Thin Lizzy

Night – High Tides – Distant Skies Review

Night – High Tides – Distant Skies Review

“Nobody will remember this, but back in 2017 Night’s album Raft of the World found its way onto my year-end list. This Swedish cadre of retro-rockers wormed their way onto my playlists with a catchier-than-it-should-have-been brand of 70’s hard rock, drawing influence from bands I love such as Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy. They started out as a NWoBHM-worshiping group, and have evolved over the years into a very classic hard rock act. High Tides – Distant Skies sees the band shed nearly all of their metallic influences, save for some proto-metal riffing, in exchange for the classic rock of Blue Öyster Cult and, yes, Dire Straits.” That ain’t working. Or is it?

High Spirits – Hard to Stop Review

High Spirits – Hard to Stop Review

Hard to Stop seems an apropos title for a new High Spirits platter, as founder and solo performer Chris Black (Dawnbringer, Professor Black, Aktor) cannot easily be dissuaded from his quest to fuse the hard rock playfulness of Thin Lizzy into a metal format. On album number four, he’s once again assembled a collection of high energy rockers built around simple but effective hooks and harmonies.” Never stop never stopping.

Valkyrie – Fear Review

Valkyrie – Fear Review

“Summertime is when I’m most susceptible to the bleary-eyed charms of jammy, fuzzed out retro/occult doom. That kind of music just seems to go with warmer days and brighter skies. Virginia’s Valkyrie play their cards right by dropping their 4th album in the middle of a New York heat wave, as my brain is already hot-wired to embrace what they’re doing on Fear.” Fear is the riff dealer.

Saints of Death – Ascend to the Throne Review

Saints of Death – Ascend to the Throne Review

“Come on, groove metal. I know you can do it. Elitists tend to treat you as the secondary antagonist of metal’s story, behind only to nu-metal, but between genre founders Pantera and the best bits of Machine Head’s discography, there’s still a lot of potential in this particular sound. Hell, I’ve even enjoyed the occasional DevilDriver when craving musical fast-food, which seems to be considered a heinous crime amongst some.” Groove you wrong.

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.

Aktor – Placebo Review

Aktor – Placebo Review

“Chris Black (AKA Professor Black) has been a living wellspring for great metal over the past decade, crafting great music with DawnbringerHigh Spirits and Pharaoh. Somewhat overlooked in his mighty repertoire is his Aktor project, which until recently only had one release to its credit, 2015s Paranoia. It was a rocking affair heavily influenced by 70s acts like Thin Lizzy and Blue Oyster Cult and it was a fun, breezy listening experience with plenty of hooks. Placebo is the outfit’s second release and keeps the basic formula intact while adding an ass-ton of crazy synth and keyboard work, making for a somewhat loony soundscape.” It’s time for your medicine, Mr. Black.

Quayde LaHüe – Love out of Darkness Review

Quayde LaHüe – Love out of Darkness Review

“I was saddened to learn that by skipping the first day of Eliminator Fest, I’d missed a performance by the band that I find myself covering today: Olympia, Washington’s Quayde LaHüe. After spending time with their debut album Love out of Darkness, I’m vowing to catch them live at some point, because these guys and gal kick some serious olde school ass.” Love in a dark place.

Gygax – High Fantasy Review

Gygax – High Fantasy Review

“Californian RPG rockers Gygax rose from the ashes of Gypsyhawk back in 2015, and impressed the hell out of a particular man-cat with both 2016’s Critical Hits and last year’s2nd Edition. The blend of RPG tropes and Thin Lizzy-esque boogie rock made for a wonderful combination, and each ended up getting at least a mention on my Top Ten lists. A little over a year since 2nd Edition, and the merry travelers already have High Fantasy ready for a new campaign, fresh party members, and nine more songs chock full of Dungeons & Dragons-inspired 70s rock. But on their third quest, the merry four-piece have hit a fairly large bump in the road.” Low roll.

The Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon Review

The Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon Review

“Led by frontman Mike Scalzi, Slough Feg have been delivering Celtic-tinged, surprisingly academic trad metal for longer than most of you have been alive. New Organon is the band’s first release since 2014’s Digital Resistance, and perhaps more significantly, marks the return of the Lord Weird prefix to their name after a 15-year absence. This strongly hints at (and the band’s bio confirms) a return to the style of the band’s Twilight of the Idols/Down Among the Deadmen era of the early ’00s—a bold claim, considering both the passage of time and the changes to their lineup since then.” Feg party.

Ice War – Manifest Destiny Review

Ice War – Manifest Destiny Review

“Unless your band is Galneryus or Sulphur Aeon, a release date within a week of Christmas is about as suspect as it gets. Ice War, the moniker under which the Canadian solo artist Jo Capitalcide operates, doesn’t dodge the dregs of December either. Ice War’s new platter drops on the cusp of Christmas eve and is about as lousy as you’d expect a one-man traditional metal band to be at this point in the year. I don’t know whether that constitutes a spoiler, but if so, here’s another spoiler for you: the next Adam Sandler movie will be an unfunny comedy in an exotic locale. Some things are just foregone conclusions.” Fabulous disasters.