Empty Throne, Glossolalia (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The debut album from Empty Throne brings together years of experience for a new take on Thrash and Black Metal.

The band formed only last year and yet its members have been playing in notable bands for many years. Witness: C.R. Petit (vocals), Mike Pardi (guitar), Jason Ellsworth (bass), and Gabe Seeber (drums). These musicians have contributed to bands ranging from Angerot to Abbath to Possessed and back again, honing skills and raising their game until they came together as Empty Throne.

Glossolalia has three long songs of heavy music that traverse many alleyways of heavy music. You could call it a lot of different things, starting with Black Metal and casting about in Thrash and Death Metal as well.

“And All Shall Know His Name” gets going with a gallop and the speed heats your blood up immediately. The technical expertise demonstrated in the precise playing of every instrument is impressive and this solid footing sets the music up for any turn it cares to take. “That Day Has Come” has a funereal opening segment that collapses under the savage thrashing metal attack that appears instantaneously and separates you from your senses. The guitars are ravaging and the bass is emblematic of a dark wizardry that lurks in the shadows and erupts when you least expect it.

“My Flesh The Temptation” closes the set and there is no wind-down at all. The tempo and energy are just as fierce at the end as the beginning. Layered vocals and relentless searing metal hammer until there is nothing left to smash. Tempo changes, when they occur, offer no respite. Instead they push deeper the dark ideas and imprint them in places where they will never fade. Glossolalia will stay with you. Highly recommended.

The EP is out now from Wise Blood Records and gatherable at all the usual places. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://emptythroneofficial.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Wise Blood Records, https://wisebloodrecords.com/

Empty Throne, Glossolalia (Wise Blood Records 2021)

Artillery, X (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Danish thrash masters Artillery come back for another round with their tenth full-length album, X.

1982 is the place in history when the formative machinations coalesced into a recognizable construct for Artillery. The released a number of demos in the next couple of years, leading up to the first full album, Fear Of Tomorrow, in 1985. They have been rumbling and shaking the metal world ever since. After a slow period in the 1990s and aughts, Artillery has been cranking out skull-rattling thrash on the regular for the past twelve years. The current lineup is Michael Bastholm Dahl (vocals), Michael Stützer (guitar), Kræn Meier (guitar), Peter Thorslund (bass), and Josua Madsen (drums).

There are eleven tracks on X, starting with “The Devil’s Symphony” and ending with “Beggars In Black Suits.” Better bookends would be hard to find. Dahl’s theatrical, soaring vocals are juxtaposed against the relentless riffery and ripping leads in a synergy that produces amazing results.

Most songs have a short lead-in bit before setting the guitars on attack, but then it is all metal and thrash. The vocals are the feature (as in Dio, say) while the fortress is the guitars and they are also the musical weapons. Catchy hooks and riffs and technically expert light-speed leads are the hallmarks of this band. This is exactly the kind of construction that has appealed to me since the very beginning.

There is one slower piece, “The Ghost Of Me,” but the album is mainly a study in adrenaline. In every song I can find something that really stands out, like the dizzying lead in “Varg I Veum” or the very complex but somehow still memorable lead-in guitar on the very next song, “Mors Ontologica.” There are mystical moments, tongue-in-cheek passages, and lines of aggression, all told in heavy metal. This is one to save so you can hear it over and over. Recommended.

The album drops on Friday, May 7th and you can snap it up everywhere. Hit the Metal Blade Records link below to see the varieties available.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Artillery Website, http://www.artillery.dk/home.php

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/artillery/

Artillery, X (Metal Blade 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)

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

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

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Metal Blade is re-issuing three classic Sacred Reich albums: Ignorance, Surf Nicaragua, and The American Way on February 12th.

If you are a thrash fan you know about Sacred Reich because they are one of the leading bands in the second wave of thrash back in the late 80s / early 90s. They are less well remembered compared to, say, Testament, mainly because they broke up for several years around the turn of the century and therefore there is a gap in their catalogue. The band came roaring back in 2019 with the studio album Awakening, which was very well received. That album was a bittersweet return to prominence following, as it did, the shocking death of founding guitarist Jason Rainey.

The three reissued albums are the band’s first full length studio record, Ignorance (originally 1987), the follow-up EP, Surf Nicaragua (originally 1988), and the next full-length, The American Way (originally 1990). These reissues all sound great, and fans are going to be thrilled to have newly minted products to set alongside their well-worn artifacts. If you are new to the band, these are the albums to start with in order to experience the majesty of the music from these incredible metal musicians. You will hear thrash just as sharp as any of their contemporaries, played with meticulous precision and set around themes that vary from social commentary to the absurd.

You can preorder these albums today – the drop date is Friday, February 12th. There are many variants in the vinyl to go along with the CD option. All the details are at the info link below. Recommended.

Links.

All the info: https://www.metalblade.com/us/news/sacred-reich-ignorance-surf-nicaragua-and-the-american-way-cd-and-lp-re-issues-now-available/

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

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Thrash trio Torn Fabriks breaks through with a fresh EP clocking music for mass consumption.

From Lisbon, Portugal, the band is Jorge Matos (guitar), Ricardo Santos (bass, vocals), and Paulo Soares (drums). They appear to have sprung out of the ether, coming together from the bands Sindicato da Terra, Morbid Death, and Rageful. They play a familiar brand of traditional thrash, in many ways on the edge of what we used to call speed metal. Fast and straight-forward, it is music for the masses.

The EP has six songs and it runs a bit over twenty minutes. There is noticeable filler throughout but there are also healthy portions of tasty shreds which are worth the wait. You can hear social and political commentary in the lyrics, but the bigger draw is the catchy music and that is what fans will be drawn to and remember, I think.

Mind Consumption is out now. The record label has a CD version, and there are a few single tracks available at Bandcamp – the entire EP will probably be up there soon. It is worth a little bit of searching.

Links.

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

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

Firecum Records, https://www.firecum.com/product-page/cum-039-torn-fabriks-torn-fabriks-cd

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Wreck-Defy, Powers That Be (Punishment 18 Records 2020)

Canadian Thrash super crushers unload their third album on the unsuspecting cosmos with devastating effect.

If you don’t know about Wreck-Defy, it is time to catch up. Peopled by Aaron Randall (vocals), Matt Hanchuck (guitars), Greg Christian (bass), and Dave O’Neal (drums), this band is a juggernaut. There are a lot of great heavy music created in Canada that flies under the radar in the US – don’t let that happen here.

Fragments Of Anger was the opening volley in 2017, followed by Remnants of Pain two years later. This music laid the groundwork for the new album, which is my favorite so far. Loaded with inventive riffs and lashing lead breaks, Powers That Be has staying power.

There are nine songs and an outro piece, all starting with the ripper, “Beyond H8.” A catchy guitar flips the switch and then the roiling speed kicks in. An innuendo here, an homage there, and blistering guitars all around. The title track follows up on the opening aggression, settling in for the long haul with steady determination. Every track is a demonstration and a display of technical acumen and creative resourcefulness. Choosing favorites isn’t easy, but I am going with “Space Urchin” for its blatant disregard of the seen world and “Scumlord” for exactly the opposite reason. The themes and stories are different from one song to the next, but the Thrash lives in every corner (except for the last track, which is a melancholy wave goodbye). No beats are missed here – high marks all around.

The digital is out, and there is vinyl to be had as well. Links below. If you are making a 2020 Thrash list, this album better be on it. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wreck-defy.bandcamp.com/album/powers-that-be

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Underground4560/

Punishment 18 Records, http://www.punishment18records.com/

SubLevel Records, https://sublevelrecords.bandcamp.com/

Doc Gator Records, https://www.docgator.com/

Wreck-Defy, Powers That Be (Punishment 18 Records 2020)

High Command, Everlasting Torment review (Southern Lord 2020)

Following up on the success of last year’s Beyond The Wall Of Desolation, High Command release new music.

In the frozen expanse of six long winter months every year in Massachusetts, idle hands led to the creation of heavy music. Conjured and fostered by Ryan McArdle (guitar) and Kevin Fitzgerald (vocals), the music created by the band is labeled crossover frequently for its combination of heavy influences and elements from speed to torn metal.

The EP is two songs, and the motivation for the music is summarized as follows in released materials. “In an age of mystery where knowledge is shared through steel, Everlasting Torment offers two fables of esoteric savagery. Gaze upon the sanguine dawn where ancient lands were carved by ice and stone. Scream for mercy as you bear witness to an arcane god’s unquenchable thirst for bloodshed. Ride the frost winds north to the fantastical lands of Secartha. See where the madness began…” That sets a mood, doesn’t it. Let’s listen to it.

“Everlasting Torment” is first up, walking into the room with a meaty riff and an eastern mysticism we used to hear occasionally in Dio-related music. A minute in, however, the speed kicks the table over and it is all adrenaline. “Sword of Wisdom” is even eerier up front, with threatening aural effects and again a dark and menacing marching heathen army intro. When the switch flips this time, the rolling thunder is completely different and has a surging insistence that is further plead by argumentative percussion. The lead guitar work is searching and whimsical, breathing a jet of fire on the sizzling embers. The song goes out wicked, and you can tell there is more to the story. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Everlasting Torment is out on Friday, December 4th from Southern Lord at the usual places for downloads. Triple B Records is releasing a vinyl version in a few weeks. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://highcommand.bandcamp.com

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

Label, http://www.southernlord.com

Label Bandcamp, http://southernlord.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin

High Command, Everlasting Torment review (Southern Lord 2020)

Review of Ifreann, Desecration (Independent, 2020)

Thrash is alive and well, and one band that shows this truth is Ifreann. Their newest release, Desecration, is available now.

The band originally came together about five years ago in Scotland. There have been a number of lineup changes resulting in the current five members, Ian Gil (vocal), Ben Sanders (guitar), Alina Levanova (guitar), Jacob Nicolson (bass), and Euan Henderson (drums). Judging by the 2020 music, these musicians sound like they’ve been playing together for a decade so the adjustments have been good moves.

After releasing a couple of singles in 2017 (“In Satan We Trust” / “Poisoned Minds”), the band’s first EP, Unearthly, came out in 2019. The four songs on that album are solid thrash work, and the opener, “Mirror of Sanity,” is in the regular Spotify rotation for me. It is a hard-hitter, and the thrash sensibilities of the writing are complemented by clever innovations in rhythm and bridge.

Now we have Desecration, which gives us four new songs. Track 1: “Of Blade and Black Wing” is straight ahead thrash. It is reminiscent of the music on the Unearthly EP in that regard. Very solid and memorable. “Raised In Hate” follows and has a more medieval feel to it, with a rolling crunch, sing-a-long crowd bark opportunities, and a Primus-inspired bass line up front. The main lead break is on the symphonic side, with a technicalist wiggle on the back and the return of that amazing bass line right after. Great composition. Next up, “Messiah,” which is very heavy and harsh, with a cognitive seriousness that presses on your throat. “Crushed By Tyranny” is the closer, and a fitting one with its message. The music is a swirling storm of guitars in the middle surrounded by a staccato rhythm fortress, front and back. Desecration overall is a little broader musically than the earlier releases and at the same time it maintains the band’s signature sound.

Ifreann has a few scheduled live dates in the UK coming up in June so let’s hope things have returned to a somewhat normal pace by then. The new EP, the Unearthly EP, and the original singles are all on Spotify, and you can get the EPs at Bandcamp and other streaming services, too. Go get you some. This thrash’ll get your blood flowing. Recommended.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/IFREANN.THRASH/

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

Review of Ifreann, Desecration (Independent, 2020)