Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The third album from Germany’s Wheel is a new epistle in their Epic Doom story.

The band started in 2006 as Eternal Sleep, changing over to the current name three years later. The self-titled album came out in 2010, followed by Icarus in 2013 and a live album the next year. The new record then is the first in eight years and as such it is the culmination of an extended formative process. After a brief lineup shuffle, the band has returned to its early roster: Arkadius Kurek (vocals), Benjamin Homberger (guitar), Marcus Grabowski (bass), and Carsten Jercke (drums).

The music is Doom Metal, leaning toward the Epic Metal thematic arena. The big riff is the primary structure as we might expect, and the speed lurks around mid-tempo (on the doom scale). The tones are heavy and the vocals enlarged creating an expanding sense of scope in the dark landscape of the compositions.

“At Night They Came Upon Us” is the first song and as an introduction to the set it does the job – everything that is to come is signaled from the beginning. There are clever melodies in the guitar lines and vocal harmonies meant to deepen the delivery. There is a reflective slow-down toward the middle and compelling lead guitar instantiations. A charge is mounted near the end before the song finishes as it began. A very satisfying and complete structure.

My favorite tracks are “Aeon of Darkness” and the big closer “Daedalus” because they represent best to my ear the essence of the album. Picking out a couple tracks, however, is not the best way to hear Wheel. The impact is greater if you listen straight through from beginning to end.

Preserved In Time is out now. Gather it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wheeldoom.bandcamp.com/album/preserved-in-time

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

Label, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

The Melodic Black Metal duo Abigorum have finished their second full-length album, Vergessene Stille.

The band is Aleksey Korolyov from Russia and Tino Thiele of Germany. Their previous album, Exaltatus Mechanism, came out in 2019 (with former bandmate Sandra Batsch in the mix). While the music contains many styles, the primary elements are Black Metal and Doom, tied together with ambient intentions.

There are five tracks on the album, four long pieces and a short wind-down at the end. The opener is “Erhebt eure mit Blut gefüllten Hörner” and it is the perfect example of the overarching trajectory of the music with its clear Black Metal persuasion casting about in the Doom and dread. “Der geheimnisvolle Käfig” has a more up-tempo, almost peppy opening segment, but it quickly takes a dark turn, showing you something menacing in the shadows before the bright-light distraction kicks back in. When it comes back, though, there is a demon in there. This song is sinister, and it is the one I remember most.

The title track leads Side 2, followed by “Zerbrechlicher kleiner Geist.” The former brings a maddening warbling drone that transforms into deep Doom and a weighty feeling of sorrow, while the latter has a more theatrical feel to it, painting dark images in penetrating tones. The final word is “Rast und Abschied.” At first it sounds like a storm rumbling up from the void, but then it turns into a curse, and maybe an unsettling prediction. Taken together, the music from Abigorum on this album is a unique and fluid combination of ideas expressed in a captivating theater. Recommended.

Vergessene Stille is out on April 13th in a variety of forms. Duplicate Records will release an LP version, Satanath Records and Black Blood Records will have CD versions, and Void Wanderer Productions is producing a cassette version. There is also always the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://abigorum.bandcamp.com/album/vergessene-stille

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

Void Wanderer, https://voidwanderer.com/

Duplicate Records, https://duplicaterecords.no/

Satanath Records, http://satanath.com/

Black Blood Records, https://www.blackbloodrecords.de/html/01-news.html

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

Aeonblack, The Time Will Come (MDD Records 2021)

German power metal band Aeonblack circle back around to deliver another dose of heavy music that is loud and speedy.

The origins of the band go back to the late 1980s when they were known as Groggy Elks, releasing one demo in 1999. With a name change in 2003, the group moved ahead with its brand of straight-forward metal, calibrated to a mid-quick tempo and taking a page from the book of bands like Judas Priest. Under the present moniker, there has been an EP in 2007 to go along with the Metal Bound long-player from 2015. The band for the new album is (according to the Metal Archives) Holger Berger (vocals), Ferdinand Panknin (guitar and bass), Peter Steinbach (drums), Michael Maunze (guitar, Keys, and bass).

The compositions are firmly rooted in an earlier day, and they are extremely solid and loyal to that era. They stretch some into newer forms while always keeping true to the starting point. The musicianship is top-notch and the band is firing on all cylinders. Berger’s voice does sound a bit like Rob Halford, and here again you can think of that as a starting point from which he reaches out in his own directions.

The songs are mostly in the four-to-five minute range, and are typically set at a driving gallop. The title track is a longer adventure, with the obligatory quieter elements to create a space for the sense of epic presentation, and there is even a short instrumental lead-on track to set it up. The riffs are steady and the lead work is crisp and reliable. The drumming has received more of a modern infusion than most of the other moving parts, and that helps the music glisten.

Songs like “Warrior’s Call” are roaring drag race, and “Nightwalker” has a more gothic feel to it. There are enough melodic passages to label the music that way, even going nearly full ballad at one point. Overall the music is more peppy than it is insurgent, but it is clearly a metal album. I liked it all the way through, and the album gets especially high marks for the drumming and lead guitar work. Recommended.

The Time Will Come is out now. Look it over at the Bandcamp page, or at the label’s website. You can get the back catalogue at the former, including the Groggy Elks demo from way back when.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://aeonblack1.bandcamp.com/album/the-time-will-come

Website, https://www.aeonblack.de/?lang=en

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AEONBLACK-140787565995220/

Label, https://mdd-shop.de/en/search/query?desc=on&sdesc=on&keywords=aeonblack

Aeonblack, The Time Will Come (MDD Records 2021)

Accept, Too Mean To Die (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Continuing their decades long tear through heavy metal history, Accept release another monstrous album of relentless ingenuity.

Accept is an iconic band, seminal in its importance to the development of heavy music. The band’s first album came out in 1979, and they enjoyed a huge hits a couple years later with Balls To The Wall (1983) and Metal Heart (1985). Continuing through the decades, Accept released a steady stream popular albums.

The recent music from the band has been fast and wicked, even more than their earlier work. Blind Rage (2014) and especially The Rise Of Chaos (2017) are impossibly packed with interminable pummeling guitars and new looks and turns on hard music regularities. There have been some changes in the lineup, naturally, over the years. Wolf Hoffmann (guitar) was there at the start, and Mark Tornillo (vocals) has been on board for more than ten years. Uwe Lulis (guitar) and Christopher Williams (drums) are returning for more clinical incision, joined by newest-to-the band musicians Philip Shouse (guitar) and Martin Motnik (bass).

There are eleven meaty tracks on Too Mean To Die. “Zombie Apocalypse” starts like a mob of shambling dead staggering straight for you that suddenly switch from the slow George Romero zombies to the sprinting 28Days Later zombies. The piercing wiggle in the lead is a clandestine offset to the steady journalistic vocals. The title song hits second, and it will be a crowd pleaser when live music becomes a thing again with its catchy licks and singable chorus structure that is the perfect edifice to hang layered guitar shreds. “Overnight Sensation” adds mid-tempo depth to the set and plays as an honorific to compositions of the past. These three songs are a good overview of the themes and sentiments that recur on the album, combined and rearranged, sifted and separated throughout to create constant vibrant variation.

There are surprises that pop up here and there, like the Beethoven in “Symphony of Pain,” sounding great in the metal guitar interpretation. And there are a couple of songs on the slower side, too, like “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “The Undertaker.” The album goes out with a bang, raising the adrenaline levels with the roaring “Not My Problem” to set up the closer, the mystical instrumental “Samson and Delilah.” This is the sixteenth studio album from Accept – an extraordinary amount of music, and an even more impressive accomplishment when you listen to the new one a realize that band is blazing as bright as ever. Recommended.

Too Mean To Die is out now. Nuclear Blast has all the variants and merch.

Links.

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

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/accept-too-mean-to-die.html

Accept, Too Mean To Die (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

The cover art for the new Wedge album is a burning fire extinguisher. That is poetry and the perfect sign for the band’s third set.

Wedge first appeared in Berlin as is made up of Kiryk Drewinski (guitar, vocals), Holger Grosser (drums), and Dave Götz (bass, keys). They play a bluesy heavy psych that puts you in mind of bands like Kadaver, Blues Pills, a little bit like Lucifer maybe, and heavy on the jam. Every song eventually gets around to a solid slab of groove, and that is what cements Wedge in my mind. There were two albums before the new one, starting with the self-titled one in 2014, followed by Killing Tongue in 2018.

Rooted in 1970s rock sensibilities, the eight songs on Like No Tomorrow are a swim through nostalgia while the currents of modern fuzz undulate against you with variegated fervor. The music is absolutely solid while maintaining a relaxed DIY feel to it. There is some social commentary in the lyrics and you can make as little or as much of them as you like because it is the music that is going to be in the forefront of your mind when you listen.

The first song is “Computer,” and it starts with a jazzy vamp on the keys and a pulsing guitar riff. The vocals set me on an Atlanta Rhythm Section spiral is the best possible way. A couple of great bridges later there is the first guitar solo and you know you are in the right place. “Playing A Role” opts for the guitar up front and the thumping bass line lays the rail for a catchy tune that in another time could have been a big radio hit. Each song all the way through has its own perspective and identity.

There are a couple of tracks in the three minute range but most run four to five, breaking the music up nicely. The anchor piece is the nine minute “Soldier.” In the long form, Wedge keeps the ingenuity at full force and stretches out in a further exploration of themes and individuations. I am glad I took the trip. Wedge is going to be in my playlists from now on. Recommended.

Like No Tomorrow is out now, and the easiest buy in the US is the digital download at Bandcamp. Heavy Psych Sounds Records does have an on-line US shop (link below) and you can pick up vinyl there.

Band photo snagged from their Facebook page.

Links.

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

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

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

Label, https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop-usa.htm

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

Grendel’s Sÿster, Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz review (Cruz Del Sur Music 2020)

The Myrtle Wreath EP from Grendel’s Sÿster gets a well-deserved broad re-release with Cruz Del Sur Music.

Everybody knows that Grendel’s mother was the one to watch out for, but nobody knows what to expect from his sister. That’s how I felt dropping the (virtual) needle on Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz. – I hadn’t heard any of the band’s work before. They are a Folk Metal trio from Germany. This EP came out in 2019 and is getting wider distribution now. They also released an EP in 2018: Orphic Gold Leaves/Orphische Goldblättchen.

The thing about Folk Metal for me is that I have a short list of bands I like. Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Týr, a few others. I am not a deep diver in these waters, so I do not have a learned opinion. I just know whether I like what I hear. I really like Myrtenkranz.

There are seven songs and an intro bit, and they are presented in two versions each – one in English and one in German. I have a strong and abiding preference for the versions in German. No, I don’t speak German. To my ear singing in German simply sounds better with the music. Grendel’s Sÿster does not sound anything like the bands I listed, really. They are very much on the Folk side of Folk Metal. Plainly, it is like listening to folk songs that employ (fuzzy) electric guitars for instruments. The vocals are beautifully melodic and clear. Beyond traditional Folk constructions, many of the songs have the epic and march urgency heard in music from bands like Falconer, but not as loud. Lead guitar expressions are also low key and tastefully executed. This is a great album for when you are not in the mood to have your block knocked completely off. Recommended.

The physicals start shipping September 25, and the digital is available now at Bandcamp and elsewhere. The first EP Orphic Gold Leaves is not on Spotify (last time I looked) and the hardcopies are sold out, but you can still get the English vocal version as a download.

Links.

https://grendelssyster.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic/

https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/

Grendel’s Sÿster, Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz review (Cruz Del Sur Music 2020)