Avatar, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

The theater that is an Avatar performance is not to be missed. The spectacle is beguiling and it enhances the musical projections. Listening to the band is great and seeing them takes the experience to a whole new level.

Check out Avatar’s music on streaming platforms, including the latest release, Hunter Gatherer. Links appear below the photos.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://avatarmetal.com/

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

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/4jpaXieuls7LVzG1uma5Rs

Avatar, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Rob Zombie, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Zombie stalks again with a new statement of his musical hurricane philosophy, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy.

Rob Zombie first entered my sensory orbit the way he did for most people, with the formidable band White Zombie. Those last two albums, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One (1992) and Astro-Creep: 2000 (1995), are platinum monsters. The combination of horror movie themes and dialogue clips from films was a pretty new thing at the time, and White Zombie brought them into the mainstream with a sledge hammer.

Zombie went solo after the titanic success of White Zombie, releasing the beefy album Hellbilly Deluxe in 1998, and the big follow-up, The Sinister Urge, three years later. After that, he became more and more interested in making films, and his music shifted a little. He kept releasing albums every few years, and he remained extremely popular for his live performances, I last saw him at Aftershock in 2019 and it was a riot – and incredible show of loud music, flashes and bangs.

The new album has seventeen tracks with six transition segments. The opening insinuation is uncustomarily gentle. Oh, it picks right up, never fear. The music is not far off of what you probably expect: big guitar riffs, sound effects, dialogue captures, and Rob Zombie’s commanding voice.

The themes are from horror movies and situations, along with a number of completely off the wall crossovers, like the delightfully unexpected country-western-metal fusion of “The 18th Century Cannibals, Excitable Morlocks and a One-Way Ticket to the Ghost Train.” There are bangers in there too, as in the single, “The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man,” a super-creepy whisperer “Boom-Boom-Boom,” and even an instrumental ballad, “The Much Talked of Metamorphosis.” The closer is the longest song, “Crow Killer Blues,” and it is a little horror musical all its own. It has the most serious tone to my ears, and it is the most compositionally fulfilling. There is something in here for everyone.

One thing you know for sure about a Rob Zombie album is that it’s going to be entertaining. Box checked. Recommended.

Get it absolutely everywhere now. Links below.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock 2019.

Links.

Website, https://robzombie.com/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/rob-zombie-the-lunar-injection-kool-aid-eclipse-conspiracy.html

Rob Zombie, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Heads for the Dead, Into The Red (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

The hallowed hand of fate delivers a reckoning through the second album from Heads For The Dead, Into The Red.

The band is Jonny Pettersson (strings and keys), Ed Warbie (drums), and Ralf Hauber (vocals). I am guessing those names ring some bells as Heads For The Dead is a trio of heavy music all-stars. Combined as they are in this form, they are creating some of their best work to date. Lurking in the neighborhood of old school Death Metal, these compositions mind no narrow parameters. Elements of speed and doom work with the black and death principles in symbiotic fealty.

The themes have a solid foundation in horror, laying on the menace to coalesce in constant unease. Songs like the explosive “At The Dead Of Night” give way to the tension of “Horror Injection” then press on to epic constructs such as “The Séance,” which is a swaying ship finding its reckless way through the ether and spiritual chaos. Short, eager pieces live among meatier juggernauts in the harmony of a renaissance port city.

The final two songs of the set are the longest, anchoring the effort with their magnitude and scope. “Transilvanian Hunger” is a bloody affair, opening with a riotous peal – and sustaining it for six minutes with enough mass to create its own weather. “Creatures Of The Monolith” is a doom-ridden happening, with opening riffs like granite cliffs. Halfway through the tempo gets dialed up and the guitar weaves a spell that is a melodious consort to the directive vocals. An excellent finale. This album deserves a spot on anyone’s Best of 2020 list. Highly recommended.

Out now from the indefatigable Transcending Obscurity, the many forms and functions of Into The Red await your pleasure. The excellence of the new album suggests a need for the earlier one, too – Serpent’s Curse can be had.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://tometal.com/

US label shop, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Heads for the Dead, Into The Red (Transcending Obscurity 2020)