Alien Weaponry, Tangaroa (Napalm Records 2021)

New Zealand metal band Alien Weaponry pull out all the stops on their second long-player, Tangaroa.

From the very beginning it was clear there was something different and very special about the music of Alien Weaponry. It is hard-driving thrash/metal infused with traditional Māori instrumentations and language. The pulsing, charging constructions stand alone in the heavy music universe and comparisons are destined to fail. Over the past decade the band has released a string of EPs and the influential full-length album, (2018). Musicians on Tangaroa are Henry Te Reiwhati de Jong (drums, backing vocals), Lewis Raharuhi de Jong (guitars, lead vocals), and Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds (bass) who recently replaced the departing long-time bassist Ethan Trembath.

There are twelve tracks on the album, opening with “Titokowaru,” a song that highlights the syncopation and powerhouse musical presentations that will characterize the rest of the set. “Hatupatu” expands on the vocal capabilities of band, adding depth with carefully structured layering. “Ahi Kā” takes off in a different, mysterious direction, employing audio captures to the creative vocals and setting them over a lyrical bed and around rousing rhythms.

The title track, “Tangaroa,” is a centerpiece of the album with its socially relevant message and its elegant combination of linear aspects and challenging musical elements prominent in other songs. Really, every song has something about it that memorable and noteworthy from the magnificent opening riff on “Buried Underground” to the ethereal wind instrument on “Īhenga.” The variety and inventiveness in the compositions is enthralling and offers listeners what seems like an endless array of aural experience.

Engaging, original, and 100% authentic metal, Tangaroa is going to be on Year’s Best lists far and wide. Recommended.

Tangaroa is out on Friday September 17th through Napalm Records in CD, digital, and vinyl versions.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://alienweaponry.bandcamp.com/album/tangaroa

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

Alien Weaponry website, http://alienweaponry.com/index.html

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/alien-weaponry

Alien Weaponry, Tangaroa (Napalm Records 2021)

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)

Legendary German thrash band Destruction release a massive double live album, Live Attack.

Destruction began in the early 1980s and went through a number of stylist and line-up changes over the years. To me and their legions of fans they are a thrash band. If you take a look at their discography it is a little overwhelming. So many long-players, splits, and live albums. Destruction has been a fundamental metal force for decades and they never experienced much of a lull that they didn’t bounce right back from with renewed energy.

Recently, founding guitarist Mike Sifringer left Destruction suddenly and was replaced by Martin Furia, who appears on the newly released single “State of Apathy.” As earth-shaking as this development was, there was never any question about Destruction continuing as a band because they still have a lot of metal in them waiting to come out. The musicians now are Schmier, Randy Black, Damir, and Martin Furia.

Live Attack has twenty rampaging tracks from their livestream performance recorded at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland. They play classics like “Mad Butcher” alongside newer songs such as “Born To Perish” from the recent studio album of the same name. This concert is distinct from last year’s Born To Thrash live album which was taken from a 2019 show. Both are great sets, but the big advantage to the new album is its more comprehensive scope and expansive set list. The playing is crisp and sharp, as always, and the recording capture is top-notch. I have been a thrash fan since thrash began, and I have followed Destruction all along so this new release is a must-listen for the likes for me. Recommended.

The digital version of Live Attack is out now and the vinyl will be shipping in the coming weeks. There is also a CD/Blu Ray set if you want to witness the performance.

Links.

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

Band website, https://www.destruction.de/

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/destruction-live-attack-black-3lp.html

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)

Crypta, a metal band reaching across the globe from Brazil to the Netherlands, release their first full-length album, Echoes Of The Soul.

Composed of former members of Nervosa, Burning Witches, and Hagbard, Crypta brings forth the Death Metal like no other. The band is Fernanda Lira (bass and vocals), Sonia Anubis (guitar), Tainá Bergamaschi (guitar), and Luana Dametto (drums). Together they form a whomping juggernaut fit to crack your bones.

You don’t hear a lot of female vocalists in heavy music, especially ones rolling out coarse deliveries. An obvious example is Butcher Babies, of course, and Dopethrone, but thinking of others requires some reflection. Crypta leans more toward the Black Metal hiss side of Death Metal vocalizations, hailing the dark and menacing.

There are nine songs and an into bit on Echoes Of The Soul. “Starvation” starts off at a full sprint. The percussion is insidious, the riffs contentious, and the vocals are threatening. That is a good combination. The lead break runs the range of steady to hyper in a display of possibilities. “Possessed” follows and is more theatrical in a Phantom of the Opera kind of way. Wicked and eerie, it is, with a sorrowful lead.

“Under The Black Wings” stands out to me for the heaviness and darkness of its composition. You have a real sense of witnessing an inevitable calamity when you hear it. I really like “Dark Night Of The Soul” as well for its incredible lead guitar work and the closer, “From The Ashes” might be the song to either open or end the show on tour because it has a burning energy that can work at both perspectives. This is a different kind of Death Metal and well worth your attention. Recommended.

Echoes Of The Soul is out now and available all around.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.cryptaofficial.com/

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

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

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)

Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia (Napalm Records 2021)

Monster Magnet comes out with a cover album of psychedelic songs you have probably never heard before.

The legendary Monster Magnet was formed in New Jersey on the cusp of the nineties. Creating an innovative fuzzy sound that sparked memories of the psychedelic past, Spine Of God (1991) and Superjudge (1993) are now classics that set the stage for the popular success of Dopes To Infinity (1995) with the radio hit “Negasonic Teenage Warhead.” Best remembered in the mind of society afterwards for Powertrip (1998) and Mastermind (2010), Monster Magnet has always created music on their own terms. The band is founder Dave Wyndorf (vocals) along with Phil Caivano (guitar), Garret Sweeny (guitar), Alec Morton (bass), and Bob Pantella (drums).

You never know for sure what the next Monster Magnet album is going to be like. The Last Patrol came out in 2013 and then the very next year the band released a “re-imagining” of that album, Milking The Stars, with substantially altered arrangements. Then in 2015 Mastermind got a make-over with Cobras And Fire in a similar fashion. Mindfucker (2018) was tailored for the wild turn the world took in 2016 and now we have A Better Dystopia, a collection of covers that many fans will be entirely unfamiliar with. Consider this: Is it a cover tune to the listener if they never heard the original?

An odd choice, this album, but a bold and brilliant one. Drawing mainly from psychedelic-styled work from a by-gone era, the songs chosen by Wyndorf and crew have a contemporary resonance. Some of these were new to me and are genuine deep pulls. Here is the track list to marvel at: “The Diamond Mine” (Dave Diamond), “Born to Go” (Hawkwind), “Epitaph for a Head” (J. D. Blackfoot), “Solid Gold Hell” (The Scientists), “Be Forewarned” (The Macabre), “Mr. Destroyer” (Poo-Bah), “When the Wolf Sits” (Jerusalem), “Death” (Pretty Things), “Situation” (Josephus), “It’s Trash” (The Cave Men), “Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)” (Table Scraps), “Learning to Die” (Dust), and “Welcome to the Void” (Morgen).

The song that interested me most was Dust’s “Learning To Die.” I love Dust and this song in particular has always been one of my favorites. Like all the music on this album – and every album by Monster Magnet – energy and passion blazes through no matter the tempo or perspective. Expect fuzzed-up heavy psychedelic stoner rock. First listen to this album all the way through, then go out and dig up the originals. It is a trip comparing the new versions with the way-back-whens. Highly recommended.

A Better Dystopia is out now in myriad forms to please each and every one of the people of the Earth.

Links.

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

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

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

Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia (Napalm Records 2021)

Evile, Hell Unleashed (Napalm Records 2021)

Returning with their first album in eight years, Evile lands hard and hits the ground running.

The band’s first full-length album came out in 2007, Enter The Grave. From the initial riffs of the title track you could tell you were in for some heads-down thrash. There was a new album every couple of years after that until 2013 when Skull came out. A few line-up changes have occurred over the years and the band is now Ol Drake (vocals and guitar), Ben Carter (drums), Joel Graham (bass), and Adam Smith (guitar).

There are nine big tracks on the album beginning with the blistering “Paralysed.” This is exactly what I was hoping for – high speed attack in guitars and percussion, ravaging vocals, and a maniacal lead break. Ah, thrash. “Gore” is next and it is another blasting ripper. “Incarcerated” gives a short breather at its front but it does not hold a quiet line. These front three make an excellent impression.

My favorite songs are probably the title track, which anchors the album, and “The Thing (1982).” These both hit me on a fundamental level and played directly into my earliest love of heavy music, which is straight-up thrash. In addition to the speed and technical acumen that flows freely from the songs, they both also have additional depths and turns that sink the metal in deep.

The album has a couple of surprises. There is a guest appearance by Brian Posehn who is best known as a comedian and has in recent years been getting involved in heavy music because of his lifelong love of metal. Then there is the cover of the Mortician song “Zombie Apocalypse.” That’s something different for Evile. This new set has the craft and style fans have embraced over the years. It delivers savage thrash on every level. Recommended.

Hell Unleashed is out now. In the UK hit the band’s website. For EU, Napalm Records’ site works great and Bandcamp is the best bet in the US.

Links.

Website, https://www.evilecult.com/

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

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

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

Evile, Hell Unleashed (Napalm Records 2021)

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

A new album from Sweden’s Greenleaf is always a reason to celebrate and the new one pushes the envelope on anticipation.

Greenleaf has been laying down tracks for a couple decades now. Their most recent album was 2018’s Hear The Rivers and while the new one has the familiar presence that earlier one had, it is a step up and beyond. The band is Tommi Holappa (guitar), Sebastian Olsson (drums), Hans Fröhlich (bass), and Arvid Jonsson (vocals).

The album has ten fuzzy, psychedelic tracks that will wrap around you and soak right in. The opener is “Tides,” a get-to-know you track that lays down the blanket in the grass. “Good God I Better Run Away” follows and it is bursting with energy and urgency. It is positively loaded with wonderizing guitar work. Then “Needle In My Eye” has an ethereal quality to it, echoing as it does off the walls and telling as it does a sinister tale. You hear these three songs back-to-back and you start to drift, confident in your choice of music.

All the pieces come together on this album in the way we expect from the earlier ones. I get an extra bounce on this one, though – something about it is bigger to me. Every song has something extraordinary about it. “A Hand Of Might” sticks in my mind for its rolling tremulousness; “March On Higher Grounds” for its restless insistence. “What Have We Become” is the last song of the set and it is a meditation. On what? That might be different for every person who listens to it. At first it put me in a fog but by the end my vision had cleared. It is a good way to come down.

Echoes From A Mass is waiting for you right now. Links below. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

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

Label, https://label.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

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)