Dark Forest, Ridge & Furrow (Cruz Del Sur 2022)

UK metal band Dark Forest celebrate their twentieth anniversary with a new EP, Ridge & Furrow.

In their twenty years, Dark Forest has produced an impressive string of EPs and long-players, most recently in 2020 with the full-length album Oak, Ash, & Thorn. They play a traditional variety of heavy metal told in a melodic way that puts you in mind of traveling bards with stories to tell. Their sound is unmistakable – once you’ve heard it, you will recognize it again immediately. The band is Josh Winnard (vocals), Christian Horton (guitar), Patrick Jenkins (guitar), and Adam Sidaway (drums).

The set opens with “Skylark,” a song that displays rugged pop sensibilities on a wildly enthusiastic, fuzzy charge that has surprisingly fierce drumming. Just when you think this song sounds like something you’ve heard before, you notice things you have not heard before, combinations that have not existed prior to the current instantiation. There are pieces of NWOBHM, epic metal, fantasy metal, prog, and more, and it is tinted in a lovely fuzz. Damn, there is a lot going on here. Josh Winnard’s voice and the clarity of the guitars stand out, although the song deftly uses everything in it to add up to what it does. Sensational. “The Golden Acre” has a quieter start, and a more serious tone when it gets rolling, compared to the opener. A darker story, you might say, told with a similar depth and breadth.

The title track lands in the middle of the EP, and its compositional stature is sweeping. Truly, this album has a good deal in common with the band’s early work in this regard. It is an uplifting story about the endurance of land and how it always has an ability to renew. “Meadowland” is a short instrumental song that posits in acoustic. Beautiful. The final track, “Under The Greenwood Tree,” is a new rendering of a fan favorite that I first noticed on the Dawn Of Infinity (2011) album. It is a zesty bit, and then some – great to hear again. This EP is an excellent way to celebrate twenty years of Dark Forest. Recommended.

Ridge & Furrow is out on Friday, September 30th through Cruz Del Sur Music in digital, CD, and vinyl.


Dark Forest website, http://www.darkforest.co.uk/

Bandcamp, https://darkforest-uk.bandcamp.com/album/ridge-and-furrow

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

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

© Wayne Edwards

Dark Forest, Ridge & Furrow (Cruz Del Sur 2022)

Satan, Earth Infernal (Metal Blade 2022)

Satan’s follow-up to 2018’s Cruel Magic is a speeding vortex that raises the flag even higher: Earth Infernal.

Satan is a band from Newcastle that formed around 1979. They were part of the actual New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, they have laid down five full-length albums – six counting the new one – and a truckload of EPs, compilations, and live albums. The group has gone through many changes over the years, more than you might even expect even for such a long-lived band. Notably, they changed their name several times (Pariah, Blind Fury), disbanded and reformed. They re-solidified in 2011 and, starting in 2013, released three monstrous albums in a row, Life Sentence (2103), Atom By Atom (2015), and Cruel Magic (2018). Earth Infernal stretches the string winning albums to four in a row. The band is Brian Ross (vocals), Russ Tippins (guitar), Steve Ramsey (guitar), Graeme English (bass), and Sean Taylor (drum).

The metal is high-energy and clocks in at pace. “Ascendancy” pierces the veil with a rowdy, driving rhythm and eager guitar passages. “Burning Portrait” mixes the pace a little, and then “Twelve Infernal Lords” ratchets up the drama and mystery, recalling often returned-to themes. I could say that some of the music is reminiscent of this or that band but of course it is the other way around, isn’t it – Satan is an original.

There are some quiet passages, but they are mood-setting and don’t last long. For example, “Mercury’s Shadow” has a soft opening but in less than a minute the metal takes a swing on this reflective instrumental track. For that matter, “A Sorrow Unspent” has an airy casualness when it begins but soon turns toward a swirling attack of unhesitating, pulsing guitars.

Side Two has just as much innovation and transforming musicality as the first half. “Poison Elegy” is a good example, and one of my favorites from the entire set. It has drama, tempo changes, fantastic soaring vocals, and guitar work that comes at you from every angle. Throughout the album, the pairing of guitars is unique and compelling, sometimes tag-teaming individual passages and at other times playing in unison. “Earth We Bequeath” has the final say on the record, and it seals the deal. This is another great Satan album. Recommended.

Earth Infernal is out on Friday, April 1st through Metal Blade Records. Check out the links below for vinyl variants and other versions.


Bandcamp, https://satanuk.bandcamp.com/album/earth-infernal

Satan website, https://www.satanmusic.com/

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/satan/

© Wayne Edwards.

Satan, Earth Infernal (Metal Blade 2022)

Black Soul Horde, Horrors From The Void (Vinyl Store 2021)

Greek dark metal band Black Soul Horde take a journey through the Lovecraftian ether on Horrors from the Void.

Black Soul Horde is rapidly building a reputation for reliably creating epic metal landscapes in dark dimensions. Take last year’s Land Of Demise, for example, and the earlier Tales of the Ancient Ones (2013). The music has an Iron Maiden kind of scale but leans in a somewhat speedier direction. The band is Jim Kotsis (vocals), John Tsiakopoulos (guitar, bass), and Costas Papaspyrou (guitar). Vasilis Nanos is the drummer for the recording session.

The new album has a specific narrative focus on the mythology created by H. P. Lovecraft. A lot of metal bands have found rich veins to mine in Lovecraft, and for good reason. Not every song on Horrors From The Void is sourced entirely from this realm but they do all have mystical premises. The way Black Soul Horde uses the literature it is to take an idea or story and set it in an imminently digestible metal package of approachable, catchy riffs and thrilling lead breaks.

We hear on these eight tracks a talent for melody and astute composition that make every song a living experience. It is metal told at an epic scale and Kotsis’s voice is strong and clear – well patterned to the musical paradigm. My favorites are the opener and the penultimate track, “Beneath the Mountains of Madness” and “The Curse,” because they exhibit all the individual elements that make the album work so well as a whole.

The CD version of the album contains two bonus tracks, “Dragonfire” and “The Horde.” It is worth getting the physical for these songs because of the blistering lead work on “Dragonfire” and the grand presentation that is “The Horde.” If you liked their last album Land of Demise then you will like this one, too. For me, the new one goes a notch higher. Recommended.

Horrors From The Void is out tomorrow, November 10th, in CD and digital formats. Links below.


Bandcamp, https://blacksoulhorde.bandcamp.com/album/horrors-from-the-void

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

Vinyl Store, https://www.vinylstore.gr/

Black Soul Horde, Horrors From The Void (Vinyl Store 2021)

Saxon, Inspirations (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Iconic British heavy metal band Saxon releases a collection of cover songs from the musicians who have inspired them over the years.

One of the first bands you think of when somebody utters the phrase New Wave of British Heavy Metal is surely Saxon. Their first album (self-titled) came out in 1979 and they have powered forward ever since. It is astonishing. Having release more than twenty-four long-players now, plus many live sets, compilations, etc., the history of this band would require a book-length telling.

The album includes eleven tracks: “Paint It Black,” The Rolling Stones; “Paperback Writer,” The Beatles; “Stone Free,” Jimi Hendrix; “Bomber,” Motörhead; “Problem Child,” AC/DC; “Evil Woman,” Crow (covered by Black Sabbath); “Speed King,” Deep Purple; “The Rocker,” Thin Lizzy; “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin; “See My Friends,” The Kinks; and “Hold The Line,” Toto.

That is quite a list, and there is at least one of those on there that looks like it might not belong. But they all do. Many of these songs, being classics, have been covered before by other bands and even still these new versions are most welcome additions to the history of those tunes. I especially like the ones that haven’t seen the re-recording much, or at all, for the novelty and also for the respect Saxon is paying those works.

Thin Lizzy is one of my all-time favorite bands, and hearing the pumped up version of “The Rocker” brought a smile. A cover of a cover is an oddity, but this new version of “Evil Woman” is a stone cold killer. That meandering bass line is amazing. I could do this for every song because there is something special about them all, but I’ll spare you that indulgence. But still, what about that Toto song? “Hold The Line” was a solid radio standard back in the day and it rocks as hard as it can here. The closer is the tune from the Kinks, and it is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It is melancholy and mellow; a good song for last call.

Inspirations is a great walk down memory lane. The songs are well chosen and the new versions are full of vigor and renewed energy. Available now from Silver Lining Music, this is an album every metal fan needs to hear. Highly recommended.


Website, https://www.saxon747.com/

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

Saxon, Inspirations (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Black Soul Horde, Land of Demise (2020)

Heavy riffs are pulsing from the Greek Islands as Black Soul Horde release their second album.

It has been a while since we heard new music from Athens heavy metal band Black Soul Horde. Their first album, Tales Of The Ancient Ones, came out in 2013. There have been a lot of twists and turns since then, but, whatever road had to be traveled, the journey was a success because the new album is a showcase of old school metal. The primary driving force in the band is John Tsiakopoulos (guitars and bass), who also did all the producing and technical studio work. John is joined on Land of Demise by Jim Kotsis (vocals) and Costas Papaspyrou (guitar solos), with session drumming by Vasilis Nanos.

The musical style is a classic brand of heavy metal with clear New Wave Of British Heavy Metal roots. You can hear this in the vocals particularly but also in the rhythm and riffs. The percussion is more on the contemporary metal side and this overall combination seasons the songs for a crossover palate.

“Stone Giants” gets things started with a confident thumping tick and growing feedback consolidating into a theatrical opening (ala Vivian Campbell on Holy Diver, say). You start to get a sense of the scale of the musical composition as early as the second song “Into The Badlands,” where elements of epic metal show through, the drums really start roar, and a generous lead break makes its appearance.

Fantasy strands are persistent in the narrative themes and they shape the overall feel of the album. The songs are held in the four minute range, making them confrontable. The final songs are every bit as strong as the ones in the middle and the beginning. Indeed, the lead work winds up to new levels near the end in “Lord Of All Darkness” and, the closer, “Iron Will,” is a raging torrent with sinister outro. This album is definitely throwing up sparks. Recommended.

Land Of Demise had been delayed for a little while because of the pandemic. The digital is out now, with a CD release slated for December 14th, followed by the vinyl early in February.


Bandcamp, http://blacksoulhorde.bandcamp.com

Facebook, http://facebook.com/blacksoulhorde

Black Soul Horde, Land of Demise (2020)

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

For the 40th anniversary of the seminal album Lightning To The Nations, Diamond Head has re-recorded it in its entirety.

It is hard to overstate the impact of Diamond Head on heavy music. The album in question came out in 1980 on the vanguard of the New Wave OF British Heavy Metal, inspiring many bands, including, famously, Metallica. They released three full length albums in the 1980s, had a short resurrection in the 1990s, and since 2005 have been producing new music regularly, including last year’s The Coffin Train. Founding member Brian Tatler (guitar) is joined by Rasmus Bom Andersen (vocals), Karl Wilcox (drums), Andrew “Abbz” Abberley (guitar), and Dean Ashton (bass, organ) for the new recording.

Lightning To The Nations 2020 sounds amazing, and comparing it to the original is challenging unless you grabbed and held onto one of those early LPs. There was a remastered version of this album released in 2011 and it is on Spotify, so you can track-by-track those two, if you like. There are noticeable differences, but all my money is on this year’s release as it is crisp and deep, and it is the newest incarnation of the music presented the way Brian Tatler wants it to be. The two songs that get most of the attention are “Am I Evil” and “It’s Electric” – deservedly so because they are outstanding. Still, there are big riffs and fantastic lead work throughout the entirety of the recording, so don’t skip the others.

Besides revitalizing the seven original songs, there are also four covers: “No Remorse” (Metallica), “Immigrant Song” (Led Zepplin), “Sinner” (Judas Priest), and “Rat Bat Blue” (Deep Purple). My favorite is the Deep Purple cover. If I had been asked which Deep Purple song Diamond Head would cover having such a rich catalog to choose from, “Rat Bat Blue” would not have been very high on my list, but it is absolutely fantastic. Guitars stand in for the crazy keyboards of the original, and this new one cracks.

Additional info and links below. If you are a fan of this classic music, it is time to start debating which version you like best. If you are hearing it all for the first time, just sit back and enjoy. Recommended.

Band photo by Nic Gaunt.


Wesbite, http://www.diamondheadofficial.com

Band Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/DiamondHeadOfficial/

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net

SLM Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/Silver.Lining.Music.Ltd

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)