Sweden’s Liv Jagrell has proven she is a fitting heavy metal ambassador for this or any time, honoring both the rich history of the genre, or more modern styles with her raspy, enthusiastic ease. Be it Sister Sin‘s perfectly delivered heavy gutter glam n’ roll or the cruncified blend of styles in the Liv Sin band, she fully commits to the belief that metal is a valid way of life and the really silly ones are those who doubt and thus miss out.
In the battle for memorable metal, style or substance often battle for dominance. While Germany’s Crom may seem to lean more towards “style” in their sturdy and reliable brand of Trad/Power hybrid metal, the songs on the new release The Era Of Darkness (From The Vaults) also contain a strong measure of strength in the sword arm and fire in the heart.
Singer Rob Watson is one of the most adept frontmen in hardcore when it comes to being able to both hype up a crowd and tell grim, streetwise lyrical tales over bouncy grooves. Nothing has changed with their latest release, Welcome To The West Coast III (Arising Empire). While the series of ‘Welcome…’ releases started with an EP, it is now halfway to keeping pace with Lil Wayne‘s Tha Carter albums. “Welcome” implies an introduction, but ironically the band no longer need one. Think of the title as more akin to an ongoing episodic documentary at this point.
Sometimes as a metalhead or underground fan it is easy to forget that not everyone knows what you mean when you describe things in ever smaller concentric circles of references, sub-genres or in-jokes. It seems totally clear to me what I mean when I say that Elvenking‘s ‘Silence de Mort’ sounds like if Megadeth had colorful power melodic hooks and a singer who wasn’t such a born-again know it all douche, but some folks might stare blankly at that description and blink at oncoming traffic.
Kingston New York’s perfect power house trio Geezer returned in 2022 with one of the most rewarding rock releases of the year, Stoned Blues Machine. The band has become arguably the backbone of the small surviving scene of hard rock torch bearers in their Upstate, New York locale and are due mad respect for their latest achievement within the wider underground. Think no nonsense frills, mind-bending solos and huge stoner riffs with equal parts fun groove and heavy execution. That still will not prepare you for the brotherhood of Geezer’s tones, presence or general big feel vibes. If you are a fan of Corrosion of Conformity’’s Deliverance (Columbia) era or classic Fu Manchu stuff, this band is a no brainer for you. If lightning can strike twice and another stoner band ever win besides High On Fire, give these hombres a Grammy!
Portugal’s finest mercurial sons Moonspell‘s knack for reinvention while still holding true to their core elements is scarcely paralleled in all of dark music; a master class in constant growth. They have always deserved to be considered one of the most important world metal bands. “Metal” however is also too limiting a boundary for them, even though it is in the blood which beats through their lycanthropic hearts.
It is always impressive to me when people from already awesome projects can create another interesting and vital branch on their musical tree. That is what Mike Snow (Seas Of Winter, Apricitas) and Aki McCullough (mighty Dreamwell) have accomplished with the awe-inspiring Necroplanet release Negative Space (self-released). Only Author & Punisher‘s latest comes to mind as something close to capturing the gigantic scope of dirgy and semi-industrialized emotion on display here. Cosmic funeral doom that isn’t for the faint of heart and which will soon become a minor addiction you will want to spin alone in the dark after a long day. It makes total sense that it is a concept record about isolation and emptiness.
After driving in what felt like a monsoon to Albany and enjoying the vegan delights of Wizard Burgerby the venue, it was a thrill to witness a top-notch deathcore show and check out Empire Underground finally. The venue is literally hidden down what feels like a back entrance tunnel of a complex and we weren’t sure if we were about to be robbed. It adds to the charm because soon you find yourself in a secret bunker for metalheads that feels like it is out of Cloverfield Lane.