Joyous Wolf, The Lonely Ones, and Frame 42 at Higher Ground, South Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Joyous Wolf’s Fearless Tour made a stop in the North Country on Friday night at Higher Ground.

Joyous Wolf is out on tour right now, supported by The Lonely Ones and Frame 42 on their current swing. On Friday night they played in the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground in South Burlington. First up was Frame 42.

Frame 42 is a six-piece band from Michigan. They opened their set with a variety of classic rock cover tunes. It was nice to hear this old standards, but I liked the original music they played even better. Their songs do have a classic rock foundation to them, but the band’s compositional acumen – and performance – add unique twists and touches that sets them apart. You can hear their music on most streaming services. Check out their website (link below) to find out more about them.

The Lonely Ones took the stage next, and they play rock in a somewhat harder vein. Not much is known about them (from their website) other than their roster: Marty McCoy (guitar, vocals), Tommy Johnson (drums), Jymmy Tolland (bass, vocals), and Jake Earley (guitar, vocals). The music they play is guitar-driven hard rock. Their set was a lot of fun to see and hear, and I will always remember it for the completely unexpected cover of Queen’s “Flash’s Theme.”

Joyous Wolf has been playing a straight-forward, bluesy and soulful brand of rock and roll since 2014. The Southern California band released the EP Place In Time through Roadrunner Records in 2019, and there is a new album on the way. The musicians are Nick Reese (vocals), Blake Allard (guitar), Robert Sodaro (drums), and Greg Braccio (bass).

I have gotten used to seeing Joyous Wolf at festivals, most recently at Louder Than Life in Louisville. They always put on a great show and I never miss them when they play these big events. Seeing them in a club setting was a new experience. Being confined to a smaller stage did not diminish the energy of their performance at all.

They played a number of new songs off the upcoming album, as well as familiar pieces. In the intimate confines of the cozy Showcase Lounge, you are close enough to touch the band – their expressions and nuances are on full display in ways you miss when they perform on big stages. No matter where you see them, you are in for some excellent rock and roll.

Joyous Wolf is on the road for a few more weeks. Go check them out live if they play near you. It is a great show.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Joyous Wolf, https://fearless.joyouswolf.com/

Roadrunner Records, https://store.roadrunnerrecords.com/joyous-wolf.html

Frame 42, https://www.frame42.com/

The Lonely Ones, https://thelonelyones.net/

Higher Ground, https://highergroundmusic.com/

Joyous Wolf, The Lonely Ones, and Frame 42 at Higher Ground, South Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Detroit Voodoo, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 12, 2021

We are publishing dozens of photo galleries from live shows this year to celebrate the return to live music. First up, Detroit Voodoo from their performance at the Blue Ridge Rock Festival.

Check out their music on streaming platforms, including their EP Lost. Links appear below the photos.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/detroitvoodoo

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/1An3exDvsALZiWvNbFZpzQ

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazineBlue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

Detroit Voodoo, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 12, 2021

Black Veil Brides, The Phantom Tomorrow (Sumerian Records 2021)

Metal veterans Black Veil Brides create a concept album for their newest release, The Phantom Tomorrow.

Originating in the Midwest, Black Veil Brides have made a name for themselves in the heavy music world as a polished gothic-tinged band with a complex worldview and a penchant for intricate storytelling. In their relatively short career they have released five previous albums, including two concept albums. The newest is one of their strongest to date and carries a timely reflection on fame and projection. The band is Andy Biersack (vocals), Jake Pitts (guitar), Jinxx (guitar), Christian Coma (drums), and Lonny Eagleton (bass).

The new album has ten songs and two transitional pieces. The title track is an orchestral on-ramp to “Scarlett Cross,” one of the set’s early singles. Biersack’s melodic, insisting vocals surf on the layered production as the focal point surrounded by punching and jabbing rhythm and guitars. This raucous opener sets the stage for extended exploratory peeks in narrative corners of the established thematic arc.

The melodies they create are uncompromisingly catchy and impossible to forget. The compositional depth is truly enhanced by the non-guitar strings and keys, but the metal is never far away. Other bands try to do this, too, but none excel like Black Veil Brides. I am a metalhead from way back, a thrash and doom fiend both, and I can’t stop listening to this album. Every segment and transition, every song lands right.

Some of my favorite songs are the tracks with heavier openings like “The Wicked One” and “Crimson Skies,” but whether the pace is up or down, or the push is hard or soft, the music is clearly drawn from the same well. I saw Black Veil Brides live a couple weeks ago in Sacramento at Aftershock and it was an amazing performance. They are on tour in the US right now so go see them if you can. You will be glad you did.

The Phantom Tomorrow is out now through Sumerian Records. Check out a few videos at the band’s website and immerse yourself in the story. This is another great album from a band a admire more every time I hear them. Highly recommended.

Photo by Steve Thrasher from Aftershock Festival 2021.

Links.

Black Veil Brides website, http://blackveilbrides.net/

Store link, http://phantomtomorrow.com/

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

Sumerian Records, https://www.sumerianmerch.com/collections/black-veil-brides

Excellent article by Bryan Reesman at Billboard, https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/9648734/black-veil-brides-interview-the-phantom-tomorrow/

Black Veil Brides, The Phantom Tomorrow (Sumerian Records 2021)

Whitechapel, Kin (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Heavy metal stalwarts Whitechapel have created their eighth full-length album, Kin.

It is no accident that Whitechapel rose to prominence in the heavy music world so quickly. At the jump their music carried a uniqueness in theme and an energetic earnestness in expression. The lyrical themes have changed over the years and the music has expanded to cover new and invigorating ground. The band has released seven previous full-length albums, the most recent being The Valley in 2019. The lineup for Kin is Gabe Crisp (bass), Alex Wade (guitars), Ben Savage(guitar), Phil Bozeman (vocals), Zach Householder (guitar), and Alex Rüdinger (drums).

The first song on the album is “I Will Find You” and it starts off like a theme to a western film before taking a sharp turn less than a minute in toward a punishing landscape. Other tracks have a loud voice right at the first note, like “Lost Boy” and “To The Wolves.” Whether it is a race at the sound of the gun or a slow build, every song takes a journey with unexpected encounters and obstacles to overcome.

Stand-out tracks for me include “The Ones That Made Us” for its dooming nature and mysterious intrigue that soaks the sound throughout, and the title track which closes the set. The clean vocals at the beginning of “Kin” deepen the emotional impact of the song overall and also open the gates for the second movement with its soaring guitar work. It is a bold choice to end the album on this song, one that pays off in welcome closure.

In some ways this new album is reminiscent of the previous one, The Valley. Kin, though, is more than a reflection of the earlier work, and it is more even than a continuation of it – it is an expansion into broader realms, the nature of which can only be understood through time and experience. Recommended.

Kin officially drops on Friday, October 29th through Metal Blade Records. Enjoy a promenade through the many aspects of format versioning and merch at the links below.

Links.

Whitechapel website, https://www.whitechapelband.com/

Bandcamp, https://whitechapelmetal.bandcamp.com/album/kin

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/whitechapel/

Whitechapel, Kin (Metal Blade Records 2021)

An Unction In Braille, The Wordless Whisper (2021)

New England metal band An Unction In Braille release their inaugural EP, The Wordless Whisper.

The band has been coming together since about 2012. The music is a melodic-esque combination of death metal, metalcore, and grindcore – light on the melodic. While that description does cover a lot of ground, the music itself has a recognizable focus in its combinatorics. The musicians are Robert Meroski (guitar), Josh Veck (vocals), Kieran Beaty (guitar), Wes Welch (bass), and Jacob Lindquist (drums).

There are five tracks on the EP, each weighing in at radio length. The opener, “Catharsis,” is built around a discreet elemental sounds that stand together in order to create a collective front. The tips and ranges make ideal sense in the context of the subject. “Of The Dead” goes next and dashes off in a different direction altogether. There is a coarseness to the syncopation that oversteps the fundaments just enough to keep you guessing. And then “An Inch From Death” has a structure that seems almost linear compared to the first two; a very death metal approach to the ideas.

“Sickening Sweet” shows the most melodic movements on the set, all the while surrounded by pile driving percussion and staccato riffs. The final track is “Dark As Black.” There is a vileness in the vocals that would go nicely in a black metal tune. Here it both competes with and complements the barely contained other-raging pylons of musical construction. These songs do leave you a little unbalanced after listening to them, an effect that is surely deliberate and calculated. When I am listening to An Unction In Braille I am hearing something different from the off-the-shelf music I sometimes come across, and I like it. Recommended.

The Wordless Whisper is out on Friday October 29th on CD and digital. The omnipresent Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

An Unction In Braille website, https://www.anunctioninbraille.com/

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

Bandcamp, https://anunctioninbraille.bandcamp.com/album/the-wordless-whisper

An Unction In Braille, The Wordless Whisper (2021)

The Sonic Overlords, Last Days of Babylon (M-Theory Audio 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s The Sonic Overlords rumbles and shakes and vibrates its way into your personal space.

The Sonic Overlords are a new band, having come together in just the past couple years. Their music pays tribute to classic metal and extends the reach of the originist ideas by expanding the paradigm without breaking it. Other bands have tried to do this too but The Sonic Overlords actually pull it off. The band is Marcus Zachrisson Rubin (vocals), Morgan Zocek (guitars), Per Soläng (drums), and Daniel Ramírez (bass).

The first track, “Utopia,” is reminiscent of the Rainbow standard “The Gates of Babylon” in its esoteric warble but not so much in its fundamental construction, which relies on a different fundamental structure. A little bit later in the album, “Fools” has a very clever heavy riff that puts a unique torsion on a standard framing. This sort of accustoming is an enterprise at which The Sonic Overlords excel.

You can hear the doom metal come out on tracks like “Lords of Tomorrow.” Here again the path is a crooked one as heavy, slow doom guitar riffs partner with a melodic vocal and are taken to the next level by lead work worthy of Candlemass. All manner of variations can be heard throughout, as in “Sands of Time” with its latter-80s Iommi-ness and “Children of the Night” with its hard-hitting, churning rhythm that delivers a deep feeling of inevitability.

Everywhere you turn and everything you hear on this album brings a sense of breakthrough that coexists with familiarity. It is an excellent metal album. Recommended.

Last Days Of Babylon is out now through M-Theory Audio in the standard formats. The CD version features a guest appearance by Tony Martin who sings on “Past the End of Time,” a bonus track that is a reworked rendition of “Sands of Time.”

Links.

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

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

M-Theory Audio, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

The Sonic Overlords, Last Days of Babylon (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Green Lung, Black Harvest (Svart records 2021)

London heavy psych band Green Lung rolls out their second long-player, Black Harvest.

Green Lung is a relatively new band, having come together in 2017. They released a demo that year, then the Free The Witch EP the next. Woodland Rites (2019) was their first full-length album. The Metal Archives lists band members as Joseph Ghast (bass), Matt Wiseman (drums), Scott Black (guitar), Tom Templar (vocals), and John Wright (organ).

The album is filled with massively heavy riffs living in the same pasture with folk metal sensibilities and a magical reality that takes deep tokes on the regular. The music is generally heavier than what you hear in bands that get categorized in folk metal, and it is often more up-tempo than you hear in music labeled heavy psych. The lead breaks tend to be more metal than stoner bands, too. So what is this? It is Green Lung. Lend them your ear.

Black Harvest has ten tracks offering up an enticing variety of sounds and experiences. Four singles were released in advance of full drop, each showcasing different aspects of the band’s expressions. “Leaders of the Blind” has a ripping lead break that sank it’s teeth deep in my mind while “Upon The Altar” is more mystical in tone and still very heavy. Indeed, this song is perhaps the most complete representation of the band in the set.

The final two songs are showstoppers. “Doomsayer” delivers a dark message and then “Born To A Dying World” is oddly reassuring in its initial gentle delivery of bad news. Lyrical vocals and soulful guitar movements in the early part of the song are punched by heavy riffs then overrun by dramatic elements before the final consolation. Here endeth the album. Recommended.

You can get Black Harvest now on CD, digital, and vinyl through Bandcamp, the merch store link below, or Svart Records.

Links.

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

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

Merch store, https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/green-lung

Svart Records, https://svartrecords.com/product/greenlung-black-harvestalbum/

Green Lung, Black Harvest (Svart records 2021)

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Florida death metal band Massacre roll out the Lovecraftian Resurgence, their fourth big album.

It has been a long road for Massacre. The band formed in 1984 and became well-known for a number of demos they released throughout the rest of that decade. Their first full-length album was From Beyond (1991), followed five years later by Promise. Things got quiet for about fifteen years after that. Back From Beyond was Massacre’s return to form in 2014 and now, seven years later, the latest installment in their history is Resurgence.

The music is straight-forward old school death metal with a strong reliance on H. P. Lovecraft for narrative content. Vocalist Kam Lee describes to new music this way. “lyrically it is basically about body horror of aquatic transmutation. Any deeper meaning than that is just speculative, but could simply be metaphor for our world’s current situation with the pandemic and other threats of the spreading of viral infection. Musically it’s just proper O.S.D.M. the way it’s meant to be played …”

The set begins with mystery and esoteric insinuations on the “Eldritch Prophecy” lead-in before turning to a heavy pounding riff and then taking off at speed. A vocal growl is the sign that death metal is kicking in. Ascending guitars rise above the pummeling percussion and a hiss harmony deepens the vocal attack. It is a great beginning.

Through the course of ten raging tracks, the story unfolds and the music takes a tour through recognizable Old School Death Metal stomping grounds, adding fresh blasts and turns to enhance the delivery. The pace ranges from mid- to up-tempo, spending a lot of time in the fast lane. Lead breaks and guitar pairings are reliably recurrent and the metal is heavy and solid. Could you ask for anything more? Recommended.

Resurgence rises to the surface on Friday, October 22nd through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://massacre3.bandcamp.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/massacre-resurgence

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Florida gloom band Worm continues further down the path of deep dark doom on their third album, Foreverglade.

Formed around 2014, Worm’s early music was more oriented toward a straight-forward black metal tint. As they moved along, the doom emerged and quickly intensified into a lead-heavy oppression. Evocation of the Black Marsh came out in 2017, followed two years later by Gloomlord. The driving force behind Worm is an entity known as Phantom Slaughter whose work is enhanced on the new album by Nihilistic Manifesto, L. Dusk, and Equimanthorn. I wonder if those are their real names.

Foreverglade opens with the title track, sure in its stance and determined in its eeriness. It is a creeping combination of funereal guitar riffs, muffled death metal vocals, and ethereal, almost ritualistic sounds. On “Murk Above The Dark Moor” the composition has moments that are choir-like in their dirge and reverence, positioned against passages slightly paced up and massive in their density. And then, unexpectedly, there is a lead guitar break that is transportive. Side one closes with “Cloaked In Nightwinds,” the longest track on the album. It is a churning, clompy excavation of darkness.

“Empire Of The Necromancers” has an active beginning volley that is positively rapid compared to the tracks that came before. Excellent lead work early on in the song is a memorable highlight, as are the lyrical keys. “Subaqueous Funeral” is a single-length dark beauty with a pulse and flow that is engaging and mesmerizing in the guitar. “Centuries Of Ooze” brings the curtain down on the set, returning to the solemnness of the opening but even more mysteriously. I am a funeral doom fan and this music could fit in that category for its sheer heaviness, but it is more active than the typical strain and so creates its own description and enigma. Recommended.

Foreverglade is available on Friday, October 22nd through 20 Buck Spin. Ordering information can be found below at the label’s website and Bandcamp for the digital, CD, and cassette versions. There is a vinyl edition that is due January 28th, coming out later because of the well-known worldwide vinyl backlog.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wormgloom.bandcamp.com

20 Buck Spin, http://www.20buckspin.com

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)