Although the brand of epic European power metal that Crystal Viper performs is most definitely up my street, I must preclude this review by admitting that aside from hearing the odd song here and there, I have had no real exposure to them on a studio album level. The Cult, is the Polish act’s eighth full-length release in a legacy that has thus far lasted eighteen years. At face value, a band that maintains that level of consistency would have me assume they have nailed down a singular style and were comfortable releasing records in said style without a whole lot of variation. It is therefore with a great sense of irony that my first review of their noise is of a disc which caught me completely off guard by occupying a different scene entirely. The sweetly epic elements the band is known for are certainly present in The Cult, but the power metal is largely downplayed in favour of a more classic but simultaneously epic style of heavy metal, one that calls back to the days of bands like Accept and Saxon without ever sounding derivative of either.
It was a drizzly, grey Saturday morning sometime in 1982 and I was being dragged around the shops by my parents. At some point, we ended up in a WH Smiths record shop. I wasn’t even into music then, of any description, but I flicked idly through the vinyl anyway just to pass the time. By chance, two tall, long-haired cavemen clad in denim and leather came and stood next to me. When one of them leaned over and picked up something called The Number of the Beast it grabbed my attention instantly, my ten-year-old face transfixed by the artwork on the front. As he lifted it out, I noticed more artwork, this time on the back of his jacket. Iron Maiden – Purgatory. It looked magnificent. I’d never even heard of Iron Maiden before then and I certainly didn’t know who or what a Purgatory was, but I knew I wanted to see more. Grabbing the next record in the section, my eyes didn’t leave the intricately painted sleeve until my parents came and literally pulled it out of my hands. Killers.
Most reviews and articles concerning Norwegian dark hearts Okkultokrati seem to contain slightly differing classifications of the band’s sound. I’m no different: if you’re going to mould the likes of Motörhead, Emperor, and Sex Pistols into a ball of spewing hate, you’re playing Punk / Black ‘n’ Roll as far as I’m concerned. Anyone care? Of course not. More interesting is the decision of certain band members to change their stage names in a move that seems purely designed for new album La Ilden Lyse (Southern Lord Recordings), and which corresponds with a further evolution of the sextet’s direction.Continue reading
I’m just going to come right out and say it: Italy’s Forgotten Tomb is one of the most criminally underrated bands in the Harsh Doom arena, most probably because its early fanbase still feels aggrieved at its reinvention from a Black metal band. Get over it: it’s been that way for the last seventeen years and eight albums. With a solid unit existing throughout that period, it’s also safe to say that this is more than Herr Morbid‘s project, and new album Nihilistic Estrangement (Agonia Records) continues to display the trio’s ever-strengthening unity with expansions on the core sound.Continue reading
When Green Carnation, the progressive Norwegian sextet that gave birth to avant-Black pioneers In The Woods, split for the second time in 2007, no-one gave it a cat in hell’s chance of reformation. Yet the green (ahem) shots of recovery spawned with 2018’s live album Last Day of Darkness (Prophecy Productions), and here we are with the band’s sixth album Leaves of Yesteryear (Season of Mist), in what is the 30th anniversary of its formation.Continue reading
Just over a decade ago, the supergroup Voodoo Gods was created. Though the birthplace is in Florida, the lineup consists of international musicians from around the globe. The diversely skilled and experienced members came together under one banner to generate some very heavy and very hostile music. In 2014, the band exchanged one epic vocalist for another. Seasoned frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse replaced Adam “Nergal” Darski from Behemoth as the co-vocalist and soon the group released their first full-length, Anticipation For Blood Leveled in Darkness (Saturnal Records). Though it’s been six years since their last record, the band’s heat and hatred has not cooled down. Their recently released second album, The Divinity of Blood (Reaper Entertainment) wreaks havoc in a forceful, yet slightly monotonous way. Continue reading
I hadn’t registered so much as a whisper of St Louis trio Wretched Empires…until I learned that vocalist Tom Ballard was also the frontman for UK Sludge-Doomers Allfather. THEN my ears pricked up. Debut EP Bloom (Independent Release) shows the new outfit to be of a Blackened persuasion, which is even more of a surprise upon realising that the other two members of the unit were formerly part of Alt-Indie sextet Redbait. Curious indeed…Continue reading
In some hypercritical sections of the Stoner world, it was suggested that Hyborian, Volume I (The Company), the debut album from Kansas City heavies Hyborian, was rescued from a certain monotony merely by some lighter, synthetic nuances. Whereas it may seem an indicator of a lack of imagination to see the follow-up named Volume II (Season of Mist), it’s an all-too-common error to assume that the content will follow the same path.Continue reading
At a time when most of the world is in quarantine or enforcing some form of lockdown, where the most commonly used phrases are “self-isolation”, “social distancing”, and “what the actual fuck is Trump saying now?”, the currently disbanded, but appropriately named Hospital of Death are aiming to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 infection by increasing the dosage of thrash metal into your ears.Continue reading
The 1980s was a transition time for Rock and Heavy Metal. Led Zeppelin would disband soon after a loss. AC/DC would lose a leader but gain new life. Ozzy was out of Sabbath, they had yet to unleash the Dio era, and Ozzy had yet to deliver his solo début. Michael Schenker quit UFO. Uriah Heap was changing key members left and right. Queen, Thin Lizzy, and Ultravox were adding new sounds and weirding out core fans. Only Judas Priest and Iron Maiden seemed to be ruling over the upper echelon and pioneering the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Sound. A young band the strength of an impressive demo (The Getcha Rocks Off E.P.), Sheffield UK’s best export, Def Leppard, debuted a début album full of ass-kicking music, the influence of the masters, few pretentious trappings, wizard guitar work, and amazing vocals. On Through The Night (Vertigo/Mercury) broke through as major-league début release in a year that later would be remembered for greatness. Continue reading