The Troops of Doom, The Rise of Heresy review (Blood Blast Distribution 2020)

The debut release from Troops of Doom is a Heavy Metal eruption that will be heard in every corner of the Earth.

The band is from Brazil: Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz (guitar), Alex Kafer (bass and vocals), Marcelo Vasco (guitar), and Alexandre Oliveira (drums). You certainly recognize the first person on that list as an original guitarist for Sepultura. The sound of The Troops of Doom has its starting point in early (classic) Death Metal, and from there it grows into its own beast.

The new EP has four original songs and two covers of well-known Sepultura songs. First the originals. “Whispering Dead Words” has an orchestral opening with big brass horns and the full complement. The strangling starts right past the one minute mark. “Inspired by hate / Existence fades away / Burn those bastards / To Infernal flames.” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a ripper – fast and furious, with a catchy clomping riff in the middle. “The Confessional” has that steady head banging momentum as well, leading into the title song, which is the track that’s stands out the most for me. “The Rise of Heresy” displays punishing percussion and fierce rhythm riffs standing shoulder to shoulder with the grizzly vocals.

The covers are “Bestial Devastation” from the Bestial Devastation (1985) EP and “Troops of Doom” from Morbid Visions (1986). The new versions certainly sound better given the more recent recording capabilities and the covers are consistent musically with the originals. It is nice to hear them updated and they ring as true in their new incarnations as they did back in the mid-1980s originals.

The Rise of Heresy is available now in the digital and you can get it at Amazon Music and stream it at Spotify. Physical versions are on the horizon and are popping up in various forms around the globe. Think of tracking them down as a quest. Whatever way you consume this music, if you are a fan of Sepultura, you are bound to like The Troops of Doom. Recommended.


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The Troops of Doom, The Rise of Heresy review (Blood Blast Distribution 2020)

Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Metal icons Death Angel release a four track acoustic EP of three covers and one new song.

Fans of Death Angel are used to crushing Thrash riffs and blistering lead breaks. Quiet, slow acoustic melodies barely even waft through the transom of your mind when Death Angel is on. Usually. But these are weird times and all sorts of unusual things are happening.

The set is titled for the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure,” which was a huge pop hit way back when. Death Angel’s version is an acoustic replication that is an homage in a clear show of respect to the artists and composition of the original. The new song is “Faded Remains.” It is a song of hopelessness and plays like a Murder Folk entry with an exceptional lead moment. You can bet this one will be in the live sets when the world comes back.

The other two pieces are acoustic versions of well-known Death Angel songs: “A Room With A View” from Act III and “Revelation Song” from Humanicide. The former song was largely acoustic in its original incarnation but it had a heavy middle. Here there is a nice acoustic lead break in the middle and what sounds to me like a quiet electric guitar, too (and again at the end). For “Revelation Song,” the guitars are very aggressive, pushing the threat level up for an instrument of pacifism. The vocals are also gruffer, pledging a direct line to the original version from last year’s original.

This is most definitely a different take for the band, and that is exactly what it is supposed to be. Recommended.

The digital EP is available right now. Look for it on Amazon and other outlets (link below to streaming sources).


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Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The incredible 15th album from the Bergen, Norway metal band Enslaved is Utgard, another impressive achievement in their long career.

The most recent previous studio album was E in 2017, and the songs on that album were generally long (most around eight minutes or longer), which is the usual way Enslaved creates music. On Utgard, the band’s compositions are tighter and yet every bit as creative as earlier releases. The band is now made up of long-time members Grutle Kjellson (vocals and bass), Ivar Bjørnson (guitars and effects), and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), along with newer recruits Håkon Vinje (keyboards and vocals) and Iver Sandøy (drums). The confluence of these musical elements is an alchemy all its own.

“Fires In The Dark” opens with an acapella treatment (in Norwegian), followed by an acoustic guitar moment, sudden heavy riffs, wispy atmospheric sounds, then a narrative element. Sort of a heavy version of Andrew Lloyd Weber in that it is a big production and a complex construction. The melodies in the guitars have a very magic carpet, djinn feel to them in the second half – a mystical desert vibe. The integration of diverse elements is the mainstay throughout. “Jettegryta,” the next song, does this too, in a very different way. It is not simply the variation of coarse and clean vocals but also shifts in musical cadence and style, sometimes perpendicularly, that throw you off cliff after cliff then lift you up on hurricane winds. We hear Epic Metal then Prog then a classic metal riff, here and there and all around.

On side two, “Urjotun” is a peppy straight-up prog rock song that is taken over by darkness as it progresses. “Flight of Thought and Memory” wells up feelings of sorrow and regret, while “Storms of Utgard” is more confrontational with amazing lead guitar work. The closing song is “Distant Seasons.” You can feel the curtain falling when it begins in its quiet and gentle way, but the power wells up soon enough. The relatively brief nature of the songs is a departure in a way for the band, but all the elements we have come to expect from Enslaved are nevertheless here in full force. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Utgard on CD and vinyl and of course as a download – Bandcamp is best place for the digital.



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Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Lamb of God, Lamb of God review (Epic Records 2020)

For their eighth album, Lamb of God has gone self-titled. It makes perfect sense as it speaks directly to their fans and demonstrates that the band will always be exactly who they want to be.

Randy Blythe, Mark Morton, Will Adler, John Campbell, and Art Cruz. Fans already know who is whom in this lineup, and recognize Cruz is recording for the first time with the band after being the touring drummer for some time. Lamb of God is one of the most recognizable and highly regarded bands in heavy music today. The Richmond, Virginia-based band started out as Burn the Priest in the mid 1990s. They released their first Lamb of God album, New American Gospel, twenty years ago, and have been stalwart metal workers ever since. Ashes of the Wake and Sacrament were a sort of tipping point for the band where their notoriety rose to the level of nonerasable. It has been five years since their last studio album – the longest gap in the discography – so fans are more than ready for new music.

The new album is filled to overflowing with fresh, blistering riffs. The rhythm section is a rippling marching force, laying down the cadence and pounding out the attack. Randy Blythe has an iron voice that seems to strengthen with every album and every song. As a special bonus, there are guest appearances by Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and Chuck Billy of Testament.

There is a narrative arc to this album. The first song is “Memento Mori,” which is usually translated as something along the lines of “remember you are going to die.” That’s a mood setter if there ever was one. Blythe has said in interviews that the album should be listened to in order because of the story it tells. He has gone on to say that they establish social issues in the first part of the album and that later songs provide an idea of how to resist what seems like a rising tide of horrors in contemporary society. Things might be messed up, and it is a struggle, but it is not the end. So don’t pick a song to listen to out of context, at least not the first time through. Sit down and listen to the whole album, front to back. It is all great music and you’ll have a better experience this way. You can always listen to your favorites again and again.

Lamb of God is out now and available absolutely everywhere. Epic Records has physical copies in many forms, and there are nice import choices from Nuclear Blast. This is one of the best releases so far this year. Highly recommended.

Band photos by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock 2019.


Lamb of God, Lamb of God review (Epic Records 2020)