper Midwest with guitarist Jason Muxlow and saw its completion a little farther south with Javi Moctezuma (drums), Marilyn (bass), and Suzy Bravo (vocals). There is a heavy doom in the atmosphere and desert rock in the stylings. But then, see, the vocalizations often come in from another realm entirely, and there are transitions you wouldn’t expect from a doom or desert rock band. So this then is Witchcryer, its own category. Their inaugural album, Cry Witch, set a high bar and the new one, When Their Gods Come For You, sails right over it.

There are eight songs on the album and every one of them has its own way of taking you over. The clomp and wallop of “Hellmouth” is quantitatively mesmerizing. When the vocal enters it seeks your ears like an shaman’s ayahuasca chant. “Nemesis, The Inevitable” is a deadly serious declaration delivered with such surety it is almost matter-of-fact, as if this statement of intent has already happened. It’s right in the title, I guess: inevitable.

“The Devil & The Deep Blue See” lures with a mystic enheartening almost solemn in nature while “I Rise!” is a full-force charge at resistance, ending in conquest and victory. And then there is the title track which anchors the set. It begins gently, patiently. The music builds hypnotically, unnoticed until you start to feel the walls shaking around you. Quiet again, and then another swell. Suzy Bravo makes everything believable, her every word, and Jason Muxlow seals the story with mesmerizing guitar work. When Their Gods Come For You is definitely one of the best desert-doom-heavy-dark-blues-metal-rock albums of the year. Highly recommended.

Out now from Ripple Music, you can catch up at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/when-their-gods-come-for-you

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/witchcryer-when-their-gods-come-for-you-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)