Druid Lord, Relics Of The Dead (Hells Headbangers 2022)

Druid Lord conjures deep decaying darkness with their third full-length album, Relics Of The Dead.

Druid Lord has been haunting the catacombs for more than ten years. After the initial long-player Hymns For The Wicked in 2010, the band released a string of splits and a couple of EPs before the most recent full-length, Grotesque Offerings (2018). With a focus on the morbid and horror in general, the themes of the compositions are what you might expect from a doom-laden heavy music band so named. The Metal Archives records the band members as Elden Santos (drums), Pete Slate (guitar), Tony Blakk (vocals and bass), and Chris Wicklein (guitar).

There are six long songs and two transition tracks on the new album. The style is doom and death metal played both in alternating passages and as crossover experiences. “Relics Of The Dead” is a delightfully dreary requiem that drags your spirit through the muck. The following track, “Thirteen Days Of Death,” unsurprisingly, offers no sunshine. The song rolls out in a funeral procession, with heavy, hopeless vocals and slow, churning guitars. The pace becomes spritely after a couple minutes, but that does not elevate the mood. An excellent, depressing song.

I really liked “Festering Tombs,” I must say, with its nice lead flourishes and a driving, dooming intentionality. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Mangled As The Hideous Feed” as well – it is a song more well-titled than most. The album wraps up on “Monarch Macabre,” a beautifully rendered cinematic story of unrelenting darkness. The final bow is a short uscita that sounds like a creepy invitation to play the album again. Which I did. This one is a keeper. Recommended.

Relics Of The Dead is out on Friday, January 21st in digital, tape, and CD formats through Hells Headbangers. A vinyl version will follow in the coming months.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://druid-lord.bandcamp.com/

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

Hells Headbangers Records, https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

Druid Lord, Relics Of The Dead (Hells Headbangers 2022)

Great American Ghost, Torture World (MNRK Heavy 2022)

In their tenth year, Great American Ghost offers up a bloody aperitif in the form of Torture World.

Boston hardcore band Great American Ghost has been doing their thing for a while now, and has documented their rage on a number of albums including Everyone Leaves (2015), Hatred Stems From The Seed (2017), and Power Through Terror (2019). The new four-track EP is just as expressive as anything they have done before, and it seems to me that it is meant to charge up their fans for the current tour they are on with Fit For An Autopsy and Enterprise Earth. Mission accomplished. The band is Ethan Harrison (vocals), Niko Gasparrini (guitar), Davier Perez (drums), and Grayson Stewart (guitar).

“Kingmaker” sounds excessively angry and also, inexplicably, holds a kind of groove. In contrast, “Torture World” begins quietly and sweetly for a couple of seconds. The liltyness recurs throughout the song, shining a bright light on the savagery.

“Womb” is unbelievably intense with its off center attack and recursions. It is a horror elemental, inspiring fear and trepidation. The final track is the clangy and gritty “Death Forgives No One” which, despite its title and theme, has a catchy chorus that could be a radio hit in different song.

This music makes me feel punchy, makes me want to crack some heads – makes me remember the taste of blood. I don’t know if Great American Ghost has this effect on everybody, but the adrenaline injection I received is exactly what I wanted, and I am not interested in coming down. Recommended.

MNRK Heavy releases Torture World on Friday, January 20th to the masses, whether they are ready or not. Get your heaping helping at the links below.

Band photo by Chris Klump.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greatamericanghost.bandcamp.com/album/torture-world

Website, https://tortureworld.com/

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Great American Ghost, Torture World (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/volcanic-rock-live

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

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Fit For An Autopsy, Oh What The Future Holds (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The sixth full-length album from Fit For An Autopsy makes a move in the intensity direction.

Jersey City deathcore band Fit For An Autopsy began in 2008 and released their first album, The Process of Human Extermination, in 2011. Four more long-players followed, most recently The Sea Of Tragic Beasts (2019). The band has reshaped itself over the years, keeping a steady and growing fan following all the while. The musicians are Joseph Badolato (vocals), Patrick Sheridan (guitar), Timothy Howley (guitar), Will Putney (guitar), Peter Blue Spinazola (bass), and Josean Orta Martinez (drums).

The new album is not as abrasive as some of its predecessors. It is loud and intense, and it crackles with an unexpected poignancy. Fans will hear Fit For An Autopsy loud and clear in every song, and newcomers to the fold will experience a somewhat broader umbrella.

“A Higher Level Of Hate” is a stand-out track. It starts out with unusual percussion, driven by hand. Coarse, screeching lurches into the mix from both the voice and the guitars and it never turns back – offering abatement only toward the end, but it isn’t real. “Savages” is another one I especially liked for its persistently stabby nature and the killer bass line. If you let this one knock you down you will have a hard time getting up.

The exit door is marked “The Man That I Was Not,” and it is a parlor of mystery. At times melodic and at other times brazenly harsh, this long piece is a well-executed choice for the set’s anchor. I can’t wait to the band them tour with this material. I expect they will get rave reviews and a roaring reception. Recommended.

Oh What The Future Holds drops on Friday, January 14th through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

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

Website, https://fitforanautopsy.co/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/fit-for-an-autopsy-oh-what-the-future-holds-orange-vinyl-import-.html

Fit For An Autopsy, Oh What The Future Holds (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Out Of This World, Out Of This World (Atomic Fire 2022)

The new music from Out Of this World will spark memories and regenerate a blazing fire.

The band is comprised of certified music veterans Kee Marcello (Europe), Tommy Heart (Fair Warning), Ken Sandin (Alien), and Darby Todd (Devin Townsend). They came together to create new music in the way that works best for them, and the result is an explosion of energetic melodic hard rock which has not been given this complete a treatment for years.

The opening track does have a decided Europe feel to it, with big keys and tall guitar riffs. Catchy hooks wind in to set up the clear hard rock vocals and carry the song on. That’s “Twilight,” and the glimpse it offers signals the rest of the album accurately. The tone throughout is melodic, but there are enough edges in there to satisfy your need for creative guitar work. Certainly, the lead guitar performances are very impressive. The compositions are designed to have broad appeal and they score high marks on that account.

Over the course of the ten tracks there is enough hair metal nostalgia to raise the dead. I listened to so much of this kind of music back at its beginning that I didn’t think I would ever hear something that sounded new, but here it is. The familiarity is there, and yet these songs have a sparkling born-on date. There is a dip into the power ballad arena from time to time, and there are stadium anthems, too. This set roves the planes of 80s heavy rock with wide-ranging aplomb. If you are a fan of this kind of music, you are going to like the new Out Of This World efforts. They take the music seriously and put on a great show. Recommended.

Out Of This World invades your airspace on Friday, January 14th through Atomic Fire Records. Check out the label store at the link below.

Links.

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

Atomic Fire Records, https://visionmerch.com/atomicfire/

Out Of This World, Out Of This World (Atomic Fire 2022)

Enterprise Earth, The Chosen (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The new Enterprise Earth album is big enough to swallow a battleship whole and fierce enough to spit out razor blades.

Enterprise Earth has only been around since 2015. That doesn’t seem possible – feels like they have always been here. The band’s long-player entry into the heavy music scene was the rule bending Patient Ø, and since then they have proven time again to be a fundamentally important inventive force in the genre. They play a technical death metal style that faces few rivals. Their most recent album was the 2020 EP Foundation Of Bones, and now we have The Chosen. The musicians are Dan Watson (vocals), Gabe Mangold (guitar), Brandon Zackey (drums), and Rob Saireh (bass).

The new album is a big one, with fourteen tracks and a running time of over an hour. The opening song is “Where Dreams Are Broken.” How about that for a thematic kickoff? There is a short ramp and then no fucking around with killer bass lines and battering percussion. The guitars slash through the jungle of complacency while the vocals present no alternative to complete attention. A pseudo-melodic chorus does not slow the momentum of the construction. Instead it focuses the grievous message and serves to amplify the awe as the song continues.

The technical precision of the band’s guitar work is well known and amply in evidence here. “Unleash Hell” is the perfect example, and there are many more. Most of the songs have moments and movements that peer into different perspectives, altering tempo and plight, style and substance. The pace is savage and relentless overall, save the two short transition pieces and the closing gambit. The title track is an epic that places the situation of the theme at the center of the fray and explores its many refractions. As an Enterprise Earth fan, I couldn’t have asked for more. Recommended.

The Chosen drops on Friday, January 14th through MNRK Heavy. Investigate the choices at the links below.

Band photo by Chris Klump.

Links.

Band website, https://enterpriseearthband.com/

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

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Enterprise Earth, The Chosen (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Slowbleed, A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn (Creator-Destructor 2022)

The debut long-player from the hardcore hadron collider Slowbleed menaces your senses.

According to documented sources, the band “formed with a goal of achieving unrelenting extremity, bridging brutality and technicality within their blend of hardcore aggression and death metal precision.” That gives you a good idea of what is happening on A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn – a place to start, at least. The band is Jon Caytion (vocals), Logan Givan (guitar), John Laux (guitar), Ozzy Parilla (bass), and Tyler Castro (drums).

I heard this music in blocks – my brain just organized it that way. “No Shepherd (Of Wolves)” is a blasting, blistering rampage. It is a greasing grind, if that is possible. The raking vocals and mystical guitar flourishes hold their ground amid the earth-turning rhythm section. I wish that song didn’t have to end. Its immediate predecessor, “Hung At Dawn,” casts a long shadow of gloom at the outset then walks right into it with savage chops. To seal it all, “The Law (Atonement Through Blood)” throws in an 80s callback to spice the walloping trounce. These three are a jarring triplet and they clung together in my mind, unbreakable.

A similar coalescence happened with “Driven By Fire” and “Graves (Pours Of The Earth).” Tied together with the transitional element “Diliculum,” a small suite naturally emerges. To me, then, each song has its own identity, and the entire set has a more nuanced self as a whole. The little legions are in there too, fitting in while being their own thing. The rousing aggression of this songs and the clarity of composition pushes the music to a level well above the rabble. There is no pressure valve here, just the steady flow of heavy music presenting itself for the world to see. Recommended.

Digital and vinyl versions are out on Friday, January 14th through Creator-Destructor Records. Links below.

Links.

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

Creator-Destructor Records, http://creator-destructor.com/

Slowbleed, A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn (Creator-Destructor 2022)

Descent, Order Of Chaos (Brilliant Emperor 2022)

The new album from Descent is step forward in their heavy music campaign.

Order Of Chaos is the second full-length album from Brisbane, Queensland death metal band Descent, following 2018’s Towers of Grandiosity and a demo three years before that. The music they play is a brutal mesh of death metal, black metal, and hardcore. According to the Metal Archives, the band is Jim Dandy (bass), Anthony Oliver (vocals), Kingsley Sugden (drums), Brendan Auld (guitar), and Josh Kane (guitar).

I wrote a book (pseudonymously ) a few years back titled The Sequence Of Random Events so I appreciate the concept of Order Of Chaos. You think about it for a while and there is always a pattern in there somewhere and meaning can be ascribed. Alternately, the chaos itself might be the order, eh – that’s a brain-pulsing notion on its own. Of course it could just be that there is never any order and searching for it is a waste of time so you might as well embrace the chaos. Or … we could just listen to the music.

The punishing begins at the jump with “Tempest” and carries through on all eight tracks. The gravely rawness of the vocals is hammered home by the relentless percussion and rhythm. The riffs carry both a violent menace and a patterning groove. The lead guitar is like close-up knife work that makes an art of the carving. Don’t drop the needle on this one if you are not ready for the rumble.

My favorite tracks are “Fester” and “Safe.” The former has a hook with a wicked barbed that attracted my gaze and then would not let go. The latter track is the shortest of the set and it is just a hard straight shot to the face. The album shook the ice out of my beard and got my blood up. Recommended.

Brilliant Emperor Records releases Order Of Chaos on Friday, January 14th. Redefining Darkness has the CD and Caligari Records offers up the cassette.

Links.

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

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

Brilliant Emperor Records, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

Descent, Order Of Chaos (Brilliant Emperor 2022)

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Here it is, the official preview of the upcoming year in heavy music from Transcending Obscurity Records: the 2022 label sampler.

An independent record label headquartered in India, Transcending Obscurity has been quietly growing in catalogue and international reach since its inception in 2005. Now, albums from them routinely hit the top ten annual lists in every heavy music corner of the world. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know a lot about them already because I write about TO all the time as they have been one of my favorite records labels for many years. I reviewed twenty-five of their albums last year for Flying Fiddlesticks – more than any other, nudging out even Ripple Music in the stats.

Hit the links below to see the full contributor list. Bandcamp is the easiest route and that is the place to pick up the collection itself for free. To give you some idea of how it all breaks down, here is the categorization provided by the label for what is included in the sampler: Tracks 1-12 – death metal; Tracks 13-15 – black metal; Tracks 16-30 – dissonant/ brutal/ atmospheric/ experimental death metal; Tracks 30-33 – grindcore; Tracks 34-35 – doom/ sludge metal.

You can tell the music is tilted in the death metal direction, but whatever persuasion of heavy music fan you are, there is a metric ton of music here to enjoy. There are many familiar names on the roster – Wombbath, Lurk, Veilburner, Replicant, Imperlialist – and many more I know less about that I can’t wait to hear. The sampler is massive, and it is free.

You cannot go wrong with Transcending Obscurity. I have been an avid follower of the label for a good long while and I never miss an album they put out because I know the quality is going to be there. Count on reading about many of the records as they come out this year and, meanwhile, grab the sampler and hear what you are in for. And if you like merch, you cannot do better than the product line Transcending Obscurity offers. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/label-sampler-2022

US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Main Website, https://tometal.com/

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Atomic Aggressor, Invoking The Primal Chaos (Hells Headbangers 2021)

Atomic Aggressor’s 2019 EP Invoking The Primal Chaos gets a vinyl release from Hells Headbangers.

Atomic Aggressor is a deaththrash band from Santiago. They were a raging force to be reckoned with in the late 1980s ~ early 1990s, releasing killer demos and gaining fans in hordes. They broke up way too early as far as their followers were concerned, but then the band reformed in 2007. Since then, they have been releasing music in a steady, slow flow, including the long-player Sights Of Suffering in 2014. The most recent issue is Invoking The Primal Chaos. According to the Metal Archives, the band for this EP is Enrique Zúñiga (guitar), Julio Bórquez (guitar), Alejandro Díaz (vocals, bass), and Alvaro Llanquitruf (drums).

There are four tracks on the record: “The Primal Chaos,” “Summoners Absolution,” “Primordial Wisdom,” and “Archetypal Balance.” The music has an old school death metal magnetism to it, and it is played at breath-taking velocity – hence the deaththrash labeling. There is a wickedness to these constructions that is eminently appealing. The lead guitar breaks always strike exactly the right tone for the song and the relentless rhythm builds a stadium in your mind for the vocals to perform in. What we have here is a raucous affair.

There was a CD and cassette version of Invoking The Primal Chaos issued in 2019 in Chile. Now you can get the vinyl (with digital) from Hells Headbangers. The platters dropped on the last day of 2021 so grab them while you still can. This is a good one. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://atomicaggressor.bandcamp.com/album/invoking-the-primal-chaos

Facebook, https://business.facebook.com/AtomicAggressor/

Hells Headbangers Records, https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

Atomic Aggressor, Invoking The Primal Chaos (Hells Headbangers 2021)