Nightmare – Encrypted Review

Nightmare – Encrypted Review

“Starting out life as a classic heavy metal act, they reformed in the late ‘90s sporting a new Euro-power veneer. The addition of a rotating lineup of female vocalists in recent years has given the band a more modern, melodic direction, and Encrypted continues the path away from the Grotto of Gouda to the Cathedral of Corset. New vocalist Barbara Mogore aside, veteran bassist Yves Campion has led a mostly stable band lineup during Nightmare’s modern period, and if 2020’s Aeternam was any indication, these Frenchmen have a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to the RIFF.” To sleep, per chance to Nightmare.

Apes – Penitence Review

Apes – Penitence Review

Apes is a six-piece from Montreal, having released one LP and a series of demos and EPs since its inception in 2012. 2017 debut full-length Lightless introduced the band’s now-signature sound, a blend that continues in its sophomore effort Penitence seven years later: a blend of black metal and grindcore. While easy comparisons would be the sinister cutthroat attack of older Anaal Nathrakh or the unhinged intensity of Siberian Hell Sounds, Apes resides in a blackened interpretation of Nails, Trap Them, or Mammoth Grinder.” Primal rage.

Sunburst – Manifesto Review

Sunburst – Manifesto Review

AMG‘s excellent review of Greek progressive power metal quartet Sunburst’s debut Fragments of Creation was among my first finds here. I fell immediately in love with the band’s music, and Fragments rapidly became one of my staples for quite some time. Then, Sunburst seemingly dropped off the face of the planet as far as I could see. Suddenly, I discover a little painterly face with Sunburst’s logo splashed over top in my email. I lost my fucking mind. A new Sunburst‽” Suns and expectations bursting.

Lucifer’s Hammer – Be and Exist Review

Lucifer’s Hammer – Be and Exist Review

“The reason why the NWoBHM sound has remained so enduring and viable is its relative simplicity and accessibility. The style is based in hard rock with punk overtones and it was always intended to be catchy and easy to enjoy. Bands like Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, and Diamond Head were pros at crafting infectious tunes you could remember after one exposure. To this day a massive amount of metal acts incorporate elements of the sound or rip it off lock, stock and barrel to try to emulate their heroes. Chile’s Lucifer’s Hammer definitely fall into the latter category, releasing album after album of music carefully curated to sound like it came out of the U.K. circa 1981.” Hammer of the Elders.

Fractal Generator – Convergence Review

Fractal Generator – Convergence Review

“Old habits die hard, and Fractal Generator should not let their hard-hitting blend of dissonant death metal and deathgrind die. They’ve always encapsulated crawling Portal-esque dissonant sensibilities and Gigan-inspired sci-fi avant-gardisms – but fed through the Benighted machine. Serocs is a fair comparison, complete with triumphant atmospheres amid blasting tempos, and Convergence finds a newly honed balance and enriched textures that make it feel more like a passage through fantastical alien worlds and unknowable dimensions.” Generating the horrors.

Crypt Sermon – The Stygian Rose Review

Crypt Sermon – The Stygian Rose Review

“Over the last few years, I’ve slowly morphed from the traditional/trve/doom metal guy into the rancid death metal guy. It seems 85% of the promos I grab these days are death-related or death-adjacent. Questionable tastes aside, I was still excited to change things up and bask in the latest from Philly’s doom wardens Crypt Sermon. When last we saw them nearly 5 years ago, they’d released their sophomore outing The Ruins of Fading Light. While I wasn’t as enamored with it as I was with their killer Out of the Garden debut, it had some stellar moments and it’s grown on me over the years. I hoped The Stygian Rose would trend more toward the debut, but instead, the band found a slick middle ground between the classic doom of the debut and the more exploratory style of The Ruins.” Into Crypt of YAYS!

Axel Rudi Pell – Risen Symbol Review

Axel Rudi Pell – Risen Symbol Review

Axel Rudi Pell has been around for a long time—longer than I’ve been alive, truthfully. As the eponymous band of German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, who broke off from the Deutschland-nested Steeler way back in the 80s, Axel Rudi Pell has since released album after album of crunchy-riffed, flamboyantly-soloed, chorus-led heavy metal. Embracing both the neoclassical in lead and classic arena rock in power chord progressions, ARP has innovated little and iterated less for each of the now twenty-two albums of no-cover-charge good(ish) times.” Under the spell of Pell.

Ulcerate – Cutting the Throat of God Review

Ulcerate – Cutting the Throat of God Review

“By titling their seventh full-length as they have, Ulcerate reach into the murky realms of human values, agency, responsibility, and the burden of choice, of freedom, of being. Never a stranger to the philosophical, the band have come also to pair their uncompromisingly intense dissonant death metal more and more with a melodicism that heightens, rather than eases, the music’s winding tension, and an atmosphere that never compromises brutality.” Of gods, men, and madness.