Fetid Zombie, Transmutations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Fetid Zombie is out with its first full-length album in five years, Transmutations.

The driving force behind Fetid Zombie is Mark Riddick. In 2016, he/the band released Epicedia, an exploratory album with four long tracks that trod every land of heavy music. Since then, there have been many splits and EPs, which is a hallmark of Riddick’s work. Transmutations is the seventh long-player under the Fetid Zombie banner.

Riddick has invited a long list of musicians to join him on the new album including Ralf Hauber (Heads For The Dead), Chris Monroy (Skeletal Remains), Clare Webster (Yylva), Josh Fleischer (Svierg), Jamie Whyte (Beyond Mortal Dreams), James Malone (Arsis), Malcolm Pugh (Inferi), and Toby Knapp (Affliktor, Waxen). The result of this incredible variety of influences is a lush album that crosses multiple borders of heavy music and generates a synergistic whole.

Across six tracks you hear classic metal transforming into death metal and then heavy prog melding with searing dark entropy and more. The variety of the landscape is astonishing in every song. The opener, for example, “Chrysopoeia,” is an eight minute epic with growling death metal vocals, riffs that would be at home in classic heavy metal albums from the eighties, disembodied ethereal voices howling from the void, melodic guitar leads, space prog, and too many other elements to count. It is a grand quest.

Every song has its own environment and infrastructure that makes it unique. With all the seemingly disparate pieces floating around you might worry that this is a confusing basket of everything, but that is not what comes across at all. Each song is carefully constructed to fit together perfectly and the musicians perform expertly throughout. I can’t think of anything to compare it to directly. You have to hear it for yourself. Recommended.

Transmutations is out now from Transcending Obscurity. You can find it in the usual places including Bandcamp and the label’s US store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fetidzombiedm.bandcamp.com/album/transmutations-death-metal

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

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

Fetid Zombie, Transmutations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Covered In Sores, Civilian Casualties (HPGD 2021)

Covered In Sores release a new compilation of their early demos, Civilian Casualties.

Covered In Sores is a Grindcore/Death Metal band from Philadelphia. Earlier this year, they released an EP, Putrescent Hind-Sight, after a steady stream of demos in the years leading up to it. Now you can look back to the beginning and see where all the rampaging started with Civilian Casualties.

The new compilation includes Militaristic Cannibalism (2018), Blown To Bits (2019), and Evil Experiments (2020). These demos had six tracks each, and they are all on Civilian Casualties. What kind of music are we dealing with here? The press release calls it “sadoballistic guerrilla Deathgrind.” That pretty much sums it up.

Most of the songs run right around a minute long, with only three crossing the ninety second mark. Listening to them, then, is like getting punched in the face by an invisible fist. The perfect example is the lead song, “Fatal Bacteria.” Landing at exactly one minute, it is a blistering compressed combination of screaming, percussion, and rapid-fire riffing.

The music changes up with alternating compositional arrangements – the occasional lead break and tempo shift, now and then a bridge. There is the periodic mid-tempo passage but mainly look for shrieks and breath-stealing pace.

You can hear a difference from one demo to the next. My favorite set of six is Blown To Bits, and I really like “Krokodil Tears,” “Funeral Ambush,” and “Sucking Chest Wound” from that demo. The third demo is the most aggressive and off-the-hook of the bunch, so you have that to look forward to. If you don’t already hold these demos in your collection, grabbing the compilation is a no-brainer. Recommended.

Civilian Casualties is out on Friday, July 30th from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. Bandcamp has the goods and/or you can check out HPGD’s site.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/civilian-casualties

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Covered In Sores, Civilian Casualties (HPGD 2021)

Fell Harvest, Pale Light In A Dying World (2021)

The first full-length album from Fell Harvest is a crafty construction of raw elements melded into a refined finish.

Southeastern Wyoming is the home of Fell Harvest whose musicians are Joseph Fell (bass and vocals), Liam Duncan (guitar), and Angel Enkeli (drums). They released an EP on the front edge of the pandemic in March last year and worked on this new one during the long months after that. The music is heavy yet quite variegated in note and feel.

Fell Harvest is often referred as a doom metal band but you wouldn’t know it from the first track, “Titanicide,” which sports a vigorous tempo. The title track comes next and the doom definitely lands on it. Solemn and sorrow-filled, the song is not a dirge but instead offers many undulations. Fell’s vocals are commanding and are the center point when active. Guitar rhythms are persistent and recurring, insisting their story is heard.

“Lark in the Morning” starts almost funereally but has a massive eruption during its transit and it is a stand-out track on the album. “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” opens acoustically, ultimately turning into a cross between Death Metal and a sea shanty. “The Barren Fields” leans in on the heavy and has a surprising, stabbing lead break. There is clearly a journey here, and a lot of searching.

The closer is “The Ghosts of Scapa Flow,” the longest cut and a strong contender for my favorite track. There is no rush to it and neither is there any hesitance. The song has its own life and takes what it needs to generate what it wants. A fine resolution.

Pale Light In A Dying World is out now. You can pick up the digital and CD at Bandcamp. Recommended.

Band photo by Sean Castenada.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fellharvest.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Fell Harvest, Pale Light In A Dying World (2021)

Incinerate, Back To Reality (Spirit Coffin 2021)

The second album from Incinerate is Back To Reality and it is banger through and through.

Incinerate is a thrash metal trio from Antwerp, Belgium. There first album was Amazon Violence (2016). The band is Michael (drums), Matthias (guitar), and Nils (bass and vocals), and they play a no-nonsense brand of rough-and-ready thrash that throws the horns up for the roots of the genre while presenting their music in a way that translates perfectly into the world as it is now.

There are ten tracks on Back To Reality, mainly running right in the meat of radio-length. The set kicks off with a roar on the title track. A killer pace in the rhythm and punk-inspired vocals set your blood pumping to the red line. “Human Demise Ritual” has a catchy road rage hook that would work in a Mad Max movie and a stirring, whirling lead break. A snappy bass line leads you into the next track, “Internal Distress,” and it rolls right over you with gushing adrenaline.

One track is as raucous as the next and the entire album is a continuous pay-off. From the longest song (“Synthetic Blood Plasma Bath”) to the shortest (“Room 101”), this album is a treat for head bangers. The set is wrapped with a raw live track at the end, “Erased Earth,” to give you a preview of what you might see in an in-person space. This one is a winner from soup to nuts. Recommended.

The digital, CD, and vinyl has been available for a couple of months from Dead By Dawn Records and the cassette version has just been released by Spirit Coffin Publishing. The live track is only available on the cassette. Touch the links below.

Links.

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

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

Spirit Coffin Publishing, https://spiritcoffinpublishing.bigcartel.com/

Incinerate, Back To Reality (Spirit Coffin 2021)

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Lykhaeon tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades in the most appropriate musical form: Black Metal.

Lykhaeon is a Swiss doom-laden black metal duo that began in 2013. It is comprised of “Kerberos – Throat and Doom and Meister T. – Tomb and Summoning.” Their first album came out in 2015, Tanz der Entleibten, followed by an EP in 2018, Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls. The new album has a different feel than the first two entries in their catalogue. It is deeper and more complex.

Opprobrium tells the classic story of Persephone … “When the lust of immortals becomes insatiable, it is frequently the realm of mortals that serves as the spring from which all desire can be quenched and any thirst satiated. Such is the fate of Persephone, who is – according to some tellings – the victim of a cruel ploy, a conspiracy incarnate, whereby her flesh is beset by the desire of the deity Hades. In his arrogance, appearing before her on a gilded chariot, treachery allows Hades to abduct the seed.” There is a lot going on, and this is just the set-up.

The story is linear enough – it is just that there is so much to take in, making the album somewhat overwhelming. There are seven tracks, five of which I would call primary. You want to listen to them all straight through the get the full story, of course. Musically, there is a long intro that is very effective in setting the stage and instilling dread before the opening lyrical salvo of “A Stain Upon Celestial Rule,” presented in a familiar Black Metal motif encased in iron-heavy doom. A good beginning.

There is a familiar pattern to the music that, once established, lends a feeling of surety during the dark journey. When divergent passages break through, they are all the more powerful held against the established path. I especially like the sequence of “Descent Into Ruinous Splendor” and “Scorching the Wings of Destiny” – I admire the compositional ingenuity, the musical execution, and the lyrical commitment. Lykhaeon are all-in on this album, and it shows.

If you are looking for a classic tale set in the Black Metal universe and scaled to epic proportions, this album is for you. Recommended.

Opprobrium is out now. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Repose Records, https://www.reposerecords.com/

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Yngwie Malmsteen, Parabellum (Music Theories Recordings 2021)

Heavy Metal guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen brings forth his twenty-first solo album, Parabellum.

Trilogy (1986) was the first Yngwie Malmsteen album I ever heard. That is his third album, I found out after being blown away by his playing, following Rising Force (1984) and Marching Out (1985). I have never missed one since. Endlessly prolific, his previous album was Blue Lightning in 2019 and it was an incredible achievement. The new one is even better.

Sometimes compared to Ritchie Blackmore, Malmsteen does draw inspiration for classical music, like Blackmore does, and you can clearly hear it in his compositions. Malmsteen’s playing, however, is unrivaled and can be held up to anybody at the top of your list. His execution is impeccable, flawless.

There are ten tracks on Parabellum. I always look for the instrumental songs first because I want to be amazed and astounded by Malmsteen’s playing. You don’t really have to do that because there is astonishing guitar work in every song whether there are vocals or not. Still … my favorite tracks are “Presto Vivace in C# minor” and “(Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum,” both instrumentals. I get completely lost listening to them, immersed in the miraculous guitar.

More radio-friendly (but not very friendly) songs include “Wolves At The Door” and “Relentless Fury,” both released early as singles from the album and both having vocals for broader appeal. They are great songs with killer shreds. There are also slower pieces, such as “Eternal Bliss,” to go along with the ragers ( like “Toccata”) for when you are in a more introspective mood. Something for everybody, you might say, as long as everybody wants to hear metal guitar music.

Let me say it again: every track has peerless guitar performances regardless of what else might be happening in the song. Malmsteen has not lost any energy or ingenuity as the years have passed on. My esteem grows for him and his music with each new record. Highly recommended.

Parabellum is out now. Tap the link to the Mascot Label page to see the available varieties and merch.

Links.

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

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

Mascot Label Group, https://usa-store.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/yngwie-malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen, Parabellum (Music Theories Recordings 2021)

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

A relatively new festival that has grown enormously in the past couple of years is the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Virginia. This year the festival will be held at a new venue, the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Danville, Virginia.

Headliners are Megadeth, Breaking Benjamin, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, and Papa Roach.

Other bands I am lining up to see at the festival are Clutch, Black Label Society, Halestorm, Testament, Hatebreed, Anthrax, Lamb of God, Fever 333, Saul, Nonpoint, Beartooth, Corrosion of Conformity, Mastodon, The Hu, Killswitch Engage, and Gojira, plus an enormous number of other great acts. I think there are more bands at this festival than any other in North America this year. It is an incredible lineup.

While the festival is sold out, you can check out the link below for more information. You know how this works – if you want a ticket you can still get one because people will be buying and selling them.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://blueridgerockfest.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

The big show this year at the Highland Festival Grounds in Louisville is Louder Than Life, returning with a bigger show than ever before.

Stretching over four days this year as a return bonus after missing last year, the big news at Louder Than Life is that Metallica will be playing both on Friday and Sunday nights – and they are playing different sets each night.

Thursday night the headliner is Korn and Nine Inch Nails is the feature on Saturday. Other big hitters taking the stage over the weekend include Judas Priest, Snoop Dogg, Staind, Jane’s Addiction, Killswitch engage, Anthrax, Beartooth, Ghostemane, Sabaton, Cypress Hill, and loads more.

You can still get tickets to Louder Than Life (at this writing). Check out the link below.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://louderthanlifefestival.com/

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Festivals are getting going again in the US and the first big stop to make is Psycho Las Vegas.

Missing a year of Psycho Las Vegas is a wound that can be salved by heading to Nevada next month for one the of the best heavy line-ups around. During the 2019 festival, The Mandalay Bay operated three stages – one in the arena, one at the House of Blues in the casino complex, and another in a lounge. All very different vibes and all full-on musical bliss. I am expecting this again in 2021.

The headliners for 2021 are Emperor, Down, and Danzig. Other bands I am excited to see this year are Exodus, Cannibal Corpse, High On Fire, The Sword, Red Fang, Obituary, Pig Destroyer, Eyehatehod, and far too many others to mention. For heavy music fans, Psycho Las Vegas has become an annual pilgrimage.

Don’t forget Thursday night Psycho Swim with music outside at the Daylight Beach Club. True, it is 100 degrees or so in the daytime but when the sun goes down so does the temperature and it is very comfortable. Plus it is a beach and you can get in the water. The bands for this year’s Psycho Swim include Old Man Gloom, Bongzilla, and many others.

There were still some tickets available at this writing. Hit the link below to see what’s up.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd. And at the tables.

Link.

Festival info: https://vivapsycho.com/

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Mordred, The Dark Parade (M-Theory Audio 2021)

New music from Mordred is cause for celebration – witness The Dark Parade.

Mordred is a legendary Bay Area band that made a big splash when they came together 1980s. Their first album, Fool’s Game, hit the streets in 1989, followed by In This Life (1991) and The Next Room (1994). After that, there was a resting period for a few years. The band came back together and toured in the early 2000s, then again about ten years later. Since 1994, though, they did not release any new music until last year’s EP, Volition. And now there is the new long-player, The Dark Parade.

The music is heavy, riffy, hooky funk metal with a thrashing sensibility. The eight tracks on the new album all burn high-test fuel, bursting and cracking with energy and enthusiasm. The subjects themselves are not light-hearted – there is “Dragging For Bodies” as one example and the title track for another. Grim tidings grooving in on cross-over thrash jams.

I cannot think of other bands to compare Mordred with that would really tell you anything useful about them. I have already listed a long menu of aspects of their music, but it is not like they are all just thrown in a pot and heated up. This music really is its own thing, carefully constructed and genuinely unique.

The legend of the band will live on, of course; it will always be there. I would give this new album unencumbered consideration, though, not looking for glimpses and flashes of the past but instead embracing everything about what this music is now, because it is incredible. Highly recommended.

M-Theory Audio has The Dark Parade coming out on Friday, July 23rd. Preorders are available now through the label and at Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://mordred.bandcamp.com/album/the-dark-parade

Mordred website, https://mordred.company.site/

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

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

Mordred, The Dark Parade (M-Theory Audio 2021)