Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Extreme doom metal band Ahab drags you beneath the waves and shows you horrors on their latest album, The Coral Tombs.

It all began in Germany in 2004. Ahab arose. The music they create is typically categorized as funeral doom, but that does not capture it very well. I don’t dispute the description. I simply think that their music covers considerably more ground (or sea, as the case may be) than you might expect from the typical funeral doom band. Besides that, the narrative theme is specific and sweeping, especially on the new album, which is the fifth long-player from the band, marking their nineteenth year in existence. Ahab is Cornelius Althammer (drums, Daniel Droste (vocals, guitar), Christian Hector (guitar), and Stephan Wandernoth (bass).

“Prof. Arronax’ Descent Into The Vast Oceans” is a long story. It starts out shrieking, then goes suddenly dead quiet. A funeral doom pace ensues, but the music itself is more lyrical than you might expect for that genre. Enormous oppressive guitar riffs do slowly emerge, threatening to overwhelm the movement. Instead, there is a long guitar soliloquy. “Colossus Of The Liquid Graves” comes next and presents for all the world as a deep sea terror tale in sound and action. The vocal croak comes from a humungous beast at depth, and the clear singing that follows might be from a doomed soul. You start to feel an entrenchment of evil in this music, and it is a feeling that only deepens as you wind your way through the tracks that follow.

The first two songs put you through the wringer and there is still fifty minutes to go. Epic mysticism is in store for you on “Mobilis In Mobile,” and the drowning of hope is inevitable on “A Coral Tomb.” The writing might very well be on the seafloor but still there is no avoiding the magnificent conclusion voiced in “The Mælstrom.” The music is expansive, existing in a realm not often traversed by bands, no matter how heavy. Recommended.

The Coral Tombs is out now through Napalm Records. Press the links below to harvest it.

Band photo by Stefan Heilemann.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahab.bandcamp.com/album/the-coral-tombs

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

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/ahab

© Wayne Edwards

Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Sinister Downfall, The Last Witness (Funere 2022)

Sinister Downfall adds to the funeral doom procession with The Last Witness.

Sinister Downfall is peopled entirely by Eugen Kohl. I do not come across one-man funeral doom bands very often – more commonly, singular acts are instantiations of black metal. It is the music that matters though, no matter how it is created. So far, Kohl has released two previous long-players under the Sinister Downfall banner, Eremozoic (2018) and A Dark Shining Light (2020).

There are five tracks on the new album, the shortest of which is eight and a half minutes long. That’s a good start. Of course, it is not merely the length of the track that matters, but doom and particularly funeral doom work well in the long form. “Souls Enslaved” begins with a forlorn piano heralding the inevitable crush of massive doom guitar riffs followed on the queue by equally heavy vocals. The invoked dread is palpable and sustained. It is wonderfully dark music. “Into The Cold Ground” continues the expression, opening up the piano in a more active role. You wouldn’t say that the song is a surprise, but it is a willful engagement. Side one ends on “Eyes Forever Closed,” and there is an escalation of the sentiment that peaks in the vocals, followed by a long cooldown and a crescendo for the finale.

The second half of the set is two quarter-hour pieces, “Marble Slab” and “The Last Witness.” Both of these songs could be stand-alone releases, soaked as they are in dark, hopeless beauty. I favor the former, and I have listened to it several times by itself after the album ran its course. This set is going in my library, and I will hear it again and again. I did not know about Sinister Downfall before hearing this album, but the music is now forever in my book of doom. Recommended.

The Last Witness is out now through Funere on CD and digital. Enter the realm through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sinisterdownfall.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-witness

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

Funere, https://vk.com/funere

© Wayne Edwards

Sinister Downfall, The Last Witness (Funere 2022)

Acid Blade, Power Dive (Personal Records 2022)

The first full-length album from Acid Blade breathes fire and stomps the terra: Power Dive.

Acid Blade is a heavy metal band from Dresden, Germany who play in a classic metal style at an elevated tempo. They started out in 2019 as Angel Blade, releasing a demo and a split with Venator over the course of a year. Changing their name in 2021, they put out one more demo and now Power Dive, their first full-length album. The band is Sci-Man (bass), Eric Nukem (drums), Alvin Goreman (guitar), Luke Lethal (guitar), Klay Mensana (vocals).

The music starts with a clomping riff on “Hot Bloods on the Loose,” leading to a rising, then soaring, vocal as the tempo changes. Moving past formative hard rock and metal into speed metal, the general echoing you hear brings on waves of nostalgia. “Ablaze at Midnight” is another barn burner. You could say it is stepped down a touch, but more importantly it rolls out a long lead guitar part that turns into the off ramp for the song, reproducing a maneuver that I used to hear regularly but haven’t noticed for some time now. The title track takes the third spot, and it has steady, anticipation-inducing build toward the big break out. After that, it’s off to the races.

The 1980s metal style is ever-present throughout the record, and it is the defining characteristic of the music. Even if this is not your go-to metal vein, Mensana’s vocals are compelling and the guitar work is impeccable, so it is worth dipping your toe in. The music has many fascinating innovations, as you will hear in the eerie middle ground of “Into the Light” and the otherworldly insight of “The Tomb of Khentika Ikheki,” a song that will pong around in your brain for a good long while. There is even a power ballad, “Moonless Night,” for those of you who miss that long-time standard. Something for everyone, you might say. Recommended.

Power Dive is out now on digital and will be released on CD by Personal Records on Friday, December 2nd. Get the facts at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://acidblade.bandcamp.com/album/power-dive

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/acidblade.rock/

Personal Records, https://www.personal-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Acid Blade, Power Dive (Personal Records 2022)

Photo Gallery: Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Accept made a Midwest stop at The King Of Clubs in Columbus on their Too Mean To Die Tour last weekend. Here are a few photos that were not in the main article.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Accept, https://www.acceptworldwide.com/

FFMB article on the show, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/03/accept-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

The King Of Clubs, https://www.tkoc.live/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/about/71028.accept.html

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Mercyful Fate at The Andrew J. Brady Music Center, November 4, 2022

Mercyful Fate, Kreator, and Midnight took the stage in Cincinnati down by the river at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center last Friday night, and the place might never be the same.

Mercyful Fate

One of my earliest European metal fascinations was Mercyful Fate. I jumped on with the Melissa (1983) album. At the time, you could still get the even earlier self-titled EP, so I did that – wish I still had it. Those two records and the almost-equally engaging Don’t Break The Oath (1984) kept me company in my formative years. Vocalist King Diamond left the band and it split up right afterward. A decade later, Mercyful Fate was at it again. During the nineties, several more albums came, and the sound was a little different. I always thought that King Diamond’s solo albums were more like the original Mercyful Fate than the nineties albums. In any case, there hasn’t been anything from Mercyful Fate since before the new millennium.

For these reasons and many more, I was thrilled to go to Psycho Las Vegas this year and see Mercyful Fate together again. Michael Denner is not with the band now, but Hank Shermann is, and, of course, King Diamond. It is Mercyful Fate.

The night started with the masked trio, Midnight. In the studio, Midnight is the one-man band Jamie Althenar Walters. Live they play a speedy brand of black metal that fits right in with Kreator and Mercyful Fate. I have really liked the last two records from Midnight, so it was great to see him and them live.

Midnight

The middle slot was held by the German thrash band Kreator. The legend of the band stretches back forty years. Here we have another example of a band I have listened to for decades but somehow never saw live. I have been on their trail for some time and finally caught up with them. Their performance smoked, and I was especially glad to hear the title track from their new album Hate Über Alles.

Kreator

As I mentioned, I saw Mercyful Fate a couple months ago in Las Vegas and, of course, it was basically the same set and show in Cincinnati. In other words, it was mind-blowingly incredible. If I could, I would be at every stop on the tour because I am a long-time fan, but also because the performance is just so good.

King Diamond
Mercyful Fate

King Diamond, Hank Shermann, Mike Mead, Bjarne T. Holm, and, filling in on bass for the tour, Becky Baldwin, laid down the law for an hour and a half. They played my absolute favorites “A Corpse Without A Soul,” Curse of the Pharaohs,” and “Black Funeral,” and a half a dozen other songs from the early albums that were instantly recognizable. They also performed a new piece, “The Jackal of Salzburg,” reinforcing the word on the street that another album is in the works.

Mercyful Fate
Mercyful Fate

There is still time to catch the tour. There are not very many dates on this leg, but there are (at this writing) still six more chances to see the show. Check out the tour poster below for details and grab your tickets if any remain. There is no knowing whether there will ever be another Mercyful Fate tour so don’t put this one off because once you see it, it will live with you for the rest of your time.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Mercyful Fate, https://mercyfulfatecoven.com/

Kreator, https://www.kreator-terrorzone.de/

Midnight, https://totalmidnight.webs.com/

The Andrew J. Brady Music Center, https://bradymusiccenter.com/

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

Photo Galleries.

Mercyful Fate, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/08/photo-gallery-mercyful-fate-cincinnati-november-4-2022/

Kreator, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/08/photo-gallery-kreator-cincinnati-november-4-2022/

Midnight, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/08/photo-gallery-midnight-cincinnati-november-4-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Mercyful Fate at The Andrew J. Brady Music Center, November 4, 2022

Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Accept made a Midwest stop at The King Of Clubs in Columbus on their Too Mean To Die Tour last weekend.

Accept

German heavy metal legends Accept wrapped up the US leg of their Too Mean To Die Tour last weekend in Columbus, Ohio at The King Of Clubs. I can’t say enough about Accept, but then I probably don’t have to say anything – metal fans know them well. They were one of the first bands I listened to back in the day after the formative trinity I always talk about (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and Blue Oyster Cult). Their big hit then was “Balls To The Wall,” and they are still remembered for it. Ironically, as fun as that tune is, it doesn’t really represent their music very well in general. Accept has laid down unforgettable heavy metal for more than four decades across sixteen albums, including their latest one that the tour is named for. There is no dispute about their place in metal history.

Day of the Sun
Day of the Sun

The show started with two local bands, Day of the Sun and Corrosive Vengeance. Day of the Sun has a classic approach to hard rock in their performance, focusing on vocal delivery and cooking rhythm. Corrosive Vengeance is a little more out there, riding the rails of groove metal and tossing in disruptive calamity now and again. Both sets were excellent, and I am going to have to keep an eye out for these bands while I am exiled here in the middle of the country because now I know they put on a good show.

Corrosive Vengeance
Corrosive Vengeance

Narcotic Wasteland was on the full US tour leg with Accept. The band started out over a decade ago in the coastal south, and they have put out a couple of albums, most recently Delirium Tremens (2017). Their music is a sharp brand of death metal that cranks and heaves. They have put out two new singles this year, and they played them both at the show. That must mean there is a new album in the works.

Narcotic Wasteland
Narcotic Wasteland

The main event was Accept, a band I have been trying to catch live for years. It is funny that even though I see at least 300 bands live every year there are still a handful that I am trying to catch for the first time. Most of these bands are from Europe and they do not tour all the time in the US, so that does add up in the end. Accept has been at the top of my to-do list for a while now because I have listened to them all of my life and I have really like their last few records. Starting with Blood Of The Nations in 2010 and on to Blind Rage (2014), The Rise Of Chaos (2017), and, most recently, Too Mean To Die, these albums have all been fantastic. The live show, I reasoned, would blow the roof off the place. I was right.

Accept
Accept

They started with “Zombie Apocalypse” and rolled through the hits, including chart toppers like “Metal Heart” and, of course, “Balls To The Wall.” They also played several songs from the latest record – that makes sense – and the tour favorite “Pandemic.” I had built up in my head what the show might be like, and it turned out to be even better than I expected. You don’t get a lot of good surprises in your life, but this was definitely one for me.

Accept
Accept

The 2022 tour is done for us North Americans. Accept is on tour again for many dates in Europe starting in January, and a few shows have already announced for Spring 2023 in South America. See them whenever they make their way back to our shores, and, meanwhile, check out their albums, videos, and merch at the links below.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Accept, https://www.acceptworldwide.com/

Narcotic Wasteland, https://narcoticwasteland.com/home

Corrosive Vengeance, https://corrosivevengence.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-society

Day Of The Sun, https://dayofthesunrocks.com/

The King Of Clubs, https://www.tkoc.live/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/about/71028.accept.html

Photo Galleries.

Accept, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-accept-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Narcotic Wasteland, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-narcotic-wasteland-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Corrosive Vengeance, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/corrosive-vengeance-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Day Of The Sun, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-day-of-the-sun-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Dead Man’s Eyes, III (Tonzonen 2022)

Psychedelic folk band Dead Man’s Eyes return with their sophomore long-player, III.

Dead Man’s Eye’s is from Germany, and they play music that enjoys the influences of jazz, lounge, psychedelic, and country music, plus the musicians’ own unique expulsions. I have read the band’s music described as “morbid psychedelic pop, infused with garage and country influences.” To me, that fits under the acoustic doom umbrella, and that explains my initial interest in the band. They released an EP in 2013 titled Meet Me In The Desert, and a full-length album in 2018 known as Words Of Prey. The music is quiet and modestly-paced, giving ample opportunity for nuance to sink in as you listen.

“High On Information” is a folk-inspired walk down the path of inevitability. The acoustic guitar plays the cares sung about away while the harmonica offers an uneasy idea to take with you. The final flourish of guitar toward the end is a rough shake before moving on to “I’ll Stay Around,” a song with a more deliberately haunted quality to it. It carries a different torch but it is walking the same lonely country roads. “In My Fishbowl” lands like a cross between a White Stripes song and one by Devil Makes Three, lightly toasted with a dusting of arsenic. It is an excellent example of light-hearted sinister.

“Time & Space” is an airy instrumental piece, with subdued pep and a spacey payoff. “Take Off Soon” plies the garage rock angle, with echoey vocals and gently stabbing guitars. The resolution through piano was unexpected, as was the sharp cut off at the terminus. “On The Wire” plays a different game, slipping in a Golden Earring hustle at the start and a very welcome series of punctuating sparks. Nicely done.

The final three songs begin on “Into The Madness,” which is a rambler – a feisty little road tune that makes you decide, yes, you do want to stay and listen to the end. “Never Grow Up” is a good song to drink to, and “Nobody At All” takes the rolling riff and runs with it. The album delivers appreciated differences, and its divergence from what I regularly listen to was a genuine delight. Recommended.

III is out on August 19th through Tonzonen Records, and Bandcamp is always a good choice for picking up music in the US.

Links.

Dead Man’s Eyes website, http://deadmanseyes.com/

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

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

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

© Wayne Edwards

Dead Man’s Eyes, III (Tonzonen 2022)

Sinner, Brotherhood (Atomic Fire 2022)

German hard rock band Sinner release their twentieth studio album, Brotherhood.

Mat Sinner started the band that bears his name in 1982, handling the bass and vocal duties himself. Over the next forty years, Sinner became a consistent force in the hard rock scene in Germany, releasing new albums on a regular schedule and holding their own in the charts. The music today is reminiscent of the biggest sounds from the 1980s, focusing on hard-edge rock with broad appeal. Joining Mat Sinner in the band is Tom Naumann (guitar), Alex Scholpp (guitar), and Markus Kullmann (drums).

Talking about the band and the new album, Sinner says, “This band is held together by a tight bond of friendship. Without this friendship, Sinner simply would not exist.” That explains the title of the new record. “We belong together, and this album is meant to express that.”

There are eleven songs on the album (plus a twelfth if you count the bonus track), starting with “Bulletproof,” a stadium anthem if there ever was one. Reliable rhythm and straight-forward guitar riffs provide the ideal structure for Mat Sinner’s forceful, melodic voice. The recurring chorus sets firm in your mind and you will know this song immediately when you hear it again. “We Came To Rock” has a more serious sound to it and a positive message. The guitar offers an homage to Randy Rhoads now and then, and you have to like that. “Reach Out” puts me in mind a little of Dokken at the height of their game, and still there is no mistaking the music for anything other than Sinner. Only three songs in and a lot of ground covered already.

The element of nostalgia does appeal to me because of the fondness with which I remember music like this. No matter if it reminds of you of something or not, you will hear that this is solid, well-produce rock that stands on its own. I have several favorite tracks after hearing the album only a few times, including “Refuse To Surrender,” “Brotherhood,” and the cover of The Killers’ song “When You Were Young.” This is a good record for the summer. Recommended.

Brotherhood is out on Friday, July 15th through Atomic Fire Records. Get up to speed at the links below.

Links.

Mat Sinner, http://www.matsinner.com/

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

Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/sinner/

© Wayne Edwards

Sinner, Brotherhood (Atomic Fire 2022)

Kreator, Hate Über Alles (Nuclear Blast 2022)

German thrash legends Kreator are back to shred the bare earth with Hate Über Alles.

Kreator is one of the most prolific and influential European thrash (and speed) metal bands. Taking the name Kreator in 1984 after trying on a few others, they released their first full-length album in 1985, Endless Pain, followed almost immediately (the next year) by Pleasure To Kill. The thrash has flowed ever since as one classic after another was brought forth. It has been five years since the last studio album Gods Of Violence and fans are chomping at the bit for more hair-raising metal. The band is founders Miland “Mille” Petrozza (vocals, guitar) and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums), joined by long-time member Sami Yli-Sirniö (guitar) and relative newcomer Frédéric Leclercq (bass).

There are ten songs and an intro piece, “Sergio Corbucci Is Dead,” on Hate Über Alles, and it breaks out in a dead run on the title track right after the calming ramp. This is Kreator from the first note – a careening juggernaut hellbent on its objective. Blast beats, a commanding bass line, Petrozza telling you the score, and, of course, the blazing, blistering guitar shreds.

Every song is a powerful statement made in metal. “Crush The Tyrants” slows the tempo a bit but keeps in all the heavy. “Strongest Of The Strong” has a melodic take while “Conquer And Destroy” begins with a reflective cadence and inserts battering passages along the way to make its point. “Midnight Sun” employs the beautiful voice of Sofia Portanet to deepen and shade the thrash that surrounds her.

My favorite tracks come toward the end of the album. “Demonic Future” is a dizzying construct with a melodic chorus that ensures the song cannot be forgotten. “Dying Planet” is the final song on the album, and the longest one as well. It feels like the biggest, too, and not just because of its length. The weight of the composition, its tone and theme, and its resolving moments are poignant. This album is going to be a big one for Kreator fans, and it reaches across the aisle to anyone who wants to join in the pit. Recommended.

Hate Über Alles is out now through Nuclear Blast Records in an array of variants and formats.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.kreator-terrorzone.de/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/kreator-hate-ueber-alles.html

© Wayne Edwards

Kreator, Hate Über Alles (Nuclear Blast 2022)