Despite promising to move away from Heavy Metal in favor of a Post Punk sound in marketing materials, Lunar Shadow’s third album still features many of the band’s established quirks. The guitar tone’s lessened distortion promises a less in-your-face attitude, but the actual playing is still based around intricate sweeps and trills. The drumming also continues to mix in some aggressive fills and double bass patterns with the more upbeat rhythms while the vocal delivery still consists primarily of a shrill wail with some variation for mood.
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.
Formed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2016, five-piece thrash outfit High Command follow up their 2017 debut full length Beyond the Wall of Desolation with digitally released single Everlasting Torment(both Southern Lord).Continue reading
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.
It”s been four years since Eternal Champion unleashed The Armor Of Ire in 2016, but the hype has only intensified with their sophomore full-length. Ravening Iron (No Remorse Records) continues the Austin group”s Epic Metal aspirations as the coarse but melodic guitar work casts a dungeon friendly atmosphere and the vocals forever echo Manilla Road”s Mark Shelton (RIP) with their nasally yet bombastic character. Thankfully, there are enough alternate approaches explored that keep this album from feeling like a retread. Continue reading
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.
Kingnomad’s Prog Rock tendencies have been at the forefront from their inception, but these elements are expressed in their purest form on Sagan Om Rymden (Ripple Music). The group has about completely phased out the Stoner Doom tinges that helped shape their first two albums, allowing their third to expand their dynamics without a single hint of fuzz to be found. While this does make a less heavy album on the surface, a combination of energy and commitment to atmosphere results in what is easily the band’s boldest effort yet. Continue reading
While Judicator’s fifth full-length offers their signature brand of historically themed Power/Prog Metal, it comes at a more personal angle this time around. The story of Let There Be Nothing (Prosthetic Records) is based on the life of Belisarius, a 6th century Byzantine general who reclaimed remnants of the Western Roman Empire while wrestling with a crippling marriage. The album never quite reaches the catharsis of 2015’s At The Expense Of Humanity, but it’s nice to see their Blind Guardian worship be tempered with a little extra pathos.Continue reading
Coming off a self-titled demo in 2019, Midnight Dice’s first EP, Hypnotized(Underground Power Records/Hoove Child Records), sees the Chicagoans continuing to build their momentum. Comparisons to the musicians’ previous band Satan’s Hallow remain inevitable as Hypnotized rides on a similarly anthemic Classic Metal style. However, there are also developments that show the band beginning to carve out a more distinct identity.Continue reading
While a self-titled album often serves as a summary of an artist’s particular style, Vestal Claret’s third full-length is unlike anything else they’ve done before. The Doom Metal that defined the occult collective’s past efforts has been completely phased out in favor of a subdued presentation that is somewhere between Folk and introspective Psych Rock. An esoteric aura still wafts with vocalist Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Sumerlands) offering his signature mournful, nasally wail, but the vibe has more in common with Hexvessel or Sabbath Assembly than Pagan Altar.Continue reading