Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Finland’s Wolfheart adds more Death Metal to the universe with two new songs and a couple of rarities on their EP Skull Soldiers.

The band has a long history of powerful metal creation and performance. Since 2013 they have released five full-length albums, the most recent being Wolves of Karelia (2020). Given this history, you have to expect and new long-player before very long, and this four track vehicle is just the thing to hold fans over until the bigger one arrives. The lineup for Skull Soldiers is Tuomas Saukkonen (vocals and guitar), Lauri Silvonen (bass and vocals), Joonas Kauppinen (drums), and Vagelis Karzis (guitar).

There are two new songs on the EP. “Skull Soldiers” has a driving, threatening beat and an eerie surrounding shroud, keeping its distance from the frantic activity while maintaining a menacing posture. The lead guitar foments an elegant and clinical execution. “Hereditary” continues the ideas established in the opener, turning them a bit more buoyant. The speed is cranked up and the lead break on this song is blistering mayhem.

“Aeon Of Cold” is an acoustic presentation of this popular track from Shadow World. It is beautiful and melancholy, conveying deep feeling and bringing out emotions from the listener – either sadness or melancholy or nostalgia, whatever you have inside you. The vocals are smooth and clear on this track, elevating the impact.

And then there is “Reaper” from the Wolves of Karelia album, captured live during a streaming event last year. The band absolutely crushes this one. It rips and roars and leaves you ragged. These four songs are a great item for fans of the band and an nice overview for newcomers to the fold. Recommended.

Skull Soldiers is out now. The download is still available, but the limited vinyl might have left this earthly plane already. Have a look at the Bandcamp link.

Links.

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

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

Store, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/wolfheart

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

The thrash is verily raging from the new metal set by Nervosa.

Nervosa began in São Paulo, Brazil just over ten years ago. Brandishing a rugged version of classic Thrash, the band released three albums over the years, the new one making four. Founder and guitarist Prika Amaral is joined by three new musicians for Perpetual Chaos: Diva Satanica (aka, Rocío Vázquez, on vocals), Mia Wallace (bass), and Eleni Nota (drums). It is a truly international band, with the three new members hailing from Spain, Italy, and Greece.

The new set is made up of thirteen songs – that’s a good number. Brevity is the call sign with these three minute furies, speeding as they do to bowl you over before you can tell what hit you.

“Venomous” is the no-nonsense opener that cracks and zips with fist punching riffs, blast beats, and a rollicking lead break. The vocals snarl into the Death Metal range, adding a sinister touch to the sound that matches well with the wicked themes – witness the next song, “”Guided By Evil.” Apart from the ever-present up-tempo, there are a lot of approachable hooks and fan-pleasing choruses that’ll be great live when the crowd sings along. The pressure is on all the way to the final track, “Under Ruins,” which, itself, is one my favorites.

There are a few guest appearances to add to the variety and season the mix, including by Guilherme Miranda (Revolta), Schmier (Destruction), and Erik A. K. Knutson (Flotsam and Jetsam). The album is imminently listenable and bears re-spinning at its end. The newest incarnation of Nervosa has definitely thrown down the gauntlet with this one. Recommended.

Perpetual Chaos is out now. All sorts of versions and merchandise are available at the Napalm Records site. The band has its own store, too, and there is always Bandcamp. Consider yourself hooked up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://nervosa-brazil.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://nervosaofficial.com/website/english-home/

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

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/nervosa.html

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)

Horror shines bright on the sixth album from the North Carolina duo Bloody Hammers.

I have been listening to Bloody Hammers since the initial self-titled album in 2012. The very first track, “Witch of Endor,” is fuzzy and trippy and it sinks it talons in your neck. Spiritual Relics came out the very next year and it was just as clever and fresh. The occult themes and consistent horror underpinnings dress the reliable and forthright metal that has lead me to keep an eye open for new releases from band ever since.

The catchy musical sensibility of “A Night To Dismember” combined with the obvious tongue-in-cheek lyrics and melodic pop-punk execution makes the song an irresistible fuzzy cotton candy horror treat. What a way to kick off the album. The theatrical influences verily drip from the sleeves of these songs, titled as they are after cult movie classics like “Hands of the Ripper,” “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and “Witchfinder General.” Samples dropped in (as in White/Rob Zombie) are delightful little familiar punches: witness “Not Of This Earth.” The music is all about the riffs, percussion, and the voice, cast in a throwback robe that resurrects the most memorable elements of bands like The Cramps and more obscure gems like The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black [Aside: deep-dive this band some time, and especially seek out the album “A National Healthcare.”]. There is even one creepy pseudo-ballad, “Lucifer’s Light.” This album has everything.

Any fan of Bloody Hammers is going to love this record, I say with confidence. It does not sound exactly like the others, but it is not a wild departure, either. It is an homage that simultaneously remains true to form, and you will definitely want to hit the repeat button. Recommended.

Songs Of Unspeakable Terror is out today from Napalm Records. Grab it with both hands.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodyhammers.bandcamp.com/album/songs-of-unspeakable-terror

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

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

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/bloodyhammers

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)

After a five year gap, Draconian gives us a solemn gothic album of sadness and reflection.

From the small town of Säffle, Sweden, the band coalesced from the art and intention of local musicians Johan Ericson, Jesper Stolpe, Andy Hindenäs, and Anders Jacobsson. Modulating a melodic Death Metal sound with a somber Gothicism resulted in a specific land of Doom that Draconian has helmed ever since. The sound has changed somewhat over the years, and so has the lineup, from time to time. The new album is particularly gloomy and less heavy than earlier sets. Following 2015’s Sovran, this is the second album with singer Heike Langhans, and her influence on the music has strengthened.

There are ten tracks on the new album, ranging from radio length to nearly nine minutes. Langhans’ beautiful, haunting voice is the preëminent element in the pieces, surrounded by layers of synth and guitar and juxtaposed with Anders Jacobsson’s gruffer singing. From “Sorrow of Sophia” to “Ascend Into Darkness,” shadows and demise are made alluring and unavoidable by the voluptuous Gothic entrenchment of the compositions. The music is uniformly infused by a dark forest mist of emotional hunger is unrelenting, encompassing, consuming. There are songs that have stronger Doom elements, like “Moon Over Saboath,” where the mood is more sinister and eerie, but they are in the minority. In the main, these songs come across to me as more human than fantastical. If the guitars have diminished somewhat on this album the impact of the music has not. Recommended.

Under A Godless Veil is available now – see the links below for the digital, physical, and merch.

Links.

Draconian website, https://draconianofficial.com/

Draconian Bandcamp, https://draconian.bandcamp.com/

Draconian Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/draconianofficial

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/draconian/

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)