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.
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.
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.
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
It’s been over thirty years since Liverpudlian grindcore bastards Carcass left people gagging to the gloriously gory cover of debut album Reek of Putrefaction (Earache) and reeling to the twenty-two charmingly immature blasts of vomitous noise dripping inside. Symphonies of Sickness delivered improved musicianship and longer songs, Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious and its divisive follow up, Heartwork, continued that trend but the run ended in 1996 with the rather lacklustre Swansong. Rebooted and reinvigorated (but sadly minus drummer Ken Owen due to health issues), Carcass returned with a bang in 2013 with Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records) and now, after a gap of eight years, they’re back. Again.
Two decades after their debut, the ever-evolving rock quartet Thrice have finely crafted a dynamic set of songs that are not only sonically pleasing, but lyrically awakening. Their eleventh (Self-Released) studio album, Horizons/East, is an eclectic collection of songs that practices extensive experimentation while maintaining the rawness of previous releases.
Back in 2018, armed with debut album Tū (Napalm Records) and a reputation for blistering live performances, teenagers Alien Weaponry arrived on the scene with a bang. Fusing groove metal with influences derived from their own Māori culture, the band possess a highly individual sound, but one that in some quarters has also appeared to earn them the disappointingly reductive nickname of “The New Zealand Sepultura”.
When every superlative known to man has already been used a hundred times over, it’s difficult to find something to say about Iron Maiden that hasn’t already been said. Every lyric, song, album and music video has been rated and evaluated to within an inch of its life. Business dealings and interviews are scrutinized in microscopic detail, and the minutiae of every record cover examined and dissected like a hairy art project. The moment anything regarding the band is released, the global hive mind that is Maiden’s information-hungry fan base not only know about it but have already expressed their opinion.