REVIEWS ROUNDUP: Stormkeep, Wraith, Morgul Blade, The Night Eternal, and Tower


StormkeepTales of Othertime

Featuring members of Wayfarer and Blood Incantation, Stormkeep plays Melodic Black Metal with a particularly epic flair. Their first full-length album, Tales of Othertime (Van Records), reflects great deal of influence from such groups as Dissection, Emperor, and Old Man’s Child. The production is claustrophobically atmospheric without getting too raw, the guitar sweeps are flamboyantly choppy, the vocals put in the expected rasps with the occasional cleans shining through, and the keyboards reinforce the theatrical aura without completely dominating the proceedings.

 

The songwriting also plays a fun game of contrasts with the six tracks consisting of four lengthy runs supplemented by a couple Dungeon Synth instrumentals. ‘The Citadel’ is a particularly striking example of the latter at work, putting in the sort of medieval swells and lonely trickles that would do Summoning proud, while ‘A Journey Through Storms’ makes for the most triumphant showing of the more orthodox Black Metal excursions. The album is very of its influences but with Stormkeep executing these tropes with such sincere fervor, the enthusiasm is contagious.

 

8 / 10

 

WraithUndo The Chains

Indiana’s Wraith has always been an enjoyable addition to the post-Midnight/Toxic Holocaust school of Blackened Thrash bands riding a gritty formula that is often simple but hard to truly screw up. Their third album, Undo The Chains (Redefining Darkness Records), shakes up the formula with some extra dynamics. Though still featuring a familiar mix of grimy riffs and filthy vocals, the band plays around with tempos more than before.

This is most apparent with the slow grind of the midway highlight ‘Time Wins’ though other tracks like ‘Gatemaster’ and ‘Cloaked In Black’ put in more mid-tempo chugs. Of course, there’s still plenty of fast hearty Thrash to go around and they even snuck a bit of Punk into ‘Born To Die’ and ‘Disgusting.’ Wraith albums always make fun listening for fans of the genre, but Undo The Chains is easily their best rounded effort.

 

8 / 10

 

Morgul BladeFell Sorcery Abounds

Morgul Blade’s first full-length is driven by a sound best described as Blackened Heavy Metal. The guitar leads and riffing patterns are driven by a dark Mercyful Fate-esque overcast with some tinges of Power Metal-inspired triumph while the vocals are in a near constant tug-o-war between baritone bellows and legible screeches. The production maintains a distant yet coherently grandiose haze all the while and there’s even a couple dedicated spots for some Synth layers to shine.

With these varying elements in a state of integrating and pulling apart, this would raise concerns that Fell Sorcery Abounds (No Remorse Records) is an incohesive listen. While ‘The Morgul Blade’ and ‘A Last Waltz of Gevaudan’ open on the album’s grimmest notes, things soon settle into an ominously anthemic air that comes through the most strongly on ‘In The Grip Of The Dark Lord,’ the Grim Reaper-esque ‘Sons Of The Night,’ and ‘The Five Will Ride at Dawn.’ I must admit the album might’ve benefitted from a consistently more upbeat pace, but this is a fun listen that lays down a neat template to develop even further.

 

8 / 10

The Night Eternal – Moonlit Cross

 

Coming off their 2019 self-titled EP, The Night Eternal’s first full-length does a lot to conjure the memory of In Solitude. Their Gothic tendencies are somewhat understated in comparison, but the combination of yelping baritone vocals and dark Mercyful Fate-inspired guitar acrobatics results in a similar blend of Doomy Traditional Metal. The first half is solid enough with ‘Son Of Sin’ putting in a particularly nifty Maiden-esque series of gallops.

 

The second half is where Moonlit Cross (Van Records) really picks up; ‘Shadow’s Servants’ is an enjoyable mid-tempo rocker and the rhythms on ‘Prison Of Flesh’ boast some forward momentum along with some extra conviction in the vocals that carries over nicely into ‘Closeness In Suspension’ and the closing title track. A rearranged track order might’ve made for an even more cohesive listen, but this is ultimately a fun niche effort.

 

8 / 10

 

TowerShock To The System

It’s been five years since TOWER released their self-titled debut, but their second album picks up where its predecessor left off. Shock To The System (Cruz Del Sur Music) continues to straddle the line between Hard Rock and Classic Metal with gritty rhythms, flailing twin guitars, and unhinged vocals ala Savage Master and Solicitor.

 

There’s been some solid developments in the songwriting as tracks like ‘Prince of Darkness,’ ‘Lay Down The Law’ and ‘In Dreams’ benefit from more fleshed out structures while ‘On The Line’ and the closing ‘Powder Key’ make for some hard-hitting rough and tumble Speed Metal. It’s a simple but effective execution that should sit well with old school Heavy Metal fans.

 

8 / 10

 

CHRIS LATTA


ALBUM REVIEW: Apostle of Solitude – Until The Darkness Goes


Apostle Of Solitude’s fifth full-length doubles down on the formula last expressed on 2018’s From Gold To Ash, condensing their signature melancholic Doom Metal even further to its most foundational elements. Until The Darkness Goes (Cruz Del Sur Music) is just a little over thirty-six minutes long, making it their shortest album to date, with the six songs herein almost exclusively driven by slow riffs and mournful vocal harmonies.

Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Pharaoh – The Powers That Be


With nine years spent waiting since the release of their last album, 2012’s Bury The Light, Pharaoh returns in forceful fashion with their fifth full-length. The Powers That Be (Cruz Del Sur Music) could very well be the Power Metal veterans’ most aggressive outing since 2006’s The Longest Night, bringing in a borderline thrash undercurrent with the guitar’s blazing technical runs along with the vocals’ established grit. This is established right off the bat with the title track’s assertive crunch and ‘Will We Rise’ follows up the intensity with some added Classic Metal flavor.

Continue reading


Hammers of Misfortune’s Modern Metal Classic “The Bastard” Reissue Vinyl Incoming


One of the best debut Metal albums ever in the genre, Hammers of Misfortune’s The Bastard is getting the 20th-anniversary vinyl reissue from Cruz Del Sur Music. Due out on July 9th, 2021, comes newly remastered, and complete with never-before-seen artwork. The gatefold and deluxe DLP editions will be released on July 9!

Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: White Magician – Dealers In Divinity


Consisting entirely of musicians from the eccentric Demon Bitch with equally esoteric pseudonyms, Detroit’s White Magician settles firmly into the world of heavy Occult Rock on their first full-length album. “The Agents Of Fortune”-esque cover art is enough to indicate that any comparisons to Blue Öyster Cult are likely intentional; the band exercises a similarly freerolling attitude with an ominous undercurrent. But while Dealers Of Divinity (Cruz Del Sur Music) gambles on a well-trod formula, the group seems to have a couple of aces up their sleeves.

Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: SpellBook – Magic and Mischief


After releasing two albums and an EP under the Witch Hazel moniker, the York, Pennsylvania quartet has rebranded as SpellBook. Their first album under this new moniker, Magic & Mischief (Cruz Del Sur Music), doesn’t deviate too far from their established Occult Rock style. There are a multitude of Seventies Rock grooves fitted with a slight Doom crunch that is quick to recall their contemporaries in groups like Lucifer, Demon Eye, and Icarus Witch.

Continue reading


Sanhedrin Drop New Single “Blood From A Stone”, New Album Incoming


New York City’s Trad Metal revivalists Sanhedrin, touting members formerly of Black Anvil and Amber Asylum/Lost Goat, are releasing a new album next month. Due out on February 22nd, The Poisoner is coming via Cruz Del Sur Music. They already released one single on Bandcamp, ‘Meditation’, and now you can hear the pure rock fiyah of ‘Blood From A Stone’!Continue reading


Album Stream: Hammer King – Kingdom of the Hammer King


Hammer King 1

Epic power metallers Hammer King is streaming their entire new album Kingdom of the Hammer King, out now via Cruz Del Sur Music below. The band has a few upcoming live gigs posted below.

Jul 03: Rockfire Festival – Berka, Festwiese
Jul 04: Rock im Wingert – Bad Dürkheim, Stadion Trift
Oct 16: Kaiserslautern, JUZ
Oct 17: MetalHeads Germany Festival – Alzey, JuKu
Nov 14: Metalheads vs. Hunger – Berlin, K17
Dec 06: Bühl, Kneiple

Kingdom Of The Hammer King was recorded and produced at the Greywolf Studios by Powerwolf’s own Charles Greywolf. The cover artwork was created by German Artist Timo Würz who was able to capture with his art the essence and power of the band. The LP version will include a bonus track “Leather Indians (of Steel).”

I) Kingdom of the Hammer King
I am the King
Aderlass; The Blood of Sacrifice
Chancellor of Glory
II) I am the Hammer King
Blood Angels
Visions of A Healed World
Figure in The Black
We Are The Hammer
III) Glory to the Hammer King

Hammer King on Facebook


Dark Quarterer Releasing Vinyl Edition Of Ithaca In September


dark quarterer

Dark Quarterer is issuing a vinyl release of their new album Ithaca in September via Cruz Del Sur Music, which was issued on CD on April 25, 2015 via Metal on Metal Records.

Ithaca is a concept album inspired by the 1911’s poem of the same title by a Greek poet, Konstantinos P. Kavafis (Constantine P. Cavafy), who used Odysseus’s travel from the Trojan Wars back to his home-island as a metaphor for the journey of life; the goal is not important, but the journey itself. Stylistically, it’s a mix of ’80s epic heavy metal with ’70s progressive rock, and some elements of doom.

dark quarterer ithaca

01: The Path of Life
02: Night Song
03: Mind Torture
04: Escape
05: Nostalgia
06: Rage of Gods
07: Last Fight
08: Peace
09: War Tears (live)*
10: Deep Wake (live) *

*Vinyl-only bonus track


Audio: Anal Vomit: Savage Fornication + Obsessive Sexual Slaughter


anal vomit

Peruvian extreme metaller Anal Vomit is streaming “Savage Fornication” and “Obsessive Sexual Slaughter,” off of their album Peste Negra, Muetra Negra, out now via Gates of Hell Records/Cruz Del Sur Music.

Gates Of Hell Records on Facebook