Earthless, Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Heavy psych-metal trio Earthless are back with a new two-track, sixty minute album: Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons.

Earthless is a trio that play guitar-driven, primarily instrumental, music. You could call it stoner, and that counts, but heavy psych makes a little more sense to me. I am a huge fan of instrumental heavy music, and Earthless has been a favorite of mine since I first heard them – so label them however you like so long as you listen to the music. The band is Isaiah Mitchell (guitar, vocals), Mike Eginton (bass), and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

Earthless is known for long instrumental pieces, as on their seminal on albums Sonic Prayer (2005) and Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky (2007). More recently, on 2018’s Black Heaven, they created shorter songs, many with vocals. While the singing was a surprise, I liked that album a lot, too, because it still had the amazing musical compositions I had come to expect from the band. On One Hundred Demons, it is back to the long form.

According to the band, the new music was sparked by an ancient story. “The album and its title were inspired by an ancient Japanese legend in which a horde of demons, ghosts and other terrifying ghouls descend upon sleeping villages at night, once a year. Known as Hyakki Yagyō, or the “Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons,” one version of the tale states that anyone who witnesses this otherworldly procession will die instantly—or be carried off by the creatures of the night. As a result, the villagers hide in their homes, lest they become victims of these supernatural invaders.”

There are two tracks on the new album. The title track is forty minutes long and split into two parts. The second song is “Death To The Red Sea,” a mere twenty minutes. The short one was released in advance of the album, so I heard it first. It is an incredible high-energy heavy metal guitar jam sustained over the entire run time after only a very short on-ramp. It is simply incredible. It don’t know how the musicians can do it, frankly, especially Mitchell, whose fingers must have been on fire by the end.

“Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” begins more slowly and has a beautiful opening section that builds quietly, hopefully. The tempo turns sharply about seven minutes into a more dramatic posture and urgent style and pace. There is a roaring guitar movement near the fourteen-minute mark that is the inevitable result of the preceding arc. The second movement takes off in the mysterious direction and leads us along the ever-blurring path of nighttime and the cosmic realm. The incredible guitar passages are here, too, of course, and the finale is a grand exposition.

Earthless delivers on every level with this new album. The extended, intricate pieces are absorbed into your psyche while you listen. This is top-form work. Highly recommended.

Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons is out now through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

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

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/earthless

Earthless, Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The unstoppable Battle Beast launches their sixth session of epic metal mayhem: Circus Of Doom.

I saw Battle Beast at the Worcester Palladium a few years back at what might have been the final New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. They were one of the earlier acts then, opening, in a way, for bands like Kamelot. I have to say Battle Beast gave the best show of that group. They had a positive, high-energy attitude and they did not hold anything back. I have had my eye on them ever since.

Circus Of Doom is Battle Beast’s sixth full-length album, following 2019’s No More Hollywood Endings. There have been a few line-up shifts, including one highly publicized schism. Whatever effect this had on the band, in the years since I have been following them there is only evidence of growth in songwriting and performance. Each album is a notch up from the one before, and the legion of fans for the band from Finland keeps expanding.

The title track opens Pandora’s Box with a calliope of metal. This is dramatic, epic music. In other words, intense, layered production surrounds the clear, powerful vocals of Noora Louhimo, who has one of the best voices for metal performance working today. The heavy guitar and rhythm makes appearances by stepping into the light and then sidles back to the shadows, but it is always there. Epic metal is a clear and particular lane for heavy music, and Battle Beast charges right down the middle of it.

Every song is up-tempo, and each has a combination of smoother and rougher elements, some leaning more on the one and others, the other. Put together, then, the album is a great success in variety and delivers to fans exactly what they are looking for. Recommended.

Nuclear Blast issues Circus Of Doom on Friday, January 21st in a plethora of physical forms and, of course, digital. You can get it anywhere that heavy music lives.

Links.

Website, https://battlebeast.fi/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/7563223.591628.circus-of-doom.html

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Fit For An Autopsy, Oh What The Future Holds (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The sixth full-length album from Fit For An Autopsy makes a move in the intensity direction.

Jersey City deathcore band Fit For An Autopsy began in 2008 and released their first album, The Process of Human Extermination, in 2011. Four more long-players followed, most recently The Sea Of Tragic Beasts (2019). The band has reshaped itself over the years, keeping a steady and growing fan following all the while. The musicians are Joseph Badolato (vocals), Patrick Sheridan (guitar), Timothy Howley (guitar), Will Putney (guitar), Peter Blue Spinazola (bass), and Josean Orta Martinez (drums).

The new album is not as abrasive as some of its predecessors. It is loud and intense, and it crackles with an unexpected poignancy. Fans will hear Fit For An Autopsy loud and clear in every song, and newcomers to the fold will experience a somewhat broader umbrella.

“A Higher Level Of Hate” is a stand-out track. It starts out with unusual percussion, driven by hand. Coarse, screeching lurches into the mix from both the voice and the guitars and it never turns back – offering abatement only toward the end, but it isn’t real. “Savages” is another one I especially liked for its persistently stabby nature and the killer bass line. If you let this one knock you down you will have a hard time getting up.

The exit door is marked “The Man That I Was Not,” and it is a parlor of mystery. At times melodic and at other times brazenly harsh, this long piece is a well-executed choice for the set’s anchor. I can’t wait to the band them tour with this material. I expect they will get rave reviews and a roaring reception. Recommended.

Oh What The Future Holds drops on Friday, January 14th through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

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

Website, https://fitforanautopsy.co/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/fit-for-an-autopsy-oh-what-the-future-holds-orange-vinyl-import-.html

Fit For An Autopsy, Oh What The Future Holds (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Hatebreed, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

I have been listening to Hatebreed closely for a few years now. Their most recent album, The Weight of the False Self, had a big impact on me and so they were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/hatebreed

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

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazineBlue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

© Wayne Edwards.

Hatebreed, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Corrosion of Conformity, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

This band stretches way back in my memory and all my thoughts about them are good. Pepper Keenan and crew never disappoint.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/1BBIIH0h76KN8gYeXFcPjR

Bandcamp, https://corrosion-of-conformity.bandcamp.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2018/CorrosionOfConformity/no-cross-no-crown.html

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazineBlue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

© Wayne Edwards.

Corrosion of Conformity, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Death Angel, The Bastard Tracks (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Iconic thrash band Death Angel releases a live set of rarely performed songs aptly titled The Bastard Tracks.

The Bay Area thrash scene is the stuff of legends. If you have never heard about it then I am not sure we’re going to be close friends. So many huge acts came from that place and time, including the bands on the current Bay Strikes Back tour: Testament, Exodus, and my personal favorite, Death Angel. I have a deep and abiding love for thrash and I admire these three bands (and so many more) for the music they have created. Death Angel has always been special to me, though, and so I was excited to see this album cross my path.

The songs on The Bastard Tracks were recorded live at The Great American Music Hall in the band’s hometown of San Francisco on May 22nd this year. The set list was chosen specifically to highlight songs that had rarely been played live, including some that had never been performed on stage before. That is what sets this album apart.

You don’t hear any crowd noise on this set, but the live feel is there in all its energy and vibrancy. The track list is: “Lord of Hate,” “Where They Lay,” “Why You Do This,” “Fallen,” “Absence of Light,” “The Organization,” “Execution/Don’t Save Me,” “Succubus,” “It Can’t Be This,” “Let the Pieces Fall,” “Faded Remains,” “Volcanic,” “Falling Off the Edge of the World,” “Guilty of Innocence,” and “Alive and Screaming.” There are some real jaw-droppers in there for Death Angel fans; songs we have always wanted to hear live. Finally, here is the chance. Recommended.

The Bastard Tracks is out on Friday November 26th through Nuclear Blast Records in digital, CD/Blu-ray, vinyl, and cassette. This is a great item to pick up to hold you over until the Bay Strikes Back tour starts again next Spring.

Links.

Website, https://www.deathangel.us/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/item/groups/51000.1.html?article_group_sort_type_handle=rank&custom_keywords=death%20angel

Death Angel, The Bastard Tracks (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Exodus, Persona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Thrash luminaries Exodus are back to crack some skulls with their first full-length studio album in seven years, Persona Non Grata.

When I think of thrash metal, Exodus is one of the first bands that pops into my mind. An early purveyor of the art form from their Bay Area perspective, Exodus has released eleven albums over the years, counting the new one, and a barrage of splits, EPs, live albums, and compilations. They are one of my favorite thrash bands and you cannot leave them out of any conversation about heavy music. The band is Gary Holt (guitar), Tom Hunting (drums), Steve Souza (vocals), Jack Gibson (bass), and Lee Altus (guitar).

Persona Non Grata has eleven blazing tracks and an intriguing transition piece. The title track opens the set at high speed in every particular: guitar, bass, and percussion. Steve Souza pushes the vocals to edge of growl and strain, expressing deliberately the theme of the song and the whole album in tone and attitude. The lead break is a power tool pairing that destroys everything in its path. It is a great jump out of the gate.

The music speeds through a path of devastation for the next hour or so, each successive song building on the last. There were three singles released in advance of the full album drop, including “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves),” “Clickbait,” and “The Years Of Death And Dying.” Each of these song plants a flag for the album, but you can’t stop there or you’ll miss “Slipping Into Madness,” my personal favorite, and “Lunatic-Liar-Lord,” another one that is high up in the pecking order.

The album resolves on “Antiseed,” a track with a grim lead-in and a slow build that careens into an explosive expression of destruction. What a capper. For me, the new album is even better than the its immediate predecessor, Blood In, Blood Out (2014), and that one was a monster. Get your ears up on this now. Highly recommended.

Persona Non Grata is out today through Nuclear Blast Records. There are many forms to choose from, including the one I picked up, the retro CD longbox. I couldn’t help myself.

Links.

Website, https://exodusattack.com/site/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sonstiges/exodus-persona-non-grata-cd-blu-ray-.html

Exodus, Persona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Khemmis, Deceiver (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Denver doom metal band Khemmis roll out their fourth full-length album, Deceiver.

From their founding almost a decade ago, Khemmis has been a reliable source of thought-provoking doom metal. The lane of music they operate in tells you something about their sound, but they do not get lost in the crowded field – you can always tell when it is Khemmis playing on stage. After the recent departure of long-time bassist Daniel Beiers, the band is Zach Coleman, Phil Pendergast, and Ben Hutcherson.

Acoustic guitars open the first song on the album, “Avernal Gate.” The peace does not last long. Invigorating lead breaks and vibrant pace make this track an eye opener. “House of Cadmus” has a slower and weightier riff range. Paired with the clean vocals, the effect is particularly penetrating. “Living Pyre” is the first-half highlight for me. It is bold and serious in its tone and solemn in its delivery. The surprisingly wicked secondary vocal adds an even darker depth.

“Shroud of Lethe” sustains and permeates with its shadowy dignity. The eloquent lead break near the front and the vicious transient voice past the middle are perfectly placed rejoinders. “Obsidian Crown” sits atop a deceptively straight-forward substrate and from there grows and blossoms. In the closing track, “The Astral Road,” final lines are spoken in the fateful progression of existence. The calamity of conflict resonates in fiercer movements while the realization of the truth behind the increasingly obvious façade is revealed in the quieter moments.

The music on this album has an epic scale to it, a soaring persona that holds true in every song. It is exactly what fans of the band were hoping for. Recommended.

Deceiver is due on Friday, November 19th through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Website, https://khemmisdoom.com/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/khemmis-deceiver.html

Khemmis, Deceiver (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Florida death metal band Massacre roll out the Lovecraftian Resurgence, their fourth big album.

It has been a long road for Massacre. The band formed in 1984 and became well-known for a number of demos they released throughout the rest of that decade. Their first full-length album was From Beyond (1991), followed five years later by Promise. Things got quiet for about fifteen years after that. Back From Beyond was Massacre’s return to form in 2014 and now, seven years later, the latest installment in their history is Resurgence.

The music is straight-forward old school death metal with a strong reliance on H. P. Lovecraft for narrative content. Vocalist Kam Lee describes to new music this way. “lyrically it is basically about body horror of aquatic transmutation. Any deeper meaning than that is just speculative, but could simply be metaphor for our world’s current situation with the pandemic and other threats of the spreading of viral infection. Musically it’s just proper O.S.D.M. the way it’s meant to be played …”

The set begins with mystery and esoteric insinuations on the “Eldritch Prophecy” lead-in before turning to a heavy pounding riff and then taking off at speed. A vocal growl is the sign that death metal is kicking in. Ascending guitars rise above the pummeling percussion and a hiss harmony deepens the vocal attack. It is a great beginning.

Through the course of ten raging tracks, the story unfolds and the music takes a tour through recognizable Old School Death Metal stomping grounds, adding fresh blasts and turns to enhance the delivery. The pace ranges from mid- to up-tempo, spending a lot of time in the fast lane. Lead breaks and guitar pairings are reliably recurrent and the metal is heavy and solid. Could you ask for anything more? Recommended.

Resurgence rises to the surface on Friday, October 22nd through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://massacre3.bandcamp.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/massacre-resurgence

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)