As fitting for such an enigmatic entity, the sixth album from Speed Metal legends Agent Steel has been released under some rather bizarre circumstances. In addition to being the first album to feature their original vocalist John Cyriis since 1987’s Unstoppable Force, he also ends up being the only original member left in the band after the fallout of their last reunion. Subsequent live festival debacles and his eccentric responses to preemptive concerns regarding this album’s quality certainly haven’t helped matters, leaving fans to wonder whether it will be a return to form or an insane conundrum.
When listening to Pounder’s second album, Breaking The World, one immediately notices an improvement in lead singer/guitarist Matt Harvey’s (Exhumed/Gruesome) vocal performance. His voice still has the husky, untrained timbre that was an unfortunate liability on 2019’s Uncivilized, but also has more conviction and grit behind it this time around. It may still be a dealbreaker for some listeners, but at least they didn’t attempt to put a power ballad on here…
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
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
The first full-length album from Seattle’s Greyhawk is a particularly interesting iteration of the NWOTHM scene. A focus on hooky songwriting with an epic tone makes for easy comparisons to such contemporaries as Visigoth and Traveler as the production carries a polished sheen similar to the likes of Haunt or Idle Hands. While these factors would initially suggest that the band is just another notch in a long line of derivatives, they find a lot of ways to set themselves apart on Keepers Of The Flame (Fighter Records).