English Metal

Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn Review

Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn Review

“U.K.’s Dark Forest has been cranking out high quality music since 2009, with a very interesting blend of Euro-power, traditional heavy metal and just enough folk elements to give them a slightly unique sound. Albums like The Awakening and 2016s Beyond the Veil were very good, teetering on the cusp of greatness, borrowing from NWoBHM legends like Iron Maiden while also dipping into the slick songcraft of Avantasia and prime Sonata Arctica. Their compositional and storytelling acumen improved with each release and I just knew they had a truly big release in them dying to burst free.” Really good wood.

Absolva – Side by Side Review

Absolva – Side by Side Review

Absolva, the act entirely composed of the touring band for Blaze Bayley, have returned with their fifth album of slightly modernized NWoBHM. I first stumbled on these gents back in 2017 when their Defiance platter wound up on my desk, and found their style easy to like and as familiar as a favorite pair of socks. This is a crew of seasoned veterans from the U.K. traditional metal scene, and guitarist Luke Appleton even finds time to play bass for Iced Earth when not touring with Blaze.” Blazing new trails.

Gaylord – Wings of the Joyful Review

Gaylord – Wings of the Joyful Review

“At its core, metal has always been about rebellion. About sticking it to the man, and society at large. About thumbing expectations and demands and just banging your fukkin’ head. But metal is also, for most, an irrelevant beast. In an era of Coronavirus and global warming, singing about Satan and wizards seems quaint at best, and ridiculous at worst. On top of that, metal is generally white. And male. And often not particularly kind to people who aren’t male and straight and white. Into this breach steps the provocatively named Gaylord, with its second LP, Wings of the Joyful.” Big tent metal.

Monolith – No Saints No Solace Review

Monolith – No Saints No Solace Review

“My tolerance for the often maligned deathcore subgenre received a boost of newfound optimism on the back of stellar 2019 releases from scene heavyweights, Shadow of Intent and Fit for an Autopsy. Both bands demonstrated the sick grooves and punishing, over-the-top brutality and technical chops, reminding me of a time long ago where bands like All Shall Perish and early Despised Icon tore me a new one. Yet, more often than not the style falls flat to my jaded ears. Perhaps an unsigned UK deathcore outfit may not be the best choice to pull myself out of a writing rut, but I’ll be damned if I’m not ready to take the plunge and hope for minor miracles.” Deathcore blues.

Goblinsmoker – A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze Review

Goblinsmoker – A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze Review

Goblinsmoker‘s Toad King began a narrative arc about amphibious forest dwellers who are served by a goblin underclass. A Throne In Haze… is the second installment of the planned trilogy. While fun, this story is superfluous, since the lyrics are sparse and delivered in an unintelligible blackened rasp. A Throne In Haze... is a trim 26 minutes over three songs, and it’s all riffs, baby.” Let them eat riffs.

Abyssal – A Beacon in the Husk [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

Abyssal – A Beacon in the Husk [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

“Dissonant death metal is a polarizing style, one whose purposes are often unclear. While it encompasses a variety of interpretations, its beginnings in Immolation and Demilich can be summed up in its attempted balance of malice and menace. British death metal act Abyssal‘s fourth full-length A Beacon in the Husk is the perfection of this balance: a sunless journey into the depths of the abyss, guided by its philosophical lyricism and patient dynamics.” Void tunes.

Rose Tint: El Cuervo’s Discoveries of 2019

Rose Tint: El Cuervo’s Discoveries of 2019

“Following my last couple of year-end lists, it should now not come as a shock that I spent more time fleshing out my historical knowledge of music than my contemporary knowledge. In honor of my abject failure in keeping my eye on the present, I have received approval to document my ever-deeper plundering of previous decades in an article detailing my favorite older records which I first heard in 2019.” Old things, young ears.

The River – Vessels into White Tides Review

The River – Vessels into White Tides Review

“December is usually not the best time to go for a dip in the promo sump. Historically this is the month where we get deluged with re-releases and more low-fi basement black metal than a barrel full of Vardans could churn out in a fortnight. It takes a steady hand to reach into the brackish murk and pull out something promising, and fortunately, nothing is as steady as the iron hand ov Steel. That brings us to the new release by UK experimental Goth/doom act The River.” Follow The River.