As with their 2019 full-length debut, Scarecrow’s second full-length album sees the Russian quartet deepen their commitment to a distinctly off-the-cuff, kitchen sink Occult Metal. Scarecrow II (Wise Blood Records) sits on the arcane line between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal best demonstrated by groups like Seventies-era Scorpions and Judas Priest. There are menacing riffs and banshee vocals galore indicative of Classic Metal but also experimental eccentricities that play like holdovers from the Psych Rock era.
Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion
With Blackwater Holylight’s unique brand of Doomgaze getting gradually heavier with each passing album, it makes sense that their third full-length, Silence/Motion (RidingEasy Records), pushes that heaviness to its furthest extents yet.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
It’s fair to say that Kal-El’s fifth full-length is easily their most elaborate outing yet. The Norwegian quartet’s previous efforts have presented their brand of Stoner Metal with an increasingly spacy edge that seemed to peak with 2019’s Witches Of Mars. However, Dark Majesty (Majestic Mountain Records) sees the last signs of restraint fade into the ether; its eight tracks reach sprawling eight to ten-minute lengths that culminate to an hour-long experience, far eclipsing the runtime of albums past.
Witchcryer’s second full-length album comes with a noticeably broader scope in comparison to their 2018 debut. In contrast to the more groove-friendly approach to Doom Metal seen on Cry Witch, the song lengths on When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music) run longer with a greater emphasis on atmosphere and methodical structuring. The lyrics also work to give the album a more palpable sense of purpose, running the gamut of underworld and death figures from various world mythologies.
A lot has changed since Hour of 13’s last album, 333, came out in 2012. The project is now a one-man affair with bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis playing all the parts himself, including vocals with Phil Swanson long out of the picture. That nine-year gap also saw a minor genre tug ‘o’ war take place as singles and EPs were torn between the Traditional Doom of albums past and Samhain-style Deathrock, often determined by whether the 13 was retained as a number or spelled out. With this somewhat convoluted frame in mind, it’s a relief to see the former style win out on their fourth full-length, Black Magick Rites (Shadow Kingdom Records).