Heavy Metal

Witchskull – A Driftwood Cross Review

Witchskull – A Driftwood Cross Review

“The April 24 release cycle is an interesting one for me: three bands I’ve reviewed before are dropping new albums. Since we usually review bands we’ve reviewed in the past, and we also usually review one release each per week, this is a conundrum. I’m too olde and slow to review three albums in a week, but I think I can pull off two. And that’s good news: it means I can avoid what is likely to be another travesty from Road Warrior. Instead I can focus on local up-and-comers Traveler and Aussie rockers Witchskull.” Witchy business.

Sölicitör – Spectral Devastation Review

Sölicitör – Spectral Devastation Review

“2019 was a dream for me when it came to reviews: nearly 20% of the albums I covered were released by bands within 150 miles of my house, and of those several can be found in my own Puget Sound area of Western Washington. Quayde LaHüe and Mortiferum impressed me, and the now infamous “Skelator Incident” induced heretofore unseen levels of arousal and nearly resulted in my actual firing from this site. Naturally, I couldn’t resist the temptation to grab the debut of Seattle’s Sölicitör.” Criminal sölicitatiön.

Traveler – Termination Shock Review

Traveler – Termination Shock Review

“We here in Calgary have the reputation of being a bunch of gas-guzzling, oil-loving, separatist-bent, racist rednecks (95% incorrect 92% of the time), but we also have some excellent bands. Woodhawk, Wake, Chron Goblin, and Gone Cosmic, to name a few. Local upstarts Traveler look to join this exalted pantheon of local heavy music gods, and their debut, last year’s Traveler, was a fine first step.” Olde trails.

Cirith Ungol – Forever Black Review

Cirith Ungol – Forever Black Review

Cirith Ungol. The name looms large in the history of heavy metal. Though the mercurial act released only 4 albums, their impact on the genre was great and long-lasting. Their unusual style influenced everything from doom to traditional and trve metal, and countless bands owe their core sound to albums like King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell. They were one of the most unique, quirky bands in metal history and they’ve always held a special place in my heart ov Steel.” Cirithus Black.

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.

Spell – Opulent Decay Review

Spell – Opulent Decay Review

“The retro waves never stop crashing ashore, they just shift decades. Beginning around 2000 the metalverse became inundated with 80s throwback acts, and over the past ten or so years there’s been an increasing drive to mine 70s rock for inspiration as well. Canadian act Spell are in on this big dig, incorporating a lot of 70s rock ideas into a slurry containing NWoBHM and goth rock. Opulent Decay is their third attempt to get this tricky recipe right, showcasing an intriguing blend of eras and styles which results in something very old sounding and full of occult auras.” Olden magic.

Lord Vigo – Danse De Noir Review

Lord Vigo – Danse De Noir Review

“I went for a walk on a beautiful day – fifteen degrees Celsius or so – and gave Danse de Noir, the fourth record from German metallers Lord Vigo, its maiden voyage through my ears and mind. Within five minutes, I was reminded why I love this outstanding little genre called metal. Lord Vigo plays trad metal in the vein of Ram but stirs some Candlemass and Angel Witch into the mix for good measure.” Metal appreciation.

Ritual Dictates – Give in to Despair Review

Ritual Dictates – Give in to Despair Review

“When I think of grind as a genre, I think of unrelenting brutality. I think of short, crushingly visceral songs. I think of pounding drums and churning, impenetrable walls of guitar. I think of Napalm Death, of Pig Destroyer and of Nasum. I do not think of Three Inches of Blood – yes, the “kill the orcs, slay the orcs, destroy the orcs,” heavy, power metal Three Inches of Blood. So it was with some surprise that I stumbled across Ritual Dictates, a Canadian grind duo comprising ex-Three Inches of Blood members Ash Pearson, who mans the kit, and Justin Hagberg, who mans everything else.” Despair falls in Middle Earth.