ALBUM REVIEW: Wytch Hazel – III: Pentecost

With Wytch Hazel having established their style right from their 2011 formation, each of their releases has mostly been a matter of fine-tuning and making tweaks to their Hard Rock vision. The band’s third full-length album is no exception as it delivers its signature blend of Celtic melodies and spiritual lyrics with brazen positivity. Past efforts have been enjoyable in their own right but III: Pentecost (Bad Omen Records) may be the strongest execution of the formula so far.  Continue reading

PODCAST: Episode #127: Joey Vera of Armored Saint on “Punching The Sky”

We had the honor of chatting with heavy metal legend Joey Vera of Armored Saint all about their new album Punching the sky (read our review here) out now on Metal Blade Records. Joey talked about the future of the music industry and what it might look like post-COVID19, how the band writes together, his personal preferences in production and recording styles, his take on livestreams, the progress he is making on his other projects such as Fates Warning and Motor Sister, and more! Buy the album here and check out our chat! Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Armored Saint – Punching The Sky

 

Showing no visible signs of wear and tear, classic Los Angeles metallers Armored Saint return with eighth studio album Punching the Sky (Metal Blade). Noted for their consistency in both output and personnel, you have to go all the way back to 1987’s Raising Fear (Chrysalis) to find a studio album with a different line-up. A surprising level of stability considering two lengthy hiatuses and the untimely death of original guitarist Dave Prichard.

Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Pallbearer – Forgotten Days

When listening to Forgotten Days (Nuclear Blast), Pallbearer’s fourth full-length, it’s hard to remember a time when they were ever this riff-driven. The title track sets an immediate precedent with its beginning feedback transitioning into pummeling yet catchy verses, a surprisingly hooky chorus, and a softer bridge that manages to keep the momentum going. ‘The Quicksand Of Existing’ and ‘Vengeance Ruination’ serve up even more heaviness in the album’s second half with the former’s straightforward chugs standing out. Considering past jabs I’ve made about Pallbearer being one of the most riff-adverse groups in Doom Metal, it’s a very refreshing change of pace.

Continue reading

REVIEW: Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1

Devin Townsend is a music extraordinaire who is well-known for his many different and successful projects that he has participated in over the last 25 years or so. Whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project the man has always thrown his heart into it. He is a Canadian machine that expertly and consistently generates epic-scale music in many diverse forms. Last year he released his latest solo album, Empath (InsideOut Music). He took his essence to a new level of eccentricity with a masterful embodiment of bonkers meets serene. Many cling to the wilds that is Dev for his honest presentation, whether that be in Jazz, Metal, or whatever genre he chooses to express himself with. His devotees gather in the masses at his shows for a guaranteed excellent and entertaining performance. Last December he brought his uncommon magic to England and much like his actual works, the presentation was a little unconventional. Dev is about to release his new live album, Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 (InsideOut Music) documenting that European tour. It will be released as a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-Ray/DVD artbook package, a limited 2CD+DVD digipak, gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box set, and more. 

Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Mr. Bison – Seaward

Those who deserted Pisa-based riff kings, Mr. Bison, after their 2012 debut album We’ll Be Brief (Dracma Records) will recognise neither the physical nor the sonic entity that exists today. Only guitarist/vocalist Matteo Barsacchi remains from that initial incarnation, now replenished by two more Matteos – vocalist/guitarist Sciocchetto and drummer D’Ignazi – and the dry, ZZTop-influenced sound of that first effort has been gradually replaced by an oft euphoric leaning towards a form of Desert Psychedelia as progressive as it is retrospective. Their fourth album Seaward (Subsound Records / Ripple Music) is the band’s biggest step forward yet, displaying a level of invention and confidence that is both profound and joyous. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Angband – IV

Formed in 2004 and based in Tehran, Angband plays a style of Power Metal in the vein of American groups like Iced Earth and Jag Panzer rounded out with elements of Prog and Persian traditional music. Their fourth full-length album, aptly titled IV (Pure Steel Records), is their first to come out since 2012’s Saved From The Truth as well as the first to feature Tim Aymar of Control Denied/Pharaoh fame on lead vocals. The prospects are exciting, but the actual execution ends up being a rather mixed bag.

Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown – Pressure

As last year wound down, 2020 was looking bright for music, with tours galore and a litany of reunions. Nashville’s rock ‘n rollers Tyler  Bryant and the Shakedown were looking forward to building on their busy 2019, which included tours and festivals across the US and Europe, most notably with Stone Temple Pilots, Rival Sons, Clutch, Sevendust, Blackstone Cherry, and Airbourne, among others, and the release of their critically-acclaimed album, Truth and Lies. But as 2020’s landscape changed, big plans did too. Some artists went on hiatus, while others decided to take the time to reflect and write. In this case, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Bryant, drummer Caleb Crosby, and guitarist  Graham Whitford did not slow down, took on the latter approach, and hunkered down in Bryant’s home studio to craft some of their best work with the help of co-producer/engineer Roger Alan Nichols. Aptly titled Pressure (out October 16th on Snakefarm/Spinefarm Records), the album takes listeners on a journey through the emotional and tumultuous year. Coincidentally, many of the songs began to take shape before Nashville faced a destructive tornado, COVID, and racial justice rallies. However, the release could not have been timed better, as it offers up 13 tracks to headbang and air guitar away the trials and tribulations of the last seven months and beyond. With a multitude of moods and tempos, and a collage of rock, blues, roots, and country stylings, Pressure follows the roller coaster that is 2020 life.  Continue reading

CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss at 30

 

When Reign in Blood (Def Jam) catapulted Californian thrashers Slayer into the big leagues, the 1986 (or 1987 if you lived in the UK) seminal release also created a problem for the band. How exactly do you follow perfection? 

Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Yatra – All Is Lost

While All Is Lost (Grimoire Records) is the second album that Yatra has released in 2020, it is hardly a retread of its predecessor. The extreme elements that were merely blooming on Blood Of The Night are pushed to even further extents this time around. The drums have a much more aggressive presence with several busy fills on display while the fuzzy guitar and bass tones are much fuller. It never goes into full Blackened territory, but the more active Stoner-Sludge approach makes their High On Fire influence even more apparent. Continue reading