Posts Tagged ‘Heavy Metal’


Japanese trad metal heroes Solitude are representing TRUE METAL in all caps. ‘Reach for the Sky’ is now available further afield after a Japanese only release in 2015, and is bringing the riffs in spades. If you like the sound of NWOBHM brought into the 21st century via some Exodus and Tank, then I think Solitude are going to be right up your alley. Test Your Metal Records are handling the North American release, while you’ll find their older stuff on Spiritual Beast.

Opener ‘Venom’s Angels’ is full of killer riffing, awesome hooks and galloping melodies. You can feel how deep that classic Maiden influence runs, all the while being complimented by Bay Area thrashing sensibilities. ‘Blow’ is another kick ass track, prompting fist pumping and headbanging aplenty. You can tell instantly that Solitude would be a killer live act to go see. I love the intro to the title track, and there’s loads of moments on ‘Reach for the Sky’ where your love for heavy metal can be reignited.

The Bay Area thrash of ‘Don’t Need Mercy’ is classic, as well as the Saxon-esque ‘You Got My Mind’ and the elegiac ‘December’. ‘Reach for the Sky’ is an album steeped in tradition and, most importantly, enthusiasm and dare I say, joy. Joy in the simple happiness of heavy metal’s existence. Solitude’s record is a celebration of galloping guitars, massive hooks and killer solos. Something we all need to remember to celebrate now and again. Thoroughly recommended.


Image result for death to kings

Atlanta, GA’s old school thrashers Death of Kings are putting out their full length debut this year on Boris Records, and to whet our appetites a little they’re dropping this two track 7″ vinyl single at the end of March entitled ‘Hell Comes to Life’. This is resolutely old fashioned thrash and heavy metal mixing with potent results.

With the flesh tearing opening to the title track, you straight away can feel the influence of genre luminaries like Exodus and Testament, shot through with a pure dose of liquid riff. Spiralling solos wail over awesome galloping riffs in this salute to old school values. It’s fast, it’s fluid and it’s fucking great. Same can be said for the second track ‘Hell Patrol’, a turbo charged Judas Priest classic that benefits greatly from a gnarly thrash coating.

Death of Kings is going to blow up this year, if this EP is anything to go on. The musicianship is top notch and their grasp of what made old school thrash and metal great is spot on. Grab a hold of this band and don’t let go!


You can kinda guess where a band called Steelballs is going. Especially with that cartoonish rendering of a Manowar cover idea. Argentina is home to these true metal warriors, who play metal the old fashioned way; speedy and catchy as all hell. Their debut EP is only four tracks but you’ll instantly fall in love with these guys, just like I did. It is being released on Witches Brew, and is another triumph for those guys there.

The opener takes the classic ‘song name is same as album and band’ approach, and this feels like a statement of intent. Musically, it’s pulling all those early metal bands together. I’m feeling Helloween, Blind Guardian, Agent Steel and the likes oozing from my speakers. Spiralling melodic solos, galloping riffs and awesome vocal harmonies bring us to a land where metal rules and Manowar are gods. Classic, speedy heavy metal is always good if executed well, and Steelballs nail every element of it.

‘Farewell’ and ‘Inquisitor of Faith’ are two more excellent slabs of speed metal greatness, and a bonus highlight for me is the stunning Helloween cover ‘Starlight’, which ties this together really well. Steelballs are fucking excellent, and alongside Night Demon, are my favourite HEAVY METAL discoveries of the past year. Metal never dies!


Dawnbringer - XX

Dawnbringer’s new EP, ‘XX’ is dedicated to death, which seems to work well with the decaying bleakness on the cover art. Musically it captures the gloomy heavy  metal of their last record, ” and it is out on Ektro Records just in time for Christmas.

Opener ‘Why Would You Leave Me?’ opens with beautiful clean guitar and a mournful refrain which just drips with emotion. Dawnbringer have this knack of pulling these little special moments out, and they nail one straight out of the gate. ‘Into the Maze’ is another example of the melancholic thread that ties this EP together. A gloomy, propulsive piece that has this infectious hook, and while remaining decidedly dark is strangely uplifting.

‘North by North’ is a mid point epic that is almost Maiden worthy in its progressive execution. The despair that imbued the previous work with a grey murk seems to have dissipated slightly, allowing us to see more of vintage heavy metal band underneath. The haunting close to ‘North by North’ isn’t something that’ll leave me any time soon. In fact, ‘XX’ is a record I keep coming back to; its gloomy take on classic heavy metal is simply glorious.

Italians Barbarian have been peddling their ‘Manowar meets Venom’ esque brutality for a number of years now, but this is my first opportunity to come across them. Their new record, ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’, is out now on Hell’s Headbangers. There’s definite evidence of the first two bands mentioned, but you’ll also find some great Celtic Frostisms too,

Listening to Barbarian is kinda like if the original Conan (not the terrible remakes) had a purely metal soundtrack. The riffing is classic 80s metal with a harsh, blood spilling vocal, and the guitar tone is wonderfully NWOBHM. The righteous Angel Witch-esque thrust of the title track is a particular highlight for me, but you can point to the rampaging ‘Absolute Metal’ or the fist pumping glory of ‘Bone Knife’ as other great songs. ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’ is just a good old fashioned fucking metal album that claims nothing fancy, but delivers great songs in spades.

There’s a joyful simplicity about Barbarian. The galloping riffs, the infectious melodies and the killer solos lead you perfectly across unbroken plains, where blood is spilled and bones are cleaved by warriors old. ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’ is an album worth picking up for that alone!

Canadian heavy metallers Barrow Wight started off as a high school Venom tribute band, and their take on the world of JRR Tolkien keeps much of that early influence. Referencing much from Middle Earth, from the Dwimmerlaik (the Rohan word for spectre or phantom) to Grond (the battering ram used to break the gates of Gondor), this is music put together by folk who know their stuff.

Not only their Tolkien knowledge is tight; their capturing of classic 80s metal riffs is also on point. After the swelling intro, first track ‘No Sleep Till Gondor’ (I see what you did there) is classic Venom worship, that point in time where heavy metal and black metal started to splinter. That NWOBHM gallop is still in full effect, as shown in the excellent ‘Osgiliath’, but there’s plenty of rawer moments. Even the most infectious rock of ‘The Cult’ has this grimy aesthetic. No super clean production or anything here, as the rumbling dark ‘Grond’ will testify to.

There’s a punkish simplicity to this as well which is endearing. The obvious Venom leanings of ‘In League With Sauron’ bleeds into this strange keyboard-led section before returning to riffs, but you never feel overwhelmed by anything other than great songs and passionate delivery. The propulsive bass of ‘Dwimmerlaik’, the gloomy wanderings of ‘The Palantir’ and the kick ass riffery of ‘Harrower of the Dark’, Barrow Wight hit all the right notes.

‘Kings in Sauron’s Service’ isn’t technical, shiny or even remotely original. But that’s what makes it so great. You’ve got 10 songs of heavy fucking metal that breathes that time where everything was a little bit simpler. And for that, Barrow Wight should be praised, because this is totally excellent!


Chicago heavy metallers Lethal Shöck dropped their debut record back in July on the excellent Witches Brew label, and they are a band for whom the early 80s didn’t evolve into the heavy metal world we know today. They are firmly lodged back with the likes of classic Venom and Exciter, and ‘Evil Aggressor’ is a half hour blast of heady speed metal glory.

First, we need to address that album cover. A demon guitarist shooting electric bolts at a poor victim from his axe, while a church burns in the background? Holy shit, that’s metal as fuck. Opener ‘Sulfur Heart’ reinforces that feeling, with a big build up intro straight into classic speed metal riffing. A cocktail of Motorhead and Venom guitar gallop, with a spike and leather clad gravelly vocal performance which induces the burning desire to bang heads and destroy pits. The rabid ‘Atomik Obedience’ and short sharp shock of ‘I Am Your Hero’ are reminscient of the neon punk thrash that Municipal Waste sought to emulate a few years back, but Lethal Shöck are grimier and rawer.

For the traditionalist, there is the galloping verse riffs and glorious solos of ‘Endless Midnight’; fans of the rawer approach will take heart in the raspy vocals and the sick guitar tone. ‘Evil Aggressor’ is a shot in the arm to those who think that since Lemmy died that heavy metal is dying. This carries on the great man’s legacy, and while never matching his penchant for rock and roll, Lethal Shöck’s love of classic speed and heavy metal shines through. Songs like the rousing ‘Iron Fisted Assault’ and the thrashing ‘Up the Voltage’ are bursting with energy and vigour. Never mind stoking the fires of metal, ‘Evil Aggressor’ pours petrol on it and laughs as the world burns!