One of the great success stories of the last ten years or so, the inexorable rise of occult rockers Ghost has been nothing short of astonishing. From their inception in 2006 and the release of full length debut Opus Eponymous (Rise Above Records) four years later, the act from Linköping have gone on to become one of Sweden’s greatest ever exports.
Having established itself with a series of singles since their 2019 formation, Tasmania’s Fierce Deity takes an epic step forward with Power Wisdom Courage (Self-Released). Having three songs total to a thirty-two-minute runtime puts this release on that weird line between an album and an EP and seeing these tracks sprawl to ten-plus minute lengths results in a release with an epic scope and a compact execution. Fortunately, these seemingly contradictory elements end up coming together well to form an incredibly triumphant work of Stonerized Power Metal.
While it seems strange to refer to a sound that has been around for over two decades as “modern”, it feels completely accurate to describe the sonic barrage of Aeon as Modern Death Metal. Renowned for keeping the intensity levels up – backed by a production to level small towns with its ripped, lean torso – for their fifth release Swedish violence-dealers have shown no relenting despite lockdown, No extra inches have been added to their waist-bands, and no sign of flabbiness added to their carb-free sensory assault.
Just when you thought there were no genres left to combine, up pops Ohio act Untamed Land with Scandinavian riffs and a cowboy hat, delivering an album that sounds like the soundtrack to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly if it had been written by Satyricon.
Hard rock heavy weights, Asking Alexandria, have set and maintained an exceptionally high bar for themselves. It’s extremely disheartening to admit that their new record, See What’s On The Inside (Better Noise), falls slightly short of their usual standard. To be clear, there are very few bands that can achieve AA’s technical prowess. Critically, the record ticks a lot of boxes it’s supposed to. If this had come from a band like Buckcherry or Shinedown, it’d be a great release. The very problem is that this doesn’t sound like an Asking Alexandria album; It’s completely devoid of the biting, soul-exposed, gritty back-alley-of-a-rundown-city sound that made the band who they are.
By the time Floridian thrashers Trivium released their second album, Ascendancy (Roadrunner Records) in 2005, the band were locked firmly into an upward trajectory which promised nothing short of global domination. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as planned but the four-piece still remain one of the most successful metal acts around today despite having to constantly push against an unrelenting tide of haters who decided sometime during the mid-late ’00s that Trivium just weren’t metal enough any more or something.
There is a powerful being that has arrived with one goal in mind: wreak havoc over everyone and everything until existence itself is all but wiped out. But it’s not a pandemic, it’s Praenuntius. The South-African six-piece Vulvodynia is responsible for this entity, and they’ve told its story via Praenuntius Infiniti (Unique Leader Records) in the form of crushing Deathcore and downright nightmarish lyrics.
It’s hard to believe that industrial legends Ministry have been around (in one incarnation or another) for forty years but here they are in 2021, returning with their fifteenth full length studio album. Another title including amusing wordplay, Moral Hygiene (Nuclear Blast Records) is yet another solid release by Al Jourgensen and co. and features a few surprises along the way.
The last few years have been very good for Trad Metal bands and their fans. Be it the maturing of the old school heavy metallers, or the young hipstery bizarro mustachio, vest metal crew that have formed a new age fanbase, it’s been heartwarming to see a horde of fans support so many worthy bands of late. One that has gotten on my radar the last few years is Lavaborne; mid-western warriors who eschew the vanilla tropes of the style in favor of originality, top songcraft, and true Trad reverence.
Crystal Spiders – Morieris
With the second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris (Ripple Music), coming out just a year after Molt, it’s fair to say that it picks up where its predecessor left off. The guitar has a more noticeable presence courtesy of producer Mike Dean playing a more hands on role in the proceedings, but the songs remain primarily driven by Brenna Leath’s thumping bass and attitude-filled howls along with Tradd Yancey’s muscular drumming.