Space Chaser, Give Us Life (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The third album from Space Chaser is an absolute rampage of blistering thrash.

Formed in Germany in 2011, Space Chaser has promulgated some the most memorable thrash music out there. This five-piece metal machine has released two previous full-length albums, the most recent being Dead Sun Rising in 2016. The new album has all the velocity and ingenuity fans have come to expect. The band is Siegfried Rudzynski (vocals), Leo Schacht (guitar), Martin Hochsattel (guitar), Sebastian Kerlikowski (bass), and Matthias Scheuerer (drums).

If you look at the cover art you will get a pretty good idea about the thematic perspective for Give Us Life. It ranges from techlife to rampaging killing machines to the evolution of a star, as in the title track the band describes this way: “It’s always an act of violence, birth and death. When a star sheds its hull and collapses into a white dwarf it soon will perish like all life, biological or non-biological. If a star goes supernova it explodes and spreads all the elements needed to create life, and the whole process begins anew. Thousands of worlds have to perish, to create new worlds and life of its own.” I am always up for a good story. Still, it is the music that is the most important thing to me.

There are ten tracks on the new album, mostly running at radio length and all of them glistening with speed and power. There are fascinating crooks and turns in nearly every song. I am impressed when a band can find a way to create a pattern I have never heard before, and there are many examples of that very thing in this music.

“Cryoshock” is a stand-out for me – I love the lead work – and the title track is a monster, too. The final track, “Dark Descent,” also captured my imagination with its big build and tempo changes. The laid-out lead guitar toward the end, I can still hear it. I am on board with thrash most of the time and this album ticks that box but it also adds so much more. Recommended.

The street date for Give Us Life is Friday, July 16th and you can get it at the Metal Blade shop or Bandcamp.

Links,

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

Bandcamp, https://spacechaser.bandcamp.com/album/give-us-life

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

Space Chaser, Give Us Life (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Desaster, Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade Records 2021)

German Blackened Thrash Metal band Desaster add a new set of high-speed adrenaline-infused metal to their history.

Desaster started in the late 1980s and really got kicking in the 1990s. Along with releasing eight previous full-length albums, there has also been a slew of EPs, splits, compilations, and three live albums. It has been five years since their last studio album, The Oath Of An Iron Ritual, so the time is definitely right for some new music.

The musical style on Churches Without Saints is what we have come to expect from the band: high speed Blackened Thrash that visits themes of darkness and aggression. They have an old school four-piece set-up that pummels and pounds and rakes over the universal constant in search of conflict and despair.

There are eleven tracks on the album, including an intro and an outro. Most are set at high speed, like the opening cut, “Learn To Love The Void.” There are a few that have a scaled back pace, like the title track itself, which is more about threat and menace than acceleration.

Other stand-out tracks include “Hellputa” which is best described as an explosion with its roaring energy and dueling lead break. “Sadistic Salvation,” too, is a break-neck killer up front but it steps back in the middle to survey the ruin it has sown. The longest track, “Endless Awakening,” comes just before the outro. It has an acoustic opening to begin the journey that takes to you to all the corners of the kingdom. There are parts of this song that remind me most of the old school standard and in other places there are turns to raging dimensions and ethereal planes previously unseen. Desaster is wide open on this album, delivering the goods. Recommended.

Churches Without Saints is out now from Metal Blade Records. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://desaster.bandcamp.com/album/churches-without-saints

Desaster website, http://www.total-desaster.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/666Desaster666

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

Desaster, Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Cirith Ungol, Half Past Human (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Cirith Ungol reimagines music that was long thought forgotten for their new EP.

The California metal band Cirith Ungol released four albums in the 1980s to early 1990s, most notably (for me anyway), King Of The Dead (1984). Big dark fantasy themes, wailing guitars, and the unique and unforgettable voice of Tim Baker helped write the band’s name in the book of eternity. They passed into the mist only to return in 2019 with a live album and in 2020 with their first studio release in decades, the earth shaking Forever Black. Cirith Ungol was definitely back. The band is Tim Baker (vocals), Greg Lindstrom (guitar), Robert Garven (drums), Jim Barraza (guitar), and Jarvis Leatherby (bass).

Half Past Human contains four songs from the vaults – songs that were written but never released during earlier sessions. These pieces have been re-worked and newly invigorated for fans to hold them over until the touring starts up again.

“Route 666” revs to life with a roaring engine and hits the road with pelting goodtime riffs and pops. Dual complementary lead guitars are the highlight. “Shelob’s Lair” sends us on a trek through the darkness and lifts us up with an energetic and impassioned lead break and outro. “Brutish Manchild” is the shortest track and could function well as a single or a rousing live standard to whip the crowd into a frenzy at just the right moment.

The closer is “Half Past Human,” and it is more on the epic side than the others. The song starts out quietly, forlornly, then builds steadily to a louder, fuller sound. The composition has a sweeping production with extended elements that highlight the best aspects of the band and never overstay their welcome. It is just the right nightcap, and it is good to have these songs finally released. Fans will be delighted that they are seeing the light of day. Recommended.

Half Past Human is out on Friday, May 28th, and can be accessed through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://cirithungol.bandcamp.com/album/half-past-human

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

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

FFMB review of Forever Black, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/25/cirith-ungol-forever-black-review-metal-blade-records-2020/

Cirith Ungol, Half Past Human (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Vulture, Dealin’ Death (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Vulture comes raging back with more speed and thrash on Dealin’ Death.

It is easy to think that the best days of Thrash Metal are behind us because so many iconic albums came out all those years ago. If you look around at the music back then you find that there is a lot of bands you did not know about that made high-speed, solid, and aggressive music that somehow slipped past you. Similarly, new thrash has come out consistently over the years, and, if anything, there has been a resurgence in past lustrum or two. Vulture is a good example of new Thrash Metal that absolutely kills.

Hailing from Germany, Vulture formed only a few years ago in 2016. The demo they released in that first year was well received by fans and since then the band has issued two full-length albums, making Dealin’ Death the third long-player. Set up in the classic style of bass, drums, two guitars, and vocals, the music they create can clock in to legitimate speed freak territory whenever they feel the need.

After a nice short intro that could have been for a demonic toy movie, the thrash kicks up. In some of the songs, a rampaging juggernaut is on display while on others the tempo is not quite so frantic and the composition stretches in other directions. The narrative themes tend toward horror and mythology. When you match these ideas up with fast music the result is high-energy entertainment. Clever twists and turns lead to compositional diversity and add to the experience. This is good, fast metal that makes no massive demands of you and gives you what you want to hear.

Dealin’ Death is out this week on Metal Blade Records. Recommended.

Links.

Vulture Kills store, https://vulturekills.bigcartel.com/

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

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

Bandcamp, https://vulturekills.bandcamp.com/album/dealin-death

Vulture, Dealin’ Death (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Metal Massacre XV (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The fifteenth installment of Metal Blade Records’ popular Metal Massacre compilation series takes the stage.

It all started in 1982 at the very beginning of the storied label. The first Metal Massacre compilation had some incredible artists contribute to it including Cirith Ungol, Avatar, Bitch, and Metallica. The anthology was an annual event for many years until the end of the 1980s when the new ones started to come out only sporadically. It is nice to see the fires lit again for the first time since 2016.

Here is what is on the new compilation. 01. Midnight, “Masked and Deadly” (exclusive), 02. Poison Ruïn, “Demon Wind,” 03. Fuming Mouth, “Master of Extremity,” 04. Many Suffer, “The Trees Die Standing” (exclusive), 05. Temple of Void, “Leave the Light Behind,” 06. Ripped to Shreds, “撿骨 (Bone Ritual)” (exclusive), 07. Rude, “Omega,” 08. Midnight Dice, “Starblind,” 09. Smoulder, “Warrior Witch of Hel,” and 10. Mother of Graves, “In Somber Dreams.”

As you can tell from the contributor list, there is quite a range of music here from straight up heavy metal to punk to death metal to doom and all points around and in between. It is worth noting that a few of these tracks are exclusive to this release (marked above), at least for now. That’s a good reason to check this album out along with the rest of the solid tunes.

Metal Massacre XV is out on Friday May 21st through the label at the link below. Recommended.

Links.

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

Metal Massacre XV (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Artillery, X (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Danish thrash masters Artillery come back for another round with their tenth full-length album, X.

1982 is the place in history when the formative machinations coalesced into a recognizable construct for Artillery. The released a number of demos in the next couple of years, leading up to the first full album, Fear Of Tomorrow, in 1985. They have been rumbling and shaking the metal world ever since. After a slow period in the 1990s and aughts, Artillery has been cranking out skull-rattling thrash on the regular for the past twelve years. The current lineup is Michael Bastholm Dahl (vocals), Michael Stützer (guitar), Kræn Meier (guitar), Peter Thorslund (bass), and Josua Madsen (drums).

There are eleven tracks on X, starting with “The Devil’s Symphony” and ending with “Beggars In Black Suits.” Better bookends would be hard to find. Dahl’s theatrical, soaring vocals are juxtaposed against the relentless riffery and ripping leads in a synergy that produces amazing results.

Most songs have a short lead-in bit before setting the guitars on attack, but then it is all metal and thrash. The vocals are the feature (as in Dio, say) while the fortress is the guitars and they are also the musical weapons. Catchy hooks and riffs and technically expert light-speed leads are the hallmarks of this band. This is exactly the kind of construction that has appealed to me since the very beginning.

There is one slower piece, “The Ghost Of Me,” but the album is mainly a study in adrenaline. In every song I can find something that really stands out, like the dizzying lead in “Varg I Veum” or the very complex but somehow still memorable lead-in guitar on the very next song, “Mors Ontologica.” There are mystical moments, tongue-in-cheek passages, and lines of aggression, all told in heavy metal. This is one to save so you can hear it over and over. Recommended.

The album drops on Friday, May 7th and you can snap it up everywhere. Hit the Metal Blade Records link below to see the varieties available.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Artillery Website, http://www.artillery.dk/home.php

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

Artillery, X (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Endseeker, Mount Carcass (Metal Blade 2021)

Mount Carcass is Endseeker’s monumental follow-up to the previous high water mark of The Harvest.

Endseeker is from Hamburg, Germany. They released their first EP in 2015 and their first long-player, Flesh Hammer Prophecy, in 2017. The Harvest came out in 2019 and showed that a firm foundation had been set by this five-piece act. They make good use of the two-guitar approach to creating a big sound and the heft comes from the strong rhythm grounding of the compositions.

This is heavy metal, power metal. The music at times has a feel that reminds me a little of Rob Halford’s band Fight on their A Small Deadly Space album – it has that relentless rolling metal insistence. The themes are in the death metal constellation, with a deep and deliberate cast of darkness.

Nine radio-length songs populate the set. The song structure often features a lead guitar pairing with the vocals and then continuing the melody, set upon steady pounding percussion that rolls out the occasional blast. If I pointed only to one song it would be “Cult.” It showcases all these elements and houses an eerie story in lyrics. When you hear it you know you want more.

I can’t leave off without mentioning the surprising closing song, an instrumental cover of John Carpenter’s theme to his movie Escape From New York. I would never have thought to put this together in a metal version but man does it work. It obviously transports the listener back to the movie and it also reminds us of how great Carpenter was at setting a dramatic tone in the soundtracks he wrote. It is a monster track and a most excellent way to wrap this album up. Recommended.

Mount Carcass is out now so there is no reason to be without it. Metal Blade has a lot of varieties to select from at the label link below.

Links.

Label, https://metalblade.com/endseeker/

Website, http://endseeker.de/

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

Endseeker, Mount Carcass (Metal Blade 2021)

Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Death Metal icons Cannibal Corpse release their fifteenth studio album, expanding their canon and deepening their legacy.

The first album I heard from the band was their second one, Butchered At Birth (1991). Sure, I was drawn in by the cover art – the butcher on the right staring you straight in the eye is a compelling image – and I was glad I got the record after listening to it a few times. This was some of the earliest Death Metal that I had listened to, being usually drawn more toward thrash at the time. It made an impression. The music in recent years is quite a bit different, but there is no mistaking the importance of Cannibal Corpse to Death Metal and to heavy music in general. The band is now George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (vocals), Erik Rutan (guitar), Rob Barrett (guitar), Alex Webster (bass), and Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums).

There are eleven roaring tracks on the new album. “Murderous Rampage” is the opener and it sets a high bar with its blistering velocity and skull-smashing riffs. Fisher sounds as ferocious as ever and the guitars give a little nostalgic twist here and there. “Necrogenic Resurrection” ratchets up the angst and offers destabilizing tempo shift before a lead break that is delivered at top speed. “Inhumane Harvest” starts with a whirl and by now I know I am getting exactly what I was hoping for with the new album.

The music is heavy and coarse Death Metal all the way through with a surprisingly deep maneuvering of perspective and noticeable tone shifts. “Ritual Annihilation” stands apart for me, if I had to pick a single track, because it delivers my ideal of the music I think of when the name Cannibal Corpse comes up. The entire set is rock solid and will enter the list of the band’s releases in a high slot. Recommended.

Violence Unimagined is out now. There are many variants and enticing merch. Hit any link below and you’ll get there.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont.

Links.

Website, http://cannibalcorpse.net/

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

Metal Blade, https://metalblade.com/cannibalcorpse/

Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Metal Blade is re-issuing three classic Sacred Reich albums: Ignorance, Surf Nicaragua, and The American Way on February 12th.

If you are a thrash fan you know about Sacred Reich because they are one of the leading bands in the second wave of thrash back in the late 80s / early 90s. They are less well remembered compared to, say, Testament, mainly because they broke up for several years around the turn of the century and therefore there is a gap in their catalogue. The band came roaring back in 2019 with the studio album Awakening, which was very well received. That album was a bittersweet return to prominence following, as it did, the shocking death of founding guitarist Jason Rainey.

The three reissued albums are the band’s first full length studio record, Ignorance (originally 1987), the follow-up EP, Surf Nicaragua (originally 1988), and the next full-length, The American Way (originally 1990). These reissues all sound great, and fans are going to be thrilled to have newly minted products to set alongside their well-worn artifacts. If you are new to the band, these are the albums to start with in order to experience the majesty of the music from these incredible metal musicians. You will hear thrash just as sharp as any of their contemporaries, played with meticulous precision and set around themes that vary from social commentary to the absurd.

You can preorder these albums today – the drop date is Friday, February 12th. There are many variants in the vinyl to go along with the CD option. All the details are at the info link below. Recommended.

Links.

All the info: https://www.metalblade.com/us/news/sacred-reich-ignorance-surf-nicaragua-and-the-american-way-cd-and-lp-re-issues-now-available/

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

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)