Suicidal Tendencies, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Mike Muir brought along a couple of new musicians for the set in Danville – see if you can spot them. It is always great to hear a little metal and punk smashed together.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://www.suicidaltendencies.com/

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

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

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

Suicidal Tendencies, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

The Los Angeles blackened metal band Civerous brings forth its first full-length album, Decrepit Flesh Relic.

Beginning only a couple years ago, Civerous has released two demos and a live set, along with a split pairing them with Stygian Obsession. The steady work has paid off, culminating in one of the strongest records in the blackened death/doom arena this year. The band is Daniel Salinas (guitar), Alonso Santana (guitar), Lord Foul (vocals), Drew Horton (bass), and Matt Valencia (drums).

After the creeps-inducing intro piece “Eidolon,” there are six primary tracks on the album. Having set the mood to dark and tense, “From The Crypt To The Cavern” is a functional nightmare. The riff is a heavy clomp that batters you up front in anticipation of the following tenderizing percussion and growling vocals filled with the wisdom of eldritch blackness. “Herodacy” deepens the lines of inquiry as a well-timed lead-in to “Rot Delineated (Decrepit Flesh Relic),” a quieter and creepier rendering of similar sentiments, evolving slowly into beautifully crushing doom.

“Hubiku” is a trip down the sinkhole into the swirling chasm of hell – once you pass the event horizon, there is no escape. “Bone Wreath” is the song that stuck deepest in my brain. The hopelessness conveyed in the opening moments is monumental, and the reckoning of that promise is unforgettable. The final movement is the epic “Spiral OF Eyes,” a tale older than time; maker of destruction. The darkness evoked is sincere and penetrating.

I appreciate especially the commitment to doom throughout the album, and the willingness to explore in directions that could not be easily predicted by the listener in advance. This recording deserves attention and should make year-end “best of” lists far and wide. Highly recommended.

Decrepit Flesh Relic is out now through Transylvanian Records. Hit the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/civerous-decrepit-flesh-relic

Transylvania Recordings, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Death Angel, The Bastard Tracks (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Iconic thrash band Death Angel releases a live set of rarely performed songs aptly titled The Bastard Tracks.

The Bay Area thrash scene is the stuff of legends. If you have never heard about it then I am not sure we’re going to be close friends. So many huge acts came from that place and time, including the bands on the current Bay Strikes Back tour: Testament, Exodus, and my personal favorite, Death Angel. I have a deep and abiding love for thrash and I admire these three bands (and so many more) for the music they have created. Death Angel has always been special to me, though, and so I was excited to see this album cross my path.

The songs on The Bastard Tracks were recorded live at The Great American Music Hall in the band’s hometown of San Francisco on May 22nd this year. The set list was chosen specifically to highlight songs that had rarely been played live, including some that had never been performed on stage before. That is what sets this album apart.

You don’t hear any crowd noise on this set, but the live feel is there in all its energy and vibrancy. The track list is: “Lord of Hate,” “Where They Lay,” “Why You Do This,” “Fallen,” “Absence of Light,” “The Organization,” “Execution/Don’t Save Me,” “Succubus,” “It Can’t Be This,” “Let the Pieces Fall,” “Faded Remains,” “Volcanic,” “Falling Off the Edge of the World,” “Guilty of Innocence,” and “Alive and Screaming.” There are some real jaw-droppers in there for Death Angel fans; songs we have always wanted to hear live. Finally, here is the chance. Recommended.

The Bastard Tracks is out on Friday November 26th through Nuclear Blast Records in digital, CD/Blu-ray, vinyl, and cassette. This is a great item to pick up to hold you over until the Bay Strikes Back tour starts again next Spring.

Links.

Website, https://www.deathangel.us/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/item/groups/51000.1.html?article_group_sort_type_handle=rank&custom_keywords=death%20angel

Death Angel, The Bastard Tracks (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Sci-Fi Black Metal band Imperialist have crafted an amazing new album, Zenith.

From Monrovia, California, the band is Sergio Soto (guitar, vocals), Bryant Quinones (guitar), Joshua Alvarez (bass), and Rodney Quinones (drums). In 2015 they released an EP, Quantum Annexation, and followed that up with the well-received long-player Cipher (2018). The new album is a big next step, embracing science fiction narratives and infusing them with diabolical Black Metal. The amazing dark chemistry of the creation cannot be denied.

The album begins with extremely creepy tones and murky, ominous music on the intro piece. Talk about setting the stage. The trepidation builds leading into “The Maw,” a savage, hammering track. The howling continues with “Parallax Descends,” a confoundingly catchy track. And that is something about this music that sets it apart – it is hard driving, technical Black Metal that somehow also has enough groove in it to transport you on the surface as well as trigger your deeper menacing central dread with the harsher metal. That is so difficult to do that you almost never hear it, but here it is on Zenith.

The back half of the album delivers just as strongly as the front. “Majesty of the Void” first reminds you of the sinister mystical nature of the creature you face then tramples you with beating rhythm and weight-of-the-universe guitars. The story continues in the galactic perspective and so has an infinite space to mine ideas. “Terminal Odyssey” soars in its sounds and sights and revelations, and the final track, “Beyond the Celestial Veil,” spares no emotion or action. By the time the cooldown comes you know you have been through it – you also know you are ready to go again. Highly recommended.

Zenith will be directly overhead on Friday, November 26th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://imperialistus.bandcamp.com/album/zenith-sci-fi-black-metal

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

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

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Joyous Wolf, Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Orange County, California rock band Joyous Wolf made a pass through the Northeast in October on their Fearless tour. I never get enough of the bluesy rock delivery that they create so fluidly.

Check out Joyous Wolf’s music on streaming platforms, including the latest release, Fearless. Links appear below the photos.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://fearless.joyouswolf.com/

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7W3_dDSqeHZCny8ZBumofg

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/48vfT7i3EmuNEDAVRhzxpp

Joyous Wolf, Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Mythical sludge metal band All Hail The Yeti go deep on their new album, Within The Hollow Earth.

All Hail The Yeti have been banging out music for fifteen years, including three long-players: All Hail the Yeti (2012), Screams from a Black Wilderness (2016), and Highway Crosses (2018). Their take on the word is that it is full of mystery and that legends hold some valuable information about elemental truths. These ideas are expressed in heavy groove metal with sludgy sensibilities. The musicians are Connor Garritty (vocals), Dave Vanderlinde (guitar), Nicholas Diltz (bass, vocals), Ryan “Junior” Kittlitz (drums).

Within The Hollow Earth has seven tracks at common length opening with the pummeling “Bury Your Memory,” a song stout enough to hammer you thoughts flat. “Headless Valley” gets your blood up with a pursuing, pulsing riff that enjoins a warning and a prediction. This song is a monster slap with terrifying flashes alternating with a misleading periodic calm.

“Funeral Heart” is a ravaging affair in its raking riff and the story is even harsher. “Cold Dead Leaves” is a show-stopper, offering up a deep, dark bitterness and wicked guitar. The melodic vocals that float across the transom of these songs amid what by comparison seems a clambering explanative assault is a creative construction that delivers effectively fresh tellings of hoary themes. Truly, the ideas are infused with a bristling enthusiasm that elevates them, making them new and fascinating.

The chop of “The Cry of the Waheela” and the resolute finality of “The Great Dying” bring the set to a close. The jabs and haymakers just keep coming in this music. It is a wicked walking dream that inflames your senses. Recommended.

Within The Hollow Earth is out on Friday, November 12th. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahty.bandcamp.com/album/within-the-hollow-earth

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

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

California mystical rock band Thangorodrim conjure a mesmerizing debut album with Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666.

The new release is the first long-player from Thangorodrim, but they have released two previous EPs – their self-titled effort in 2015 and Soul Of Fire the following year. They have been on a trajectory toward Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 for a few years. The band is bassist and guitarist S.K.B. and vocalist C.G. BloodCrown. The drummer for the recording sessions is credited as C. C.

The album has eleven long tracks with the shortest being in the five minute range and the longest running over thirteen minutes. There is plenty to hear here so you can acquaint yourself with the band’s music if you have never heard it before.

The music starts with “Through The Devil’s Door”: a slightly clangy ritualistic premise captures your attention and then the searching vocal filaments work their way in. The music is slow and insinuating for about three minutes where it turns more urgent and engaging. Toward the end there is a discordant outro. In general, the music is guitar-driven rock with persistent desert rock stylings. The guitars are sometimes heavy but it would be a stretch to call it metal.

With so much content you can expect a rich journey – I could write a thousand words on every song. There are many passages that land in the stoner space and others that are clearly more psychedelic. The musicians have a lot to say and they are patient. They go in whichever direction gets their point across best. The trip takes about an hour and a half and I have done it twice so far. I think I’ll do it again. I am going to use that word once more: this music is mesmerizing. Once you get started it is hard to put down. Recommended.

Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 sees full release on Friday, November 5th through Nuclear Blast Records’ digital arm, Blood Blast Distribution. Bandcamp is a handy place to pick it up, along with merch and bundles.

Photo by S. Zamora.

Links.

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

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/ThangorodrimOfficial

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

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

Alcatrazz, V (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Los Angeles metal band Alcatrazz returns with their fifth long-player, simply titled V.

Alcatrazz started almost forty years ago in California. Its first phase lasted from about 1983 to 1987 when a hiatus ensued, but not before the band released three albums. Picking back up in 2007, a touring incarnation was in place for a few years. Most recently, Alcatrazz came together again on the edge of the pandemic, putting out the well-received Born Innocent album in 2020. And now, in rapid succession, we have V. The band is Jimmy Waldo (keyboards), Gary Shea (bass), Doogie White (vocals), Joe Stump (guitar), and Mark Benquechea (drums).

The opening song “Guardian Angel” has a real Iron Maiden feel to it, and I mean that in a good way. The delivery lays over on the radio-ready side, even with the ripping guitar shreds. The music is heavily layered and produced, resulting a very polished final product. It goes down smooth. A fine way to start the album.

The keyboards have a large presence throughout the set and they work well with the vocal style. In some ways it is like the second phase of Deep Purple except, again, more in the pop lane. The singer Doogie White is well known, after all, for his vocal performances with Rainbow and Rising Force (among others) so you recognize his signature sound immediately and the compositions are designed with synergy in mind. For me, the music is solidly created and the existence of big lead breaks makes every song worthwhile. Witness “Nightwatch.”

While the music does operate in a definable universe, it offers considerably variety, too. One of my favorite songs is the bluesy “House Of Lies,” and then there is the solemn heavy ballad “Dark Day For My Soul.” Rollicking tunes abound as well as in “Blackheart” and “Target.” There is an old school sensibility here that is tuned into a contemporaneous awareness that results in a new and unique sound. Recommended.

The new album is out now through Silver Lining Music in digipak, digital, and streaming formations.

Band photo by Alex Solca.

Links.

Alcatrazz website, http://www.alcatrazzofficial.com/

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

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net/en/releases/259-artists/releases-alcatrazz/984-v

Alcatrazz, V (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Illudium, Ash of the Womb (Prophecy Productions 2021)

The second album from California’s dark dreamgaze trio Illudium extends and embellishes the ideas of its predecessor.

Illudium is fronted by Shantel Amundson (guitar, vocals, synth), with Gregory Wesenfeld on drums and Josef Hossain-Kay on bass. Their first album, Septem, came out five years ago. The new album “was born in the fiery pandemonium of the burning season of 2020 when huge tracts of the sunshine state went up in flames, while skies glowed orange at night.” You can hear the creative destruction in the compositions as they demonstrate both clashing bursts and gradual progressions as a path for change.

Ash of the Womb is a six-track set of thoughtful ruminations, reflections, and explorations. Shantel Amundson’s voice is beautiful, filled with emotion and power. Her tone and delivery match the sentiment of the accompanying instruments at every turn and from the very beginning, with “Aster.” Shades of Tori Amos can be heard from time to time, tinging Amundson’s unique vocal delivery. Heavy guitar riffs push in over quieter acoustic layers only to retreat and live on as memories and echoes later in the songs and after the music has ended.

Every track has both heavy and lighter moments. On songs like “Madrigal,” the metal entry strains the continuum against the light and lyrical alternate expression. Elsewhere the transitions are more linear. Sounds of nature open for a couple of the songs, providing an elemental grounding from which the music grows.

“Where Death and Dreams Do Manifest” is the capstone and can serve as a sort of summary statement. I hesitate to declare a favorite because each song, while being self-contained, also is an essential and integral part of the whole. The album is an ethereal, melancholy and also insistent musical ecosystem in the macro sense, as well as in all its individual micro pieces. Recommended.

Ash of the Womb comes out on Friday, October 15th through Prophecy Productions. Bandcamp has the digital, too.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://illudium.bandcamp.com/album/ash-of-the-womb

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

Prophecy Productions, https://us.prophecy.de/artists/illudium/illudium-ash-of-the-womb.html

Illudium, Ash of the Womb (Prophecy Productions 2021)