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)

Fates Warning, Long Day Good Night review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Fates Warning has released their biggest album yet and it has all the trappings of a milestone.

Back at the beginning, Night on the Bröcken (1984) was something very different for the times – we were in the midst of the NWOBHM. That first album had a an occult theme (which I really appreciated) but it was the Progressive Metal elements that were the most important sign of something completely different, and you can hear them in there if you listen. Queensrÿche is another example – their first album (the self-titled EP) was also Power Rock with occult elements and they, too, emerged on the forefront of Prog, along with Dream Theater and … Fates Warning. I knew about Queensrÿche first because I was so taken with their song “The Lady Wore Black,” but it was Fates Warning that really stuck with me through the decades because of their compositional ingenuity. Look back and listen through the long catalogue of this band (on Spotify, say) and I think you will be amazed.

The new album finds Ray Alder and Jim Matheos working together writing the music. There are thirteen songs on Long Day Good Night, which is the band’s 13th album. It listens like a tour through the world Fates Warning has created over the years and a few special glimpses of things we have never seen before. It is Progressive Metal of course, and complex, but it also has many heavy linear passages that forge a straight-forward groove.

After a three minute soft, eerie, and somehow reassuring intro, “The Destination Onward” lands the first hard punch. It is eight minutes of structure you could build the rest of the album on, from the stabbing guitar assertions surrounded by heavy riffs to the fibrillating percussion to lithe lead break. And of course the soaring vocals. “Shuttered World” is next and it is a little more abrupt, while “Alone We Walk” is pensive and also curiously frenetic. Songs like “Under The Sun” are quiet and lyrical in their fullness and objective beauty. Others are aggressive and challenging, like “Scars.” The long-form is here, too, the strongest example of which is “The Longest Shadow of the Day” with its amazing bass lines and unforgettable guitar work. Nothing is left out here and there is no filler, either – it is simply excellent.

Long Day Good Night is available right now in many different forms and functions. I am convinced this is going to turn out to be one of my favorite Fates Warning albums. Highly recommended.

Links.

Website, http://www.fateswarning.com

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

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

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

Fates Warning, Long Day Good Night review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Nuclear Power Trio, A Clear And Present Rager review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Just in time for the US presidential election, Nuclear Power Trio is here to bring world peace through instrumental metal music.

Just take a second to look at the cover image. Are you taking that seriously? I hope not. Obviously, this is a goof. Do you want to be even more confused? Check out the videos on YouTube. There they are, Vlad and Donny and Kimmy hamming it up for the camera and shredding. Wow. What in the world is this exactly? I am not sure, but the thing is, the music is excellent.

Who are the musicians? I don’t know, but if you do watch the videos, you can narrow it down quite a bit. I am not going to weigh in on identities because that is too much fun as a drinking game for next Tuesday. Let the speculation begin.

A Clear And Present Rager is a five song EP of heavy jazz/metal instrumental music and it is tight. The title track is the opener and it has a very Satriani vibe to it. All three principal instruments are mixed in to have a clear and noticeable presence: thick bass lines, fuzzy riffs and ripping leads, and punchy and rollicking drums. It pops. “Grab ’Em By The Pyongyang” is next and it starts with an acoustic intro, but the electric riff is hot on its heels. “The Fusion Collusion” offers a clippy percussive intro, while “Ukraine In The Membrane” has a more pensive opening statement that turns into a frantic search for meaning. “Mutually Assured Seduction” is the last call, and it is here where we piece together the wreckage of the evening and see what can be salvaged – hence the melancholy tone.

Even as this release is silly and is clearly trying to lighten up our lives during these dreadfully dreary days we all face, the music is crisp, challenging, and solid as a rock. It really is great instrumental rock.

Go get yours now, and play it loud on election night. Recommended.

Links.

Buy It From Metal Blade, https://www.metalblade.com/nuclearpowertrio/

Band wesbite, http://www.nuclearpowertriomerch.com

Band YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/NuclearPowerTrio

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nuclearpowertrio

Nuclear Power Trio, A Clear And Present Rager review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Armored Saint, Punching The Sky review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

For more than thirty five years, Armored Saint has been banging eardrums. They are back to do it again with Punching The Sky.

“March of the Saint” is the first song on the first album in 1984, March Of The Saint. It starts like a coronation march; a grand entrance. Then the guitars roll out and the 1980s metal vocals hit. That song has a fast tempo and a snappy lead break. What a great way to get started, and “Seducer” is on that album, too – one of my all-time favorites from Armored Saint. The band released three more albums through 1991 before taking a break for a while. They returned in 2000 with Revelation and formally reformed in 2006, releasing La Raza in 2010 and Win Hands Down in 2015. They have updated their sound over the years with new recording technology and so on but the heart of the band never strayed, and neither did their dedication to the idea of heavy metal.

The band for the new album is original members John Bush (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), Phil Sandoval (guitar), and Gonzo Sandoval (drums), who are joined once again by long-time guitarist Jeff Duncan. They lay down eleven big tracks for Punching The Sky, starting with “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” which has the album’s title in the refrain. The music is vigorous, infused with loud attitude to go along with the rumbling riffs and roaring lead guitar splits. “Bubble” is a contentious number with a more serious tone than many of the other songs, while “Lone Wolf” has a clandestine opening riff and “Fly in the Ointment” is more reflective. At every turn, Armored Saint delivers heavy music longtime fans will embrace and that will catch the attention of new listeners as well. Recommended.

Punching The Sky is out Friday, October 23rd from Metal Blade Records, where you can get merch bundles. Bandcamp is the quick way to grab the digital download.

Links.

Band website, http://armoredsaint.com

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thearmoredsaint

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

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

Armored Saint, Punching The Sky review (Metal Blade Records 2020)