It’s startling to think that it’s already been ten years since legendary guitarist KK Downing left heavy metal icons Judas Priest in a well documented and not entirely amicable parting of the ways. After taking some time out, in 2018 Downing established KK’s Steel Mill, a music and arts venue where onstage alongside former Priest members Les Binks and Tim “Ripper” Owens, plus Hostile guitarist AJ Mills and former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, the foundations for solo debut Sermons of the Sinner (EX1 Records) were laid the following year.
Effectively serving as the second Idle Hands album under a new name, it only makes sense for Unto Others’ Strength (Roadrunner Records) to continue the mix of Classic Metal and Gothic Rock last seen with 2019’s Mana. However, debuting with a sound balancing two distinct styles like this inevitably raises the possibility of a tug o’ war taking place on subsequent offerings. In this scenario, it begs the question whether the band will prioritize their Metal side or their Gothic side. But as they say in that one Taco Bell commercial: “Why not both?”
A lot has changed in metal over the last thirty years but you wouldn’t know that by listening to the latest release from German thrash veterans Paradox. A sequel to their 1989 classic, Heresy (Roadrunner Records), Heresy II – End of a Legend (AFM Records) continues the story of the Cathars and the 13th century Albigensian Crusade, an ambitious conceptual endeavour that actually pays off.
If you are missing some new Thrash Metal then I would gladly invite you to give the new album from Bay Area Thrashers Infex a listen. I came into this review with no idea at all who Infex was, but now I know! This album is in a word, thrashtastic. I love to write about a band that’s all about riffage and crafting around said riff. This album took me back to when I was playing in a “Threath band” (thrash/death metal), a term coined by my former singer.
After two years of releasing the amazing album Pitfalls (Inside Out Music), the Norwegian Progressive Metal band Leprous comes back with an equally strong effort on their new album Aphelion (Inside Out Music). This is the kind of album that is released in what seems to be perfect timing, particularly for those who are going through some type of mental health issue. The quintet brings a variable set of songs that can capture both the passion and dexterity of the band in what seems to be a great year for Progressive Metal/Rock music.
The King welcomed fans back to concerts, at the great Irving Plaza, Avatar kicked off the fall season of tours with the Going Hunting Tour with Magic Sword and Tallah! The band spent 2020 not being able to tour as much, behind their incredible album Hunter Gatherer (eOne Music) and build off of the huge success of Avatar Country. As a band and brand they have really built a tremendous culture and following around the band, not unlike fellow Swedes Ghost have done for the last decade.
It’s been three years since progressive, technical death metal act Rivers of Nihil released the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Where Owls Know My Name (Metal Blade Records). Three long years which have seen a global pandemic almost bring the entertainment industry to its knees. However, having already set 2020 aside to concentrate on writing, the Coronavirus outbreak only made minor dents in the Pennsylvanians plans and conceptual album The Work (Metal Blade) is the exhilarating and wonderfully confounding result.
While Blazon Stone’s sixth full-length continues down their established path of Running Wild emulation, it’s also the first they’ve released as a full-fledged band. In contrast to past albums that had bandleader Cederick Forsberg recording most of the instruments himself with whoever was available to sing at a given time, Damnation (Stormspell Records) sees him just sticking to the guitars this time around. A completely new lineup has been assembled that includes a new singer, a new drummer, and even Crystal Viper bandmate Marta Gabriel on bass duties.
What is the best festival experience you’ve ever had? This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people and I have had a lot of festivals under my belt as a reviewer and a fan to pull from. However, you have to just stand back in awe when a festival gets almost everything right and exceeds every potential expectation. This has happened to me one other time – at Roadburn. Having just moved to Northern California this year BottleRock Napa was definitely on my radar. When I arrived at the festival for the first day little did I know what it had in store for me.
Let’s take a minute and talk about hype. We all have a vague notion of what it is, but how does one obtain it? Can it be harnessed long term or is it a matter of riding that wave while it’s marginally available? For instance, how did Job For A Cowboy use it to jump from MySpace unto Metal Blade? Beats me. Whatever the case may be, it appears abundantly clear that Spiritbox know how to tap into it and are doing so on Eternal Blue (Rise Records). But can Spiritbox carry this momentum all through an album? Continue reading