ALBUM REVIEW: Wolftooth – Blood And Iron


 

It would be a stretch to call Wolftooth’s third full-length a Doom Metal album, but Blood And Iron (Napalm Records) is a rather methodical listen by their standards. The songs run noticeably longer than their first two efforts, especially when compared to the compact anthems on Valhalla, with the seven-minute runtimes on the opening ‘Ahab’ and the title track being their lengthiest to date. The pacing also seems slightly more lumbering as the faster sequences have a sort of hesitation behind them and the hooks are decidedly more subtle.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Seven Sisters – Shadow of a Fallen Star, Pt. 1


In contrast to the mythical themes that defined their first two albums, Seven Sisters’ third full-length presents itself with a more otherworldly sci-fi aesthetic. However, the music on Shadow Of A Fallen Star, Pt. 1 (Cherry Red Records) ultimately sustains the classy approach to Heavy Metal seen on its predecessors. Comparisons could be made to groups like Iron Maiden, Aria, and Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath with some helpings of Power Metal in the vein of Hammerfall and old school Kamelot.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Scarecrow – Scarecrow II


As with their 2019 full-length debut, Scarecrow’s second full-length album sees the Russian quartet deepen their commitment to a distinctly off-the-cuff, kitchen sink Occult Metal. Scarecrow II (Wise Blood Records) sits on the arcane line between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal best demonstrated by groups like Seventies-era Scorpions and Judas Priest. There are menacing riffs and banshee vocals galore indicative of Classic Metal but also experimental eccentricities that play like holdovers from the Psych Rock era.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Lavaborne – Black Winged Gods


The last few years have been very good for Trad Metal bands and their fans. Be it the maturing of the old school heavy metallers, or the young hipstery bizarro mustachio, vest metal crew that have formed a new age fanbase, it’s been heartwarming to see a horde of fans support so many worthy bands of late. One that has gotten on my radar the last few years is Lavaborne; mid-western warriors who eschew the vanilla tropes of the style in favor of originality, top songcraft, and true Trad reverence.

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EP REVIEW: Poltergeist – Hallucinations In The Catacombs


 

Of all the bands on the Gothic Rock/Heavy Metal fusion bandwagon, Poltergeist may be the most committed to those Post-Punk aesthetics. The style on their third EP remains closer to Joy Division than Judas Priest with a heavy emphasis on chilling synths, stiff bass-heavy rhythms, and disinterested vampiric baritones. This is especially true on the first two tracks as the opening ‘Electricity’ goes full Synthwave and ‘Through Clouded Eyes’ follows it up in ominously subdued fashion.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Lunar Shadow – Wish to Leave


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.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Crystal Viper – The Cult


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.

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EP REVIEW: High Command – Everlasting Torment


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


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.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron


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