Cruz Del Sur

Darkest Era – Severance Review

Darkest Era – Severance Review

“Sometimes an album hits you just right and the only words that really seem to fit are “convincing, authentic and WOW.” That’s exactly what happened to me upon spinning Darkest Era‘s latest opus Severance. Though this Irish epic metal act was hitherto unknown to me, their cunning mixture of Primordial, doom and black metal instantly knocked me for a loop and now I’m a loyal convert to the cause (read as fanboy). ” Looks like the normally cranky Steel Druhm is over the Gaelic moon for this one.

Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess Review

Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess Review

“As a fanboy extraordinaire of classy, epic doom, I’m clearly the target demographic for larger-than-life regressive metallers Atlantean Kodex. Their massive debut The Golden Bough was an intoxicating mixture of While Heaven Wept, Solstice and Solitude Aeturnus with a healthy dose of Bathory‘s Hammerheart added for Viking flair.” Steel Druhm has been chomping at the bit for this release and nobody likes being chomped. Does The White Goddess live up to his unreasonable expectations or will the remainder of 2013 be a rabid chomp-fest?

Argus – Beyond the Martyrs Review

Argus – Beyond the Martyrs Review

Argus is one of the leaders in the “trve,” “cvlt” metal wave ov late. They specialize in the kind of muscular battle metal that makes you long for the days of swords, sandals and institutionally approved beer wenching and you can almost feel the hair on your back growing as you spin their odes to brotherhood and bravado. Long have they toiled to perfect their blend of Iron Maiden riffs, the doom-based power of Candlemass, Grand Magus and Doomsword and the oiled pectoral charm of Manowar.” Ready for some no nonsense, old school metal from the days of High Adventure? You better be because Argus is back to kick ass and chew bubble gum and they’re ALL outta bubble gum.

Magister Templi – Lucifer Leviathan Logos Review

Magister Templi – Lucifer Leviathan Logos Review

“There aren’t a lot of bands out there that come close to duplicating King and co’s brand of malevolence. From his piercing falsetto and his operatic shrieks to his mid-range torturous screams and evil growls, King Diamond owns! Norwegian based, NWOBHM-inspired Magister Templi combine occult, doom flavored lyrics reminiscent of Venom and Mercyful Fate with upbeat, power chord infused melody along the lines of Mercyful Fate and Pagan Altar to arrive at a groovy platter of satanic malarkey.” Nobody likes malarkey, or hokum for that matter, but that doesn’t stop Madam X from hailing the King and reporting how Magister Templi robs the musical grave of the immortal Mercyful Fate (if they’re immortal, why do they even have a grave??). That’s like a desecration of souls!!

Pharaoh – Bury the Light Review

Pharaoh – Bury the Light Review

I’m a fan of Pharaoh, have been since their 2003 debut After the Fire. These Philly fanatics are the present and future of the new retro wave of traditional heavy metal (NRWOTHM) and over their short but solid career, they’ve fused retro ideals with prog and enough thrash sensibility to kick the required ass quotient.

Pharaoh – Ten Years Review

Pharaoh – Ten Years Review

Pharaoh, for those not in the know, are one of the best of the new retro wave of traditional heavy metal (NRWOTHM™) bands out there. Over the course of three releases these Philly phenoms have consistently blended the 80’s style of Iron Maiden and Saxon with modern American metal like Jag Panzer, Iced Earth while adding a smattering of Slough Feg. The results have been catchy, classy, surprisingly heavy and far more modern sounding than what people normally expect from a “retro” act. Their last opus, 2008’s Be Gone was a great album loaded with excellent yet tasteful guitar wankery and memorable vocal hooks and it left me wanting more. While the interminable wait continues for their next full length, Pharaoh has graced the good people with a six song EP entitled Ten Years. Featuring four tracks left over from the Be Gone sessions and two covers, its clearly a stopgap release but its a solid and entertaining one that continues the Pharaoh quality streak.

Argus – Boldly Stride the Doomed Review

Argus – Boldly Stride the Doomed Review

Cruz Del Sur is doing some fine fine work lately. I heartily enjoyed the new release by Twisted Tower Dire and now they serve up the second album by PA’s metallers Argus. After a generally well-received (but widely overlooked) debut in 2009, they’re back to demand attention with Boldly Stride the Doomed (bad ass title). Led by vocalist Brian Balich (Penance), Argus could be described as a semi-doom, epic metal band (if that makes any goddamn sense). Whatever label one ultimately sticks on them, they serve up some high class metal with a lot of balls, testosterone and moxy. Sometimes pure doom, sometimes epic metal, sometimes good old traditional metal, they shift and slither their style but the one constant is quality and that’s the winning ingredient every time.

Twisted Tower Dire – Make It Dark Review

Twisted Tower Dire – Make It Dark Review

C’mon, more old school 80s metal? When is enough enough? For folks like Angry Metal Guy, enough came six minutes after the first 80s retro album appeared [It was at least 12 or 14 minutes – AMG]. But Steel Druhm says as long as it’s good, keep it coming and add the cheese! That brings us to the Virginia crew Twisted Tower Dire. These stalwart gents have been plying their vintage early 80’s style since 1995 and Make It Dark is their fifth old school crusade. Taking their main cues from Iron Maiden and merging it with old Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and Diamond Head, Twisted Tower’s sound has evolved over the years into something akin to Slough Feg or Pharaoh. Working in their favor over their career was a determination to continually hone and refine their sound and songwriting chops. Make It Dark keeps that evolution headed in the right direction and this is their strongest effort to date. Loaded with vibrant, energetic, guitar driven metal with the true spirit of the 80s present in every note, this is a helluva lot of fun to play and play loud!

Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough Review

Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough Review

Crushing my friends, simply crushing. Like being flattened by some type of heavy industrial smoothing machine, The Golden Bough, the debut full-length from Germany’s Atlantean Kodex will compress you in a major way. However, this crushing may be one of your better listening experience this year if you dig epic/doom metal. Although I was lead to expect good things by their well-regarded Pnakotic Demos EP, I wasn’t prepared for anywhere near this level of asskickery. To put it quite simply, this is one of the most epic and huge sounding metal albums to drop on us in years. With a sound combining Into Glory Ride-era Manowar with the doom of While Heaven Wept and the atmosphere of Bathory’s Hammerheart opus, these guys have birthed a monstrous metal titan that should be essential listening for all fans of doom, epic or just plain old heavy metal.