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)

Tribulation, Where The Gloom Becomes Sound (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Tribulation strike out on their fifth crusade of long-playing gothic horror, tuning the guitars to mysticism and setting the compass toward cemeteries.

The band began in Sweden around the turn of the century under another name playing a style of death metal that curved over time toward gothic metal and doom. Since 2004, Johannes Andersson (vocals and bass) and Adam Zaars (guitar) have been the driving forces in the band. Oscar Leander (drums) and Joseph Tholl (guitar) arrived more recently to ply sonic dimensions of decay with the founders. The most recent studio album was Down Below (2018) and the band released a live set in 2019, Alive and Dead at Södra Teatern.

The music begins sounding for all the world like the soundtrack to a horror movie – you can see in your mind the dancing skeletons when you hear the eerie refrain. The guitars land with a muted push, and the vocals are presented at a death metal crossover level. The melody of the guitar is an echoing lament and the chorus is solidly rooted in an old school metal style. The bridges are theatrical, mimicking bow-touched strings. The lead break is a soaring epitaph. It is a major production, “In Remembrance,” and it is just the first song.

In some ways, the music is a bit like a modulated, more approachable Mercyful Fate essence, although clearly less doctrinaire in the narrative. The songs are more about the vaporous essence and feeling than they are about pushing a specific idea or intention. “Leviathans,” for example has lilting quality to it while being surrounded all the while by a heavy mist that could be holding dire consequences.

“Lethe” is a lovely, sad piano piece and the very next song (my favorite on the album) is the crashing, rampaging “Daughter of the Djinn.” Heading toward the end of the album, “Funeral Pyre” is an adrenaline-fueled climax, setting up “The Wilderness,” the final song that walks you into the woods and leaves you there, feeling somehow ready to face the unknown. The experience is dark and dramatic. Recommended.

Where The Gloom Becomes Sound is available now from Metal Blade Records in all manner of visual variants.

Links.

Website, https://www.tribulation.se/

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

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

Tribulation, Where The Gloom Becomes Sound (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Trial, Sisters Of The Moon (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The new vocalist for Sweden’s metal band Trial debuts on an EP of cover tunes.

Trial (sometimes Trial (swe) ) has been honing their approach to heavy metal for ten years, most recently with the well-received Motherless (2017). The song writing and musical style has evolved over the years, and the solid guitar-driven metal on this new EP is a tantalizing preview of things to come. The members of Trial are Arthur W. Andersson (vocals), Alexander Ellström (guitar), Andreas Johnsson (guitar), Andreas Olsson (bass), and Martin Svensson (drums).

The first song, “Sisters Of The Moon,” is a Fleetwood Mac cover from Tusk. That’s right, Tusk. It might be lost to history now, but that album was the follow-up to the absolutely unfollowable Rumours. There was nothing Fleetwood Mac could have done at the time to get people to like Tusk (or any other album they might have released then) as much as they loved Rumours, no matter how good it was. Interesting, then, that Trial picked this one of all Fleetwood Mac songs to cover. They have laid the metal in heavy compared to the original and this new versions pulses with energy and life.

The second track is less of a surprise. More of an homage to Geezer Butler than to Tony Iommi, this cover of Black Sabbath’s “Die Young” would have pleased Ronnie James Dio, I think. Thankfully the airy, dream sequence from the original is a little less onerous here. Don’t get me wrong – I love this song, and Heaven and Hell was a great album. It was also the first one without Ozzy Osbourne so it continues to be bitter on my tongue. This new version is a banger, just like the original. And there is something cathartic in a way about an EP that pairs a Black Sabbath song with Fleetwood Mac song. Recommended.

Available on January 29th, Metal Blade has the goods (link below).

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade, https://www.metalblade.com/trial/

Trial, Sisters Of The Moon (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.

The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.

There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.

The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/dreadsovereign/

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

If J. S. Bach had had an electric guitar to work with, his music might have sounded something like this.

Last year’s Apoptosis was a major event in the evolution of Allegaeon, and in heavy music, really. The superlative musicianship combined with cunning composition established a primary marker in the band’s canon.

It might have been overlooked by the casual fan that the vinyl release of Apoptosis included two tracks not available on the digital download. Those tracks have now been released as a digital single for the greater enjoyment of the public at large.

“Concerto in Dm.” When the Roundabout single came out earlier this year, I suggested that you listen to the original Yes song first in order to appreciate better the new version by Allegaeon. Same thing here. The Bach music is Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 allegro, to be precise. Typically executed on harpsicord and bowed string instruments, it sounds amazing on electric guitar with modern accompaniment. After all, it is not just the guitar – Bach didn’t have this percussion, either. This is not a note-for-note replication. Rather, this is an interpretation necessarily requiring some alterations. The resulting music is superb.

Side B is “In Flanders Fields,” a beautiful piece featuring acoustic guitar. Here it serves as a peaceful wind down from its energetic companion. The two seem very much like they go together, even lifted as they are out of the context of the larger album.

Concerto in Dm is available now at Bandcamp and other fine establishments. If you did not get these songs on the vinyl last year, now is the time to pick them up. Recommended.

Links.

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

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/allegaeon

YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/ALLEGAEON

Roudabout review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/04/allegaeon-roundabout-single-review/

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

The new EP from Dvne captures some of their new music and reinvigorates some of their well-known work.

Edinburgh, Scotland Prog Metal band Dvne will have a new album out in 2021. In the mist of time between now and then, they have released an EP that has two songs: one new, and the other a re-recording of a favorite tune from the band’s Aurora Majesty release of 2015.

The band is Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, and keys), Dudley Tait (drums), Daniel Barter (guitar and vocals), Greg Armstrong (bass), and Evelyn May (keys). I found out about them via Psycho Las Vegas, and I have been a fan ever since. For many people, Prog is an acquired taste, perhaps because of its compositional density – it requires participation from the listener. I like it in just the right amounts; I know when to listen and when to stop.

The new song is “Omega Severer,” to which the EP owes its title. It is heavy on the synthesizers. I do not mean that as a negative criticism – the song is ten minutes long and there is a lot going on throughout the journey. There are multiple voices, heavy guitars, quiet moments and outrageously loud ones. The complex nature of this type of music often means that these sort so transitions are expected, and here they all are. The possibilities are truly endless but artistry and talent are required to make something enjoyable to listen to and memorable. This song hits all the marks, and more.

The re-recorded song is “Of Blade And Carapace.” I liked this song the first time I heard, and the re-recording is excellent. It is a very active piece, with rapid movements and a pulsating, compelling nature.

Bandcamp is the place to collect these songs. Link below. I am anxiously awaiting the full album in 2021. Recommended.

Band photo by Johannes Andersen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://facebook.com/DvneUK

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)