Day 1: Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, Kentucky

After skipping one year (like every other festival), Louder Than Life returns to Kentucky with a roar for a four-day event.

The big story is Metallica playing two unique sets to close the show on Friday and Sunday nights. That has to be the show-stopping draw for the festival. But there is more. The other headliners are fan favorites, too: Korn, Disturbed, Judas Priest, Jane’s Addiction, Staind, and Machine Gun Kelly. Add in the robust undercard and there is more than enough music to please any rock fan.

I am at the festival mostly as a fan this year, wandering the grounds and taking a couple of snaps. And listening to the music. Today I am going to do a quick run-down of the grounds to give you an idea of what it is like at Louder Than Life.

Most importantly, there are three stages. Two main stages are erected side-by-side – the Space Zebra Stage and the Loudmouth Stage – and a smaller stage set on the far end of the grounds, the Disruptor Stage. The two mainstages alternate music nearly continuously – when one band finishes, another begins. During each set, the quiet stage is breaking down the previous act and setting up the new one. Fans do not really have to move much to get to the next set.

The Disruptor Stage is running a separate program that overlaps the main stages. It is far enough away that, while you can hear the music from the other stages, it does really affect the bands when they are playing on the Disruptor Stage. It only takes a couple of minutes to walk from the far stage to the main stages when you want to, or you can camp out in either place and listen to music for hours.

There is merch (including a separate stand for Metallica merch), beverages and food – I had Island Noodles for the first time in two years today – and the VIP area is huge, if you want to go that way. Louder Than Life is very well organized and everything is running smoothly. It is easy to get through the gates, and when there is a long line for food or merch, it moves fast.

Anthrax

It was a great first day at Louder Than Life. Three more to go. Passes are still available so check out the festival link below.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Festival Info: https://louderthanlifefestival.com/

Day 1: Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, Kentucky

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

The debut full-length album from Nefariym tears open the fabric of musical reality: Morbid Delusions.

Coming together only two years ago, Melbourne, Australia’s Nefariym was created by veteran metallers Mark Kelson and Richie Poate. The music can generally be thought of as Death Metal with the duo’s own novel twists with plenty of Doom and Sludge in the mix as well. There have been a couple singles released by the band but this album is the first deep journey fans can listen to and assess.

The album contains an intro piece, nine new songs, and a cover of a metal classic. The first full track is “Succubus” and the band comes out blasting with a monstrous adrenaline-fueled assault from every instrument. Black/Death Metal hybrid vocals give the song the perfect tinge. “A Morbid Delusion” follows and it is another ripper – a high speed conundrum for your brain that’ll need a minute to process. The production lays together the rhythm with the vocals with a harmony guitar line that fills the entire available space, while an early lead break sounds like a madman railing against the injustices of existence.

Toward the end of “A Morbid Delusion” the tempo slows a bit and provides a perfect segue to “Tearing Flesh From The Bone” which has an excellent Sludge/Doom essence. This is my favorite track for its sheer heaviness and the unforgettable refrain. Throughout the album the alternating between high-tempo songs and slower doomers is enthralling. I found the entire set captivating, including the cover of Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants,” which both provides an anchor for the album and delivers an homage. Highly recommended.

Morbid Delusions hits the streets on Friday September 24th through Inverse Records.

Links.

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

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

Nefariym website, https://nefariym.com/

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=939

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

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)

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The ninth full-length studio album from the resilient Chilean thrash band Criminal shakes the pillars of the heavens.

For thirty years now Criminal has been making a salty combination of death/thrash/groove metal. The band’s first long-player, Victimized, came out in 1994, and in the decades since then the consistently excellent work of Criminal has drawn increasing attention. As with most long-lived bands, there have been a number of line-up changes through the years. On the new album, founding vocalist and guitarist Anton Reisenegger is joined by Danilo Estrella (drums), Danny Biggin (bass), and Sergio Klein (guitar).

There are twelve searing tracks on Sacrificio, starting with the ripping “Live On Your Knees.” It is a rough-edge thrash song with a timely message, a catchy bridge, and a soaring lead break. On its heels is “Caged” fostering a jagged stabbing attack, aggressively rejecting any limits. And then “The Whale” has a more expansive attitude, edging up the theatrics, shifts, and syncopation. And Criminal is only getting started at this point, just three songs in.

The percussion has a prominent presence on every track, with blasts beats and clever, technically stunning execution. Speed in the rhythm section is a consistent motif, as are tempo shifts sharp enough to make the ground move beneath your feet. Reisenegger’s rough and aggressive voice never falters, delivering a powerful performance throughout.

Stand-out tracks for me include “Theocracy” with its hardcore hammering and “Sistema Criminal” for its hair-raising lead work. Add “Hunter And The Prey” to the list for its sheer, raw urgency. This is an album that will get spin after spin from me – every time I listen to it I like it even more. Recommended.

Sacrificio is out from Metal Blade Records on Friday, September 17th through all the usual outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://criminalband.bandcamp.com/album/sacrificio

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Criminal.Band/

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

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new Carcass album is a raucous affair, filled with sinister chuckles and Torn Arteries.

Carcass is such a well-known band I don’t think much background is needed here. Their history is fascinating, being on the forefront of Death- and Goregrind, and later also being influential in the early days of Melodic Death Metal. The initial run was in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, then they reformed in 2007. Since that renaissance, they have released EPs, splits, and the full-length Surgical Steel in 2013. The new album is the band’s seventh long-player, if I counted right, and it is a rager.

The title track is the opener and it spins directly at you with a vigorous multifaceted attack. The vocals are gruff and full, the riffs and percussion are fireworks set on solid steel poles, and the lead work is aching and familiar. Without a breath, “Dance of Ixtab” whips in with active parallel rhythm that fosters direct and immediate catchiness. And then “Eleanor Rigor Mortis.” Come on. Is there any way you are not going to love a Carcass song with a title like this? No, no way. It is an excellent entry that features a vocal-lead guitar pairing. And we are still on side one.

“Under The Scalpel Blade” has a slower tempo up front, and “The Devil Rides Out” does Dennis Wheatley (and also Hammer Studios) proud. “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited” is the longest track, landing at ten minutes, and it is a theatrical presentation with a compellingly dramatic arc that manages sorrow and anguish, terror and regret in the fullness of its articulation. The final strokes occur on “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing,” the fittingest of all possible closers.

It has been eight years since the last big album from Carcass so I expected Torn Arteries to be something special. It turns out I was right – it is instantly one of my favorites in their distinguished and storied catalogue. Highly recommended.

Torn Arteries is out through Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, September 17th. Join the fray.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carcass.bandcamp.com/album/torn-arteries

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/2lp/carcass-torn-arteries-red-.html

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 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)

Toxic Ruin, Nightmare Eclipse (M-Theory Audio 2021)

The sophomore album from Wisconsin’s Toxic Ruin is a relentless inculcation of maniacal Death and Thrash Metal.

From its beginning, Toxic Ruin put everything out like the world was riding on the outcome. Their first album, Subterranean Terror, was released in 2016 and it was a swinging heavy hammer that could dislodge any passivity or derelict insolence. An EP followed in 2018 an now Nightmare Eclipse is an all new gargantuan menace. The band is Stephen Behrendt (vocals and bass), Jacob Baneck (guitar), Blake Toltzmann (guitar), and David Miller (drums).

There are eight tracks plus a bonus ninth on Nightmare Eclipse. A blistering pace is set with the opener, “Until Everything Is Gone.” As fast as physics allows, the song runs through stalwart old school manifestations and plucks them up with incredibly precise executions. Stephen Behrendt’s vocals are a rampaging beast all their own, uncontained by any convention from the beginning to the end. “Ritual Rebirth” takes the baton and presses the ideas further, segue to the ripping single “Defiler,” a song to make your head spin and your ears ring into next week. These first fifteen minutes are an overwhelming display.

Toxic Ruin has amazing, insistent pace but the music isn’t just about speed. The compositions seek clever ways around and into places others have not tread. The pushing rhythm section and battering percussion lay the groundwork for engaging and unexpected lead guitar journeys and explosions.

The feeling of darkness and horror grips you on songs like “Voices Of Death” and “It Of The Horrid Storm” even with the latter’s more measured tempo. On “Liquor Blood Bound” there is pure adrenaline and “Nightmare Eclipse” has a more theatrical construction. Set aside your expectations and accept that Toxic Ruin is going to shake you up. Recommended.

Nightmare Eclipse is out this Friday, August 27th from M-Theory Audio. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://toxicruin.bandcamp.com/album/nightmare-eclipse-2

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/toxicruin.metal

M-Theory Audio, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

Toxic Ruin, Nightmare Eclipse (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Blasphemous Creation, Forsaken Dynasty (HPGD 2021)

Reno’s Blasphemous Creation re-ups their album Forsaken Dynasty through Horror Pain Gore Death.

Since 2006 the band has released several long-players and EPs, churning out the thrash and death metal on the regular. Breaking the apparent hiatus that ensued in 2018, their most recent album, Forsaken Dynasty, is getting broader release with a re-issue from HPGD in 2021. There is some mystery about the line-up, but according to The Metal Archive it is Joe Aemos and Isaac Wilson while the musicians on the album in question are T. J. Laughlin (bass), Immolater (drums), and Isaac Wilson (guitar and vocals).

There are nine songs and an intro track with a voiceover that explains the storyline. It is a fascinating amalgam of Anunaki and Egyptian mythology generating “a story of blood, battle, and betrayal in a forsaken dynasty.” A kind of thrash version of Iron Maiden with death metal vocals, you might say. The story is told and metal is forged. Each song is another step toward the inevitable conclusion with raging percussion and stabbing rhythm accentuated by guitar leads all in support of the primary vocal. The thrash/death combination is a winner in this setting – the perfect vehicle to deliver the goods on such a grand and sweeping story.

There is a certain recklessness to these songs, especially the breaks, that I find very attractive. The flow often seems about to spill the banks, and sometimes it does, but before control is completely lost the ride continues down the established path. Reigning in the energy that is about to overwhelm the scene is a big part of presentation. High marks for enthusiasm and a dark brand of molten exuberance.

The drop date is Friday August 20th for Forsaken Dynasty In digital and CD formats.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/forsaken-dynasty

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Blasphemous Creation, Forsaken Dynasty (HPGD 2021)

Infex, Burning In Exile (2021)

Bay Area thrash band Infex release their third album, Burning In Exile.

Ten years or so ago Infex started to come together piece by piece. Firmly rooted in the original sin of thrash, the music embraces the concept of speed and the ideals of metal. The band’s first album, Circling the Drain, came out in 2012 and Killing for Jesus followed in 2016. That makes Burning In Exile the charmed one. The band is now Jack (guitar, vocals), Adam (guitar, vocals), RC bass, vocals), and Corey (drums).

Nine crackling tracks make up the set and they all bristle with surging energy. “Blood of the Wicked” is a charging assault delivered at pace with insistent vocals and rollicking percussion. The concentrated guitars on “The Burning” are a potent combination with the singable lyrics – this will be a big hit on tour. “Exiled” builds an impenetrable wall from which to hurl flaming metal missiles and “Acid Reign” is a molten killer, my favorite on the album.

The second side features songs that are a little more succinct and piercing, then wraps the music up with the longest song as the anchor, “7.62.” That final track starts with a dialogue snag from Full Metal Jacket and runs amok with odd-angle constructions and ripping leads. It is definitely a different vibe in this second half but the music is just as hard-edged, precise, and inventive as the opening four. Infex has put out a solid thrash album here. Recommended.

Burning In Exile is out today, Friday the 13th. You can check the band out on YouTube and pick up the album at Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Infex YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfs2Gp9MZaITOCuODKt2O9w

Infex, Burning In Exile (2021)