Goatwhore, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven (Metal Blade 2022)

New Orleans metal band Goatwhore reach a new plane on their eighth album, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven.

Goatwhore came to life in New Orleans a couple of years before the turn of the last century. After a demo and a split, the first full-length album they released was the raw The Eclipse of Ages into Black (2000). A few years later came Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun (2003) and then, the first one I heard when it came out, A Haunting Curse (2006). The next couple of albums were break-outs for the band in many ways. My favorite of them all, looking back, has become Constricting Rage of the Merciless (2014), but the new album has given it a run for its money. It is the intensity combined with the relentlessness that gets to me when I listen to Goatwhore. The band is Louis B. Falgoust II (vocals), Sammy Duet (guitar, vocals), Zack Simmons (drums), and Robert “TA” Coleman (bass).

After the eerie invocation there are eleven blazing tracks on Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven, beginning with the bestial “Born Of Satan’s Flesh.” It is a rampage of savage metal. Speed and wickedness are the guiding principles, and they are executed to the extreme. The growling and howling vocals are an active threat; the guitars an attack. The lead guitar break is surprisingly lyrical, luring your attention away before a counterattack. “The Bestowal Of Abomination” follows and falls in line. Here the guitars soar at the beginning and the opening percussion is even more in your face. And, here too, the lead guitar at first gives a look that stands in contrast to what is happening around you. When it returns, however, it is a craven menace.

The title track, “Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven,” comes third. It is dark and dramatic. The opening bars set up a story from which you cannot turn away. A superior depth is plumbed here. The odyssey you are on with the album comes into sharp focus, as the does the realization of the magnitude of the band’s achievement. I am impressed with every song, and I have a special attachment to the sequence of “Voracious Blood Fixation” and “The Devil’s Warlords.” In both, and for different reasons, the guitars are especially vivid to me.

The set ends with “And I Was Delivered From The Wound Of Perdition.” This last piece has its own set-up and culminates in a voracious consumption of doom. It is my favorite track on the album for the way it brings together and connects all the thriving elements employed in Goatwhore’s music into an overwhelming compelling amalgamation. This record will live on in your mind and will haunt you for as long as time exists. Highly recommended.

Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven is out on Friday, October 7th through Metal Blade Records in all kinds of vinyl and the usual other formats.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Goatwhore website, http://www.goatwhore.net/

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thegoat666

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

© Wayne Edwards

Goatwhore, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven (Metal Blade 2022)

Revocation, Netherheaven (Metal Blade 2022)

Boston prog death metal band Revocation take you down a dark path on their new album, Netherheaven.

David Davidson (guitar, vocals), Brett Bamberger (bass, vocals), and Ash Pearson (drums) are Revocation. Since 2006 (and even before that as Cryptic Warning), this Boston metal band has been playing technical death metal to the escalating delight of their fans. They have released seven previous full-length albums, most recently The Outer Ones (2018). With what they have accomplished so far, they could have gone in any direction on their new record. They chose the dark, seething mythology of hell itself.

Talking about the new album, Davidson says, “We’re definitely in more of a death metal mindset than on earlier albums in our catalog. We’re focusing on how we can write the best death metal-centric album that we possibly can while still pushing our boundaries. The new songs on Netherheaven are evil and sinister but also have a progressive element to them to keep things interesting. It’s got our stamp on it, no question.”

There are nine crucial tracks on the new album. “Diabolical Majesty” sets the tone, and the tone is bewilderment. The music is almost overwhelming in its density. If you stand back a little you can catch the wave, and when the vocals kick in you will find your legs. The riff shifts are stabbing, the vocal changes are threatening. Prog elements add depth but also have a lifting quality to them that enormously enhances the music.

“Lessons In Occult Theft” is next. The percussion is a brutalizing affair, and the big guitar break is a fleeing spirit wandering the dark regions of a menaced space. It will make your head spin. Immediately following is “Nihilistic Violence,” which is every bit as trance-worthy as its predecessors.

The album does not let up at all. I particularly like the lyrical elegance of “Galleries of Morbid Artistry” and the extended guitar work of “The 9th Chasm.” Don’t miss “Re-Crucified,” either, because it features guest vocals by the late Trevor Strnad and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – it is a buzzsaw. Revocation has done it again. Recommended.

Netherheaven is out on Friday, September 9th through Metal Blade Records. Touch the links below to get the details.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://revocationband.bandcamp.com/album/netherheaven

Revocation website, https://www.revocationband.com/

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Revocation, Netherheaven (Metal Blade 2022)

Amon Amarth, The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade 2022)

Iconic Viking metal band Amon Amarth have crafted their twelfth album, The Great Heathen Army.

Since 1992, Amon Amarth has been carrying the banner and swinging the sword for Viking metal, an heroic melodic heavy metal style that is wildly popular from sea to sea and icecap to icecap. Releasing a new album every two or three years for the past three decades has made them a reliable source of fresh music for their legions of fans. The new record has nine tales of heroism and conflict set in a savage world and told in the way only Amon Amarth can. The band is Johan Hegg (vocals), Olavi Mikkonen (guitar), Johan Söderberg (guitar), Ted Lundström (bass), and Jocke Wallgren (drums).

The battle begins with “Get in the Ring.” The song has a very ominous set-up to put you in the right frame of mind for the tenacious musical intercourse. Hegg’s gruff vocals cast their familiar spell over the abiding guitar riffs and steady percussion. It is an excellent choice for an opening song as it reminds you how much you like Amon Amarth. The title track follows, and it has a serious tone with a lithe delivery. “Heidrun” takes the baton and charges the field with a romping riff that sounds like the steady movement of a well-appointed army. A catchy chorus makes this song one that will stick in your head. “Oden Owns You All” is a much more aggressive track, with rippling percussion and forceful pattering that enhances the established style and theme.

Overall, the album delivers what the band’s fans are looking for. My favorite track is “Dawn of Norsemen” because it encapsulates the elements I like most about Amon Amarth from the story to the melody to the reliable rhythm section. You might choose a different favorite, but if you have enjoyed the previous albums from Amon Amarth, I think we will agree that the new one gets high marks. Recommended.

The Great Heathen Army is out now through Metal Blade Records in a variety of forms. Make your choices at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://amonamarth.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-heathen-army

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/amon-amarth-the-great-heathen-army/

© Wayne Edwards

Amon Amarth, The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade 2022)

Wake, Thought Form Descent (Metal Blade Records 2022)

Canadian death metal band Wake release their sixth album, Thought Form Descent.

From Calgary, Alberta, heavy music band Wake has built a career by being different, not just from other bands but also from their previous selves. Moving from grindcore and crust toward black and death metal, combining and fusing them, and adding whatever was right and deemed needed is a hallmark of Wake. Over the course of five previous long-players, a couple of EPs, and split, the music is as reliably earnest and unpredictable.

There are eight tracks on the new album. “Infinite Inward” opens like a melodic death metal song and travels on an arc that leads to more extreme environments. “Swallow The Light” has a rambler kind of feel to it in the opening bars, reminding me a little of Mastodon. “Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)” completes the first triplet, sounding for all the universe like a battling starship in an uncertain scrap that could go either way.

After a transition piece, “Venerate (The Undoing of All)” leads the way into part two. The song is a big production with dramatic presentations throughout, pushing even more than the previous pieces, and that is saying something as, up to this point, the album has already been intense. “Observer to Master” plasters rage across the horizon, and then does it again, and then does it some more. “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher” puts me in mind of sorcery and has me thinking the world is not what it seems to be on the surface. This is a steady one that climbs a mountain then explores the coastline on the other side. Unsatisfied, the music presses on to reveal horrors buried deep. That is where it leaves you. “The Translation of Deaths” is a short reflective cooldown.

I presumed this album would diverge from the previous one because the previous ones had done that very thing to their predecessors. The new album lived up to that expectation and, more than that, provided active entertainment, drama, and opportunities for introspection. Recommended.

Thought Form Descent is out through Metal Blade Records on Friday, July 22nd. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wakegrind.bandcamp.com/album/thought-form-descent

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Wake, Thought Form Descent (Metal Blade Records 2022)

Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

San Diego prog rock band Birth issue their debut full-length album, Born.

Birth emanated from the band Astra, the latter having released an impressive set of albums, including The Weirding (2009) and The Black Chord (2012). They play progressive rock in a style that might remind you of King Crimson at times, or the deeper moments of Yes. Jazz inlays and ethereal engagements combine with celestial pulses and expeditions featuring ever-present key work and mesmerizing guitars. The band is Conor Riley (keys, acoustic guitar, vocals), Brian Ellis (guitar, keys), Trevor Mast (bass), and Thomas DiBenedetto (drums).

There are six tracks on the new album, beginning with the title song. O man, what a way to kick things off. It is a psychedelic flashback that could be a combination of ELP and Yes with more cosmic energy infused into monumental conceptions of Earth. Illustrious keys and vibrant guitar enterprises give way to thoughtful, languid explorations. It was difficult to resist simply hitting repeat over and over on the first song. “Descending Us” comes next with a more serious-sounding set-up. The vocals transform from bard to soothsayer as the song goes along, and the guitar is a constant reminder of flux, creation and destruction.

Throughout the album, we experience this manner of journey and description at every turn. We are invited, really, to consider what is happening around us at the terrestrial level as well as the celestial one, and all spaces in between. “Cosmic Tears” is perhaps my favorite song on the album as it, for me, showcases best the way in which a paradigm can be constructed – it imagines the edges of understanding then peers within them and beyond. The writing and performance are exceptional. Highly recommended.

Born is out from Bad Omen Records and Metal Blade Records on Friday, July 15th. This is one to mark on the calendar.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/album/born

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Birth.prog

Bad Omen Records, http://www.bad-omen-records.com/

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

© Wayne Edwards

Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

Kardashev, Liminal Rite (Metal Blade 2022)

The second full-length album from Arizona deathgaze band Kardashev is Liminal Rite.

Breaking ground in 2012, Karadshev is peopled by founders Nico Mirolla (guitar) and Mark Garrett (vocals), along with Alex Rieth (bass) and Sean Lang (drums), who both joined in 2019. With three EPs and the full-length album Peripety (2015) under their collective belt, the band now ventures forth on Liminal Rite. The style of music they play has received a variety of labels ranging from progressive metal to atmospheric deathcore and on to the catch-all post-metal. Most recently, deathgaze has been frequently leveraged as a description. As with most successful bands, the music of Kardashev has been growing and evolving with the passage of time.

There are eight principal tracks, an intro, and two interstitials on the new album. The story is spoken by drummer Sean Lang, and the music surrounds these establishing ideas. Talking about the narrative, Nico Mirolla says, “Liminal Rite explores how the past can both wound and seduce, leading us down a path of self-destruction. It’s an anecdotal tale from a fictional man’s perspective late in life on how perception and reality do not always coalesce. His experience tells a larger message of how our minds often create a false view of the past. Sean’s narration is him expressing the man’s perception and recollection of life. The failure of his memory, the nature of dementia, and how it plays into his experience are all encapsulated by the narrative sections.”

The music has a serious air about it, a sense that it is the result of a preponderance of manifest ideas that could not be contained. The spoken word passages begin on the first track, a short ramp into the blistering “Silvered Shadows” where percussion blasts and riffs rail against it all. Melodic vocals sweeten the harsh realities that are made solid by the growling, croaking singing that follows. The mixture is the paradigm throughout.

Stand-out tracks for me are “Lavender Calligraphy,” which is hopeful sounding and “Compost Grave-song,” which is the opposite. The final two tracks together run over twenty minutes, “A Vagabond’s Lament” and “Beyond The Passage Of Embers.” Taken together they lift my respect for this album, which was already climbing with each song that came before. The music here is challenging and exceptional, and not to be missed. Recommended.

Liminal Rite is out on Saturday, June 11th through Metal Blade Records. Examine the many varieties of physicals at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Kardashev website, https://kardashevband.com/

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

© Wayne Edwards

Kardashev, Liminal Rite (Metal Blade 2022)

Killswitch Engage, Live At The Palladium (Metal Blade 2022)

Killswitch Engage releases the recording of their 2021 Palladium livestream event this week.

Do you remember last year? The pandemic was still roughing us up, sort of like it still is today. Back then, though, there were more restrictions than there are right now on live music so we fans were treated to a number of livestream events to offset the sadness of not getting together in person. I remember the Clutch livestreams particularly, and there were many other bands following suit. A few were captured for posterity, including the August 6, 2021 performance by Killswitch Engage at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Coming together on the cusp of the new millennium, Killswitch Engage has had an enormous impact on heavy music. Over the years they have released eight full-length albums and a heaping helping of splits and EPs. Typically labeled metalcore, the aggressive musical presentations of heavy metal were formative for the category. I have been lucky enough to see them several times at festivals and, if a choice has to be made when two bands are playing at the same time, Killswitch Engage is probably going to get the nod. The band is Jesse Leach (vocals), Adam Dutkiewicz (guitar), Joel Stroetzel (guitar), Mike D’Antonio (bass), and Justin Foley (drums).

This show was very different, not only because of it being a livestream but also because of the content. The set included both the Atonement (2019) album and the Killswitch Engage (2000) album in full. Talk about bookending. It is an amazing performance and it is incredible fan service with a little surprise toward the end. Beyond the band’s fan base, this concert is a good vehicle for new listeners to jump in. Recommended.

Live At The Palladium is out on Friday, June 3rd through Metal Blade Records on digital, vinyl, and CD/Blu Ray combo. I would get the Blu Ray in order to actually see the show, if it was me. I understand the both attraction of vinyl and the convenience of digital as well. This might be a tough choice. What to do?

Links.

Bandcamp, https://killswitchengage.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-palladium

Website, http://www.killswitchengage.com/

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Killswitch Engage, Live At The Palladium (Metal Blade 2022)

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Motor Sister is back with a dozen original tracks on the band’s second album, Get Off.

If you haven’t heard who Motor Sister is yet, this line-up will be an eye-opener: Jim Wilson (vocals, guitar), Scott Ian (guitar), Pearl Aday (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), and John Tempesta (drums). Name those bands! Originally formed as a tribute band playing a special set of Mother Superior music, they released an album of just such covers in 2015 called Ride. The band sometimes calls the music they play “no bullshit hard rock and roll” and that label does indeed fit. The new album follows this course with twelve original tracks and one cover to put a bow on it.

Most of the songs are up-tempo rushes that will flush your face with nostalgia. Witness the opener, “Can’t Get High Enough.” That one goes right along with the cover art, doesn’t it? Charging guitar, great hooks, and the incredible pairing of two fantastic rock voices is a recipe for success. You can tear another one of those off for me any time and I will be ready to listen to it. “Coming For You” follows hot on its heels, and it is a blood boiling fever maker. There is speed and energy here, more than enough to go around; enough to spare.

There is a ballad on the album, “Sooner Or Later,” in the frame hard rock bands used to make them in. And there is an introspective song, “Pain.” Slower pieces are more than balanced with ragers, like “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Exposed” and “Bulletproof.” And anyway, who wants an album that sounds all the same. There is a compelling variety of compositions on the record, all of it sounding like an unearthed treasure trove of music you have never heard before that fits like a glove. The only question I have is: When does the tour start? Recommended.

You can get your hands on Get Off starting Friday, May 6th from Metal Blade Records. Examine your options at the links below.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Satan, Earth Infernal (Metal Blade 2022)

Satan’s follow-up to 2018’s Cruel Magic is a speeding vortex that raises the flag even higher: Earth Infernal.

Satan is a band from Newcastle that formed around 1979. They were part of the actual New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, they have laid down five full-length albums – six counting the new one – and a truckload of EPs, compilations, and live albums. The group has gone through many changes over the years, more than you might even expect even for such a long-lived band. Notably, they changed their name several times (Pariah, Blind Fury), disbanded and reformed. They re-solidified in 2011 and, starting in 2013, released three monstrous albums in a row, Life Sentence (2103), Atom By Atom (2015), and Cruel Magic (2018). Earth Infernal stretches the string winning albums to four in a row. The band is Brian Ross (vocals), Russ Tippins (guitar), Steve Ramsey (guitar), Graeme English (bass), and Sean Taylor (drum).

The metal is high-energy and clocks in at pace. “Ascendancy” pierces the veil with a rowdy, driving rhythm and eager guitar passages. “Burning Portrait” mixes the pace a little, and then “Twelve Infernal Lords” ratchets up the drama and mystery, recalling often returned-to themes. I could say that some of the music is reminiscent of this or that band but of course it is the other way around, isn’t it – Satan is an original.

There are some quiet passages, but they are mood-setting and don’t last long. For example, “Mercury’s Shadow” has a soft opening but in less than a minute the metal takes a swing on this reflective instrumental track. For that matter, “A Sorrow Unspent” has an airy casualness when it begins but soon turns toward a swirling attack of unhesitating, pulsing guitars.

Side Two has just as much innovation and transforming musicality as the first half. “Poison Elegy” is a good example, and one of my favorites from the entire set. It has drama, tempo changes, fantastic soaring vocals, and guitar work that comes at you from every angle. Throughout the album, the pairing of guitars is unique and compelling, sometimes tag-teaming individual passages and at other times playing in unison. “Earth We Bequeath” has the final say on the record, and it seals the deal. This is another great Satan album. Recommended.

Earth Infernal is out on Friday, April 1st through Metal Blade Records. Check out the links below for vinyl variants and other versions.

Link.

Bandcamp, https://satanuk.bandcamp.com/album/earth-infernal

Satan website, https://www.satanmusic.com/

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

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

© Wayne Edwards.

Satan, Earth Infernal (Metal Blade 2022)

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Folk metal icons Týr have recorded a live album with an orchestra that exhibits an unforgettable musical symbiosis, A Night At The Nordic House.

It has been a little over twenty years since progressive folk metal band Týr was founded in the Faroe Islands. Their location is certainly a memorable aspect of the band’s character, but of course it is the music they create that sets them apart. Over the years they have released eight full-length studio albums, the most recent being Hel (2019). Their style is a progressive form of epic folk metal that overlaps Viking and death metal as well.

The new album was recorded live at The Nordic House in Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands on February 8th, 2020, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands. If ever there was a metal band that could make effective and dramatic use of an accompanying orchestra, Týr fits the bill. From the press release … “Working with the Symphony Orchestra was without a doubt one of the highlights of our careers,” admits vocalist Heri Joensen. “The feeling of sheer sophisticated power behind us was extraordinarily uplifting. We were awed by how well the songs worked in a symphonic setting. ‘By The Sword In My Hand,’ for example, seems to take on a new life.”

There are eighteen tracks on the massive album, including the opening intro. “Gates of Hel” is the ideal song to hear first if you want to know what to expect from the rest of the performance. The slow build is enormously enhanced by the fullness of the orchestration. The primary instrument is still the guitar, and the voices and orchestral apparatus work a pervasive, all-encompassing effect. The gruff lead vocals match the perfectly the melodic aspects of the overall musical construction.

“By the Sword in My Hand” is another exemplary performance. The theme is an epic tale of conquest and the ideal instantiation of the narrative. Dazzling lead guitar work and soaring choruses combine into overwhelming musical power. The final track, “Álvur Kongur,” is the capstone, and you get the feeling at the end that seeing this performance would have been as amazing an experience as hearing it.

A Night At The Nordic House is out on Friday March 18th through Metal Blade Records. Highly recommended for fans of Týr, and genre fans as well – but, seriously, if you appreciate folk/Viking/epic metal then you are already a Týr fan.

Links.

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

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

Týr website, https://tyr.fo/

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)